Google Shows Mac Users Some Love

Thanks to LifeHacker for this heads-up:

Google Adds Mac-Specific Search

“If you run into a problem on a Windows computer, all you have to do is type a little description of the problem and Google takes care of the rest; Mac users, on the other hand, often need to include a little context in their search—instead of typing a query like text editor, you type text editor mac. Google’s Mac-specific portal, found at, now includes a Mac-specific search box. It’s not groundbreaking, but the guaranteed Mac-specific results could come in handy next time you’re looking for a specific application or you’re troubleshooting your Mac.”

Three Reasons I am Sticking with Firefox over Safari 3.1

I love my Mac.  I really do.  I loved my MacBook and now I love my Macbook Pro.  I prefer OSX to XP or the various Linux flavours I have tried and I like the iLife suite.  I kept my blog using iWeb for awhile and most of the feedback I got when I switched to WordPress was that folks liked the iWeb one better in terms of looks.  So I guess I am a fanboy.  So, when Safari 3.1 came out and people said it was fast, I downloaded it right away and moved all my bookmarks over from Firefox 3.  Safari would be the perfect browser.  Sleek, clean, fast, with all the features I could need.

After only a few days I returned to Firefox. Here’s why:

1. Multi-tabbed Home:

In Firefox I have my three favorite starting places set as my Home pages.  Call me greedy, but I open these three sites every time I get on the web, so I might as well have my browser open them right away, no?  Safari wouldn’t let me.  At least I couldn’t figure out how.

2. RSS subscription handling:

When I find a new site I want to subscribe to, I want to add it to my iGoogle page.  It’s my main home page and I like to see all my RSS feeds on that page.  A great new feature of Safari 3.1 is the way it handles RSS feeds right in Safari, but I want to have a choice as to where I read my feeds.  Safari doesn’t ask me.  This reminds me of why I switched from using iWeb to WordPress.  Control.  Steve Jobs makes things nice and easy for folks, but he is a bit of a control freak.  This is not news to anyone I am sure, but I do get frustrated when I grow beyond the nice and easy ilife stuff and go looking for where I can save my iWeb as HTML and its just not there.  Or when I want to set Safari to let me add my RSS subscriptions to my iGoogle page and it just does what it wants.  Firefox asks me nicely if I want to add a new feed to iGoogle or Google Reader.  Thanks Firefox.

thanks firefox

3. Downloads Button:

Finally, (and this is a little thing but I use it a lot) there’s the “Downloads” button on my Firefox toolbar.

downloads button

I like this button. I missed it in Safari.  I download things a lot.  Maybe I am funny that way.  But I like to check on their progress and I like having this little button right up there where I can get to it without having to go to the Window menu and choose Downloads.  Too many clicks, that.  So I tried adding a button like that to my Safari toolbar.  No can do.

    I have not mentioned plug-ins (Firefox has them and Safari doesn’t) or GreaseMonkey scripts (ditto) because I don’t use them.  But It is nice to know that I can, if I want, seek out a new feature and install it in Firefox.

    For me, these things, while not terribly important, are enough to make me use Firefox 3 over Safari 3.1.  They are small things, but they are important to me.  If anyone can tell me in the comments how to set Safari to open several tabs when it launches or add a new tolbar button for the Downloads window I guess I might give Safari another try.  Otherwise, I might as well use the one that does what I want. Right?  Sorry Steve.

    When will someone produce a learning tool for today’s students?

    Why can’t Alphasmart, Apple, Dell, Intel, or even Leapfrog, create a portable learning tool for students?  Really.  This does not strike me as terribly difficult.  Surely there is a willing market of schools and students who would want such a device.  So why did we not see the perfect device appear at Macworld yesterday?

    If I have not made it clear in some of my previous posts, I believe ubiquitous computing is a must in schools today.  Anytime anywhere learning is crucial for both students and teachers to truly integrate technology into their day.  One of the main problems with one-to-one laptop programs is the question of cost-effectiveness: does it really make financial sense to give a student a $1000+ laptop?  Some of the fallout from doing so is often a culture of fear of not using such an expensive device.  If the school has paid so much for a computer, the students better be using it 24/7.

    It would be preferable, in my opinion, to buy a $300 device that was smaller perhaps than a full laptop and yet did all the things a student might need to do.  While several devices have emerged very recently I am still not convinced anyone is taking this very seriously.  Apple would have been my bet, with their history of serving education, but they seem to be getting away from that.  Switching to Intel processors and abandoning OS9 has rendered hundreds of excellent educational software titles in our school’s library completely useless.   Now, I happen to think that OSX and the bundled iLife suite currently offer students the best learning tools for education today, but even a basic Macbook is around $1000.  Why not, Apple?

    The OLPC, Intel’s Classmate, the Asus EEE PC and the Everex Cloudbook are all entering this market, though the first two are for emerging markets and the latter seem more for cheapskates than students.  I have nothing against emerging markets nor Linux but I do not see any of these as a perfect device.  I guess I think we need to depart from the “laptop” idea.  Something that is part iPhone, part tablet PC, part EEE PC, part OLPC and part Amazon Kindle.  Touch display, pen interaction, built-in camera, webcam and video cam, web browser, small form factor, rugged and lightweight.  All for $300.  Is that too much to ask?

    Clearly, yes.

    But someday soon.  If not Apple, then maybe Alphasmart, or Leapfrog or some new company.  I think perhaps the big guys are too married to the laptop form factor.

    The Macbook Air is nice though.  I wouldn’t say no to one myself.