Mac gets a failing grade


Ok this is just ridiculous…

Maybe it’s because I got in the game all late with the “now I love my Mac too!” hype. Or maybe I’m just too much of a geek. I’ve been using my Macbook Pro for some time now and certain things I’ve been trying to ignore while still hyping and promoting it. Today I had one of those moments where enough is enough. It all started when a buddy referred me to a recent Javalobby post describing the shortcomings of Leopard. Honestly I saw the whole Java 6 nightmare months ago when I installed the preview version on my other Macbook and totally hosed it when I combined the QuickTime 7.1 update. So then I was like, “ok… I don’t need Java6. It’s still new and most of the good stuff is in Java5 anyway, right?” Plus since I’m doing embedded I haven’t felt the pain of missing out on Mustang goodness. So far so good, right? Well there have been other toe-stubbers that as of this morning have pushed me over the edge.

Something Simple
I wanted to do something really simple this morning. Something that we often take for granted. I wanted to open a PDF. I’ve been apologizing for Preview for too long and this morning I thought, “gee wouldn’t it be great to get that ol’ Acrobat integration I used to have on both Windows and Linux?” So I go to the Firefox “File Types” preferences page to tell it to use Acrobat for opening files. For some crazy reason I can’t add a file type for PDF. That’s no big deal because I really want to inline Acrobat in Firefox. So I go searching for the extension to make it happen. I end up here. That’s not as bad as what happens next. After downloading and attempting to install the PDF Browser plugin I get this wonderful message:

There is no default application specified to open the document “PDF Browser Plugin”

As usual I over analyze the intent of the message and completely misunderstand. (I actually just figured out what it means after typing the message into this post.) So then I go back to the site looking for install instructions, I even look at the readme to figure out what to do. I get completely lost and frustrated because all I wanted to do was open a doggone PDF and now it’s 10am and I’m in the middle of a long blog rant and I still can’t get PDFs to inline in my browser. Yes I know what I’m supposed to do with the plugin now but let me ask you… how many OS X newbies would be able to figure out what to do at this step? Why provide a DMG without an easy to use installer? I’d much rather have a tar.gz with the readme because the dmg implies that alls I haff tuh do is double click the plugin to get it to install. That said, I am fully aware that Apple is not responsible for the confusion I experienced with the “PDF Browser Plugin”. But why does it have to be so hard to read a PDF the way I used to?

12 thoughts on “Mac gets a failing grade

  1. Stop… just delete the DMG file. It’s of no use to you because the PDF Browser Plugin from Schubert|it is currently not compatible with Intel Macs (and, I suspect, never will be). I wish it were as I am also a Firefox user, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.

    Now, if you really want to read PDFs in the browser, Adobe supports Reader use in Safari, including all the integration you know from the Windows side. However, Adobe only supports Safari.

  2. So you can’t figure out how to install a Firefox plugin and the Mac gets a failing grade.. no, that’s not overblown hyberbole!

  3. Oh, and if you just want Reader to open the PDFs as opposed to Preview, just Get Info on a PDF, hit the triangle next to “Open with,” choose “Adobe Reader” (assuming you have the latest version – if you see “Acrobat Reader” you are running an old version), and then click “Change All…”

    Making blanket statements about the Mac failing the grade when you aren’t going through the steps to educate yourself on how the OS works is just going to lead to flames… but your reader count should go up.

  4. Blame Adobe for not supporting Firefox on the Mac.

    E-mail them. Post about it here. Write your favorite columnist. Make a noise. Until then, it’s Preview or Safari.

  5. Ok,, I think I got something marginally acceptable going. The Schubert plugin does not seem to work for Firefox (I do have an In tel-based Mac) but I have been successful in getting Firefox to open Adobe. It’s a Firefox “feature”, shall we say? The “feature” forces you to actually open a PDF with your default viewer first and select a checkbox that says something like “do this from now on” (paraphrased). Alls yuh haff tuh do then is go into the file type preferences page and change the file type preference from whatever your default is to whatever you actually prefer. For some stoopid reason installing Acrobat and telling it to set itself as the default PDF viewer and rebooting and chanting a magic incantation and facing Mecca all while angling my MacBook skyward was not enough. I actually saw a Mac forum post where someone had the opposite problem as me, wanting to use Preview instead of Adobe.

  6. Hey foggy Dave,

    So you can’t figure out how to install a Firefox plugin and the Mac gets a failing grade.. no, that’s not overblown hyberbole!

    It’s not my stoopidity with plugin installation that gives Mac a failing grade. It’s the on-pouring of constant toe-stubbing issues I face every day that is getting my briefs in a bunch. Some of it is my inability to unlearn PC computing. For eg. copy paste folders over folders should append contents or at least give the option to append. Is it me or has the append ability been completely left out of the file manager? Other nasty issues are the dodgy JVM support and the lack of decent JavaME tools. These responsibilities lie, I believe, on the shooulders of both Sun and Apple. Think about it, if you’re promoting a runtime (VM) that runs everywhere wouldn’t you make sure it actually runs everywhere without issue? Likewise, if you’re promoting an operating system and you want to attract a certain type of developer wouldn’t it be a good idea to make sure the developer tools run on your operating system? I dunno what the communications breakdown is about (did McNealy say something bad about Jobs’ momma? Something like, “Aah, yo’ momma uses a PC!” just might cause what we’re witnessing) but Sun and Apple need to better collaborate to make sure none of the current nonsense ever repeats again in the future recurrently.

  7. Geoffrey,

    Making blanket statements about the Mac failing the grade when you aren’t going through the steps to educate yourself on how the OS works is just going to lead to flames… but your reader count should go up.

    Indeed it did, for today at least. Isn’t the whole point of OS X that you shouldn’t need to educate yourself on how the OS works? I apologize for that comment but I couldn’t resist. Still I agree that my major problem stems from not unlearning how to use a PC. I love my Mac, I don’t want a flame war but I’ve been pplagued by a bunch of little things which is why I posted the topic. Oh, and by the way… Java support on Mac is really questionable and a real issue of pain. About the only other OS that I’ve had the same Java issue with is OS/400. (It seemed to always lag behind a rev in Java too.)

  8. PDF in Firefox has been a curse on the windows side for at least a year, I can’t tell whether my PDFs will open, open eventually or what the hell is going on ( most of the time I have to save them to desktop and then generally they’ll open but that isn’t convenient) . I’ve tried several plugins. It seems to be a PDF browser issue and NOT platform anchored. I think they need to make acrobat play nice.

  9. What’s wrong with the standard behaviour of just reading PDFs in Preview? Works for me. I can’t stand Adobe Reader, the minute the Preview app came along to read PDFs, I was all like, ‘Bless you Apple for delivering me from this buggy Adobe piece of trash application.’

    Preview is not always the quickest card in the deck but it has been rock solid reliable for me so that I never had to think about the process of reading PDFs — I just do it. And that’s all I want from a damn PDF. Adobe Reader is overengineered up the wazoo.

  10. Preview doesn’t size the documents to my liking. Maybe it’s me but every time I open a PDF in preview I find myself hitting the zoom key and maximize button repeatedly until everything is big enough for my weak eyes.

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