I'll be dashed

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It’s my job to try out new software. In the case of Tiger, that means trying out the new features—Automator, Spotlight, the revised Safari, and Mail, and on and on. The question is: If I weren’t paid to use these new features, would I use them at all? I was thinking about this because I realized the other day that, after an initial flurry of downloading and installing widgets, I’m not using Dashboard at all. I did a quick, informal poll of folks here and found that I wasn’’t alone. While several Macworld ers reported hitting F12 several times a day, others (like me) just hadn’t taken to it with the same enthusiasm. For me, the reason is simple: I’m not going to change the way I work unless the new way is demonstrably easier than the old. Take, for example, that stock-tracking widget: Is using it really that much better than tracking my portfolio on Yahoo? Sure, if you’re counting keystrokes, hitting F12 is easier than switching to Firefox and loading my homepage. But first I’d have to enter my portfolio into that stock widget (which doesn’t seem to like my mutual fund symbols). And the widget screen isn’t big enough to display my vast holdings without scrolling. Ditto on the weather. Sure, the Apple weather widget has cool graphics and shows the six-day forecast. But, again, I can get the forecast (if not the graphics) on Yahoo—where I can also track the weather in Paris, Baghdad, and so forth. So it goes for other widgets I’ve checked out: None seem more compelling than tools I’ve already got. Between My Yahoo and Quicksilver, I’m never more than a couple of keystrokes away from tools that replicate most of the widgets I’ve seen so far. (Let me take a moment to point out how dastardly it was for Spotlight to appropriate the Command-spacebar key combo that, by default, launches Quicksilver as well as LaunchBar. Thanks to the former, my fingers are used to hitting that combo dozens of times a day. That’s one reason I’ve been using Spotlight a lot: I keep launching it by accident.) What I’m waiting for is that one widget that doesn’t replicate something I already have and really does something useful. Once that comes along, I’ll start hitting F12 more often. Until then, I see no need.

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