Favorite quotation: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. - Jack Handey

Thursday, May 25, 2006

OK, I'm finally done with Reed so now I can post here more. Sigh, I had actually given up taking note of every little annoyance I've found in OS X in the past few months since doing so was so time-consuming. But I will now resume, since the fate of the Mac rests in the quality of our OS.

Here is my latest criticism of Mac OS X, which I posted to the PowerBook G4 15" (aluminum) displays forum at

I love the high resolution screen on my PowerBook G4 (1440x960) -- but sometimes this ultra-high resolution screen is difficult to read. For example, screen fonts are designed to display at the proper size on 72 DPI screens, but on this screen they look tiny because the pixel density is well over 100 DPI. In many cases, this problem can be solved by simply increasing the point-size of fonts. I have also written Apple to request that they reprogram OS X to eliminate the 72 DPI limitation on WYSIWYG (too complicated to explain).

In the meantime however, I wonder what resolution I could set my screen to in order that it would display at 72 DPI (or close to it, like 80). So far, the only other widescreen resolutions offered in the Displays control panel force you to have black bars because they do not match the screen's dimensions:
1280 x 800 (should be 854)
1152 x 720 (should be 768)
1024 x 640 (should be 682)
720 x 480 (this is proper but way too low for anything but MiniDV video which has its native rez at 720x480)

This PowerBook's usable display area, by my measurements, is 12.5625" wide. Assuming this is correct, 720x480 yields ~57 DPI. 1024x640 yields ~82 DPI. To achieve 72 DPI, one would have to use 904x602 or so: lets just say 900x600.

So my question is: how can I set my display resolution to 900x600 or thereabouts? Barring that, is there a way to set it to 1024x682? Given the flexibility of QuartzExtreme, I fail to accept that this is not feasible technologically, nor do I care to continue straining my eyes trying to read 10-point fonts that are actually 6-point fonts due to the ~115 DPI pixel density of this awesome screen.

At 1440x960 on this screen, unless you are working in a program that does not rely on OS X's text-rendering engine, fonts appear at 62% of their listed point-size. Here is a list of the point-sizes that things actually appear at:
9-point = ~5.7-point!!! (>.< [<- = squinty eyes])
10-point = ~6.3-point (q.q [<- = crying eyes])
12-point = ~7.5-point (sigh)

For fonts to display at their proper WYSIWYG sizes on this screen in a browser, menu, TextEdit, or other program using Apple's text-rendering engine, they must be set to ~1.6x their proper point-size. Approximately:
to get: | set to:
12-point | 19-point
10-point | 16-point
9-point | 14-point

Of course, this should not be this way; the Mac is *supposed* to be WYSIWYG. Back in the old days, WYSIWYG was one of the main things that distinguished Mac from PC.

Now, lack of WYSIWYG is one of the main things that distinguishes Mac OS X and recent Macs from Systems 1-9 and vintage Macs. And it's killing my eyes! The text in some of my programs isn't much bigger than the text on the back of my credit-card bills. Help me... and write Apple letters to fix this.


- MacCritic