Author: Turlough O’Connor,
FinderPop is a small, efficient, and useful program that can enhance your experience with MacOS 8’s contextual menu feature. This control panel works by adding useful menu items to your usual pop-up contextual menus (Control-click in OS 8), such as an optional “Desktop” item to show all the items on the desktop, a “Processes” submenu that allows you to see you available free memory and switch to any other application, a “Finder Windows” menu that is useful for browsing many open windows within the Finder, and various items like “Empty Trash”, “Change Desktop Background” and “New Folder.” In addition to these features, FinderPop also has a “FinderPop Items” folder that can be customized with aliases and programs just like the Apple Menu, and the entire “View” menu for full contextual menu-based control of a window’s appearance. It can even allow a user to click and hold the mouse to bring a contextual menu up instead of having to hold the control key down.
But FinderPop’s abilities don’t even stop there. The user has full control of nearly every aspect of the program, among which are controls for the contextual menu font, pop-up delay, and has a dialog full of custom controls for advanced users who want to fine-tune FinderPop settings. Best of all, FinderPop is completely compatible with existing applications through Apple’s Data Detectors. On the author’s website there are even several localized versions of FinderPop for use on foreign systems.
The new version fixes a bug that caused crashes in rare cases. After a user quit the Finder (from another application or game), the next time a contextual menu was invoked their machine would freeze. However, FinderPop still “forgets” which applications have control-free contextual menu pop-ups enabled—you must recheck the menu item every time you open an application.
Overall, FinderPop is an excellent Control Panel that can make contextual menus much easier to use. It’s fast, extensible, fine-tunable, and compatible with most applications. FinderPop is extensible in the sense that it has its own “FinderPop Items” Folder into which you can plunk aliases, apps, and documents. These items appear in any contextual menu, whether it’s in the Finder or any other CM-aware app (even other ones, if you have the Apple Data Detectors installed). And for the cost of absolutely nothing, FinderPop is an enhancement that no user can resist.
Author: Sherman Uitzetter
Kineticon 1.4.4 provides a solution to get one of the only features that most OS’s lack: Animated icons. Kineticon is speedy, easy to install, and enhances your desktop nicely, but it takes awhile to load and when not used carefully can easily become an annoyance.
Kineticon is not one of those “must-have” utilities; but it is definitely a wonderful addition to any desktop. Its simple, standard installer takes just one click and a few moments to install. However, the installer doesn’t even recommend the user restart (which Kineticon requires to begin animation) and can easily leave them wondering why it doesn’t work. After the computer is restarted, Kineticon begins its work. Kineticon uses custom files, called “kines”, to store data for the animated icons. To animate an icon, all the user has to do is launch the Kineticon Editor (the “kine manager”), pick an icon to animate, and then copy it from the Kineticon window and paste it onto the desired file/folder/disk’s icon (using the “Get Info” command, clicking on the icon, and pasting). Once the Kineticon Editor is closed, all of the enabled “kines” will start to animate.
However useful Kineticon may be for animating icons in the Finder, it will also animate Finder-standard icons, including the ‘talking face’, the hand STOP sign, and the yellow triangular exclamation point icon. Since these icons are mostly used in dialogs, Kineticon can be used to effectively add a little life to otherwise boring alert screens.
One major thing that the Kineticon package lacks is an extensive—even decent—selection of Kines. The package only includes a skimpy 25 standard issue Kines. 25 pre-installed animating icons may seem like an adequate number, but after some of the ugly, useless, and otherwise unwanted Kines are filtered out and disabled, most users will be left with only a few decent ones. This is because many of the less well done Kines fit with the System 7 theme but totally clash with the Copland-esque look and feel of OS 8, while others are grainy, obvious magnifications of smaller animations. A couple are taken from other shareware programs, and the rest that fall below expectations are just plain unattractive and pointless for most users.
The only other thing that Kineticon lacks overall is a good Kine editor. An excellent, intuitive editor could counteract its skimpy selection of pre-made Kines, but the editor remains above the casual user’s reach. Advanced users, especially those familiar with pixmap masks, bitmap faces, and ResEdit-style icon editing (without the paint tools) can probably get accustomed to the editor, but the task is far from easy. Most will shy away from using the editor, leaving the user with a few good Kines and not much use for Kineticon at all. Were it included, an Apple Guide would have gone a long way in helping to make the process of editing icons simpler and easier to understand.
Kineticon is an otherwise exceptionally well conceived and written interface enhancement, but it has its fair share of minor (mostly aesthetic) bugs. For instance, the transparent dragging feature found on PowerMacs running System 7.5.3 (or above) conflicts slightly with Kineticon, causing icons to be improperly drawn while they are being dragged. (If you must know the technicalities, the file’s icon is drawn with the original icon’s mask and the current animated Kineticon icon’s face, which could result in a masked area that can cut off parts of the icon, and expose other white areas that are not supposed to be drawn.) Also, if you place an animated icon on your startup drive you may notice that its original icon is not completely replaced and simply draws the animation of top of it. The same side effect can occur when closing a disk with an animated icon.
There is also an confusing, semi-useful “toggle” feature in the Kineticon Editor, to turn Kines on and off. This feature can cause slight confusion because if you paste an icon that is supposed to be animated by Kineticon onto a file, it will not be animated unless its corresponding “kine” is enabled in the Editor. This feature was probably added to conserve memory by removing unused Kines, but it can become a point of confusion for the unaware.
In the big picture, Kineticon’s advantages outweigh its shortcomings by far. The new version fixes numerous crashing bugs, especially on 680×0 (68K) Macintoshes, as well as removing the Editor’s dependency on Internet Config. It is now much more compatible with a variety of system configurations. Nearly everyone will find that Kineticon can add much welcomed liveliness to the Mac OS. Happy, bouncing icons will soon grace your desktop, dialogs and Finder windows. But if you don’t download more kines or learn how to make your own, Kineticon loses much of its value and potential usefulness.