Mac OS X on dial-up: Calculator’s ‘Convert’ menu unusable

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 13th, 2006 • 4:35 pm

Yet another example of Apple’s total disregard for the needs of dial-up users. If you have a dial-up connection to the Internet and try to use the “Convert” menu in the Calculator application while downloading a large file over the Internet (in Safari or in another file downloading application), you’ll find that it’s impossible.

Almost every time you try to pull down the “Convert” menu, you’ll get the Spinning Beach Ball of Death for 10 seconds or more, during which you cannot do anything.

If you stop your file download so that your dial-up connection is relatively “free,” you’ll find that the “Convert” menu works more or less as expected, although there is still a noticeable lag between the time you click on the menu heading and the time the menu drops down.

For what it’s worth, the only thing in Calculator that needs Internet access is the “Update Currency Exchange Rates” command in that same “Convert” menu. But unless you specifically select that command in order to update the exchange rates used by the Calculator application in its currency conversions, there is absolutely no need for the application to access the Internet. (It’s not like units of length or volume change on a daily basis!)

I suppose that, if you have a broadband connection to the Internet, this is a problem that you don’t even notice. But there are still enough dial-up users out there for Apple to pay more attention to such issues during their testing.

Interestingly, I have Little Snitch installed on my system and it doesn’t notify me of any attempt by Calculator to access the Internet when I try to pull down the “Convert” menu. Yet there must be something in Calculator that is dependent on the system’s Internet connection, because as soon as I stop my file download and my dial-up connection is reasonably “free” again, the Spinning Beach Ball of Death ceases to occur when I try to pull down the menu. (There is still a noticeable lag compared to other menus, but at least the menu is now usable.)

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