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"Okay, we COULD just label the ports with regular high color contrast paint. Say, white paint on a black background or black paint on a white background. But that would be TOO EASY and the panel would then really 'pop' against our otherwise monolithic clean design. Which would be distracting."

"But during actual use the ports are going to be on the BACK of the device (so you won't see it) and will have random stuff plugged into some of the ports, which ALSO would disturb the pure clean lines of the thing, so who cares?"

"No, no, we've got to label this thing with black labels on a black background, so it blends in."

"How will people be able to see the labels?"

"Easy. We'll add LED backlighting!"

"How will people TURN ON the LED backlighting, without the button to do THAT destroying our perfect design?"

"Simple - there's no button for it - you just move the machine to turn on the backlight!"

"What if you want the backlight to STAY on for a while, longer than the default?"

"Just keep shaking the machine. Or duct-tape a vibrator to it."

"That's PERFECT!"

"Why don't we have LED lights on the ports? That way people can see them when the machine is in the shadow of a desk."

"How do we turn them on?"

"Today, when people have trouble seeing ports, they tilt the machine to give it more light. So we'll detect that."

"Hey, so now we don't need garish colors on our ports!"


Playing the devil's advocate here:

Black on black is pretty funky, but it might make sense to have LED lights. When you plug stuff into its expansion ports, chances are you're gonna move the machine slightly, so it lights up automagically which lets you see where things are.

You may also put this inside a cabinet or under the desk maybe (I'd put it on a mantlepiece) where light isn't abundant. Shake it, ah, there it is. No hard drive so you can shake your heart out!

It's the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you've done it. Hey, what is this, some kind of galactic hyper-hearse? (Zaphod Beeblebrox)

Why would you want the backlight to stay on for a while, longer than default? Genuinely curious.

because you're in Siberia, it's 1:00 am, it's dark, you are drunk and need more time to plug that damn thing into the right whole.

Genuine answer as I see it.

In that case it's a given that you will continue to shake the thing, intentionally or not, and the ports will continue to be lit.

I'm sure someone will come out with a tweak tool to let you muck with the lighting settings once this thing is on the market.

Some edge cases juts aren't worth chasing :) And Apple's mastery in business thus far, has been knowing exactly which ones those are (as I see it).

This isn't the world of PS2 ports -- there's no ambiguity about which port does what.

considering the labels are totally unnecessary, i don't see the problem. it's not like people are going to be plugging USB cables into the thunderbolt ports or the power cable into the HDMI port by accident.

A USB jack can fit into an RJ45.

Still, there is something of a problem in that sometimes people plug things in while the power is off, and computers are often kept tucked away in dim corners. Looking at the machine from an angle, it's not always obvious which connectors are where, especially if you're not a techy who could name ports in their sleep.

That sounds like a plea for LED illuminated ports... like the Mac Pro will have.

They can't make the proper port glow when you get the cable close to it?

My Dell U2410 has buttons that detect when your finger gets near them (they start lighting up) which is pretty slick. Maybe it's just a bit more expensive / harder to integrate and wasn't considered worth it. Not exactly sure how it works but I think it uses the same physical phenomenon as a theremin. Again it's mostly pointless, but it is pretty slick.

> Maybe it's just a bit more expensive / harder to integrate

And probably patent-protected by Dell and needing licensing cost, instead of coming up with something they could patent themselves.

How do you get that plea from "sometimes... the power is off"?

As long as the machine is plugged in, I don’t think we can speak of it as being completely off. I suspect the LED illumination will work even when the machine is turned ‘off’. Even if the computer is not plugged in, the LED illumination might work, provided the machine has a built-in battery. At this point in time, we just don’t know. I’m going by the amount of thought Apple usually puts into its products.

Says someone who has never worked tech support....


(Yes, it's a workstation. Yes, I have worked with engineers who did this. Don't make life any harder for your users than you have to.)

What are you talking about? The labels are white, not black!

I was influenced by this part of the show presentation:


You've gotta admit it looks like at best slightly varying shades of grey in that shot. Though they did make it worse with lighting effects - maybe they put the panel in the shade here so the LED feature would stand out more when it gets turned on later?

the labels are white, check your facts before you start ranting.

Didn't Apple make the Flashlight feature a core iOS7 thingie? So, problem solved?

Accessible with a swipe from the lock screen.

Or they could let the timeout be four hours.

No harm done if they do that.

Do you really twist your neck around on your laptop to make sure that the labels for plugging in peripherals all the time?

I thought not.

> Do you really twist your neck around on your laptop to make sure that the labels for plugging in peripherals all the time?

Not all the time, but...yes, sometimes.

On my MacBook Pro, the headphone jack and the microphone jack take the same kind of plug but function differently. The only difference is label and position, but the label is tiny and relatively low contrast so it's hard to see clearly. One option is to plug it in, see if it works, then try the other one. Or remember positionally which one is which (headphone jack turns out to be the closer one). Another option is to squint at the tiny label, which I have been known to do on occasion.

You could just put it on your desk so that the ports are facing towards you.

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