While working in Final Cut Pro X tonight, I noticed something: it was arranging my Events in the correct order, even though the first difference in their names (from left to right) were numbers, and some of those numbers had two digits.

I’ve always written numbers in a list with leading zeros to make sure they’re ordered correctly when alphabetised (if I knew we’d eventually be counting in thousands, I’d begin at 0001, 0002… etc.). When writing the date in filenames, I always use ISO 8601 (so today is 2017-01-02) for the same reason. That is, unless I’m working somewhere where the house style is set as something like 020117, in which case I go along with it, as a professional, and just silently seethe the whole time.

At first I thought this was a magical Final Cut Pro thing. But then I wondered why they’d so something that seems so simple, and yet apparently so difficult, in one app, when they could do it across the board. I renamed two old files in the Finder that should’ve been deleted long ago, and found that they, too, were correctly ordered without the leading zeros.

How long has this been the case? I’m amazed. I’m impressed. I’m… scared.

I liked the way I’d learned to behave a bit like a machine when interacting with machines. It gave me security in knowing I would be understood. It’s like altering your vocabulary when talking to a young child, nothing wrong with it. Except now there’s this kid who’s a genius and doesn’t like to be patronised, and the danger is I’ll forget to make allowances for the other kids.

I still use Windows machines, you see. Because I exist in the world. Will I forget my best practices because Apple’s a smarty pants?

There is precedent here, and it’s that old seductress, Final Cut Pro X. It doesn’t need to save, you see. You don’t have to keep hitting Command (or CTRL on the Dark Side)—S every 30 seconds, and the result is I don’t anymore. Years of training out the window. When I go to the BBC and work in Avid, it only saves when I render something (because I know to have it set to do so). I don’t manually save at all, unless I’m about to do something that I suspect will lead to a crash. This is like forgetting to look both ways when crossing a 6-lane motorway. I’ve become a danger unto myself v4qadop.

So it is with this whole “getting numbers in the right order” thing. It’s unnatural. It’s grotesque. Dealing correctly with numbers is something that computers were never meant to to.

Save us!

By Kenny Park

Kenny Park, pro video editor in Avid and Final Cut for over a decade.

One thought on “macOS Sierra Counts in a Human Way. Oh, no!”
  1. I’ve just tried this in Windows 7 Explorer and it does the same thing. I’ve never noticed that before! You’re right, it is a bit disturbing.

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