Tag: Leopard

aboutSLIt’s now been close to three weeks since Snow Leopard arrived in stores, and the Internet has now had a chance to go through the entire system and find the good, the bad and the barely changed. I’ve been using it since that time too, and like some of the subtle changes. Since Engadget, Gizmodo and even David Pogue have all weighed in with lengthy reviews, I’m going to avoid that here. Instead, I’m going to go through some of the changes I’ve seen and whether I think it’s worth the $35CAN upgrade fee.

This is the first of 3 operating system comparisons. Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 will be up shortly.

The Improvements

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to upgrade my MacBook from 10.5 to 10.6. I inserted the DVD while logged in, the menubar and Dock faded away and I returned 50 minutes later to my original desktop. There were options for installing additional languages, printers or Rosetta, but the default installation seems to provide all the required data, with the notable exception of Rosetta. If you still run PPC based applications, be sure to click that checkbox.

animatedwifiAfter it was installed, I took a look around and found very few changes to the interface. Sure, Stacks can now scroll when using the tile arrangement, and some menubars have more function, but by and large, the upgrade is behind the scenes. The Airport menu is slightly animated when not connected to a network, as shown on the left. Doing an option+click on the menu items now brings up a condensed system preference panel with the most important functions front and centre. The Sound menu item brings what is probably the most convenient small update, with the ability to choose the audio input and output on the computer with entering System Preferences.

Snow Leopard also seems to change the behaviour of computers exiting from sleep as well. On my MacBook, sleeping the computer for an extended period of time (about 2 hours or so) sometimes causes it to go into deep-sleep mode. That means when it wakes again, you must load the contents of RAM from the hard drive, which can take an extra 30 seconds or so. I’ve yet to determine if this is a change to the OS itself, or simply a flaw with my computer.

Ideal customer

Apple has taken a new strategy here with Snow Leopard. By keeping the interface familiar and improving the underlying technology, they allow users to gain familiarity with the software. As a $35 CAN upgrade, it is easy to recommend, but for regular users of Leopard who use their computer more for email and web than pushing the boundary of computing, it’s probably not all that necessary.

Interestingly, I think Snow Leopard works better as an upgrade for those users still running pre-Leopard installations. As a move from Tiger, or even Panther, SL offers many new features that make computing much, much easier. I’m excited about the new applications that will be released shortly that take advantage of this new technology — it just looks like I’ll have to get a new computer to fully use all the new tools.

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The time has come for a new Macintosh operating system. Mac OS X 10.6, or Snow Leopard as the cool kids call it, will arrive in stores this coming Friday and bring a host of new features with it. The name of the OS differs very little from 10.5, which was just Leopard, and that is exactly what Apple wants to convey.

OS X 10.0 was by most accounts, a good start, but far from perfect. Through 5 other iterations, the software has grown from novelty to mainstream, with advanced features added with each new release. Snow Leopard takes a slightly different approach in that it forgoes the usual list of blockbuster features and instead improves the existing codebase significantly. This new version will be faster, lighter (on hardware) and will offer new ways for developers to take advantage of the latest hardware.

The big new features of Snow Leopard involve the graphics card and CPU. With the advances in technology of these two components, programmers can take advantage of the new power by using Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL. Grand Central Dispatch is a suite of tools available to developers to use every core in the multi core systems Apple sells today. OpenCL does something similar with the graphics cards. When these tools are included in new software, they will be much more powerful than today’s applications.

Buying opinions

The most important new feature of Snow Leopard is the cost. At just $29USD, it is priced like an upgrade, and even in Canadian funds it works out to much less than other software ($35). Based on this price point, and the new features that will be available, I will be purchasing a copy soon after it is released on Friday. I may even spring for the family pack, which comes with 5 licenses for only $59 CAN.

For the benefits to users, and the price point of $30, this will be a very popular upgrade, and is highly recommended for users of Leopard, and especially those with older machines. If you’ve been holding out for a solid version of OS X that you can build on and use for many years to come, this may be it.

Look for more information about Snow Leopard here next week.

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It’s been just over 1 year since I waited in line on October 27, 2007 for Leopard. Now that I’ve had 52 weeks to use and abuse the operating system, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve come to like, dislike and can’t live without.

The Good

QuickLook
This tiny little addition to the Finder has changed the way I open files. Having the ability to preview a movie, view a PDF and view inside a ZIP archive (with plugins) has made working much easier. Moving to a Mac still on Tiger is quite annoying now because any file I wish to preview must be opened in its original application. It also makes viewing slideshows of folders full of images exceptionally easy.

Time Machine
Fortunately, I haven’t had the need to restore my entire computer from a Time Machine backup. What I do use the utility for, however, is to restore revisions that have gone awry. Most files, programs or projects contain numerous versions that need to be organized, and when a version gets unusable for any reason, I can easily go back in time to restore the original copy. Having a constant update is always comforting, and this is truly one of the “set it and forget it” kind of applications. I’m sure it has saved many other people from having to start over from scratch, and that is precisely what it was meant to do in the first place.

New Finder Sidebar
Some people love it, some people hate it. I’ve found the network share part of the sidebar to be incredibly useful. Having one-click access to other computers or hard drives on the network has proven to be consistently fast and effective in most network setups. However, the other element of the new sidebar, Search for, is rather annoying, because it cannot be removed. Sure you can collapse it, but it doesn’t free the same space that erasing it completely would.

Preview
Preview is here because of a single addition: the change size tool. Writing blog posts, updating websites and general media work requires a lot of image resizing, and having the ability to resize images quickly, efficiently and with high quality results saves a lot of time over opening Photoshop.

The Bad

Spaces
I’ve yet to fully make use of Spaces. Right now I have 2 Spaces, with all my primary work being done on Space 1, and use full screen apps like Parallels or VNC on the second space to make things more organized. It works nicely, but that’s all I can see myself using Spaces for. What would help me adopt it more readily would be providing the option for disconnecting a specific application from all Spaces. What that could mean is choosing Finder in Space Y opens a new window instead of going to back to the Finer window in Space X. Some applications you want to open normally regardless of what is open around it.

Front Row
Recently I’ve gotten into the whole Network Area Storage media center thing by getting a 750GB drive connected to my Airport Extreme (more details on that to come in a later post). This is great for sharing all my media in a way that I can access it from anywhere in the house, and even view the shows on my TV by streaming on my MacBook. It’s like having an TV without having an TV. But after using Front Row more and more, I’ve found some rather basic things that could improve the app significantly.

First, TV shows that I have carefully labelled and organized inside iTunes don’t display the order you might expect. You’d think that the natural order to display TV shows is by Season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In a TV show with 4 seasons, the links are displayed Season 4, 2, 3, 1 which is very weird. On top of that, you can’t tell you’ve entered the wrong season until clicking through because Front Row only displays the show name rather than the season. By adding the ability to sort by show, then season, navigating the system would be made a lot easier. Another annoyance is Front Row’s inability to use network shares or other storage medium with the Source menu. The only way to view media outside iTunes, iPhoto and the Movies folder is to use an alias (I’ll explain that later too). I hope Apple makes some of these changes for the upcoming versions, as these basic modifications could make using a Mac for a media center even more elegant.

iCal information
My final beef represents the largest step backwards from Tiger to Leopard. In iCal versions predating 10.5, editing activities and events was as easy as opening the drawer on the right side of the window. This meant that to edit a new event, you only needed to select the item on the calendar, and the drawer would update accordingly. That all changed with iCal 3, as changing an event now requires the Command+I keystroke, or for you to double click the event on the calendar. Not only is this an extra, unnecessary step, but it covers up space on the calendar that is likely needed to compare events. In terms of usability, it is definitely a step back.

I don’t know if Apple has any of these changes in store for Snow Leopard, but let’s hope that they keep the great stuff, and find a way to improve the features that aren’t quite as useful as they should be.

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Whenever a new operating system comes out, many people enjoy peeking around the internals to see what sort of treasures lie beneath the shiny exterior. Nerdy, yes, but in the case of Leopard, that searching yielded some very cool results.

You may notice from browsing around the site that I like to use illustrated icons with posts. These icons were all found in a single folder hidden among the Leopard system files. The folder contains high-quality 512×512 pixel icons of computers and nearly any image used in the OS itself.

I learned about this trick from MacOSXHints, and if you’re interested in checking out the icons yourself, here is where you can go.

/System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/

This location can be copy and pasted into the Go to Folder window under the Finder Go menu, or can be navigated manually. CoreTypes.bundle actually appears as an application, so you need to right click it and choose Show File Contents. Open any of the icons in Preview and you can save them in any format you wish.

[tags]Mac OS X, Leopard, Preview[/tags]

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