Leopard Analysis Part II.

This is the second part of my personal analysis of Apple’s OS X upgrade, Leopard, that will be available in October. I’m focusing on the enhancements to the features and applications I use frequently and of course new features, application and innovations from Apple that looks useful for me personally. The first part of the analysis is available here.

Spaces

SpacesSpaces let’s you create an infinite number of virtual desktops, which enables you to organize similar windows on their own desktop. This feature is new on the OS X platform, but it’s been around for ages on other operating systems. If you think that Spaces can clean up your window mess, consider You Control: Desktops ($29.95), which does exactly the same as Spaces will.

Is the Spaces feature worth the $129 price tag? Probably not, but if your files, desktop and windows are a mess and you throw Quick Look and Stacks in to the mix, we are getting closer. Continue reading "Leopard Analysis Part II."

Leopard Analysis Part I.

For about a year now I’ve been a Mac user. Despite the fact that my MacBook Pro behaves in more or less the same way as my old Dell – it crashes, has to be restarted every now and then and needs to have parts of the hardware replaced – I’m a happy Mac user. In October Apple is releasing a new version of their OS X operating system and in a two-part series of entries I’ll have a look at some of the 300+ innovations Apple is bragging about and try to figure out if there really are any good reasons to upgrade.

I’ll focus on the application I use frequently and new features that look useful for me personally. My first impression of Leopard when it was first presented was that there was no way in hell I was going to upgrade, so you might say this analysis is somewhat biased. And I’m sorry if I hurt the feelings of any Apple fanboys, but that is the problem with the internet and freedom of speech1. Sometimes people do not share your opinions.

Continue reading "Leopard Analysis Part I."

Thank You, Apple!

The times when “it just works” described the Apple experience are obviously long gone. Maybe it was transition to Intel processors that started it or maybe it was just that Apple had to start to care about security as their platform got more popular and decided to fuck up along the way.

I don’t know. But they sure decided to fuck up well this time. After applying an Airport patch that was delivered to me through Software Update, OS X’s built in software update system, my MacBook Pro refuses to connect properly to my wireless network on startup. Well, it connects to the network itself – or at least that’s what the wireless AP logs tell me – but it’s not very interested in asking the DHCP server for an IP address. I have to manually tell it to do so by adding the wireless network again and entering the 128 byte WPA key.

St0pid!

Judging by the noise in the Apple support forum, pretty much every OS X user on the globe has this problem, and that does not of course cover the users who were not able to figure out how to get online again after updating and are now proud owners of $2,499+ paper weights.

The download to manually update has been pulled from Apple’s site, but they are still pumping it out via Software Update. This creates an embarrassing chicken and egg headache for Apple when they eventually release a fixed update (or a “patched patch”, a well-known Microsoft piece of software): You have to get online to download and install the update, but you can’t get online before you download and install the update.

Marvelous. People are probably lining up outside the Apple Stores as I write this.

To summarize: My experience with OS X is that it’s just as much hassle as Windows XP, if not more. On XP I could’ve removed the patch and rolled back to the previous version. On OS X I have to download a third party application to remove it or dig up file by file. I’m not going to do that, instead I’ll curse Apple every time I turn on my MacBook Pro.

Someone Overhead Them Saying ‘Coup, Coup’.

The last two days I’ve been totally exhausted when I’ve arrived at home from work. You wouldn’t think I could be since I’m just sitting on my ass all day, but I still am.

After looking through Apple’s presentation of the upcoming version of OS X, Leopard, I can’t help thinking that both Apple and Microsoft are running out of ideas and excuses to release new versions of their operating system. It looks to me like every handy feature has been implemented already, now it’s mostly just bug fixes and more eye candy with a big price tag on.

Take for instance widgets, or “gadgets” as they are called in Microsoft-land. What a load of crap. How many CPU load monitors and site-specific RSS readers do we really need? Leopard even comes with a widget creator that will enable Joe Sixpack to create his very own CPU load monitors and site-specific RSS readers – and, boy, are we looking forward to that.

But truth be told, I am using a very limited collection of widgets myself. After browsing through more or less the entire widget collection at Apples site, I was able to find four I could use:

  • iStat Pro – The ultimate system monitoring widget, consisting of nine sections which can be minimized, expanded, or closed. It’s useful because it gives you all the system information you’ll ever need in one place.
  • Word of the Day Calendar – Brush up on your vocabulary with a daily word from Dictionary.com. My vocabulary certainly needs that. From now on I’ll try to use the word of the day in every entry I write. Today’s word is “improvident“.
  • Amazon Album Art – Search for artwork for the currently playing track and import into iTunes with the click of a button. Even though iTunes 7 grabs the album art for coverflow from the iTunes Store, there is a good chance that it will miss some.
  • Dashalytics – grabs real time data from my Google Analytics account.

If you’ve been watching the news today you might have noticed the coup in Thailand. Reading the eyewitness reports over at the BBC gives you sort on a feeling what it’s like to be in the middle of it. It seems like the whole coup thing passed by pretty quietly though. Overthrowing the PM while he was in New York probably was good timing. Also, from what I hear people don’t like him a lot so they probably won’t stand up for him either. The question now is wether or not the guys who are taking over are any better.

Time will tell. Myself, I’m rather improvident, so it’s hard for me to tell. I’m brushing up my vocabulary.

Software.

Back in May I bought a 17″ MacBook Pro. The computer1 was rather expensive and – if you look at it with you rationality-goggles on – probably not the best value computer you can buy if you compare performance and price to other brands and models. That the MacBook can double as a heater is of course something that counts in its favor, but it’s just not enough.

Still, I’m a happy Mac owner and plan to stay a happy Mac owner for the foreseeable future. Even if the grey box has its cons, like the lack of a hard drive activity LED and that iTunes is a piece of shit software – don’t even get me started – it makes up for it with its pros, like the brilliant screen and unbeatable coolness-factor.

The number of Mac users reflects the availability (or rather the lack) of software and free software in particular. I used quite a few weeks to try to find good, free software that I could use for my everyday tasks: Web browsers, FTP clients, text editors, e-mail clients, IM clients and whatnot, but in a few cases I ended up with software that set my back a few bucks.

The choice of web browser was easy. Opera is my browser of choice, and it kicks just as much ass on OS X as it does on Windows. And it’s free. Can it be better? The Firefox posse will probably tell you otherwise, but don’t let them get to you. Even if it’s not OSS, it can be excellent software.

While I’m writing this, my MacBook Pro starts to make some very strange high-pitch clicking sounds when I’m typing on the keyboard. It’s like someone is quickly opening and closing a really old door that has not been greased for a long time. Bad sign? Probably.

Anyway. I’m using Thunderbird as my primary e-mail client, but I’m considering moving to another one. The SPAM filter is not that good and the OS X implementation is extremely slow. Delete an e-mail and it takes a second before it actually disappears from the screen. I’ve heard that the Apple e-mail client that comes with OS X is quite good, so I’ll probably give it a go.

I started with Cyberduck for my FTP needs. It’s free but it proved to be rather unstable and didn’t have an interface I liked. You have to use Finder to browser local files, and I don’t like having a million windows open at the same time. On Windows I used FileZilla, a marvelous piece of free software. On OS X I decided to go with Transmit 3, which set me back a couple of dollars but looks stable and works like a charm.

Now, this entry suddenly turned into one of those behemoth entries that no one actually reads, so I think I’ll just stop writing and go through the rest of the list later. Also, the strange squeaking noises are getting louder as I type. Weird.