Diggin’ out

So, yeah. I’ve been living with Mac OS X 10.6—aka Snow Leopard—for a week now. The short review is this: If you’re not reviewing (or quasi-kinda-sorta-reviewing) operating systems for publication on the interlubes or in glossy rags that people read at Borders but don’t actually buy anymore, then feel free to wait until 10.6.1. "Double duh, Turdlock Gnomes," I hear you say, "that’s a given." Well, elementary as that conclusion may sound, it’s not always true. Usually true, yes, but not always. I thought Leopard (10.5) offered enough new features to wade through the initial teething issues of the .0 release. Was I high at the time? Only my manager, agent, union rep and Roger Goodell know for sure.

And now for the long review. Or, Where a Small-Yet-Vocal Cadre of PC Trolls Will Proclaim to Have Known That Snow Leopard Would Blow All Along and, by the Way, I’m Steve Jobs’ Cabana Boy Toy. Good times.

Let’s retrace a few of our steps from last week:

OS X is now completely, more or less, 64-bit. I’ll have to take Apple’s word for it on this one. While some things do seem marginally quicker, others actually feel more sluggish. I’m looking at you, Mail. And it took several days for the system to crunch through and/or rebuild cache files and what not. I know the whole 64-bit goodtime funscapades will happen in later iterations of both the OS and third party programs, so it’s an important thing. It’s just not something you need to jump on right this very second unless you know how to spell "nerd" in binary.

Grand Central Dispatch makes multicore processors useful for all. Again, something that will have an impact over time. Just probably not over Labor Day weekend.

OpenCL lets idle GPUs shoulder some computational burdens. Ask me about this again when I have a real GPU and not a couple of nanoferrets calculating vertices by paw.

QuickTime X makes QT useful for the masses again. Ha! Not quite. As I found out after posting my preview, QT X actually makes the most public side of QuickTime—QT Player—less robust. How so? A supreme lack of export options and reduced editing functionality. Fortunately, Snow Leopard keeps QT 7 Player on your system, so you can use it. I will give QT X props for smoother playback of HD content, although I’m not entirely sure if folks with more recent machines than mine will notice.

Stacks will no longer anger me. True. While I don’t know if Stacks and I will ever become best buds, buy a pair of motorcycles and put "Jon" and "Ponch" on their license plates, I do find the functionality at least useful. Amazing what a slider bar can do. Hint: It’s not the Watusi.

Trash goes back to OS 9. Trash does indeed have a resurrected "Put Back" function. I have not needed this yet, but I’m glad it’s there. Because it’s only a matter of time before, in a fit of hard drive cleaning mania, I delete something 16 subfolders deep that I actually need. Like your credit card info.

Time Machine won’t force you to use a time machine to complete your backup. Time Machine is noticeably quicker, and the less-vague status messages are nice. I’d still like a hint as to how long "Finishing" will take, though. Even if it, like most progress bar-related numbers, is a complete lie.

Wake from sleep and shutting down are now faster. Boy howdy, are they. Nice work.

Super cool Chinese character input will help me prepare for the impending Communist takeover. I’m almost ready to be part of the ruling class.

Built-in Microsoft Exchange support. N/A. Although I did have to exchange some MS Word time for OpenOffice when Snow Leopard broke Word’s ability to import graphics. Which is something I rarely do, but, naturally, had to last week.

In other news, I suspected several of my third-party extensions would be busted in Snow Leopard. Sadly, I was right. While I can live without most of them until updates arrive, a couple are fairly integral to my everyday productivity. You’ve already read my carping (on more than one occasion) about a lack of windowshading in OS X. To fix this egregious omission, I use Unsanity’s WindowShadeX. Well, I did. Because just like 10.5 did before it, 10.6 broke WindowShadeX again. I wouldn’t be overly concerned except Unsanity took for-freakin’-ever to make the program Leopard compatible, and their customer communication skills are about as polished as a DMV clerk’s. At least I can now set windows to minimize to their app icon in the Dock instead of littering it with 15 tiny windows.

Another broken add-on is MiniMail by OliveToast Software. MiniMail acts as a preview pane for Mail, letting you flip through messages from any mailbox or mailbox folder you choose to monitor without having to open Mail’s main Message Viewer. It’s darn handy. Luckily, the folks at OliveToast think they’re have a fix by the end of September. Of this year. Sweet.

Seriously, though, Snow Leopard is not an update that the masses need to rush out and buy. It adds lot of nice UI things, like Dock-activated Expose, for example. And it actually lists hard drive space using math that regular people use. Not that that nets you any more actual space, but it will stop your mom from calling and asking why the 500GB drive you put in her iMac only shows 478Mb available. Also, I made that number up, as well as the idea that your mom would actually notice hard drive free space numbers. However, I suspect the switch to this numbering system may have jacked up my Mozy configuration, as it now wants to re-upload all 150 gigs of my backup set. Stay tuned for how this plays out, because I am not doing that again.

Would I buy Snow Leopard again knowing what I know now? Sure. I’d just wait until some tool on some blog posted all the shortcomings and their appropriate workarounds. And if you think I’ll be that tool for you, well, you haven’t been reading the MacHole for very long.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • ThorAxe
    • 10 years ago

    Beware OS X is coming! 🙂

    l[http://www.infoworld.com/d/windows/users-abandon-xp-vista-windows-7-062<]§

      • FubbHead
      • 10 years ago

      That’s 0.01 percent too much! 🙂

    • swalkenshaw
    • 10 years ago

    Silly Mac people

    You can’t spell nerd in binary due to it being just a numbering system. You have to use a code set also. Mac users don’t know about these things, because Steve Jobs hides them from you.

    All Windows users are taught by Bill Gates very early that you can use ASCII to represent letters and symbols and system codes such as ACK and NUL.

    So, using ASCII codes in binary format one can spell out:

    0110 1110, 0110 0101, 0111 0010, 0110 0100

    And that was all lowercase, no screaming allowed.

    The pocket protector glows brightly this morning.

    • bogbox
    • 10 years ago

    Every operating system you put on your Mac is a either a service pack or a small upgrade. Why?

    Simply because when you buy your Mac with has a Mac OS.(let me explain not every PC comes with windows,plus there are Linuxs PC etc ) in that price in included more that a OS .

    Example :Windows Service pack 2 ,a service pack of Windows was bigger than all your Mac OS is Windows Service pack 2 which was FREE.
    Paying that much for service pack is astonishing.If you pay for 4 pack at least 120$ plus the first pay 169$ you better buy windows one pay for 4 years(50$ or 120$).

    Probability in the Mac world what is free is carp or viruses, so you have to pay every thing.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      Snow Leopard is the way it SHOULD be. If your operating system needs huge sweeping changes with each release, you might want to stop and wonder if there’s something wrong.

      l[

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        Wait so every OS needs to aspire to be Snow leopard, the perfect mecca of operating environments? /[

          • derFunkenstein
          • 10 years ago

          no, but if the OS is in a constant state of flux – unstable from a features standpoint – then people have to constantly re-learn. Do try to keep up.

            • indeego
            • 10 years ago

            “then people have to constantly re-learn. Do try to keep up.”

            Oh yeah, right clicking an icon and getting search included is really killing people in the wintel world. How do they ever manage to learn such complexities? No wonder OSX marketshare is gaining ground fastg{

            • Scrotos
            • 10 years ago

            Well, one of the reasons my workplace is STILL avoiding Vista is due to the UI changes that all our workers will have to relearn. And to what end? In our business environment, there’s no need to have a fancy new UI and new ways of doing the same things. We recently did a test upgrade from Excel 2000 for one user to Excel 2007 and she couldn’t figure out how to use the UI or do “save as”.

            Doing that for a whole OS is just not something we want to have to retrain over and over and over again with.

            You make it sound easy or like there are minimal changes and I’m pretty sure you work in IT. I just don’t understand how you can make such an implication if you’ve actually tried working with and training end users. Especially people with titles. They are far too important to listen and far too busy to care and just want things to WORK.

            I realize you were going for the whole bashing OS X aspect and I can respect that, but to imply that the UI changes from Win2K to XP to Vista and now to Windows 7 are insignificant for the end user is just… wrong.

            • indeego
            • 10 years ago

            Perhaps we’re ass backwards, but we’ve kept the same basic core apps for about 5 years now, and changing the OS isn’t that shocking to those I have done so. The only real complaint I got was a crashing print driver and I ended up just using a different driver. Users were able to find their way around Vista fineg{<.<}g

      • mikeyikey
      • 10 years ago

      Huh?? Can someone translate?

        • Nitrodist
        • 10 years ago

        He’s referring to the pricing schemes between Mac OS X and Windows.

        Mac OS X has had a major version and then you have to pay for the ‘upgrade’ whereas with Windows, these upgrades are called ‘service packs’ , which are free.

        The difference between the two is that Windows charges up front for the cost and Mac OS X subsidizes the cost a bit (meaning it doesn’t cost a lot of money to buy a full retail version), but then if you want to keep current with Mac OS X, you have to keep on upgrading at a cost.

        I can’t remember the link, but it there was something on a blog or somewhere that took the last decade (meaning, Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7) with all the costs and then compared it to the cost of using Mac OS X all of those years with all the upgrades. I believe Windows came out on top.

      • SGT Lindy
      • 10 years ago

      Babblefish would be helpful.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      Your troll has real potential here.

      snakeoil, TAKE NOTE.

      Adi

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 10 years ago

    The power-of-10 sizes thing, and your comments on it, make me fly into a rage. The fact that this occurred just in time for storage media which actually is marketed as power-of-2 sizes is just one of the reasons I think that you and Apple are so very clever. I hope you were being sarcastic.

      • Saundie
      • 10 years ago

      I was thinking the same thing, about it driving me into a powerful rage, except that the entire post makes me feel that way. It’s as smooth and comfortable to read as falling down a flight of stairs while clutching a broken bottle to your chest.

      I know, it’s just a blog post, not a proper article. I can’t get over it though.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 10 years ago

        Yet we keep coming back!

    • Fighterpilot
    • 10 years ago

    Windows 7 x64 pwns Slow Leopard.
    Even the name is better.

    • glynor
    • 10 years ago

    QuickTime X is broken badly. QTL file support is completely broken in it, and there are lots of reports of it refusing to play other files too (including some reports of trouble with AC3 streams in MOV files).

    Check for threads on the Apple Discussion forums.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      It’s not “refusing” if I understand the Ars review correctly; it’s just not terribly feature-complete. Unless you mean Quicktime *[

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    /[<"Time Machine is noticeably quicker, "<]/ and from the Windows 7 "review" earlier: /[<""We may run some benchmarks in the future to put that claim to the test, but from a seat-of-the-pants perspective, I'd say the new OS really does feel snappier.""<]/ TR is apparently suffering from subjective bias and certain laziness. Where are the benches to qualify these statements?! Shamefulg{

    • snakeoil
    • 10 years ago

    apple user:

    do you know why there are few viruses affecting the apple products?
    no, you don’t know why.
    the answer is sad but true, the apple users don’t know how to program a virus or a trojan.
    or the thing you always suspected, you are not smart.

    this night go and pray to steve so he makes you smarter.

    and remember that you are not cool.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    l[

    • StashTheVampede
    • 10 years ago

    Dual booting between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard on my Mac Pro: the new OSes aren’t anything terribly significant — right now.

    Windows7 doesn’t do *many* things over my previous Vista64 install. It installed just fine, plays nice with my bootloader (refit) and just works like Vista64. My use is light (these days), but the graphic enhancements are minimal (for my day to day use) and it doesn’t feel any faster (beyond booting).

    Snow Leopard really doesn’t look or do anything significantly different than the Leopard — installed just fine and doesn’t look/heavily function different either. The only thing that *may* pan out for it: OpenCL and grand central. I’m hoping to see a good chunk of consumer apps that support these techs, it’s the only *real* reason to upgrade for me.

      • sreams
      • 10 years ago

      Your complaints, summed up, seem to be that neither OS is a major change from previous versions. So what? Is OSX or Vista so broken that it needs major changes that are immediately obvious? I think both OSes were close to begin with, and the subtle but noteworthy improvements are welcome. I don’t want a total rewrite.

    • herothezero
    • 10 years ago

    I’m not saying I knew it would blow all along, but one only need peruse the support forums over at Apple to see that not all is well amongst drinkers of Cupertino Kool-Aid regarding Slow Leopard.

    • lamparalaptopiaguita
    • 10 years ago

    man, being the guinea pigs for the beta version of 10.6.1 must feel nice

    LOL

    join the W7 crowd, foolish mactards

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      lolololol Windows 7 SP1 guinnea pigs must feel pretty dumb, too.

      I don’t mind that you’re stupid, please understand. I don’t even mind that you prove it. I just have to point and laugh.

      join the mac crowd, foolish wintard? I dunno, it sounded retarded when you said it and when I say it it’s even worse. Sigh.

      • SGT Lindy
      • 10 years ago

      Seriously WTF do you think a Vista user is?

      Anyone one that paid for Vista, paid to beta test Windows 7. Microsoft thanks you for funding the completion of Windows 7. Through your generous donations of money and many, many hours you have helped MS finish Windows 7.

      For this effort we want to offer you special upgrade pricing. Why is it special, its special because everyone pays the same!

      I could buy 10 copies of Snow Leopard ( 2 family packs) for what someone would pay to upgrade Windows 7 Ultimate.

    • Tamale
    • 10 years ago

    In related news, a friend of mine who has to use Outlook at work commented on the new exchange functionality by simply saying “this blows outlook out of the water”

    must be nice.

      • sreams
      • 10 years ago

      Love it when comparisons are so very specific.

    • neoanderthal
    • 10 years ago

    I bought a mac mini about a month ago to use for work, instead of my gaming rig (work was always getting in the way of games). Recently, I’ve taken to schlepping the mini to client sites instead of my laptop, and I picked up the Snow Leopard upgrade early this past week. I use the mini’s internal drive for my ‘portable’ work, and then come home and hook it up to my external firewire drive. I upgraded to 10.6 on the internal drive, and have had a good experience with it. I kept the external 10.5.8 until I’d had a chance to work with 10.6.

    It’s quite a bit more responsive on my mini (cheapie 2 GHz with stock drive, upgraded to 4GB of RAM) than Leopard was; shutdown (not sleep) honestly takes about 3 seconds. Safari loads in just about 1 second (about as fast as IE8 under Windows 7 RTM on my gaming rig). iPhoto, Aperture, Flash CS4, and the rest load faster and are more responsive under 10.6 than 10.5.8. Xcode is likewise snappier.

    The changes to the dock and Expose make me pine less for the Windows 7 taskbar (I still miss the ‘snap’ window resize in 7). I particularly like that now when I minimize an app to the dock icon, it appears at the bottom of Expose, visible but separate from my foreground applications.
    On the internal drive, I gained back about 10GB after the 10.6 upgrade (this figure was from 10.5.8, so it’s in 2^30 gigabytes, not 10^9 gigabytes).
    Exchange support is pretty good – one of my clients has an email account for me on their Exchange 2007 server, and I connected and worked without issue. The integration with iCal and the Address Book was pretty cool – address lookups against the AD worked fine, without any sort of nonsense.
    I don’t have a bunch of extensions or haxies or any of that stuff – the only extension I use is Xmarks to keep my bookmarks synched. It was a casualty under 10.6 (no error or anything, it just would not load); however Xmarks has a ‘preview’ version that works fine (so far, at any rate) under 10.6 so that was that. Quicktime plugins like Perian still work fine with the QT 7 that comes on the 10.6 disk. Plus, no more $29 ‘upgrade’ for QT Pro.
    I’d say it’s a worthwhile upgrade, if your Mac environment isn’t customized to the /[

      • pogsnet
      • 10 years ago
        • PerfectCr
        • 10 years ago

        Wow how useless was this post? Answer: Quite.

    • christopher3393
    • 10 years ago

    Will Windows 7 be a repeat of this story shortly after Oct 22?

      • WaltC
      • 10 years ago

      Consider that although Win7 hasn’t shipped there have been several dozen reviews posted about the OS to date, including reviews about the Enterprise version, which is an official release version. AFAIK, people had to wait for snow leopard to ship in order to review it.

      • SNM
      • 10 years ago

      I’m running the Win7 public beta and the only thing I’ve had trouble with so far is cod4 not playing nicely, but that’s apparently resolved in the RTM version.

        • coldpower27
        • 10 years ago

        I have Windows 7 Professional it’s already actually released to the MSDNAA place, so you can get it there if you have membership, a grand upgrade over XP. I never got into Vista btw.

          • phez
          • 10 years ago

          Running on Win7 Pro too. Wonderful.

          Only problem I’ve had was a bad nforce memory driver on windows update causing bsods. But aside from that, smooth as butter.

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