Mac Installation Experience

Alexander Limi has an elegant solution to the problem of installing applications on OS X.

I’m surprised there isn’t a consensus on the best approach, so hopefully this will start one.

Mac Up-To-Date

UK Apple customers who bought a Mac after June 8th can now buy an upgrade to Snow Leopard for £7.95.

Interestingly, the listing for the upgrade states a shipping date of “by August 28th”.

Snow Leopard Drops PowerPC Support has published the requirements of the Snow Leopard Developers Preview handed out at the WWDC, and it states that it requires “an Intel processor”, meaning that support for PowerPC will end with Mac OS X 10.5.

Hidden Preference to Disable Glossy Look Dock Even When at the Bottom

A proper dock for those who like theirs at the bottom.

Leopard Initial Impressions

These are my initial impressions of Leopard final build running on my MacBook Core Duo 2GHz with 2GB of RAM.

  • The new WLAN menu is a big improvement. It now scans for networks asynchronously, so you don’t have the agonising three second hang when you click on it.

  • Apple Mail loads up instantly. I like how it separates IMAP folders from local ones and the new Reminders list.

  • The Installer took a few minutes to find my current Panther partition.

  • iCal now shows location of events in the calendar view. Hoorar!

  • Spaces is very slick, and works well with my dual monitor arrangement.

  • Drop-down-menus seem more responsive, I don’t know if this is because they’re actually more responsive, or Apple have just reduced the default lag.

  • Safari 3.0.4 still slows down a lot, lots of spinning beach balls. Not had it crash yet though.

  • The Network preference pane now displays all the main options in one window instead of multiple tabs and dialogs.

  • Dark icons look terrible on dock if its docked at the side of the screens (example). I’m please that they’ve replaced the appearance of the side dock, it looked quite silly before.

  • Finder

    • Cover Flow can do quick and dirty previews of my NEFs, but doesn’t seem to even want to try with my D80 JPEGs.

    • Quick View of NEFs, PSD and TIFFs from Lightroom and Photoshop work really well. Trying it with a D80 JPEG just crashes Finder.

    • Its now much quicker at opening network drives and computers, and there is no more hanging.

    • Overall the Finder has had a big upgrade, however the lack of tabs means I’ll still be going back to Path Finder.

    • Exposé is now an app that resides in you Applications folder, as is System Preferences.

    • Contrary to other reports, I don’t notice any speed improvements in the iWork or iLife apps.

Compatibility with Third Party Applications

  • Photoshop CS3 seems to work fine, as does Lightroom 1.2.

  • Whoever said VMWare Fusion doesn’t work on Leopard obviously hasn’t tried it.

  • Skype works fine, thank god.

  • EyeTV still works.

  • Path Finder has some issues, Show Desktop now hides the Path Finder dock and reviles an empty Finder dock.

  • Quicksilver is now always resides on the dock whether you tell it to or not.

  • 1Passwd doesn’t work — its icon has disappeared from Safari and Camino. Update: But the newest 2.5 beta version called 1Password does work.

  • app acts up a bit, seems to open itself with every new track played on iTunes.

  • Adium’s tabs now don’t match the window colour, but everything else works fine.

The Bouncer

Dave Debrin’s entry to C4[1] Iron Coder challenge. Watch the demo video to the end. (Via Daring Fireball.)

Apple OS X 10.4.10 Update

Includes fixes for mounting external USB devices, bluetooth and compatibility issues with third party software. Also includes more RAW camera support.

Leopard is UNIX compliant

Something a lot of people seemed to have missed from yesterdays WWDC keynote, Leopard will be the first OS X to be fully UNIX compliant:

Leopard is now an Open Brand UNIX 03 Registered Product, conforming to the SUSv3 and POSIX 1003.1 specifications for the C API, Shell Utilities, and Threads. Since Leopard can compile and run all your existing UNIX 03-compliant code, you can deploy it in environments that demand full conformance — complete with hooks to maintain compatibility with existing software.

Surely important to someone?

OS X tab style inconsistancy

Two new OS X applications were released today, CSSEdit and Coda. With them comes two new and different styles of tabs.

Coda: codatabs.png

CSSEdit: cssedittabs.png

Coda takes a Camino—style approach to tab design, while CSSEdit’s is more Safari. I prefer CSSEdit’s personally, it’s clearer which tab is selected and it does it with less visual elements (or visual clutter). But there’s no reason why OS X should have so many different styles of tabs for documents. It’s one of the last few user interface widgets1 that has yet to be standardised, but one that is becoming increasingly popular.

Hopefully Leopard will feature a default tab widget for Cocoa that most people will adopt to use in their applications, and hopefully it’ll look something like CSSEdit’s elegant implementation.

  1. In the sense of user interface elements such as buttons and tick—boxes, not OS X’s Widgets.

Panic Coda 1.0

Best described by Panic themselves, and by checking out the site.

Text editor + Transmit + CSS editor + Terminal + Books + More = Whoah.

Mac OS X 10.4.9 Updater

Apple has released it’s Mac 10.4.9 Updater, which includes a big range of improvements and bug fixes for OS X 10.4 users.


I’m a bit late off the starting block but I needed to access the NTFS partition on my MacBook’s hard drive today, but of course it only supports read access. MacFUSE is the answer, which adds support for writing as well as reading NTFS volumes.

Photoshop CS3 beta out Friday

Normally I wouldn’t trust a source like AppleInsider (how many “iPhone out next month” rumours has it had?), but my gut tells me this one might just be true: Adobe are going to release Photoshop CS3 as a beta for existing CS2 customers on Friday, and it’s going to include the Universal Binary version for Mac users.

It’s about time, my Macbook still only has 512MB of RAM and I don’t fancy running Rosetta with Photoshop under that. Otherwise it contains no noticeable improvements that I would use.

Top Secret

Contrary to popular opinion, I quite like the new matt unified look of iTunes 7, and I do hope it makes an appearance in Leopard. As for it being the Top Secret Steve Jobs was hiding, maybe not.


RCDefaultApp is the missing piece in the puzzle that is OS X’s file association management. Best of all its freeware.

Stupid Alert: Larry Bodine

You would expect a member of the Law Technology News Editorial Advisory Board to know their stuff about computers. You would forgive them for being a little naive about Macs, but expect them to research them with an open mind and then compile an accurate report, not necessarily recommending them (they aren’t for everyone), but at least being subjective and fair.

Instead, you get idiots like Larry Bodine and his Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree commentary that shows you how some people are grossly overpaid and under qualified.

In his commentary he compains that he was suckered in by the hype about freedom from viruses, simplicity of computing and versatility while what he got was a computer that can’t view Web sites properly, is not compatible with Microsoft Word and can run only dumbed-down versions of regular software.

Let’s break this down paragraph by paragraph and see where Larry went wrong.

I was suckered in by the hype about freedom from viruses, simplicity of computing and versatility. Instead, I bought a boat anchor that can’t view Web sites properly, is not compatible with Microsoft Word and can run only dumbed-down versions of regular software.

Thats fine, if you didn’t contradict yourself later on with a long monologue about your problems with Microsoft Word for OS X, and if you gave examples of dumbed-down software other than AOL.

This time, I’m buying from Hewlett-Packard Co. or Dell Inc. — anything that runs on Windows. (I’ll assume the risk of flaming batteries.) Goodbye Steve Jobs, hello Bill Gates. I’ll be lucky to get half of the $4,552.71 I paid for the Mac on May 21, 2006.

Let’s ignore the fact that all new Macs can run Windows now, and concentrate on the $4,552.71 he paid for his Power Mac G5 2.7GHz on May 21, 2006. Now the dual 2.7GHz G5 Power Macs were introduced on the 27th of April 2005, and were discontinued on the 10th of October 20051 On the day they were released, the 2.7GHz G5 Power Mac cost $2,999. Larry however, paid $4,552.71. He doesn’t mention any accessories he bought2 so the only explanation is that the Larry Bodine, a member of the Law Technology News Editorial Advisory Board, someone who is paid to advise on technology, got duped.

I realized it was time to unload the silvery box of frustration when I had to buy a Dummies book on how to operate it. I’m smart; I shouldn’t need this. Aren’t Macs supposed to be intuitive and easy to learn? My mistake.

Yes Larry, you should expect to know how to use an entirely new computer and operating system that cost $4,552.71 without ever reading the manual. Did you become a Windows expert the first time you started using it? Did you not need to fiddle around, read a book, or at least ask for help?

I notice you insert a I’m smart into a paragraph that directly contradicts itself, because it reads like I’m so smart that I had to buy a “Dummies” book to learn something that is easy to learn. Nice.

The signs of doom were there on day one, but I ignored them. I pretended that I liked the one button mouse. I quickly started using click + command keys (and other keyboard shortcuts). I really missed the little scrolling wheel in the center of the mouse. I put up with the fact that the HP printer, which I had purchased on the recommendation of an Apple Store, would work about 50 percent of the time with the Mac. I was constantly deleting print jobs and starting them over.

Wait, a one button mouse? The Power Mac G5 came with a two-button-scroll-wheel Mighty Mouse from the 2nd of August 2005, so I can only assume that you bought one of the last stocks of the old Apple Pro Mouse as an accessory with your order, and trashed the Mighty Mouse.

And as for the printer support, it is all rather shabby on OS X, but then ask anyone who hasn’t been infuriated with the print queue system on Windows too and you’ll see this is as much as a problem with printers as with operating systems.

I noticed it was slow; I saw that stupid spinning colored wheel a lot. The Mac would hang up; the TV ads said Macs didn’t do that. The widgets were cool and snappy, but after a while I stopped using them. They were fun — for five minutes. I did like the Finder because it was quick in locating files, but it would turn up a lot of false hits. It was comparable to the Google Desktop searcher on my PC.

You’re right in saying widgets only have niche appeal. And yes the dredded spinning beach ball (not colored wheel) does appear more than it should do. But aren’t you expecting too much for a search engine that takes one to two word queries to find, and only find the exact document or web page you’re looking for?

What drove me nuts was that I would open Word for Mac and couldn’t delete files while I was in Word. There is no File | Delete option. So the documents took up space on my hard drive, until someone told me I had to find the document in Finder and then move it into the trash from there. This seemed stupid to me; I just wanted to highlight a file and tap “delete.”

File > Delete seems like a Windows Word exclusive feature3 and it doesn’t feature in the Word for OS X because it’s not standard a OS X UI design feature. I think you’re expecting OS X Word to be a direct clone of Windows Word, when (to the credit of Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit) it’s an OS X port of Word, using many OS X conventions instead of Windows ones.

Word files transferred from the Mac were missing pictures. PowerPoint files transferred from the Mac would lose their formatting. PCs and Macs are not compatible, regardless of what they say.

Some image formats don’t translate from Windows to OS X Word (even though they are supported by both Windows and OS X). But wait, whats that big Compatibility Report... button doing in the save file dialog? I wonder what that does…

Doing a simple screen capture was an immense chore. On a PC you just press Alt and tap PrtScr. With the Mac I had to download and launch special programs to accomplish this simple task.

Maybe if you bothered to search for how to take a screenshot, you would’ve found Command-Shift-4.

I didn’t even bother with the Mac’s iCal or Mail, which required me to buy an address. Instead, I went straight to Outlook for Mac. A lot of the software for Mac — such as AOL for Mac OS X — was dumbed down and missing may features of the current PC versions.

It’s quite clear you had incorrect preconceptions about these applications, and didn’t even bother to open them and have a look before dragging them to the trash4 You don’t need to buy a .mac subscription, Apple Mail will work fine with POP and IMAP mail boxes, and iCal works fine on its own without syncing to any internet based service.

Wait, did you mention that you use AOL in an article where you claim to be a technology consultant? There goes any shred of credibility you have (which was none at this point). And then saying that it’s a dumbed down version suggests that you actually use the AOL software that comes with your PC. I also fail to see how a technology consultant could actually use the piece of crap that is AOL, and how you can consider AOL software being dumbed down, when it is already targeted at the lowest common denominator of Internet users (i.e. you).

For me the killer was the Web browser. Safari simply cannot read Flash. It is, quite simply, a second-rate browser.

I even called Apple headquarters and asked when a better version would be available and was told that Apple is in no hurry to improve it.

Right. OS X comes with Flash support built in, but the last time I checked Windows doesn’t. Some people prefer other browsers to Safari, so I would forgive you on the second-rate browser quip and the obvious lie that Apple is in no hurry to improve (when Safari will be upgraded to 3.0 when OS X 10.5 is release), if it wasn’t for what followed.

On the suggestions of friends, I downloaded Netscape and Firefox, which were no better.

I scraped along with Internet Explorer 5.0 for Mac, and then discovered in 2006 that Microsoft would no longer support the Mac version. You can’t do WSYWIG on Typepad (where many folks create their blogs), which you can on a PC.

I run several Web sites, all optimized for IE 5.5 or higher. I couldn’t operate my own Web sites with the Mac. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What kind of friend would recommend you use Netscape (last updated August 2004)? More like someone with a grudge against you because you persuaded them to buy a year old mac at nearly double the original retail value. And what were Netscape and Firefox no better at? Rendering Flash? I believe Firefox pops up with a yellow information bar when a plug-in was needed.

I’ve had a look at your so-called websites, and I’m not impressed. Optimized for IE 5.5 or higher means you or your designers were too lazy to test on other browsers and other platforms, and didn’t bother with any sort of standards at all (except for the overzelous use of the now defunct XML and RSS buttons). But blasting your websites is the subject for another article.

Then the hard drive croaked on me after only three months of owning the machine. I couldn’t tell what was going wrong and had to hire someone for $125 an hour to come over and tell me what the heck was happening. Apple replaced it for free, but I became leery of what other hardware would fail unexpectedly.

Yeah, because failing hard drives are an Apple only problem. You know you could’ve phone Apple first, told them what was happening and they probably would’ve guessed the fault for free. Even so, they replaced the hard drive for free, so your problem is?

Wil Shipley sums up the commentary best, so I’ll quote directly from his article:

  1. Apple’s marketing department and fans lured me in with promises of Macs being virus-free and having great service, both of which turned out to be true.
  2. FireWire is sexy.
  3. Sometimes I see the spinny cursor on my Mac.
  4. Microsoft Word doesn’t please me on the Mac because the key shortcuts aren’t short enough, and because I can’t find the compatibility button on the save panel. Also, PowerPoint.
  5. Microsoft Outlook doesn’t please me on the Mac, and I never tried the free alternatives that were bundled with the system.
  6. AOL(!) doesn’t please me on the Mac.
  7. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 from 1997 does not please me on the Mac, and I mistakenly believe Safari doesn’t support Flash, nor will I use any of the many free alternatives that would work fine.
  8. One time, my hard drive broke and was replaced for free.

I let the repaired shiny Mac sit on the floor for weeks, and instead used my reliable IBM ThinkPad, and rediscovered how much I enjoy it. Wish me luck on selling the Mac.

Well seeing how you blasted it in your commentary, and state that you became leery of what other hardware would fail unexpectedly, I estimate the value of your unreliable, unusable and near-death Power Mac to be $1.43, excluding postage but including packaging. That, you can have for free.

  1. When they were replaced by the quad G5s Power Macs.
  2. Except for an Apple recommended HP printer, which we can safey assume cost less than the difference in question.
  3. I never use it, as I rarely need to delete documents from within Word, but having a quick look around other applications that handle files, I don’t find it either.
  4. Maybe you though they would automatically guess your credit card details and buy you a two year subscription to .mac if you didn’t delete the shortcuts from your dock ASAP. Yeah, that must be it.

Xtorrent public beta 1

The public beta of the BitTorrent client from the maker of Acquisition and Inquisitor.

It may be lacking a bit on the advanced features, the the interface is second to none (finally a decent structured file manager.)

Open source does not mean free

Everyday I seem to hear people saying that companies, governments and schools should switch to Linux because its free. I don’t know how they understand the open source software philosophy, but to them it’s not free. I agree that for a personal user, you can equip a desktop computer with entirely open source software and not cost you a penny, but for large institutions such as those mentioned, that’s just not the case.

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