The OS Quest Trail Log #12: Leopard

OS X Box in Black and White This week on the quest was almost all about Leopard. Certainly this weekend was all Leopard.

I chose to do a complete erase and rebuild, installing all my apps one by one. While time consuming I like this method for any OS upgrade. With Windows it was almost a requirement.

One reason I like it is there’s little risk while installing the OS, especially for OS X with all peripherals disconnected. If Apple (or anyone) can’t install a OS on hardware they also designed it would be a slam dunk to go back to the old OS and wait for the fixes, or move to another OS.

A second reason is I like to see the OS as intended by the developers (or the marketing department). By not doing a migration I get fresh settings. Of course, the downside here is it’s all new and I either have to change my ways for awhile or manually tweak the settings back to where I wanted them. But it’s all fun.

The third reason is that all the app settings get wiped out. Most apps have been upgraded since I first installed them and this give me an opportunity to revisit them and see if there are better ways. Also, there may have been some minor corruption in the settings that I didn’t notice and this cleans it all out before it has a chance to bite me. But in cases where I did want to save the settings it was so much easier than with Windows. All I had to do is restore the apps ~/Library/Application Support subdirectory and I was good to go.

It was also a bit of an eye opener about how much of my data had moved to the net. Mail has always been a concern for me since it’s usually a complex file system and tied to one app. I’m using GMail now so it was immediately available without risk of data loss (although I still need to do something to prepare for when Google loses it). My Firefox bookmarks and settings are also synced so were ready to pull down. .Mac synced my Safari bookmarks, Transmit favorites, contacts, calendars and all my Yojimbo data.

The only serious problem I had was trying to set up my Boot Camp partition in Parallels. A little research shows this problem pre-dates Leopard. Between the time to install and troubleshoot the problem I put it aside for later. I just don’t need the functionality. Other than that there’s just minor annoyances. I’ve been listing them on my Leopard page.

First Impressions

I like it. Like I suspected, it’s the sum of the improvements that make it worthwhile. Some of them are minor like in the print driver for my Epson R340. Previously if a pre-set came up as the default but I wanted to print just some of the pages I lost the preset when I picked the pages to print and had to reselect it. Now I can change the pages to print without losing the preset. Minor, but annoying when I forgot. I also like the improvements to the DVD player since I frequently watch DVD’s while working on my iMac (like now – Tom Petty Gainsville concert). There’s a setting to keep it above other windows and they’ve added a time slider at the bottom of the viewer window.

Spaces – I’m liking it so far. Applications can be assigned to certain spaces or they can just be allowed to stay in the space that they’re open in. Switching between spaces is intuitive and windows can be dragged from one Space to another. This last one is important for apps such as Firefox or Safari where I might want windows in multiple space. When selecting a running app from task switcher Leopard switches to the Space it’s running in. This is both beneficial and annoying. As many apps will only run one instance of themselves I sometimes want them in two Spaces. I need to drag the new window to the new Space.

Time Machine – The jury is still out for me, but it does appear to be more than eye candy. The interface may be flashy, but it’s functional. It was easy to set up for everything to be backed up. While the restore screen does take over when activated it does seem intuitive. I’ve set it up for both my iMac and MacBook. I’ll be using it until SuperDuper! gets officially updated for Leopard. I’m also impressed that I haven’t noticed a performance hit when the backup runs. (Other than the first backup which I let run overnight. [Updated Oct 29th] So much for no performance issues. I had a problem when Time Machine got around to backing up my large VM file.]

The .Mac enhancements seem to make it even more functional. The preferences sync seems to take most of the preferences folder (~/Library/Preferences) so even third party app sync. Maybe I shouldn’t have been but I was surprised to see apps getting the settings when I installed them on my MacBook which was a huge time saver. It also opens up some interesting system restore possibilities.

I haven’t used Apple Mail.app since I had some problems with it. But I’ll probably give the new version a try later this week. I left Safari as my default browser to give it a try. But I still end up going to Firefox on the strength of the add-ons. I have used Safari a bit without any problems.

I’m one of the people that puts the dock on the left side and also auto-hides it, rarely using it. With the last minute changes that Apple made a side dock looks much like the old dock so I don’t have much to complain about there. The translucence is annoying at times, like when I can read background text in a dialog that I’m trying to read text in the dialog itself. Hopefully they’ll add the ability to turn it off in a future update.

Haven’t come across much more that I can complain about. I’m a happy Leopard user.

Software Upgrades

Haven’t really kept track of upgrades this week. With the Leopard upgrade all my apps were re-installed with the latest versions and patches.

WordPress 2.3.1 was released a couple of days ago, hopefully I’ll get around to upgrading it this week.

News & Links

FastCompany.com: Magic Shop – Reporter as front-line employee at several retail stores. Says Apple gets it right. My favorite line: “When employees become sharers of information, instead of sellers of products, customers respond.” Still take too long to get service sometimes.

Lifehacker.com: Featured Mac Download: Keep Mail.app at a Glance With Mail.appetizer – Seems like a cool add-on for handling mail in mail.app.

ap.google.com: Comcast Blocks Some Internet Traffic – The AP is reporting about Comcast’s blocking of internet traffic. They stop the transfer by silently sending a false message to stop downloading. The message appears to come from the other computer. Which, as others point out, is just plan wrong.

arstechnica.com: Comcast traffic blocking: even more apps, groupware clients affected – Ars Technica has more info on Comcast blocking of network traffic. It apparently extends to enterprise software such as Lotus Notes.

dailyapps.net: Hack Attack : Install Leopard on your PC in 3 easy steps! – Installing Leopard on a PC. Hacked iPhones and now Leopard on non-Apple hardware. Oh my.

news.com: Congressman to Comcast: Stop interfering with BitTorrent | Tech news blog – CNET News.com – net neutrality is back on the agenda.