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  • Living with Leopard: Book VI — I’ll Never Go Back!

    November 5th, 2007

    Years ago, I would often tell my friends that once they used Macs, they’d never go back. Well, I suppose that was true for some, but others chose to embrace Windows and claimed that it was every bit as good as a Mac and maybe better.

    Oh well, I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.

    However, it’s also true that, when you become accustomed to something, it may be difficult or impossible to change your ways. Take the Classic Mac OS. Yes, development essentially chugged along until 1999, with the release of Mac OS 9. Aside from some maintenance updates, Apple abandoned it and charged full steam towards delivering Mac OS X. But the first release of the long-awaited industrial-strength operating system upgrade met with a huge amount of criticism about what was omitted and especially what was changed.

    The former was easy to understand. In effect, Apple was building a new operating system based on the tried-and-true Unix underpinnings utilized by the NeXT operating system. They were also several years late, and I suspect that the first couple of Mac OS X releases were delivered as much to provide credibility as deliver a robust system upgrade for Mac users.

    That didn’t stop people from complaining about various interface decisions, and it really got out of hand in Tiger when Apple’s applications variously incorporated platinum, gray and brushed metal windows. Although it didn’t bother me much, as variety is supposed to be the spice of life, I can see where some folks preferred a more orderly presentation.

    That came in Leopard, but the gray/blue-gray motif still doesn’t satisfy everyone, but it doesn’t matter what choices Apple makes.

    Now comes the easy part for me: I have no problem with the look and feel of Leopard. I think the Finder windows look just great, and the transparent menu bar doesn’t disturb my ability to use it. I can see where certain types of artwork might cause trouble, particularly if the menu bar is blackened and provides little contrast and visibility for the labels. With judicious selection, however, this shouldn’t be an issue. And with menu bar opaquing utilities already in place, you can get rid of the effect if you choose.

    However, maybe Apple should be thinking seriously about putting a slider in the Appearance preference panel where you can make that setting yourself. It’s not as if the system doesn’t provide that capability. That’s how the third parties get it done.

    The same goes for the Dock. 3D? Fine with me. I realize that the tiny shaded blue lightbulb-style indicators might seem a poor choice to display which applications are open. You can certainly use a Terminal hack or a third-party system enhancement utility to go back to 2D, and even to change that indicator. But the human eye is an amazing thing. If you give it just a little time, without clouding your mind with prejudgments, you may discover you like it, and that you’ll still be able to detect the open applications without a second glance.

    The most important element of a computer operating system, though, is whether it can stay out of the way and let you get your work done. Here Leopard doesn’t disappoint. I continue to run the very same applications I ran with Tiger. Except for the printing oddity with Microsoft Office 2004, where it reports pages as out of range, and the fact that Entourage 2004 doesn’t like Spaces, I’m pleased.

    You see, performance is noticeably snappier. That’s a subjective reaction, and it may well be that a benchmarking utility will show little or no change from Tiger, but perceived performance is extremely important. What’s more, Leopard doesn’t crash for me, and the only restarts I’ve done were to install software that required them.

    Now I’m realistic enough in my outlook to understand that some of you may have had perfectly awful encounters with Leopard. Maybe you did an Upgrade installation, and confronted that dreaded blue screen of death on the first startup. All right, we know that a third-party system enhancement, most likely an older version of Unsanity’s Application Enhancer, may be responsible. In addition, a Terminal hack in the startup single user mode or a full Archive & Install should exorcise that problem for good.

    I also realize that, with thousands upon thousands of possible Mac system configurations, anything can happen and probably will at some point in time. Again, this is nothing unusual, and any of the serious problems will be taken to heart by Apple and repaired, if need be, in a forthcoming system update. Or, if the fault lies strictly with an independent developer, they’ll do what they have to do to be compatible with Leopard if they hope to remain in the Mac marketplace.

    As you might imagine, I will be writing regularly on Leopard in the days to come. But with appropriate cautions — and an eye to the compatibility of your applications and utilities — I recommend Mac OS 10.5 without hesitation.



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    11 Responses to “Living with Leopard: Book VI — I’ll Never Go Back!”

    1. shane blyth says:

      Me too… the Finder and spaces are big things for me.. I can see the blue indicators in the Dock BETTER than tigers black triangles and no spinning beach balls on Network systems no longer accessible is a big plus for me too

    2. Arnold Ziffel says:

      Every species of OS X has brought out the doomsayers and critics who gnash their teeth and their keyboards about the changes they don’t like. Makes me wonder how these folks cope with changes in the weather!

      I find the new dock to be an improvement, including the glowing “LEDs” under the icon. The icons stand out better against the desktop than they did against the gray background. Safari 3.0 is significantly faster than the previous version and is indeed “snappier.”

      Perhaps if the complainers had to work with Windows all day, as I do at my office, they wouldn’t complain so much about their Macs. At work, we are using Windows XP with all its clunkiness and ackbasswardness, so it is always a relief and joy to be able to awaken my Mac when I get home and start ‘puting.

      Gene, thanks for your positive reviews of Leopard–it helps to have someone provide balance to the “change-is-bad” gripers.

    3. Every species of OS X has brought out the doomsayers and critics who gnash their teeth and their keyboards about the changes they don’t like. Makes me wonder how these folks cope with changes in the weather!

      I find the new dock to be an improvement, including the glowing “LEDs” under the icon. The icons stand out better against the desktop than they did against the gray background. Safari 3.0 is significantly faster than the previous version and is indeed “snappier.”

      Perhaps if the complainers had to work with Windows all day, as I do at my office, they wouldn’t complain so much about their Macs. At work, we are using Windows XP with all its clunkiness and ackbasswardness, so it is always a relief and joy to be able to awaken my Mac when I get home and start ‘puting.

      Gene, thanks for your positive reviews of Leopard–it helps to have someone provide balance to the “change-is-bad” gripers.

      Well, at least I’m not hearing too many people complain about the end of Classic.

      Oh, no, now that’s going to start too. 😀

      Peace,
      Gene

    4. Richard Taylor says:

      Gene,

      The shock of the new! The pang for the old! Personally, I love the look of Leopard (which my mind keeps translating into ‘leonard’) and find it a substantial improvement over Tiger. Quick Look alone is worth every cent I paid for the upgrade. Leonard (heh-heh-heh) seems to be snappier, too. Talk of the new firewall not being up to snuff is troubling, and I was a day late turning it on, but still, as I fall toward the hard pavement of hell, passing one floor after another, everything seems just peachy to me.

    5. Chuck says:

      No problems here (MacBook Pro 2.16, 2 GB RAM). I think it is also quite a bit faster than Tiger, and the added features are great. I think the look is a little more stark but I am fine with that. Nothing but great things to say about Leopard.

    6. Andrew says:

      For me the enhanced network and finder performance alone are enough, everything else, lovely as it is, is just bonus.

      So far, Leopard behaves much better on my cross-platform network, especially dealing with the PCs on the network. Tiger always felt slow when sending or receiving files with a PC forcing me to use the PC to initiate any file copies or moves. With Leopard, there is no real speed difference with initiating from the Mac or the PC, and no spinning beachball when the share is removed.

      Good job Apple!

    7. Lawrence says:

      I can’t move to Leopard just yet (one machine is too slow and the other is still looking for some Classic program replacements) and I have a question about Spotlight you might check for me. In Tiger, in a command-F Find window, it is possible to select file type and creator from the “Other” search attributes list. I didn’t see either of these selections when I played around with Leopard in a store. That would be a regrettable loss of funcionality for those of us who use the superior Mac metadata instead of ugly and stupid filename extensions. Can you find these search attributes? All HFS files have slots for them in their file directory entries — thay take no extra space anywhere.

    8. Malcolm Cooke says:

      I love Leopard much better then Tiger I am very happy with the dock like it better than the old and the transparent menu bar is fine it makes it retreat out of the way of the focus window. And yes the whole system is much more responsive on all machines I have installed on. I think the unified look is professional.
      People who miss the popup folders in the dock should get a copy of You Control with a little button in the corner of the screen gives one click access to any file or app on you computer it also has quick look built in for files.
      The command f still works in leopard with selectable attributes for finding stuff. In all excellent everything still works. Only Filemaker 8.5 has a problem but a fix is in the works V 9 works fine all other programs run fine office 2004 still randomly crashed especially on print. I use mainly Pages 8 now very stable fast and much nicer to work with and the screen display of word is so lousy in comparison.

    9. Terry R. says:

      Well if you don’t like the 3D Dock then go to Leopard Docks: http://leoparddocks.com/ and change it to a 2D Dock or customize the 3D dock.

    10. shane blyth says:

      yes http://www.leoparddocks.com has a heap of new docks.. and I use an app called pimpmydock which automates changes
      http://www.malcom-mac.com/pimpmydock/

    11. I’m impressed with Leopard. Love Spaces. Sure miss it when I’m on a make without it.

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