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  • The Leopard Report: Your Problem Isn’t My Problem

    November 22nd, 2007

    As I near a month using Leopard, I continue to delight in its great performance, stability and reasonably good compatibility. It’s not that nothing has gone wrong, but none of the issues seem terribly serious. However, I’m still troubled by all the reports I read online about serious issues that cannot be ignored.

    Even after the 10.5.1 update fixed that horrific file movement bug that could, theoretically at least, cause loss of data if something interrupts the process of moving a file across partitions, drives or file shares, some people still aren’t satisfied.

    Recently, for example, I read about complaints that Leopard’s stringent graphic needs are hurting the battery life of Mac note-books. Maybe so, but I haven’t seen that on my first-generation 17-inch MacBook Pro. I got roughly three hours under normal circumstances with Tiger, and I’ve observed little change since then. Well, maybe I’m not running software that could substantially exercise the graphics hardware, although I do run a cross-section of applications, including Parallels Desktop and Windows Vista. All right, that does cause battery life to decline more rapidly, but the very same thing is true for Windows users. At least I can quit Vista and get back to my work; they can’t, unless the choose to downgrade to XP.

    AirPort reception remains a hot complaint. Again, I’m not seeing it. In fact, since the 10.5.1 update, which did address some AirPort-related troubles, I see an additional bar on the AirPort menu’s signal strength display, and appropriate increases in Internet download speeds. Now it’s not perfect; never was. I am immersed in a sea of Wi-Fi and portable phone soup in this neighborhood, and I’ve gotten improved reception by playing with the channel selection options in my 802.11n edition of Apple’s AirPort Extreme. I settled on Channel 11, after a brief test, but your mileage may vary. Yes, sometimes reception dips almost to the point of disconnecting me from the network, but it used to be worse in pre-Leopard days. Maybe when I have the time, I’ll go back and try some other channels and see if they fare any better.

    Again, that’s not a specific Leopard issue.

    Just as I was writing this, I read a report about a stuttering mouse anomaly, where the cursor would travel across the screen of its own accord from time to time. Now that particular complaint involved a user with a fair amount of third-party software and peripherals, so maybe that’s where the fault lies.

    This isn’t to say I haven’t had difficulties with any input devices. I have one of Logitech’s Cordless Desktop Wave wireless keyboard/mouse combos. Although the ambidextrous mouse, the LX8, is good, it’s not quite the match of Logitech’s superb MX Revolution. Only the most recent software generated fits when I hooked up the MX Revolution’s transceiver to the USB port and tried to use that mouse under Leopard. For example, scrolling down would produce the opposite effect.

    Well, Logitech just released version  2.4.0 of their software, and that has cured this apparent conflict, and now I can use the mouse that I prefer. The release notes also state that Logitech is no longer depending on Unsanity’s controversial Application Enhancer to provide access to certain system functions. That’s something that concerned me quite a bit, because the previous version, 2.3.1, did not provide the standard Application Enhancer preference panel, so I wasn’t even aware of its presence.

    Indeed, after restarting with the new software, I found some window display inconsistencies in Leopard’s Spaces feature were also history, and managing multiple desktops is now noticeably more fluid and dependable. Even better, the semi-ergonomic keyboard portion of the Desktop Wave combo no longer lags slightly when I’m engaged in a fit of burst typing. I thought that was just a symptom of the keyboard’s response, but, no, it was the software all along. But that particular artifact existed even with Tiger.

    The remaining persistent bug exists in Microsoft Word 2004, where I cannot print documents without getting a message, erroneous, that the page is out of range. For now, I simply use the Pages application from iWork ’08 for that purpose. Maybe Microsoft, which is aware of the bug, will fix it before I move to Office 2008. Or maybe not.

    The upshot of all this is the unfortunate fact that no PC operating system can be compatible with everything. It’s just not in the cards. Even though Apple has a limited number — relatively speaking — of models available, there is no possible way they can predict all the theoretical interactions as the result of thousands of potential system configurations.

    Sure, maybe they did ship Leopard somewhat prematurely, no doubt because of marketing pressure and not to miss another deadline. But that’s how the software business works. If the bug is serious, it’s clear from the recent 10.5.1 update that Apple will do their level best to set things right.

    And that, my friends, is the best you can hope for in this highly imperfect world.



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    15 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Your Problem Isn’t My Problem”

    1. shane blyth says:

      No problems here..
      A happy little sand boy am I.

    2. No problems here..
      A happy little sand boy am I.

      Yes, I can almost see the smile on your face. 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Melangell says:

      In Safari 3 for me, certain bookmark folders open straight down which gets in the way of choosing bookmarks lower down. Other than that, I’ve had nary a problem with my still sweet 1.5 GHz 12″ Powerbook. I truly wonder about these people who seem to be having such awful problems with everything Apple makes.

    4. swissfondue says:

      My main problem has been with Leopard Mail 3.0 on my 12″ 1.5 GHZ PB. My ISP complains that Mail.app is generating to many simultaneous requests and overloading the server ( I have 6 email accounts on my domain name). This was not the case with Mail 2.0 under Mac OS 10.4.11.
      Therefore they have repeatedly blocked my IP address. Now I’m using Thunderbird until Apple fixes this issue , but I hate it.

      Otherwise I’m mostly enjoying the improved networking and the quick look functionality is awesome.

    5. shane blyth says:

      easily fixed … by the way I have 6 email accounts and my isp has no issues.
      just manually check your email… one at a time ..

    6. Osakan One says:

      I’ve been having quite a few issues on my Powerbook G4.

      I should get something newer but to be honest, I don’t do much beyond very light photoshop work and web browsing/chat on the Powerbook (as apposed to my Hackintosh [google it]).

      I have a lot of glitchy graphic issues every 20 minutes or so and without warning when I least expect it, the whole thing will just lock up and I’ll have to reboot.

      I actually had this issue during installation and I thought my installer was corrupted so I took another look at things and installed a second time.

      Yeah. 50/50 chance of it working?

      They weren’t kidding.

      I might slide back into Tiger.

      I did have to hack the Menubar to make it legible, after all and the new dock too.
      Makes you wonder what the hell is going on at Apple HQ to let such whacky things get approved for the final product, huh?

    7. Jim Sheppard says:

      On the mouse stuttering issue, I had some mouse stuttering both before and after installing Leopard; it turned out to be an incompatibility between my Mighty Mouse and my Cubase mousepad. Solution: dump the mousepad.;-)

    8. Robert McCullough says:

      No problems here with Leopard on an upgraded 2003 G5 PowerMac.

      Hardware:

      G5 Dual 2.0GHz M9032LL/A (2003 Version)
      4GB of DDR 400 RAM (512MB DIMMs)
      ATI X800 XT Graphics Card (new from OWC)
      SeriTek 1VE4 PCI-X Card & SeriTek External Enclosure (new from SeriTek)
      Dual WD 150 Raptors in External RAID 0 Array (OSX Boot) (new from OWC)
      Dual WD 500GB SATA DATA Array in Internal Bays (new from OWC)
      Firewire 800 External WD 500GB HDD (new from OWC)
      SIIG 4 Port USB 2.0 PCI Card
      24″ DELL Ultrasharp 2407 WFP LCD Monitor via DVI Port
      LinkSys Cable Modem @ 10Mbit/sec
      LinkSys Router @ 100 Mbit/sec
      LinkSys Work Group 4 Port Switch @ 100 Mbit/sec
      iPod Touch 16 GB

      Software:
      Apple OS X Leopard 10.5.1 (Full Retail Version)
      Macromedia 2004 (Fireworks, Dreamweaver)
      Abobe CS2 (Photoshop, Illustrator)
      Microsoft Office 2004

      I did have to re-install 10.5.1 from the Stand Alone version as the Software Update version had the multiple entry Repair Permissions problem which the re-install fixed. On this G5 PowerMac Leopard feels more responsive than Tiger. That is with or without using the Dual WD Raptors for the RAID 0 Boot Array.

      I could not be happier with how Leopard 10.5.1 performs on my G5. Maybe I am lucky, but I would be more inclined to think it is because I don’t use any 3rd party HW or SW from vendors who have in the past provided marginal support for Apple systems. I also do not change where OS X expects things to reside nor do I rename any OS X folders. I have always used SuperDuper! to create Bootable backups and test all OS X updates in a Safety Clone before installing on my Master Boot HDD. This has served me well through Panther and Tiger. I am waiting for SuperDuper! to become Leopard compatible, which should be soon. In the interim, Spotlight running on the external Firewire 800 HDD is working. I still have the latest OS X Tiger Boot HDD with my Applications, which are Rock Solid, should any problems occur with Leopard.

      I would also submit that most of the Naysayer Websites and/or Blogs seem to camp on Apple and other Forums looking for a user who states they are having issues. Sometimes, it is only minutes to where a Blog picks up the cry that all Leopard Users are having this same problem. That multiplies rapidly and then more Blogs along with the usual suspect PC sites paraphrase the same, causing FUD for all. More often than not, the next day the Big News Media & Financial outlets run with the same story and Apple Stock drops. That scenario seems to becoming more and more prevalent over the last 6 months, which is a sad commentary for a lot of Internet Journalism in general and most Blogs in particular.

    9. Dana Sutton says:

      Under Leopard, when my Mac Pro is asleep apps. like Mail and Time Machine cease functioning. I am not sure whether this is a bug in sleep mode, or whether sleep is implemented differently. That’s about the only problem I’ve encountered.

    10. Under Leopard, when my Mac Pro is asleep apps. like Mail and Time Machine cease functioning. I am not sure whether this is a bug in sleep mode, or whether sleep is implemented differently. That’s about the only problem I’ve encountered.

      Since when are these programs supposed to do anything in Sleep mode?

      Peace,
      Gene

    11. Lawrence Krupp says:

      I have long subscribed to a theory I came up with that postulates the existence of two parallel Mac universes. In one of the Mac universes all updates go smoothly resulting in a faster, more stable system than before the update or upgrade. In this universe there are no kernel panics, no freezes, no balky peripherals. Everything ‘just works’. I have lived in this universe for many years now as have most Mac users I suspect.

      In the other (evil) Mac universe live the unfortunate souls we see in the Apple and MacFixit support forums. Nothing seems to go right for them. Each update they attempt results in non-functioning or barely functioning systems. No amount of Disk Utility voodoo helps. The inhabitants of this evil Mac universe are quite poignant in their laments, rants, and pleas for help. They often report the same sorts of problems over and over again. I do not deny their experiences. I can only state I do not live in their universe. I do not understand their plight.

      One of the MacFixit moderators recently added to my theory by bringing up the subject of Quantum Entanglement as a possible explanation for the two universes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement This sounds like as good an explanation as any. The fact that these two parallel universes exist is not in dispute. There needs to be more research as to why they exist.

    12. I have long subscribed to a theory I came up with that postulates the existence of two parallel Mac universes. In one of the Mac universes all updates go smoothly resulting in a faster, more stable system than before the update or upgrade. In this universe there are no kernel panics, no freezes, no balky peripherals. Everything ‘just works’. I have lived in this universe for many years now as have most Mac users I suspect.

      In the other (evil) Mac universe live the unfortunate souls we see in the Apple and MacFixit support forums. Nothing seems to go right for them. Each update they attempt results in non-functioning or barely functioning systems. No amount of Disk Utility voodoo helps. The inhabitants of this evil Mac universe are quite poignant in their laments, rants, and pleas for help. They often report the same sorts of problems over and over again. I do not deny their experiences. I can only state I do not live in their universe. I do not understand their plight.

      One of the MacFixit moderators recently added to my theory by bringing up the subject of Quantum Entanglement as a possible explanation for the two universes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement This sounds like as good an explanation as any. The fact that these two parallel universes exist is not in dispute. There needs to be more research as to why they exist.

      As a science fiction writer, I do enjoy the possibilities inherent in such a theory. But I think it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. It’s not just a black and white situation, because there are lots of gray areas, where some of those strange problems do spread to a more general user base. When that occurs, Apple usually takes it seriously enough to provide a fix, even if the fix doesn’t come quite as quickly as you’d like.

      The other issue is more complicated. You see, with lots and lots of possibilities for system variations, a driver conflict or some third-party system utility (one you installed long ago but forgot about) can conspire to cause difficulties.

      On an emotional level, I’ve always felt that people who view themselves as technologically challenged may somehow encounter more difficulties using sophisticated gear. A common movie line is, “Where’s the love,” and I sometimes wonder if being intimidated by your Mac or PC is sufficient cause for it to intimidate you. Maybe you subconsciously do things that cause those problems.

      Well, at least it’s fun to theorize about. It might even be true.

      Peace,
      Gene

    13. Tristan says:

      Why do so many people have problems with the transparent menu bar? I love it and really think it makes the menu bar stop stealing focus from your work! I REALLY hope Apple doesn’t change it… And if they do… Make it an optional change!

      Another user who has had no problems since Leopard! 1 x Clean Install on a MacBook and 1 x straight upgrade on a MacPro!

    14. Dallas says:

      Tristan asked why so many people have problems with the transparent menu bar. I can only really speak for myself but I suspect my problems are representative of others as well.

      My main problem is the decreased legibility that comes from lowered contrast. Perhaps more youthful eyes than mine are not bothered by this, a well known phenomenon of human visual perception, but the reduced contrast — and especially the fact that it varies across the menu bar — causes perceptible eye strain for me, enough that I had to take more frequent breaks from staring at Leopard than with Tiger or any previous OS version to get relief.

      My next biggest problem is that the transparent menu bar steals focus from my work, & does so in several ways. First, contrast difference has long been used to emphasize & de-emphasize visual items … like I said, the phenomenon is well understood, & is used to advantage in the Mac OS for the familiar “grayed out” items in menus. But this emphasis is haphazard in the menu bar, depending on what part of the desktop picture that shows through behind the item. That is quite distracting. Second, the desktop picture itself is a nice distraction when I’m doing nothing important, but an unwelcome one when I’m doing serious work with fully expanded windows. The last thing I want is a strip of it peaking through the menu bar!

      Finally, the menu bar isn’t really transparent! It is a composite effect that just involves the desktop picture but not anything actually on the desktop. You may not notice this until you move a desktop item up enough that its icon is partially behind the menu bar, at which point you may be surprised to find that it doesn’t show through.

    15. Dana Sutton says:

      I don’t know how much of an issue screen burn is any more, but I wonder if it is possible that Apple opted for the transparent menu bar because that big white strip running along the top of the desktop at least used to be the leading culprit for causing this problem (yeah, I know about screen savers, but there are special situations like kiosk displays where a Mac screen might be left on for a long time displaying the same image).

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