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  • The Leopard Report: My Pleasure is Your Pain

    December 3rd, 2007

    Most of the news about Apple is extremely positive these days. Sales are up, market share is up, and, coming off a record quarter, the holiday season may beat analyst estimates big time.

    Of course, we’ll all know come January, but speculation can be fun if not taken to excess.

    Certainly, Leopard had a great launch weekend, with some two million copies sold, roughly twice as many as Tiger some 30 months earlier. Of course, in all fairness to the skeptics, the number of actual Mac users was far less in the spring of 2005. Apple wasn’t moving two million boxes a quarter then, not even half that.

    I assume that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of additional Leopard users have joined the club since then, in large part because of the sale of new Macs. So with a burgeoning base, you have to expect that problems will occur here and there. Certainly, the old adage in the tech industry that the first release of anything is apt to be buggy, must apply here as well. Indeed, the 10.5.1 update contained a fairly high amount of bug fixes, including a show-stopper that might cause lost or damaged data when you move a file from one partition to another via the Command-drag process.

    That it came out so quickly after Leopard’s release makes it quite clear that Apple began work on 10.5.1 pretty much on the very day they declared the Golden Master or release version of Leopard.

    Of course, that’s nothing new. All the point-one updates to Mac OS X have arrived within just a few weeks after the original release. In each case, there were complaints that Apple rushed the product to market, which is why fixes had to be released so quickly. And, when 10.5.1 saw the light of day, no doubt the next maintenance update was in full bloom somewhere deep in Apple’s code mines.

    Based on your comments, which go largely uncensored except for language that may be a mite too frank, it’s clear that most of you are having a great experience with Leopard. I know I installed 10.5 on the very day it was released, and, a few days later, did some more installs for a local insurance agent. That, plus your comments and the remarks from some of my guests on The Tech Night Owl LIVE have shown that Leopard is, by and large, a winner in most respects.

    At the same time, I am aware that there have been problems, stemming from the original installation. Unexpected crashes, some kernel panics, and so forth and so on. In some cases, these are clean installs, including erasing the drive before restoring files. I know I did that on my desktop Mac, largely because my main internal drive had been used and abused for months and it was time I started from scratch.

    The theory has it that erasing your drive first ought to be sufficient to make your Leopard upgrade seamless, except for the usual early-release third-party conflicts. In the real world, that’s the way it worked for me, but there are still some reports of installations that went bad for no discernible reason. Now maybe it’s true that if we looked at those systems, there would be issues with peripherals and software added as part of the restore process. I’ll grant that.

    For otherwise, why would some of you have perfectly awful experiences with Leopard, while others, and that number appears to be in the majority, sing the praises of Leopard to the skies?

    Now first and foremost, I believe that these tales of woe are largely true, even that one from a certain tech columnist who apparently went way overboard in order to spread a little dirt to get a higher hit count. Sure, I suppose a few people make up stories simply to get their names or at least their tragic tall tales published in their favorite Mac troubleshooting resources.

    So why does one person report absolute joy and another endless woe from the same operating system, using the same computers? What are the differences between the two? That may require a careful analysis of the various system and installation scenarios to see what went wrong.

    Or maybe nothing went wrong after all. Perhaps all these troubles are simply due to sample-to-sample variations among the various pieces of equipment, plus uncertain interactions involving software installed on all these computers.

    Then again — since I’ve been known to stretch the boundaries of reality on my other radio show — let me just suggest something a little outrageous: I often wonder why some people seem to embrace technology and enjoy their experiences thoroughly, while others are intimidated by the gear they own, and have experiences to match. Is it possible the folks who encounter constant irritations with technology subconsciously create the conditions that cause such annoyances to occur?

    No, that’s just absurd. It just has to be the operating system, or the hardware, or some unfathomable combination of both. But sometimes I wonder…



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    8 Responses to “The Leopard Report: My Pleasure is Your Pain”

    1. George Carrington says:

      “Then again — since I’ve been known to stretch the boundaries of reality on my other radio show — let me just suggest something a little outrageous: I often wonder why some people seem to embrace technology and enjoy their experiences thoroughly, while others are intimidated by the gear they own, and have experiences to match. Is it possible the folks who encounter constant irritations with technology subconsciously create the conditions that cause such annoyances to occur?

      No, that’s just absurd. It just has to be the operating system, or the hardware, or some unfathomable combination of both. But sometimes I wonder…”

      I couldn’t agree more!

      I have been “using” computers since 1960, PCs since 1982 and Macs since 1987. My wife was a “late” joiner – she started on IBM Selectrics, and didn’t (really) get on to computers until about 1986/7, starting with a VAX, and later moving to Macs.

      Somehow I can have a Mac simply riddled with “hacks”, which runs sweetly and rarely gives me any trouble. She has an identical piece of hardware, running whatever came with the Mac from Apple, and Office 2004’s Word. But it doesn’t work the way her IBM Selectric worked, hence there MUST be something wrong – can’t you fix it, Dear?

    2. Dana Sutton says:

      Yes, one hears reports of these horror stories, but the funny thing is that always happen to somebody else, I’ve never once had any trouble with a major OS upgrade. I too have used a whole lot of system hacks, and once I even got stupid and forgot to repair my permissions before running the upgrade, so if anybody has deserved problems it’s been me. In fact, I’ve only had one kernel panic in my life, way back with OSX.1, so long ago I’ve quite forgotten what I was doing at the time, and I’ve never seen a blue screen. In my experience, OSX is amazingly stable and reliable.

    3. mj says:

      I know what you mean. Somehow my SO has managed, by logging into her account, find herself in a machine that refuses to sleep properly, runs out of battery quickly and won’t render eBay properly.

      When examined (disclosure: I am an ACHS), it sleeps fine, battery lasts fine and eBay renders fine, in any account.

      And she gets so shirty when I suggest she might stop opening the lid of the Macbook to check if it has gone to sleep. Or maybe allows it an hour or so to charge the battery. Or maybe waits while eBay downloads it’s advertising repetoire.

      And yes, she gets angry when the issues don’t appear when I’m there.

      So yes, it MUST be the OS or the hardware.

    4. Andrew says:

      In my experience, RAM modules are the single, most common cause of BSOD, Kernel Panic and many other “operating system” problems, and the incidence of bad RAM has increased with all computer venders and RAM manufacturers.

      I had a Pismo PowerBook that gave me a lot of grief in Tiger but worked fine in Panther. Kernel panics whenever I even looked at it funny, bit since it was so solid under Panther it had to be the new OS, right? Wrong, I started testing with each of my 512MB memory modules (Crucial RAM) removed and found the bad stick. Crucial replaced it and the machine was then as solid under Tiger as it had been under Leopard.

      Lombard PowerBooks developed problems with their processor cache, which had no real effect on OS 9, but made OS X unstable.

    5. Tom B says:

      The web is like Ann Lander’s column. People who are happy don’t blog nearly as much as a possibly small number of people who had bad experiences.

    6. John H. Farr says:

      You wrote, “Is it possible the folks who encounter constant irritations with technology subconsciously create the conditions that cause such annoyances to occur?”

      Ohhh yes, it’s possible. It’s not only possible, it’s the way EVERYTHING works in this world, which you seem to have an inkling of. One way to put this is that we get what we’re afraid of and don’t recognize in ourselves. Applies to everything from OS troubles to geopolitics.

      I applaud you, Gene, for having the personal courage and respect for the truth to pose the question.

    7. Richard Taylor says:

      A friend who was always having problems with her Dell saw that my wife and I rarely had problems with our iMacs. She bought an iMac. Her first complaint was, Hey, this thing is screwed up. It won’t run exe files. I patiently explained to her exe files won’t work on a Mac because it’s a different kind of computer. Humph!

      I started receiving calls, sometimes well into the evening, about her iMac and how to fix it. Often this was easy; sometimes this was nearly impossible to do remotely. When I sat down in front of her computer, it always purred like a kitten (so to speak) and performed the way it was designed to perform. Still, her problems continued in my absence. She began bad-mouthing Macs to everyone who would listen, and they in turn would kid me because, of course, I’d been a Mac advocate for many years. She convinced several people who had planned to buy Macs to purchase PCs instead. I told her politely that her problems with the iMac were user based.

      Finally, in disgust she sold her iMac (to me, and it was my workhorse machine for several years) and bought another Dell. At first, with her Mac experience fresh in her mind, she refused to admit that there were any problems with her Dell, but within a year she was complaining to anyone who would listen (which is to say, not me) about how her Dell was constantly screwing up. The two friends she’d convinced to buy PCs finally bought Macs during the next upgrade cycle, she told me, and they liked them, go figure.

      The moral of this story is, wherever she went, there she was.

    8. Martin says:

      Well I just upgraded my old B/W G3 with OS9.2.2 to a new 2.8 gig iMac last week, it came with an upgrade disk to 10.5 the upgrade worked flawlessly so did the upgrade to 10.5.1.

      It is taking a bit of time to find my way round the new os as there is so much that is new, the only glitch, was with the screen saver setting it to Mosaic, I think this has a bug in it. Apart from that tiny thing its all been pretty easy and seems to work flawlessly. Personally I’m well pleased with Leopard, its a big leap forward for me.

      I connected a firewire hard drive I used to use for storage and time machine asked if I wanted to use it for back up and just went off and did it for me. Seems to me every thing is pretty easy, more to the point works.

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