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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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