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The Leopard Report: Why So Buggy?

From the first day that Leopard arrived on the scene, the online universe has been filled with problem reports. On the surface, this is understandable. When you have millions of people using a brand new computer operating system, a small percentage will encounter difficulties of one sort or another.

Now you can place the blame for those difficulties at the feet of many offenders. Sure, it may all be Apple’s fault, and that’s the easiest answer, since it’s their product. At the same time, the source of your troubles may be due to a problem with your Mac hardware, and again it’s Apple’s problem, assuming that you haven’t abused your computer in some fashion. And certainly dropping your note-book to the hard wood or tile floor counts as abuse, although I presume such situations are usually accidental.

But there are other issues that arise, such as the new printer or other peripheral that doesn’t have Leopard-compatible drivers. True, Apple provides an almost exhausting number of printer drivers in Leopard, and even the tools for companies to use Apple’s Software Update feature to deliver newer versions. However, a fair number of products may not function, or function in a crippled fashion. Here, the blame probably lies with the manufacturer, and not with Apple. They might, of course, blame Apple for a last-minute change that broke their product, but there’s nothing you can really do to confirm whether that statement is true or not.

The other issue comes closer to home. You want your Mac tailored specifically to your needs, naturally, and that may include installing some third-party hacks that mess with the interface or add some features you really believe Apple should have included all by themselves. Unfortunately, some of those “toys” aren’t compatible with Leopard, or break during the upgrade process. So suddenly things are unstable.

Now if you look at the various fixes in the 10.5.1 and 10.5.2 updates, you’d come away convinced that there isn’t an awful lot Apple failed to address. It’s quite an all-inclusive list, and, while you may not like that 3D Dock on the bottom of your screen, that’s easily changed via a simple Terminal hack or third-party system alteration tool. Oh yes, didn’t I tell you to be careful of those things in the previous paragraph?

But at the end of the day, after looking at the various Mac troubleshooting sites, I come away with the feeling that Apple needs to get a 10.5.3 out there post haste. Or even sooner.

Now what could possibly be wrong? Well, take Wi-Fi. Apple has staked an awful lot on a reliable wireless connection among your various Apple products, from iPhone, to Apple TV and to your Macs. As most of you know, Apple was perhaps the first company some years back to take the then-fledgling Wi-Fi standards and make a huge push to get AirPort into the hands of as many Mac users as possible. It was among the first to embrace newest standards, including the still-draft 802.11n protocol.

However, Wi-Fi remains a sore spot. Frankly, I don’t have very much trouble. No, it’s not trouble-free by any means. There are tons and tons of complaints about dropped connections, somewhat reminiscent of the dropped call problem with your wireless phone.

So what can I say?

Now I live in a somewhat-cluttered neighborhood, where there are tons of wireless routers in operation at any one time. My master bedroom is about 50 feet from the office/studio area, and that ought to be well within the range of any Wi-Fi connection, right? Well, not quite. You see, I have occasionally gotten erratic connections in the bedroom. This is not just with a PowerBook or MacBook and an AirPort Extreme, but with routers from other companies too, such as Buffalo Technology and Linksys.

If anything, the 10.5.2 update has made my connections more stable. From here, I suspect that my ultimate solution is just to put a second router in the bedroom and have it set in bridge mode, so it passes on a more powerful signal.

Whether or not there’s anything Apple could do to make things better, I don’t know. Certainly if your Wi-Fi connection worked all right in Tiger, and in previous versions of Leopard, surely something is broken that has to be fixed. I’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s Apple’s fault and that they have a lot more work to do.

However, before you say that Leopard is a disaster, it still has an extremely high approval rating. More to the point, they said even worse things about Tiger. Or don’t you remember?