Tag Archives: Mac

Running Leopard

So I’ve just about got everything going in Leopard having done the upgrade. The only significant application that isn’t working is iMovie – but then that didn’t work under Tiger either. (Having had a trawl around the net it seems I’m not alone in having problems with it on a G5 either… The main tip seems to be to run it on an Intel based Mac, but it’s still not perfect…)

As with the upgrade to Tiger the OS upgraded without too many problems. I opted for the archive and install method this time around, which shifts the existing system directory out of the way, installs the new operating system and then pulls in all the settings and configuration, leaving everything else intact. This is regarded as a somewhat more reliable way to upgrade than using the straight upgrade as there is less chance of problems caused by leftovers from the old system as it is a completely new install. The third option is the erase and install that I used with Tiger which does a totally new install, and then pulls all your settings across from a backup as if it were a new machine.

As with any upgrade, it was then a process of working through all my core applications to work out whether I could get everything done.

There were a couple of minor casualties – one being Menu Meters, a little tool I had running to keep track of what the machine was doing. However I found a worthy replacement in iStat Menus that does much the same, but adds details of fan speeds and the current temperature inside the machine to the mix.

Amongst the applications that gave me grief during the update, my process for keeping the e-mail I receive in an average day (see this posting for details of what I do) came to a crashing halt. I started the new Apple Mail, and was greeted with a message stating that both MailActOn and MailTags had been disabled. Both applications have beta versions that are Leopard compatible, however that was only half the story. Along with the two applications I use Smart Folders extensively to group e-mails by subject and type, and to be frank they were being less than smart immediately after the update. Fixing that though was just a question of patience – sit back and wait for a few hours whilst the machine rebuilt the spotlight indexes.

Perhaps the application (aside from iMovie) that gave me most hassle was ClamXAV, my virus checker – as it would just keep crashing. Eventually I tracked the problem down not to an issue with Leopard, but with one of the new features of the latest version that made use of spotlight – disabling that and effectively reverting to the same configuration I had before solved the problem. Aside from that, the only annoyance is that Leopard insists on loading X11 whenever ClamXAV starts up.

The last application so far that has been a problem has been Google Earth which locked up every time I tried to start it. This I nailed down to a problem with my MyPlaces.kml file – once I removed that everything worked fine, and I built up what I needed from the copy of the file on my PC version of the application.

Sorting out Google Earth also turned up another change – the way networking is set up in Leopard which has changed a bit from Tiger. This also brings me on to my biggest recommendation, grab yourself a copy of the excellent Mac OS X Leopard The Missing Manual by David Pogue. It was an excellent reference during the upgrade process, and was indispensable in quickly getting the PC/Mac networking working again. Granted I could probably have worked it around after a while fiddling, but the book has a step by step walkthrough, including pointing out the obscure settings that you might otherwise miss.

Mac OS X Leopard The Missing Manual also has a great appendix going through the upgrade process (including how to use an iPod to do it if you’ve broken your DVD drive), and as always is punctuated by David Pogue’s great writing style and sense of humour.

For example he describes the Leopard first boot title sequence as:

“… one of the most visually stunning post-installation OS startup movies in historyâ€?

I’d perhaps not go that far, the encoding on YouTube gives you the general idea – but lacks the impact of the full screen HD version you get on the Mac – gives you the general idea though.

So was it worth the effort? I’ll have to give it a few days of usage, however so far there hasn’t been any absolute show stopping problems that mean I’ve had to resort to the backup as there were when I upgraded to Tiger. True there are some applications that aren’t quite there yet, but equally there are now starting to be some Leopard only applications, so now seemed like the time to move. There are some slightly annoying look and feel changes that I guess I’ll get used to – but some real nice new eye candy too – if you’ve got Leopard and a load of pictures in iPhoto, check out the fantastic mosaic mode on the screen saver. Next thing to look at I think will be getting Time Machine going…

Macworld Keynote 2008

It has to be said, I’ve not been massively excited by the past couple of Macworld Keynotes – either they’ve been things I’ve not really been interested in buying, or things that weren’t available outside the USA, or both.

It’s a bit different this year. The keynote included for key announcements, all of which were interesting to some extent or another.

First off there was Time Capsule, which is effectively the Apple take on Network Attached Storage, and is closely tied in to the Time Machine backup utility that shipped as part of Leopard.

Now it has to be said, that I couldn’t see a pressing reason to upgrade to Leopard, despite all the glowing reviews that were quoted (even from a PC magazine). Although Time Machine was a nice idea, I wasn’t looking to supplant my current backup solution which uses SuperDuper! to produce a fully bootable clone of my main drives. What I wanted to do was use a network attached storage, but although my current solution, a Buffalo Terastation worked fine for a PC, the claimed Apple support was absolutely lousy – and no amount of hacking around has seemed to improve it.

In typical Apple fashion, the Time Capsule is a plug-in and go solution, just turn it on, tell Time Machine, and off it goes, automatically backing up the drives over the network.

I suspect of all the new kit that was on show today, this will probably be the top of the list – the Terastation will remain for the PC backups, but an upgrade to Leopard and a Time Capsule will almost certainly be on the shopping list pretty soon.

Next up is the iPhone updates. Now however fantastic the user experience is with the iPhone, from my point of view it still needs to be 3G. Having said that, keeping a regular phone and having an iPod Touch as a PDA seemed to be a possibility – more so now, as alongside the new toys on the iPhone, Apple have released some of the extra applications onto the iPod Touch. Chief amongst those is the mail client – which will make a big difference, but they’ve also included the new iPhone version of Google Maps. The main feature that doesn’t work is the my location – but that is pretty ropey even on my regular mobile, but in terms of usability with the multi-touch gestures that the iPod Touch supports it is streets ahead of the client on any other mobile device. Suffice to say that when iTunes offered me the upgrade to my iPod Touch tonight, it wasn’t really much of a choice to install it, and I have to say as well, having played with the other applications, a 3G iPhone is looking a really attractive proposition compared to the current competition.

After that we had Apple taking a second stab at the Apple TV. Now it’s fair to say that this is one product that hasn’t been a massive success up to now. Certainly when I first saw it I wasn’t enthused. For take two, Apple are taking on the movie rental market. The requirement to have a computer is gone, effectively all you need is a TV, the Apple TV, and a broadband connection, and then you can rent movies, get TV shows, music, pictures from Flickr and videos from YouTube. If you’ve got a computer, the box will also sync up media with that as before. The real boon though is that they are renting high definition copies of the movies, and again, it’s all just point and click – compared to current solutions where it seems to score is the ease of use. Of course in UK terms, it will really come down to the quality of the available content, so it’s a definite wait and see on this one.

The last big announcement was not the much predicted touch-screen MacBook, however it was a new laptop, and one designed to slot in between the consumer MacBook line and the professional MacBook Pro, filling the gap left by the missing ultra portable pro laptop that was the 12“ Powerbook. What was shown was the Macbook Air, the worlds thinnest laptop. On a purely technological level it is impressive how thin the laptop actually is – amazing compared to most of the laptops people lug around. However screen wise it’s a reasonable size – 13â€?, the same as the MacBook, it also has a decent sized keyboard, and comes with an 80gb hard drive and 2gb RAM. What is amazing is quite how thin it is – a wedge shape 4mm at the front, and 19.4mm at the back, and it weighs in at just over 1Kg. With the same graphics as the MacBook it’s not going to be great games wise, but as an easy to carry laptop it’s great. Price wise it’s not too bad, at just under £1200 for the basic model – although that shoots up to over £2000 if you want the solid state disk option. Alongside this, the laptop introduces a lot of the gestures that appeared on the iPhone and iPod Touch – so it definitely would be a tempting package if I were in the market for a laptop – especially as just like all the other Apple machines you can dual boot into Windows too.

So in terms of the coolest thing announced, it’s certainly the new laptop, but from a personal practical point of view it’s the iPod Touch update and the Time Capsule that are probably what I’m going to end up using… Having said that, it certainly was a great keynote. The whole show is now up on the Apple site so you can ooh and aah along with the Apple faithful, and also proof that in even the best prepared presentations things don’t always quite go according to plan.

Alternatively, if you haven’t got ninety minutes to spend – this is the whole thing compressed into sixty seconds:

Apple Time Capsule originally uploaded by rustybrick

MacBook AIR-04 originally uploaded by Bogdan….

Mac Expo and the Launch of Leopard

Lots of Space as No Apple Stand!

I have to say that if I’d paid £15 per person to come into this years Mac Expo I’d be decidedly disappointed. In our case, having got complimentary tickets we made the best of it and headed off into central London.

Anyway, what was wrong with the expo? Firstly it was noticeably smaller – although having the seminar theatre made up for it a bit, the biggest absence was glaringly obvious the moment you walked through the door – Apple themselves.

Last year they had the largest stand at the show, and had their entire range of hardware and software on show for you to play with. I wanted to have a play with the new iPod’s and they were nowhere to be seen – other stands had the new iMac’s to play with, and the organisers had managed to pull together a number of Mac’s to demonstrate what you could do with the platform. There were some big stands though – with Quark, HP and Microsoft all having big stands. Amusingly Microsoft were trying to plug Office 2008 – but demo wise aside from the Mac version of Expression, only had Office 2004 to show.

So where on earth were Apple? You didn’t have to go very far to find out. A trip on the Underground up to Regent Street and at the flagship UK Apple Store and you found out – it was absolute chaos!

An Empty Apple Store

When we got there at 4pm the store itself was closed, but was filled with a lot of staff frantically rushing around ready for the 6pm launch of Leopard. There were seemingly as many on the pavement outside. Several were managing the queue that even at this point was around the corner of the block and halfway over to Hannover Square – many sitting there with MacBook’s open. Other staff were fielding questions from people wanting to go into the store – one was even running an impromptu Genius Bar with a girl who had come up especially with a MacBook problem.

We hung around outside the store for a bit, and overheard a couple of conversations which highlights quite what the store is known for. Firstly a guy came past and asked why the store was closed, and was told it was for the launch of a new operating system – “What, for the iPod?â€? came the reply. I heard other people describe it as “The iPod Storeâ€? too.

Not wanting to hang around in the queue – I’m doing my usual wait-and-see with regards to Leopard – we headed off to have some dinner, and came back just after 6pm to see how it was going.

After 6pm it was even more chaotic. Crowded around the doors were camera crews filming the events, the rush hour commuters were all trying to get past on the street, and the queue had now reached back round into Hannover Square itself, despite the store now being full of customers putting down the cash for Leopard and in some cases putting down a lot more money to buy a new Mac. If you want to see what the launch was like from someone in the queue, check out this great photo set by Christianno Betta – as you can see from this set he also got a copy of Leopard too.

So that it seems was where Apple were. Whilst the Mac Expo organisers we’re busily trying to attract people by opening late for the launch – the real action, and all the hard-core Apple fans were queuing outside the Apple Store hence it was all hands on deck for that, and I guess they couldn’t spare the staff to man a stand at the show.

Just as a postscript, looking at the seminar schedule, Apple are going to be there today – demonstrating Leopard not surprisingly! It wasn’t a total dead loss from our point of view either, as over in the corner we found the stock picture site that Beth has been using for some of the online look of Displaced Moose who said that there are no problems with her using the same images on her business cards – the only no-no is reselling the pictures themselves.

Stephen Fry – Devices and Desires

I blogged a couple of years ago about an article about Stephen Fry that appeared in Mac Format and about his addiction to the Mac platform stretching back twenty years.

Recently Stephen has started a blog and the topic of his first posting – Devices and Desires – which discusses another technological addiction, mobile devices and Smartphones. Not surprisingly he has an iPhone, but this looks at the competition, most of which he has tried.

Style wise this is a bit different from your usual technical article – very Stephen Fry (so it does have a couple of more adult comments) – but it is a great read, and pretty funny in places. Incidentally as an example of the quirkiness, the title of the article is taken from the General Confession in the Book of Common Prayer (“I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heartâ€?)- not a common point of reference for a computer article, but somewhat appropriate!

Looking at his history, it seems he is a Psion 3 fan whereas I only came in when the Psion 5 was launched. He’s tried Palm devices, but is very frustrated with the way they seem to regularly try to commit corporate suicide. He is particularly damning about the Palm Foleo, a mobile device even he did not want.

As an aside he also mentioned Markspace Missing Sync as a good way to synchronise a PocketPC with a Mac – not surprisingly after my nightmare with the product I can’t agree. Despite it’s numerous updates over recent months, I’m still not sure I actually trust it not to scramble my diary!

According to the article, he has tried a number of Symbian smartphones, and has some harsh words for Sony Ericsson:

What a crushing, lowering, fury-inducing disappointment. Just how dumb are the software engineers, designers and marketeers at Sony E?

On the other hand, he seems to quite like the latest Nokia offerings.

Moving on to the iPhone, he has many of the same criticisms as other techies and industry commentators – but again like quite a few in the US he is using the phone anyway.

What is quite impressive is that for a blog with only one article, Stephen Fry has so far had 140 comments – hopefully that will persuade him to write more as I for one will certainly be reading.

PC Pro: The Average Home User Should Get a Mac

So six months ago they were doing their annual Mac attack, now the schizophrenic PC Pro has swung back the other way again. On the cover of issue 157, one of the headlines is “Apple’s New iMac – Run OS X and Windows on this stunning £799 systemâ€?!

Flip to the review and you’d think you were reading a Mac magazine at times:

This tightly integrated all-in-one offers plenty of performance and fabulous looks, yet it costs less than £1,000. And we can’t name a system by a PC vendor that does all of that.

The review finishes off with this paragraph and a ‘Recommended’ award:

The iMac offers some significant improvements over the old model and good value for money. We’d love to recommend a system from a Windows OEM, but until the rest of the industry takes a slice from Apple’s pie, the iMac remains the most impressive all-in-one on the market.

Later on the magazine reviews VMWare Fusion, the latest piece of virtualisation software for Intel Mac’s. This gets a recommended award, and the review even details what utility you need to download from the VMWare website to package up your old PC as a virtual image to use on your Mac.

That’s not the end of it, the very last page of the magazine has an opinion piece by Jon Honeyball declaring 7th August 2007 as the day the music finally died for Microsoft. The by-line makes Honeyball’s point clear – “With the launch of its spreadsheet, Apple has defined the home appliance of computing.â€?

In case you still haven’t got the significance of 7th August 2007, it was both the day that Apple revealed iWork ’08 which for the first time included a spreadsheet application, Numbers. It’s also the day that Microsoft announced that the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac OS X would be delayed for six months. This is going to prove a point that Honeyball first made last year, that Microsoft are not oriented towards the needs of the home user.

Honeyball contends that the average home user wants to just walk into a store and get a computer in the same way as they get any other commodity like a TV or a dishwasher, and they want to take it home plug it in and it just works. Whilst Numbers is no Excel killer, it does everything the average home user does with a spreadsheet, more than that the iWork suite can open all the latest Microsoft Office better than Microsoft can under Mac OS X for at least the next six months. So the average user can walk into an Apple store, and walk out with a machine that a PC magazine describes as the most impressive all-in-one on the market, more than that it will include iLife which will allow them to work with their digital pictures, home movies and upload them to the web, and for an extra £60 they can get iWork which integrates seamlessly in with the other applications to provide Microsoft compatible word processing, presentations and spreadsheets.

With the launch of its spreadsheet, Apple has completed the circle. It’s now defined the home appliance of computing. There’s no reasonable task it can’t do out of the box or with a few extra purchases while in the shop. And it all works together in the way an appliance should.

Whilst obviously I’d agree with Honeyball, it does come as a major surprise to find PC Pro – them of the “32 reasons why PC’s are Better Than Macsâ€? – essentially saying that the majority of home users would be better off with a Mac!