Mac News Review

Leopard Beautiful and Unequaled, Upgrading to Leopard, Flower Power iMac 'Ugly', and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.10.19

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

The biggest Mac news, of course, is that Apple has announced that Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" will be released on Friday, October 26. People who have worked with the developer preview have high praise for it, but as there are almost always a few bugs that slip through the cracks and aren't discovered until regular users install it on their older Macs, we suggest holding off for a few days before installing Leopard - and be sure to have a backup of your current installation if you need to revert to it. (We recommend an external FireWire hard drive as your destination and either SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner as the tool to create a bootable backup.)

Also, just a reminder that there is no Classic Mode in Leopard, another reason to stick with Tiger or at least keep a bootable Tiger installation handy if you use any classic apps.

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Mac OS X 10.5 'a Beautiful Upgrade'

InfoWorld's Tom Yager says:

"Apple's announcement of the impending delivery of OS X Leopard (release 10.5 of Mac and Xserve operating systems) marks the public debut of an engineering achievement that dwarfs iPhone, iPod, Windows, and Linux. No other PC server vendor, with the notable exception of Sun Microsystems, invests so much time and manpower in its system software.

"In 10 days - 10 excruciating days - I and hundreds of Mac developers and VIP users can finally speak out about that which we have sworn to hold secret. Leopard is magnificent code architected from the user in, rather than from core technology out.

"Windows and Linux are designed from the core out, which is to say that they are all about layered kernels, system calls, and APIs, with each layer's purpose being to abstract the layers below it. The layers grow thicker; when a layer gets unmanageably thick, a pretty new abstraction layer is created so that people don't have to deal with the ugly one.....

"Everyone plugs into OS X through the frameworks, and below that lies a stable, thin, simple, and well-documented system stack. It is not the frameworks' job to abstract lower levels of software. From a developer's point of view, the frameworks are OS X. When developers write to Apple's frameworks, they inherit cross-application integration and operational and interface consistency with no effort....

"Leopard is beautiful, not merely in appearance but in design, all the way down to its certified Unix core. My own core is Unix certified, and now that Apple has reworked OS X to jump the many hurdles required to bear the Unix trademark, I feel like I've returned from a lengthy self-imposed exile. Finally, there's a PC Unix that everyone can love."

Leopard 'an Amazing Operating System' without Equal

MacTruth's John Manzione (who we haven't heard enough from recently) says:

"Its [sic] been more than a week since installing the latest Leopard beta, and I've been hearing, like you, that this build just might be the build you drop $129 on in a couple of weeks. That being the case, here's what you can expect.

"The latest build, 9A559, is, for the most part, as stable as Tiger was when it was released. That's both a good thing and a bad thing, since many people thought Tiger was released a bit too early and contained a few too many bugs. If 9A559 is the shipping build there will be a couple of things to bitch about but plenty to praise. The problem most of us will face if this build is one we'll be offered by Apple is whether to take the plunge now or wait for 10.5.1 or 10.5.2.

"Although I am having no real issues with this build other than a wireless network bug with Safari and Mail sometimes not quitting when I want to, I've heard some people are having a couple of substantial issues. This article is by no means a comprehensive look at Leopard. There are plenty of places on the net where you can read about every feature that's coming, including Apple's site. Instead, I want to relate a few ways that I have integrated Leopard into my own workflow, and how I could never switch back to Tiger. (I've tried). If I could get across a single sentiment about Leopard it would be this; Never before has Apple taken an OS update as serious as this one. Leopard could very well be the product that moves millions of Windows users to the Mac platform. This is not hyperbole; Leopard is an amazing operating system that has no equal."

Speed Up Your Sluggish Mac

MacInstruct's Stephen Korecky says:

"Remember when you first bought your shiny new Mac a couple years ago? It was snappy, speedy, and responsive - so responsive that at times it actually seemed to know what you were thinking. These days, however, it seems to be anything but speedy. Indeed, your aging Mac is now the epitome of slow. And more and more you're finding that your Mac is unbearably sluggish and difficult to use.

"But wait! Don't lose hope and give up on your 'beater pile' just yet. There are plenty of ways to breathe new life into your aging Mac! That is, if you're not fishing for an excuse to score a new MacBook Pro. We'll show you how to do it."

Flower Power iMac One of the Ugliest Tech Products Ever

Flower Power iMacApple Gazette's Michael says:

"PC World recently wrote an article naming some of the ugliest Tech products ever . . . and the flower power iMac made the list.

"If you take a look at it, it's a hard point to argue. That thing is hideous."

Editor's note: And well it might. The contemporaneous "Blue Dalmatian" iMac should have been there along with it. cm

10 Things That Should Be in the Next Mac Pro

Computerworld's Seth Weintraub says:

"The recent word from The Inquirer that Apple may be hoarding all of Intel's new 45nm Penryn processors - and possibly paying for the privilege - has prompted a lot of speculation about the future of Apple's Mac Pro desktop lineup. Apple's professional machines, which now use Intel Xeon Cloverton chips topping out at 3 GHz, are called workstations by Apple and offer quad- and eight-core configurations. They're fast, and they sport professional prices to match, with top-of-the-line eight-core units starting at $3,997.....

"Penryn is Intel's first chip under 45nm (compared with the 65nm processors now used) and offers a faster front-side bus, larger Level 2 caches, better energy efficiency and a new instruction set (SSE4) aimed at boosting media, gaming and graphics uses.

"As important for Mac fans, the new chip architecture allows some new possibilities in case design - namely because the motherboard and cooling system could take up less space. The new chips could also mean the incorporation of new technologies such as Scan-Line Interleave (used for linking two or more video cards) and a faster front-side bus.

"With that in mind, let's go through some of the things Mac users - especially this Mac user - would like to see in the next Mac Pro...."

Whither Mac mini?

Ars Technica's Charles Jade says:

"AppleInsider fearlessly put its reputation as the leading purveyors of Apple rumors that don't appear to be just made up on the line, making a bold prediction about the Mac mini.

"Therefore, it comes as little surprise that sources, for whom AppleInsider holds the utmost respect, are now pointing towards the mini's impending demise.

"AI was, of course, wrong.

"Much to the delight of that small group of people who still wanted updates to the Mac mini, Apple gave in and bumped the little guy....

"While Apple has started to slow shipments of some of its more popular Mac models ahead of this month's anticipated release of Mac OS X Leopard, the company this week began telling some of its channel partners not to expect any more shipments of its current Mac mini configurations, period."

Apple Updates

ATI Radeon X1900 XT Firmware Update for Mac Pro

"The ATI Radeon X1900 XT with 512 MB of dedicated GDDR3 memory provides an ideal solution for motion graphics, animation, digital photography, or 3D design and visualization. It offers two dual-link DVI ports that can simultaneously support two 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays for an incredibly large widescreen workspace.

"The ATI Radeon X1900 XT Firmware Update will update the firmware on all of the ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics cards in the Mac Pro. The updater application will be installed in the /Applications/Utilities folder.

"Follow the instructions in the updater application to complete the process.

"File Size: 668 KB"

Products

Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard

PR: Cutting edge Mac users can avail themselves of expert advice as they prepare for October 26th, the date that Apple has announced for the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. In the $10 Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard: Early-Bird Edition, author Joe Kissell walks readers through evaluating if their current Macs will run Leopard well, how to make a useful backup in case of installation problems, smart ways to clear disk clutter and unnecessary files, and whether they should rethink their partitioning scheme. Also included is a 5-page appendix loaded with direct links to backup programs, maintenance utilities, and hardware drivers.

Readers will have immediate access to the full version of Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard as soon as Apple begins selling Leopard. The full version will walk readers through the Leopard installation process, cover how to test a fresh Leopard installation, and explain how to clean up loose ends and troubleshoot problems after installation.

Reader Jackie Chappell said of a previous edition, "Whether you are an experienced Mac geek or a newbie, this book will make the whole installation process a lot less nail-biting." And reader Jon Rosen concurred, saying "'Take Control of Upgrading to Tiger' truly was a lifesaver."

Customers can save 25% by purchasing Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard in a bundle with Matt Neuburg's Take Control of Customizing Leopard, which provides step-by-step guidance for setting up and getting started with Leopard, with a special look at new features, such as Spaces and Time Machine. Take Control of Customizing Leopard can be preordered now; the content will be available when Leopard is released.

Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard is the latest edition of the flagship ebook that launched the Take Control series in 2003 when Mac OS X 10.3 Panther was released. Since then, the Take Control series has continued to pioneer in the field of electronic publishing with timely information about Macintosh-related topics.

The 60 page Early-Bird Edition comes in PDF format, to be followed by the 100+ page full edition on October 26. A free 19 page sample is available for download.

Software

DEVONtechnologies Releases Freeware EasyFind 4.0 and PhotoStickies 5.6

PR: DEVONtechnologies, LLC has released updates for the super-fast, indexless find-file utility EasyFind as well as for the now free photo viewer PhotoStickies.

Most importantly, PhotoStickies 5.6 is now freeware again and can be downloaded and be used free of charge. In addition, the new version features many detail enhancements such as combined tabs in the Inspector panel, better 'TV' display style, and an optimized and more reliable HTML parser. PhotoStickies 5.6 is more compatible to certain websites and handles HTTP referrers automatically, too.

The find-file utility EasyFind 4.0 comes with a revised user interface that presents all available options more clearly arranged, remembers recent searches, and shows the file creation date in the results list. The results list can be sorted by creation or modification date, folders can be dropped into the EasyFind window to search just the contents of this folder, and all windows can be minimized at once now. Also, file types and HFS creator codes for searching email files have been added and the underlying search methods are more robust and handle words separated by spaces or nonwhite separators more consistently.

Finally, both applications are faster now, more robust, and a number of minor bugs and glitches have been fixed.

EasyFind is an alternative to or supplement of Sherlock, EasyFind finds files, folders, or contents in any file without the need for indexing. This is especially useful if you are tired of slow or impossible indexing, outdated or corrupted indices, or if you are just looking for missing features like case sensitive or insensitive search, Boolean operators, wildcards, or searching for phrases. In addition, EasyFind uses multithreading and is therefore very responsive, even with multiple search processes running. The application provides contextual menus and Mac OS X Services, and displays the location of each item in a separate column for a better overview. EasyFind uses little memory, supports drag-and-drop and the clipboard, and optionally finds invisible items or items within packages.

PhotoStickies puts all your favorite pictures on your desktop, as stickies, floating or even borderless. Sticky pictures may reside on your computer, or on the Internet. PhotoStickies also displays live webcams on your desktop, updates them automatically, and even records them like a VCR.

Key Features:

  • Displays all image formats supported by Mac OS X Displays local images, pictures located on the Web or webcams Shows images as stickies or as desktop wallpaper Many live effects, e.g. alpha channels, transparency, color corrections Savable states
  • Internet-based list of new webcams
  • Can run as a menu extra

Availability and pricing

Both EasyFind and PhotoStickies require Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. They can be downloaded and can be used for free.

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