A Few Notes from A Casual User on Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1

Mac OS X Leopard

I’m a Mac fan … I don’t go all crazy and have to have ALL the latest gadgets. For the record, I have an iPhone, iPod (I’m a generation behind), and a new 20″ aluminum iMac. OK, so I have to have some of the newest gadgets, but by most standards, I’m a very casual user.

Here is a list of the things I use the most:

Apple Apps:

-Safari
-iTunes
-iPhoto
-Mail
-iChat AV
-iCal (but mostly only on the iPhone)
-Address Book (to sync my iPhone)

Third Party Apps:

-Sirius Mac 2

…and a few others but used too scarcely to mention. I didn’t even have Office on my machine until about three months after I bought it.

So, in my casual use, there have been a few noticeable differences since upgrading to 10.5. I’m going to vent on two here:

Let’s start with Safari. I use Safari as my main web browser. I know that Safari 3 is still in Public Beta but I never used to have this problem. When viewing RSS feeds, it takes what feels like forever (up to about 10 seconds) to load as little as 5 new feeds. It never did this on the previous versions. I have not tried the RSS feed in Mail heavily yet so I don’t know if the problem exists there or not so I’ll have to try that and find out. Point is, I like viewing the RSS feeds in Safari while I’m browsing my other websites.

In iTunes, if I’m viewing a video (usually a TV show or music video), I often times will close the video window when it’s a music video that I don’t have the song file for. When I select another video, the audio will play, but the video window will not pop back up. If I select a size for the video screen, I get the turning beach ball, and iTunes quits. This also happened on Tiger so I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing, but I don’t think such a simple thing should be such an issue.

More to come as I continue to discover new and hopefully exciting things!!

Editor’s Note: Greg Probst is the author of Blue Sleeves Blog and is a regular contributor to Probstisms.

Scoble’s Little Computer Problem

It sounds like Scoble’s pissed off at his Mac. Apparently, his computer had a little trouble after the latest Mac OS X update, and it was restarting over and over again. What this usually means is that there is some conflict either with hardware or other software drivers. I haven’t had a problem with a Mac OS X upgrade or update as far are I can remember, and I’ve been using the same Power Mac G4 since 1999. To think back even further, I don’t remember having any problems with System 7, Mac OS 8, or Mac OS 9. Now, that’s a lot of solid updates over the years.

I understand the frustration Scoble is feeling. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when your computer isn’t working right. There are so many potential issues that it’s almost overwhelming to even get started with troubleshooting, but you have to do it. I’m really surprised he gave up so quickly and ran to his blog to light up Apple like a Christmas tree. His post really sounded like a computer novice wrote it, and I expect more from someone who has a background like Scoble. He could have at least pulled out his Mac OS X disk to see if it would work. Sometimes, it’s something really simple, but you have to at least start the troubleshooting process.

Unfortunately, I think this is just the beginning of the Apple backlash. There have been so many switchers in the last several years that there are bound to be people who feel like they need to run back to their Windows machines at the first sign of a problem with their Macs. They’ll spend a day or two with their Windows machines and realize why they moved to the Mac in the first place. Apple’s not perfect. Mac OS X isn’t perfect. It is certainly better than Windows, and that is coming from someone who has been using a Mac since System 7 and Windows since 3.1. Unless Microsoft makes some dramatic user-targeted improvements to Windows, I will confidently recommend Apple computers to anyone who asks.

If you want an entertaining response to Scoble’s little rant, you have to check out Fake Steve’s reaction. Hilarious!

A Fresh Start For An Eight Year Old Power Mac

The Mac OS X Leopard launch this weekend got me thinking about how I could get more out of my good ol’ Power Mac G4. I didn’t buy Leopard because I’m waiting to hear how it runs on G4 processors. Based on my experience with iLife ’08, Apple is clearly not optimizing applications for the G4 and its Velocity Engine anymore. Take iMovie ’08 for example. iMovie ’06 runs like a champ on my computer. I find it very difficult to believe that iMovie ’08 could not have been optimized to run on a G4. It does not make any sense to me. The performance of iPhoto ’08 is also a bit suspect on my Mac especially compared to the last version. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic.

The Leopard launch convinced me that it was time to give my Mac a fresh start. My hard drive was approaching capacity, and the performance of the machine was definitely starting to slow down a bit. To give a little background, the machine still had Classic (Mac OS 9) on it. It also had every file I had created in the last eight years. I’ll be the first to admit that a fresh OS install was way overdue.

With my internal 120 GB hard drive and 250 GB FireWire hard drive both almost full, I had a bit of a dilemma. It was time for another external drive so off to Costco I went. With a new 500 GB FireWire hard drive in hand, I was now ready to implement my master plan. The first step was to do a full backup onto my new hard drive. Once that was finished, I broke out my Mac OS X Tiger disk and did a nice fresh installation for the first time since who knows when. I have decided that my internal hard drive will be used almost strictly for applications. With over 140 GB of photos, music, and videos, I don’t want to keep my media files on the internal drive. I plan to use the 250 GB FireWire drive for my iLife media files. The drive will be a little over half full when I move all of my files over so I will have room to grow. That will leave the 500 GB FireWire drive to backup every file on my other two drives. That will give me plenty of room not only for a full backup but also incremental backups for the foreseeable future.

With my new setup in place, I feel like my Mac (barring anything catastrophic) should last for quite some time. I can see using this machine for at least another couple years. Now, don’t get me wrong; I would love a new iMac, but my Power Mac seems to be a lot more responsive so I am happy to keep on using it.

Are You Telling Me My Power Mac Is Almost Vintage?

I read on TUAW last week that the next version of Mac OS X will come very close to making my Power Mac G4 a vintage machine. It seems the minimum system requirements for Mac OS X Leopard will call for at least an 800 MHz G4 processor. If not for all of the upgrades I’ve done over the years, my poor old 400 MHz Sawtooth would have been history a long time ago. I mean, really, it’s almost eight years old! Right now, I’m running a 1.4 GHz G4 processor and an upgraded video card. I also have 1.5 GB of RAM so I should be in okay shape. It should be interesting to see if my Mac chokes on Leopard. It runs Tiger like a champ so I have high hopes.

I have resigned myself to the fact that this will probably be the last Mac OS upgrade for this computer. I have heard rumors that the next version will only support Intel-based Macs, but I find that difficult to believe with all of those G5 Macs out there. I do suspect that G4s may be put out to pasture. My Power Mac has served me incredibly well over the last eight years, and I’m sure I will be just as happy with our next Mac, but it will be sad to see it go. With its four hard drive bays, it will probably continue to be used as a media server, but we’ll see how that goes when the time comes. I wonder what Macs will be like by the time the next version of Mac OS X comes out. I have to admit, it will be fun to have a nice new machine around the house. You can’t beat that new computer smell! :)

Who Needs A New Vista?

My buddy, Scott, and I went to the same Microsoft launch event for Windows Vista and Office 2007 in San Deigo and Saint Louis respectively. Even though we were separated by 2,000 miles and different speakers, we both came away with similar opinions of Windows Vista. It just isn’t all that impressive when you get right down to it. My wife and I have a new laptop running Vista, and it looks nice, but it has nothing that Mac OS X hasn’t had for years. Plus the laptop had to be souped up big time to even run the system. On the other hand, I have an almost eight year old Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X Tiger like a champ, and I plan to upgrade to Leopard soon after it is released. It seems to me that Microsoft tried too hard to make Vista look similar enough to XP that it wouldn’t freak people out. Vista has some really nice new features, and they could have been much cooler if the general layout of the desktop wasn’t the same as it’s been since Windows 95. There do seem to be some underlying technologies that could produce some cool new applications in the future. Now all we have to do is wait for developers to redesign their applications.

School District Dropping Macs for More “Appropriate Technology”

I stumbled upon a story on Digg about an IT director for a suburban Chicago school district wanting to get rid of Macs because they’re not used in the “real world.” He wants to replace them with more “appropriate technology” from Microsoft. This guy clearly has not been keeping up with what is going on in the world. Surely he must know that those new Macs that his district just purchased this year can most likely run Windows if they need to. The article is not clear about what kind of computers were purchased, however. Being a daily user of both systems, I prefer my Mac. I also have enough sense to know that I need to know Windows to function in the corporate world. Using a Mac in school provides “appropriate” training to use either Mac OS or Windows. The systems are similar in so many ways that it really doesn’t matter what computer a student uses. Besides, corporate users don’t know Windows. They know Office, and Office is available for both Windows and Mac OS. In fact, the Mac version of Office is easier to use and better designed than the Windows version. The Mac Business Unit over at Microsoft is doing a great job making Office more Mac-like.

Anyway, my point here is that Macs are just fine for school or business or any other activity, and anyone who thinks otherwise has not done enough research or testing to know better. Judging by the number of Diggs this story has already, this guy is going to hear what people think of his grand plan.

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