Right, MacOS X.3, the topic du jour and I don't want to miss that one. Most new features have been presented and discussed at length and many of us Mac people have been itchy of anticipation. If you missed the whole buzz, read Apple's propaganda, how it's favourably reflected in the Guardian, or Mark Pilgrim's roundup with nice screenshots. Those reflect the majority of the new features, meaning I can dig in and start commenting right away.
Die Zeit before it finished. Once it had finished, everything was good, though.
Speed The good news first: While it may not actually be faster than it was before, it definitely feels faster. Most notably menus start deserving the name 'drop down' menus again. While they're perhaps not quite as fast as in OS 9 yet, the speed of menus on the Mac stopped being embarrassing today. I also unscientifically feel slight increases in application launch times and in general responsiveness. This doesn't sound like much but it's actually a big deal as those split seconds you waste waiting for your computer to respond are actually deducted hundredfold from your life. So, yay we've got speed.
Playing around with Exposé, I noticed a few quirks: Exposé is actually quite good about updating windows while it's on: Window content remains live – you can watch different apps complete their tasks and switch to the one that finishes first, for example. That's quite good. However, the window title shown by Exposé isn't live as is the rectangle used to highlight the window. If the window's size and title change while Exposé is on, it will still be highlighted using the original name and size. This can be seen in the screenshot where I invoked Exposé while the Monitors control panel was loading.
Another quirk, is quite strange as well. The way windows as shuffled around by Exposé doesn't seem to depend on the number, size and position of windows but also on the frontmost application. Just compare these two screenshots of Exposé coming from exactly the same arrangement of windows along the x and y axes – the only difference being that Safari was the frontmost application in the one situation and NetNewsWire was the other.
While this non-predictable arrangement may be a bit irritating in principle, I don't think it does a lot of harm. Other things, like the handling of small windows or the sheets sliding right onto the screen out ouf nowhere while Exposé is active seem more critical to me. Sometimes I found it hard to locate my minimised iTunes controller. Perhaps smaller windows shouldn't be reduced in size as much as are the larger windows. Anyway, this is the first incarnation of Exposé and there may be improvements to come in the future. It's quite cool for the time being.
Btw, pressing F9 and F10 alternately is very nice and soothing to look at as well...
was enthusiastic but still a bit sceptic – how will the speed he demoed scale from a PowerMac G5 to a two year old Powerbook?
Rather well I must say. Files open quickly. Searching is quite fast – about a minute for the first search of a 550 page document yielding 1500 results. This seems to involve some indexing as the second search will only take 2 seconds. They even seem to have gotten the load balancing right – I can navigate through the partial search results while the search is still running, making the long initial search time tolerable.
I can select text and copy it. I can crop bitmap images. Best of all, I can even select and copy vector graphics from PDF files. I could, for example nick this nice vector drawing of a Klein bottle from Allan Hatcher's excellent book on algebraic topology in its full vector graphics glory.
And note the nice selection tool they included – complete with fading out of the irrelevant bits like Photoshop's crop tool, but easier to use as you don't have to aim for 'handles' but the pointer will always reflect that it will manipulate the corner of the selection closest to itself by taking the shape of the corner in question. [This can't be seen in the screen shot.]
Not everything is good, though. Just look at those keyboard equivalents in the Go menu. Inconsistent across languages and applications and the German ones are impossible to use with non-German keyboards. Very nice – and good bye to Acrobat Reader or its offspring.
GeburtstagsChecker. It also allows you to edit a person's nickname now – a bit of information stupidly still not used by the new version of Mail – so I have to continue entering my parents' full names to send them a message.
You can also associate a person to another person and specify the relation between them – but that feature is somewhat half-assed. No drag and drop, not automatic recognition etc. A nice idea, but I'm tired of having to wait for yet the next update for things to actually work.
Other strange things: There's still no way to set a preferred e-mail address for a person. There's a field for the maiden name. Seeing that not only women change their names these days when marrying, this looks like a word from the past. Particularly in these politically correct days. And take a look at that script menu. This must be a very bad joke – an 'update script menu' item. Do this automatically, stupid computer, don't bother me.
Did you ever notice that the search field in the address book and that in iTunes don't work in the same way? In iTunes, every playlist has its own search term, in the address book one term is shared and automatically applied to whatever distribution list you select next.
Once that was sorted, things were better, a bit faster in particular. MailPictures stopped working - but Mail automatically displays photos from the address book now, so that's not a big deal. GPG Mail stopped working as well which is worse. The date column displays times respecting my time format now – the 24h clock in particular. About time. However, when it displays the date only (i.e. no time), it won't use relative dates.
Another nice thing is that Mail seems to deal more gracefully with network disconnections now. No more annoying dialogues. Instead there's a little symbol next to each mailbox to indicate it's been taken offline. Just don't click it as Mail will then try to connect to all accounts, asking for passwords. Which is bad if you have dummy accounts set up – setting up an extra account seems to be the only way to have different 'From' addresses.
the other day – anything is possible.
'Tabs' again in German. However, now they call bookmark folders 'Lesezeichen Ordner' in one place and 'Sammlung' in another. Safari is installed directly into the applications folder, rather than where the previous version resided, leaving you with two versions. Still no filter field for bookmarks. Still no undo in form fields. The annoying downloads window still exists and gets into your way.
And there are even more changed keyboard equivalents here. Why do you have keyboard equivalents if they're changed all the time and inconsistent across applications. E.g. 'Toggle status bar' was a semi-logical Command-Option-S and now is a finger-breaking Command-Option-/, where / is Shift-7 on a German keyboard just to have the old one for Snapback. Showing the bookmarks is now Command-Option-B, where Command-B does nothing.
smbclientjust as any Linux tool would. Apple just does it less quickly and makes you click an extra button before you can access one of those servers.
Oh and once you managed to mount an SMB volume things still suck like they used to. The system will lock up and rotate its beach ball when applications try to access files. Unfortunately Nicholas was a bit too optimistic about this. It took me less than an hour of fiddling with SMB volumes before I had to restart because everything kept locking up. Bum.
Now that I've arrived at the topic of crashes, the ugly side of X.3 moves into focus. As in its predecessors it is mostly concentrated in
mount. No Services menu in that 'Action' menu.
And so on. The new metal window mode is just new window dressing. All the old bugs remain. No preview for PDF files in icon mode. No preview for icon files ever – the revenge of Carbon I suppose. No double clicking preview images. And new bugs are there: For some reason Acrobat Reader is now displayed
Acrobat Reader 5.1.app, that's right including the
You get the idea. Should anyone actually be interested in this, then I can elaborate and provide screen shots. In all the 'all new' Finder is still a stinking pile. It's not that any of the problems I mention here is particularly non-obvious.
OK, I'll go press F11 for a few hours now. Bliss.
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.