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Apple’s latest cat, should I adopt it?

Steph Reinstein

This is a Guest Post from Steph Reinstein, who has been a fantastic commenter on my blog, helping answer loads of questions related to all stuff Apple. Steph takes us inside his latest Apple Journey, upgrading to Snow Leopard. Enjoy. Please feel free to leave comments, and I’m sure Steph will gladly answer.

Apple released their latest software offering, OS X Snow Leopard,  towards the end August, and I thought I would give you my personal review of this fantastic piece of software.

What’s new?

Apple has branded this upgrade as “evolutionary not revolutionary” and that is what is waiting for you.

New exposé & Stacks

I have always been a big fan of exposé and it just got so much better. You can now quit apps, quick preview windows, see all windows open of a specific app, all with a quick  Cmd + Tab. It can now be activated on newer Macbook & Macbook Pro with a 4 fingers gesture on the touchpad, and you can also now browse inside folders in stacks(this used to be a big annoyance for me, not being able to do so)

It is clear to me that SL has been taking in account the much rumoured Tablet Mac. The way exposé behave now is so “finger friendly” and it seems that Apple have  learned from the Newton fiasco, and is making sure that the OS is ready for the hardware.

64 Bit

All Intel Core 2 Duo Macs are 64 bit capable,  but unless you are a proud owner of one of the newer Macbook Pro, Mac Pro, iMac (roughly 2008 onward), your kernel will boot in 32 bit. However even in a 32 bit kernel, 64 bit apps will refer to RAM faster and you will see a marked improvement. Apart from the  DVD player, all Apple apps that come with SL are now 64 bit.

Grand Central Dispatch

It takes out the onus of the developer to thread tasks to different cores of the CPU. In other words, the OS will now maximise the CPU cores it uses. Not much in there for the end user, perhaps a faster app, but to the devs a huge time gain if they do address multi-core processes.

Quicktime

After a bit of a facelift, I think I will give it another shot now that the “PRO” version has disappeared. But the smokey theme makes it look like a non Apple app, very strange.

Safari

Previously, most of the time when Safari crashed, it was due to plug-in. You are now able to carry on browsing even when Safari has detected an error on the page.

Exchange

Finally,  you can now get rid of Entourage (Microsoft is doing it for you anyway) and the long awaited Exchange support is built in.

The less visible features

Finally,  Eject – actually ejects … the device will become grey while doing so, but now at least you know something is happening

Malware scanner – Only scans for two known worms, and only from downloaded files. Anything on a thumb-drive, USB disk, NAS, network won’t be scanned.

Preview – Is becoming slowly a full featured app with tools.

No more groggy Mac – with a much improved faster wake up time from sleep.

Space saver – After my SL upgrade a save a healthy 6.2 Gigs on my machine.

The services menu – after a few years of installing and deleting apps my services menu has grown ridiculously big and obsolete. It seems it has gone through a bit of a crash diet now!

Print drivers are now also updated via the Software Update.

Battery Monitoring- ALT+click the battery icon and it will tell you when it is time to spend R1,5K for a new one

Better Wifi – Faster reconnect, ALT+click gives you more info

Should I Upgrade?

Pro’s

The improved features are worthwhile, and I am a bit vain in that matter… If I can afford it I like to have the latest …

The pricing of the upgrade is very attractive (R329.00) The most annoying part of my upgrade was actually Sandton traffic to get to the iStore.

I heard reports that the DVD will upgrade from Tiger as well, but I can not confirm that.

Con’s

It is an Intel only club .. Older machine are unwelcome

Incompatible software – This is a biggie to not upgrade or to wait.

Apple has caught many developers by surprise with the early release of SL. There is a list on Apple website of software that will not run in their current version work on SL –http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3258

The big one for SA customers would be the  software provided by Vodacom & MTN for their Datacards (VMC, etc.): they are made by Novamedia, and  are basically a branded version of Launch2net, which has not been upgraded to the latest version yet. If you use the Vodacom or MTN MAc software, you may want to hang on a bit before upgrading to Snow Leopard

Plaxo plug-in, Growlmail, forklift, 1password are  also incompatible at the moment. 1 Password & Forklift have however released early betas to overcome this issue.

UPDATE : Applejack is not yet compatible with SL.

I hope you take the plunge and upgrade to what seems to be a revolutionalry upgrade from Apple. Please feel free to comment,ask questions. I will try my best to answer them promptly.

Comments

  1. Nos

    Since I upgraded I’ve noticed my Skype is acting up. Most of the time it sits in limbo ‘connecting’. Also if I instruct it to quit it doesn’t and then has to be force quit. I’ve tried reinstalling the latest version but I still get the same problem. I’ve been looking around for a solution or for others experiencing the same problem but haven’t found anyone out there… is it just me or are there other people having this same issue?

  2. Steph

    Hello Nos,
    The of skype that runs nicely on mine is 2.8.0.659.

    A few things you can check –>

    1) delete skype
    2) delete the 2 .plist file (both library/preference user, and system one)
    3) repair disk permissions –> reboot
    4) reinstall
    5) check in the advanced setting of skype what is the port number used, then check OSX firewall if it is activated and if yes, that that port is allowed for incoming connections.
    6) If you are using LittleSnitch –> make sure you have the SL compatible version (Version 2.2 beta 1 (683))

    Maybe this can help

  3. Nos

    Thanks Steph,
    I upgraded to SL last week and totally forgot to upgrade little snitch. I seems like that upgrade has worked a treat and now my skype is working well again.
    Thanks for your help.
    I guess I can add to your article by including my own experience with the new OS.
    I’m running on the first generation Mac Book Pro Core Duo – so I am only 32 bit enabled – but I have still noticed a big improvement in speed. The fact that I installed a new 500gb hd and 2gb ram at the same time will also be dramatically increasing my performance, but i do still think that SL has played a part in the increased performance.
    In terms of software compatibility, other than the small skype issue i was having and waiting for an upgrade to xmarks a firefox add-in, I haven’t had any problems. All in all the transition has been very easy and enjoyable. I guess it’s still early days so I’ll try to remember to post any new things that come up.
    Cheers

  4. Steph

    The only thing left for us to make it faster it the swap for an SSD drive, but it would kill our wallet in the same operation :)

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