a glob of nerdishness

October 30, 2007

Hannah’s Leopard review

written by natevw @ 5:41 pm

Editor’s note: This is the only Mac or technology blog that my lovely wife reads, but within five minutes of looking at her new desktop, she was begging to make her disgust known publicly. Here are her notes, with only a few edits for clarity. If you thought developers (I’ve added cross-references) were just being curmudgeonly about some of Leopard’s new “features” , take a look at what a customer thinks.


Here’s what bugged me:

-The side dock is ugly. The dark box makes the screen look more cluttered. [I like the curved popping out folders], but they do not do that from the side. cf
-the semi-transparent top bar is unnecessary, sometimes annoying. cf
-there are obvious glitches (Camino didn’t hide when I told it to, etc.) Hopefully these things will be fixed soon.
-the new icons for “Pictures”, “Desktop”, “Documents” folders, etc. are indistinct. What were they thinking. cf

In summary, side dock users have been slighted and it seems that many changes (such as the top bar, and the rounded-edge pop-up menus) are just for the sake of having a change, and do not represent any true improvement.

Time Machine and other things may be great, but hopefully I will not be using time machine on a daily basis. I do have to look at the dock on a daily basis. Boo.

What was kind of cool:

I do like the calculator and dictionary in spotlight (hopefully I’ll remember to use them!) and the make-your-own widget from the web. And that I can use formatting such as bold while in Safari on blogger. Easily adding phone numbers and appointments to Address Book and iCal [from Mail] was impressive and might be useful.

Beyond Leopard

written by natevw @ 4:57 pm

On Friday, we upgraded Hannah’s Macbook to Leopard, and then packed for a funeral back in the Midwest. The Developer Tools stayed off, and I spent the available portions of the weekend as a regular user. Ignoring all the under-the-hood improvements, I’m not sure if I should be eager or worried for the future of OS X. I came back home disappointed in Leopard.

I’m not trying to say that I, and the other 2 million users who went out and bought Leopard last weekend, should have stuck with Tiger. Leopard is (or will be, after a few patches) a good upgrade for current Mac users. Combined with some gorgeous hardware, it offers a very tantalizing package to first time buyers.

The trouble is, the best improvements are mostly all under the hood. They’re invisible as they should be, and you can’t queue many end users willing to pay for a developer API update. Time Machine is the one killer feature, and while many the other additions are sure to be addicting, Apple needed a larger swatch of gateway drugs to make the sale. Which is probably why every other headline feature seems thrown in just to make Leopard look more valuable.

Finder is improved and QuickLook is handy — the latter being a good way to encourage third party developers to pitch in with the former — but nothing truly revolutionary. The Network folder is still present and still rubbish.

Stacks seemed like a cool feature, but it turns out those aren’t actually new. The “scoliosis” view can disturb physical therapy majors, and folks who used Tiger’s stack feature will miss the functional downgrades.

iChat’s cheesy effects appeal to…I dunno. People who enjoy getting into Photo Booth with friends but would rather not be in the same photo, or even the same “booth”, as said friends?

Spaces has so far been more confusing than helpful. I’m not sure if the typical end-user will even bother to turn it on.

The myriad minor improvements throughout the OS — faster Spotlight, no network share beachball of death — are currently outweighed by all the first-release glitches — countless little window manager, desktop and Finder bugs that come and go, rapid battery discharge with the lid closed, broken Safari web archives.

Of course, many of these issues should be resolved in forthcoming software updates. Perhaps some of the eleventh-hour feature removals will also find their way back in. Then users can start getting attached to another great release, one that enables some great third-party software. I wonder, though, what Apple is planning 12–18 months down the road for 10.6. Will they expect users to fall for bells, whistles and fixes, or do they have at least one more killer feature up their sleeve?

October 22, 2007

Road to Mac OS X Leopard

written by natevw @ 8:08 am

AppleInsider has been posting a great series called “Road to Mac OS X Leopard” this month. The journalism shines not in the actual Leopard bits, but in the historical lead-up to each:

I’ll update this list as necessary. Tip: as elsewhere on teh adverwebs, the print version gives you the current article on a single page.

My favorites have been Safari (though sans Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson), the Desktop, and Collaborative Services.

October 20, 2007

Mach-O binaries as seen by otool

written by natevw @ 6:58 am

On OS X, you use otool instead of ldd to view required shared libraries of an executable. An interesting browse, proofread by slashdot last year, providing further reading as well. (See also the Firefox Poster from Source Code on that blog.)

October 8, 2007

The Purpose Driven CAPTCHA

written by natevw @ 8:22 pm

So I was reading the BBC the other day and spotted a confusing title about book preserve spam weapons or something. Turns out there’s a respectable CAPTCHA system making the rounds, and it’s even cool enough for twitter. (You can see if I’m cool enough for twitter via this very link.)