Category: Leopard

Netcasts you love, from people you trust?

snow-leopard1

I’ve been irked of late with ‘This Week in Tech’ (TWIT), hosted by Leo Laporte.

One or 2 podcasts in the past have stretched my patience in terms of his attitude towards Apple.

On a recent ‘MacBreak Weekly’, we had a mixture of guests and one who was a self confessed ‘Mac-hater’. (All for impartiality of course).

The Mac users on the show spent some of their time, defending their platform of choice, whilst the hater piled on the sarcasm – not what I want from a Mac-centered podcast.

Maybe that’s why Scott Bourne has not been a contributor recently, he has on occasion been audibly frustrated with Leo’s obvious bias towards Windows.

Now, I know that Leo has to remain impartial, and sometimes my Mac-bias buffets up to that and some comments I can take the wrong way.

That’s why I continue listening.

However episode 210 of TWIT, I’ve just listened to has really pissed me off.

The 1st article was about Snow Leopard. Leo’s general attitude is that it contains nothing of merit, and people shouldn’t bother.

He accused Apple of a marketing ploy, selling to their users ‘a service pack’ that should have been free.

He generalised over the ‘features’, comparing it to WindowsMe.

Just before I listened to this podcast I read the incredibly detailed Ars review on Snow Leopard. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t understand some of it, please slog through every page.

After digesting it all, you’ll then begin to understand the anger I feel. Snow Leopard is not an ‘service pack’ and it’s certainly worth the asking price.

I don’t think Leo had any right to say the things he said about Snow Leopard, without doing some research first, and it’s this aspect that shows what a radio-hack he is.

No research, misleading commentary, seemingly biased is not what I want to listen to anymore.

His parting comments were that he would get a roasting from the Mac-fanboys on MacBreak Weekly that week.

So, like a good little fanboy, I’ve sent TWIT an email, simply stating the following:

Can you please visit, read and digest the Ars review on Snow Leopard, before you complete the MacBreakWeekly podcast.

You’ll then begin to realise how badly researched you comments were on episode 210 of TWIT. I’ll then expect a retraction of your comments on MBW and the following TWIT.

Yours, a Macfanboy.

I’m not holding my breath, and being a Macfanboy, my opinion isn’t worth shit anyway.

At least I read an article from an expert though, before I made any comment on Snow Leopard, which is more than ‘The people we can trust”.

MobileMe isn’t particularly mobile, at least for me…

mobileme

This is a difficult post to write.

More often than not, the content of this blog is pro-Apple. I make no apologies for this, and although I do critcise Apple from time to time, I also cut them some slack.

Recently I purchased MobileMe. Now, despite a hiccup in purchasing, which wasn’t Apple’s fault, but the resellers, things went smoothly.

At first, things went smoothly. I have an iBook running Leopard, an iPod Touch and a G5 Tower running Tiger, all syncing to the cloud.

This worked fine for a little while. I kept getting a lot of contact an calendar updates on the G5, which was a bit suspicious, but things worked OK.

That was until last week.

The G5 at work was syncing OK, no problems, the iBook & Touch worked flawlessly. Just to check a configuration, I clicked the .Mac Preference Pane on the G5 (it’s running Tiger remember).

It wouldn’t open. It beachballed and then gave me a ‘Could not open .Mac because of an error.”

I’m a seasoned troubleshooter, so I logged into another account – same result. OK, that points to a system-wide pref file that’s corrupted.

So I moved all the .plist files I could find and restarted.

Oh dear. This time the G5 stalled at the desktop. It couldn’t load the .Mac menubar item. So I did a bit of system-voodoo and removed that menubar item so it wouldn’t have to load.

Restarted.

The system now started ok (sans the menu bar item), but upon launching System Preferences, the .Mac Preference Pane wasn’t there.

Ouch. Never seen that before. At this point I thought about cache corruption. The preference pane was in the system (I checked) but it wasn’t loading.

So I cleaned the local caches and restarted. Now my Keyboard & Mouse Preference Pane is in Chinese. I kid you not.

Anyway, this G5 is a production machine, so I left it there, so I could do some more research.

This research has given me a few pointers, which I will try soon. There’s a couple of files I haven’t trashed yet, so we’ll try that.

If that doesn’t work, then I’ll clean all caches, including system.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll try reinstalling the combo updater.

If that doesn’t work, it’s a install of a new system.

How is it possible that enabling a product on your system can cause so many problems? I have over 20 years Mac experience and I’m grasping for solutions.

How is it possible that a product can simply stop working for no reason?

And, let’s not forget, this is an additional service I’VE PAID FOR.

Which is why this article is difficult to write. 

MOBILEME IS NOT READY – AT ALL.


It works for lots of people, but not all. I certainly could not run a business on this. Even the little web-design service I do in my spare time.

I don’t expect this from Apple, I really don’t. 

Are we seeing here the limits to what Apple can do reliably? Are we seeing the edges of their competence? Were all those Windows users right in saying that Apple just doesn’t do certain things as good as Microsoft?

Now that Steve’s away, I hope that Tim asks some serious question of MobileMe. It’s damaging the brand severely and they need the courage to fix it properly, or pull it off the market, trash it and partner with Google, rebrand their offerings and give us a service that we can all be proud of.

Will I be renewing in a years time? At this moment, I’d say no.

PPC is left out in the cold…

Sorry for the ‘cold’ pun, but I couldn’t help it.

So, ‘Snow Leopard’, (the next iteration of the Mac OS), is going to be Intel-only. The Power-PC, which has had a love-hate relationship with Apple over the years, is finally going to be discarded, sometime in 2009.

A lot of the PC-press is trying to stir up a sh*t-storm over this, citing Apple as abandoning their users, and forcing them to upgrade.

Well, I’m here to say that I think Apple is doing the right thing.

The department that I run has over half-a-dozen Mac’s and a couple of PC’s, and everyone of these Mac’s runs Tiger.

Not Leopard, but Tiger.

“Aha!” I here all the Windows-apologists scream, “Leopard is full of bugs! Here’s a Mac-loving ‘power-user’ and even he doesn’t even recommend it!”

Well, calm down, there are reasons why my department runs Tiger, and not Leopard (apart from a little iBook for testing).

Firstly, this is software – a lot of software. On top of the OS, I have about a dozen applications that I rely on being compatible, all the time.

Secondly, software has bugs. Mac software doesn’t have as many bugs as Windows software, but there are bugs. InDesign CS2 has 2 reproducible bugs that I can do right now – that cause a crash.

Thirdly, and talking of InDesign – it’s Adobe. CS3 (including 2) and Leopard don’t play well together – at all. Now I don’t care whose fault this is, it’s probably both Apple’s & Adobe’s, but I’m not installing Leopard on any production Mac until it ‘just works’.

However those half-a-dozen Mac’s are also all PPC. There’s not one Intel Mac in my department, so Leopard is a no-no until Adobe pulls its finger out, and therefore Snow Leopard is a bit of a non-starter for me as well.

Is that likely to change? Maybe, maybe not. The oldest Mac in my department is a 700mhz G4 – nearly 7 years old, and (touch wood), it’s still a production machine.

I do have the chance to bring Intel in however, I’m about to purchase another large format printer, and I need a Mac to run it on, but I’m stuck between buying a 2nd-hand G5, or a new MacPro.

Now most people would go with the MacPro, but as well as the hardware, there’s the software issue as well – all my software is PPC, not Universal.

So, it looks like I’m stuck for now, until one of the Mac’s die (7 years and counting), and I have to by Intel, and go cap-in-hand to finance to upgrade the software as well.

But my finance department is as tight as a ‘gnat’s chuff’ (English colloquialism, look it up), so I’ll be sticking with a PPC-based department for now.

 

Macworld 2008…

Time Capsule

So it’s been and gone. This year’s Macworld was amazing and slightly-less-than-amazing in equal amounts.

The problem that Steve Jobs faces now is that Apple announcements seriously affect the share price. This is partly Apple’s fault, but at one point in the past it was worse, because Apple attended various trade shows, the date of which was out of their control, and they had to have a ‘whizz-bang’ product at every one.

Now, at least, Apple has 2 main shows, the WWDC, which announces (generally) software and pro-hardware related items, and Macworld which (again generally) announce consumer hardware and software.

Notice that Apple announced the Mac Pro update, before Macworld because it doesn’t fit at Macworld. Notice also the ‘one-more-thing’ was just a musician, not a product.Steve has to back off from the hype that ‘one-more-thing’ has become famous for.

Product expectation at Apple from its users has now reached ridiculous levels and cannot be sustained in the long term, and believe me, Apple is in this for the long term. 

As I said, all this hype is Apple’s fault, but they can now be seen to be in the midst of managing these expectations.

On the one hand we have loyal users and bloggers in the media who whip everyone into a pre-event frenzy, but post-event are reasonable in their critique of the products announced.

However, on the other hand we have a group of rabid anti-Apple bloggers and journalists, who also whip everyone into a frenzy, but for different and more sinister ends.Witness the drivel that the likes of Enderle, Dvorak (who seems to have calmed down a bit), and the lesser known (globally at least, but well known in the UK), Jack Schofield who blogs for the guardian (http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/).

They either bless us with faint praise (pretend to actually like Apple, but…), or (in Jack’s case) are still stuck in 1997 and are seemingly quiet when Apple has good news (no mention of their last stellar quarter), but all over us like a fly on sh*t when they can extract something negative out of say, the MacBookAir.

Which brings us to Macworld 2008.

Out of all the announcements the MacBookAir seems to be a ‘good’ product (not great). I think Apple purposely produce products like this that stir up differences in opinions.

Any publicity is good publicity Jack, so blog all you want please.

My stand-out product at Macworld however was the ‘Time Capsule’.

Of course, the likes of Jack Schofield remark that this product isn’t revolutionary, you can create it yourself with the right hardware and know-how.

Much as in the same way you can create anything that Apple produces, if you’re a narrow-minded Windows user with 10 years+ experience in how Windows and technology works.

But as we all know, that misses the point completely. Windows users like this cannot be reached with the ‘just plug it in and it works’ mind set.

The point here is that Time Machine ONLY works with Time Capsule. You can’t use Time Machine wirelessly with just any hardware.

This facility was present in builds of Leopard but was pulled at the last minute. Reasons for this are that Apple wants to sell a lot of Time Capsule’s, or that using third party hard drives just cannot be made to work reliably.

I think it’s a bit of both personally, but it comes back to the  ‘just plug it in and it works’ angle.It goes beyond ‘plug-and-play’, because ‘plug-and-play’ actually means, ‘Install Drivers, Restart, Configure, Plug It In, Hope It Plays, If Not Try Again‘, at least on Windows, I know, I work next a Windows based IT department that do this daily.

I think I’ve just discovered a new buzz word for Windows –  INDRCPIIHIPINTA!

Don’t think it will catch on though, do you?

Nice to see my predictions coming true…

Top secret

I while back I wrote an article called, “Where is Steve Jobs going with this?” which outlined the directions Apple may/will to take over the next couple of years, specifically, why the moved to Intel and whether they were moving to Windows.

The conclusion I wrote for this article was as follows…

6) Apple then encourages them to switch by offering incentives that mean they must boot into the Mac, such as movie store that is tied into .Mac. (You would stream the movies from your account, to your Mac, but only if you run OS X), and by pushing the benefits of iLife, buy releasing new hardware, iPod related devices that leverage iLife, such as the iPhone. More controversially, they would either cancel iTunes for Windows, or make an enhanced version for Mac users. BootCamp users would not have a problem here, it would encourage them to boot more into the Mac.

With this in mind, I read recently of a rumour from LoopRumors, that states the following…

iPhone integration is also a major feature that was left out of Jobs’ presentation. When he showcased Leopard, the iPhone was not yet announced. We now learn that the iPhone runs a scaled down version of Leopard. And because Apple expects the iPhone to be more popular than the iPod, we can expect several enhancements in Leopard that tie in to the iPhone. We reported that Apple is still developing a mystery application for the iPhone that won’t be released until the phone’s release. This application could run independently from the computer, or have a direct tie in to Leopard. Although Apple offers the iPhone for both PC and Macs, some Leopard specific features are said to be installed in the iPhone, to help ‘switch’ users to the Macintosh platform.

Note the central premise that Apple would release hardware that would switch users to the platform. This is made easier for those users that have Intel Mac’s, but who’ve installed Windows on them. This is another reason for them to switch to the Mac platform.

Let’s hope that my predictions continue, the bit about Xcode being able to, at the touch of a tick box, be able to compile for Windows would be very interesting indeed.

Mac OS X & Mail…

Sad Mac

I’ve had a real problem recently, something has had me cursing, gnashing, and basically screaming at a certain application from Apple. This application is Mail (or Mail.app, or Apple Mail or whatever).

It all started with upgrading a test iBook to Tiger shortly after the second or third maintenance upgrade was released.

As always, I test any major release with a non-work critical system before rolling the release out to the 4 or 5 other Mac’s in the studio.

This time my testing was not thorough enough. All apps seem to work ok, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Suitcase etc, but it wasn’t until I installed Tiger on the main work Mac that I came across the ‘Mail’ problem.

Something was wrong with Mail. It wasn’t that it was as slow as molasses, (it’s never been a speed demon), it didn’t seem to be downloading attachements, or emails with HTML correctly.

Instead, what I got was the ‘Mime gibberish’ that denotes that the way in which Mail was seeing attachments was completely screwed.

Upon testing, this seemed to be for all incoming and all outgoing messages. Mail was unusable.

Upon testing, I found that it was IMAP accounts that Mail could not handle. POP accounts seemed ok, and IMAP accounts connected to other servers worked fine. Mine did not. There is something about my unique situation, (I am part of a larger PC-based company and access my mail through a PC server), that Mail did not like.

One of Tiger’s biggest selling points was spotlight, and I was looking forward to being able to search through my mail with ease. I have a huge local mailbox, and I communicate with China on a regular basis on various projects, so having a reliable mail client, and especially one with which I could search my archived mail as easily as I could search through the files and folders of my system was a major draw.
Unfortunately this wasn’t to be. So I stopped the roll out to other Mac’s until an update hopefully fixed the problem, and started looking around for another mail client.

I used to use Entourage. Indeed I have tried to use Entourage in the past, and did for several months, but having struggled to make Entourage, Projects, Notes etc work for me, I found that I needed to change the way in which I worked, in order to use it. Something that I wasn’t prepared to do.

So I tried every (EVERY) mail client, freeware, shareware and commercial on the market, but none seemed to give me what I want, and in the end I settled for Thunderbird.

At first I was a little dubious, but eventually I found connecting to my email via IMAP, using Thunderbird was overall an excellent and pain free experience. The only clouds were the lack of Address Book integration, and poor search capabilities, but I decided to live with that until the next Apple updater.

Except the next Apple updater did not solve the problem, nor the next.

I had to look at this from another angle, so I decided to see whether I could connect to my email via POP, rather than IMAP. I have a personal POP account on my iBook, which works OK, and with a little persuasion from IT to give me the correct IP addresses, I tried the POP connection, but I wasn’t holding out much hope.

But it worked. It worked great, in fact it’s fast, flawless (apart from the odd dropped connection) and I am now using Mail, and have rolled out the full Tiger install to my studio.

But IMAP still doesn’t work, and although I can get around this, it’s still a major bug that needs fixing. I’ve posted to the Apple discussion forums, and apparently Apple are aware of the problem (it’s a problem with a ‘Groupwise’ connection), but as yet, there is no fix.

We may have to wait until Leopard.

But I don’t think that this is good enough. With Apple’s recent advertising campaign, touting the ‘it just works’ aspect of the Mac, I find that the advert and my experience are miles apart. I keep saying this about Apple, but you must do better.