After thinking about it for all of ten seconds, I purchased Leopard on Monday. At present I have three Macs, one of which is used as a server. I’ll post separately about upgrading that.
I’d tried to put off the upgrade, as I knew that certain things that I hold dear wouldn’t work. All of these things are minor hacks of course, but they make my working environment a lot more pleasant. On such feature is Aaron Harnly’s letterbox plugin for Mail, which makes the view more like Outlook 2003, i.e. the panes are vertical, rather than horizontal.
Weighing up the pros and cons, as I said for all of ten seconds, I thought fuck it and did it anyway. Upgrading itself was easy as – even easier than doing it in previous versions of Mac OS X. Usual start, pop the CD in the tray, reboot into the installer and away
you go. Except this time I never got the option to choose how I wanted to install. It just breezed through to ‘upgrade’. In fact I couldn’t tell you where to find the ‘archive and install’ or ‘erase and install’ options. Is this a good thing? Well, I am sure I could find them if I had to, but for people like Mi Mam, this makes the upgrade process as easy as it possibly could be.
The install proceeded, said it was going to take five hours and rapidly ran down to around one. Forty five minutes or so later, it had finished, and then restarted. Upon restart, it went past the Apple logo and into the blue screen. And there it stayed. For about three or four minutes. At this point, I have to admit I was kacking it a bit. I’d spent the day reading about the Leopard Blue Screen of Death but was pretty confident this wouldn’t happen, and here I was… Except just as I was about to make the ‘should I leave it or should I restart?’ decision, the login window appeared in front of the new starfield background. Phew.
At took an eternity to log into my account, and this I attributed to hacks and menu bar extensions, some of which I have now disabled or updated. I tested all my applications and they all work – thankfully including my Adobe CS 3 apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Indesign and the none CS Flex Builder). Firing up Mail, I was asked to do some sort of upgrade do-dah, which I duly did. All fine.
My (relatively minor) problems with Leopard
So, there must have been some niggles? Well, what I have noticed so far are these:
- Mail in Leopard doesn’t like HTML attachments anymore. I have recently been going through the process of cancelling my Pipex hosting, and they send you a HTML template to fill in. Mail in Leopard shows the attachment in the list view, but once you click on the actual email it doesn’t appear for download. This is understandable given Mail’s shiney (shitty?) new HTML template gubbins, but extremely frustrating none the less.
- OMiC a Mail extension to handle winmail.dat files (such as Outlook schedules etc) doesn’t work. This is a pain in the arse, but the author, Christopher Atlan kindly responded to my email enquiry to tell me that a Leopard version is on the way.
- HTTPMail doesn’t work, and it’s probably unlikely to ever. The development of this highly useful haxie seems to have stalled. This is obviously not Apple’s fault, it’s just a little annoying all the same.
- The Finder’s new network browsing is the mutts nuts. However, I had an instance last night where I was trying to connect to a server as a specific user, but despite me typing in that users details, it logged me in as myself. Again iritating.
- I’ve got a restart problem on my MacBook Pro with Leopard. When I restart, the screen goes off as it should. The light on the MacBook Pro and my Mouse stay on. And that’s all that happens. It stays frozen in this half on, half off state. This is apparently caused by Double Command, a utility to allow you to re-map keys. As a left hander constantly having to battle Apple’s Nazi attitude to us (see that new wireless keyboard for a start), I need to make the Enter key the Alt key as my right hand is my keyboard hand. I need Double Command to work, so at the moment restarts are a bit problematic.
- I now have a font clash. Helvetica Neue looks like it’s been expanded in Leopard to include some extra versions. This clashes with my already installed version, activated by Lineotype’s FontExplorer. This is also a pain in the arse, as my original version has a larger range of the family in it. I’ve not looked much into which other fonts are either expanded or new with Leopard.
- Time Machine keeps producing an error. When I finally got round to installing it on my server machine, I decided to test Time Machine, as it was an easy way to back up that machine. It refuses to back up – constantly reports an error. I am assuming a re-format of the drive will cure this.
- Despite working for the first day, F10 (or any other key I assign for that matter) no longer shows the desktop in Expose. Even though it’s set as the key, it refuses to work.
- Fix the damn remove from Dock animation. Please. Now. It’s shit.
A word on the Leopard Dock
There’s been many a bad word said about this piece of functionality, and not just with the release of Leopard. The problems with it stem from it’s inception right back in 10.0. Not wishing to miss out on the kicking it’s getting I will add my tuppence worth.
There’s not really any other way to say this other than the Dock in it’s new incarnation is absolutely fucking appalling. Seriously. It’s wank. I hate the stacks with a passion, and the visual effect is also garbage. It’s like apple have designed it to look good full stop, and even then only when it’s in the centre of the bottom of the screen.
But it reflects windows near it. So fucking what? It looks terrible under my install of Statoo, which sometimes appears from the top of the platform the icons in the dock stand on, and sometimes from the top of the icons themselves. How dare apple introduce something that confuses one of lovely Panic’s little children so?
There is a fix for this visual abomination, which involves a bit of terminal magic:
defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES
However, this doesn’t give you the old dock. Oh no. This gives you the dock that you would normally get if you placed it on the left or right of the screen. The one with the hulking great keyline round it. Still it’s better than nothing.
For many a year, I have placed the applications folder and the utilities folder in my dock. In Tiger this was brilliant because you right clicked and you got a list of all the applications, making it easy to find what you wanted and get it. Now, with these stack things, you click it (left click now) and they open up a ginormous window of icons. Except it’s not all the icons (depending on your screen size). So to get to items starting with letters towards the end of the alphabet, you have to ‘show in finder’ then find the app. This is arse. It’s broken a way I worked and relied on and replaced it with something inferior. Thanks. For. That.
Things I like about Leopard
But I must have liked something right? Of course:
- The upgrade process itself. Almost everything made it, even the hosts file that i had hacked for virtual domains on my server.
- As I said the networking is brilliant. No more Apple-K. You were a strong ally, but sadly you’re time has come.
- Screen sharing. Now this is quite sad. I loved the Chicken of the VNC, it’s one of those programs that just does what it should and does it well with a minimum of fuss. You’d be surprised how many shit VNC clients there are given what you actually need them to do. With Apple’s screen sharing, available right under the connect button on servers, I now have had to retire the Chicken.
- File sharing. Now that we have this back do we really really realise what we missed. And good god did we miss it. Lord knows why Apple took it away, just lets hope that they don’t do it again. It’s fantastic to have this back.
- To-Do items in Mail. I am just starting to use this and I can see that it’s a real plus being able to make these from an email. I just need some bright spark to figure out a way of syncing these with MobileToDo on my iPod Touch.
- Spotlight. It’s turned into the best bits of QuickSilver, but Apple have added a few other tricks. Like calculations and dictionary look up. I just need to start forcing myself to use it after years of ignoring it.
I am sure there will be others, and the above will feel like a minor set of features to some, if not most. To me though they represent why this feels like a good upgrade. Overall, yes, it might be disappointing, but as Paulie said to me the other day, it feels like a phase two of a project. Normally you always say you’ll fix X, Y and Z in phase two and never ever get round to it as other things get in the way. With Leopard, Apple has got round to phase two, and whilst it’s not perfect it is an improvement and it works for me, because we’re finally beginning to see the Mac OS X that Apple envisioned.