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Ten things I like about Tiger (10.4)

tiger boxOS X 10.4 (Tiger) has been officially available since April 29th. I've been lucky enough, thanks to a developer seed, to have been testing various builds for a couple of months. In that time, there are a number of things I've grown to love about Tiger (and a number I dislike, though those will come in a future write-up). With over 200 new features, I thought I'd try to pick out the 10 that I've liked the best so far.

Note that these are observations about OS X 10.4 only. Sometime I'll write a longer story discussing OS X in general, both what I like and dislike. But for now, here are my ten favorite 10.4 features...

  1. Apple's much-improved Mail program. From the toolbar buttons (yes, I like the jellybean shape behind the buttons, too) to the subtly colored mailbox panel to Smart Folders to the speedy Spotlight searching, the new Mail's a winner.
  2. System Profiler. In previous OS X releases, this tool was good, but not great. Now it's great. Information on just about everything to do with your system is but a couple of mouse clicks away. From graphics cards to displays to FireWire to USB devices to memory to PCI cards to printers to networking gear; even programs, extensions, fonts, and logs are detailed here. Very well done, and very useful when you want to know something about your machine.
  3. The free Developer Tools. No, I didn't suddenly become a programmer overnight. But some of the pre-compiled sample toys tools they provide are amazing. To name just a few that are fun to play with (on machines with better video cards), check out Core Image Fun House, Quartz Composer, and Quartz Debug, which will let you enable Quartz 2D Extreme (a way to accelerate drawing of 2D windows by using a 3D graphics card). Also, even non-programmers can use Interface Builder to tweak some elements of certain applications.
  4. Core Image and Core Video. It may be a while before we really see the benefits of these features in OS X, but it will be worth the wait. Giving programmers an easy way to utilize newer 3D graphics cards will eventually lead to some amazing applications. See previous entry for one example of what can be done (Core Image Fun House).
  5. H.264. This QuickTime 7 codec (also available in 10.3) does amazing things for video compression. Jeff Harrell's Shape of Days blog has a couple of demonstrations (1, 2) of H.264 encoding, and the results are pretty impressive. In a nutshell, H.264 gives much higher quality (and/or size) at similar or lower bit rates than does MPEG4.

  1. DVD Player. The DVD Player in OS X has always struck me as somewhat of an afterthought -- kind of like "Ah crud, we're shipping machines that have DVD drives now. Quick, someone come up with something that can play a DVD movie!" With 10.4, this shortcoming has been addressed. The DVD Player application has gained cool new features, including a high-quality zoom mode, an audio equalizer, control controls, and a slick new DVD navigator. Numerous other features have helped turn DVD Player into a very well done application.
  2. Automator. While Spotlight and Dashboard seem to get the most marketing attention from Apple, I think Automator is the real hidden gem. With very little work, it's now possible to put together Automator actions that do incredibly useful things. And if that's still too tough, there are places where you can download already-created Automator actions: Apple's Automator scripts • Automator World
  3. The built-in dictionary and thesaurus. It is so nice not to have to go to the web or my (gasp!) bookshelf to check a definition on an odd word, or to find a synonym for a too-often used word. Of course, it'd be much nicer if it worked in every application (like Word), instead of just Cocoa and some Carbon applications. Still, it's very useful, and great to have access to even when you don't have a net connection.
  4. Dashboard. While barely making my list, Dashboard is a potentially useful (and fun!) addition to OS X. I find it most useful, though, with the Development Mode hack enabled, of course. This lets you pull widgets out of Dashboard so they float above your normal desktop. There are widgets that I want to see all the time, not just when in Dashboard mode. I keep a couple (calculator, stocks) visible at all times, and use the rest sparingly. I've yet to find a truly useful third-party widget, but more and more are coming every day. You can keep your eye on a couple spots for new releases: Apple's Dashboard Widgets(May 12: 151 widgets)  • Dashboard Widgets (May 12: 270 widgets)
  5. All the small touches that go mostly unnoticed, but make computing much easier. Sidebar items now have contextual menus ... a docked application's contextual menu now has easy to use "Open at Login" and "Remove from Dock" options ... Java applications run much, much faster than they do in 10.3 ... improved sync services ... modifiable modifier keys, without third-party software ... the notable improvements in the Printing and Sharing preferences panel ... firewall logging features ... parental controls (judging by our nearly-two-year old, I'll need these sooner rather than later!) ... etc. There are a lot of subtle improvements hiding all over 10.4, and they really help enhance the user experience.

Overall, I'm thrilled with Tiger. There are certainly some areas that feel a bit rushed, but it's a very solid release with a ton of useful new features. This is supposedly the end of the "quick release" schedule for major OS X updates, which means that more and more of the Mac population will eventually be migrating to a member of the 10.4 family, as 10.5 is some unknown number of years away. Given that, I think it's a fine starting point, and can only get better from here...


36 thoughts on “Ten things I like about Tiger (10.4)”

  1. I liked your ten best list, but I can't understand why everyone gets off on Mail. I think it's lousy and still use (and pay for) Eudora. I tried Mail again with 10.4 but am back to Eudora again. Since you may have some influence at Infinite Loop Drive?, here are my gripes about Mail - vs. Eudora. In no particular order.
    1. Can't change the subject line of incoming email. Very useful for one's own filing or warnings, etc. And very Mac like.
    2. Can't option display full headers in an open, received email.
    3. Using several email accounts is awkward. Too long to type out reasons.
    4. Transfer/Move to "one's own" mailboxes (bank, friend, insurance, etc.) in one easy move. Kludgy.
    5. Color coding is MUCH TOO STRONG.
    6. It's slow.
    7. If you can compare Eudora's settings to Mail's preferences. The latter is simply not well thought out.
    8. While Eudora's looks are pitiful- this coming from a designer - Mail's beauty is lost on me because of it's functionality. I just won't/can't use it.
    9. I want to keyboard-delete messages from the subject line. Can't.

    There's more, but these are the annoyers, particularly the first few.

  2. System Profiler still does not recognize the ATA Drives plugged into my Sonnet Tempo 100/133 ATA card.

    Disk utilities have no problem - but System Profiler remains clueless in Tiger.


  3. So I think I'm on board with the new profiler ... One scary thing about it & it's improved capabilities is that I finally have a way to print a PDF with system specs to create a killer classified ad should I decide to sell my machine in favor of the new improved model.

  4. Alan,

    I would like to answer a few of your points about Mail.

    1 - This would be a GREAT add on. I wish that I could have all the emails subject line contain a Prefix of the group they belong to in my Address Book. This is something I could try with Applescript.

    2 - Going to menu "View, Message, Long Headers" will get you the full headers, key command is available. You can place a button in the message window toolbar call "Show Headers". Finally you can set the header detail levels in the Preferences.

    3 - What is it about Multiple Accounts that you do not like? I am able to see emails from all or either account.

    4 - Not sure what the problem is here. I am able to select multiple messages and move them to any mailbox or export them to a mbox file by dragging them to the desktop.

    5 - I agree the default colors are too bright but you can select your own with the Other... option.

    6 - Compared to MS Entourage... No but I haven't used Eudora since my Quadra 650.

    7 - I do wish the rules was in a separate menu option.

    8 - Personal Taste

    9 - I am able to delete with the keyboard's Delete key.

    Finally, sorry you don't like Mail but it's the best alternative to MS Entourage. I find Eudora a bit dated.

  5. Alan, not sure I understand your comments. First off, I've never seen a weblog where comments were private, so I don't know why you think yours wouldn't be published (but thanks for the all caps).

    1) Can't say I understand wanting to change an e-mail I was sent; usually I want them as a record of exactly who said what, made what commitments, etc. Being able to edit it would ruin that record. And I really don't see what is "Mac-like" about it.
    2) View -> Message -> Long Headers
    3) Nice reasons. I wonder why I have 9 accounts in Mail, and it's as easy to "manage" as "Get Mail". Done. I'm scratching my head to think of what could be simpler (Lord knows Thunderbird isn't, with its worthless multiple account support, but that's another rant).
    4) What's kludgy about drag and drop? Or the menu, if you want to use that (Message -> Move To)? No difference between Mail and Eudora here.
    5) Color coding is completely configurable. Not sure what your problem is here... I have several of my accounts color coded so I can tell when important e-mails come in (or Junk comes in), and all of the colors are user settable.
    6) Maybe for you, but not for me. Handles all of my mail from the last 9 years without complaint; no delays. Half of that mail was imported from Eudora, which I used before Mac OS X.
    7) Mail's preferences are simple and to the point, and follow the Macintosh interface guidelines. Eudora's look right at home in System 6, and how many DOZEN panels of preferences do you need? Don't even get me started on the hidden x-settings system. Nothing could be more user-hostile.
    8) Um, okay. You don't use it because you don't like it. I sort of picked that up. :)
    9) Hit "delete" on the keyboard. Not sure why you think that doesn't work...

    Meanwhile, I dislike Eudora almost completely because of its antiquated interface, it's extremely inflexible filter system (only TWO conditions??), and the downright hostility towards OS X and its users from the developers. Their change logs are full of snarky and snide comments about OS X, and half of their bugs they lay at Apple's feet. I'm usually receptive to that, but not when they complain about "not being able" to implement things that dozens of other programs have no trouble with. It probably has a lot more to do with the fact that the core program has not changed significantly in 10 years (but hey, it's got MoodWatch!). =p

    I certainly understand that Mail isn't for everyone, but I also don't see anything in what you've laid out that is actually a real problem.

  6. My only gripe with mail are
    1) No way to set a wrap at 80 chars. And Apple said to my bug "this is like has to be" and said "smtp wraps the lines at 80 chars" which is damn lie.

    2) no good visible threading. As much as I love the way orders mail, I would love to have more visible threading in a mail thread

    3) positioning of attachments, They are just anywhere. this is really annoying when you have mail and in the middle an attachment. Very very bad behavior becaus some email clients get confused (eg Outlook 2000).

  7. I was a LONG holdout to switch to OS X. Primarily I had a real need to run PageMaker with max simplicity and speed to accomodate some very huge documents (huge in the actual page length and in file size). I had OS X installed on my son's iMac (it came with it installed actually), and I used it frequently to administrate his computer, playing computer games with him, etc. I say all that because I was looking for reasons to NOT use OS X, but not looking for any reasons to use it. This created the *false* perception that OS X didn't represent any significant increase in productivity and (the very ambiguous and subjective) feeling of joy.

    Boy, was I wrong! When I finally did make the switch, by the second day I was kicking myself for not switching sooner. There were so many, many great improvements/modifications that *really* made me fall in love with the Mac all over again.

    So, Alan I think I understand why you are being "stubborn" about switching to Mail, and I sympathize. However, may I make the suggestion (from one Mac lover to another) that you give Mail a real trial this time (meaning: more than a few hours, and without a "glass-half-full" attitude. Look at it this way, you can exercise your growing actualization as a person, or prove said condition to your children (or wife). Your willingness to really give something (Mail?) will add loads of chits to your account when you ask your wife to "try something new", or if you ask one of your kids to stop dressing in all black and take out about 30 of her piercings — not because you don't approve — but rather because you simply want her to "try something new". Give them something to model! Show that you are still that guy you always brag about, the guy that took the road less traveled and bought a Mac, when every other lemming was following Billy off the PC cliff. ;-)

    I say this — in part — because I have kids that call me on my claims of open-mindedness sometimes by challenging me to actually DO something open-minded , but also because I too held on for a long time — and only hurt myself. I wish better things for you...


  8. I think most of Tiger's new features are enhancements of the best operating system around. Other points that could be added to Rob's;
    1. XP used to have better CDR data backing up, but the OSX 'Burn folder' is fantastic & elegant. Now there's no reason for users not to regularly backup their files.
    2. Grapher is the old OS9 Graphing Calculator on steroids!
    3. Still strange Apple doesn't offer a two button mouse, contextual menus are well thought out and very powerful (I know you don't need to use the right mosue button for this, but it is my preferred technique). Adding items in the Finder contextual menu such as 'Print, Automator and Slideshow' to the existing list (which included 'zip archiving') empower the user. The Dashboard & Expose Sys Pref adds the multi button mouse prefs horizontyally instead of below those existing options.
    4. The builtin dictionary/Thesaurus is awesome (I used it now).
    5. Multi-audio iChat is fantastic - no more expensive phone conferences.
    6. Spotlight is cool - I originally thought I'd lost the capability of quick searching in a selected folder (whether it be Home, another folder or even a drive), but soon realised that Spotlight remembers your selection, that is, if I click on a folder and do a quick search, Spotlight searches that folder only! Having Spotlight there in each 'save menu' is very powerful!
    7. All of the included Apps have nice little improvements -- they are all better.
    8. Many of the System prefs are smarter — setting up an IP printer can now query the printer and select the correct ppd. The printing setup is much improved, and the Aussie system even defaults to A4 (that's a 1st).
    9. The interface is getting very consistent (like spotlight in the same position in most windows/dialogues (except the search in iPhoto).
    10. Well.... I hope 10.4.1 fixes the bugs because they hurt. We've got 3 PowerBooks and none of them roam in 10.4. The AD plugin sucks (you CANNOT login with a mobile account). Safari still can't do WYSIWYG HTML editing (FireFox & Win IE can), nor can it force our proxy to send the new (uncached) page.
    So, other than (10.), these points are meant to be additional to Robs.

  9. And, again, not one mention of SQLite!

    If you look at Core Data, you will see that one of the sources for data is SQL. The SQL is the embedded SQLite database -- no more need to work with mySQL.

  10. Reasons I dislike Mail (over Eudora)...

    1 -- I can't see how to control how often *individual* email accounts are checked. I have about a dozen email accounts, some of which I need to check more often than others.

    2 -- I love Eudora's simple interface. I don't use the preview pane or the toolbar. I know it is possible to emulate some of this in Mail, but the overall "feel" is still that it grabs too much screen-space. Maybe when I can afford the 30" cinema display it won't bother me... but right now, it does.

    3 -- Eudora has a built-in ability to alter highlighted text, eg change from upper case to lower case etc. I use this feature a lot. I can't see how to do this in Mail.

    4 -- I set Eudora to prompt me if I accidentally send out styled email. I can't see how to make Mail do this. I *never* want to send out styled email. If it isn't plain US-ASCII I want to know about it, and fix it before sending it.

    5 -- I can force Eudora to ignore the following "features" of styled email: bold, italic, underline, font, size, small sizes, color, left/right/center, margins and excerpts. I can choose individually, or I can ignore the lot. I can't see how to do this in Mail.

    6 -- Eudora offers a "stationery" feature. Mail doesn't.

    7 -- I also change received email messages once in a while too. Mostly it's just to delete the "SPAM" tag from email which my server thinks is spam, but which I don't. Other times I delete the ads from emails sent by Yahoo! Groups email lists. This isn't a show-stopper, but I like to be able to do it.

    8 -- Eudora offers a "wrap selection" option. Mail doesn't.

    There is one feature that I actually like in Mail, and that's how it displays the signature list when composing a new email... you don't have to click the button as you do in Eudora to see which signature is being used.

  11. My biggest 10.4 complaint lies within Dashboard. Dashboard is a clear ripoff of Konfabulator (and I would have rather seen Apple buy out Konfabulator and prevent Windows production of it). The problem is, Dashboard has not nearly the same amount of functionality and power as Konfabulator. So, on that note...

    Dashboard's Shortcomings

    1- Widgets can only be present within the Dashboard itself, unless you use 3rd party software or a developers "hack". Having Widgets present elsewhere is a huge benefit to the system. One example is with a GMail Notifier, such as "coras" for Dashboard. This widget would be improved greatly if you were able to have it be invisible when there is no new mail, and show up on your desktop as a reminder when you do have mail.

    2- Widgets have very little customization. You cannot choose your own colors, size, icons, etc. Preferences are difficult to access and very limited. I would like to see contextual menus implemented within dashboard.

    3- Because of the Dashboard Only functionality, they have very limited interaction with the rest of the system. You cannot drag and drop into a Widget nor can a Widget display a quick bezel when someone on your iChat buddy list signs on or off, for example.

    These are only a few quick thoughts, as I am short on time, but as a former user of Konfabulator, when I heard about Widgets becoming a system standard, I was very excited about the future possibilities. When I installed TIger and saw how weak the Dashboard system actually was, I was extremely disappointed. I think Apple fell very far short of the full potential of a built in Widget system. I would like to see what other people think about Dashboard, and also whether or not they have tried Konfabulator.

  12. Why not just stick with Konfabulator and support some great developers? Dashboard is a sad joke, as far as I'm concerned.

  13. Eric complaints about the Dashboard almost perfectly mirror what I like about the Dashboard.

    Dashboard has a very low system impact - something that could never be said about Konfabulator, a program I really tried to like and couldn't. I like that it sits behind the Finder, so to speak, available on demand but not taking up precious cycles when not demanded. This feature means widget design and features have to be carefully thought out. For example, having a widget to check email is just plain stupid. A simple application is a much better idea for that task.

    Wiidgets are simple one trick ponies - just as the original desk accessories were simple. They aren't user customizable? Blame the programmer of the widget, not Apple. For that matter, why does everything have to be easily customizable? BTW, I didn't much like the appearance of the History of the Day widget - it was pretty easy for me to create a different appearance for it.

    But hey - if you want to run lots of eyecandy with large processor usage and high memory demands, download and use Konfabulator.

  14. Eudora over Mail

    I used Mail and Eudora side by side for all of 2004.

    I think the biggest thing I dislike about Mail is it forces you to use their single view mailbox. This is the biggest thing I dislike about Windows, too.

    What I like about Eudora on the Mac (sucks on Windows) is that when new mail comes in then all of the mail folders are opened that have new mail in them. It makes is easy for me to process incoming mail.

    Is there a way for Mail to open a separate window for each mail folder in 10.4?


  15. david, once activated once, Dashboard will continue to suck up both CPU and memory, so I'm not sure where you got the impression that it has very low system impact (Dashboard is currently consuming about 2GB of virtual memory and over 100MB of real memory, and I haven't used it in hours.) And what's stupid about an app that stays on the corner of your screen and monitors your mailbox? You'd rather keep the 350MB Mail app open all the time or something? In any case, I'm sure Apple will add the rest of Konfabulator's functionality at some point, so no use arguing about it here I guess.

    The #1 thing I love about 10.4 is Quartz Composer, far and away. It's amazing.

    The #1 thing about 10.4 I think will hook people to the platform is Automator. Once you've got a series of those scripts in your regular workflow, I don't see how you could ever move away from MacOS X. It will definitely play towards customer retention for Apple.

  16. The most immediate annoyance with Mail is that the new toolbar lost the status message bar that used to be there. I thought it was quite useful to have a single line activity descriptor without having to bring up the Activity window...

  17. You'll hear no argument from me, Konfabulator is a resource hog, which is why I don't use it anymore. I love that Dashboard can "put widgets away" and not run them unless you have Dashboard open. This works great for a widget such as an RSS reader or the phone book search. However there are some things that just would make more sense being right there on your desktop and not tucked away behind Dashboard. For example, I do not want to have to go into Dashboard to check on the weather, I would much rather not interrupt my task, and just glance to the corner of the screen where I placed the widget. Also having Dashboard only means widgets such as Transmit's helper widget (which is designed to easily upload files to an FTP server) are severely limited in functionality. In order to use it you must click and drag a file, while dragging, hit F12, and then drag onto the widget. Why not make this a simple click and drag onto a desktop widget?

    As far as customizing and preferences go.
    David, I am unsure as to what Widget you are referring to when you say History of the Day widget. If it is Mackiev's "This Day in History" widget, then I don't see where your easy appearance change comes in. Are you a programmer who happens to be able to go in and edit code?

    Also preferences are difficult to access. In order to get to the preferences of my Weather widget, I must first hover over the widget in Dashboard then search for the very tiny "i" which will take me to the preferences on the flip side. Why not enable contextual menus so that a simple ctl-click anywhere on the widget will take me to the preferences? Or have a drop down menu listing all active widgets, and have the ability to access preferences through that?

    Widgets can be far more than the "one trick ponies" that they are currently limited to. I agree that some fault lay on the developer of the individual widget in the sense of widget appearance. But Apple must also take some blame. They laid out the brickwork and others are only going to follow in Apple's footsteps. Also I still feel that Apple has not taken any advantage from making widgets a built-in feature. Apple typically has great innovative ideas, but on this one they fell far short of what should have been a very powerful system enhancement.

  18. Dashboard is a ripoff of Konfabulator which is a ripoff of Desktop X (for Windows) which is a ripoff of this and that and waaahh waaaah waaah. Are the LiteSwitch people still griping about Apple "stealing" from them too, all the while failing to acknowledge that their product was by no means wholly originally in itself? What a bunch of flippin' whiners. Man.... everyone rips everyone off. What matters is who implements it best for one's needs. Dashboard is just fine the way it works in my book.

  19. Sam - show me where Dashboard is hogging CPU cycles when it is inactive. I've tried iPulse and Activity Monitor and in both cases they show no activity. I based my original assumption that it burns no cycles while inactive on the fact that network related Widgets only update after Dashboard is activated. As for memory - that is irrelevant. If the computer requires memory which is being used by Dashboard it will be paged out until such time as your reactivate Dashboard.

    And note - I didn't say anything about an application monitoring email being stupid - in fact I said the opposite. Using Dashboard to monitor email is stupid because the widget isn't active until Dashboard is activated. Having an application that is active all the time is completely sensible.

    Eric -Yes, it is "this day in history". It takes no great programming experience to change the appearance. The widget appearance is a graphic file. And Java Script is quite easy to learn so if you don't like the placement of text or the width of the widget you can pretty easily figure it out. In fact, while I am indeed a programmer, just about everything I learned about Java Script was from playing with Konfabulator. And your point about preferences is well taken - but again - that is the fault of the programmer.

  20. I just read on Apple Discussions that there is still no read receipt functionality in Mail still. If this is true I have to say I really wonder what Apple is thinking spending resources on making jellybean buttons but not adding basic functionality.

    I thought it was bad enough I was going to have to pay for an upgrade just to get this function in Mail but now when I eventually upgrade I'll get wonderful new buttons but not functionality that has been a part of mail clients for a couple years now.

    And I think it's great Apple's doing all these things in the interface to take advantage of my Mobile Radeon 9600 but are they (or ATi) ever going to actually release a System Prefs panel so I can actually tweak my video card? It sure would be nice, if after 1.25 years of owning my Powerbook that I actually got a full set of drivers for it's video card. Has anything changed in this regard in Tiger?

  21. The thing I hate most about Dashboard is that if I go more than about 5 minutes between activations, it unloads itself. So the next time I activate Dashboard, I have to wait about 20 seconds while my CPU skyrockets, my disk crunches, and I sit there while the weather reloads, the clock updates to the correct time, and the calendar checks the date. This is annoying!

    I mean, it would suck if it was always active and took up lots of RAM and CPU all the time. But damn, having to wait almost 30 seconds to re-activate the Dashboard just because it's been a half hour since I last used it is ridiculous! I have a G4 800 iBook with 640MB RAM... this is not a setup I would call "low end" (at least not yet).

    PS: Has anybody else noticed that the Dashboard clock has a white face during sunlight hours and a black face at night? I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else.


  22. Hi Sam Kass:

    I have to differ with you I'm afraid. If you haven't used Dashboard for several hours then your 100MB of memory has become inactive and can quickly/easily be used for other processes that have a need for extra real memory. Oh, and virtual memory is just that - it's virtual and doesn't exist except for some form of swap space reservation. When Dashboard is dormant it consumes little to no system resources - barr any software bugs that is.

  23. Vincent van den Heuvel

    Things i like about Mail:
    - buttons are actual buttons
    - one window to rule them all

    Things i hate about Mail:
    - Interface, it's not that I think it's ugly, but it's yet another type of interface, we now have:
    pinstripe (what started as Aqua)
    no stripe (hide Finder toolbar)
    metal (iApp style)
    grey metal (Compressor)
    pro (FCP, DVD Studio Pro)
    plastic (Mail)
    - The drawer is replaced by a sidebar (i like), but is not adjustable in lay-out (right/left... shame)
    - Speed (mail is actual slower the my previous version)
    - No return receipt (message read by receiver)
    - No HTML mail (I was really surprised by this.. WebKit anyone???)

  24. Why does Stoplight (so named at our company because it brings our work to a screeching halt) insist on going into the spinning beachball of death each time we plug a daisy-chain of 1394 external drives in? With 14 or 15 drives chained together, we have sat there waiting for nearly an hour and a half for Stoplight to do it's thing. Incredibly annoying!

  25. I was extremely disappointed with the new Mail. I was hoping they would fix some of the basic IMAP failings. Like being able to subscribe/unsubscribe from folders. Even my squirrel mail web mail interface can do that! Also the lack of support for poll folders for their unread count. I use server side filters to put mail into folders. If I use Mail I never know if I get new mail in one of those folders.

    That being said, I love pretty much everything else. Apple really went in and improved all sorts of little things. I keep running into great little improvements.


  26. I'm still dipping my toes in most of the new features, and I'm relatively less savvy than most of you, so I don't know much of anything about Quartz Composer, though you have me salivating.

    I wrestled briefly with switching to Mac's included apps again, but ditched it. Entourage has its fair share of stupid, stupid flaws (like inability to edit an appointment without opening it, and inability to drag and drop copies of appointments around on the calendar, which I used all the time in Outlook, pre-Mac for me), but the integration of features and variety of them continue to serve me so well that I feel short-changed using iCal's and Mail's admittedly prettier interface. Eudora... well, that's the worst of both worlds. I don't get that.

  27. One little thing I do like about Mail: Knowing how many messages are in a folder. I use folders to manage current messages, and it's nice to know when one is growing beyond manageability. In Entourage, once a message has been read, there is no indication how many messages are in a folder.

    Anyway, this type of discussion could go on for days, so I should probably stop.

  28. Eudora vs. Mail: A colleague has a 1GHz PowerBook and uses Mail. He has well over 12,000 mail messages, and Mail goes sooooo sslllooowww when it keeps trying to index mailboxes. Oftentimes it will freeze, and he'll have to force-quit Mail after some time (10 minutes or more).

    Eudora doesn't have any speed problems opening up any mailbox, no matter how many messages are in it.

    The find function in Eudora is also super-fast, and seems much faster than Mail.

    That all being said, I wish Eudora was better at displaying HTML mail and update the style of the interface a bit to take more advantage of OS X abilities.

  29. First, let me say that I am a computer nut, and that I have likes and dislikes about all platforms I use. For my purposes, OS X is a very pretty UNIX. I like a lot of the features, but I have to say that Windows still wins hands down when it comes to drive navigation. Explorer is well implemented. I know. Proceed with the proselytizing. I can be more productive in a "My Computer" window than I can in Finder.

  30. Matt... add those external drives to Spotlight's "privacy" list. That should solve your problem. You'll find it in the System Prefs panel for Spotlight. Just drag the drive's icon and drop it on the list.

  31. John - thanks but it doesn't work at all with external storage devices. Regardless of any efforts in the privacy list, each time a drive is unmounted and then remounted, Stoplight forgets all about these preferences and goes into its insane loop of indexing again. Mac users are always opted-in whether they like it or not.

    We connected 63 1394 drives in a chain (maximum allowed by the 1394 spec) to a Dual 2.0 G5's 1394b bus port. Stoplight immediately went into action, ceasing all other activity on the G5. No mouse. No menus. Nada.

    At the 3 hour mark, we terminated Stoplight's activity with a cold power shut down of the machine.

    Stoplight has basically rendered the 1394 bus relatively useless for any serious data storage or archival production with FCP, et al. This is a major flaw, aka "idiotsyncracy," and needs immediate attention.

  32. BTW, this same exact 1394 storage chain in Panther 10.3.9 is available for work and data access, transfer, whatever, in a matter of seconds.

  33. Jack,

    I have to agree. I recently bought a Mac Mini because its price made it practical for me to finally get a Mac as a second machine. While most of the MacOS interface is easier to navigate than Windows, occasionally I hit a point where I feel my options are overly limited. In particular, Finder as you mention seems less productive than it should. A couple examples ...

    I like to run my system largely from the file navigator (Finder/Explorer). Along these lines, I went to a directory in finder and wanted to create a simple text file. I could not see a way to do so short of bringing up the text editor and re-navigating to the desired directory when saving.

    Another time, I was saving a file (from Firefox I think). It brought up the standard save interface that allowed me to navigate to a directory and create a new directory in which to save the file-- good so far. However, when I realized that I created the directory in the wrong place, there was no way to remove, move, or edit it through the save interface. I had to bring up a separate Finder window, navigate to the directory and correct it.

    Both of these are cases where I was forced to execute a separate work flow instead of completing the task "inline". So in the context of the thread, this would be my point against MacOS X. I could easily be overlooking something or maybe need to approach MacOS workflow in an altogether different way. Any input is welcome.

    Overall, I probably went into MacOS X with unrealistic expectations of an OS that does everything Windows does but twice as well, however, my general impression is still positive. I have to say that Spotlight came in handy as a new user not familiar with the system layout, and the Help is actually helpful. Windows on the other hand has an irritating habit of only telling you what you already know.

    - Jesse

  34. Pingback: inluminent » Blog Archive » A few Apple-centric readings

  35. I would like to switch to Mail, but Eudora (which I've used for years) has a few features that I would miss (some of which have been listed already).

    The main one is the ability to create multiple search instructions.


    Then you can add more conditions.

    When I use Eudora I do notice issues with displaying some emails. But generally when I am working with boxes, messages, addresses, and search functions, I am unfettered.

    When I have tried other packages, I often run into obstacles. But I am open to suggestions.

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