I’m usually wary of articles claiming to be “the straight scoop”…

The PC-or-Mac debate has been raging for more than a quarter-century, but making sense of it requires considering the situation as it stands at one moment in time.

Harry McCracken on PC vs. Mac. Though broad in scope, it’s one of the few articles I’ve read claiming no bias that manages to more or less pull it off.

The Best Review of Windows That Mossberg Has Produced.

UPDATE: Kudos to reader Jon T. of Cardiff, Wales, for digging up this quote from Mossberg’s review of Vista:

“After months of testing Vista on multiple computers, new and old, I believe it is the best version of Windows that Microsoft has produced.” — Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18, 2007

“After using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced.” — Wall Street Journal, Oct. 8, 2009

An interesting addendum to CNN’s article on what’s wrong with Windows 7. The entire article is worth reading.

Much has been made of Mossberg’s review — including some over-exuberant article headlines — yet he still believes Mac OS X has the edge. The thrust of his review is that Windows 7 is an improvement over Vista. Big deal, we already expected that.

Posted via web from The Small Wave.

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: It’s The Little Things (And What Have You Found?)

SnowLeopard

This discovery article is about things that, frankly, would make for a short post if written about individually. But there are a number of thoughtful touches sprinkled throughout Snow Leopard that make your work nicer, or more efficient, and I want to mention some of them here…

Text Substitution

The system-wide text substitution is great. Go to the Languages and Text control panel to select the ones you want, or add your own:

Lang-Tex_Text

I’ve already added a few of my own, and they work perfectly in the Snow Leopard version of apps like Mail and TextEdit.

ShowSubMenuOne thing to note, however. Text replacement may not be enabled by default. Applications handle this differently, so you may need to turn it on for a given app. In an application’s Edit menu you’ll see a menu for Substitutions. Just check the ones you want to turn them on.

ShiwSubDialogAlternatively, select Show Substitutions on the menu to display a dialog box where you can control them all at once. Either way, check Text Replacement and you’re in business.

TextEdit

It took only the addition of a few features to vault TextEdit to my default word processor of choice:

  • Text replacement, as explained above
  • Correct spelling automatically
  • Smart dashes

These are all available in Pages, but with TextEdit I have them in a faster environment for most of my writing.

TextEdit Page

Keep in mind TextEdit already had plenty of desirable word processing features. Things like simple styles, lists, line spacing, tabs, paste and match style, find/replace, hyperlinks, hyphenation, and more. Heck, it even has kerning and ligatures.

Further, as an RTF editor it can contain graphics, and makes nice use of the new streamlined Services menu in Snow Leopard:

TextEdit PicServices

No, I’m not giving up Pages anytime soon. Sometimes I need columns, headers, TOCs, etc. But most of the time I don’t. TextEdit is fast and uncluttered, with more than just the basics, and yet so lightweight I think nothing of leaving it running all the time. With the latest improvements its become my word processor for blog posts, and where I’ll start most other writing projects as well.

iCal

My favorite new feature in iCal, and it practically brings tears to my eyes, is this:

iCal Prefs

Now when I double-click an existing event I don’t see this dreadful thing:

AttachedEvent

Instead, I get the thing of beauty below. Imagine that, an actual window I can type in, and move around, and everything.

Windows Event

Sadly, this only works for existing events. If you double-click a date to add a new event you still get the “talking” editor, which you need to drag off if you want a window. Still, this feature makes me very happy.

For other people, their favorite new feature might be this:

iCal_GoogHoo

You can now sync your Mac calendar with Google or Yahoo! calendars. The Address Book has a similar capability, so your contacts can be in sync between these services as well. I used Yahoo! for years and this would have been great, but I’m on MobileMe now.

Mail

Exchange support could be huge (I love it on my iPhone), but my company does not use Exchange 2007 so I cannot try this or comment on it.

Mail_SidebarHowever, the text substitutions mentioned above are extremely nice. So is the speed increase.

And I love that I can re-order the sidebar categories. For me, this means banishing Reminders to the bottom of the list.

QuickTime X

So much has been written about the new QuickTime X player that I won’t dwell on it other than to try to define a little bit better what this thing is:

  • QT XDo not confuse QuickTime X player with the actual QuickTime X technology. The player is the tip of the iceberg you see. QuickTime X is a refinement and tuning of Apple’s media technology as ambitious as Snow Leopard was to Leopard.
  • QuickTime X player is not QuickTime Pro. Pro allowed editing in the middle of a movie, combining multiple movies into one, better output options, and more.
  • QuickTime X player is more than the QuickTime 7 player it replaces. You can trim movies and then upload directly to YouTube or MobileMe. You can also output them to iPod, iPhone or Apple TV devices. It can also record your screen actions, and the performance is better.

The number of QT Pro users is relatively small. For the vast majority of Mac users what they’re getting is a sleeker, faster movie player than what they had before. One that also allows them to trim footage and upload it for sharing, as well as recording on-screen actions. That’s a pretty nice bonus as part of only a $29 software package.

And Even More…

Password GraceYour Mac goes to sleep, you immediately grab the mouse but it’s too late, you have to enter a password to get back in (if you’ve chosen that option). Well, in the Security preferences panel you can now set a “grace period” between sleep and requiring a password.

Network WakeYou want to be Green. Really, you do. But you can’t let your desktop Mac sleep because you might want to grab a file, or see a shared photo, or play a shared song, from your MacBook. Well, if you use an Airport Extreme or Time Capsule as your router you can set an option to Wake for Network access. Let the desktop get some sleep, knowing it’ll wake if you need it.

Day, date and time in the menu bar. You could do this before, but had to jump through hoops. Now you just check a few boxes:

Day Date

Where Does It End?

In this discovery series I specifically avoided the advanced technologies in Snow Leopard like Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL. These are very important, but I wanted the series to focus on what most people could see and make use of immediately.

Yet there are more, many more, things to discover. I couldn’t begin to list them all. QuickLook now works in iChat for received a file. Safari now has “plug-in protection” so Adobe Flash (and others) won’t crash the browser. And on and on…

What about you? What have you found? I’d love for others to leave their own Snow Leopard discoveries in the comments below.

Previous Articles in the Snow Leopard Discovery Series:

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Preview

Preview

I think most users are indifferent to Preview. They double-click a PDF or image file, view it, and then quit the app. In Snow Leopard there’s a reasonable chance they might notice it all happens faster, and the toolbar has changed, but nothing else. I think that’s a shame.

Snow Leopard’s Preview received enhancements that will elevate it from frequent use to a workhorse for me. However, the way some features were implemented seems odd…

PDF = Pretty Darn Fast.

Preview is fast. I mean, it’s really fast. It was always a quick little sucker, but in Snow Leopard’s 64-bit trim it opens images and PDF files (even large ones) extremely quickly.

For PDFs, other enhancements include:

  • Smart text selection (e.g., selecting just one column).
  • Open multiple documents in one window; you can search all at once (this can be very handy).
  • Speaking of search, it utilizes Grand Central Dispatch to increase speed.

You can also view a PDF as a contact sheet of pages, like so:

Preview PDF Contact

I trashed Adobe Reader the minute Preview first appeared, though admittedly my PDF needs are not extensive. (I don’t use Adobe Reader on my Windows machines, either). In Snow Leopard, even some die-hard Reader holdouts can probably let go of Adobe in this area.

Do I Have To Draw You A Picture?

Well, yes, sometimes I do. In Leopard, Preview gained the ability to annotate images with ovals, rectangles, arrows, and text. It also gained the “Instant Alpha” feature from Apple’s iWork apps. It’s useful to annotate pictures with text, or highlight a certain area. Preview’s newfound capabilities were welcome, and I utilized them often.

The problem is that the features were deficient. It didn’t take long to identify what was missing:

  • It draw ovals, but not circles.
  • It draw rectangles, but not squares.
  • It draw arrows, but not lines.
  • No control over arrow thickness.
  • It has any color you like, as long as it’s red.

(That last one isn’t so bad, since red is superior to the other, lesser colors of the spectrum. Still, the lack of choice was odd.)

New and Improved

Lines Thick and DashedThe best news about the new Preview is that it addresses the above deficiencies:

  • Hold down Shift while drawing an oval or rectangle to make it a perfect circle or square.
  • You have control over arrow heads, placing them at the beginning, end, both ends, or none. (The latter option, of course, makes it a line.)
  • You can choose line thickness, which includes an option for dashed lines.
  • You can choose a color for annotated items.

Having discovered the above, I tried some other keyboard tricks:

  • Hold down Shift while drawing a line to constrain it to 45 degree angles.
  • Hold Option while drawing circles, rectangles, and lines to draw them from the center.

Very good, Apple.

Meet Me At The Bar

Annotation ButtonThe annotation bar, that is. Previously you could add some annotation tools to the regular toolbar (images and PDFs had their own toolbars). Now there’s just one standard toolbar, and a button on it brings up a new “Annotations Toolbar”. It’s different for PDFs and images:

PDF

PDF Annotation

Image

Image Annotation

This makes it easier to access annotation items, and only displays when you need them. It’s very nice, though a bit incomplete.

You Got What You Wanted, What’s The Problem?

The devil’s in the details, and I’m a bit puzzled by Apple’s implementation of the new stuff.

The annotation toolbar is at the bottom of a window. Why? Who decided I should mouse up for menus and most toolbars, but mouse down for other controls?

Annotations Inspector ArrowsI like the annotations bar, so I’ll take it where I can get it, but why doesn’t it hold all the annotation controls? For example, draw an arrow. Its color, thickness, and dash can be modified from the annotations bar, but what about arrow heads? You’ll only find them on a new tab in the Inspector.

Show the Inspector, and next to the tabs of document information is a new tab for annotations. Here you’ll find the options for arrow heads.

Annotations Inspector BubblesFurther, you’ll find two more features not on the annotations bar. One of them is the choice of fill color. The other applies when you have a text box selected. You can pick a style of “Speech Bubble” or “Thought Bubble”. (Yes, now we can make our subjects talk, which is handier than one might imagine.)

I love these features, but Apple had a whole new annotations bar to work with and couldn’t fit them on it? Oh well, they’re not that hard to get to when you need them.

“Eight-by-ten Colored Glossy Photographs With Circles and Arrows and a Paragraph On The Back Of Each One Explaining What Each One Was”

(Sorry, but there was no way I was writing this article without the above reference.)

For me, the new tools have many uses:

  • My most recent cry for circles was when I did the image at the top of this article. The thought bubble would have taken 20 seconds with circles, but took a couple minutes because I had to make ovals circular, and occasionally started over when I wasn’t happy with the results.
  • Of course, I hadn’t even dreamed of the thought bubble actually being drawn for me, which is now the case.
  • As for lines, there are times I’d rather underline an item, but put a rectangle around it instead because lines were not an option.
  • I’ve already used the line thickness — along with a more neutral color — to draw over sensitive information in a screenshot I posted elsewhere.

In short, the new features will get a lot of use. Meanwhile, the occasional trip I made to Skitch will no longer be necessary. Skitch has now been retired; dead to me even before it was born (it’s still beta).

I could complain that I can’t create a new blank document, or duplicate an object, or group/ungroup items, but I think that would miss the point. I’d hate to see Preview’s speed and convenience sacrificed to make it more of a drawing program it doesn’t need to be.

Minor quibbles about implementation aside, the new Preview adds much-needed tools for better annotation of images. It’s not meant to be a “true” drawing program. Rather, I view the changes as Apple simply finishing the job they started in Leopard when they decided it would be useful for Preview to have markup tools. All this, and it’s faster, too. I’d call that a job well done.

Previous Articles in the Snow Leopard Discovery Series:

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Dock, Exposé, and Spaces

Expose_Opening

If you’re wondering why I’m writing about these items together, it’s because Exposé and Spaces are both related to window management (with Spaces at a higher level), and in Snow Leopard they built Exposé into the Dock so it comes along for the ride.

Spaces hasn’t really changed in Snow Leopard. Where the real change comes is Exposé itself, which is slicker than before, and some Dock changes to invoke it.

How I Organize

The screenshots below make more sense if you understand how I organize my apps/windows. Put simply, I use six spaces as an integral part of my work. Each space generally only has 1-3 apps in it, so clutter in any one space is minimal.

Exposé Alone

Let’s say I’m in space #5 and invoke Exposé. I use a gesture (upper right screen corner) to invoke the “All Windows” option, and see this:

Expose_SL

This shows me “all windows” for the space I’m in; you can see I’ve got three windows in this space.

It should be immediately apparent what’s different about Exposé in Snow Leopard. Instead of lining up willy nilly, the windows are lined to a grid. Further, instead of being unlabeled until you move the mouse over them, they have permanent labels. Finally, there’s a dark blue border around the “selected” window under the mouse (in this case, iPhoto). Aside from clicking the selected window to switch to it, there’s a new feature you can perform that we’ll get to in a minute.

Spaces Alone

Now let’s say I go back to space #5, and instead of invoking Exposé I invoke Spaces (gesture to the lower-left corner). I’ll see this:

Spaces_SL

I’ve got a lot running for the purposes of this article (yet at this point it’s not all displayed). Notice that space #5 has a darker background than the others. That’s because it’s the currently “selected” space (i.e. under the mouse).

So now you’ve seen each feature invoked on its own. Click on a window in Exposé and you go to that window. Click on a window in Spaces and you go to that window and space. Simple enough.

Exposé and Spaces: Together

The beauty of Exposé is that it works with Spaces. if I’m showing all my spaces, and then invoke Exposé’s All Windows option, I see everything. (Obviously, if  you don’t use Spaces then Exposé’s All Windows option always shows everything.)

Go back to the spaces picture above and imagine if I invoked Exposé from there. In other words, if I quickly moused to the lower-left and then upper-right corners (a natural movement since I’m right handed). I get this:

Expose+Spaces_SL

Now I get a picture of all opened windows on the Mac. Notice the mouse is over a window in space #4. The space has the darker background, and there’s a dark blue border around the selected window. A cool new feature in Exposé is that the selected window can be previewed for a closer look. Just hit the space bar to see this:

Expose Window Zoom_SL

This is really nice when using Spaces and Exposé together because the displayed windows can get small– especially on my 13” MacBook. Sometimes the window title will be enough, but with similar titles the preview feature is a great way to ensure you’ve found the window you want. Just click the preview to move to that window.

(Windows 7 provides previews, too, but if you click it the whole thing disappears. Instead, you must click the small tab from which you generated the preview. Not a very wise implementation.)

And It’s Only $29. But Wait, There’s More!

Exposé’s additional polish and window previews are great, but there’s even more, and here’s where the Dock gets involved. Let’s say I’ve done some work in the Finder, and then from any space or application I just click and hold on the Finder icon in the Dock. I see this:

Finder Dock Expose

Three windows displayed, and in a similar style as we saw before. But one of them is drawn below a fine white line. What’s this?

Dock Minimize PrefWell, there’s a new preference for the Dock that allows windows to minimize to the app’s icon instead of a separate slot in the Dock. If you choose to use this option (I love it), minimized windows display in Exposé below a line on the screen.

Once Exposé is invoked you do not need to continue holding the mouse button down. This allows for some other great features. For example, assume I’m still at the screenshot above, and I click on the TextEdit icon in the Dock. I get this:

TextEdit Dock Expose

So I can quickly switch Exposé from one app to another. In fact, I can cycle Exposé through every open app by repeatedly pressing the Tab key. Sweet.

Whether alone or with Spaces, and no matter how you invoke it (gesture, the Dock, keyboard, or mouse), the bottom line is you click an Exposé window (or its preview) and you’re there.

It’s Too Much! My Head’s Gonna Explode!

Well, yes, if you tried to use every method you’re head might explode. But the way you work will lend itself to certain methods that make the most sense for you.

Personally, I think Apple added the Dock access so more people would discover Exposé. The Dock makes invoking it more accessible. And by making the windows line up neater, with labels, usability is enhanced no matter how you invoke it.

As for me, I’m a Spaces guy, too. The lower-left and/or upper-right corner gesture as needed is easy and natural. I can quickly have a space’s — or all — windows right in front of me. Yet as I’m working I rarely have more than a couple apps’ “clutter” to deal with at once.

I don’t think I’ll use the Dock for Exposé very often, I love using the gestures. But the neater grid, labels, and previews are something I’m already taking advantage of.

Previous Articles in the Snow Leopard Discovery Series:

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Finder

Finder Desktop Small

If you listen to Apple, pretty much all they did for the Finder in their latest OS was rewrite it using the Cocoa frameworks (oh, and report hard drive size differently). But they tend to dwell less on just what the Finder gained from all that rewriting.

File Icons As Big As Your Screen Used To Be

SL Icon 512x512_SmallThe file icons in Snow Leopard can be bigger than the original Mac’s screen. Consider that for a minute. This icon for the System folder in Snow Leopard is larger than the entire screen of the original line of Macs.

Original Mac Screen SmallTo put the two into perspective, they’re shown below full-size with the Mac’s 512 x 342 desktop on top of a Snow Leopard 512 x 512 icon. Wow. We see proof of how far we’ve come in computing every day, but for some reason this one kind of blows me away:

Original Mac vs SL Icon

You can preview these large icons. For example, you can scroll though a PDF page by page, or even play a movie. With sizes this large it’s actually workable. However, when I want to preview something I use the excellent QuickLook, which opens an even bigger window.

For me, the larger icons (and slider in each window to control them) have other purposes. For example, they’re perfect when browsing through a folder full of images. Sure, you could use QuickLook there, too, but it’s a little clumsy just for random browsing. Much better to make the icons a big size  — kind of like a photographer’s light table — and scroll through them, as below:

Finder icon Scrolling

In case you’re wondering, those are 224 x 224 icon sizes. Previously, the highest you could go was 148 which wasn’t large enough sometimes, forcing you into QuickLook. However, at the larger size it’s easy to distinguish them, so now a selection can be made (if necessary) for more detailed viewing via QuickLook or an app. I go though lots of images for this blog, and I already find this feature great.

For another Finder feature, notice the above window has the toolbar and sidebar neatly hidden. Just a click on the “pillbox” in the upper right of the title (or Command-Option-T) takes care of that. Do again and the window’s back to normal.

Saved From The Trash

Put BackClassic Mac OS used to have this, and Windows has it, so I’m only dwelling on the new Put Back feature in the Trash because it’s one of those things that, simple as it seems, I believe they had to dig into the OS to add. Without a rewrite this likely doesn’t happen.

The same is true for the improved disc eject, where the Finder is now kind enough to tell you what app has a hold of the drive you’re trying to get rid of. Apple said addressing this required getting “deep” into the OS, and only a rewrite was going to make it possible.

By the way, no keyboard command for Put Back is listed, but it has one. It’s the same as the one that put the file in the trash to begin with: Command-Delete.

The Finder on Speed

There are no screenshots or benchmarks that do this justice. You’ll just have to see (and feel) it for yourself. But the 64-but rewrite of the Finder brings much speed to the interface. Icon previews — even in the new larger sizes — draw much faster than before. File operations, windows openings, and stacks draw faster than ever.

It’s very noticeable, so much so that when you move to a Leopard box after only a day you begin to feel that OS is slow.

The Finder is Stacked

I looked forward to the navigation of Finder stacks perhaps as much as any other feature of Snow Leopard. The good news is I love it, though it’s not without a downside for me.

The good news is obvious, many times I don’t want to go to a Finder window, but would rather just keep navigating the stack. Previously, if you clicked a folder the Finder window opened and you were on your own. Now, it opens up in the stack and you can just keep navigating. An arrow in the upper left corner takes you back up the hierarchy. I love this.

The bad news is, well, sometime I wanted to open a Finder window, and now I can’t easily do so. For example, consider this stack:

Stack Navigating

You can see by the arrow at the top left that I got here via stack navigation, which is good. But now I want to open the “_Blog Potential” folder in the Finder. If there were a keyboard shortcut (say, Option-click), that would be great. But there’s not.

What I have to do is click the folder (opening it in the stack), scroll to the bottom, and then click Open in Finder. Alternatively, I could Command-click it, which opens the enclosing folder in the Finder with the clicked folder highlighted, and double-click it. Either way it’s more clicks or scrolls than I’d like. Apple, please provide a keyboard-click in stacks to avoid either of these options.

The above doesn’t spoil stack navigation for me. I’d much rather have it than go back. But it does put a damper on the process.

I also wish I had some control of icon size in the stack’s grid view. They were shrunk quite a bit in Leopard to show as much as possible. Since Snow Leopard can scroll, I guess Apple felt they may as well make them huge. I’d rather make them a bit smaller, especially since I have a 13” MacBook and it doesn’t fit that many on one stack “page”.

Other Niceties

Search FolderI love that the Finder has more control over file searching now. Why go to a folder and do a search when the Finder couldn’t start there? Well, now it’s your call. Set the new option to Search the Current Folder and you’re all set. If you invoke a search from a folder that’s where it will begin to search.

View Search ResultsAnd once the Finder has found your stuff, you can change the order in which it’s displayed. After a find is completed, the View/Arrange menu lists multiple options, each with a keyboard shortcut. Finally. Further, a preexisting or saved search can now have the view setting changed like any other Finder folder, and those setting will be retained. I have a saved search for recent image files, and it’s great now to always have it in the order and icon size I want.

Finally, if you drag everything out of a Finder sidebar category, the heading itself is smart enough to disappear. A nice touch.

You Can’t Be Done, What About the Dock and Exposé?

Actually, I am done. This article is long enough. Besides, I want to write about the Dock, Exposé (and Spaces) in their own article to point out the great window and workspace management they provide, and how it’s enhanced in Snow Leopard. That’ll be the next article in my Discover series.

Previous Articles in the Snow Leopard Discovery Series:

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: MobileMe

MMe iDisk

Next up in my discovery series on Snow Leopard is MobileMe. Apple didn’t talk about it much for this upgrade, but I’m writing about it because I ran into a frustrating snag, and found a great new option.

Bad News First

I keep a local iDisk on both my Macs. I use the data on whichever machine I want, and never worry about it being current because MMe keeps it all in sync. The beauty of this approach to Cloud computing is that I’m not at the whim of the Cloud in terms of whether performance is slow, or if I can even log in at all. Further, since I’m using local data I get great performance, and can use desktop apps with capabilities that exceed Cloud alternatives.

Since I launch some apps via documents, I kept a handful of document aliases in the iDisk’s Documents folder. These aliases would point to the correct local file no matter which Mac I opened them from. Not any more.

On Snow Leopard, if I used an alias on one machine, the other would balk when it tried to sync it. I could override it, but the resulting synced file was garbage text instead of a functioning alias for that machine. It took some experimentation with three different aliases to confirm this was the problem. I could no longer get a good alias for one machine if it worked on the other.

To get around this, I deleted the aliases from iDisk and created them locally on each machine. They don’t sync, of course, but they don’t need to.

This really isn’t a big deal, but it was frustrating today as I tried to figure out what was going on. Anyway, since I deleted the aliases iDisk syncs have been fine. No more errors and all seems well.

And Now For The Good News

Personally, I think Apple should have shouted from the rooftops that MobileMe iDisk syncing has a new option:

MMe Sync Option

This is great. I don’t get a lot of sync errors, but when I do I can’t think of a single time that I didn’t take the most recent version of the file. From now on, if the sync issue is due to a time discrepancy I won’t even be bothered.

I understand the idea behind any discrepancy stopping the process and prompting the user, but I also believe that some of the prompts are overkill. In my opinion, having the option to always use the most recent file is a great addition.

Discoveries in Mac OS X Snow Leopard: Installation [UPDATED]

Snow_Leopard_DVD2

I’m not going to write a Snow Leopard review; there are many of them already written anyway. Rather, I’m going to write separate articles that dwell on things I’ve used in Snow Leopard and how they worked for me. May as well start at the beginning, so this first article is about installation.

That Was It?

I can honestly say I’ve never had a smoother or more non-eventful OS upgrade in my life. I popped in the disc, ran the installer, and that’s it. It estimated 1 hour and 2 minutes to upgrade my unibody 13” MacBook, and it pretty much nailed the estimate. It required no intervention on my part after starting the installer. A couple reboots later and it was done.

No, I didn’t wipe the disk and do a clean install, and I haven’t done such a thing in years. I think people who install that way have way too much time on their hands, but that’s just me.

All my preferences, apps, settings, etc. were preserved, with one exception. The Preview app’s toolbar customization was gone. This is because there are some new tools and the old settings wouldn’t work. Further, image and PDF files had their own toolbars before, now the toolbar is the same no matter the file type opened. In any case, it didn’t take long to set it the way I like it, and Preview will be one of the first apps I write about; the changes are very welcome.

A Little Preparation Is Good

The great install may have partly been due to some planning on my part. After reading up on it a bit, I took care of the following before attempting the upgrade:

  • I uninstalled Glims and Safar140 from Safari because I knew they were not totally compatible.
  • I uninstalled MailBadger because these types of “hacks” are sometimes trouble in an OS upgrade.
  • I was going to uninstall AdBlocker as well, but they claimed to have a release that was compatible with Snow Leopard, so I upgraded it and left it in.
  • I uninstalled Chax (a great iChat enhancer)
  • With a completely re-written QuickTime player I thought it best to uninstall those enhancers that let it play more file types. I uninstalled Flip4Mac, but kept Perian since their web site said it was compatible with Snow Leopard.

The Aftermath

SL_Screenshot_Small

AdBlock_32bitAfter the install I launched Safari, and AdBlocker was not there. When I went to the site it clarified that you must run Safari in 32-but mode for AB to work. Sorry, no. Safari is much faster in Snow Leopard at 64-bits, and I’m not slowing it down for AB; I’ll wait until it’s upgraded. So I uninstalled it.

32bit_SysPrefPaneI left DoubleCommand installed on my system, and it works. I use it for one thing only: To change my forward slash ket to forward delete key. When I accessed its control panel System Preferences informed me it would have to shutdown and relaunch to display it. This is the tipoff you’re dealing with a 32-bit control panel. No big deal (though inconvenient) but it worked fine after that. I shouldn’t need to open its control panel again (I never change it), so I’m happy.

The new QuickTime player is sweet, but it doesn’t have all the features of QuickTime Pro. For example, you can’t edit out parts in the middle of a movie, or combine multiple movies into one. In short, it lets you do more than Leopard’s QuickTime Player, but is not a substitute for QT Pro. I inserted the Snow Leopard disc and ran the optional installer to put Quick Time 7 back. It recognized my Pro license immediately, so the features were all enabled. I’ll still use QT X to play most media (it’s slick, and fast), but retain QT Pro for quick and dirty editing jobs.

Conclusion

So, here’s the deal after the install:

  • I lost Safari AdBlock and will miss it. This product (or a substitute) I’ll reinstall as soon as it’s ready for 64-bit. Thanks to a reader I was pointed to GlimmerBlocker, a sweet little tool that not only blocks ads but also helped me with using searches other than Safari’s default.
  • I lost Glims for Safari but only used it to change the default search engine. I’m fine until it’s upgraded. Not sure I need this now that I’m using GlimmerBlocker.
  • I lost Safari140 (Tweeting from Safari), but never used it much so I’m not sure I care.
  • I lost MailBadger, and am trying to figure out if I want to see if it works, or if I really miss it that much.
  • I no longer have Flip4Mac, A reader pointed out that the folks at Flip4Mac have a beta 64-bit version for Safari, so I’ve installed that, and with the new QT X player and Perian I think I can open any media files I need to (I also kept the VLC Player app for the occasional Real Media file).

All in all I couldn’t be more pleased with the installation. In the last 24 hours or so I’ve run most of my programs and am not seeing any compatibility issues beyond what I mentioned above. I’ll document whatever I find in another post, but for now I’m just enjoying the enhancements and faster performance. More later.

[UPDATE:] SInce I wrote this I’ve installed Snow Leopard on my 2-year old original aluminum iMac 24″ (2.8GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme). That install went every bit as smoothly as on the MacBook:

SL_iMac_Screenshot