OS X

The Leopard 10.5.6 Update

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Yesterday Apple released the next major update for OS X Leopard, 10.5.6. I've installed it on both of my Macs and had no troubles. In addition to security updates and bug fixes, this release significantly speeds up the process of MobileMe syncing. I now get appointments on my phone about a minute after than putting them in iCal. To be honest, the delay before (about 30 minutes) didn't really bother me. Rob Griffiths gave an in-depth review of the changes over at Macworld. He even dug into the install file to find changes Apple didn't mention in its release notes.

Snow Leopard and Eating Crow

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Some famous errors..



"This should be no problem .. we won't need any reinforcements .. where are my medals?"
- George Armstrong Custer

"A little sip wont kill me."
- Socrates

"I think it would be really odd for them[Apple] to release a new OS without having some sexy new feature to brag about."
- MacSparky


Well, nobody is perfect. So just a few days ago I wrote how certain I was that Apple wouldn't update Leopard without adding some new features to tempt consumers. Now Apple announces that is exactly what they plan on doing. (To all the readers who emailed me today about me getting this wrong ... thanks a lot - smirk.) I am okay with that. All geeks are. We really get excited about things like processor speed and system efficiency. I still think Apple is going to have its work cut out for it though. The non-geek Mac users (and there are quite a few of those) are going to wonder why they should be shelling out for something that doesn't have any fancy bells or whistles.

Think about it. An upgrade just for geeks. You could chart it against something like "people with iStat menus installed" or "people who have opened terminal intentionally" and you would know exactly who will be bringing the Snow Leopard home.*

Well even though I am admitting I was wrong on this one, I still think Apple marketing will spin this as more than simply "security and stability" fixes. Indeed, the campaign has already begun. According to Apple, Snow Leopard is already listed as a "Quantum Leap" with built in Exchange support, 64 bit bells and whistles and a brand new Quicktime -- and that is just after the first day. By a year from now the list will grow. I'm still pining away for a ZFS file system.

If the world has learned anything from Vista, it is that we don't need our operating system to cure all sins, it just needs to be rock solid for our applications. I "get" where Apple is coming from on this and am looking forward to see what happens next.


* Another question in my mind is "will Snow Leopard be 10.6?" I didn't read about anyone at Apple calling Snow Leopard 10.6. The Apple website just refers to it as the "next major version" but never calls it 10.6. Maybe they will have a reduced price and give it a different number ... 10.5.?. That would be an interesting turn of events indeed.

OS X 10.6?

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Today TUAW ran an article speculating that Apple may have 10.6 for us sooner than we all thought. I actually mentioned this a few weeks ago on the the Mac Roundtable episode 40 and it didn't get much traction. Apple used to update OS X much more frequently than the big gap between Tiger and Leopard.

Regardless, what I found most strange about the TUAW speculation is the idea that 10.6 would come out as a "stability and security" update without any big new features. I find that really hard to believe. Apple seems to "get" marketing better than just about any big company out there. I think it would be really odd for them to release a new OS without having some sexy new feature to brag about. I would venture to say that there will not be a release without some nice new features. Perhaps the features will only be incremental but rest assured, Apple hype them up.

While I don't know what Uncle Steve has up his sleeve, I do hope they bring more integration with the growing mobile platform. I'd also like to see Apple embrace ZFS disc technology. What are your ideas for 10.6? Let me know.

Leopard 10.5.2 Installed. Nothing Blew Up.

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In case you haven't read yet, today Apple released Leopard 10.5.2. The update weighed in at 180mb on my Intel MacBook Pro. I spurned common sense and didn't bother with the combo updater and instead just did the automatic update. I've been running it a few hours now with no problems. Apple has a long list of updates. A few of them are of note to me and deserve comment.

Back to my Mac - Adds support for more third-party routers.

I am very curious to see how much this sorts out Back to My Mac. I've never quite got it working and not had time to figure it out. Actually, I keep waiting for the Macbreak Tech guys to set me straight on it.

Dock - Updates Stacks with a List view option, a Folder view option, and an updated background for Grid view.

Amen! I actually have gotten used to the new system but I know this was driving a lot of people crazy.

Desktop - Addresses legibility issues with the menu bar with an option to turn off transparency in Desktop & Screen Saver preferences.

This is another one that wasn't bothering me so much. Nevertheless, it is definitely less transparent now.

Mail - Mail now automatically disables the (unsupported) third-party plugin GrowlMail version 1.1.2 or earlier to avoid issues.

Mail has been a little wonky for me lately. I suspected Growl and turned it off but it still hasn't been as stable as before. I'm hoping 10.5.2 fixes that. So far so good.

Mac 101

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I've been helping a switcher friend get up to speed on the Mac. One resource I gave him was TUAW's Mac 101 series. He reports these entries have been really helpful to him so I thought I'd share it here. Head on over to Mac 101 and I guarantee you'll learn a thing or two.

20 Great Mac Applications

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Lifehacker did a great little write up of 20 essential applications on your Mac. I generally agreed with their opinions. A few in particular that I find very helpful are ...

Disk Inventory X - This application is great for sniffing out large files on your hard drive you didn't realize are there. Before installing Leopard, I found 8 gigs of sample garageband song files that were easily moved onto an external drive.

Growl - Don't question it. Just install it.

TextExpander - This application is a huge timesaver. The trick is to remember it is there and to keep updating it with new snippets. I've been using the new version that came out a few weeks ago and had ho problems with it in Tiger or Leopard.

A few of the applications Lifehacker recommends don't really impress me so much. I prefer mail.app over Thunderbird and Safari over Firefox. Anyway, you can read the full article right here.

Dashboard Web Clippings

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This morning I used the new Dashboard web clippings feature for the first time. I've got my fantasy football score in the Dashboard. It is very convenient and live updating. Setting it up was as simple as pushing the new button in the Safari menu bar and selecting the section I want updated. Thumbs up.

Leopard Roars

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I'm posting from Leopard for the first time. The install went smoothly with no glitches. Here is the recap.

Apple Store Madness


I promised my family dinner (and my 11 year old is a budding mac geek) so we decided to make a family event of it. We got there about 15 minutes before six and there were a lot of people there. Like all Apple events, it was well organized and fun. They gave away bottles of water and the line was full of geek love. Likewise , when they opened the doors everything was well organized to give us T-Shirts and liberate me of my $199 with maximum efficiency. The store was fully staffed and lots of folks were helping customers with the new features of Leopard. We didn't participate in any of the sessions since I had been at work since 7am and was hungry.

The Install Process


I was ready to go when I got home. I did one last Tiger SuperDuper backup. I then put in the Leopard disk and clicked upgrade. I didn't archive or restore or erase and start over. I had enough of that in my PC days so I decided to just go for it.

Once the system got started with the upgrade it initially estimated the upgrade would take 3 hours. Within 10 minutes it shrunk the estimated time to 35 minutes. I went off to play with my kids. I didn't time it but I believe it was about 45 minutes from Tiger to Leopard. I also upgraded my daughters 17" iMac (circa February 07) with no problems.

Initial Thoughts and Use


My Mac restarted once the install was done and that was it. I am in Leopard. I've been using it a few hours and had no problems. I did disable of a few of add-on system preferences like Little Snitch and Spanning Sync. Those applications may work in Leopard. I just didn't want them getting in the way while I get used to the new system. It is really not all that different from Tiger. It is definitely evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary and if you are a Tiger user you will have no problem adjusting. I'll post a more thorough review sometime this week but so far, so good. A lot of the initial reviews were critical of the transluscent menus. I haven't really had much a problem with them.

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I haven't loaded all of my software yet but all of my key applications (Omni Applications, iWork, Aperture, Soundtrack, MS Office) are working fine. I did have one crash when loading my Windows partition in Parallels. I'm going to have to look into that further today. (****addendum - I went back and Parallels loaded fine. I have no idea why it crashed last night*****) I also set my Time Machine to work last night when going to bed. I have already gone back to retrieve a few deleted files and it is very easy to use. This will be the first backup system that my wife and daughter actually use without my direct involvement.

I'll post more later as I get a little more familiar with it but I can report initially the upgrade was easy and my Mac has not spontaneously burst into flames.

Leopard Launches

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I'm reading lots of positive reviews of Leopard. I don't know if it will create many switchers but it is definitely getting better reviews than Vista did. Regardless, I'll be in line tonight at the Irvine Spectrum Apple store. If anybody else is going to be there drop me an email and we can meet up. I am still planning on just doing the "upgrade". If things get ugly I can do the full erase and install but I really would rather avoid that if possible. I'll keep you posted.

Leopard - The Movie

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Apple released a nice tutorial showing off some of the Leopard features. I finally got a few minutes to watch and it looks good. I initially thought that TimeMachine would not get used since I have a pretty good SuperDuper system in place. However, it looks very slick. Can anyone say redundancy?

The cosmetic stuff in Mail also looks good. It will make every email you send one big fat Mac add.

Check it out.

300+ Leopard Features

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Between dealing with a large case at the office and other challenges, I've had very little time to look at all the new information concerning Leopard. This weekend I do hope to take a good look at the apple preview pages including the list of 300 new features. I only spent 10 minutes looking at it this morning but it looks pretty thorough.

Leopard Release and Rambling

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Well I've had my head down in a case the last few days and finally got a chance to come up for air to find the Leopard release date is confirmed. I know anybody that is smart about these things will tell you to wait until well after the October 26 release date to install it on your machine. I, on the other hand, plan to install it on the day of release with reckless abandon. Furthermore, while it upgrades my system I plan on running underneath a ladder, with scissors!

I'm particularly happy that Apple has stated they will now by syncing notes with the iPhone. Hopefully this will be the case for tasks as well although I could probably live without that since my current system seems to work pretty well.

Anyway, I am looking forward to producing some new screencasts with interesting Leopard features in just a few weeks.

Compacting Sparse Disk Images

A lot of you have seen my screencast on how to make an encrypted sparse disk image. As I explained in the screencast, sparse disk images grow when add files into them but don't shrink when you pull files out. As my sparse disk images used to bloat I would occaisionnally make a new one and copy the files into it and discard the old image. Recently however I discovered an automator workflow that compacts an existing sparse image without requiring you to take all those insane steps I used to. So lets walk through it now.

Step One ... Load Automator


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Now some of you may be Automator veterans but for me it is just that funny looking icon I always pass over.

Step Two ... First Script


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Click on the "Finder" category in the Library column then click and drag "Get Selected Finder Items" from the Actions Column into the work area of Automator.

Step Two ... Second Script


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Click on the "Automator" category in the Library column then click and drag "Run Shell Script" from the Actions Column into the work area of Automator.

Step Three ... Change Pass Input


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Change the "pass input" drop down from "to sdnin" to "as arguments"

Step Four ... Remove Text from the Shell Window


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Step Five ... Fill in the Window


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Type in the following in the window....

hdiutil compact "$@"

Step Six ... Save It


Go to Automator's File menu and "Save as Plug-in". Give it a name like "Compact Sparse Image". Also make sure "Plug-in for:" category says "Finder".

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Using the Workflow

1. Find your sparse image in the finder.
2. Make sure it is unmounted
3. Cntrl(Right)-Click, Mouse down to Automator and run your script.

Now all of the above probably sounds like a lot of work but it really is not. Once you have it set up you can regularly compact your sparse images. Let me know if it works for you.



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The Super Secret Saved Indicator

A good friend, Gabe Wilson, showed me a very cool trick native to OS X regarding saved files. If you look at the top left corner in the close, minimize, maximize bubbles you may sometimes see a small dot in the middle of the red circle. This dot is telling you something. It means the current document is not saved. So if you press the red button and that dot is in it, very bad things will happen. Cats will live with dogs, the universe may implode, and worse yet, you've lost your document.

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Now if instead of your dot, you see an "X", you are good to go. Document saved. You are free to close and move on.

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