Apple Personal Software & Hardware Technology

Once bitten twice shy…

I was the early adopter. I was that guy who installed that new piece of software and to hell with the thing being in late alpha .. I was there, in the thick of things. Fast forward .. ahem, several years and I’ve changed somewhat.

With the last major update to my computers, OS X 10.3 “Panther” wasn’t installed until nearly a year after the launch.


Because I’ve got a very finely-balanced set-up, thank you very much and I’d like to keep it that way.

However, when OS X 10.4 “Tiger” shipped, I’d already pre-ordered my copy and on the 29th of April 2005 I was installing said software onto my iBook.

I can explain this lapse quite easily; my iBook was not my primary production workstation. That honour fell to my trusted G5.

Since then, my iBook has been the Guinea Pig, and while in a flush of rude health, there are certain sicknesses that need to be resolved.

For instance, while my custom install of PHP 4 was obliterated, MySQL was left intact.

So I thought I would take the plunge and install PHP 5 and see what shakes loose.

Well, several things, actually. Not least how Pear delegates with PHP 5 & MySQL. Along with a momentary lapse for Smarty which was eventually resolved.

So the focus of my efforts for the past year or so have come unstuck on my iBook and Tiger doesn’t get to go anywhere near my dual G5 until these issues are resolved.

Also, since my G5 is my main production workstation, I have to be absolutely sure that Tiger works properly, which I’m not entirely convinced of just yet.

There are stories of incompatibilities with certain software packages that I own, so they need to be resolved first.

Also, there are issues that while not show-stoppers do point to a strange pattern of odd, ad hoc and frivolous changes and / or omissions on the part of Apple as highlighted in the article on The Register entitled: Mac OS X 10.4 – more bling than bang?

“Mail is another example where searching is slower than before.

Quite idiotically, it isn’t possible to search by sender or subject without first embarking on a mailbox-wide query. The previous version of mail permitted this. Now with the Spotlight-enabled mail search (which takes up twice as much disk space as before, 2GB in this case) you need to start a search, stop it right away, and then use one of the buttons that appear only after the first results from the aborted search have been displayed. There is no dialog that allows you to limit the query to specific fields or build a specific query.

Does no one at Apple use Mail?”

No one at Apple may use Mail, but I certainly do!

There are even more telling observations in the responses to the article:

“Great article, you’ve articulated a number of my own issues with Tiger, particularly with the Dashboard. I’ve made similar observations: the water-ripple effect is cute, and while there may be no objection in principle to cute visual effects, shouldn’t they be applied consistently? So when a widget is closed, why doesn’t it disappear down a drain, like water in a sink? More importantly, in relation to UI, there is a striking contradiction in the use of the Dock and the Dashboard: – Dragging a widget icon from the Dashboard tray to the desktop launches the widget application.

Dragging an application icon from the Dock to the desktop deletes the icon. I can’t help but think there’s scope for confusion here, since the same action performs nearly opposite functions. The potential for error is greater when the Dock is in its default bottom-of-screen location, where it is in close proximity to the Dashboard and where their visual and functional similarities are more pronounced. Perhaps it would never occur to a new user to drag a widget icon at all, having learnt that this action on the Dock will make the icon disappear in a puff of smoke.”

The guy has a point.

Consistency is key, and to date, Apple has not applied the level of consistency to their own software what I would have expected .. neigh, taken for granted not four years ago.

It appears that what Apple giveth in one hand they taketh away with the other…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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