First impressions of leopard

Paul Boag

My conclusion is simple, upgrade. Stop being a chicken and do it. Its going to cost you about another gigabyte of space but you’ll get a much better user experience. Go on, you know you want to!

I have to confess to being shocked today. I was under the impression that my group of online friends were all geeks. Apparently not! All I have heard today is “I am not going to upgrade to Leopard yet, I am going to wait until the bugs have been worked out”. In my world, geeks should embrace the new and throw caution to the wind. They maybe cowards but I am not… at 9:50 am today I kissed good-bye to sanity and hit the install button.

This was my first upgrade of a mac operating system. All I had known before was the hideous pain of upgrading through six versions of windows. I was therefore prepared for the worst. Last night I took I complete backup of my entire hard drive using Carbon Cloner and there in came my first pleasant surprise. Apparently I could boot directly off of my external drive into tiger if everything went wrong. Now, I don’t know if that is possible under windows but if it is then it must have been a hell of a lot more complicated as I never found that option. Having that backup plan gave me the confidence I needed to just go for it.

The whole exercise took an hour and a half on my Macbook with 2GB of RAM. The first 20 minutes of which seemed to consist of checking the CD for errors. Unlike windows once I had set the install going, I could quite happily have walked away. No options to select half way through the process. I wish I had known that before I started as i wouldn’t have checked back quite so often.

Once the install was over I logged in for the first time. To begin with I was nervous. The machine was running like a dog and I feared this was due to me naively upgrading rather than wiping and installing from scratch. This is something I would never have considered under windows but from what I had heard it was a risk worth taking with Apple. I certainly knew I didn’t want to reinstall all my apps.

In the end the performance problems were just down to Spotlight and Google Desktop going into an indexing frenzy and so this soon came to an end.

I was a little disappointed when I launched Mail to discover MailActOn and GrowlMail had both been disabled. Apparently they aren’t Leopard compatible yet and I will miss MailActOn badly.

However, the problems with Mail plugins were more than made up for by the massive improvements in the app itself and its counterpart ical. Both applications are cleaner and a much more pleasurable user experience. To be honest that assessment holds true for the entire operating system. Yes Time Machine is awesome and I am already addicted to Spaces, but the real excitement for me comes in the little things like the improved network support in Finder. Suddenly it is so easy to connect (and stay connected) to a remote computer. Its a joy.

Talking of joy, quick look is a continual source of joy for me and I can tell preview is a thing of the past. I was however a little disappointed with coverflow. According to the manual I was supposed to be able to look through PDFs and Keynote presentations directly from within coverflow. Unfortunately this doesn’t work for me and so I have to open them in quick look. Don’t get me wrong, its a load better than tiger but its frustrating when something doesn’t work as expected.

Fortunately that was the exception to the rule. Almost everything else I tried has worked like a charm. The only application I have had any trouble with is Wiretap Studio which I use to record my skype interviews. This was completely killing my machine and forcing a hard reboot.

My conclusion is simple, upgrade. Stop being a chicken and do it. Its going to cost you about another gigabyte of space but you are going to get a much better user experience with no perceivable hit on performance. Go on, you know you want to!