Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Leoparday

I got my copy of Leopard on Friday, and spent much of the weekend upgrading and testing my old 15" Powerbook and my new 15" MacBook Pro.  I started on the Powerbook, because I wanted some confidence that my critical apps would work, and retain their data, before I hosed my MacBook: that's my "production" machine, and if it doesn't work, neither do I.

And I wanted to do a clean install, rather than an upgrade, because I was pretty sure that I had some old and ugly kernel level stuff (from some work I did last year) that had migrated from the Powerbook to the MacBook when I transitioned a few months back.  I had some problems with drivers for my Huawei wireless modem, and there were some apps installed via Fink, and a shattered copy of Nmap that never compiled cleanly, and caused the Mac to lock solid.  I wanted a fresh start, so I started by doing a full backup of the MacBook to an external drive, and while that was running, I sat down with the Powerbook and made sure that there was nothing on it that I didn't have backed up somewhere.  I made notes of some config settings (not enough, as it turned out).  Then I put the disk in the drive, and did a fresh install.

Leopard installed without problems.  I logged in, resisted the urge to play with it (well, mostly), and started installing test apps.  The Powerbook spends most of its life in a drawer - it had zero battery charge when I got it out - and I would only use it now if the MacBook died (perish the thought!) or I had to test something requiring two Macs;  I'm afraid I don't even keep the machines in sync.  The things I cared most about were DevonThink and EagleFiler: as long as I could install them, and restore their data, I knew I could proceed safely.  Neither app had a problem, I restored their data from backups, and everything worked.

I moved on to installing a few other things, Firefox, Thunderbird and so on.  Then I loaded iWork'08 and iLife'08 (family pack licenses, I'm legal).  Everything worked, except iMovie, which said the Powerbook's processor was too slow, and refused to install.

Once the MacBook had finished backing up, I installed Leopard on it, and started doing a proper restore of everything I use every day, starting with CleanApp: I wanted a good understanding of where every package had put every file on the disk.  I loaded DevonThink and EagleFiler, and restored their data.  I loaded Microsoft Office, iWork and iLife, and OpenOffice.  I loaded Firefox and Thunderbird and Curio.  I loaded VMware fusion, and restored my virtual machines (they work fine).  I imported my iPhoto library, and a whole bunch of other photos that were lying about the place.  I spent a long time waiting for iTunes to grind through all my music.  In fact I spent a lot of the weekend waiting for data to move from one disk to another, to import or reindex or whatever.  I got quite a bit of house cleaning done while I was waiting.

Things that didn't work: iMovie flatly refused to launch on the MacBook, and I was just sitting there thinking "well that seems a bit sad" when Software Update woke up and offered me a bunch of patches: I loaded them, and they sorted iMovie out.  Launch2Net, which is what I use to manage the Huawei modem is not quite ready for Leopard, but the nice people at Nova Media have a beta of their next version available, and it seems pretty stable.  This is where I found out that I had forgotten to note down how I had got the modem going in the first place.  For reasons that elude me, Optus ship this wireless modem to customers and they only support it under Windows.  Vodaphone ship the same unit with Mac support.  I work for a subsidiary of Optus (and we use these modems for remote access).It's taken me a while to get it going under Mac OS X, and the final answer was to install it on a Windows machine, look at the configuration it used there, get the name of the Optus APN, and then put that into the Launch2Net config on the Mac.  Tiresome, but it works.

It looks like I may have problems with the drivers for my CanoScan 9900F.  Canon's Mac support is pathetic.  I haven't attempted to install the software, I'm going to wait a few days, and see if anyone else has anything to report.  The VueScan folks don't seem to be quite ready, either, but I shall compose myself in patience for now.  This scanner, its software and I have never entirely got along, so its days may be numbered.

Adobe have not covered themselves in glory, either.  I have a copy of Acrobat 6.0 Standard, which includes both the Mac and Windows versions.  Acrobat 8 standard is Windows only, so if I want to upgrade, I have to go to Acrobat 8 Professional.  Not happy, and haven't decided what to do yet.  Adobe reckons that Photoshop Elements 3.0 isn't supported on Leopard, but it seems to work for me - I only need basic functions most of the time.

I haven't had time to test everything, or even try somethings, yet.  However, the machine seems faster, I love the new Spaces feature, Spotlight is much better - boolean searching! - and Cover Flow is great.  Time Machine is absolutely awesome.  Many people have complained about the new transparent dock.  I'm reserving judgement for now.  I'm not keen on the transparent menu bar and I absolutely hate, loathe and abominate the semi transparency of right click pop up menus.  The person who thought this up should be forced to do Windows installs for a few months, and who ever approved the idea and let it into the final product should be compelled to do level 1 Windows technical support for a couple of years.  Semi transparent menus are beyond stupid, they are twee: cute for the sake of cuteness, while meaningfully degrading the user experience.  If I open a menu, it's because I want to see what is on it, which I cannot do if the text is tangled up with the image behind it.  Wrong, bad, inexcusably stupid: how did this feature survive beta testing?  Did you do user acceptance testing, and if so, who wrote the test plan?  Were they sober when they did it?  If there is a way to disable this ridiculously pretentious bit of business, please tell me.  My eyeballs are approaching their half century, and I need nice clear type (and new glasses).

But over all, fantastic.  There are so many new things to look at that I hardly know where to start.  When I've had a chance to try things out (and I'm on a training course for the next two days), I will try to report in more detail.


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