Tiger Odds & Ends
A few points (in no particular order) on the new version of Mac OS X, Tiger.
I like the new error pages a lot more than the modal error sheets the previous versions had, works much better with the whole tabbed browsing thing. The RSS reading is nifty but I’ve found it pretty useless as it doesn’t follow the subscription concept and seems to be more of an RSS viewer than anything else. Rendering fixes and speedups were mostly delivered on 10.3.9 as Safari 1.3 anyway, so those aren’t as attractive as perhaps they otherwise might have been.
At first glance Mail.app seemed to have turned for the worse, with its odd new design, but as I’ve used it I’ve grown to like it. The interface design is clean and obviously its integration with the OS search has made it increasingly powerful. (I keep over 2,000 e-mails in my Inbox, mostly due to my faith in the abilities of OS X to let me find what i want quickly…)
The rumoured improvements to the Finder were one of the main reasons I considered Tiger a ‘must-have’ upgrade. 10.3 handled networks badly, and doing file copies from SMB shares frequently caused the beach ball of doom. The new Finder seems better on this account, and the way it updates folders in realtime has been helpful. (Previously the Finder seemed to update whenever it felt like it, and unlike on Windows, there was no forceful Refresh command). A bug that isn’t too great is the way it ‘forgets’ about the Superdrive in my powerbook (giving 0x80020025 as an error when blank media is inserted, saying the disc drive is not supported). Force quitting & re-launching Finder fixes that, but its something that should have been addressed in 10.4.1 (which I’m running at this point)
Dashboard has novelty value and the effects that make it the most obvious thing to show off on a Mac running 10.4. However, a lot of the default widgets are variably useless and have annoying problems (the clock changes to ‘night’ mode at 6 p.m. fixed, the widgets take a while to wake up when activated). I find I’m not using Dashboard at all, which considering Expose took around a week to become essential to me, is not a good sign for its utility.
This is the reason 10.4 is great, for me. It brings the ability to find information that I’d been enjoying in Mail (to avoid having folders & structure) to the entire operating system. Within 10 minutes of installing 10.4 I was finding things I didn’t even know were on my PowerBook. Its ability to show all the different kinds of information about a keyword on one screen is incredibly helpful, almost creating tiny workspaces for what’s important/active right now.
This app is great, just because it allowed me to finally get certificates sorted on my Powerbook. The mail server at UKC uses certificate issued from a non-standard root CA, and I’d had great pain trying (and failing) to get the certificate recognised under 10.3. A little work with Keychain Access on 10.4 (and knowing that you have to add a root CA to the
X509Anchors keychain) managed to get everything working properly and Mail to stop prompting me about the mail server certificate finally. Trivial, but its the little things that sometimes matter the most.
The end, for now. I’ll probably add more stuff as I get to grips with it, but Tiger has been fun to use and toy with between my exams. A few little mishaps along the way haven’t really taken the shine off the new OS, and I’ll probably roll it out to the other few Macs in my household sometime in the near future. (I paid the extra for a family pack because I actually appreciate what Apple bring with these updates).