Hello Tiger!

Well, I drove out to Daniel’s place and picked up a copy of Tiger. I really think I need a GPS to get to his place, as it’s off the map (as in a new development, rather than really far away)

Eventually made it back home.

So, to start with, we finished a Retrospect backup overnight.

Tiger needs 4Gb to install if you want the developer tools (3Gb otherwise). Conveniently I’ve got about 4Gb of stuff in my pictures folder, which I archive off to another drive and delete locally. Some time I’ll have to work out how to fit them back in 🙂

Then it’s time to run the installer. Options are

  • Upgrade the current version of Mac OS X
  • Archive and install
  • Erase and install

Fortune favouring the brave, I choose ‘Upgrade’. Then I choose to customise the install by adding in the X Windows installation. Then we’re off and running. After about an hour or so the machine has finished verifying the install DVD, checking my local drive, and installing Tiger.

After rebooting the machine, I notice that a new user ‘pop’ has mysteriously appeared in the login window. Probably a relic of my previous experimentation with fink or something.

Upon selecting my name to log in I notice a slight pause, presumably as Tiger sorts out some initial settings that need to be updated before the first login.

The first thing I notice is that things seem a bit faster. Window redraws, calculations of disk space used for folders visible in the Finder, etc. The Finder has a window open at the top level, in icon view (I would have thought Steve would have mandated column view :). The window is positioned at the top left corner of the screen, which is a bit unfortunate as if you hit the chiclet button at the top right of the window, the favourites etc. expand to the right and off the edge of the screen.

The Finder also seems to have the occasional problems with redrawing folders in list view. The Finder’s info window now includes Spotlight Comments, ‘More Info’, which shows date last opened (and possibly some more metadata info if you’ve got it turned on for the current HFS+ volume)

After logging in, the Assistant launches, and shows me the new ‘Welcome’ movie, complete with lots of spotlight effects (subtle plugging for the new Spotlight technology). I enter in all the registration material, but as I haven’t turned the Airport on yet I don’t get a chance to submit the registration details. The registration app no longer seems to offer ‘register later’, all I can do is quit or try again.

I choose an application to run, so I run Safari. It comes up with a window telling me that it can’t open my home page as the machine doesn’t seem to be connected to the network. There is a button to click to open “Network Diagnostics” (from the /System/Library/CoreServices folder). This offers to help diagnose my internet connection problem. I bring my connection back up and it asks if I want to continue as my connection seems fine. I don’t bother to go any further with it, but it’s a nice idea to be able to help out users whose connection isn’t working.

Safari opens the Apple Home page and there’s now a big blue “RSS” button in the right hand side of Safari’s URL window. I click it and it takes me to the RSS Feed page of new Apple news items. Cool. Other new features in Safari seem to be

  • Referral to Network Diagnostics if your connection is down
  • You can now save web pages as archives, including photos etc.
  • The file menu now lets you mail the contents of a page, or a link to it to someone.

I run Software update and it wants to update my machine with QuickTime Broadcaster to 1.5 (I don’t even remember installing that, but who knows what lurks in my Applications folder) and Remote Desktop Admin Update 2.2

Launching Eudora, I get asked about launching it for the first time, presumably because it’s not an application that’s sitting in the /Applications folder, it’s inside a Eudora a subfolder. After approving launch, it launches, asks if I want to make it the default mail application (It would seem that Apple reset it during the Tiger install, presumably to Mail.app) and works fine. Its masses of windows redraw more quickly than usual. I guess that means I can now leave even more windows open 🙂

I launch Mail.app and it proceeds to put up a dialogue espousing the new Mail features in Tiger. I ignore the ad and it imports its old mailboxes. The look is much cleaner, but personally I think the new icons suck. But you can read more about that on Ars Technica.

Logging in to iTerm I notice that the fonts now all look fuzzy, presumably something’s changed with the font rendering (or a preference has been reset). A cursory inspection shows that Fink seems to still be working, but the fink web page recommends a ‘fink reinstall fink’ and a ‘fink selfupdate’. I do that, but am told I need to do a ‘sudo gcc_select 4.0’, which doesn’t work with the version of gcc_select I’ve got installed as it doesn’t recognise 4.0 as a valid option. [I later realise this is because I still need to install XCode 2 from the Tiger DVD]

The System Preferences pane seems mainly unchanged, other than the addition of the Spotlight item. There is now a ‘Show All’ button at the top to allow you to easily navigate from any preference pane back to the full list. There no longer seem to be options for dragging frequent favourites into the top of the System Preferences window, but IMHO this was seldom used anyway. Note that the following observations about preference panes are based on my memories of Panther, so I may have mentioned that something is ‘new’ when it was already in Panther. But if I didn’t remember it maybe it’ll help refresh both our memories about available features anyway!

The Spotlight preference pane allows you to change the order in which search results appear, change the keyboard shortcuts (by default, control-space and option-control-space). It also allows you to specify folders that are private and shouldn’t be indexed. Using either of the Spotlight keys at this stage tells me that Spotlight is still indexing and I should try again in about 35 minutes. This seems to be an optimistic estimate, as it’s still displaying 35 minutes even after I’ve written this whole review. At one stage it seems to have given up indexing and when I attempt a search it decides it needs to try indexing again. I suspect I may have more files than it’s expecting, or it’s crashed or run out of disk space. A little flashing dot in the middle of the Spotlight magnifying glass shows that it’s indexing. A bit of cognitive dissonance, given that it’s called ‘spotlight’ and its icon is ‘magnifying glass’.

The Desktop and Screensaver pref pane offers a few new pictures in the ‘Nature’ options, including Tiger fur. There are also some rocks, water, and a zen garden. Not to mention some clown fish (subtle plug for “Finding Nemo” perhaps?). There are some plants, and some very nice black and white background photos. Screensavers now include iTunes Artwork, Nature Patterns and “Paper Shadow”. There is also now an RSS Visualizer, which downloads news stories from any of the RSS Feeds that Safari knows about and then spins them around on your screen. You can hit the ‘1’ key to open Safari on the appropriate web page for that article. There is also a “Spectrum” saver which displays a continuous colour change.

The International Preference Pane now offers a choice of calendars, namely Gregorian, Buddhist, Hebrew, Islamic, Islamic Civil, and Japanese. The choice of Measurement units now no longer lists the US Imperial units as “Standard”, but as “U.S.”. Down with cultural imperialism! The Input menu also seems to have many more input options than previously. [It has been pointed out that it seems you can no longer specify a custom number format as you could previously. This may annoy quite a few people]

The Bluetooth Preference Pane now offers options to turn individual services on and off, and whether or not pairing is required for security if you’re using Bluetooth file sharing.

The Security Preference Pane now caters to the paranoid by offering the option of using secure virtual memory.

There is now a ‘Hardware’ Preference pane, which shows details about the processor(s). The only options it offers are a checkbox for ‘Nap’, and a setting for L2 Cache (0 or 512KB in my case).

The Printer Preference pane can open printers and the Printer Setup application. The Print Queue now logs completed print jobs, along with their state and the date they were printed. There is also a ‘Supply levels’ icon, presumably for checking ink levels etc. The Fax option now allow other computers to send faxes through the local computer.

The Sound Control panel now has an option to turn on/off feedback when you change the volume.

The Network control panel now offers an ‘Exclude simple hostnames’ control in the Proxies panel.

The QuickTime Preference Pane’s Advanced settings allows you to Enable kiosk mode, which removes save and change options from movies when displayed in browsers.

The Sharing Pref Pane Advanced options now allows for blocking UDP traffic, Enabling Firewall Logging, and Enabling Stealth mode. You can also now share your internet connection with other users (ie, use your machine as an Airport router for other machines connected to it by Ethernet or Firewire)

The Accounts Pref Pane now has a button to open the Address Book Card for a particular user. There are no new user icons. There are now Parental Controls which allow restriction of who e-mails can be received from (including allowing the sending of permission e-mails to a parental account), which websites can be seen, applications used, iChat buddies, and even block display of profanities!. Parental Controls cannot be set to restrict admin accounts (unsurprisingly). [There’s also now a password assistant to help you by generating a random password that can be one of ‘manual’,’memorable’,’letters and numbers’,’numbers only’,’random’ or ‘FIPS-181 compliant’ (the Federal Information Processing Standard 181). It lets you choose the length of the password you want, and displays graphically how secure it is]

The Classic control panel doesn’t seem to have changed, but it does seem to have forgotten my ‘Warn before starting classic’ setting. There is also a ‘Use Mac OS 9 preferences from your home folder’ option. As per usual some system files need to be updated when launching Classic under Tiger for the first time.

Date and Time offers a new calendar and clock, a world map which seems to show more snow over areas of cold climate in the Northern Hemisphere.

As I’m unfamiliar with the Speech control panel I won’t comment on any changes here, but I suspect there are some.

The Startup Disk control panel now has a button to restart the machine in Target Disk Mode (without having to hold down the ‘T’ key). This is good as it might make more people aware of Target Disk mode…

CheckMate seemed to work ok, however old copies of Default Folder X and Little Snitch both required an update to work under Tiger. Salling Clicker and SideTrack both still seem to work.

LaunchBar still seems to work, which makes me happy.

iChat launches and asks for .Mac information, Jabber information (if you’re running a local server). Rendezvous is now Bonjour, which seems to me to be a bit silly, as there’s now ‘Bonjour’ everywhere, and really the word seems to lack the savoir faire of the old moniker. Groups in the Buddy list are now collapsible and have a grey title bar. Preferences now cater for the red-blue colourblind by allowing the use of shapes to indicate iChat status in the buddies list. There are also options for enhanced privacy, and sending text as it’s typed for local Bonjour connections (and blocking your idleness from your coworkers 🙂 You can now also configure a Bluetooth headset for use with iChat.

Address Book now lets you ‘Look for duplicate entries…’ which I haven’t brought myself to use yet, as it merges them apparently without any consultation. But it is a task that I do frequently so I’ll probably revisit it in a bit.

Dashboard, it would be great if it loaded a bit faster. And the Yellow pages worked here in Australia. Or the weather icon realised that displaying 73 degrees is kind of silly in a metric country (and I’ve already told the computer I want to use Metric!). It also gets the conversion wrong, it’s definitely not -4 degrees C and snowing outside at 6:30pm in Perth [Eventually after several tries I manage to convince the Weather app to display the Perth weather correctly. Or the flight tracker worked (I’m sure there must be some flights from Perth to Heathrow)[I’m lead to believe that there aren’t. PER->SIN does get some hits though]. That leaves me with the analog clock that’s slow to render, the calendar which I wouldn’t use, and the International translator that doesn’t translate. Or the stock ticker which displays US shares only. So really, nothing I’ve seen makes me particularly impressed by Dashboard’s usefulness so far. But the rippling effect is cool. [I’ve since downloaded some more or less useful widgets, namely Package Tracker (for tracking Fedex and UPS packages), VLC (for controlling VLC), Wikipedia (for searching the Wikipedia), taildash (for tail-f’ing log files), iTCM (for monitoring connections to my iTunes). The Dictionary/Thesaurus widget also looks really useful. But why can’t I smart search my Desktop for .wdgt files?]

The authorisation dialog for Keychain access now (in the ‘details’ section) includes pop-up button menus (Some new UI device?) to display the location of the keychain on disk, and the location of the application seeking authorisation. The Keychain Access application itself now has a category column on the left which lets you select from All items, Passwords (divided into “AppleShare”, “Application” and “Internet”), Certificates, My Certificates, Keys and Secure Notes.

Calculator now has a ‘Programmer’ mode, for all those pesky calculations involving Hex, Octal or Decimal, in ASCII or Unicode.

Other than that, there are the occasional “/etc/postfix/body_checks” in my system.log file. No doubt the install hosed some of my postfix customisations.

Apache now has a “log_forensic_module” added, and the “mod_rendezvous” is now “mod_bonjour”. My httpd.conf file was moved to “httpd.conf.user_modified”. A bit of work with BBEdit’s bbdiff command had the commands necessary to add the entropy.ch PHP build added back. After restarting Apache the PHP pages started working again.

So, in the end probably the most useful and important things that Tiger offers a speed improvement, Spotlight searching, Smart Folders in the Finder. Hopefully also with improved stability, but only time will tell.

[Addendum: Lots of software updates from Apple today (May 2nd), including Apple Remote Desktop Updates. Sadly Tiger hasn’t fixed the problem I have with printing to a Canon ir2800 networked photocopier/printer, namely Preview crashes when I try. Preview now also offers ‘Import image’, ‘Grab selection/window/timedscreen’, PDF viewing as separate, continuous or side-by-side pages. It also now offers an annotate tool so you can add stickie-like notes to PDF’s or draw ovals on the document to highlight sections. Very cool!

Also, OpenVPN no longer works, which is what I use to connect to my home server. Bummer.

Thanks to Rod and Daniel and the WAMUG crowd for their comments]

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