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ATPM 11.06
June 2005



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by Wes Meltzer,

Upgrade Madness

Big cats make big splashes. Anything big does, as a matter of fact. So it’s no small wonder that Apple chose the names of large, swift cats to describe their OS X releases.

The latest one, Tiger, Mac OS X 10.4, is here, swiftly coming to dominate every printed word in the end of April and the beginning of May. Those of us fortunate to install soon after the release found ourselves an important source of knowledge for those who had not; and, as always, there’s a certain degree of noblesse oblige from those with blogs to help out those in need of help.

In that vein of noblesse oblige, John Siracusa at Ars Technica wrote the longest review of an operating system I have ever seen, at 21 parts and more than 40,000 words. It’s the magnum opus of the Tiger world, and is so comprehensive it devotes five parts wholly to metadata. After reviewing everything there is to review, including purely aesthetic tweaks, I’ll give away his ending (since it’s obvious by the time you get to part 6, anyway):

Tiger is the best version of Mac OS X yet. It offers substantial improvements over Panther in all important areas. The performance improvements are immediately noticeable. Every major bundled application has been improved. There’s an unprecedented number of substantial, totally new features and technologies: Spotlight, Core Image and Video, Quartz 2D Extreme, Dashboard, and Automator, just to name a few.


Overall, Tiger is impressive. If this is what Apple can do with 18 months of development time instead of 12, I tremble to think what they could do with a full two years—let alone the length of time it took for Mac OS X 10.0 to first ship. The productivity of Apple’s Mac OS X development team has increased tremendously since 10.0; they’re now firing on all cylinders. While I dearly wish someone would steer them in the direction of the eternally neglected Finder, I can’t help but be proud of the little OS team that could.

Now, Siracusa is a one-man team that could, who wrote enough words on Tiger to be paid $65,000 if he had a contract for typical, entry-level magazine writing, so he deserves a lot of respect, even when we disagree. No one would ever buy 40,000 words, but it should give you a sense of the thoroughness of the work.

In the same vein John Gruber, whose Daring Fireball is probably the most comprehensive Mac weblog anywhere, published an entire page of interesting discoveries from exploring, using, and reading about Tiger. He calls it “Tiger Details,” and I’ve found it exceedingly useful since my upgrade, from the esoteric (how the progress meter in the boot window works) to the very useful (“Extraneous Returns Stripped From Text Pasted Into Single-Line Fields). If you’re interested in the differences between Tiger and Panther, or just curious why something doesn’t work or is mysteriously changed, this list is your best place to start. And, who knows, you might just find something that can change your entire experience.

Other interesting observations on the changes in Tiger, big and small alike, abound. For instance:

If you’ve found some other interesting observations, please leave them in the comments. This page can serve as a container for all kinds of useful Tiger-related discoveries.

Now, to the rest of the month.

May Flowers Bring…Allergies?

And now, for your moment of memetic convergence Zen: John Gruber brings Microsoft-bashing and Adobe-bashing together in the same article! (For those of you who didn’t hear, Adobe bought Macromedia in April. I did report, vaguely, on this in May.) Gruber writes, “But is it any surprise that a company that is run by jerks-wearing-suits is now targeting the jerks- wearing-suits software market?” Then, he footnotes a long block quote from an article about Apple’s resurgence with a quote from a Newsweek article: “‘Hmm, look who’s running Microsoft now,’ he says, referring to former Procter & Gamble marketer Steve Ballmer. ‘A sales guy!’ The smile gets broader. ‘I wonder…’ he says.”

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Reader Comments (2)

Tom O'Grady · June 1, 2005 - 19:57 EST #1
All the way upto and including Panther 10.3.9 the OSX would run on Mac's with upgrade cards in them. Not Tiger, I wonder why?
Gregory Tetrault · June 2, 2005 - 13:41 EST #2
Apple does not support Tiger on Macs with upgrade cards (which means that Apple won't help you troubleshoot problems even with paid support calls), but many upgrade cards are compatible with Tiger. Sonnet, PowerLogix, and Daystar G4 CPU cards are reported to work, although some require software updates. AccelerateYourMac ( has info on specific cards and Tiger compatibility.

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