September 24, 2009

Snow Leopard is here!

If your a Mac user, I'm sure you already know that the latest upgrade for the Mac OS X is here called 'Snow Leopard'. And as a definite computer geek and Mac-lover, I couldn't wait to get my copy. And Microsoft could really learn something here in that Apple offered the upgrade for only $29. Why wouldn't you upgrade at that price. I had to have it shipped to my mom so she could include it in her next care package. Like a cat high on catnip, I probably spent way too much time drooling over this new software.

Like most of the reviewers, most of the improvements are under the hood. My MacBook definitely seems to load faster and there are a lot of small improvements that I really like. But like any software, there are few 'obstacles' that I had to deal with.

KEYBOARD: For some reason the layout for the Mongolian Cyrillic keyboard was changed. Not sure why, but had to find an older layout on the internet so I could keep typing the way I'd been taught here in Mongolia. For those that need the older layout, download here.

QUICKTIME: I had a copy of Quicktime Pro 7 that I bought because I sometimes need to edit video for the blog. The new Quicktime Player is very nice but I get the impression from the forums that it is ahead of its time and the rest of the world has to catch up. Right now it only plays Apple formats. But if you still need Quicktime 7, you will find it was moved during the instillation and put into the Applications/Utilities folder (I moved it back to Applications). And if you had bought a copy of QuicktimeMPEG2, you have to reload it.

TRASH: For some reason, the default for emptying the trash is set to 'Secure Empty Trash'. Most of the time, I don't need to get rid of anything securely so the extra effort is a waste. To change this, go to Finder - Preferences - Advanced and un-check 'Empty trash securely'. Now, both options should appear in the drop-down menus.

SAFARI: Snow Leopard tries to stay on the cutting edge. I'm not sure I understand the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit, but if it improves my computing, then I'm all for it. Unfortunately, it's ahead of it's time. Take Safari, some website features like videos and flash don't seem to work right with 64-bit. If you go to your Applications folder and command-i- (get info) Safari, you can check the 'open in 32-bit mode' and everything should now work better (until such time as the rest of the world catches up to Apple).

TIME MACHINE: Since I switched to the Mac, I'd been using Carbon Cloner to backup my MacBook. The reason is I could boot off the external drive in case anything went wrong with my hard drive. You can almost do the same with Time Machine, but usually you have to boot off the Install disc. But it turns out I can copy the Install disc image to my external drive making it bootable. So, with the upgrade to Snow Leopard, I decided to switch and let Time Machine take care of all my backups.

THUMBNAILS: Now, thumbnails are multimedia. You can actually scroll through a document or watch a movie from the thumbnail. You can't read it, it's too small, but you can get a good idea if it's the document, or the movie that you're looking for. Plus, stacks are now scrollable - before with too many files, the thumbnails just got smaller and smaller - but now they stay the same size so you can see what they are, and just scroll through the list. Oh, I almost forgot - now you can make the thumbnails huge. Before, especially with photographs, you could only make them so big - now you can make them almost 5x larger than before.

PDF: Now I can copy text from PDF documents much easier. No more copying from two columns at the same time, just what I want to copy. That will definitely come in handy for me.

DOCK: The only thing that annoyed me about the Dock was that when you minimized something like a document, email, etc, every thumbnail ended up also on the Dock, crowding it too much. Now you can minimize to the actual application making it all more clean and organized.

PRINTER: But the most annoying thing is of the three printers I use here in the office, the one I use the most won't work (it did before I did the upgrade). Lots of chatter on the Mac forums about this and I hope to get it working this weekend. Otherwise I just have to wait for Canon to get it's software drivers up to date with Snow Leopard.

All-in-all I'm quite happy with the new Snow Leopard. And at $29 it was an easy decision to upgrade. So, if you have an 'Intel' Mac I'd say go for it. I did.