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Behold, Grand Central Dispatch: Apple is saying it doesn't have to be this way
September 5, 2009 7:50 AM   Subscribe

John Siracusa's review of Snow Leopard is an instant classic, as James Fallows sez: "an impressive piece of technical writing." Altho, "apparently OS X doesn't support huge pages." Apple's example, btw, may have wider industry implications/applications.
posted by kliuless (207 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
An awesome review. I read every word of it like it was a thriller.

Snow Leopard server is rocking my rack this morning. Very nice.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:07 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. Comments will be closed by the time I finish reading the article.

I also stop to look at the pictures.
posted by mazola at 8:10 AM on September 5, 2009


23 pages? I wish I cared.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:11 AM on September 5, 2009


Siracusa has the most consistently well written technical reviews I have ever read. I've read his stuff for close to ten years now and am continually impressed at how thorough and relevant his writing is. Great stuff.
posted by tgrundke at 8:11 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


As I was getting to the end of the page I thought: "That's a pretty good writeup but I don't understand why it's being posted to the Blue." And then I scrolled down a bit more and saw that this was page 1 of 23! (That I italicized, bolded and underlined the "23" indicates my level of boggledness)
posted by Kattullus at 8:13 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


How is the "btw" link (which is a brief history of Intel) related to the example of "instant classic" journal writing?
posted by oddman at 8:17 AM on September 5, 2009


Finally, a situation in which the tl;dnr tag seems not to be annoying hipster snark, but actually justified.
posted by Naberius at 8:21 AM on September 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


tl;dr
posted by briank at 8:30 AM on September 5, 2009


That's 23 huge pages.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Naberius and briank do not support huge pages.
posted by mazola at 8:38 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


dumsnill: "23 pages? I wish I cared."

So you don't care enough to read the article, but you do care enough to bother to comment in the thread that you don't care enough to read the article?

And why should I care?
posted by kcds at 8:42 AM on September 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


I've looked forward to these ever since I read the review for Tiger. I do kind of miss Keynote Bingo though.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:43 AM on September 5, 2009


Siracusa's tech articles are amazing, and this FPP reminded me I have to go back and finish reading the Snow Leopard article.

Also, don't forget to update your flash in 10.6
posted by mrzarquon at 8:48 AM on September 5, 2009


And why should I care?

Oh, for fucking out loud. I do care. That's why I started reading the article. Then I reached the end of page one and saw... 22 more pages.

There is a limit to how much I can manage to care, so I left a (I thought) slightly jokey comment. (Kattullus and goodnewsfortheinsane left similar comments.)
posted by Dumsnill at 8:49 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


an instant classic

Classic for an instant.
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


23 pages, and if you want to see it all on one page (click One Page), then you are directed to sign up to Ars Technica for $9.99 as of 9/9/9 with no way out.

Print page > turn to PDF > and read on.

But yeah, 23 pages, hot damn.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2009


Metafilter: 0 New Features
posted by lukemeister at 8:53 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Previous post about Siracusa, where he talks about creation and criticism.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on September 5, 2009


I'm haflwayish through it, having started a couple of days ago, and I've been dipping in and out ever since. I don't understand some of the more technical stuff, but I like reading a review that's more than "Oooh, shiny!"
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on September 5, 2009


Either you appreciate this kind of thing or you do not. There is no middle ground. As this kind of thing goes, it's the best damn piece of software criticism -- I think calling it a "review" is unfair -- I've ever read.

/geek
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]



10.6 is a nice upgrade in many ways - especially from the dog that Leopard was. That said, it still lacks true 64 bit support and iSCSI support, finder is still a broken, unstable, unusable piece of shit, and apple still relies on HFS+ with all of it's warts and problems. The list goes on.

I've said before that Apple products are 80% awesome and 20% wtf were they thinking, and 10.6 is no different.

I've long desired the power of a *nix system with the ease of use of a windows system, but apple once again demonstrates that OSX aint it. (and while I'm ranting, why the hell are we in the 21st century but we still cant have a network filesystem that is truly client agnostic? SMB/CIFS works great if you're just using windows, NFS works well for *nix systems. AFS, apart from the kludge that ACLs to HFS+, has some nice features. But none of these works well with an arbitrary client OS and that is a just stupid.)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:03 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Good to see Ars Technica back to form. More of this, less Techcrunchy financial analysis of web startups.

I thought the most interesting part was page 10's discussion of blocks:

In Snow Leopard, Apple has introduced a C language extension called "blocks." Blocks add closures and anonymous functions to C and the C-derived languages C++, Objective-C, and Objective C++.

Uh, I think they crossed the streams.
posted by zabuni at 9:09 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I installed it last night. My macbook is noticeably snappier today and safari is less crashy (though i don't know how much that has to do with flash). Time Machine is usable now! I don't even notice when it's doing a back up any more. Before, my computer would start to get sluggish when the back up started.
posted by empath at 9:10 AM on September 5, 2009


This is a truly great review. Ars' reviews are generally critical and in-depth, but I became wowed when I hit page 9 and the review really starts to get down to big technical changes underlying 10.6 in a mannered, easy to understand fashion.

Pogo_Fuzzybutt, WebDAV is client agnostic.
posted by eschatfische at 9:11 AM on September 5, 2009


finder is still a broken, unstable, unusable piece of shit

Can you explain? (Not being snarky.) I've read/heard other people say this and I don't understand what they mean. I use a Mac at home and Windows at work, and maybe it's just that I've used Macs longer, but I don't find finder to be less awesome or useable than Windows.
posted by rtha at 9:12 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


finder is still a broken, unstable, unusable piece of shit

how so?
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:12 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Siracusa is one smart cookie, but in the age of the Internet this is not remarkable. MeFi is stuffed full of people whose IQs and knowledgeability put Mensa to crying shame.

What Siracusa does have in spades is the ability to communicate extraordinarily intricate technical detail to people of moderate reading ability. This is an uncommon trait and for those of us who care about what is reputedly the best consumer operating system in the world in a domain where technical performance and competency matter, Siracusa's observations about that operating system matter. What doesn't matter is your lack of time and attention. So, yeah, who cares if you're too aliterate to read a 23-page article? Your self-importance counts is valued the highest inside your own perspective.

For the rest of us, yeah, reading Siracusa's article is worth calendaring if you can't find the time just right now. Besides the many tidbits about subtle aspects and features of OS X v. 10.6 and his spot-on analysis of the challenge Apple and other OS vendors face regarding the marketing and deployment of operating system functionality (especially modern computing frameworks and new APIs), I was floored, amused, and delighted by why QuickTime X seems to suck but in fact is the start on a long path to better media manipulation; why and how Grand Central Dispatch will leverage all those processing cores contemporary computers contain which noone seems able to program; and how OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, and Clang bring concurrency several steps closer to mainstream (i.e. desktop) computing.
posted by mistersquid at 9:13 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I saw the article a few days ago, read every page and sent it to my friends.

It's actually a real page turner. A lot of the deep background stuff, things like LLVM and the new "blocks" idea, are just intrinsically interesting to anyone who really cares "how computers work".

finder is still a broken, unstable, unusable piece of shit

I'm not so fond of Finder, but it does in fact work, it doesn't seem to crash on any of my machines, and millions of people use it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:19 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


So it's basically a service pack then? Sorry, no time to read, I 'm getting ready for some fine dining - tl;gte.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:22 AM on September 5, 2009


Don't mean to derail, but can anyone suggest a Finder replacement? I use Path Finder, which is better, but crashes a lot.
posted by lukemeister at 9:25 AM on September 5, 2009


Hey man, Finder sucks donkeyballs, Quicktime is a kludgey mess, Safari blows twin fawns of a gazelle, Spotlight is a joke where the punchline is "fuck you," iTunes is a seeping, infected wound, iPhoto is like mainlining infected snot, and the underlying code is a tangled mess of cauterized arteries. I'm too cool to go into detail, but that's just how it is!

But don't get me wrong, I love the Mac!!!!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 9:28 AM on September 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


For those who wonder what's wrong with Finder, Siracusa wrote a thorough critique some time ago, that I'm too lazy to dig up (it's somewhere on Ars).

And I find Finder worse than WE. I'd rather have a root canal than move a lot of folders/files around in Finder. That shit is broken. So broken that people in great numbers turn to alternatives like PathFinder, even though it's a bit kludgy.

Really, I do hope that one day Apple will get serious and give us a real file management system, instead of the broken toy that is Finder. But I'm losing hope - they had a perfect opportunity to wow us with something awesome (not based on Finder, they need to start from scratch), something that re-thinks the whole purpose and metaphor, and not simply be a minor tweak... instead they ported the turd to cocoa, which to me indicates that they intend to stay with this POS.

Oh well. Maybe Stevo can take a break from the new toys and give his undivided attention to what is only one of the most important elements in an OS - the file management system... after all this is how we interact with our data at the most fundamental level. But then, Apple is no longer Apple Computers, and I'm afraid that spells out the priorities.

And yea, it's a great review. I read it a few days ago, and all the comments at the time - JS is always good for a read.
posted by VikingSword at 9:30 AM on September 5, 2009


we still cant have a network filesystem that is truly client agnostic? [...] but none of these works well with an arbitrary client OS and that is a just stupid.)

I'm not sure what you mean by client agnostic: if a client doesn't support NFS it's not NFS's fault. Anyway, you can install NFS client support in XP, and it works very well (as well as SMB/CIFS that is, so "very" is relative), but it's probably best to choose one network filesystem or the other as XP flails a bit when it has both enabled.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:33 AM on September 5, 2009


FWIW, I have zero prior knowledge of a good 60% of most of the concepts he talks about in his various OSX analyses, and quite comprehensively forget them inbetween each upgrade, and yet I understand a good 90% of the concepts etc. I think he's an excellent writer.
posted by Magnakai at 9:37 AM on September 5, 2009


I don't understand why the writer's reviews are so highly regarded. His coverage is exhaustive, but the technical in his technical reviews could use some work. See the 2-dimensional plot of 1-dimension of data on the first page, or this gem:

What is striking about Snow Leopard's installation is how quickly the initial Spotlight indexing process completed. Here, Snow Leopard was 174% faster in my testing. Again, the times are small (5:49 vs. 3:20)...

He divided 349 seconds by 200 seconds and blindly wrote down the result without thinking about what it really meant; the performance increase is 74.5%. By his logic, running in the same amount of time would be a 100% performance jump.
posted by tylermoody at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


So much of Ars' content has gone steadily downhill but Siracusa's reviews keep me coming back anyway. Love the ^(){} syntax of the blocks too, like a C/Ruby Reeses commercial.
posted by Skorgu at 9:39 AM on September 5, 2009


Hey man, Finder sucks donkeyballs, Quicktime is a kludgey mess, Safari blows twin fawns of a gazelle, Spotlight is a joke where the punchline is "fuck you," iTunes is a seeping, infected wound, iPhoto is like mainlining infected snot, and the underlying code is a tangled mess of cauterized arteries.

I don't think the underlying code is a "tangled mess of cauterized arteries", but otherwise, most of the other sarcasm is actually misplaced - tell me that iPhoto is anything but a POS? Even irfanview on windows is better, and that has been developed by one lonely developer. And Safari crashes for me constantly (haven't tried it with 10.6), even though I have no plugins, just the bog standard up to date. I wish FF was slicker, because otherwise it works much better for me (ugly as hell though). And QT is a mess, though admittedly I haven't found anything better - I have 4TB of music, and the limitations of QT drive me insane every single day. Spotlight... never had luck with this one - it can't find files which I know how to get to in seconds. I've been on macs since the mid-80's, so I'm not a windows indoctrinated moron, but were it not for the whole virus/malware and activation and MSFT issues, I'd be on windows 7.
posted by VikingSword at 9:39 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, for QT, read: iTunes... yes, I'm brewing coffee right now.
posted by VikingSword at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2009


The great thing about finder is that it forced somebody to invent Quicksilver to make their mac usable.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


VS: 2 things -- try Google Quicksearch Box instead of finder. It's basically spotlight with a Quicksilver front end, and it's beautiful.

As far as Safari, it got really crashy on me with Safari 4 and Leopard, but I've been using it all day today without a single crash-- have you tried Chrome? Despite all the warnings that it's a beta from google, it's actually pretty fabulous. The only problem I've had with it is not being able to play web games, because for some reason Flash won't take keyboard input with it.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on September 5, 2009


empath, I'll give Quicksearch Box a try, and maybe Chrome... though Google pissess me off with their OS X stuff - just look how long it took to even get picasa half way going on macs.
posted by VikingSword at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2009


I have 4TB of music

I'm sorry about your penis.
posted by ladd at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry about your penis.

My penis is just fine, but the reason I stated that is because it means I have the music on multiple drives, and iTunes doesn't handle that very well, plus it slows down with anything more than 1TB. So it was a relevant piece of info - people in my situation have serious problems with iTunes. And I'm sorry about your brain.
posted by VikingSword at 9:54 AM on September 5, 2009 [8 favorites]



Broken

Unstable - finder beachballs over the most routine actions. Have you had to delete the finder Plist yet ? You will.

Unusable - given the above, you if you do any file management on the mac at all you're installing another tool to do it.

Webdav works OK, but it has it's own set of issues and problems. That's for a seperate post though.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2009


You know, Pogo, there are volume settings between 0 and 10.
posted by fatbird at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I didn't find this in the article, but did they fix the design flaw where you can't really use say the terminal on multiple workspaces desktops because the OS considers them the same process? When I first got one of the new OS X imacs this was one of the things that led me to immediately set up dual booting with Ubuntu/GNOME. OSX was just unusable to me, almost as bad as Windows.
posted by xorry at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2009


Let me explain to some of you that "broken" means "does not function".

Finder definitely functions. You might not like the way it functions, but to call it broken is factually wrong.

By using the word "broken" to mean a generic "not good" you're diminishing the use of the word - and also of your contribution to this site.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:02 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


i'm not sure what you mean.

You can have multiple terminal windows open.
posted by empath at 10:02 AM on September 5, 2009


empath, I'll give Quicksearch Box a try,

I mostly use it the same way I used to use Quicksilver-- as an application launcher (for example: Ctrl-space to bring up QSB, type t,e,enter and that brings up Textedit.

but it works fine as a front end to lots of apps, it does all kinds of neat tricks, like for example, you can type in the first few letters of an artist name, hit tab, and it'll show you all their songs and let you play them in itunes.

Or you can start typing any text, hit tab and one of the options is to create an email with that text (among other things).

So, it's not JUST spotlight.
posted by empath at 10:08 AM on September 5, 2009


So I looked at Pogo's picture, and then I clicked around on 6 or 7 of my own finder windows. Date Modified works perfectly for me. I've never noticed any problems finding things.

Unusable - given the above, you if you do any file management on the mac at all you're installing another tool to do it.

Again, not being snarky here. What kind of file management are you talking about? I have a 27.75 GB documents folder with over 12,000 items in it, but I never have any trouble finding things, and all of my column sorts work just fine. Are people who don't like the Finder working with much, much bigger folders than I?

Is this about moving things around a lot? Because in truth, I don't really do very much of that (though again, not really noticed any spinning beachballs in the past).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:13 AM on September 5, 2009


Broken

Unusable - given the above, you if you do any file management on the mac at all you're installing another tool to do it.


You have 787 files in your Downloads folder because Finder's poor file management?

I've tried to replicate the sorting by date thing on my files and it always sorts correctly by date. I can't find a folder on my Mac with more than a few hundred files to see if it doesn't folders with a lot of files (inexcusable if that's the case I agree, but not 'broken').

I'm not a Mac apologist, but really can't see reason for the Finder hate. It isn't perfect. If it were my product I'd do some things differently, but it does what I need it to do.
posted by birdherder at 10:25 AM on September 5, 2009


A 4TB music library is not a typical use-case and it is not reasonable to expect consumer focused software to be optimized to handle this particular problem.
posted by device55 at 10:26 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Finder for basic stuff, shell scripts for crazy actions like renaming 5000 files at once or rearranging directories automatically.

Finder's fine. I've never seen the point of an app halfway between those two uses, myself.

Which OS has a better built-in file manager, and why is it better?
posted by rokusan at 10:27 AM on September 5, 2009


Is this about moving things around a lot? Because in truth, I don't really do very much of that (though again, not really noticed any spinning beachballs in the past).

It is not just about moving, but that's a big part of it. I have 6 drives hooked up at all times (ladd, my penis is fine, you can quit holding it); several of them are dedicated to music folders and files. Since I use bittorrent extensively, I need to move files around all the time, import them to iTunes etc. When you "move" a file in OS X, it doesn't behave the same way if it's between folders on the same drive and on different drives. Windows at least has the "cut" function. I also hate dragging with a mouse - which is the way OS X encourages you to do things in Finder, and it is utterly impractical when you have a bunch of drives and need to get from one deeply buried folder to another deeply buried folder on a different drive. The sidebar moving functions in Win are much better, and PathFinder tries to solve this problem, but it astounds me that something so basic is at such a primitive, user-hostile level in OS X. This is just a start. For a more thorough critique of Finder, chase down Siracusa's analysis of the Finder on Ars.
posted by VikingSword at 10:29 AM on September 5, 2009


I can't find a folder on my Mac with more than a few hundred files to see if it doesn't folders with a lot of files.

I checked a couple of folders just now with ~2000 files. MacBook Pro with 2Gb of RAM, and I'd never opened the folders in the Finder before (no cache).

I had to wait through a beach ball "busy" cursor for about three seconds, then all the files appeared at about the same moment. I think that's acceptable performance.

I have Windows machines (also 2Gb of RAM) that would churn for a full minute before finding all the bloody icons, so I don't get this complaint either. Performance seems fine to me.
posted by rokusan at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2009


Since I use bittorrent extensively, I need to move files around all the time, import them to iTunes etc.

Why don't you just write a script once?
posted by rokusan at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, Wikipedia has a decent write up on Finder:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finder_(software)

And here's an old Siracusa article on the Finder - it is from 2003, but the design has not changed much, so most of it is still relevant:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2003/04/finder.ars
posted by VikingSword at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2009


It's great that the finder seems to work for you. I'm quite happy for you.

That said, I use macs for work to manage terabytes (12.6 and growing) of data and billions and billions of files and directories. This is a piece of cake on windows systems - it is ridiculously easy, in fact.

On OSX, it's a nightmare. Apple's network and file management tools are immature and in many cases superceded in functionality by shareware/adware/nagware utilities written by third parties.

And that is really the problem. Apple doesn't want to compete in the business market - Xsan has no support in 10.6, no more Xraid, OSX has no iSCSI native support, and so on. And so, you get a finder that works for people who think that 27 gigs a lot of data, but simply dies when used to manage anything real.

Now, mostly, I like my mac. I'm typing this on a shiny new 17 MBP. But apple's failures are all the more glaring because of their successes. 80% awesome, 20% wtf.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why don't you just write a script once?

Or use the point and clicky automator thing.
posted by device55 at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2009


Funny, everything VikingSword said about osx is exactly how I feel about Windows, which I use to play WoW. Going back to osx for everything else I do on a computer is like taking a breath of fresh air.

I still don't get the criticism of the Finder... I was glad to see others ask what your problem with it is, but even though you replied I still don't know. You say it's broken over and over, but don't explain why you find it difficult to move stuff around. What can you do on windows that you can't in osx?

iPhoto does everything I want it to do, which is just store and display photos. I have a few hundred, it runs just fine on an underpowered mini I use as a server, it shares just fine to my xbox or ps3. What's broken about it? Why is irfanview better? I see it supports ps filters, which is cool...

Safari crashes constantly? I've had it crash maybe three times, and it hasn't happened for months. In fact, out of the four macs in my house and work, I've had less than 20 crashes of any kind in the last few years, and the mini has been running constantly for a couple of years. WoW under windows has crashed a few times, but usually I was able to recover... windows has been stable for me.

Spotlight works for me every single time... maybe you're doing more complicated searches than I am.

iTunes works just fine if you have <1TB of music, which is just about everyone. Its a valid complaint, though.

If viruses are really why you don't switch to Windows 7, keeping Windows clean is really not a big deal. You should probably switch, because you seem to absolutely loathe os x.
posted by Huck500 at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why don't you just write a script once?

Because the files/folders need a lot of handling - when you get files from bt, you frequently have to convert them, and there are tons of different ways in which you subsequently handle the files/folders. Writing one script, or even a series of scripts is not going to cut it. What I need is basic functionality, lacking in Finder.
posted by VikingSword at 10:36 AM on September 5, 2009


What I need is basic functionality, lacking in Finder

Also, when you start talking about terabytes and terabytes of data, you're obviously NOT talking about 98 (more?) percent of users. So any functionality especially for a tiny percentage of users is not "basic" functionality.

Please explain what this basic functionality would do, exactly, to solve your current problem.

If only a tiny sliver of people need it, why should it be in everyone's Finder? What makes it "basic functionality?"

It really sounds like you have a couple of very exotic and specific things you want to do, not anything "basic". There's probably a way, but those are exactly the kinds of things that should require unusual add-ons or effort, aren't they?
posted by rokusan at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2009


A nice review, Siracusa is pretty much the only in-depth thing Ars has to offer anymore.

That site has grown pretty useless over the past few years, and it cracks me up how they ramp up horribly intrusive web ads (served up to even paying subscribers), then they whine harder than anyone I've ever seen about how AdBlock is taking food off of their table(s).
posted by porn in the woods at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


(Also please point out how you accomplish these same things in any other OS, because I've not yet seen a better day to day file manager for basic functionality than the Finder, complete with its limitations.)
posted by rokusan at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2009


Use Servant Salamander? (Windows only, unfortunately)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:47 AM on September 5, 2009


VikingSword, you may want to research attaching automator actions to folders - if you haven't already - You can have automator push a file to an app for conversion, take the resulting output, rename it, move it to a folder, import it into iTunes - whatever.

You could make folder actions for video and audio - for say for AVI-to-MP4-video and WMV-to-MP4-video or whatever.

Some automation will help you out a lot - even if you do have to manually handle some of the files.

You could even have master action which sorts your bittorrent folder by file type, and push the various types off to different folders with actions attached.
posted by device55 at 10:47 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed that he's managed to write something on the scale of In the Beginning Was the Command Line about an incremental OS upgrade. That takes skill.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


A nice review, Siracusa is pretty much the only in-depth thing Ars has to offer anymore.

That site has grown pretty useless over the past few years, and it cracks me up how they ramp up horribly intrusive web ads (served up to even paying subscribers), then they whine harder than anyone I've ever seen about how AdBlock is taking food off of their table(s).


Agreed. The great majority of their news articles are chock full of shallow analysis and even outright incorrect information (just look at any of their articles reporting on patents). Siracusa is the one saving grace of that site.
posted by gyc at 10:50 AM on September 5, 2009


xorry: you can't really use say the terminal on multiple workspaces desktops

If you mean the weird behaviour of having multiple terminal windows in different workspaces, that was addressed with one of the 10.5.x updates to Leopard quite a while ago. You should try updating your Leopard install and check out the new settings.

VikingSword: ...

Ok, iPhoto is an app that comes free with the computer and is targeted at the average person, and for that target audience it's a great piece of software. What is so bad about it? Also, you do realize that it's not the only photo organizing-editing software available for OS X right? Personally I vacillate between Aperture and Lightroom for my personal use. I use Safari as my primary browser at home, and I can't remember the last time it crashed.

Also, why in the hell are you trying to manage 4TB of music with iTunes? (seriously, how many files is that? I'm assuming this is uncompressed formats, but that still must be a seriously large number of files) I have just shy of 23K tracks in iTunes, and for the most part it does fine. It has gotten noticeably better in the last few versions, however. /music envy
posted by inparticularity at 10:52 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Xsan has no support in 10.6

Really? you mean Xsan 2.2 which was just released, and has support for 10.5/10.6?

It never really made sense for apple to keep building the xserve raids, they were nice pieces of kit, but the storage business and market moves much faster and goes in different directions than they do.

Apple really has a small subset of engineers to work on their business stuff, and they tend to go in the direction their bigger clients lead them, but they are getting there. I really wish they would open up the communication channels, so the engineers can see why being able to reset the password easily (like the ctrl-alt-delete in windows) would be essential for machines in an AD environment that have a 90 day password policy.

> data and billions and billions of files and directories

Are you trying to manage and archive all of this on a single volume? You need a real DAM system (MediaBank for one) to handle that load. Expecting a server to constantly reindex what is akin to a flat database so the clients can reference it when they want to perform a search for a few billion files is going to fall down continuously. The server would be continually spinning it's wheels to check files for changes to update the index.

With spotlight, the client isn't talking to a 'spotlight server,' it is just reading the contents of the spotlight index file on the root level of the volume which the server is tasked to keep updated in real time as it gets fseventd notifications of actions taking place on the filesystem. You can see how this system isn't going to scale very well for any system with a large amount of files or a large amount of users.

Putting your workflow into a DAM means having that metadata index in a real database (SQL, etc.), and then files being checked in / out will trigger an update of the index, which the clients can query over a robust and developed standard (SQL again), the client then retrieves the file path location of the data, and then passes that off to the user. Or the client application itself will lock the record on the server, copy the file to the users machine so they can work on it, and then you check the file back in, you start generating a versioning history and a log of who made what changes when, etc.

So complaining that OS X can't handle such extreme amounts of information is like complaining that your Jetta can't tow a tractor trailer.

And really, OS X Server is great for running in a situation where you have to manage billions of files and terabytes of information. You just don't use the goddamned finder to do it.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:59 AM on September 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


Also, when you start talking about terabytes and terabytes of data, you're obviously NOT talking about 98 (more?) percent of users. So any functionality especially for a tiny percentage of users is not "basic" functionality.

And 64k should be enough RAM for any user. C'mon, you can't be serious. 98%? Are you talking about 10 years ago? Or are you talking about most people today, who have movies, and photos, and music etc., often on multiple drives? I would hope an OS I buy today can handle user's needs not just for today, but for at least a couple of years into the future. Wanna bet how much user data the average person will need to store very soon, what with BluRay ramping up, and megapixels on DLSRs growing, and music files going lossless etc.?

Please explain what this basic functionality would do, exactly, to solve your current problem.

How about this: never mind my six drives, how about just one external drive - can I see both the internal and external drive contents simultaneously in a tree fully unfurled down to folder level?

Because I'd like to be able to see at a glance where my folders are, so I can move things around faster and organize things without extensive searches and multiple windows. That would be a good start, and seems a pretty darn basic functionality.
posted by VikingSword at 11:00 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]



Open a directory with multiple subdirectories. Control click any three and tell me how much space on disk those three use. On windows, it's a right click, properties and it tells you. On OSX, it's a right click, get info, write down the sizes and then add them up by hand on a piece of paper.

Lets say you also want to change the permissions on those three directories and thier contents so that they are identical. On windows, right click, permissions. On OSX, got each folder individually, right click, get info and set them individually.

User A uploads a file to a network share that User B is connected to. On windows, if User B cannot immediately see the file, press f5 to refresh. On OSX, if user B cannot immediately see the file, you need to disconnect from the server and reconnect. (there is a shareware utility that allows you to refresh the finder window. Still...)

User A is using his macbook to access a network share. For some reason, the switch goes out and he loses his network connection. On windows, after about a minute, explorer will time out with an error - in any event, the rest of the system is usable. On OSX, the beachball will spin and might be able to gracefully shut down, but most likely will have to hard shut down and hope for the best.

And these are all issues I have encountered just this week. And sure, in OSX, I can drop the command line or write a script or ctrl-alt-backspace-k-handstand-oochiecoochie something, but the point is, Windows Explorer does it better. Which is a shame, because MS software sucks in so many other ways.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2009


Also, why in the hell are you trying to manage 4TB of music with iTunes?

And how do you listen to it all? I've got barely more than 5k tracks (this is a new machine 13" MBP, 10.6, and I'm slowly shifting things over from my old one) and I come across tracks all the time that haven't been played yet, even if I've had them for months. And because I work in cubeland, I've always got earbuds in and something playing.

Finder works fine for me for moving things around and sorting stuff. For launching things and doing fairly fine-grained searches, Quicksilver and Spotlight (respectively) work the way I need them to (especially Quicksilver. I love Quicksilver. I remember the envious cries of Windows users when it first came out). But I fall squarely into the 98%+ of users at whom this software is aimed.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Be sure your external drive is mounted

Open two Finder windows.

Select your "computer" from the sidebar in each

Switch both windows to list view.

Option click the arrow to the right of your internal drive in one window, Option+click the arrow next to your external drive in the other window.

It will take a moment or four, but all folders below will be expanded to show their contents.
posted by device55 at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can learn a lot about a man from the way he speaks about his OS.
posted by Free word order! at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


On OSX, got each folder individually, right click, get info and set them individually

Right-click to Show Info. Unlock the folder if needed. Set permissions. Click on the little gear icon and choose "Apply to enclosed items…"

If you have made an error, select the same gear icon and choose "Revert changes"
posted by device55 at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


On OSX, it's a right click, get info, write down the sizes and then add them up by hand on a piece of paper

On OS X, switch to list view. From the Finder menu choose View -> Show View Options.

Check the box next to "Calculate all sizes". Check "Use as defaults"
posted by device55 at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are you trying to manage and archive all of this on a single volume? You need a real DAM system (MediaBank for one) to handle that load. Expecting a server to constantly reindex what is akin to a flat database so the clients can reference it when they want to perform a search for a few billion files is going to fall down continuously. The server would be continually spinning it's wheels to check files for changes to update the index.

Hell no. It's spread out across a couple different servers, depending. There's no way HFS+ could handle the full data store. That said, explorer and NTFS don't choke on the load the way the apple stuff does. (Even at that, a DAM solution won't work with the way my users use the files and directories)

And I get what you're saying - Apple is a great solution to buy if you want to then also buy someone else's solution to fix the weaknesses in Apple's solution that other OS's come with for free. Which is why the mac ecosystem is rife with 29.95 solutions to things that windows/linux.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:17 AM on September 5, 2009


have to say, as someone who uses a Mac exclusively at home and windows at work, finder just makes me cringe every time I use it. Explorer 'just works'. Finder is just ugh. I can't precisely put it into words but it just doesn't feel right. And honestly I don't care about all the live preview shit. I never use it. If I need to do anything with files I do it with qsb if I can and terminal if necessary and finder as a last resort.
posted by empath at 11:21 AM on September 5, 2009




Right-click to Show Info. Unlock the folder if needed. Set permissions. Click on the little gear icon and choose "Apply to enclosed items…"
If you have made an error, select the same gear icon and choose "Revert changes"


That doesn't work on multiple folders. It opens separate get info windows for each folder. You still have to set the permissions on each individual folder, individually.

On OS X, switch to list view. From the Finder menu choose View -> Show View Options.
Check the box next to "Calculate all sizes". Check "Use as defaults"


Which still leaves you with the part of writing all the sizes down on a piece of paper and adding them up by hand.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:24 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


29.95 solutions to things that *are free in* windows/linux.

sorry. Stupid typing while watching a movie is stupid.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2009


Open a directory with multiple subdirectories. Control click any three and tell me how much space on disk those three use. On windows, it's a right click, properties and it tells you. On OSX, it's a right click, get info, write down the sizes and then add them up by hand on a piece of paper.

Select three directories or files. Press Cmnd+Option+I.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:26 AM on September 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


You must have noticed that Finder doesn't even support Spaces properly, i.e. Icons aren't fixed on each individual desktop.

Apple is quite clearly selling computers for entertainment, not work. Isn't this immediately obvious when the machine arrives with a remote control? I find that Apple's strength & weakness is their dogmatic adherence to particular user interface religions, like the one button mouse, the eternal delay before spaces was introduced, etc. Apple usually hits their home user market fairly well using this methodology, but they never produce powerful tools, like say an Orthodox file manager.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:28 AM on September 5, 2009


I misunderstood the above - Windows explorer will show you the combined size of selected items by control+clicking multiple items.

On Mac OS X - select the items and hold down Option, then Show Info - this will launch the "inspector" window which shows details about what you have inspected.

This is not as quick and easy as the status bar in Windows Explorer - but it is available without too much hoop-jumping.

(The inspector view used to be the default in OS X - but they changed it a version or three ago - not sure why)
posted by device55 at 11:30 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


It looks like you can change permissions from that window, too. Not sure if it works right, though.

That special info window does annoy, though—it's one of their small-frame windows (view options, special characters, etc) that doesn't close with a cmnd+w so I'm always closing windows I don't mean to when I'm done with it. The standard info window doesn't behave this way, which is an annoying inconsistency.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:30 AM on September 5, 2009


This article, with which I am only a third of the way through, truly and honestly makes me want to go buy a Mac, and I say that with my PC nerd cred/shame up in the "I have thrown away slightly more PCs than I have had sexual partners" range. Windows XP will probably be my last Microsoft operating system at home, after dealing with the horror of Vista at work. I have no hopes for Windows 7. For me to extend trust back to Microsoft, I would have to see some kind of public ritual in which the developers of the search facility were slapped with aged trout and had R. Lee Emery howl "You had best unfuck yourself, mister!" at them. This has not happened, so I expect more of the same from Microsoft, the company which pulled that ridiculous Mojave experiment.

To be clear about it, I might just be switching teams not because I'm so turned on by Apple, but because I think Microsoft has probably passed the arc of its most brilliant point, and is on its way down. Apple looks like they have things on the way up.
posted by adipocere at 11:31 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is great! It's like geek tennis! *hits refresh*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:32 AM on September 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


You must have noticed that Finder doesn't even support Spaces properly, i.e. Icons aren't fixed on each individual desktop.

I get what you're saying - but spaces isn't "multiple desktops" - it's a "window manager".

The desktop is intended to be a fixed point of reference. e.g. you download a file from Safari to the desktop in space one, you bounce over to space 3 to drag it into Mail as an attachment.

If you're accustomed to classic "multiple desktops" it can seem weird at first.
posted by device55 at 11:37 AM on September 5, 2009


Love OS X, hate finder. I wish Directory Opus would be ported over, it really is an amazing piece of software.
posted by bigmusic at 11:37 AM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


... so, does he like it?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:39 AM on September 5, 2009


Apple is quite clearly selling computers for entertainment, not work.

Man, what have I been doing on my Mac for the last half-decade? Shit, I guess it wasn't work. And yet I bamboozled a bunch of clients into paying me for it, anyway! Ha ha, suckers, I wasn't even working!
posted by pts at 11:42 AM on September 5, 2009 [17 favorites]


>>You must have noticed that Finder doesn't even support Spaces properly, i.e. Icons aren't fixed on each individual desktop.

>I get what you're saying - but spaces isn't "multiple desktops" - it's a "window manager".

Spaces works the same way as workspaces on Gnome and XFCE in this respect. The desktop looks the same, the difference is only in what windows are managed on each one. I'm not sure what you're comparing it to, unless it's an extended, multi-monitor desktop. That will have different icons (and in windows, the taskbar will only be on one of them), but it's a different metaphor, it's one big desktop, not multiple desktops.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:46 AM on September 5, 2009


A nice review, Siracusa is pretty much the only in-depth thing Ars has to offer anymore.

Maybe that's not entirely accurate. Now that I think about current-day Ars, Ben Kuchera's gaming reviews (consoles, software, peripherals) are excellent. I guess it's too bad that IT doesn't get the same in-depth treatment anymore on Ars.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2009


I think badmouthing iPhoto is a bit silly, seeing as how it is clearly targeted to non-Serious Computer Users, and remembering that much more robust products are readily available. I mean, sure, it can edit photos, but nobody is mistaking it for Photoshop, right?

iTunes drives me up a wall, though. Maybe it is intended for the same audience, but whether it is or it isn't intended to be more serious, there is nothing better for Mac, and it makes me want to pull my hair out. It takes an obscene amount of effort just to avoid having ghost versions of songs that I moved or renamed and then re-added. The whole app gets slower as my library grows, and not only does it itself get slower, but it slows down the whole OS. I can dump 4GB into a Foobar2k playlist and go about my business, and the files may take some time to add, but they won't muck up what I'm doing. iTunes *might* hang the computer, at least for a little while. And that is the only option.

Drives me absolutely nuts.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2009


These threads get entertaining when people (who actually use a Mac) dare to criticise a few aspects of it and then the attempt comes to shout them down no matter what that criticism actually is.
posted by selton at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2009


device55: I get what you're saying - but spaces isn't "multiple desktops" - it's a "window manager".

I know you're right, but I was really disappointed when I found that out. I would the option to have it run the other way.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2009


I've been on macs since the mid-80's, so I'm not a windows indoctrinated moron, but were it not for the whole virus/malware and activation and MSFT issues, I'd be on windows 7.
posted by VikingSword


if you hate the mac platform as much as it seems, sticking with it for the reasons you've stated leads me to believe you simply enjoy complaining. I know I wouldn't be sticking around.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:56 AM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


like the one button mouse

Anytime someone spews this piece of ignorance I want to build a time machine, go back to 1996, and bring them to the present. It's always a fun game to see how long it takes to hear this line.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 12:00 PM on September 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


On OSX, the beachball will spin and might be able to gracefully shut down, but most likely will have to hard shut down and hope for the best.

You know you can use Force Quit to re-launch Finder, right? You just need to tab over to another application before attempting to access the apple menu in the top left, otherwise you're still in Finder which is frozen. This should work just fine.

jeffburdges wins for the first comment about Apple's "one button mouse" - way to go Jeff!
posted by odinsdream at 12:00 PM on September 5, 2009


Macs are aimed at the average (home) user. The basic applications that come with the OS have the 20% of features that cover 80% of the users' needs. Power users, and this includes some business case uses, are not the general audience Apple's engineers are designing for.

Case in point: I manage mailing lists from my Mac. I co-manage them with my husband and we have a joint address for management. One of the things we need is for any email that comes through our joint email address, which forwards through our regular accounts, to automatically filter so that when we reply, the reply automatically sends from the joint address and not from his email address or mine. Eudora for Mac did this easily and I'm still using it, because Mail doesn't do it, and I haven't yet figured out how to write an Applescript that will solve the problem. This doesn't make me a bad fit for the Mac in general. Nor does it make OS X or Mail all wrongbad or inferior or whatever. It means I have a power user type of need: I need one of the 80% of mail client features used by only 20% of the population.

There's no OS out there that's going to, out of the box, solve everybody's problems. Operating systems are complicated tools. OSes and standard software frequently isn't quite right for the exact combination of standard and power uses that a particular individual needs. I don't know why that's so hard for people to accept.

As for the Siracusa article, the quality of the technical writing, specifically, the way he brought out the technical concepts and made them comprehensible to less technical users, was fantastic. I feel better educated for having read it, and I'm glad I did even though a lot of it relates to programming concepts I'll never deal with myself.
posted by immlass at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2009


mathowie apparently had a bad experience, but this morning I popped in Snow Leopard, left for an hour, and came back to find a happy MacBook Pro.
posted by lukemeister at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2009


tell me that iPhoto is anything but a POS?

OK I will. I love iPhoto.

I'm a serious photographer, and iPhoto lets me do just about anything I need to do with my photos. It seamlessly imports RAW files, allows me to adjust levels, contrast, saturation, retouch, straighten, crop, change to B&W, and export in whatever size or format I need. Plus, I can always revert back to the original version whenever I want. With plug-ins, I can export directly to numerous websites, or create a Flash or HTML gallery with a few clicks. I can organize the photos any way I see fit, with the same photo in as many or as few albums as I want. I can quickly browse thumbnails of the contents of a event just by moving my cursor across it. I can name the photos, give them keywords, and view EXIF data. I have thousands of photos in iPhoto, and I use it every single day of my life. Yeah, it really sucks.
posted by The Deej at 12:15 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


you can't do lolcats in iPhoto, therefore, it sucks.
posted by empath at 12:17 PM on September 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Open a directory with multiple subdirectories. Control click any three and tell me how much space on disk those three use. On windows, it's a right click, properties and it tells you. On OSX, it's a right click, get info, write down the sizes and then add them up by hand on a piece of paper.

Yeah, that's called select the three folders and use control-option-i. (or right click, "Show Inspector".)

You get the usual info box, but now summarized to combine all three. Unless you really like paper or something, I guess, in which case your way works too.

This sort of "Um, sure if you do it wrong" approach seems to fit most of these really minor issues in the thread, and none of them counts as "awful" or "broken". The finest of fine differences, to me. I'm also noticing that a lot of these complaints are from people who try something the way it works in Windows, find out it doesn't work that way, and give up. The time spent complaining something doesn't work the Windows way could be better spent learning how to use your computer, guys.

I use both Windows and OSX daily. OSX, including the Finder, is way less annoying. To me, anyway.

I like to think I could make a better Finder, too, but at least I acknowledge that it would only be better for me.
posted by rokusan at 12:18 PM on September 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


I installed Snow Leopard last night on my lowly Jan 09 MacBook: less than an hour, no problems at all. Subjective impression: OS runs faster; must be the missing PPC code.
posted by rdone at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2009


Macs are aimed at the average (home) user.

If you added "...and creative professional" to that, I'd endorse it. And that's exactly what they are supposed to be.

I'll still use Linux to make cheap/reliable servers. I'll still use Windows for games.
posted by rokusan at 12:20 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


this article, with which I am only a third of the way through, truly and honestly makes me want to go buy a Mac,

See if you can borrow a macbook from someone for a week. That'll decide you one way or the other.
posted by empath at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2009


And sure, in OSX, I can drop the command line or write a script.

That's the OS war in a nutshell for me. I know that I can plop down in front of my niece's pink polka-dotted Mac and get to a proper console in three clicks and do whatever hardcore shit I need to from there. No command-apple-cokebottle, no alt-Enter, no File, no nothing, just a 40-year old UI that I know can get it done.
posted by Skorgu at 12:35 PM on September 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


29.95 solutions to things that *are free in* windows/linux

For Windows, you have that the other way around, I think. I have never been able to find a Windows utility which the developer either wanted to charge $49.95 or inject my system with a healthy dose of spyware and malware in exchange for "free" stuff.

I have never run into adware/spyware/malware for Mac OS X. Most people never will, I suspect. It's just a non-issue for the platform. I don't know how these rumours get started, but let's just quash that nonsense right now.

There's not much that isn't already free for desktop Linux users, but then that has almost always the case through their package distribution systems.

To the extent that Mac OS X has fink and macports that do the exact same thing, but instead providing Mac OS X PPC and Intel binary equivalents, comparing OS X and Linux for free third-party software is really a genuine wash, and it's a bit ignorant to suggest otherwise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on September 5, 2009


skorgu -- Explorer may be better than Finder, but Terminal is sure as shit better than CMD
posted by empath at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]



dumsnill: "23 pages? I wish I cared."

So you don't care enough to read the article, but you do care enough to bother to comment in the thread that you don't care enough to read the article?

And why should I care?


And why should he have to explain why you should care that he doesn't care?
posted by MikeMc at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2009


For Windows, you have that the other way around, I think. I have never been able to find a Windows utility which the developer either wanted to charge $49.95 or inject my system with a healthy dose of spyware and malware in exchange for "free" stuff.

Well, you're obviously not looking very hard, and why would you since you're a Mac user? I've found plenty of free utilities for windows. One example would be WinMerge which is a utility for comparing the contents of text files and whole directories to check for changes. Google Earth is free, WinDjView is a great program for reading ebooks. There's cygwin. In fact, most of the free stuff is also open source as well.

But the poster's original point wasn't that you could find the apps for free, but that you didn't even need them because the basic functionality for moving files around without any trouble was already there.

The idea that "you don't use finder to do it" if you have terabytes of data just seems crazy. A 1TB drive costs like $75 these days.
posted by delmoi at 1:00 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


One example would be WinMerge which is a utility for comparing the contents of text files and whole directories to check for changes.

1. Open Terminal
2. diff -rq firstDirectory secondDirectory

Or install the free developer's tools and get the FileMerge utility for free, if you want a GUI, or use opendiff if you want to use FileMerge on the command line.

Cost: US$0.00. No spyware/adware/malware risks. If you're a Mac user.

You can't often say the same for Windows utilities, sorry!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you mean the weird behaviour of having multiple terminal windows in different workspaces, that was addressed with one of the 10.5.x updates to Leopard quite a while ago. You should try updating your Leopard install and check out the new settings.

Thanks inparticularity. I'll take a look at it. Most of my work is done through a xnix terminal, and the different workspaces help keep separate projects organized.
posted by xorry at 1:34 PM on September 5, 2009


We're computer geeks talking about computers. It might help to know what computer geeks mean when they say "broken".
posted by Kalthare at 1:44 PM on September 5, 2009


Huh. I always thought the "FIX THE FUCKING FINDER!" movement mostly focused on "Its imitation of Classic's directories-are-windows mindset does not work properly and this drives me batshit". I guess I thought wrong.

I used to use Directory Opus back in my Amiga days but I've found the NeXT-style column view to just be all kinds of awesome. I think it took me maybe a week to get used to it over Classic's Finder. But YMM obviously V.

Regarding the article itself: Siracusa's explanation of blocks, Grand Central, and OpenCL made me want to run out and install Snow Leopard. I don't program any more but I know enough to know that code parallelization is hard, and having tools that let you casually bundle your code out to however many CPUs — or GPUs — you may have with just four lines of wrappers is awesome and I think he managed to get some of that awesomeness across!
posted by egypturnash at 1:49 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are reports that Snow Leopard has buggered up video playback; not just in third-party apps using other codecs (though definitely that), but even builtins like Front Row are exhibiting problems in some cases with completely standard things that should be handled natively, like DVDs. (Your mileage can and will probably vary, so let's consider "my DVDs work great, thank you" responses as read, mmkay?) And any app that uses the Apple remote for its own purposes can no longer override it, so if you're trying to use it to control VLC or Boxee you'll find Front Row popping up. So you might want to check the forums for your favorite video apps before upgrading; and 10.6.1, already in the pipeline and reported to include video driver updates, probably can't come a moment too soon.

I have an SL DVD lying on my desk waiting to install, and I'm looking forward to it. But I think I'll wait just a bit longer.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:08 PM on September 5, 2009


immlass: Not to make this into a "fix my trivial problem with Mac applications" thread or anything, but I'm pretty sure you can solve your issue by setting up multiple accounts in Mail, even if you're using the same login credentials for both, and just set a different From/Reply-To address for the one you are having trouble with. You'll get a little drop-down box on new e-mails which allows you to select which account you're going to send from.

This, combined with some search folders, should be a fix for your issue.

Having said that, it's hardly an OS problem. It's a problem with one of the bundled applications. OS-wise, Skorgu nails it.
posted by odinsdream at 2:41 PM on September 5, 2009


I use a Mac at work. I've always been a Windows and Linux guy; using the Mac, it feels sometimes as if things are being hidden from me just to make sure that technical things never intrude in my user experience.

Finder also crashes more often than I have ever had XP SP2, Vista, or Linux crash, except when I had a hardware problem. It also has some truly odd quirks (thumbnails take forever to load, sometimes it will just close for no reason despite having been open in the background for two hours).

Sometimes, my external hard drive will unmount itself. I never seem to lose any data, but it will just disappear.

There are a few folders that take forever to open—they're not particularly large, maybe containing thirty files weighing in at 10-15 megs each, and just clicking on the arrow to display their contents in Finder will result in a 30-second churn.

I don't understand why CUA standards aren't used on Macs. Yes, they were originally designed by IBM, but they are used extensively in Unix as well. Only Unix traditionalist programs like emacs and Vim (my favorite editor, but its UI is arcane) differ.

Since I didn't choose the Mac, and am being forced to use it rather than buying one for myself, I am finding a new and interesting perspective on these discussions.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:04 PM on September 5, 2009


Finder has some nice features in my experience but one thing that drives me crazy (and maybe I am just ignorant) is it never remembers or retains what size I want the Finder window to be, but always goes back to some default size I can't alter / or opens in that default size after being closed. Like a poorly trained dog, I wish to punch it in the dick.
posted by Rumple at 3:20 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


it never remembers or retains what size I want the Finder window to be, but always goes back to some default size I can't alter / or opens in that default size after being closed.

Hold down the option key when resizing, and it will remember.
posted by The Deej at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


I installed Snow Leopard last night on my lowly Jan 09 MacBook: less than an hour, no problems at all. Subjective impression: OS runs faster; must be the missing PPC code.

This isn't how Mac OS X works. Binaries contain multiple compiled code sections. You only execute the section applicable to your computer's architecture. (Rosetta doesn't count for the sake of the discussion.)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:34 PM on September 5, 2009


(the upside to dropping support for two entire architectures, however, is that you don't have to develop, test, measure, and fix on them. you cut a portion--not exactly half but significant--of your workload away, which frees you to focus on whatever larger problems you need to focus on. such problems are usually not chip arch-level problems, because most perf gains come from solving problems in other places, but it certainly helps to have fewer architectures to target.)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:42 PM on September 5, 2009


FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:13 PM on September 5, 2009


Anytime someone spews this piece of ignorance I want to build a time machine, go back to 1996, and bring them to the present. It's always a fun game to see how long it takes to hear this line.

Except that they never quite figured out how to port that two button technology to Macbooks. Since I never use an external mouse with my laptops, this is probably the biggest reason I have never bought a mac.

That said, the new multi-touch track pad does look interesting, though I'd prefer to just install OSX on my new Thinkpad, since I have faulty taste and think it looks cooler than the new Macbook pros.
posted by afu at 5:05 PM on September 5, 2009


This isn't really a mac vs pc thread. This is mostly mac people bitching about mac problems. The windows people have stayed out, for the most part.

A lot of this is just people not knowing the mac way to do things. As much as Steve Jobs likes to talk about how intuitive everything is, it's really not. There are all kinds of tricks that mac users need to learn to get the most out of it.
posted by empath at 5:08 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except that they never quite figured out how to port that two button technology to Macbooks.

I thought this would bug me, but it really doesn't. Most mac menus can be gotten to by just holding down the button. Or if you don't want to wait, you can ctrl-click. Once I got used to it after a few days, I stopped noticing it. I actually find my mom's windows laptop completely unusable now, it has like 4 buttons on it, and I'm always hitting the wrong ones.
posted by empath at 5:10 PM on September 5, 2009


>Or if you don't want to wait, you can ctrl-click.

Yeah, the way the UI is designed, you don't have to ctrl-click very often, so the trade off of not being able to hit the wrong button beneath your trackpad is well worth it.

(Tthe Mac equivalent of right-click is Ctrl-click, and maps that way if you install a two-button mouse. Why developers porting to the mac keep mapping it to Command-click, I don't know.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:41 PM on September 5, 2009


Except that they never quite figured out how to port that two button technology to Macbooks. Since I never use an external mouse with my laptops, this is probably the biggest reason I have never bought a mac.

Place two fingers on the trackpad and click. Been around for a few years now.
posted by Talez at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


>Place two fingers on the trackpad and click. Been around for a few years now.


That's a system setting that you have to enable. I never bothered, myself, but then I'm old and set in my ways.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:08 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The newer buttonless trackpad on macs is a nightmare of over-sensitivity.
posted by Rumple at 6:12 PM on September 5, 2009


>The newer buttonless trackpad on macs is a nightmare of over-sensitivity.

I have to agree there. All the functionality of a button, but with the added feature of being able to nudge your cursor right before your click is registered.

I've trained myself not to roll my thumb on the pad, but I shouldn't have to do that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:34 PM on September 5, 2009


That said, the new multi-touch track pad does look interesting, though I'd prefer to just install OSX on my new Thinkpad, since I have faulty taste and think it looks cooler than the new Macbook pros.
The multi-touch thing is awesome. Two fingers to right click or scroll, three for page up\down and for back and forward, and four for expose. Quite honestly, using it in the store was one of the things that made me decide to buy the Mac over a Thinkpad.

There are some things about the finder that bug me, like the fact that I can get it show the path bar, but apparently the path bar can't be used to navigate up a (or N) level(s). I'm well aware that I can drop into command line, but I actually don't usually want to. I'm very comfortable with the command line, but sometimes I just prefer doing things with the mouse.
Cost: US$0.00. No spyware/adware/malware risks. If you're a Mac user.

You can't often say the same for Windows utilities, sorry!
I've actually found the opposite to be true, generally I find that there are fewer Mac applications available for free than for Windows. Winmerge, for one, is free and open-source. I've also noticed that a lot of Mac software I want is priced in Euros, which of course makes it even more expensive.
posted by !Jim at 7:01 PM on September 5, 2009


Place two fingers on the trackpad and click. Been around for a few years now.

Yeah I know this, still not the same as having two buttons. I just prefer a two button track pad, and I don't understand why can't I buy a Macbook with this extremely simple technology.
posted by afu at 7:02 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


> You know you can use Force Quit to re-launch Finder, right? You just need to tab over to another application before attempting to access the apple menu in the top left, otherwise you're still in Finder which is frozen. This should work just fine.

No, it does not if the share is SMB -- force-shutdown is the only option. This is a documented bug, and has to do (I believe) with the change to automount some time around 10.4. NFS behaves a lot better when the network goes away, thankfully. Not sure about AFP.

I have no idea if this is fixed in 10.6. I'd hope so. I migrated my network shares to NFS because this was a chronic problem.
posted by cj_ at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2009


The newer buttonless trackpad on macs is a nightmare of over-sensitivity.

I've never understood this, yet I hear it pretty often. How do you people use your touchpads that you're hitting them so hard. To me a click feels like a click, while a move feels more like a swap. I for one, can't stand the button, as I find it's awkward and takes far too much effort to click.
posted by !Jim at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


See the 2-dimensional plot of 1-dimension of data on the first page
The second dimension is used to visualize small differences in time which would be harder to see were they represented by slightly varying lengths on a 1-dimensional timeline. Small differences in angle are easier to see than small differences in length, and the curve formed makes it easier to see the overall picture.
the performance increase is 74.5%. By his logic, running in the same amount of time would be a 100% performance jump.
You're right. I've corrected the article.
posted by siracusa at 7:08 PM on September 5, 2009 [27 favorites]


>I've never understood this, yet I hear it pretty often. How do you people use your touchpads that you're hitting them so hard.

It's not the firmness, so much as your thumbs tendancy to roll as you press (or different parts of your thumb making contact.) It's enough to nudge the cursor off of your target if it's small enough.

Yeah, lots of people don't have that problem. I'm guessing Jobs is one of them. ;)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:18 PM on September 5, 2009


Hello, siracusa, welcome to Metafilter. Thanks for a great article, even the bits I don't really grok because I'm not a programmer or developer, just a regular user. Those bits are making me go out and read up on stuff, though, and that's always good.
posted by rtha at 7:24 PM on September 5, 2009


How to get tech support by trolling (bash.org)
posted by Space Coyote at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


Is there some developer documentation on the Great Central Dispatch? I've read the Ars article and Apple's brief, but I don't quite get how the queues relate to:

1) Classic threads [with shared memory and locks; the horror, the horror]
2) Erlang processes and Mozart/Oz threads [message-passing concurrency, no shared memory, lightweight (100,000s of threads)]
3) other approaches I don't know much about [apparently Microsoft has something similar to GCD].
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:38 PM on September 5, 2009


It's not the firmness, so much as your thumbs tendancy to roll as you press (or different parts of your thumb making contact.) It's enough to nudge the cursor off of your target if it's small enough.

Wait, you use your thumb on your trackpad? That just feels odd to me, I use my index finger.
posted by !Jim at 7:51 PM on September 5, 2009


Here's my review: technical operations has banned Snow Leopard at work because of numerous regressions. That's all I need to know.
posted by GuyZero at 7:54 PM on September 5, 2009


>Wait, you use your thumb on your trackpad? That just feels odd to me, I use my index finger.

Aha! That must be the difference. Yeah, if you're used to the old style pad-and-button, you'd tend to use your finger to position and your thumb to click.

I wonder if that explains the windows guys' fondness for multiple button trackpads as well?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2009


Aha! That must be the difference. Yeah, if you're used to the old style pad-and-button, you'd tend to use your finger to position and your thumb to click.

Ahh, I've never had a touchpad that didn't allow tap-clicking (I'm only on my second laptop), and I'm really poorly coordinated, so I never got into the habit of clicking with my thumb. When I had a laptop with a button, I used my left hand for clicking when I wanted to use said button.

Here's my review: technical operations has banned Snow Leopard at work because of numerous regressions. That's all I need to know.

Everyone I know (I think 5 people) who has upgraded has had some kind of problem with it. We're all doing software development though, so maybe that isn't very surprising.
posted by !Jim at 8:12 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just did the list-view, option+click disclosure triangle at the root level of a 500 GB drive with about 5000 folders & 50,000 files. The Finder has been beach-ballling for about five minutes, now. THANKS A LOT, GUYS. (when will I ever learn?)

Also, after reading the article, I got all amped up about 10.6, then went to my "other" web home, where there's a discussion going on amongst 15 or so people who've installed 10.6, and they're all finding pretty glaring, if minor, bugs across the spectrum, from display oddities to crashiness when switching apps, and quicktime freezing & sound output issues. It's a real hodge-podge of minor annoyances across the spectrum of the whole OS. I'm not as excited now about saving up for an Intel machine as i was for a little while this morning. Maybe in a year when we're at 10.6.5 it'll be good & rock-solid. It seems like X.X.5 has been about where all the annoyances have gotten sorted out of previous releases, anyway.

It does seem like in general, they're trying to further future-proof their flagship OS, which I applaud, half-heartedly. I'd like to read some more in-depth opinions of programers about all these new APIs & stuff rather than a bitch-fest about the Finder, because that seems like the real meat of 10.6, from what I can tell.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:01 PM on September 5, 2009


Is there some developer documentation on the Great Central Dispatch?

There's this.

Also, WWDC 2009 session videos unfortunately cost $300 at the moment but:

developer.apple.com > ADC on iTunes > WWDC 2009 Sessions > Mac >

Sessions 108, 406-408, and 425 cover GCD in detail.
posted by Palamedes at 9:10 PM on September 5, 2009


I just did the list-view, option+click disclosure triangle at the root level of a 500 GB drive with about 5000 folders & 50,000 files

Took about 10 seconds on 10.6 on my 2.8GHz C2D MBP for the ~6000 files in my /Stuff directory. No SPOD.

I'd like to read some more in-depth opinions of programers about all these new APIs

I was really psyched about blocks and dispatch queues (ie GCD) after going to that session. Nothing else really stands out, though CoreLocation is fun -- it worked to within 40 meters in BFE Sunnyvale.
posted by Palamedes at 9:18 PM on September 5, 2009


Took about 10 seconds on 10.6 on my 2.8GHz C2D MBP for the ~6000 files in my /Stuff directory. No SPOD.

I under-estimated. 88,000 files and counting. Now it's trying to build previews of all of them :-(™

I'm also rockin' the old skool G5 dual 2.0 here. I'd love me an 8-core Mac Pro, no doubt, but a man's gotta eat.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:23 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never understood this, yet I hear it pretty often. How do you people use your touchpads that you're hitting them so hard.

I use my thumb to click, it must be a muscle memory hangover from the one button touchpad. But it isn't the movement of the cursor that bugs me, or the clicking force, it's that some extremely subtle movement or angle change of my fingers/thumb somehow conspires to change the cursor movement from "moving" to "selecting". Seriously, I have almost chucked my new macbook across the room on this basis alone. I may have to videotape my hand to try to figure out exactly what causes it. It is a royal pain in the ass and as far as I can tell there is no way to adjust the intrinsic sensitivity of the pad, only the speed at which it registers. The two, three, four finger swiping is pretty cool, though.
posted by Rumple at 9:49 PM on September 5, 2009


Except that they never quite figured out how to port that two button technology to Macbooks. Since I never use an external mouse with my laptops, this is probably the biggest reason I have never bought a mac.

In addition to what others have said about two-finger tapping for secondary ("right") clicks, the current multi-touch trackpads can invoke secondary-click by clicking either the bottom-right or bottom-left areas. It's configurable in the trackpad prefs.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:55 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, wow, GQSB is... awesome. Goodbye QuickSilver.
posted by cj_ at 9:56 PM on September 5, 2009


I under-estimated. 88,000 files and counting. Now it's trying to build previews of all of them

Finder was not good at this in Leopard. When you make the jump to Intel and Snow Leopard, you should find such Finder performance headaches rare.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:59 PM on September 5, 2009


Yeah, man, it's a wonder I can even walk anymore, what with the crushing weight of spyware I must be carrying around from having installed some free Windows progams. Get real.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:02 PM on September 5, 2009


Command-J / uncheck icon previews

I was just talking with a colleague about that, disable for network shares, and we've spent many times digging for a global option.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:21 PM on September 5, 2009


It does seem like the OSX initial release gremlins got out once again, though. Have any of the 10.x.0 releases not been rapidly followed by a bugfix .1 release? So far everything has been generally good for me, although WoW occasionally locks up or seems to suffer horrible performance that isn't related to system load (and I suspect the former is just a bad case of the latter). On the plus side, 10.6 finally includes a video driver that will run Diablo II on my iMac! Huzzah! IIRC the 10.5 driver for the 8800 cards didn't include a 256 color mode, so D2 just sorta croaked.

And it seems like a lot of ye olde OSX Finder performance/SPOD issues seem to have cleared up in SL, though. About the only thing that still seems to be blocking for me is directly connected external drives. File Save dialogs will hang for a second until I hear my external drives spinning up. Plus side: my drives have a chance to spin down. Negative side: My apps occasionally have to wait for them. Hrm.

I do have to wonder about whether Apple's current developer-only beta program will continue to serve it well as they gain additional marketshare, though. At least I don't think I saw any sort of open SL betas, it was all handled through ADC, right? And developers aren't necessarily testing the same things as end users.
posted by Kyol at 11:30 PM on September 5, 2009


(frankly, my biggest annoyance is that they seem to have adjusted how aggressively the desktop icons repaint when my right-side pinned Dock scales up and down. I don't remember my Leopard desktop jittering around quite as much as I'm noticing it on my Snow Leopard desktop.)
posted by Kyol at 11:32 PM on September 5, 2009


I read the article and studied the stuff I didn't really understand. I may not understand it all yet, even though I've learned a few things. But will some of you knowledgable folks address the claim in the third link about "huge pages"? This seems a critical 64-bit problem, but there is something about Mr. Fallows' article that makes me go "Hmmm... Sounds like BS."
posted by CCBC at 12:00 AM on September 6, 2009


Also, to address my previous statement regarding using a third party software when the finder was falling down had nothing to do with single users. I had just seen various extremely large publishing houses try to build a mission critical workflow around the finder as their business process, instead of realizing their lives would be much easier with a real DAM in place, instead of creating one that has no scalability, and whose functionality changes with point releases of your OS because sometimes spotlight indexing works and sometimes it doesn't.

As for having to maintain and search across multiple servers to locate files, and work on them, in a business case study, that is the exact example why you would implement an asset management system. Central repository for files, can be found quickly, minimize storage, cpu, and power overhead from managing disparate servers, when you can control access to documents / resources via the DAM's group acls, etc.

That being said, Apple was very very optimistic about the technology they introduced in 10.5 and was hoping it would scale, however during that development cycle, they pretty much kept running into roadblocks in the core level of the OS that kept them from really fixing the problems (ie, not having something like Grand Central that would intelligently manage threads based on the cores they had available, ie indexing multiple folders at the same time for a desktop user). So the only way to really, truly, fix the problem is to go back to basics and start re-architecting their OS so that the stuff they couldn't get working in 10.5 would actually be able to perform well in 10.6.

They weren't kidding about refining their existing processes, but they really weren't refining them as much as rewriting a good deal of everything but just leaving the same paint job (and video boot / welcome screen, you notice that?) on the service with some extra shine. 10.6 does a lot of stuff massively differently, but you wouldn't notice it unless you look.

For example, TCP handling used to be locked to a single core, so no matter how many NICs you had, all that tcp traffic was handled by one CPU. 10.6 breaks up TCP traffic by interface and distributes them across cores, so if you have 4 cores and 4 nics (and the routing setup right), you can get max throughput knowing that each nic is being processed independently of each other. The downside of this is you do not want to link aggregate your multiple nics, because then that becomes a single interface being processed by a single core. Boring shit, I know, but it means two things to me: Apple is serious about performance, and the are trying to do the best they can to get it for the enterprise market where 4 nics makes sense.

On top of that, you have to realize Apple is not that big, and there is a very shallow pool of experienced OS X coders out there (let alone ones who don't already work there), so business stuff gets the back seat, because well, Microsoft has a huge AD environment to test it, and resources to tap on it, because it is their own product, just as Apple is all OD and they have resources to work on that as well, but Apple is the only one of the two making any headway into trying to work with AD. The end result is 10.5.0 couldn't bind to AD servers in large environments, because no one thought to check that the server address for the kerberos service lookup and the server address for the ldap service lookup were the same before trying to start the bind process; this was probably because they only had two AD systems in the office to test on, and since they were on the subnet with the test machines, they weren't really simulating a real office environment where those two query don't always come back in the same sequence.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:14 AM on September 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah I know this, still not the same as having two buttons. I just prefer a two button track pad, and I don't understand why can't I buy a Macbook with this extremely simple technology.

Well shit I should have known better and read your mind for your personal taste on that one.

I personally love multitouch trackpads. If I put two fingers on the pad and move them up and down it starts mousewheel scrolling. None of this "aim for the scroll bar on the right of the trackpad" bullshit. If I put two fingers on the pad and click I get a context menu. No need to rotate my hand around uncomfortably to hit the right button with my thumb or take my hand off the trackpad to click the right button with a finger.

I hate going back to Windows laptops because I start trying to scroll around and the trackpad is bloody useless.
posted by Talez at 12:32 AM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This seems a critical 64-bit problem, but there is something about Mr. Fallows' article that makes me go "Hmmm... Sounds like BS."

Page size is the granularity of the virtual memory; the OS keeps track of which pages have been written so when it needs to purge inactive pages it knows where to go to.

So in the original:

"Tracking 96GB of RAM requires 1.5GB of kernel address space" wouldn't be an issue if you're running a 64-bit kernel with the basically infinite memory space available to it.

The other way to dodge this bullet is to increase the page size so you have less pages to track and thus a smaller table in memory. Going from a 4k page size to 4MB would reduce the table size by 1024, or down to 1.5MB in the example above!

Memory protection (ie. ensuring an app doesn't write to memory it shouldn't) is also done at the memory page level so I don't have a grip on all the ramifications of increasing the page size so drastically.
posted by Palamedes at 12:54 AM on September 6, 2009


It does seem like the OSX initial release gremlins got out once again, though. Have any of the 10.x.0 releases not been rapidly followed by a bugfix .1 release

All operating systems have bugs. Initial, major relases of operating systems have more bugs than maintenance updates. This is universal across all operating systems, and any argument to the contrary ignores computing history in one way or another, whether unintentionally or not.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:55 AM on September 6, 2009


A+++ would buy and/or discuss this consumer product again!

Solid and effective advertising- great marketing campaign! Keep up the good work!
posted by hamida2242 at 2:10 AM on September 6, 2009


Let's take this "viral," or whatever the current equivalent is!
posted by hamida2242 at 2:11 AM on September 6, 2009


Great article, and has helped to explain the enhancements in a nice and clear manner without marketing spin or gloss. Pretty cool to be able to read something and feel the genuine excitement about the new features (uh, not that they're new features) and their possibilities... a lot of the things described make me wish that I had the time and energy to learn to program OS X, as a lot of the things that I used to hate - compilation, C syntax checking, keyword/parameter/function details etc - have all been streamlined a heck of a lot.

As a user, I haven't seen much change from Leopard to Snow Leopard on a 2009 Mac mini; my Apple bluetooth keyboard wouldn't work after the update, which was a right royal pain to fix, and I'm still not sure what I did that eventually fixed it; Time machine has lost all my backups; my printer doesn't automagically install the right drivers (maybe because it's connected to the Time Capsule?). I'm sure that there were a couple of other things I can't remember right now.

Also, I think that I've learned more about how to best use OS X (and in particular, use the hidden features like the Inspector) - the Option key is a complete mystery to me, so to discover that there is pretty essential functionality controlled by it is a bit mind-boggling; how is anyone expected to find this stuff out by themself??
posted by Chunder at 7:13 AM on September 6, 2009


Does anyone read the Slashdot comments down here?
posted by davejay at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2009


Does anyone read the Slashdot comments down here?

No.

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:33 AM on September 6, 2009


All operating systems have bugs. Initial, major relases of operating systems have more bugs than maintenance updates. This is universal across all operating systems, and any argument to the contrary ignores computing history in one way or another, whether unintentionally or not.

Oh, I know, I just wonder whether the ADC-only betas will continue to be a viable test pool going forward.
posted by Kyol at 10:44 AM on September 6, 2009


Have any of the 10.x.0 releases not been rapidly followed by a bugfix .1 release

When you increase the size of the bug-finding net from a couple of thousand hardcore developer testers to several million real people with their more various applications and uses, you're bound to find a whole lot of bugs nobody else noticed or cared about before.

I'm a big fan of x.x.1 releases for any software, myself, though. I figure if the old version was good enough for me to use yesterday, it'll still be good for a few more months. Why hurry?
posted by rokusan at 12:00 PM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is yet another example of why “paged articles” are anathema to the Web. Give us the whole thing in one shot or go home.
posted by joeclark at 2:23 PM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


!Jim, you know that you can Command-click on the title of a Finder window to navigate up its path, right? (It creates an instant pull-down menu.)
posted by joeclark at 2:29 PM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like John's reviews. He likes his Mac, but he isn't all OMG CHURCH OF JOBS BURN THE INFIDELS FOR SUGGESTING THERE ARE ANY SHORTCOMINGS IN THE HOLY WRIT which is pretty much the norm with Apple products; outside of reviewing Apple stuff he also does pretty much all of Ars' interesting content these days (processor and chipset architectures and so on).
posted by rodgerd at 3:39 PM on September 6, 2009


Why hurry?

Because it's just so damned cool.
posted by Talez at 3:40 PM on September 6, 2009


joeclark: This one actually makes sense broken into pages, since each page discusses a distinctly different topic. It's not at all like the "top 10" lists broken into single pages.
posted by odinsdream at 6:18 PM on September 6, 2009


you can Command-click on the title of a Finder window to navigate up its path, right? (It creates an instant pull-down menu.)

In Snow Leopard, you can right-click the title as well. This works with almost any application whose windows have the concept of hierarchy. (Works in Safari, for example.)

As for Finder, it has a couple of other ways of navigating upward. The Path Bar does allow you to navigate, but it uses double-click instead of single-click. (It makes sense when you realize it's just like double-clicking any folder--which also means it behaves like that in other ways. You can command-double-click a folder in the Path Bar to open that folder in a new window, for example.)

You can also add a path button to the Finder toolbar, which does the same thing as right-clicking the title bar.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:26 PM on September 6, 2009


That said, I swear the SL path bar works much more like you would just expect it to work than the Leopard path bar. I swear I used to bang my head against the wall trying to drag and drop stuff up the hierarchy using the path bar only to have it fail, while it works like you'd expect now.
posted by Kyol at 6:50 PM on September 6, 2009


>joeclark: This one actually makes sense broken into pages, since each page discusses a distinctly different topic. It's not at all like the "top 10" lists broken into single pages.


Plus it's so long that the pages function as section markers. Read three at lunch, start on four when you come home.

No, there's plenty of bad pagination on the web (looking at you Time.com) but this isn't one of them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 PM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, there's plenty of bad pagination on the web (looking at you Time.com) but this isn't one of them.

But if readers were the currency, rather than page views, there'd be nothing to lose by adding a little "ALL" link to the end of the 1-2-3-4...26 menu.
posted by rokusan at 10:58 PM on September 6, 2009


Late to the party but...

Apple usually hits their home user market fairly well using this methodology, but they never produce powerful tools, like say an Orthodox file manager.

Does anyone ship an Orthodox fie manager anymore? I've not seen one with Vista or WinXP. KDE's Konqueror isn't one, and neither is Nautilus (gnome) or Thunar (XFcE). The remainder of the market is cell phones and server-only systems that don't have an Orthodox file manager installed either. And of course, you can always install mc or krusader via macports, or use the Java muCommander. Or you could just install emacs and use its file manager.

I will suggest though that the whole concept has been rendered obsolete outside of a few exceptional cases by the fact that we are no longer limited to juggling files using keyboard commands in a DOS window a mere 80 characters wide. Two directory windows and a shared terminal for both was well within the capabilities of old Motif. And in fact, Motif could do better yet by having as many directory and terminal windows as you needed (within the constraints of memory.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:35 PM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


sonic meat machine: I don't understand why CUA standards aren't used on Macs.

Because Apple already had a more comprehensive set of user-interface guidelines about five years before IBM started publishing theirs? I mean, there are a ton of legitimate gripes one can make about Apple. Bitching because they use a CUA standard that they published and tested years before anyone else standardized isn't one of them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:53 PM on September 6, 2009


How is the "btw" link (which is a brief history of Intel) related to the example of "instant classic" journal writing?

it's not and it isn't; it's more about (the lack of) innovation and engineering in other 'industries', esp health care and energy, like maybe there isn't enough 'feedback' in those fields...

re: creation and criticism, i think the best critics and reviews, say like lester bangs or roger ebert, tend to be (or are) ultrafans where every detail matters in producing the aesthetic/ideal 'whole', so whereas the role of the artist is to outwardly express 'inner' states and processes -- to exhibit and make (more) accessible -- the reviewer's job is to, of course, adjudicate (for the audience, or their internal representation of such ;) how well that was accomplished -- success -- and, perhaps, even help define the ideal (or find the sublime...), cf. cognitive neurodiversity :P

[dare i elevate siracusa to the cannon!?]

btw, i think ars has a lot to offer (as long as jon stokes/hannibal is still around!) like i get a lot out of their science section and their internet/spectrum policy coverage has been great, along with all their reviews of other stuff; to me, they're like the avclub for tech.
posted by kliuless at 6:19 AM on September 7, 2009


Either you appreciate this kind of thing or you do not. There is no middle ground.

I appreciated the first five or seven pages before it turned into "blah blah API this and that" and then I stopped reading. I probably spent as much time trying to get the damned thing on one page as I did reading the pages I did read. The update broke my EVDO card but only because there's now native EVDO support built into the networking system and it was actually too stupid-simple for me to figure out. It works now.

The only thing I don't like is whatever that thing is where you click-hold on something on the dock and now everything goes all black... what's that called? Well I don't like it. Otherwise whatever, I'm glad I didn't need to write my own operating system.
posted by jessamyn at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2009


outside of reviewing Apple stuff he also does pretty much all of Ars' interesting content these days (processor and chipset architectures and so on)
I think you're combining two people: John Siracusa (me) and Jon Stokes. Jon does the CPU stuff and I do the Mac OS X stuff.
posted by siracusa at 4:58 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only thing I don't like is whatever that thing is where you click-hold on something on the dock and now everything goes all black... what's that called? Well I don't like it.

oh. my. god. they made Expose work with the dock, that is AMAZING. jessamyn, how do you not like this?

Open 4 Firefox/Safari/Word windows (not tabs) with different stuff on it and click-hold the respective icon in the dock. Niiiice.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:06 PM on September 7, 2009


I don't use Expose at all, I guess is why. I figured out how to turn it off now that I know what it's called, thanks!
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 PM on September 7, 2009


Well, I like how they fixed Exposé so that if you have 20 Safari windows open, it doesn't cram them all into 1/2" horizontal line along the center of your screen (when Exposé’d) anymore. That was just all kinds of worthless.

Also, Exposé now shows stuff you've minimized to the dock (and perhaps forgotten about), and you can tell which ones they are because they're at the bottom, below a thin line.

And finally, the Exposé’d windows now also include a title below each window, good for easily finding the one you want.

posted by blueberry at 8:44 PM on September 7, 2009


I have been ready for a new Mac for a few months, and decided to wait until Snow Leopard came without the $29 upgrade price. I ordered a new iMac on Sept. 3, even buttered my wife up with a snappy new Mac Mini setup to replace her still-going 350Mhz slot-loading iMac from 2000.

Today I finally got email notification from the Apple Store Japan that my iMac shipped, not from the Apple Store in Osaka to arrive tonight, but on an ACTUAL SHIP, from China. C'mon, is it that popular?
posted by planetkyoto at 5:55 AM on September 8, 2009


I just did the list-view, option+click disclosure triangle at the root level of a 500 GB drive with about 5000 folders & 50,000 files

UPDATE: 220,000 files. Damn, I'm a pack-rat. Finder was unresponsive for at least 20 minutes.
Actually, the point of this comment is WARNING: If you own a PPC Apple machine with OS 10.5 or older, DO NOT OPTION-CLICK THE DISCLOSURE TRIANGLE AT TEH ROOT LEVEL!!1. You will enter a WORLD of suck.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 AM on September 8, 2009


> Today I finally got email notification from the Apple Store Japan that my iMac shipped, not from the Apple Store in Osaka to arrive tonight, but on an ACTUAL SHIP, from China. C'mon, is it that popular?

Apple's online store is an entirely different systems and org unit than the retail stores, even though they both have Store in their name. Also, they always ship direct from China, they want to keep their inventory for their own operations to a minimum, lower overhead, etc.

Also, for folks wanting another summary of why snow leopard is such a big deal, here is a windows programmer's take on it.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2009


Hey everybody! Let's argue about the Finder some more!

I always kinda laugh at Finder arguments. I feel like I am using some kind of parallel-universe Mac, where the finder plays pretty much no role. If I need to do something on many files I use a terminal. If I need to launch an application that isn't in the dock, or occasionally to open something that I'm not sure where it is, I use the finder. But really, it has approximately zero impact on my day to day life. People sure do seem to have a lot of emotion invested in it though.

About Apple Store shipping: They always ship stuff from China, and it always reaches me (on the US east coast, about a zillion miles away from China) in a couple of days. The Chinese drop-shipped stuff always gets there before accessories that ship from the US. Usually a lot before. My iPod arrived in like three days.

Anyway, I actually read all 23 pages, and my hat is off. That was an awesome review. And it also made me kind of wish I developed for OS X, although not really. But a little. But not really. If you know what I mean.
posted by rusty at 2:00 PM on September 8, 2009


Also, for folks wanting another summary of why snow leopard is such a big deal, here is a windows programmer's take on it.

One of the less clear explanations of closures I've seen. And they're not that impressive, after all:
The venerable master Qc Na was walking with his student, Anton. Hoping to prompt the master into a discussion, Anton said "Master, I have heard that objects are a very good thing - is this true?" Qc Na looked pityingly at his student and replied, "Foolish pupil - objects are merely a poor man's closures."

Chastised, Anton took his leave from his master and returned to his cell, intent on studying closures. He carefully read the entire "Lambda: The Ultimate..." series of papers and its cousins, and implemented a small Scheme interpreter with a closure-based object system. He learned much, and looked forward to informing his master of his progress.

On his next walk with Qc Na, Anton attempted to impress his master by saying "Master, I have diligently studied the matter, and now understand that objects are truly a poor man's closures." Qc Na responded by hitting Anton with his stick, saying "When will you learn? Closures are a poor man's object." At that moment, Anton became enlightened.
And his take on GCD is kind of disappointing (for someone like me), because it doesn't talk about how GCD is better or worse than classic threads, and how you deal with shared state (which doesn't go away, not even in Erlang, unless you get rid of observable nondeterminism).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:13 PM on September 8, 2009


"Yeah" is the new "dig it".
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2009


So, dig it, when you see a superfluous "yeah", just mentally replace it with "dig it". Because that's groovy, baby.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:35 AM on September 9, 2009


In Apple-land, when I see a "service pack" I mentally replace it with "$30".
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2009


> In Apple-land, when I see a "service pack" I mentally replace it with "$30"

Really the fact that people see this as 'just a service pack' shows how good of a job they did on the damn thing.

Why yes, the entire finder was rewritten in Objective C / Cocoa, using the new GCD and other frameworks introduced in this OS, and so far most people are just saying "well, it appears to just be faster and suck less" which means they did a damn good job when you think about it. They could have introduced a ton of new features to show off those capabilities, but then it would have taken too long and/or not as worked as well because their focus was scattered. I imagine the guiding principle was more "write it to meet the functionality introduced in 10.5 and if we can throw in a few more gimmes along the way, great, but our goal is a 10.5 Finder re-written in Cocoa" than "lets rewrite the finder, and shift the entire paradigm of file management while we are at it!"
posted by mrzarquon at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2009


And only 13 days to get to 10.6.1, besting 10.5's 20 day span and 10.4's 18 day span. Woo! All the 10.x.1 releases were fairly hot on the heels of the 10.x release, but 13 is a pretty decent turnaround.
posted by Kyol at 2:49 PM on September 10, 2009


Siracusa's OS X reviews have always been great, but it seems like this one is getting much more blog coverage than in previous years. I suspect it's because you install Snow Leopard and so very little changes you start looking around to find out what the hell's different.

Tell you what isn't different, new Finder or no: Stationery is still broken-o.
posted by fightorflight at 6:41 PM on September 10, 2009


This thread and the linked article are interesting. Not "replace all my WinXP and Linux computers with Macs" interesting, but still interesting.

The Finder issues are important. Sure, the geekier among us can open a terminal or bark something out in Perl to do large file operations, but I believe that an OS isn't truly refined enough for the non-technical user if it ever forces the user to open a terminal, especially for common every-day tasks like file-handling.

Gratitude to KirkJobSluder for introducing me to muCommander. I'm getting tired of Explorer.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:34 AM on September 12, 2009


but I believe that an OS isn't truly refined enough for the non-technical user if it ever forces the user to open a terminal, especially for common every-day tasks like file-handling.

Agreed. But as a bog-standard user who does file-handling stuff all the time on a Mac, I've never, ever had to use terminal commands to do something that Finder wouldn't or couldn't do or crashed trying.

Bog-standard users don't generally - in my experience - run things on a bunch of external drives and manage hundreds of thousands of files, either. It's weird to me that people complain about [blah] not working when [blah] wasn't designed to do what they want to do. A space heater isn't designed to heat the US Capitol. A surfboard isn't designed to cross the Pacific. Finder wasn't designed to be a database management system.

And WE is far from perfect. The other day at work I had to try to track down an old file; I had a vague idea where it might be, so I started there, just with an eyeball search, but no luck. So I made the computer go looking for it. Went to lunch. Came back. Search still running. Did some stuff. Search finally found it (after more than an hour). I had to move that file and a few other things to a different drive, but some "process" was running and it wouldn't let me move them. I couldn't figure out what the "process" was, and I finally had to call one of our IT guys. All of this took much longer than it needed to, and was a much bigger pain in the ass than it should have been. Windows isn't always so cranky with me, but it's so opaque in what it's doing that it drives me crazy.
posted by rtha at 10:08 AM on September 12, 2009


I'm no raving WE fan by a longshot. Windows Explorer search kind of blows, no question. It can be slow, and is sometimes fails to find files that I can easily find in a DOS search or a wildcard search from my favourite text editor.

> Bog-standard users don't generally - in my experience - run things on a bunch of external drives

Huh? In business, non-technical users very often have to access and work with files from network drives, or VPNs etc.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2009


True, although I was speaking specifically of some of the folks in this thread who are apparently using it for personal use to manage 5T of music, etc.

In the last place I worked, the design department was all Mac. I can't remember if they were using any sort of db system to manage their files, but I do know everything was networked and absurdly large psd and INDD files had to be shuffled around on a regular basis. I was in editorial but sometimes worked in/with design to do stuff, and we never had trouble with Finder choking on moving large or large amounts of large files, and this was a good four or five years ago.
posted by rtha at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2009


Wow. It's taken me several days to read both the article and the MeFi thread. I'm not a programmer, and so some (actually most) of the stuff in the middle went kinda far over my head. But the debugging features, OMG! I can already (as a layperson) tell that that's huge for developers, and I've never written a piece of software past my high school BASIC programming days. Shit I wish I'd had that kind of feature back when I was searching lines of code trying to figure out why my stupid block of stupid pixels representing a stupid fighter jet had a stupid blank space in the middle!!

Not to mention, this thread has been simultaneously the most enlightening AND entertaining nerdfight I've witnessed in a long, long time. I'm kind of a pathetic Macuser because I tend to cling to old Windows-style path-of-least-resistance actions, and it took me no lie 3 years to discover that hey, wow, holding down the "fn" key whilst hitting "delete" serves as a "backspace" (who knew?) but holy shit some of the discussions on this thread have been super informative. EXPOSEOMG!!!111 I never knew! Sorry jessamyn, I think Expose is pretty darn cool.

As an aside, reading this article (and a subsequent fight with an Aperture migration this morning resulting in whirling beachballs of doom) apparently prompted mr. lfr to run off and impulse buy a new unibody MBP to replace his 3.5 year old first-gen one. Or else he just really wanted a shiny new toy, your pick.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2009


Apple just open sourced Grand Central, btw. Which is pretty fucking awesome.
posted by empath at 12:23 PM on September 13, 2009


Other Snow Leopard Features


* Broken-ass grep from 2002
317 ~$ echo test TEST | fgrep -io test
test
TEST

318 ~$ echo test TEST | grep -io test
test
* Echo no longer expands \e
320 ~$ echo -e '\e[102mGREEN\e[0m'
\e[102mGREEN\e[0m
* Sort expects different key specifiers
333 ~$ airport -s | egrep -v ':$' | sort -s +0.49 -0.52nr
sort: invalid option -- 0

And they call this UNIX. Bah!posted by ryanrs at 5:45 AM on September 19, 2009


top -F crashes if the terminal window is wider than 106 columns.

Note: I just switched to Snow Leopard. Every time I hit a regression, I'll go ahead and mention it here. These are bugs I personally discover, not ones I hear about elsewhere.

Oh, and I won't bother with the GUI apps. I expect those to have bugs. Command line tools from twenty years ago, not so much.

posted by ryanrs at 9:08 PM on September 23, 2009


top -F crashes if the terminal window is wider than 106 columns.

Um. No.
posted by jock@law at 11:08 PM on September 26, 2009


> * Broken-ass grep from 2002

I am seeing the same behavior on my box running 10.5.8, so I can't say these are bugs introduced in 10.6. With the possible exception of the echo output.

$ sw_vers
ProductName: Mac OS X
ProductVersion: 10.5.8
BuildVersion: 9L30

$ echo test TEST | grep -io test
test

$ echo test TEST | fgrep -io test
test
TEST

$ airport -s | egrep -v ':$' | sort -s +0.49 -0.52nr
sort: invalid option -- 0

$ echo -e '\e[102mGREEN\e[0m'
GREEN
posted by mrzarquon at 12:55 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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