Tiger Unleashes You!
April 30, 2005 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Today's the day for Mac OS X Tiger (10.4). Operating systems have come a long way, baby (what about the future?), and Tiger presents a couple of features that are worthy of mention because of their design approach. The approach is to let "tiny-scale developers," developers that might not be able to write an entire application, even a small one, develop plug-ins and extensions for core system functionality. Dashboard has a budding user community (check dashboard exposed, apple's official gallery) as does Spotlight (and not just a way to add filetypes, check this out!) and Automator. It's interesting to note that the most hyped features of the new operating system will all have end-user-submitted extensions and additions making them even more essential.
posted by zpousman (44 comments total)
Um...yesterday was the day, actually.

I'm really pleased with Tiger. I expected just another BS annual Apple upgrade, but it's impressive, even beyond Spotlight. OS X has become an orgy of OpenGL and XML.

ArsTechnica has a lengthy, geeky review that's a lot more informative than Apple's marketing-speak.

Dashboard is way more useful than I expected, not to mention how FAST it pops up.
posted by jbrjake at 6:26 AM on April 30, 2005

Yeah, sorry bout the date thing -- I'm travelling in Korea right now and I got kinda screwed on the date. Gah.
posted by zpousman at 6:37 AM on April 30, 2005

The logic board on my iBook spazzed out the very day Tiger was released. Coincidence, or something more sinister?
posted by jack_mo at 6:42 AM on April 30, 2005

I picked up Tiger yesterday and did my traditional wipe and install on major dot releases and it's been running great. I am pretty amazed that apple has put out constant major upgrades while Microsoft talks big and then reduces their feature set to 1/10th of what it should be in order to meet a marketing deadline.

With Longhorn basically becoming a marketing update with some improved explorer functionality, and *still* 18 months away from release, do you guys think that the slower cycle in Redmond makes them look less responsive to consumers needs?
posted by eljuanbobo at 6:52 AM on April 30, 2005

I recommend the "hula girl"
posted by Livewire Confusion at 7:23 AM on April 30, 2005

"The logic board on my iBook spazzed out the very day Tiger was released. Coincidence, or something more sinister?"

Man! That sucks! Is it under warranty? Do you have the Apple Care Protection Plan?

Are you covered under the
Expanded iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program?
posted by Livewire Confusion at 7:33 AM on April 30, 2005

I know my way around the Mac better than most but I HTML/CSS is the extent of my "coding" ability... so I am excited that I just might be able to develop my own Dashboard widgets for the net tasks that I do on a regular basis, like looking up Pubmed entries or Dead shows. I think it is great that Apple has tapped into that DIY impulse.
posted by docgonzo at 7:38 AM on April 30, 2005

And it goes great with a case of Pepsi...oh, fuck it. I'm jazzed, myself.
posted by fungible at 7:45 AM on April 30, 2005

I enjoyed that I had to fish out my old USB mouse since my Apple Bluetooth mouse didn't work with the installer.

I've already crashed Dashboard. Adding widgets to ~/Library/Widgets wasn't reflected in the widgets reserve and there was no way to easily restart Dashboard. After it crashed, though, it does what I expect. And it's a little slow to start. Oh and be sure not to have any conflicting Helvetica Neue in your fonts or you'll get a bunch of hard to read widgets. I've downloaded a few widgets and they seem to go directly into the right folder; I wonder if that can become a security risk.

I can't update my user picture by dragging an image onto the existing user pic (I had to open the editor, click the Choose... button and navigate to the image).

Photoshop no longer responds to double-clicking in the Finder.

Spotlight needs a lot better integration with the Finder.

Mail's new buttons suck hardcore. I can't move the mailbox repository to the right where I prefer it. Smart mailboxes can't be nested.

You can't customize System Prefs' toolbar.

But these really highlight the new QT codec. Yum.

I can't wait for 10.4.1!
posted by effwerd at 7:56 AM on April 30, 2005

Dashboard is just a rip-off of Konfabulator. Of course, I never would have found Konfabulator until I saw how cool Dashboard was and wanted something similar without having to switch.

Of course, Konfabulator is really just a rip-off of the original Desk Accessory idea, so I guess Apple and Pixoria are even.
posted by grouse at 8:01 AM on April 30, 2005

There's an excellent review of Tiger at the grandaddy of Mac sites, Macintouch. It's a little more concise and end-user focused than the Ars Technica review linked above, which made even my techie eyes glaze over a little.

On balance, the review is quite positive, though the reviewer does take Apple to task for the seemingly rushed and inconsistent nature of user interface changes that occurred in the Finder and elsewhere.

I saw the Apple fanboys lining up yesterday at the Apple store. While I couldn't imagine doing that, I definitely intend to pick up a copy for my old G4.
posted by killdevil at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2005

I did a test install on my wife's PB, and it really is great. Spotlight really is instantaneous. Dashboard will be really useful. It will take a few months to figure out all that it can do for me, but I am particularly excited about automator, too--essentially a macro program on steroids.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:18 AM on April 30, 2005

Are you covered under the Expanded iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program?

I am indeed, thank goodness. Though it is awfully annoying having to wait a fortnight while they ship the thing to the Netherlands and back before I can get Tigering. (I'm guessing my temporarily resurrected elderly clamshell iBook won't handle it?)

Mail's new buttons suck hardcore

Christ, don't they just? And Mail is the only place they suck like that, by the looks of things. Odd.
posted by jack_mo at 8:24 AM on April 30, 2005

Adding widgets to ~/Library/Widgets wasn't reflected in the widgets reserve

If you are using Safari, files that are downloaded ending in ."wdgt" are automaticly moved to ~/Library/Widgets
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:55 AM on April 30, 2005

I'm baffled by the widgets thing. There's no Widgets folder in my user Library. There's one in my main Library but dropping widgets in there has no effect.

Also, I double clicked on the hula girl widget and it works, but there's no way to get rid of it. It doesn't have the X on it that the others do. WTF?
posted by dobbs at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2005

dobbs, to get rid of a widget you have to click on the +/x at the bottom left corner to bring up the widget reserve. Then all the widgets get a close button. So far, widgets showing up in the reserve is spotty.
posted by effwerd at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2005

Yeah, effwerd, they're not there. The only widgets in there are the default ones even though hula girl is running.
posted by dobbs at 9:08 AM on April 30, 2005

I vaguely remember hearing that Dashboard is run under the Dock process. So maybe if you kill the Dock, Dashboard will restart and then Hula Girl might show up.
posted by effwerd at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2005

Can anyone tell me if the FTP feature in Finder allows read-write access to folders now, or does it still only allow read only access?
posted by seanyboy at 9:14 AM on April 30, 2005

I restarted and Hula Girl is gone. I also downloaded some widgets with Safari and it created the Wdigets folder and dropped them in there. However, the new ones still don't appear in the controller.
posted by dobbs at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2005

Not sure if this is explained anywhere on the Apple site or in the Tiger documentation, but I figured this out last night: To add an RSS feed to the hot hot HOT RSS feed screensaver, launch Safari and view a web page's RSS feed in that. Bookmark the feed. Now check the screen saver options sheet and you'll see that feed listed there. I'm sure I'm not as 1337 as I think I am, but I thought I was clever last night. I bet there's a way to add a feed manually by editing a .plist file or mucking around in the screensaver's package contents or something, but I haven't figured that out yet.

Finder processes seem to be a lot faster for me (800 MHz iMac G4, 512 MB RAM)

The lines outside the Richmond Apple Store were enough to draw some local TV coverage, but it may have also had something to do with the news that Apple just lost its education contract in Henrico County to Dell. /minor threadjack
posted by emelenjr at 9:39 AM on April 30, 2005

I hate to turn this into a support thread but... heh... anyone know how I can import Accounts and Rules (not Mailboxes, which I already did) from my old mail to my new mail? Can I drag some preferences file or some such thing? If I have to reenter all those rules and accounts and stuff, I'll switch to another mail program in the process.

Same goes for address book... where is this stuff kept? (I have a full backup of my old drive and dif a clean install.) Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2005

One feature that seems to be flying under the radar right now is Xgrid. This is a network utility that allows the distribution of a task among several computers on a network. I don't think it's that uncommon nowadays to find multiple computers in a household. If application developers take advantage of Xgrid, you could have all the Macs on your network laboring to render your latest movie or something similar.

I can also see it used in business. ("It's a secretarial workstation by day and part of a clustered supercomputer by night. We need to put one on every desk.")
posted by forrest at 9:53 AM on April 30, 2005

A cure for the Mail buttons. Caveat: I haven't installed Tiger yet, so I obvisouly haven't tested this.
posted by Utilitaritron at 10:01 AM on April 30, 2005

When does 10.4.1 come out? when people recognize a bug?
posted by amberglow at 10:02 AM on April 30, 2005

emelenjr, please share if you happen to figure out how to get that awesome RSS screensaver to display full items instead of just the first 3 lines....
posted by jbrjake at 10:13 AM on April 30, 2005

The first few releases of OSX were each faster than the one before. Presumably, OSX 10.0 was a huge development effort and it took time to really optimize all that code.

But are we past that point now? Are those days gone? Is Tiger going to help me get more out of my 1.4GHx G4? Or area all those new applications and services just going to bog me down further?
posted by scarabic at 10:26 AM on April 30, 2005

scarabic, those days are not gone. Check out that ArsTechnica review I linked to above.

Performance in general:
There's not much more to say. Tiger is faster than Panther, and you'll notice. The GPU-powered graphics technologies play less of a role in day-to-day performance increases than you might expect.
Is it just code optimization?
Every single major revision of Mac OS X has been faster than its predecessors when running on identical hardware. Jumping several major revisions is practically like getting a new machine. It's impressive, and unprecedented.

Of course, the pessimistic angle is that Mac OS X's performance was so abysmal in version 10.0 that it had nowhere to go but up. Like System 7 and Mac OS 8 before it, Mac OS X is indeed perceptibly slower on the same hardware than its distant predecessor, Mac OS 9.

But that's really reaching. At a certain point, you simply have to accept that Apple is doing a heck of a lot more than patching up grossly inefficient code rushed out to make the 10.0 release. It's time to give credit where credit is due. Apple keeps making Mac OS X faster, and it rules.
On interface responsiveness:
Tiger takes the biggest leap yet in this area, and that's saying something. Improved window resizing responsiveness in particular is immediately noticeable in Tiger. It's still not perfect, but it's a big improvement. Compared to Jaguar or earlier it's like night and day. Scrolling is also a bit snappier, although this is not as noticeable, perhaps because scrolling was already pretty good in Panther (in most apps, anyway).

It would be easy to attribute all of these improvements to Quartz 2D Extreme. It'd also be wrong. Disabling Quartz 2D Extreme (using the Quartz Debug application that's part of the free developers tools bundled with Tiger) has little perceptible effect on window resizing, in particular, for most applications. What this means is that not all UI performance is gated by drawing speed.
On Quartz 2D, he notes that software-only line-drawing has sped up by a factor of ten, making it five times as fast as Quickdraw. Quartz 2D Extreme, with its hardware acceleration, is 8x faster at line-drawing that regular Quartz 2D now is and 3x faster at text. Extreme is turned off by default for now, probably to work out some last-minute bugs. But what that means is 10.4.1 is going to give yet another speed boost once Apple pulls the Extreme switch.

Page 4 of the review covers renovations to the kernel that should speed up multi-processor systems by providing a better implementation of multithreading with finer kernel locks.
posted by jbrjake at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2005

A cure for the Mail buttons. Caveat: I haven't installed Tiger yet, so I obvisouly haven't tested this.

Worked great for me. Thank you.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2005

effwerd: you can create a smart mailbox folder into which you can put smart mailboxes. but that only provides one level of depth.
posted by clyde at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2005

dobbs: generally you find the right files and put them in the same location on your new system. the files are:

~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/AddressBook.data

(the tilde represents your home directory)

/discussions.info.apple.com isn't working right now anyway
posted by clyde at 11:41 AM on April 30, 2005

Ah, cool. Thanks clyde, missed that (was only using contextual menus).

And thanks, emelenjr, for reminding me about that screen saver - the tip, too.
posted by effwerd at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2005

clyde, thanks! everything worked except the rules (I think Apple changed the name/format of the file).
posted by dobbs at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2005

dobbs: Go into ~/Library/Mail/ with Finder and locate the new file. I think it's called MessageRules.plist or something. in any case, MessageSorting.plist is the old format, and if only that one is there, Mail should import the rules into the new format, creating the new plist, after you delete the old file and relaunch Mail.
posted by clyde at 12:15 PM on April 30, 2005

(On the baby link) -- I'd almost wiped GEOS for the Commodore 64 from my memory. That was very possibly the slowest GUI ever, loading the entire system from disks every time. PC Geos was kinda neat though, too bad it didn't catch on.

I lost many hours of productivity to GEOS loading schemes trying to print my dad's company newsletter on the C64.
posted by ontic at 12:42 PM on April 30, 2005

thanks again, clyde! worked perfectly. woohoo! ;)
posted by dobbs at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2005

Does Apple have its own version of the IPA? In the dictionary, "love" comes up with a schwa.
posted by TimothyMason at 1:10 PM on April 30, 2005

(On the baby link) -- I'd almost wiped GEOS for the Commodore 64 from my memory. That was very possibly the slowest GUI ever, loading the entire system from disks every time.

What, is there something wrong with typing in the word processor and then watching as your words appear seconds later? It's the wonder of WYSIWYEG. What you see is what you eventually get.
posted by arto at 7:34 PM on April 30, 2005

posted by ontic at 7:50 PM on April 30, 2005

What, is there something wrong with typing in the word processor and then watching as your words appear seconds later?
I still get that on my Apple eMate, and it's my favorite way to write. I just try not to look as I type.
posted by dmd at 8:09 PM on April 30, 2005

mathowie asks and is answered about an annoying Dashboard feature - you really can't have some of the wigets display all the time. I saw in his question that there is a way to have one wiget show, but once you re-invoke the entire dashboard layer the single wiget goes back in hiding. I'd love to have just a couple showing - iTunes, the calendar - and call up the rest as needed. Hopefully a 10.4.1 addition.

I've got the kids' Dalmation iMac updated and am working on my iBook as I type. I have my main G4 tower still to do, but it's hard drive is getting full and I may not have enough room to run the updater. Time to get a bigger drive!
posted by jazon at 9:06 PM on April 30, 2005

but I am particularly excited about automator, too--essentially a macro program on steroids.

As a die-hard Windows user, I must say this is a fantastic, jaw-dropping feature to have. People ooh and aah over the eye-candy, but this is some real functionality that would make any Windows user jealous.

And kudos to Apple for understanding that you can't just design an OS around next year's hardware: you must always spend at least a little bit of time (and money) on optimization. I would actually pay real money for a Windows 2k-based system that was code-scrubbed, top to bottom.

Anyway, good jobs, Jobs.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2005

In fact you can set Dashboard into "dev mode" and then move multiple widgets permanently out of the Dashboard layer. Just enter this into the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Dashboard devmode YES
posted by nicwolff at 11:02 PM on May 1, 2005

I was going to add that comment on Matt's blog but the new Safari won't let me log into his commenting thing! In fact, it often doesn't redirect when it's supposed to - is anyone else seeing this?
posted by nicwolff at 11:14 PM on May 1, 2005

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