Apple Cider: Random Squeezings From a Mac User
Brand Spankin’ New
T.S. Elliot once wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”
April has always been one of the best months on the calendar for me. As I open the new year’s calendar at the end of December, I always flip to the April page and look at those dates with eager anticipation.
First, April has always marked the boundary of winter. Sure, it may be cold and icky in March, but, by the end of April, you can be sure that winter is a thing of the past, and spring has sprung. April also signaled that the end of the school year was coming. Sure, I’m not in school now, and I have to work year-round, but that still hasn’t gotten rid of the excitement that comes with the fourth month of the year. April also showcases the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments, which, unless you no longer have a pulse, are some of the most exciting sporting events in the country. My son also celebrates his birthday in April. Can it be three years since he was born? Nah!
I have eagerly awaited April this year for several reasons. First and foremost is that my wife and I are expecting our second child—a son—on April 10th. It’s surprising how slowly days can pass while you are waiting out the last few weeks for the arrival of a child. And, as with every year, I always hold out hope that yes, my beloved University of Maryland Terps will advance to the finals of the NCAA tournament. And, April was the targeted release date of the newest incarnation of the Macintosh operating system, Mac OS X.
Can you believe it? The first major rewrite of our favorite OS since its creation in 1984. Sure, along the way, the OS has had to be freshened up to meet the needs of improving hardware and innovative technology—but this is a major overhaul. This is akin to stripping an old house down to the bare studs, fixing long-standing structural shortcomings, redesigning the kitchen and bathrooms and finishing the sucker to be usable in the 21st century.
Some of the features touted by Apple include:
- Dynamic memory management, eliminating “out of memory” messages and need to adjust the memory for applications;
- Advanced power management, so that PowerBook and iBook systems wake from sleep instantly;
- QuickTime 5, shipping for the first time as an integrated feature of Mac OS X;
- Automatic networking, allowing users to get on the Internet using any available network connection, without adjusting settings;
- Full PDF support and PDF integration into the operating system, so that OS X applications can generate standard PDF documents to be shared with any platform;
- Direct support for TrueType, Type 1, and OpenType fonts, and an intuitive and flexible interface for managing fonts and groups of fonts;
- iTools integration into Mac OS X, for direct access to iDisks in the Finder and Open/Save dialog boxes, and free IMAP mail for Mac.com e-mail accounts;
- Built-in support for popular HP, Canon, and Epson printers;
- A multi-user environment, with access privileges to keep documents secure;
- Support for symmetric multi-processing; and,
- Support for Java 2 Standard Edition built directly into Mac OS X, giving customers access to cross platform applications.
Think about what a sea change this has been from earlier thinking about the Mac OS. As the Internet has flattened barriers between computers and their users, the goal has changed from offering only Mac-specific technology to providing information to each and every computer user, regardless of platform.
Now, you can quickly and conveniently convert documents and Web sites into PDF. You can manage your fonts by use. You can gain access to the Internet or any other network with a minimum of hassle. And, the best part about these features is they are integrated in the OS software. No more extension conflicts to cause those annoying crashes or freezes.
And, if a program does misbehave while running, the protected memory scheme of OS X can keep your computer up and running as you simply restart the offending program. I can’t tell you how many times that would have come in handy for me—say—in the middle of writing a term paper back in college!
What makes me happiest, however, aren’t the bells and whistles nor the gadgets and gegaws, but the fact that Apple has delivered on a promise. Who can forget back in the dark ages of Apple’s impending doom and gloom? Names such as Copland and Rhapsody were tossed around as the salvation of the Macintosh product line. Talk was that every single Macintosh program would have to be rewritten from scratch in order to be compatible with the ‘OS of the Future.’ This new scheme, which allows the legacy programs to run, is a boon to users with libraries of old programs and developers who are feeling their way through the change to the latest and greatest.
Does OS X come without warts? Heck no! The fact that my 333 MHz Blueberry iMac with 128 MB of RAM is at the bottom rung of hardware compatibility means that I’m looking to need a hardware upgrade in the not too distant future if I’m going to make the leap to OS X. And, the lack of built-in support for CD burning and DVD playback isn’t going to win any friends among users. But, you have to admit that even with these shortcomings, Apple is definitely on the right track, and most of the kinks should be worked out in subsequent upgrades.
Yes, indeed, April is a magic month. With our new arrival, our home should be a more joyous and pleasant place to be. Oh, and the arrival of my new son will be great as well!
Also in This Series
- Look How Far We’ve Come · May 2012
- A Year Apart · March 2003
- And now, the end is near… · March 2002
- Spam I Am · February 2002
- The Year of Big Changes · December 2001
- Legends in Their Own Time · November 2001
- What’s in Store? · October 2001
- Hey, I Recognize You! · September 2001
- 50 is Pretty Nifty · August 2001
- Complete Archive