The Personal Computing Paradigm
Apple has extended the deadline for upgrading iTools accounts to .Mac by two weeks. You now have until October 14 to either upgrade your account or prepare for it to be deactivated. Either way, Apple will remember your mac.com user name and password so you can continue to use them for iChat. However, if you don’t upgrade you’ll stop receiving mail sent to your mac.com e-mail address. If you’re not upgrading to .Mac, don’t forget to transfer your mailing list subscriptions to another address. For ATPM, you can do this from our subscriptions page: just unsubscribe your mac.com address and subscribe your other address.
Jaguar Compatibility Update
Last month, I reported that my main machine froze during the boot process when using Mac OS X 10.2. Apple’s quick 10.2.1 update surprisingly did not fix this problem. Luckily, I found a recommendation online that, rather than remove my Radeon video card, I could remove a 128 MB RAM module thus bringing the total down to 1 GB. For me, Jaguar’s speed improvements and new features more than make up for the lower amount of RAM, so I am now a happy user of Mac OS X 10.2.1. However, I’m guessing that Photoshop users who need the maximum amount of RAM will be sticking with 10.1.5 until Apple fixes the bug.
Since 10.2 performs so much better than 10.1.5 on slower machines, I thought it was time to see whether a 233 MHz G3 PowerBook (the slowest machine Apple supports Mac OS X on) was ready to upgrade from OS 9. Apple seems to have put more effort towards people upgrading from 10.1.x than from 9. When I inserted the Jaguar installation CD into the drive, the readme file had a blank icon and wouldn’t open when I double-clicked it. Not deterred, I ran the installation program and clicked the Restart button. This is supposed to make the machine reboot from the install CD, but after the chime the PowerBook just froze with a blank screen. I tried this several times, with different CDs and CD drives (gotta love expansion bays), and made sure that the machine had all the latest firmware and system software updates. None of that helped.
At this point, I remembered that I had previously installed Mac OS X 10.1 on the machine, but later removed it because it was so slow. Sure enough, it had no trouble booting from the 10.1 CD and installing that version of the operating system. Now running 10.1, I ran the Jaguar installer. Again, it restarted the machine, this time successfully. About an hour later, Jaguar was running on the PowerBook. Like I said, the PowerBook only has a 233 MHz G3. It has 160 MB of RAM and a video card that can barely handle Myth, never mind Quartz Extreme. No one would expect this machine to scream under Jaguar, and it doesn’t. The good news is that for most basic operations it doesn’t feel too slow, either. It’s definitely usable. Just for kicks, I tried plugging in an ADB mouse that originally came with an Apple IIGS. It worked. It goes without saying that we should recognize when Apple products don’t work as they should, but let’s also give them credit where it’s due.
For me, the main attractions of Jaguar were its speed and the improved Finder. An ArsTechnica article covers these and the other major changes in great depth. The more I use it, though, the more I notice the numerous smaller changes that Apple has made. Some of the smaller new features will be obvious, others less so. There are several Web sites to help you get up to speed on all of them. Ken Bereskin (an Apple engineer) has been using his Weblog to report on new Jaguar features every day or so. Another great source of Jaguar information is OSXFAQ.com, which hosts daily tips from Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus. There are separate archives of general tips and more Unix-oriented tips, and you can subscribe to a mailing so that you’ll get the latest tips via e-mail each day. Another useful site is Mac OS X Hints. The fine folks there have added more than 350 entries since Jaguar shipped.
Previous articles in ATPM have mentioned Weblogs (a.k.a. “blogs”)—frequently updated, often personal Web sites. Most of these sites are maintained using special blog software that makes editing them as easy (and cumbersome) as filling out a form in one’s browser. The blog software means that this new breed of webmasters, known as bloggers, doesn’t have to know much about HTML, the language of Web pages. They enter the title of an entry in one box and the text of it in another. The blog software presents the most recent entries on the main page and maintains separate archive pages for old entries.
Most blog software also creates an RSS file that contains summaries of the most recent entries. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. The RSS format itself is pretty boring. It’s designed for machines, not us, so if you’ve ever seen an RSS file in your browser you probably hit the Back button soon after. But RSS is great for machines, and it makes it easy for aggregator Web sites (that syndicate their content) to automatically generate up-to-date lists of other sites’ new headlines.
Ranchero Software’s recently released NetNewsWire makes RSS files useful to the rest of us. Just as Apple’s iCal lets you subscribe to a calendar (a URL for a .ics file), NetNewsWire lets you subscribe to an RSS feed (a URL for an RSS file). NetNewsWire has a mail-client-like three-pane browser. The left pane shows a list of the feeds you subscribe to. The top right pane shows a list of headlines from the selected feed, and keeps track of which ones you’ve read. The bottom right pane shows additional information (such as an excerpt) about the selected headline.
NetNewsWire comes with knowledge of hundreds of RSS feeds, including TidBITS, MacMinute, and numerous blogs. Now that RSS is finally usuable for the masses, I’ve created a feed for ATPM. Enjoy!
Also in This Series
- How Cool Is Your Mac? · May 2012
- Mac OS X’s Increasing Stability · August 2006
- Coping With Mac OS X’s Font Rendering · January 2006
- E-Mail Archiving with Eudora and Mail.app · January 2003
- Grab Bag · October 2002
- Mac OS X 10.2—First Impressions · September 2002
- Mac OS X 10.1—First Impressions · October 2001
- Mac OS X Tips · June 2001
- Mac OS X—Finally · May 2001
- Complete Archive