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Tiger: First Impressions

The install on the Mini went rather smoothly. I popped in the install DVD, clicked “install,” rebooted, answered a few questions, and walked away. When I came back, the familiar LoginPanel.app greeted me with a list of users, inviting me to log in. This is where the only two issues I have experienced surfaced. First, the system was so busy with something it took considerable time (long enough for the screen saver to kick in thrice) before the password prompt appeared. This, as I discovered on logging in successfully, was due to Spotlight running its indexer, locating all our stuff for future searches. I expected this to be painful, but I also expected a neat little dialog box that said “please be patient. spotlight is making the grass green and the birds sing.” I did not expect to have to wonder if the system was ever going to let me in, nor did I expect to have to hunt around to verify my guess.

I clicked the little Spotlight icon in the upper right of the screen. It dropped down a box that said “calculating…” so I suspected it was indexing. I then pulled up a terminal and did some nifty UNIX goodness with top(8) to find out what was hogging the CPU. To my mild surprise, it wasn’t a CPU time issue, it was all the I/O that Spotlight generates on first index. Page faults out the wazoo… bla bla bla don’t want to bore you. I did, however, find one thing that those who aren’t bored by this might want to know: the process that was faulting the most was an instance of mdls, which is in fact part of Spotlight. No real surprise there.

In addition to this unheralded but short-lived resource hogging issue with Spotlight, the other thing I noticed was that the Setup Assistant seemed to hang. It reached the “congrats! Tiger is ready to rock!” screen, with icons for all the new features that don’t appear clickable and a nifty “Go” button at the bottom. I clicked “Go”, but nothing happened… for hours. I eventually discovered that even though it wasn’t doing anything, I could quit Setup Assistant. I did so, since it hadn’t done anything with my “Go” click, and rebooted for good measure. These two issues are the only ones so far. I still have some devices to test, including an external FireWire drive, USB card reader, Camera, Camcorder and USB serial port. I need to check how well some of my favorite apps work, especially Desktop Manager. I’m looking forward to working with Automator. And I need desperately to test iMovie HD. Speaking of …

For those who don’t know, QuickTime 7 ships with Tiger. If you had a QT Pro 6 license, get ready to buy a new license for v7. So far, there doesn’t appear to be a way to install 6 on Tiger. I may give that a try soon, or I may decide QT Pro doesn’t matter. I haven’t really used it. I played around with it while trying to export some DV last summer, but I ended up blasting the edits back out to tape because it was much faster (i.e., it took an hour) than waiting 72 hours for the QT converter. I’m sure QT is faster on a 2.7GHz Dual G5, but I have G4’s clocked under 1.5Ghz so I dont’ think I’ve ever gotten the benefit of QT Pro.

Dashboard is very cool. I had thought the widgets would be free-standing things you could just drag around your screen while using other apps. Instead, it would appear that you can only access these handy dandies from a special view that is activated by clicking the Dashboard icon on the Dock, although I have read that there is a hotkey I don’t know which one it is. The view is overlaid atop your running applications, and all the activated widgets pop up at once. I actually like this better, the more I play with it, than the workings that I had expected. The whole paradigm reminds me of the classic “Desk Accessory” from the old-school Macs. One very nice thing is they included a “stickies” widget, where you can put notes. Unlike the version of Stickies that came with Panther, these only clutter up the dashboard, not the desktop. It’s a much cleaner way to work.

So far, I’ve seen only minor annoyances related to the install and everything else has been smooth. I’m looking forward to working with Tiger more after I finish this class, the last one (hopefully) until Fall or Winter.

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