Review: My PowerMac and MacOS X 10.2 (a.k.a. Jaguar)

I apparently have corrected the problem
I was having with my MacOS X install, so with that nuisance out of the way
for a few days I feel that I have finally had a chance to truly evaluate the
OS. So, without further ado, my review of MacOS X 10.2 (Jaguar).

Before I get started, I wanted to state for the records, that I still
think that Pre-OSX versions of Apple’s OS are complete abominations…
Perhaps their technical inadequacy was excusable back in 1984, but the fact
that it took them so long to rectify the issues are ridiculous. My opinion
on that hasn’t changed; OS9 is a complete piece of shit.

Some people question why, after years of slagging Macs, have I been
experimenting with the Mac. Well, the answer is pretty simple… I need an
alternative to Windows, and there are no other real options. The first
computer I owned was a C=64, and the first computer I bought was an Amiga
500. That trusty Amiga lasted me through high-school, but when it finally
breathed it’s last breath (or, more accurately, when I spilled my last glass
of Coke into it), Commodore had already been dead for awhile, and there
weren’t really any other viable platforms. I quasi-reluctantly bought a PC,
and became a Windows user… Windows was alright, but I never really
enjoyed using it.. I had some Unix experience from using bulletin boards
(most notable, Dan’s Domain, which provided a shell account on a Linux box
and gave me my first non-fido Usenet access). I played around with Linux on
my machine, but it was (heh, still is) simply too immature for the desktop
back in 1995. I retreated back to Windows, relatively content in using it
but never truly comfortable or happy.

BeOS saved me for quite awhile… From the release of R3 for x86 in 1998
until a year or so ago I was happily using Be as my primary OS.
Unfortunately, though, a hardware upgrade on my machine left the OS
unbootable and my desire to beat it back into operation had died along with
Be, Inc. I retreated back to Windows XP Pro, which is by far the least
sucky version of Windows to date. But I missed Unix, I missed the level of
comfort I had using Be, I missed feeling comfortable in my OS, and to be
totally honest, I missed feeling like I was flipping the bird at
Microsoft.

I gave Linux another chance, but I firmly believe that an OS should never
get in your way, and I should be able to slip into “novice” mode and never
have to compile kernels or insert modules or any such thing and just resort
to using my computer, simply. I like being able to be “Mr. Technical Guy”,
and I do so often, but I hate having to be that way. This is just
impossible on Linux, and it’s a huge turn-off. Add to this my opinion that
all of the UI choices on Linux suck, and I found my Linux partition growing
dust. When I had the opportunity to pick up a PowerMac on the cheap, I
jumped at the opportunity and here we are, two months later, talking about
my experience.

So what do I think of Jaguar after two months?

Interface

Jaguar’s UI is slick, but I definately have my complaints. While people
rave about the “lickability” of the OS, to me most of the time it is
annoying. I feel that I would prefer my UI to be fast as hell as opposed to
what I get in Jaguar. While window drawing isn’t terribly slow, it
certainly could be faster. I felt the need to upgrade the memory in the
machine to 768M from the 256M that came with it, and this definately helped
the performance. Jaguar is, and I don’t think this is news, an unrepenting
resource hog. I guess I am supposed to kowtow to the party line and say
that “Resources are Cheap and we have to use them”, but that’s bullshit. If
all this RAM usage was directly tied to usability, I would buy into it, but
it’s not.

I have also found that while there is a plethora of
freeware/shareware/homebrew applications to satisfy your every need, many of
them (and this is an obvious generalization) have completely amateurish or
overly fruity UIs. I was always under the impression that Mac users were
very UI-aware, so I really have trouble understanding why the UIs of so many
apps look like they were thrown together in 15 minutes by a monkey trained
in using Interface Builder. This problem is less-prevalent in commercial
software, but not completely absent.

I thought I would hate the Dock, but I really kinda like it. Between
“you and me”, I even have dock magnification turned on (sssshhh). I think
that the combination of “launching platform” and “view of what’s running”
works great, and I really like putting folder shortcuts and right-clicking
them to browse them, much like in Be’s Tracker (I just wish the Finder
followed suit).

I’m less satisfied with the Finder, but not completely disappointed.. I
feel that the Finder needs a bit more polish and work before it is truly
“done”, but it is definately functional. And for the record, I might even
like the Finder’s “column view” as much as my other favorite file-browsing
UI, Windows Explorer’s two-pane view. One of my biggest frustrations with
the Finder is that it never seems to remember my view settings.. I want to
force all windows to the Column View but it seems to pop out of column view
randomly). I also wish I could “cut/paste” files from the context menu.

Applications

I have ridiculously low needs for an OS to be usable to me:

  • Good Browser – I find myself using Chimera mostly, which works
    pretty well. I wish Chimera would close tabs when I middle-click on them,
    and I wish there was better pop-up blocking control (something exactly like
    Phoenix would rule, it’s the best I have seen). Safari looks like it has
    good potential, but until it gets tabbed browsing (which is apparently in
    Safari CVS) and more fine-grained pop-up controls, I am not really going to
    be using it much.. I find Safari’s bookmark management to be kind of annoying, as well. I use Chimera nightlies, so occasionally things get a
    little wonky, and I sometimes turn to Safari when that happens.
  • Good Terminal – The OSX terminal does a pretty good job, the
    occasional emulation glitch notwithstanding. I wish it would automatically
    copy text to the clipboard that was selected (as opposed to right-clicking
    and selecting “copy”). Other than that stuff, it definately does the
    job.
  • Vim – I can’t survive without Vim, and fortunately both vim and
    gVim work without complaint.
  • MP3 PlayerAudion
    does the trick, although I wish there was a complete analog to WinAmp2. That
    has the perfect feature set for me. As I have discussed
    before
    , iTunes’ catalogging and management stuff gets in my way, but I
    use it to listen to my Car Talk subscription from Audible.

That’s pretty much it.. If I am writing software for the OS, a good set
of developer tools are also on that list. I haven’t played enough with
Jaguar’s Dev Tools much yet, so I haven’t formed an opinion yet.. My rough
view is that they don’t suck too much, but they aren’t Visual Studio.

The Hardware

Not much to say here: Apple has it together when it comes to industrial
design. I don’t get my shorts in a bunch over technical specs anymore, I
gave that up sometime in college. I just want a computer ballsy enough to
get done whatever tasks I set in front of it… So I am not going to talk
much about the horsepower of my PowerMac G4/733Mhz Tower. Instead, I am
going to quickly say that it has the most well-designed case I have ever
seen. I giggle like a little kid every time I pop open the case.. I
sometimes find myself opening it just for fun.

The suppository
mouse
is still a piece of crap and is in the “Island of Misfit Hardware”
pile in the closet… I use my Logitech MouseMan Wheel Optical, which works
like a champ (as expected). I kinda like the “Pro Keyboard”, and I find
myself using it on the PC too (cuz I don’t want to have two different
keyboards on my desk).

In Conclusion

Jaguar doesn’t
suck
too badly, and probably sucks less that Windows. I find myself
using it almost exclusively these days, although there are still a few
things I haven’t figured out how to do in OSX (Like extracting/processing
stuff from the Tivo). Whether this is a permanent trend has yet to be seen,
I may return to the PC at some point if Apple really pooches it, but for
now I will probably be using the Mac most of the time (unless I want to play
a game, which is a joke on the Mac). Hopefully it will continue to get
better, but only time will tell.

13 thoughts on “Review: My PowerMac and MacOS X 10.2 (a.k.a. Jaguar)

  1. Mostly agree… but how can one complain about Safari’s bookmark management when Chimera barely even has any? Personally I think bookmark management is the big egg that Safari finally cracked. Love it.

    1. There is nothing special about the implementation of Safari’s bookmark management… One of the big nuisances to me is that I can’t get to my nested folders easily, which is just utterly frustrating. The need to click on a folder in the left pane, and then having to switch over to the right pane to continue to explore subfolders is just ridiculous. In fact, I fail to see why people think that Safari’s bookmark management is ANY different or special… It’s the same as every other browser, just with a terrible UI. Could you please explain to me what Safari’s bookmarks do that Chimera’s don’t?

      And the UI, is my other major gripe. Who the hell wants to lose their content pane in order to look at their bookmarks? I thought Chimera’s “sidebar bookmarks” were annoying enough, but boy, did Apple manage to one-up them by hiding the content with the bookmark window… Who’s brainstorm was this? It is one of the most awful things I have seen in a long time, and I think Apple should be ashamed of themselves for forcing such a MDI-ish UI on the masses.

      1. What’s special is Apple’s realization that people have bookmarks they visit every day, bookmarks they visit every week or so, and bookmarks they almost never look at, and splitting those up into three locations of diminishing accessibility : the bar, the menu, and the manager. This model made so much intuitive sense to me… put the ones I hardly ever use off in the archives. The point of the manager is that one will almost never go there.

        I do agree about the non-standard left-right dragging model they used – it’s odd. But despite that, the ease of organizing a collection of bookmarks in Safari compared to the same task in any other browser – for Windows or Mac – is wonderful (well, it’s nearly impossible in Chimera, so I don’t even count that one as I’ve considered their bookmark management to be an unfinished work in progress).

        1. What’s special is Apple’s realization that people have bookmarks they visit every day, bookmarks they visit every week or so, and bookmarks they almost never look at, and splitting those up into three locations of diminishing accessibility : the bar, the menu, and the manager. This model made so much intuitive sense to me… put the ones I hardly ever use off in the archives. The point of the manager is that one will almost never go there.

          The bar isn’t new, just about every browser since Netscape 4 has had it… I don’t see the value of the Menu vs. the Archive at all.. To me, the menu IS the archive…

          I do agree about the non-standard left-right dragging model they used – it’s odd. But despite that, the ease of organizing a collection of bookmarks in Safari compared to the same task in any other browser – for Windows or Mac – is wonderful (well, it’s nearly impossible in Chimera, so I don’t even count that one as I’ve considered their bookmark management to be an unfinished work in progress).

          I still don’t see how Chimera’s bookmark mgmt is ANY different from Safari’s.

          1. I didn’t mean to imply that the bar is new – I’ve always used it in all browsers. I was saying that breaking things up into three locations rather than two is new. The value of separating the menu and the archive is that things you use with some regularity are in the menu, stuff you almost never use are in the archive. Granted, one could just have a “Frequently Used” folder in the menu, but this seems cleaner.

            I don’t follow on Chimera’s bookmark management. It doesn’t have any, that I can tell. All I see is that popout bookmarks drawer, which is almost impossible to navigate, let alone manage things in. What am i missing?

            1. I don’t follow on Chimera’s bookmark management. It doesn’t have any, that I can tell. All I see is that popout bookmarks drawer, which is almost impossible to navigate, let alone manage things in. What am i missing?

              I see no difference between managing things in Safari vs. Chimera’s bookmark drawer. You drag bookmarks around, delete them, rename them… What’s so special?

              1. Hey.. this is weird. Last time I looked at that I couldn’t create new folders, things didn’t land where I dragged them, the whole thing just seemed like a big joke. I guess this got better in a subsequent version and I didn’t return to it for another look? You’re right, it’s perfectly functional now (though I don’t like being confined to the narrow drawer).

                1. Phew… I was starting to think I was completely insane… :)

                  As for the drawer, I would definately prefer a seperate window (or at least a resizable area of some kind)… I can’t imagine it would be a difficult thing to implement, but it’s also not that big of a deal for me..

                  I would much rather be able to middle-click a tab to close it.. :)

  2. One of my biggest frustrations with the Finder is that it never seems to remember my view settings.. I want to force all windows to the Column View but it seems to pop out of column view randomly).

    i don’t know if it’s supposed to work this way, but i figured out how to get my finder windows to remember settings: click on the finder icon and set up how you want your window to look. before you do anything else (any other browsing), close the window. when you open it again it should remember what you just did, including placement on the screen. you can have different places remember different things… opening my media drive, i want my window to be much bigger because i have long lists of folders of mp3s and ish. but for the OS drive, i don’t need to see that much. etc.

    as much as i love the dock, i hate how i’d have to right-click on a folder in it (and wait a few seconds, of course) to launch an app, because i’m sure as hell not going to have all of my apps taking up space in the dock (only a few frequently-used ones). i use LaunchBar and i’d never use anything else.

    if you have not yet installed TinkerTool, then do so right away. among other things, this allows you to put the dock where you want. i have mine in the lower right corner, vertical. i don’t like my dock in the middle of anything. it’s annoying.

    also, another cool hack is ClearDock, which allows you to either make your dock completely clear (floating icons) or colorize the dock background and borders to something other than gray.

    i’m sure you know what VersionTracker is. i check there daily for new improvments to the OS. most of those free/shareware apps look like ass, but they provide some nifty hacks.

    hope some of this helped :)

    1. i don’t know if it’s supposed to work this way, but i figured out how to get my finder windows to remember settings: click on the finder icon and set up how you want your window to look. before you do anything else (any other browsing), close the window. when you open it again it should remember what you just did, including placement on the screen. you can have different places remember different things… opening my media drive, i want my window to be much bigger because i have long lists of folders of mp3s and ish. but for the OS drive, i don’t need to see that much. etc.

      MacOSX Hints said the same thing, and while it seems to work some of the time, it never works reliably. For me, i would just prefer an Finder setting to always use Column view by default. I could really care less about the size and position of the windows, I just want it to remember my view settings…

      as much as i love the dock, i hate how i’d have to right-click on a folder in it (and wait a few seconds, of course) to launch an app, because i’m sure as hell not going to have all of my apps taking up space in the dock (only a few frequently-used ones). i use LaunchBar and i’d never use anything else.

      Why would you have to right-click on a folder to launch an app? I keep all the apps I use frequently on the dock, and only use the folders to quickly access, for instance, my downloaded files.. Lots of people seem to like Launchbar, but it just seems to clutter up my UI. I don’t understand why I woudl want to use that in ADDITION to the dock.. :) I just keep my frequently used apps on the dock and everything else I just launch via the Finder.

      As far as the various hacks like TinkerTool, they are neat, but I actually like the dock where it is… :)

      1. meh meh :)

        why would i want to click through a bunch of folders to find an app i dont’ have in the dock? i want my dock to be as small as possible, so theonly apps i have linked there are the ones that get loaded on login anyway. launchbar rocks.

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