Daily Illuminator

June 6, 2005: Bitten By Tiger

For the past few weeks I have been running the new "Tiger" version of OSX on my Mac. So far I'm quite unimpressed. Can't recommend it to anyone, and won't be buying it for the office.

It actually seems slower than the previous version - and I run a PowerBook G4, so there should be no issues of processor speed or RAM. 10.3 rarely gave me the spinner once I was booted up. Tiger does it a lot, especially looking at the web.

Tiger has solved none of the random cruft that 10.3 had been doing to me. That makes me think, again, that they are hardware-related. Time to go back to the Apple Store and visit the Genius Bar, or, as it proved last visit, the Very Nice Guys Who Have Black T-Shirts But No Answers Bar.

The OSX feature I was least happy with was Mail. The 10.3 version of Mail hurt my productivity so much that I tried to go back to Eudora, but it proved impossible. Once your old mailboxes are transferred to Mac Mail, forget about getting them back. (I have been advised that it's worth another try, so we'll try.)

The Tiger version of Mail hasn't yet done either of the things I hated most about 10.3, but then it hasn't had much time yet . . . and the interface is less convenient than the 10.3 one. They have improved the mail search, so you can now actually search for a multi-word string in mail. But the search still doesn't look in your Junk mailbox, so it's completely worthless for finding mail that has been mistakenly junked.

The Tiger feature that has gotten the most hype is the "Spotlight" whole-disk search function. For me, it's dead in the water. It definitely has more options than the 10.3 search, but it's far slower to use when all I want to do is find a filename containing a given word. In the first place, the unchangeable default is NOT "search filenames for this string." So I can't just hit splat-F and do a search . . . I have to click to the search type that I want. In the second place, it starts searching as soon as you start typing . . . so if I'm looking for, say, "France," it freezes up after I type the first couple of letters and shows me a huge list of "Fr" stuff . . . Freya, fried chicken, frombotzers, freeware . . . Eventually it lets me finish my real request. Then it shows me results, in a hostile and space-eating format that I can change but can't seem to keep from being the default. For all the talking that Apple did about this, you'd think it would have been tested on some real users.

The second biggest hype was for the Dashboard. I have one word to say about that: Konfabulator. The Dashboard is a poor re-implementation of someone else's idea, and none of the Dashboard widgets available so far has been of any value to me at all. It's tempting to invite people to create (for instance) a fnorder widget, just to support Mac, but does this feature DESERVE support?

I will get changed back to Panther as soon as possible. If I can't get my money back on the software, I suspect that I'll be selling this copy to somebody who doesn't heed my warning. Big disappointment. Apple got a huge boost out of Tiger sales, but what are the users getting?
-- Steve Jackson

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