Somewhat inadvertantly, I have been thrust into the world of the latest Mac OS X system, Leopard. Some months ago, I bought a top-of-the-line Apple MacBook Pro from my friend and colleague Jeff Walker (thanks Jeff!) and have subsequently had a variety of hardware problems with the unit. The first problem was the power switch, which ended up slightly akilter inside the unit and would stick. Not good. But quickly fixed.
This time, however, the power switch went a bit wonky again and the latch switch also became sticky. To top it off, a few keys on my two month old keyboard were already losing their letters / details, so when I took the unit in this time, I asked them to fix everything. They did. I have a new keyboard, new lower chassis, new power switch assembly and, yes, a new latch switch. Very cool.
Unfortunately the Apple techs went above and beyond and did one more thing while they had my laptop, something that caused me to lose 130GB of data…
For reasons that even the Geniuses at the local Apple Store can’t explain, the techs reformatted my drive and reinstalled Tiger on it, noting that they “upgraded the operating system.” This was with an almost full 160GB drive in the computer, a drive that I had fortunately backed up just prior to dropping the unit off with Apple.
I was, needless to say, quite shocked when I opened up the computer, powered it up, and was greeted with the Welcome screen of a new OS install. Ugh!! (actually “ugh” is not exactly the word I had in mind when I realized what they’d done, but this is a family blog, so let’s leave it at that for now!)
On the other hand, opportunity knocked, in a strange sort of way, so I went out and bought a five-license Leopard disk and went ahead and did a clean, reformat the disk install on my MacBook Pro.
Many hours later, I now have a much faster system with a far cleaner hard drive (even after I restored all that I really needed, including movies, music, photos, and my document folder, thanks to my redundant data backup methods) that has almost 90GB of open space rather than 6GB left, as it was before The Big Cleanup.
I have also been able to zero in on the applications I needed to install to be fully functional on this clean OS. They are:
- 1Passwd – password manager I can’t live without
- Adium – great multi-platform IM application
- Audacity – audio editor and podcaster’s best friend
- Fugu – simple GUI-based ftp/sftp utility
- GraphicConverter – powerful, highly capable graphics editor
- Microsoft Office – because, well, I’m in an industry where MS Word is a requirement, and I use Entourage as my email program too
- Parallels – because I still need access to WinXP and Vista…
- Roxio Toast Titanium 8 – easiest way to burn CDs and DVDs in my experience
- Senuti – to work with iPods that aren’t paired with this computer
- Skype – for my overseas colleagues
- Spanning Sync – synchronize Google Calendar and iCal automatically
- Snapz Pro X – for those groovy screen shots
- Transmission – the best Mac BitTorrent client
- VLC – a must-have video player that’s far more capable than Quicktime
- XNJB – the best you can do if you have a Mac and Creative Zen device
(I think that’s everything I’ve installed so far!)
I also upgraded my first generation lntel-based Mac Mini to Leopard too, and that also went smoothly. Since I use it as a fancy AppleTV replacement (hooked up to a top-end 40″ Sony LCD HDTV) it requires a lot less additional software. VLC covers most of my needs, though it’s disappointing that VLC no longer recognizes the Apple Remote device! I haven’t yet experimented with Front Row because I have 50+ .avi and .mpg files, and last I checked, Front Row, like iTunes, only worked with video files in iTunes-compatible format. Someone needs to write a Front Row emulator that ties into VLC and lets us people who don’t buy our movies from the iTunes Store have a hands-free experience!
Anyway, I now have Leopard running on two of my systems and other than some minor quirks that required a reboot to get things working properly, it’s all been going very well and I’m quite impressed.
Expect more Leopard tips and tricks in the next few weeks, but meanwhile, if you have a newer Mac and a sense of adventure, I strongly recommend you upgrade. And if you haven’t yet bought Leopard, there’s no better online store than Amazon.com: Buy Leopard at Amazon.com for only $109.
Are you running Leopard yet? If so, what’s your experience been, so far? What utilities or applications have you found must-have downloads or installs to get your system fully functional again?