Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?

Should you upgrade your Mac to OSX 10.6 - otherwise known as Snow Leopard?
I've been asked that a lot by my clients and I want to provide some guidance with the issue of this blog post.

Normally I encourage my clients to apply any update that comes through as they usually fix issues that need to be addressed. However, a couple of the past updates (10.5.6 & 10.5.7), have actually caused more problems than they fixed. These have all been eliminated by the 10.5.8 update, but let's just say I've become a bit gun shy to suggest doing any updates that comes along since. I like to follow the Apple forums and think tanks to see if an update is better off left undone - at least in the first few days.

Having adopted this philosophy, I have been advising my clients to hold off on this Snow Leopard update. Especially given the fact that this update is considered more of a maintenance upgrade than one that would bring new features to the table.

Having said that though, it's important to know that this update, while not feature rich on the surface, has undergone a huge change under the hood. With this update, support for the PowerPC processor has been dropped. If you own a Mac with a PowerPC CPU, you will not be able to apply this update. That's what makes this upgrade so dramatic.

Note: [To find out what type of processor you have, just go up to the apple menu in the upper left hand corner of your screen and click your mouse. Drop down and select the menu item "About This Mac". The window that pops up will tell you the type of processor you have in your machine.]

Starting with Snow Leopard, only Intel processors are being supported. OSX 10.6 has been stripped of all branch logic used to control both the Intel and PowerPC processors. With prior operating systems, every time your computer needed to perform a function, first it had to determine what type of processor it was dealing with and then perform the instructions unique to that processor.

As you might imagine, this decision making process caused delays, introduced possible places for bugs to occur, and made the operating system take up a lot of space on your computer.

With the elimination of branch logic code in this new OS, things are suppose to work faster and take up less space. The operating system should be easier to maintain and improve upon as well because it won't be necessary to write two different pieces of machine instructions (code) for both types of processors.

I completely agree with the theory here but as I said, was just a bit apprehensive to jump into the deep end of the pool without first finding out if there were any sharks in the water.

So now that the new version of Leopard has been out for almost a week now, I have to say that Apple has done a remarkable job of creating a new operating system release. I've been following a number of high profile forums and blogs and this upgrade seems to be doing very well with very few problems. Those issues that have surfaced are very rare and most users should not experience any real calamities.

In addition, you should see some added speed improvements and you should also see some recovery of disk space as the new operating system takes up less of your hard drive.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have a PowerPC based Mac, this update will not work for you and you will have to stay at 10.5.x until you decide to purchase a new machine. Those of you on an Intel machine can feel free to upgrade if you want, but there again, it's not absolutely necessary as you will not gain any significant features.

The only reason I see to upgrade at this time is to gain some speed improvements, recover a bit of disk space, and poise yourself for the next round of improvements. Another good reason is that Apple has made the pain of upgrading pretty insignificant - the charge is only $29 which is amazingly cheap. In fact, Amazon.com has even gone one better. They have reduced the price to only $25 and included free shipping if you are willing to wait for normal speed shipping. This is a fantastic offer and you can learn more about it by click on the following link:

Snow Leopard Update Offer

So to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post: "Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?" My answer is YES!!
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Free Social Music Site for Streaming Audio

I love to listen to music, especially when I'm working on my computer. One of my favorite sites for finding new music to listen to and stream down to my computer is at LAST.fm

This is a fantastic site. You can join for free and if you want, you can use your browser to stream music to your computer. You can also download a small piece of software that runs in the background and will stream the music for you there-by not tying up your browser.

AND, if you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you can download an application that will do the same for these small portable devices. I use my iPod Touch app to listen to music while I'm in bed getting ready to go to sleep.

Here are some links to look at and see if this site is something you might be interested in.

Last.fm

Stand alone application for your computer

Application for your iPhone and/or iPod Touch
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Are Any of the New Apple Announcements Relevant?

On June 8th Apple held their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) and as usual, there was quite a bit of exciting news that sprang forth from it.

If you would like to watch the video, here’s a link to the quicktime presentation. I’ll warn you though, this presentation is a long one. Not sure if it’s any longer than usual, but it seemed that way to me.

This presentation can broken down into four major areas or topics. They are:

    New
    Macbook lineup is quite impressive. This was the only announcement to the Mac lineup. No new news about any of the desktop or pro units. The 15” MacBook Pro was at the heart of the announcement. Features included new display density, new battery capable of 2 additional hours of life and up to 1000 charge cycles. A faster processor (3.02Ghz), increased memory (ram) capacity of up to 8GB, an SD slot for direct access to the entire SD card family, and improved hard drive capacity.

    All of these new features are available across the entire MacBook Pro lineup; it’s just that the 15” was the showcase model. More details at
    Apple.

    Need a new MacBook?
    Latest Pricing on the MacBook Pro Family

    OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is still in beta, but it’s been released to developers so they can exercise it some. The official release date has been set for September with a sticker price of $29. This is truly one of Apples best bargains.

    Over 90% of the individual components within the operating system have been improved. One caveat though is that this version will not support any of the PowerPC processors. All that supporting code has been stripped out and now the system is strictly 64 bit – something only the Intel processors can work with. In addition to being faster, it also means the system will have a smaller footprint and take up less disk space. Another benefit of 64 bit technology is that the system will now be able to access more memory and disk storage – up to 16 Billion GB. Yes, you read that correctly. Math functions are reported to be two times faster as well.

    Support has also been added for Microsoft Exchange thru mail, ical, and address book. If you use Exchange at your office, you will now be able to integrate seamlessly.

    I highly recommend everyone running an Intel machine make the upgrade. However, I suggest you wait for a month after the release date to make your purchase. I
    have to upgrade immediately in order to support my clients, but why should you be an early adopter and suffer through the bumps and potholes? A month’s wait is long enough for all the kinks (if any) to be worked out and then you should upgrade.

    Link:
    Get Notified when Snow Leopard becomes Available

    Safari 4.0 was officially released. It had been in beta for some time. I was testing out the beta for a couple of months and as time wore on, I was using it less and less. As you might guess from this last comment, I wasn’t too thrilled with it. The beta version had quite a few things that I didn’t like BUT, the official release is much more to my liking. It’s much faster and there is some new technology that keeps the software running even if you have one tab or window that’s hung up. You no longer have to kill the entire application to recover.

    There is also a new feature called “Top Sites”. This is a cover-flow view of the sites you visit most often. Cover-flow is a technique borrowed from iTunes where you can view all your music by the cover art of the album or CD. Instead of using it to view your album/CD art - in Safari, you get to view a snapshot or thumbnail of the websites you visit most. You also have the ability to assign the sights you want on this page. This is a nice feature but it’s more eye candy (in my opinion) than anything else. I know of another power user that loves this feature but I prefer to use my nested bookmarks instead. If pictures work better for you than text, you may find this feature fun and useful.

    The update to Safari 4.0 is free and available right now. I wouldn’t hesitate to get this installed when you have the time - you’re sure to see the benefits.

    Link:
    Safari 4.0 Download

    iPhone was the next big announcement. More than 70% of the entire presentation was given over to the iPhone. Maybe that’s why I thought the keynote address was a bit long winded. I like the iPhone, but it was very obvious that Apple is spending a huge amount of energy supporting this new device. If you listen to consumer and attendee comments, you can understand why Apple is moving this direction.

    There is a general consensus that mobile computing devices (like the iPhone) are the future. I believe this to be true as well. It just seemed like too much iPhone was being crammed down my throat all at once.

    It’s important to realize too, that there was actually two things being talked about with regards to the iPhone. One was the operating system – version 3.0, and the other was the iPhone 3G[S]. The [S] stands for speed. There is both a new operating system (ver 3.0), and a new piece of hardware (iPhone 3GS).

    The new operating system will be available June 17
    th and includes more than 300 new features. Some of the more impressive elements are: Landscape Keyboard, Spotlight Search, Voice Memos, Stereo Bluetooth, Parental Controls, Internet Tethering (using your cell connection to provide internet access on your computer), and my favorite – Remote Wipe. This is where you can remotely wipe the information on your phone (via MobileMe) if it should ever become lost or stolen. To view the entire list and find out more about this update, visit the link: iPhone 3.0 OS Feature List

    Some of the new iPhone 3GS features include: Faster Processor (2X faster), Built-In Video Camera, Voice Control, and Higher Storage Capacity. This is a pretty slick piece of hardware. You can find all the facts at this link:
    iPhone 3G[S]

    So I ask again, "Are any of the new Apple announcements relevant?"
    Comments

    Are You a Polyglot?

    For those that don't know the meaning of that term (I had to look it up myself), it means a person that can speak, write, and understand a number of different languages.

    In my last post I talked about how to trim your hard drive down by going after some of the big files... Well it turns out that there's another way to free up a ton of space but this is done by going after a bunch of small files - that in the end add up to a lot of space.

    You see, the Mac comes with a mechanism meant to support a butt load of languages. While none of these files are all that big in size (usually 8 - 64KB), there are an unbelievable number of them on your machine. Each application has these as well as all your system files.

    To give you some idea of how much these add up to, I did a purge yesterday and from my system files, I recovered 380.2 MB of space. From the Application files, I recovered 361.5 MB - a grand total of 741.7MB of space. This is unreal. And the application I used to strip this stuff out doesn't touch any of the Adobe or Microsoft products. I can only image how much I would have saved if these would have been included as well.

    What did I use? A great donation-ware product called iCleanLanguage. You can download it from Versiontracker and I suggest you give it a try. What I really like about this product over all other language purging products is that there is a 'Dry Run' mode. You can let it run in this mode and it will report what it finds but does not delete anything. This gives you a good idea of how much space you can reclaim without doing any harm. If you want to preserve some languages in any or all sources, you can specify this in an EXCLUDE dialog box. Then when you run this again in a 'Live' mode, it will delete all the files it finds Except for those you specify.

    If you use this program, please be sure to send the developer a donation.

    One again though, I want to EMPHASIZE the need to have a backup in place before you delete anything. Never, Ever delete a file without having a backup just in case you might need to restore it.
    Comments

    Apple Releases iTunes Update

    Apple released an update to the iTunes application (ver 8.1.1). Here is an excerpt from the source page:

    iTunes 8.1 is now faster and more responsive. You will enjoy noticeable improvements when working with large libraries, browsing the iTunes Store, preparing to sync with iPod or iPhone, and optimizing photos for syncing

    My Review:
    I have a quite large iTunes library (11,040 songs - 58.68MB), so I was hoping for a significant performance improvement... I was not disappointed. iTunes started up quickly and I was able to scroll, change play lists, and make changes to my library in quick order. I would recommend you apply this update. The update is 68.0 MB in size.
    Comments