Panther

January 5th, 2004

I've done very little web browsing tonight, because I updated my iMac to OS X 10.3 Panther and I've spent the evening tracking down all the weird little errors and incompatibilities that have sprung up.

None were show-stoppers (or else I wouldn't be posting this entry!) but it was a little disappointing to discover that immediately after the post-upgrade restart iTunes had stopped working, MacSOUP was crashing on startup, Stuffit was … well, stuffed, and iPulse (which is so pretty, if hardly essential) was knackered. It turned out that once I'd stopped a few odd little utilities from running as Login Items all the above applications (except iPulse) sprung back into life.

There are still a few small issues to sort out, but despite this slight post-installation wobble I'm pretty happy with Panther so far. Just to mention the improvements I've noticed so far:

  • Exposé is every bit as neat an idea as the demos suggested.
  • The faster, slicker, thread-aware Mail.app is finally as responsive as it should have been from day one (though it's still a little slower than I'd like at handling really large mailboxes).
  • Preview handles PDF files well enough that I can finally ditch Acrobat.
  • The highlighting of selected files in Finder is much clearer, and I can already see why old-time Mac users liked Labels so much.
  • Safari 1.1 is significantly snappier – indeed, all the apps which use Webcore to render HTML benefit from improvements in that department.
  • The whole system feels more responsive – which is not something you can usually say after installing newer versions of Some Other Operating Systems I Could Mention.

I still wish Apple had implemented Piles, and I find that the spread of the brushed metal look to the redesigned Finder is a definite retrograde step, but in the end they're relatively minor matters. The bottom line is that after a few hours, I'm already persuaded that it was £99 well spent.

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