OS X Tiger First Impressions

I’ve had a few hours to play with Tiger now and so far I’m very impressed. The first thing to note is that Apple have taken what was a very fast operating system and have improved the performance to a noticeable degree. There have been reports about this appearing over the last few weeks (this one came out today), but it’s to an extent that you really do notice – everyday tasks are snappier, web pages render faster in both Firefox and Safari, programs open faster, and 3D performance is up in a possible forerunner to Apple’s rumoured game division.

The most hyped feature was Spotlight, the new metadata search that can instantly find any file on your hard drive whether you’re searching for the actual name or a part of the contents. No trailing through the whole drive every time – the OS makes an index that can be queried on-the-fly as you type your search terms. Everything from Word documents to PDF files and the contents of text layers in PSD files can be searched. This is one feature that I didn’t seem myself using much but it’s actually fast enough that it’s quicker to open Spotlight and type “holiday photos” than it is to navigate to it in the Finder. I find it useful with only around 30GB of files, so I’d imagine that it’s indispensible to someone with a ton of Word documents and images.

Dashboard may be a shameless ripoff of Konfabulator, but it’s integrated into the OS and, as a first-party app, is going to be supported far more. There are already something like 40 widgets on release day and you can bet that far more are on the way as people realise the potential of the tiny apps. Automator is a very nice way to make tedious tasks very quick without having to learn AppleScript which will get limited use from me but will be very useful on the odd occasion that I need to resize and compress a dozen images or something like that. Half an hour’s Photoshopping can be reduced to a couple of clicks.

Quicktime 7 and its new H.264 codec made its debut with Tiger and, having checked out some high-definition videos in it, it really is stunning. The 1080p Batman Begins one is gorgeous, plays smoothly on my 1.2GHz iBook G4, and isn’t excessively huge. I can’t wait for all trailers to be shown in it.

I’ll be playing around with this for a while to see if anything else comes to light, but it seems like it’s well worth the £50 it cost me. Longhorn has a lot to live up to, especially when it’s got mostly the same stuff over a year later.

What A Week

The number of assessments that I’m supposed to submit for the end of the first year (just over a week) has suddenly caught up with me and I was doing fairly well at staying on top of things, but a pretty big hiccup occured yesterday. We were in the studio working on our radio production assignment on voter apathy in the upcoming General Election, which was basically us interviewing people of certain demographics for two minutes. It was on target to wrap at noon when we’d have to vacate the studio so that we could submit it then or today (due date).

At 11:40 in comes the tutor to check on our progress, who listens to it and tells us that it’s unusable and a guaranteed fail if we submit it in its current form because the assignment can’t just be vox pops.


We had to pretty much redo our project in less than 24 hours. Grabbing a MiniDisc recorder, finding an “expert” to interview (the president of our student union – he must know about student apathy, right?), and recording some generic links to patch together what we could use from the old piece and the new one was done in record time. After grabbing the audio from the MD it went onto my USB drive and I bombed it home to edit it.

I use a Mac so I don’t have access to Cool Edit/Adobe Audition which we use in the studeo (hopefully the Adobe purchase means that Audition 2 will get a Mac release) but the developers of Audacity really saved me. It took me four hours to put together something fairly decent so I got to know the program pretty well and it really is a great piece of work. This is why open source is important – I would have been screwed if the only software was the £200 Adobe Audition, but because of enthusiast developers there’s a perfectly good completely free alternative.

Anyway, my copy of Mac OS X Tiger is listed as “out for delivery” on the TNT tracking site so assuming it does arrive today I’ll post some impressions when I have it installed and have had time to play with it.

Kevin Smith

For anyone who’s interested in him and his work, Kevin Smith now has a blog. It’s not so much his musings; it’s more of a journal that intentionally goes into meticulous detail about everything that happens in every day of his life, achieving an interesting dichotomy of being prosaic enough to live up to the title but also making me wonder how anyone who goes on CNN, meets Zach Braff, and appears on The Tonight Show within the space of four days can consider their life boring.

He also uses WordPress. All the good ones do.

Is This Xbox 360?

Well, the consensus seems to be that the final Xbox 360 design is upon us:

Xbox 360

That image fits with this one, which clearly shows a removeable 40GB hard drive, and that in turn fits with the latest teaser from Our Colony which would appear to show it standing vertically without the hard drive installed. I still think not including a hard drive as standard will be a mistake but time will tell on that one; I’m sure the hard drive model will outsell the cheaper one by a fair margin.

Assuming that it is actually real, I actually quite like it. We need a console that isn’t some shade of black or grey (purple not included) and, judging by the relative size of the DVD drive, this one will be a bit smaller than the original Xbox. It looks like it has just the one controller port which would support the idea that it has wireless controllers as standard (the wired port being there for those fraught moments when the batteries run out) which I really hope come with rechargeable batteries.

I’m not too sure what the little thing to the right of the memory card ports is or what that shape on the far right is, but it wouldn’t be a leak without a ton of idle speculation. We’ll find out when tell us whether this is real or fake but either way, it’s a nice design.

The Power of Viral Marketing

It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much marketing furore over a product that no one has even seen yet – probably not since the lead up to the PS2 – than what Microsoft has managed to whip up over their new machine with simple tantalising glimpses and “leaked” reports. Few even seem to remember that there is more than one console at E3 this year so I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when we actually see the damn thing and what it can do.

Through their latest viral marketing portal, Our Colony, they’ve got the Xbox fanboys and gaming media in a frenzy over a rendered car (real-time or prerendered? That is the question) and two pictures that look vaguely hardware-like. Throw in the pictures that are supposedly from the new Madden, the leaked specs, and who-knows-how-many tantalising glimpses of controllers (wireless, of course), concept models, and white plastic, and the planned unveiling on MTV on 12th May and Microsoft seem to have everyone eating out of their hand.

Will Sony’s attempted upstaging steal some of Microsoft’s thunder? Probably, but you have to give Microsoft credit for a really credible attempt to level the playing field for the next generation.

On the subject of E3, how impossible is it going to be to get a ticket for Star Wars on opening night considering that’s the first day of E3? As if it wasn’t going to be unbelieveable huge anyway, they open it on the day that half the geek population of the world is going to be there.

Sega Fantasy VI

If you haven’t seen it yet I seriously recommend you check out Sega Fantasy VI, a brilliant little Flash video of the end of Final Fantasy VI remade with various classic consoles (and some not so classic) battling the nefarious PSP in its attempts to conquer the industry. It’s been doing the rounds on various gaming blogs over the last few days so give it a look, even if its length can be considered nothing short of arse-numbing. If you’re a sucker for old consoles and classic RPGs it’s definitely a must-see.