Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tales from the Front Lines of Snow Leopard

I'm not what you'd call an early adopter. If there's one thing I absolutely hate, it's wrestling with a computer to make it work right when I just want to make music. As a result, I usually stay at least one revision behind whatever OS is current. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Unfortunately, my computer DID break and that meant a new machine. As timing would have it, I bought that new machine right after Snow Leopard came out. Welcome to Early Adopterhood by Default! I was understandably nervous about being forced into this, but figure if it was a total disaster, I could always install an older version myself. As it turns out, though, the transition has been relatively painless.

Snow Leopard isn't a giant overhaul, as you've probably heard. The most significant feature is that the OS is 64-bit, allowing, among other things, for programs to address larger chunks of data (I'm sure a 3 Terabyte acoustic piano sample is being worked on somewhere out there...). However, this feature isn't going to make a huge difference until software is adapted to take advantage of it. Indeed, the Mac defaults to booting up in good ol' 32-bit (you can switch to 64-bit by restarting and holding the 6 and 4 keys down). I tried this, and most of my softsynths and plug-ins wouldn't work, so I didn't bother exploring it further.

That aside, most of the changes are small and aimed at refining the user experience. It certainly feels a lot more zippy and the tweaks to the finder really did make all manner of file operations more efficient. The new Quicktime is especially nice with a refined interface and much more flexibility than previous incarnations.

All has not been without problems, however. As I mentioned earlier this week, I updated to 10.6.1 (which fixed a Quicktime problem) and suddenly my Liquid Mix wasn't being seen by Logic anymore. I also found my printer didn't have drivers for Snow Leopard yet, although an update was finally released this week. There have been a few oddities with the file browsing within programs. I was editing some sound files and saved the edited versions as new files. When I hit 'open' in the file menu, those files wouldn't show up even though they were right there on the desktop. I've had the same thing happen within Photoshop and Word as well. The only other annoying thing that's been happening is sometimes I'll be working in a program and the screen will just go blue and the computer basically goes through it's restart routine, quitting the program and losing whatever I was working on. This doesn't happen often, but it happens enough that it pays to save frequently (not like it doesn't normally, I'm just saying...)

Overall, my first week with Snow Leopard has been pretty good. I keep discovering new small tweaks from day to day and so far, I really like all of them. That may change further down the road, but so far it seems like Apple really did make the new version an actual improvement over the old OS and not merely 'new' for no practical purpose. Any other brave souls out there using Snow Leopard? Share your experiences, good and bad, with us!


teodora said...

I'm satisfied with it so far, for me the only big change was that it forced me to start using Safari 4 and that has some annoying differences, eg. the location of the refresh button. Tiny thing but drives me crazy.

Do you already have Logic 9? How much did the performance, speed change for you?

John said...

My experiences more or less mirror yours. I've had a few weird crashes of apps, strangely the Apple apps seem the worst although Logic 9 is so far (touch wood) without problems. Probably the most irritating thing is the internet which requires constant re-booting of the modem. All in all it feels snappier and sharper, a worthwhile upgrade despite some glitches.

BTW, any chance of touring the new album Down Under again? Your show in Melbourne was gold!

Sean said...

First launch of Logic 8 after upgrading resulted in it crashing 3 or 4 times while scanning my plugins. After finally getting it running, a couple dozen plugins didn't work (they were disabled in the AU manager). Still haven't figured out how to fix them. Other than that the little tweaks to the OS seem nice.

Tom said...

@Teodora - I am indeed using Logic 9 now, although I've just been using it to mix some stuff for live, so I haven't really put it through its paces or played with the new features. It's definitely a bit faster and thankfully the 'processor overload' bug seems to be gone. And holy cow does the new computer scream! Projects that were close to maxing out my old processor now barely show up as a blip.

@John - There is indeed a pretty good chance we'll be back, this time with the entire band. Nothing solid yet, though.

Prolyfic said...

@john so THATS why I have to keep resetting my modem!!!! I was windering wtf was going on

@ sean.. I think I found a fix to all compatability issues with new os's .. copy the old fonts into the new fonts, DONT REPLACE ANY, just copy the old fonts over.. should fix most of your problems.. wht happens is, they get rid of a bunch of old (useless to them) fonts when they upgrade. however our plugins need those fonts to run, so they go haywire and wont open when they cant find them

yes all this over a god damn font