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• Automator -- your servant for boring-yet-complex tasks.
• Spotlight -- to find anything on your Mac instantly.
• Dashboard -- a pile of useful tools just a keystroke away.
• Troubleshooting step by step-amaze your friends!
"Here, I'm going to help you out before you even start leafing through this thing. If you run an $8 FireWire cable between a pair of Macs running Tiger, the OS automatically creates an ultra-high-speed network between the two, with zero help from you. It's one of the easiest and quickest ways to swap files or play network games, and you can even use this mini network to 'share' an Internet connection!
See? Have the other books' authors done so much for you at this stage? Please keep this in mind as you make your purchasing decision."
-- Andy Ihnatko
In This Chapter
If Your Computer Was Really Your Friend, It Wouldn't Crash On You So Often Tiger Is Non-Crashy and Faster Tiger Is Non-Crashy and Faster and Easier To Use In Most States, Your Spouse Owns Half of That $2,000 Mac U2's Next Album Isn't Coming Out On 8-track You Can Run Nearly Any App Tiger's Got a Creamy Nougat Center of Thick, Rich Unix
I suppose I should start off by stressing that I am totally on your side. I'm your pal; I'm your friend. I don't think I'm willing to cosign a car loan for you or anything like that, but on the whole, when you picture Andy Ihnatko in your mind, just take a stock mental image of St. Francis of Assissi and add a hat and a downright stupid quantity of personal electronics, and you'll have me down to a T. Two reasons for this visualization: First, because I really do want you to be a happy, capable, and proud user of Mac OS X Tiger; and secondly, I'm spending all this time writing a chapter telling you why Tiger is a great OS.
Honestly, I'm to be commended. Those people who seek out and eradicate disease, hunger, poverty, et al.? Punks, all of 'em. When the Nobel Prize committee comes to their senses and starts recognizing the intense personal sacrifices committed in the name of computer books, I expect to be eating lutefisk front-and-center with the best of 'em.
Look at it this way: I already have your money. And yet, here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Kauai, reassuring you about the wisdom of Mac OS X, when I'm supposed to be at the beach competing in the Xbox Pipeline Masters Tournament - a surf contest that I was heavily favored to win. Plus, there were going to be girls there, probably. So why am I doing this? Exactly. Selfless dedication to the needs of you, the reader. No, don't thank me; honestly, I just don't know any other way.
So I wanna start off by reaffirming the reasons why Mac OS X is the best thing since sliced cat's pajamas. Some of you (guessing by the adoption numbers available in 2004) are still migrating to X from earlier versions of the Mac OS. Others are coming here from Windows.
And even if you're upgrading from a previous version of X, all the basic concepts of Why Mac OS X Continues To Be A Good Idea bear repeating. As Mac users, our most adorable communal attribute is our eagerness to evangelize. Let's say that you're flying to New York and the guy in the middle seat is using a Windows notebook. Naturally, you're going to harangue him about your Mac, but are you sure you have enough material to maintain a one-sided conversation for the entire four-hour flight? Forewarned is forearmed. By mastering the bromides in this chapter, you'll have the information you need to convert another poor unfortunate to the True Path.
IF YOUR COMPUTER WAS REALLY YOUR FRIEND, IT WOULDN'T CRASH ON YOU SO OFTEN
We all like to have a little variety thrown into our workday. But when your computer freezes up on you 20 minutes before the deadline of a critical project and you know that you had plenty of unsaved changes, well, you yearn for the stable, reliable, hour-to-hour routine of a life in the federal prison system.
Every edition of the Macintosh operating system before Mac OS X was a steady evolution of the same OS that shipped with the original Macintosh 128K in 1984, which means it uses the same methods of managing programs and memory that were in vogue during the Reagan Administration. Sure, it made sense back then; with the ever-present threat of an intercontinental thermonuclear holocaust hanging over our heads, all of a computer's programs crashing at once really didn't seem like such a big problem, all things considered.
Thankfully, times have changed. New ideas about OS architecture and memory management were developed and perfected and started to appear in Windows and other operating systems, while the Macintosh OS was stuck in the early 1980s. Before too long, the Mac got a bad reputation: It was known as that one operating system that always crashes, taking all of your work down with it; and it was also known for being about as agile as a pig ice-skating on three legs, one of which was actually wearing a skate.
Such slings and arrows are a thing of the past, thanks to protected memory and preemptive multitasking. Protected memory is a memory-management scheme in which the operating system isolates every piece of running software, assigning it a private, walled-off little box of memory.
Under the old scheme, the OS used one big memory space for all software. When one app trashed its space, it also trashed the space that every other app used. Result: Boom. One app might accidentally write data to a bit of memory that another app is using. Again: Boom. The difference between protected memory and the way the Mac OS used to do things is like the difference between roommates living in a two-bedroom apartment and sharing an open loft space. Oscar Madison can decorate his bedroom with day-old newspapers and week-old pizzas, and it won't affect Felix Unger in the slightest.
Preemptive multitasking is a bit more complicated. Essentially, it's the way that the OS juggles multiple tasks. The old OS could run multiple apps, sure, but it used an unsophisticated scheme called cooperative multitasking. Those of you who've ever worked with Humans before see the flaw in this scheme right away: It only works if all of the running apps cooperate with each other; and because software is an ego-driven tangle of selfish personal interests, the "cooperation" was marginal at best. When a running app needed to perform a function, it would seize complete control of the CPU and only relinquished it to other running apps when its immediate task was complete. It all usually happened so fast the user barely noticed, but still, cooperative multitasking is fake multitasking.
For a flawless demo of the limits of cooperative multitasking, just pull down a menu in Mac OS 9. Every other function comes to a dead stop; the snippet of code that handles the menu bar now completely owns the Mac, and nothing else can happen until you let go of the mouse button. If you don't have Mac OS 9 handy, go and brush your teeth while your significant other is exfoliating. You can try as best you can, but you can't get around the fact that there's just one sink and one mirror.
The old Mac OS fakes real multitasking well, but X is better. The OS prioritizes all of the apps' ongoing tasks so that no one app can tie up the CPU.
As a result, Mac OS X is way more stable and feels way more responsive. Applications can indeed freeze up, but each piece of software, including the OS itself, runs in its own little bunker of protected memory. One malcontented piece of code can't bring down the entire Mac.
Under Mac OS 9, you're probably forced to restart your Mac once a day. As a longtime Mac OS X user, I can tell you that the only times I ever restart my Mac are when I've installed new software that requires me to do so. This way is better.
Still, let's not completely pooh-pooh the advantages of using a computer that can crash at any given moment with the slightest provocation and take all of your open documents down with it. When I upgraded to Mac OS X, my only big disappointment with it was that I suddenly couldn't use "My Mac crashed and ate all my work" as an excuse any more. It was almost as bad as when I replaced my 12-year-old Pontiac with my first brand-new car. All of a sudden, people started expecting me to show up at work on time and stuff. It was a very stressful turn of events.
TIGER IS NON-CRASHY AND FASTER
Mac OS X was written from the ground up, recycling little. Along the way, all of its basic code was enhanced and covered with Teflon to make it slicker and more aerodynamic.
If that weren't enough, Mac OS X is optimized to take full advantage of modern Mac hardware, such as the G4's Velocity Engine coprocessor, the absurdly advanced architecture of the G5, machines with multiple microprocessors, and even new technologies for sharing the processing power of several Macs across a network. One of the five most powerful supercomputers on the planet is a roomful of Macs that act like a single brain. It's Mac OS X that makes this possible, and it's unique throughout the entire industry.
Thanks to X's support of multiprocessing, any time Apple wants to make a faster Mac, all it needs to do is add more processors. Figure 1-1 is a graph of how hard a two-processor Mac works while playing music, building a DVD, and emulating a Windows PC all at once!
Bottom line: The first time you boot your old computer with Mac OS X, you'll feel as though you've taken the stock engine out of your Volkswagen and replaced it with something you tore out of a Porsche while its owner was off in Vail.
TIGER IS NON-CRASHY AND FASTER AND EASIER TO USE
I've been focusing on technical advances that have been made in the field of OS architecture since 1984. But Apple spent a colossal amount of time reconsidering how Humans interact with computers, and (by extension) how computers can be encouraged not to be such truculent free-willed nincompoops.
From the Dock to the new Aqua user interface and beyond, Mac OS X's elegance and ease is as big an improvement over Mac OS 9 as Mac OS 9 is over any version of Windows. Check out Chapter 8, which is all about the universal and holistic Dock (Figure 1-2), Mac OS X's biggest and best basic improvement to the Mac interface.
Gosh, you're still reading this chapter? I'm terribly flattered. I think that Mac OS X has already made a smashing case for itself at this point in the proceedings, and if you're reading the rest of this, it can only mean that you're enjoying the writing. It's an overwhelming vote of confidence and I shall endeavor to be worthy of it.
IN MOST STATES, YOUR SPOUSE LEGALLY OWNS HALF OF THAT $2,000 MAC
Funny, isn't it, that when you come home after blowing thousands of dollars of the household budget on a new toy, other members of the house actually insist on getting a turn at the keyboard, too! I mean, really. Does the simple but effective phrase "Mine mine mine mine mine!!!" mean nothing to these people?
The petty demands of your spouse and your kids will still sting, but at least they can't mess around with your personal files and customized settings. Mac OS X is a true multiuser operating system. If you set up the Mac with separate accounts for Mom, Dad, and little D'Artagnian, it's like owning three different Macs. Mom and Dad don't have to look at their kid's Sailor Moon desktop picture, and the kid will never pore through Mom and Dad's copy of Quicken and learn that the folks blew his entire college fund on that new Cadillac Escalade parked outside. Chapter 18 is all about sharing your Mac and its resources with other people.
U2'S NEXT ALBUM ISN'T COMING OUT ON 8-TRACK
Mac OS X is the present, and it's the future. There is no serious ongoing development of Mac OS 9 software. Every important app, every utility that shaves an hour of work out of your day, every incredible new piece of hardware, every revolutionary Internet resource, every component of iLife that awakens talents in you that you've hitherto envied only in others (as well as every efficient mechanism for locating and viewing pictures of scantily clad people on the Internet) will be available solely and exclusively for Macs running OS X. Not Mac OS 9.
YOU CAN RUN NEARLY ANY APP
God knows why you'd want to run apps not specifically written for Mac OS X, but you can. Mac OS X can bamboozle all of your old OS 9 software into thinking it isn't running on the most advanced OS on the planet. It's sort of like when aliens abduct Amish people and make their spaceship look like it's made out of pine lumber and hay, just to keep them from freaking out. Read Chapter 10 to see me heap additional derisive abuse upon the idea of running old apps, which I also parenthetically talk about how to actually do. But the main thrust is on pouring you a nice hot cup of General Foods International(r) Coffee and browbeating you into forsaking all that is non-Mac OS X in this world.
On top of that, you can also run most Windows apps, by buying a special piece of Windows-emulation software sold by Microsoft. And because Mac OS X has a creamy nougat center of thick, rich Unix, you can also run hundreds of free, commercial-grade apps written and supported by the open-source software community. Oh, wait ... did I mention that Tiger's got a creamy nougat center of thick, rich Unix?
TIGER'S GOT A CREAMY NOUGAT CENTER OF THICK, RICH UNIX
And this is the point in the pitch when the car salesman talks about how this model has a Hanley-style fuel-injection system instead of an old-fashioned venturi carburetor: you haven't the foggiest idea what either term means, but so long as it makes the car go faster, that's all you're interested in.
Unix makes the Mac go better. No question. It means that your Mac is more stable; it's more secure from attacks by viruses and Trojan horses and evil, egg-sucking weasel system crackers trying to sneak in through its connections to the rest of the world. It also works with almost any network up to and including the one that controls the group consciousness of the hyperintelligent race of cyborgs that shall surely enslave us all some day.
With Unix at the heart of X, the Macintosh community gets a lot of things for "free." That's literally true; open-source software (in which the apps are copyrighted, but they're authored by the entire developer community and can be freely distributed) is a big deal in Unix, and everything from games to audio-recording apps to a complete suite of Microsoft Office-compatible apps are available for little more than the cost of duplication, if anything (see Figure 1-3).
Plus, there are a lot of bars and clubs near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where you won't get anywhere with anybody unless you're wearing a wristwatch with more than 2MB of flash storage and can honestly claim to be running some sort of Unix at home. Word to the wise.
But getting things for free is also metaphorically true. Apple tried - twice - to create its own next-generation operating system from the ground up. Both times, they quickly got bogged down in the infinite and stubborn details of forging revolution. Ten seconds after they decided to base Mac OS X around Unix, the new OS inherited all of Unix's advantages. It's aggressively a network- friendly OS; it's secure; it's extensible; it's based on international standards; and it's supported and maintained by uncountable developers, which means that when something very basic breaks, chances are excellent that the problem is already well understood and easy for Apple to fix.
And Unix is the fulcrum of practically every important future technology. Anything cool and revolutionary that the Mac doesn't get from Apple, the Mac will inherit from the Unix community.
So I've sold you on the Unix and given you the technical reasons why it's a very good thing for the Mac. But if you've numbly been mouthing the word Unix to try to figure out whether it should be pronounced with a short or a long U, just be assured that the fuel-injection system you have now is way, way better than the carburetor you had on your old car; and that if you drive this thing for a million years, you'll never need to mess with it yourself. If you do care to learn a little about Unix, however, and you want to take that giant leap forward towards enlightenment and productivity, be sure to check out Chapter 20, taking a deep breath first if necessary.
TIGER'S WHERE ALL THE ACTION IS, BABY!
If you're thrown off by all of the rah-rah-rah Macintosh boosterism in this chapter, I warn you that (a) it's well merited, and (b) you've probably already got ten coffee stains on this book, so don't even think of trying to return it.
I don't know if you read my credentials before buying this humble tome, but I write about all forms of technology. My newspaper column isn't just about Macs: it's about Windows and Linux and PDAs and wristwatches that go pinggg! in clever ways. Mac OS X is my primary operating system of choice, but I use Windows each and every day, and of the ... um ... dash it ... (Andy does a quick 360 of his office) nine functioning computers in this room, four of them are running operating systems other than Mac OS X. I'm a Mac user and an Apple fan, but it's not for lack of choice or lack of options. Windows is harder to use, it's inconsistent, it's nearly impossible to master, it's baffling and unpredictable at times, and, quite simply, it's not a cutting-edge OS. Historically, Windows has lagged at least two years behind Mac OS in terms of speed, stability, and features.
Excerpted from The Mac OS X Tiger Book by Andy Ihnatko Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Pt. I||Using Tiger||1|
|Ch. 1||Why having chosen Mac OS X was by no means a dopey idea||3|
|Ch. 3||Hello, I must be going (and, uh, sleep)||29|
|Ch. 4||Getting to first base with the Mac user interface||41|
|Ch. 5||Leopard-skin pillbox Mac : monkeying with system preferences||69|
|Ch. 6||I don't know why they call it the finder, either||91|
|Ch. 7||Spotlight dance||117|
|Ch. 8||The dock, and why it doesn't stink even a little||129|
|Ch. 9||Just deal with it : apps||141|
|Ch. 10||Running apps that God never intended you to run||161|
|Ch. 11||Further on files and folders||173|
|Ch. 12||Using hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and other silos of data||189|
|Ch. 13||Archiving to analog Pulpware substrate (printing)||219|
|Ch. 14||Networking on copper, air, and a prayer||235|
|Ch. 15||The apps wot you get for nothin'||261|
|Ch. 16||Dash(board)ing all your hopes||305|
|Ch. 18||I love people! : I want to share my Mac!||353|
|Ch. 19||I loathe people! : I want to secure my Mac!||379|
|Pt. II||The technical bits||407|
|Ch. 20||Unix ... alas, the name is its only funny part||409|
|Ch. 21||Lewis and Clarking through tiger's directories||421|
|Pt. III||Bonus material||435|
|Ch. 22||Twenty-five questions from my Aunt Estelle||437|
|Ch. 23||Drop the book and come out peacefully : oneline resources||453|
|Ch. 24||Troubleshooting by the seat of your pants||461|
|Ch. 25||Wheels of the mine||477|
Posted June 14, 2005