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Jewish World Review
Nov. 2, 2007
/ 20 Mar-Cheshvan 5768
Apple's Leopard makes Macs purr
Offering better integration of e-mail with syndicated Internet news
updates, a new backup feature likely to decrease the impact of
hardware failures, and snazzy display features by the bushel, the $129
Apple Mac OS X Leopard upgrade is more than a reasonable purchase.
It's something any Mac user will want to have.
The new release, a couple of years in the making and delayed about six
months so Apple could bring out the IPhone , is billed as being
able to "put a new Mac in your Mac." Here are some initial impressions
in less than 24 hours of use.
There's a new "sheen" to the interface, including the menu bar atop
most windows. Press the "F9" key along with "Function" on a MacBook
Pro, and your open windows array themselves to allow you to see how
many programs, documents, or items you have open. You can set up
"spaces" in which selected programs will run; "Function" and "F8" will
array these workspaces for you and let you select the one you desire.
Open a file folder and highlight a file; press the space bar and you
get a quick view of the file, whether a picture, a document or an
audio clip, the latter playing through the computer's sound system.
You can also flip through a directory of files by selecting what's
called "Cover Flow," which is derived from Apple's IPod and
IPhone interfaces. Combine Cover Flow with the spacebar-preview option
and you've got a rather nice and quick way of finding that document.
The arrival of a new Mac OS also means the updating, usually, of two
key applications: Mail.app and the Safari Web browser. Mail.app
is a very good e-mail program, now enhanced with the ability to
incorporate "really simple syndication," or RSS, feeds into a mailbox.
That's how I can get any one of the millions of other RSS news feeds
out there. It's a common-sense place for such items, and it's good
that Mail.app now incorporates this. There are some other nice tweaks
to the program, such as including a "notes" and "to-do" item as
options. You can also click to find an address contained in an e-mail
via Google Maps, so long as you're connected to the Internet.
The one option Mail.app's developers have, so far as I can tell,
omitted is the ability to request a return receipt for sent e-mail: if
I send you a note and you read it, I'd like your computer to send an
acknowledgement. Despite years of requests from this writer, and, I
presume, others, Apple has turned a deaf ear. They probably think I'm
a crank, but surely I can't be the only person on Earth who might
benefit from such a feature, which is found, by the way, in competitor
Thunderbird. Maybe next time!
Safari's tweaks, on display since June as a "public Beta" from
Apple, are more subtle but just as welcome. Several different Web
sites display better in this version 3 of Safari, and I appreciate
that. It's a good Web browser and is pretty much standard for Mac
users, which means developers need to be current with it as well.
Fortunately, there's also a Windows version.
Time and location, ironically, did not permit an examination of "Time
Machine," the new backup program. But just having an automated backup
system in the OS is a rather good idea, I think, and your reviewer
will examine this feature here.
Most important about Leopard is that its installation is swift and
easy, less than one hour in my case, and that the underlying OS
doesn't crash. That's a key to Mac's superiority, and a reason why, in
the past quarter, Apple's hardware sales have skyrocketed.
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com