thoughts on OS X 10.6. here kitty, kitty…

Im yur new OS

let’s say that production and projects are the focus of your day to day. they (the projects) either keep the doors open or they are moving you along to finishing a degree, or it’s just doing your job. if everything is moving smoothly without any issues why would you want to change that? well? because the the new shiny is sitting on your desk and you absolutely cannot contain yourself. I’m talking about how your Snow Leopard is on its way.

many developers in various forums are saying the the upgrade is just like any other upgrade that we’ve experienced with 10.5. that is painless. but upgrading hasn’t always been so painless. QuickTime upgrades have borked Final Cut Pro. ProTools wouldn’t run on 10.5 for what seemed like nearly forever. and other upgrades broke simple hardware devices providing video capture or hard drive controlling. while this is usually the exception it’s still begs your attention. as makers it’s never good to be without tools in working order. even if it is just for a short time.

remember time is money or the equivalent there of.

I know that I’m not going to throw caution to the wind this time. this, I know, is not going to stop lots of people from upgrading anyway. but are you ready for it? really ready? every time a new OS comes out I post the same warnings over the years they become less and less warnings because everyone is SOOOO excited nobody bothers to read them until after the fact when I say “told you so…”

back up. blah, blah, blah, you should be doing that already. you shouldn’t have to stop to make when you should already HAVE one. done. ready for the immediate. helping save the day. duh.

the number one rule is if you are in a project or production is you cannot upgrade until you are finished with your project. that means all the revisions are in the can and you got paid. “upgrade hosed our Macs” is the lamest thing you can ever say to a client. students are prone to go down the upgrade path only to get hosed by something unforeseen. keep in mind that “Mac is borked” sounds exactly like “my dog ate it.” when I was teaching the only excuse was “lab tech told me…” and then I’d go find the guy to get the other side of the story. if you really must upgrade just make sure your looming deadline is far enough away (days not hours) before you double click the kitty.

your critical tools? what are they. you need a list. then check to see if each vendor actually says “compatible with OS X 10.6.” if just one of your tools isn’t you can’t upgrade or you have to make plans for dealing with it’s continued use. I use Final Cut, Sound Track and After Effects enough that if any of them had issues I would wait to get this sorted. but ask yourself if you can’t live without XYZ for a few weeks and if that is worth it to you.

never ever never use a dot oh release in a production environment. as long as 10.6.1 isn’t a download I’m not letting any of the people I support move to the latest. there’s that “one guy” that HAS to have it, installs it without asking and damages the workflow. doesn’t matter if it’s PhotoShop NXT or the OS X. until am I pretty positive that all the tools around me work it’s simply not worth a $29 upgrade wrecking havoc.

test it on something you don’t care about FIRST. I happen to have a few idle MacBook and MacBook Pro around that make doing this really easy. first, I can easily swap the working drive for some other similarly sized drive and do the install there. or I might clone that working drive first so I can see what the interactions of what is already installed happens to be. this way I can see how Mail, the address book and all that other stuff you never think of as critical behaves. chances are it will just work and I’m over paranoid.

mind things that are really old. usually stuff that is really old just keeps working. but things like Palm device sync goes away this revision. I’m sure there is other stuff that won’t work anymore much the same way as Classic support with the intro of the Intel Macs. if you depend on something that is old make sure it continues to work. after you commit to the upgrade is not the time to check that.

an OS upgrade is always a good time to do some hardware house cleaning. this is the time that I check on the age of drives with the idea of consolidation and retirement. the completely full boot drive needs to be cloned to something modern and lots more huge. drives are cheap compared to what they were 5 years ago. plus they are also much, much more reliable. although you need to use a drive for roughly 7-10 days before you can trust it to run for the distance. if a drive is going to fail it will in the first few days of it spinning. after some time has past a drive is likely to not fail until the MTBF hours are reached. after that it could fail any time or just keep spinning.

finally, look at that list of features. what something on the list is something you simply must have. what is going to end your constant problem. for me with 10.5 it was “not hanging when a file share went away.” that was a H-U-G-E fix. I wish this applied to local drives as well. instead of producing a big RED warning it would be more kind when I pull out the USB memory drive. I started to use Spaces but found it was marginally better unless you really worked the work flow. Spaces was nothing like Expose from the time before. that was game changing. Final Cut doesn’t take advantage of any of the new CPU/GPU enhancements so there’s no reason to make a jump for those things. in fact what does make use of Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL? I can’t think of hearing about anything. this may be the sole reason to wait.

it’s the end of the OS line for the PowerPC. this isn’t to say that these Mac’s don’t have long lives to live. they just won’t be running anything bigger than 10.5. I’m sad about this but I’m not. the last PPC mac shipped in 2006 meaning that Apple has an obligation from a California point of view to offer support for a few more years. that means Security updates will continue for another 2 years. legally there is no life after 7 for technology.

and speaking of new-ish already old tech. lots of the early Intel Macs aren’t going to be able to EVER take advantage of new tech. the CoreDuo doesn’t do 64bit. and some MacBooks that have Core2Duo don’t have 64 bit support turned on. video cards (aka GPUs) are another sore subject. the list of what OpenCL supports is pretty short. now may be the time to flip that older Mac to somebody else and get into more modern. seriously YMMV. sigh.

bottom line, let the early adopters do all the bug hunting. oh, and don’t get in line for midnight.…w-leopard.html