Washington Apple Pi

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November 2007 Retired SIG: Mac OS X 10.5

By Len Alder

Meeting photos

Retired SIG's November meeting, held on the 15th, looked at Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The nine attendees were interested in how the program works. Only two members, Bob Jarecke and Len Adler, had installed and were using it. Both presented in the usual “show and tell” on-screen format.

We began by going around the table and introducing ourselves, saying a bit about our learning needs for the day, and our self-described level of IT acumen and interests.

Bob's discussion showed how the tools and choices are different on the menu bars, and how the Finder window works. While the Dock has become more dimensional with reflections and a shelf look, it also can be set in Preferences to disappear, rest on the bottom, right or left of the screen. Bob showed how several applications can be placed in one of the windows of Spaces, an innovation which allows one screen to appear as if it were 4 to 16 different screens. By using this new application, the desktop looks tidy-- and random documents can be fetched by another new feature that stacks documents on the dock until you want to see them. Leopard's files are often thumbnail size pictures of what they contain. Finding a particular file has gotten easier, thanks to a document stack and a download stack at the right side of the Dock.

Mac OS X 10.5 uses the active memory differently as well, giving priority to the application which is in use at the moment. So many programs can run without using memory until they are activated. Yes, your computer will run better with 2-4 gigabytes of RAM, but is all that really necessary? Len Adler talked about his experiences with Leopard using his iBook G4. Mac OS X 10.5 needs at least 9 gigabytes of disk space, so if your boot drive is getting crowded, you'll want to use an external drive to store stuff and make room to load the new operating system. And, to use the automatic backup program Time Machine, an external drive needs to be connected and selected in the software.

Our wanting to run the latest and most jazzy is often stalled by wanting to safely preserve what we have, and the ease of use of the new faces resistance from familiarity with the old system. Did you know that although Leopard is packed with 300 new features, it will take more than one meeting to get to all of them? As the meeting ended, we agreed to continue with learning about Leopard at our next meeting, January 24. More of us will have hands-on experience by then.