Bangkok Diary

    Saturday 24 November 2007: Further Tortures of an Early Adopter - 13 Leopard Days, Part II

C. J. Hinke

bug One of the biggest reasons I use Macintosh is for its elegant and stylish interface configurable to a compulsively perfectionist user. Making Mac OS X my own has made using Mac a pleasurable experience. So far, Leopard has strangled those small joys.

After my second Clean Install in order to get my Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard installation at least usable, I installed Apple's iLife and iWork '08. I then ran Software Update to 10.5.1 as well as updating iPhoto and Safari.

It has also been my habit to delete fonts I'll never use from my Mac's Library, my User Library and System Library and put them in an Unused Fonts folder; this means applications don't use up resources and the user doesn't have to wade through extraneous fonts.

I had deleted a lot of bloatware like Microsoft Office and Adobe CS3 in my first attempt at installing Leopard and it was time to get rid of any second party applications which might be continuing to cause my problems. Made sure I had the latest versions for all applications.

Installed but did not start my favourite programmes which rely on a network connection: Meterologist (weather and temperature in your menubar); Time Palette (custom desktop display of world time); OSXplanet (planetary desktop); Unison (Usenet client); Google Earth; Skype.

A few networked applications I couldn't live without: Transmission (torrent peer-to-peer); Speed Download (a seriously great, resumable download manager); Wired Client (private network FTP client); Gmail Notifier.

debug DragThing (an elegant custom, tabbed Dock alternative); Growl notifications; StuffIt Deluxe (compression appl); Toast Titanium (CD and DVD burning software); VLC (all-format video player).

I then booted from the Leopard Install disk to run Repair Disk and Repair Disk Permissions in Disk Utility.  Restarted and ran the nifty new Time Machine backup. Ready to run!

After applying Graham's debug patch to Safari [Ed: this is the debug menu revealed by typing defaults write IncludeDebugMenu 1 in Terminal], I found I could still read Thai and, as important, still post to my WordPress blog using WP's Visual interface rather than Code. Firefox still could not display Thai so I labouriously copied over all my F/F bookmarks into Safari.

My plan was to run these applications for a few days to make sure things were smooth, then introduce my other applications one-by-one. Everything felt normal. Even downloaded the new Firefox 3 beta which now can display Thai. Things were looking up. Maybe I was good to go. (Ajarn Graham told me I sounded like an AA meeting: two days without a crash!)

I had to take my portable FireWire disk with me so I ejected it. When I next plugged the disk back into my Mac, it would not appear on the Desktop as sometimes happens. I Restarted and the disk appeared.

My first indication something was wrong was using Safari. I could post Visually to Wordpress using formatting and paragraphs. However, as soon as I Published, all my formatting went away and my post appeared online as a big block of text. I tried the Code option; all the code went away when Saved.

Further, it became difficult to connect to various Websites (Google, The New York Times) so I was forced to resort to deleting both Mac and User Caches as well as all item in the Safari folders except bookmarks before sites would connect. More than once, I was forced into Internet shops to do my email.

And then I was back to square one. Many types of applications randomly crashed, like Software Update!

13 days after my Clean Install, my PPC aluminum PowerBook was unusable.

fern Frustrating but it was obvious the only solution was a second Clean Install of Leopard. I decided to further simplify, whittling and paring my applications to a spare minimum to keep my Mac functional. No point having programmes I rarely use.

This time I only installed iPhoto from iLife '08 (I'm certain even Apple appls can conflict). Although I needed to keep my networked applications, I eliminated the fun: no more DragThing, time or weather, no trippy custom Desktop; no StuffIt; no Growl notifications. I tried, as much as possible, not even to play too much with the Preferences that make it YOUR Mac. In fact, I tried to keep to Leopard's default settings as much as possible. My Mac has been abducted by aliens.

Maybe there will be updates to my favourite programmes, maybe not. I concur that this is not an Apple problem. However, the Internet and its browsers are the central component of computer use. For Apple to release an OS that didn't work properly, even seamlessly, with Firefox or even Apple's own Safari is highly disappointing. My verdict must be that Apple released its Leopard OS before it was ready for prime-time, at least for PPC.

I'm now on the MA wagon--MacAnonymous--drinking coffee and running a Calvinist computer, pared to the bone. These may just be PPC problems; none of my Intel buddies have had any problems at all. Leopard may yet prove to be Apple's devious plan to force the rest of us to buy Evil Inside.

If this install doesn't 'take', if the diagnosis is Leprosy, I'll be back to Tiger which worked flawlessly, tight and seamless, right from the beginning.

C J Hinke
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

    C. J. Hinke is a long-time Bangkok resident. He uses Macs exclusively with OS X and is International Coordinator of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand. Please sign FACT's petition at

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