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A video guy upgrades

By Eliot Hochberg, June 5, 2002

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Ah, the wonders of having too much to do. It’s been quite a while since my last article, and for good reason. Things have picked up this year, and I’ve been busy, busy, busy, but I’ve still had time to keep up with what’s going on – enough to note that all of the software necessary to make DVDs has finally been ported to OS X, so there has no longer been any excuse for me to hold out. Less than a month ago, I purchased a new G4 with OS X pre-installed. This is the story of my first impressions of making the switch from OS 9 to X.

First of all, let me reiterate what many have said – OS X is a pretty OS. Icons are beautiful, buttons pulse, windows fade – it’s a very pleasant experience. The system feels fast, although sometimes the genie effect goes slowly; but mostly, software designed for OS X works well. Preemptive multitasking works well, and I have yet to have the whole system freeze on me, although individual programs do from time to time.

Now, on to the things I don’t like so much.

My biggest complaint is screen redraw when using the OS 9 compatibility layer. I am using OS X 10.1.4. For whatever reason, if you have a native OS X program running over an OS 9 program, it appears that the transparency functions that Aqua uses don’t work properly. So, you get a very unprofessional-looking block of white anywhere that the OS X program overlapped the OS 9 one. This is pretty disconcerting, since it happens every time you use the Dock as well. This is something that should definitely be fixed.

Along the same lines is what I call “bounce lag.” Say you’re working in Flash 5 (a non-native program). You also have Entourage running (a native program). Email arrives, causing the Entourage icon to bounce. Suddenly, Flash 5 runs like a dog with one leg and an issue of Fire Hydrants Illustrated open to the centerfold. What was a reasonably peppy OS 9 program barely moves while that icon bounces. Bad planning, I’d say. Check your mail, and all goes back to normal.

Speaking of Entourage, after I loaded all of my contacts from Outlook Express (a process which wasn’t as transparent as one would hope and led to duplicate contacts in my database), I found that I had to rebuild the database three times due to crashes. But since then, things seem to be running smoothly.

I also have Photoshop 7. This is a groovy program, and I could say all sorts of great things about it. If nothing else, it helped me discover a glaring omission from OS X. Before, in OS 9, I used the Apple Color Picker for selecting colors. Why? Because it had a handy HTML RGB color picker that showed the hexadecimal values of the color you picked, and allowed you to type in a value to see what it would look like. Well, from what I can tell, this option is gone. There is an RGB picker, but it only uses percentages and doesn’t have the Web-safe snap-to function, which I used all the time. Bummer.

Finally, Adobe hasn’t totally kept the ball rolling, either. I have the full version of Acrobat, which includes Distiller. Adobe has made Acrobat native, no big feat considering the whole file system is based on it. However, Distiller, needed to create PDFs from other programs’ files, is still only OS 9-native. This leads to a situation where you can’t use Distiller as a Print menu option, which is the main way I use Acrobat. I can do the work on another system, but that is hardly satisfactory.

Overall, I am very pleased with the transition to OS X. I am able to work fairly effectively, and have moved over to the OS completely, except for some programs that are still using the OS 9 compatibility layer. Still, a few things aren’t quite ready for prime time. Hopefully in July Apple will update the OS in such a way that the performance issues I mentioned will go away. If it does, then this OS will rock!

Some of you may wonder, “What about DVD Studio Pro?” That’s a whole other article, coming soon (I hope).

Eliot Hochberg is a Web developer with over 6 years experience.

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