Retailer Call
of the Week

By now you know I'm nothing if not appreciative of the fine efforts of the men and women of retail. Aside from keeping the wheels of our capito-socialist economy turning, these frontline grunts of merchandising seem never at a loss when it comes to the kind of valuable information that makes all of our shopping experiences easier. In order to honor their heroic efforts, I've decided to start posting the results of weekly calls to them in which I ask them for help with a single, simple question. Here's the first one, conducted last week, two days prior to the release of OS X. As unreal as it sounds, this is actually what was said.

Retailer: Microcenter (Tustin, Calif.)
Date: Wednesday, March 21
Call Start Time: 1:58 p.m.
Call End Time: 2:02 p.m.

Creative Mac: Hi, can you tell me when you're going to have Mac OS X for sale?

Microcenter Person 1:
Is that a computer?

Creative Mac:
It's an operating system.

Microcenter Person 1:
Oh. Hold on. Let me check…. Hello, sir? Is that software?

Creative Mac:

Microcenter Person 1:
All right. Let me transfer you.

Microcenter Person 2:
Hello, General Sales.

Creative Mac:
Hi. Can you tell me when you're going to have Mac OS X for sale?

Microcenter Person 2:
Have what?

Creative Mac:
Mac OS X.

Microcenter Person 2:
Sack … what?

Creative Mac:
Mac, as in Macintosh.

Microcenter Person 2:
Ooooh. Let me transfer you to the right place.

Microcenter Person 3:
How can I help you?

Creative Mac:
Can you tell me when you're going to have Mac OS X for sale?

Microcenter Person 3:
It's supposed to be out by the end of the week.

Creative Mac:
Will you have it for sale then?

Microcenter Person 3:
I think we're allowed to start selling it Friday.

Well, there you have it. I didn't bother to correct him on the ship date. He'd figure it out all by his little self soon enough.

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Talkin' Smack: It Works!

The new era in Mac computing begins

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Well, Mac OS X 10.0 saw its official debut this weekend, and I was there on Day 1 to buy it in a regular old retail store just like the common man. I even have my OS X Hanes Beefy-T to show for it. I think sales might have been a bit more brisk if it hadn't lacked CD-R and DVD support, but I don't care how many people bought it. You know why? I've been waiting for Apple's "modern OS" since the first hints of Rhapsody, and now, after years of waiting, the promise has finally been fulfilled. And now I, a mere mortal from the central badlands of Orange County, Calif., have it in my possession. Even better, I have it, and it works.

True to my promise of a few weeks back, I went out and bought it and installed it on the very first day. I backed up a few of my more important files, read the Read Me and promptly loaded it up.

It's a beautiful thing, man. Using it is like partying in the land of the Lotus Eaters. It's hard to tear myself away from it. I feel like I've been doped up on the good stuff and set loose naked in a forest of dryads. No wonder Jobs came out with the Flower Power iMac. He's been using this OS for the last year. That just might be the longest high on record!

Seriously, this is good stuff. It runs great, and almost all of my applications run on it, including Final Cut Pro 1.25. (Final Cut Pro 2 won't work even in Classic mode, according to Apple.) This is a fantastic OS—the first time I've felt this way since my first experiences with the Mac. It's given me a whole new computer—a great one.

So here are some of my experiences so far.

Installing OS X went very smoothly. It includes three CDs, two of which are required for the install—OS 9.1 and OS X; you can't use 9.0.4 for Classic. All you have to do is run the two installers and restart. I personally use two volumes. I left 9.0.4 on my original startup volume and installed 9.1 and OS X on the second. This way, when I don't want to use 9.1 (which is always), I can just reboot using my 9.0.4. You can keep all of your System Folders on a single volume though; OS X lets you choose a startup folder, rather than just a startup disk.

What I've found is that switching between the two is no problem. OS X does not fundamentally alter your disks, and I wound up losing very little in the process. (The only things that changed were some preferences. Basically programs that are super-copy-protected will require you to reenter your serial numbers, but I believe this is more a function of booting off a different drive than any actual data being lost. The only other change I've found so far is that my Stickies files were consolidated into a single Sticky under OS X; when I go back to 9.0.4, they behave just as they used to.)

Applications and peripherals
The one big bummer of OS X is that my Wacom tablet won't work under it. My tablet is fundamental to all the creative work I do, which means I have to switch back to 9.0.4 for painting. (New OS X drivers from Wacom should be available in a couple of months.) I haven't yet had a chance to test all of my external devices. The CD-RW, of course, doesn't work. But my MacAlly three-button scrolling mouse does work just fines, as does my MacAlly iMediaKey keyboard.

As for applications, I've now had a chance to run just about my entire software library, which is, I can almost guarantee, much larger than yours. With just a few minor exceptions, everything runs beautifully. As I mentioned, even Final Cut Pro 1.25 works. So do Photoshop 5.5 and 6, Dreamweaver 4, Illustrator 8, Freehand, Studio Artist 1.5, Fireworks 3 and 4, Premiere 5.1 and 6, After Effects 4.1, InDesign 1.5, PageMaker 6, QuarkXPress 4.11, Cleaner 5, LiveMotion, Amorphium Pro, Director 8, Flash 4 and 5 and Office. The OS X version of LightWave ran great in demo mode, but for some reason it couldn't find my hardware key. I couldn't install Maxon's Cinema 4D XL for OS X because the installer couldn't seem to find my original version of Cinema 4D XL. (That's a problem with the installer, not OS X.) I'll try to clear both of these up soon.

The minor setbacks included Creature House Expression 2, which wouldn't run at all, and Dreamweaver 4, which initially couldn't seem to connect to my remote server under OS X. The fix was a very simple one for Dreamweaver—just a matter of setting Passive FTP in the OS X Network Preferences. One interesting piece of trivia is that fact that the OS X native version of iTunes will not run in full-screen mode, while the OS 9 version—even running under OS X—will play full screen with just a little jitteriness.

And speaking of the Internet, one very important thing for me was support for PPPoE. Because my DSL service provider (Pac Bell) is so lame as to use such a weak technology, it was crucial that OS X be able to deal with it properly. So now, instead of using the application that came with my service, I'm using Apple's own Internet Connect software. So now I don't have to deal with that Enternet 300 application anymore, and I'm glad of it.

As I say, it's only been a couple of days (as of this writing), and I haven't had a chance to test all of my software or plugins. But I'll keep you posted on any further troubles or triumphs as they come up.

Performance and stability
I also have to give props to Apple for the performance I'm seeing from this operating system. I have a humble G4 400, and even when running 9.1 over OS X, my performance is better than when I'm just running 9.0.4. Granted, there is the delay while 9.1 launches, but you can set it to do this at startup so you won't have to worry about it later. (For those of you who don't know, "Classic" is not just OS X emulating OS 9.1. It actually loads OS 9.1 just as if you were booting up your computer. You even get to see the extensions loading as little icons, just like the olde tymes.)

This OS is the most stable thing I've ever seen. I tried so many way to get it to crash, but it wouldn't. There was only one application that wouldn't run in Classic mode (Expression 2 from Creature House). Actually, it crashed. But all I had to do was force quit it and go about my business.

This is a feature extremely well implemented in OS X. When you attempt to force quit an application, a dialog box appears asking you which application or applications you want to quit. When you select one, it just quits. The system doesn't freeze. The mouse doesn't stop working. Everything just goes on as if nothing had happened. It's really great. System freezes have been a daily fact of like since System 7. Now it looks like that's all over with.

For me, OS X is everything I had hoped for. It's fast. It's smooth. It's gorgeous to look at and fun to use. And, most important, it doesn't crash. Applications do, yes. But the OS doesn't. Just fantastic. It can't do everything it needs to do yet, but it's off to a great start. In the end, the greatest weakness of OS X is its addictive quality. I simply have to work in 9.0.4 sometimes, and going back is a major bummer because OS X is just so amazing. I think this time around we all owe Apple a big round of applause.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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