5. Time Machine
Apple reckons that only 4 per cent of people religiously back up their computers, making Time Machine's automated backup system ideal. It really is a no-brainer. The problem comes when your backup hard disk drive starts getting full and you want to delete your oldest archives to free up space for some new ones. Well under Time Machine you can't. Editing and/or deleting simply isn't allowed.
The best suggestion anyone at Apple could come up with was to mothball the old drive and start afresh with a new one. We guess you could also just reformat the drive and start your archives again, but that rather defeats the object of Time Machine in the first place. So if your backup needs are any more than rudimentary, you'll need to look elsewhere for a backup solution.
UPDATE: Tech.co.uk reader Richard Haines points out that you can delete individual files. He says "Launch Time Machine. Find file to delete and highlight it. Click the gear with the arrow on the menu bar. Select 'Delete All Back-ups Of This Document' from the drop-down menu."
You can, of course, also access and remove files directly from the Time Machine drive - you can do this because Time Machine simply makes a copy of the file it doesn't wrap in proprietary code. We've yet to discover what will happen if you do this. We'll try later today. Please let us know if you've done the same.
We've also seen reports that Time Machine doesn't play nicely with Aperture, Apple's pro photography application. This is because the automated backup process can cause ' inconsistences in the Aperture database'. Apple's recommended solution is to turn off Time Machine's automated backups and perform manual ones instead... defeating the purpose of an automated backup system in the first place.
6. The Finder Menu and the Dock
Apple invented the current vogue for translucent windows and other eye candy in operating systems and it's been scaling back some of its excesses ever since (hello Windows Vista!).
Translucency works best when it adds functionality, but without obscuring what that functionality is for - overlaying simple and temporary playback controls in Leopard's DVD player being a prime example. Where translucency sucks is when it's used for its own sake, like in the new translucent Finder Menu and Dock in Leopard.
Apple says it made the Finder menu translucent because it 'enhances and showcases' the custom desktops it says Mac users like to use. Ditto the new glass shelf design of the Dock. It's see-through and reflective: drag a picture, file or Finder window close to the Dock and its reflection appears on the Dock's surface.
They're both bad ideas. Why?
Because in both cases, the translucency gets in the way. Sometimes you can't tell whether the faint blue glow under an application icon in the Dock is showing because the application is open, or because it's a part of the background. The translucent Finder menu is messy for the same reason.
So too are the Finder's translucent drop-down menus. Drop them down over a document and you get a confusing mish-mash of menu and document. This can sometimes make it hard to pick the right menu item you want.
7. The Beach ball of Death
We haven't quite got to the bottom of this yet, but under Leopard even Apple's native apps sometimes seem to pause for an absolute age before they'll start to do something. Apple shows app bottlenecks like this as a spinning beach ball. You'll see the spinning beach ball a lot when you first start to use Leopard.
We're not quite sure what this random slowness is. It could be because Leopard is beavering away trying to generate thumbnail previews of all your files for you to gawp at in Cover Flow and Quick Look. It could be Spotlight doing its indexing thing. We'll let you know if this slowness slowly disappears. Some slowdown is also inevitable with some apps that aren't yet very Leopard-friendly.
We've certainly experienced lots of inexplicable slowdowns which have forced us to Force Quit applications, relaunch the Finder and even reboot the machine altogether. Even the old fixing File Permissions panacea (an OCD-like obsession for some Mac users) is slow.
We thought we'd give the File Permissions fix a stab in Disk Utility to see if it helped cut down the number of applications slowdowns... only to be greeted with a long 20 minute wait while Disk Utility thought about repairing permissions... and then a 40 minute wait while it actually did so.
Applications running under our now clean reinstall of Leopard on our Power Mac G5 2.0GHz Dual desktop also seems a lot more unstable that those on our Intel-based MacBook Pro. We're constantly being told that applications have 'unexpectedly quit' on the G5. That's happening only occasionally on the Intel Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz MacBook Pro
This never used to happen in Tiger.
It's not all bad
Some of our gripes with Leopard are minor, others are more serious and will hopefully be addressed in future by Apple and Mac developers alike. Luckily there are still a lot of things that Leopard is good at. You'll be able to find out what those are in the next part of this article.
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