OS X.6 Upgrade (Snow Leopard)

August 31, 2009

Normally I’m not an early adopter, but I just couldn’t resist the proposed speed enhancements of Apple’s new baby.  So just to see if it is worth the $29, I went ahead and loaded 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and recorded some [very unofficial] tests.


Overall, the conversion was an exercise in simplicity.  Lots of published articles exist on how it works and how to upgrade so all can do is confirm – it really is that easy.  Pop in the DVD, answer a few questions, come back in less than 1 hour.  I have a mid 2008 MacBook Pro, 2.4 with the 8600M GT graphics card (256mb).  Total conversion time lasted just under 36 minutes.

When I was finished I went ahead and ran the daily, weekly, and monthly clean-up tasks to get any last minute clean-up out of the way then on to some benchmarking.

HDD Space

The first thing I was interested in was how much space could I reclaim.  While the available disk space was reported as a whopping 12GB gain…I’m not so sure how that happened?  Gina Trapini reported today it might just be an ‘accounting change’ (link to her post here), and I have to agree.  My ‘used’ disk space increased from 91.37GB to 93.54GB and yet I have have 11.55GB more space?!  A closer look reveals the capacity of the HDD is now being reported as 199.71GB instead of the 185.99GB reported before.  So sad, and I thought the OS was actually 7GB smaller?

Reported HDD Capacity

Boot Time and General ‘Snappiness’

After I got OS X back up and running, I recorded a few times of some of the software I frequently use and timed the startup and shutdown of the machine.  Generally, the numbers reported the same; Boot Time was the same at 42.7 seconds, time to start Safari and to access my Gmail with all of the lab plug-ins was the same 5.3 seconds, it was actually quite a bit quicker to start a new Word 2008 document (14.6 versus 19.3 seconds) and, strangely, slightly slower with a fresh Excel 2008 spreadsheet (7.2 versus 7.0 seconds).  Also, I forgot to record times with Adobe CS3 products, but they seem to load quite a bit slower on start-up.

I have the 8600M GT GeForce graphics processor, which is compatible with OpenCL.  Since the new Quicktime X is supposed to use these new technologies, I thought I would render a short video with iMovie ’09 using Quicktime and see what the results were.  The two-minute video I chose did render 12% faster with a time of 4:38 versus 5:16 using Quicktime Pro in 10.5.


Shutdown time increased by almost 40%.  Before I could move my hand off the keyboard the notebook was quiet and ready to travel.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I believe most OS X users will be disappointed parting with their $29.  Why?  Because Apple users are accustomed to being blown-away by visual innovation every time Apple introduces something new.  No matter how many times Apple reminds us, this really is a refinement of the underpinnings.  I left the upgrade with a feeling of “okay…that’s it?”

If you use a lot of OS X features, you will notice a few subtle refinements that boost the overall polish of the operating system.  For example, if you use spaces, the movement from one workspace to the next now seems more fitting and smoother.  Stacks look and operate cleaner.  Four-finger track-pad gestures ROCK!  As a whole, the entire Mac experience also seems snappier.

Understanding that Snow Leopard paves the way for more architectural underpinnings (OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch) that will make computers faster in the future, makes the $29 a little bit easier to cough up.  You’ve gotta start change somewhere, right?

One final thought: I noticed a comment on a public blog yesterday  from a Windows sour-graper complaining about how Microsoft would have introducted this as a service pack and it would have been free.  Since when was the last time Microsoft REWROTE the core underpinning of the entire OS and gave it away as a service pack?  Oh wait, they did that in 2007 when they gave away Vista for $319.  At least the ‘upgrade’ to the Windows 7 service pack will only be $219.


Busted iPhone 3G

August 28, 2009

So I am at my niece’s birthday party last weekend and I get to talking about my new iPhone with my brother-in-law’s brother, Chris. Better yet, he is my wife’s sister’s husband’s brother, but that is another puzzle for another day.

Anyway, Chris whips out his old iPhone 3G and HOLY CRAP the face of it looks like it has been dropped face first onto the concrete and then slammed in the door of a car! Turns out, that is exactly what happened…

First, Chris tells me, he accidentally dropped it a couple of months ago face first onto the concrete pavement which cracked the upper corner. Then a few months later, he continues, he was driving with it in his lap. When he arrived at his destination, he had forgotten it was sitting in his lap and simply got out of the car. The phone fell and rested onto the door-sill, which turned out to be a beautiful thing, because otherwise it would have landed on the asphalt again!

He went to shut the door and the door would not shut properly because the seat belt was caught in the door (or so he thought). So he gave the door a couple of more hard slams for good measure when what should his wondering eyes should appear but an iPhone 3G getting beat between the door like a four-year-old playing Wack-A-Mole.

He told me it still worked and then turned it on to show the proof. “Dang”, I said, “How do you run this thing without slicing the ends of your fingers off?” Remember, that’s glass Apple brags about in those displays, not some cheap plastic. This is the real deal that can make your prints untraceable like a James Bond movie.

So I whipped out my new 3GS and shot a video. Those are my precious fingers doing the demonstration, too. Only once though, that’s all the proof I needed. Hmmmm, maybe I will splurge for one of those fancy safety cases…