Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

iAttended the "Leopard" launch tonight

iAttended the "Leopard" launch tonight

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desktopAfter running my errands this evening, I decided to truck on down to my local Apple store and see how things were cooking for the launch of OS X v10.5 "Leopard".

I arrived at the store in question at about 5:50pm knowing there would likely be a huge crowd, jugglers, clowns, hot dogs on the grill and maybe a cold beer.  There were some clowns.  Teasing.  Actually the crowd looked very hip and kool.  I felt like they were looking at me like they knew I was a Windows guy and, "What the hell are you doing here?"  Simple paranoia.

Since there was probably between 150-200 people in line, I decided to go eat and run an errand.  I came back at 7:15pm and the scene was very different.  The line was gone, the store was half full.

I was immediately greeted and the door man asked if I wanted to buy Leopard and leave or to browse the goods.  I was there to browse so they directed me to the store instead of the ropes to the special purchase counter.  I have a MacBook Pro being shipped to me next week so there's hardly any reason to buy anything.  We'll see how fast the Apple production line switches over.  The Apple website says the MacBook Pro is now shipping with Leopard.  I believe my reseller gets it direct from Apple so my chances are pretty good I think.

Finder, Quick Look and Spaces Demos

iMacAs I walked in, one of the Apple Geniuses was just starting a demo of Finder, Quick Look and Spaces.  He was using the new 24" iMac.  Leopard looked great on that machine and it was of course very quick.  Since it was the busiest part of the room and he was talking to another gentlemen and his son, I didn't ask any questions.  I just observed.  He did a good job.  I take it back.  I did ask a question.  I asked for a Time Machine demo.  He didn't have an external hard drive attached so he could not demo it.  He pointed out the Time Machine demo station.

Before we head there in this post, the Finder demo was unimpressive.  The comparison was made that it's just like iTunes.  I'm assuming the strategy here is to leverage the fact that iTunes is used by zillions of people so it'll give them a comfort zone.  That's smart.  I just didn't see anything in the demo that knocked my socks off.  I'll reserve judgement until I have my own machine and become a genius.  Frankly, I think I could have done the demo better and I don't own a Mac (until next week) and have never used Leopard.  I did however download and watch the entire Leopard Guided Tour, twice.  It became apparent later that some of the employees should have as well.  Most common comment from the employees, "It's new and I haven't had a chance to..."  Trust me, I understand how this goes but it did leave me wondering if Apple employees dogfood the products in development.

Quick Look is cool but that sort of preview technology has been around for a while.  I need to work with it a while to see if it is something truly new and innovative.  The speed was really good, but again it had better be on a multicore 2.8GHz iMac.  Right?

I like Spaces.  I'm a bit of a space cadet so it's no wonder.  I've been a fan of virtual desktops for years and years.  I think my first virtual desktop was on Sun OS but I can't really remember who I used first now.  Spaces will be popular for a variety of scenarios.  Developers will love it.  I can see having a space running a Windows or Linux VM.  Artists will love having their drawing or musical tools on one space and email or other stuff on another.  Lots and lots of uses for Spaces.

Time Travel

timemachineThe Time Machine feature is a nice touch.  Assuming you can get a user to go buy an external drive, plug it in and use it, this should be a life saver for a lot of people. The genius at the demo station was not up to speed on the feature and gave me false information.  For instance, I was told a complete backup of everything is taken every hour.  Wrong.  Here's the real answer:

"Every hour, every day, an incremental backup of your Mac is made automatically as long as your backup drive is attached to your Mac. Time Machine saves the hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month."

I knew what I was told was wrong but I just played stupid and said I needed to go buy a terabyte drive now.  I was not shown the Time Machine settings nor was Quick Look mentioned at the demo station.  Sad.  More training issues.  They did mention the demo data wasn't allowing the full walk back in time they expected.  Hey, I know how demos go, but punt.  Show what you do have!

MacBook Pro Station

I started to go over to the iChat area next, but it was jammed with people.  So I skipped it and headed over to see how Leopard looked on a MacBook Pro.  Note to self, do not look at the 17" MacBook Pro first.  It makes the 15.4" look wimpy.  Leopard looked great on both.  The dude manning one of the 15.4" Pros left for a minute so I explored.  It was a brief exploration but the visual effects were very nice (love the Genie effect), application launching is intuitive, etc. 

I had been watching the Genius next to me demo another Pro for a gentlemen.  He was having trouble finding the System Settings.  I know you are rolling your eyes right now.  He tried searching the file system in Finder and flailed around in Leopard much too long.  So while I was on the unmanned machine, I decided to try finding them myself.  I did what I thought was logical.  I typed "settings" into the top right search field known as Spotlight.  Bam.  Found it in one second.  Reminds me of the Windows Vista Pearl search field. 

Touching the Touch

Before going home, I played with the iPod Classic and iPod Touch.  The new classic is certainly nicer than my fifth generation iPod Video.  Slimmer and I like the matte front finish.  It cuts down on finger prints.  I'm unsure about the new interface.  The Touch is certainly a sexy thang.  It rocks.  What a shame it only has 16GB of storage.  Come on Apple, bump it to 32 and I'll buy one.

Heading Home

Time for me to head home.  On the way I home I reflected on the launch.  I guess it wasn't really a launch, just opening day for the sales.  All of the employees at the store seemed happy and professional.  Some were under trained on Leopard, but I would imagine that will change in short order.  The product itself looked pretty good.  I only saw a few of the 300+ new features.  Hopefully the machine I receive next week will arrive with Leopard loaded.  If not, I get to play with Tiger until I can get my upgrade.

Looks like we have some strong competition.  Competition is good.

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  • I understand your impression of "under training", but that's how Apple launches work.  Retail folks don't see the product before the public.  It's part of the Steve's Super Secrecy regime that tries to ensure that when he unveils a new product no one who isn't under NDA has seen it but it's also ready-to-buy in stores.

    The iPhone was an aberration because of the requirement for FCC registration which meant that the technical details would have been out of Apple's control and no doubt leaked, so Steve did the unveil six months before launch.

    Jim

  • Yea, I figured.  Apple does a great job of creating mystery that way.  We've certainly discussed the pros and cons about such things here but it pretty impossible with the number of employees we have, partner channels, etc.  It's a balance.  

    I'm sure all of those employees will get plenty of hands on time this week and next so it'll be a non issue soon.  I was just checking out the scene.