A Long Awaited Upgrade

The title of this piece comes from “A Long Awaited Party,” the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been re-reading it lately. It has some interesting things to say today about the value of innocence and protecting it: it’s better if the innocents stay safe even if they are ignorant about the dangers around them. For me, that puts all the ranting I used to do about the uninformed American public in an entirely new light.

So, Mac OS X 10.1. As someone pointed out on Slashdot, a pleonasm of a version number. But a heck of a good operating system.

Where do I begin? The trip to Northshore for the disc was pretty humorous. Lisa had something else to see in the mall and left me alone at the front door of the Apple Store. Words don’t do the place justice. How about ten-foot glass panes suspended on wires from the ceiling and floor displaying the Aqua interface? Shelves and shelves of software? All the current hardware on display, plus “digital hub” accessories? Heck of a retail experience.

I asked the floor guy where I found the upgrade, and he said, “Oh, that’s back at the Genius Bar. I’ll walk you back there.” He went back and told one of the Mac Geniuses (yes, that’s a job title) that I needed the upgrade. The Genius said “Stand back a little.” Wondering, I did, and he tossed the package to me like a frisbee. “There you go,” he said.

The actual install wasn’t nearly as fun, but it also wasn’t onerous. I left it alone for about half an hour (I think I accidentally had it include resources for a bunch of other languages, or it probably would have been faster). On boot, the login screen defaulted to listing all the users in the system with pictures next to them. Pick a login name, then type in a password. Great for home users. I promptly changed the setting back to force people to type in a username. I take my laptop everywhere and it makes me feel better that if my laptop walks off the person will have to know my login name before he can do anything with it.

So, logging in: the login window shows a spinning progress bar now and stays open until a few seconds before the Dock appears. The Dock is now hidden by default. The battery, clock, volume, and Airport indicators are now in the menu bar and their Dockling counterparts are gone. I mean gone–not on my hard drive any more. A little disconcerting, but I can get over it. I open an application and am knocked back in my seat, it’s that fast. And they’re all fast. And that’s really cool. Mozilla is more stable now when compared with the same build running under 10.0.4.

What about that whole SOAP/XML-RPC thing? I go to Apple’s scripting site for OS X and download the Script Menu. Drag it to the menu bar to install it. Pull it down–there’s a few Internet services already there. Select “Temperature by Zip Code.” Type in my zip. Within about a second (over a dialup line) it tells me what the temperature is outside. Not a gee whiz demonstration, but it did it all using a Web service and SOAP. No browser had to be open.

Apple released the manual for programming this interface yesterday. I might have something to say about how it all works later this week. Right now I have to go watch a DVD. Which, by the way, I no longer have to reboot to do.


On a completely different note, mahna mahna! Also, Esta has some hilarious things to say about pickled squirrels today…