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#678: Snow Leopard Incompatibilities, Using Spaces, Protecting Against Accidental Damage, Repair of the Week


Happy Tuesday,

I left our flagship South Burlington store last night with Owen in the passenger seat, perfect doggy posture and tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, and took the long way back to my home in Moretown. There aren’t many signs of Fall yet, but sumac is beginning to turn brilliant red and the apple trees are sagging under the weight of larger and more fruit than in past years.

Ed spoke yesterday of his first taste of this year’s apples, a Ginger Gold, one of my very favorite varieties that happens to be completely unsuitable for winter storage. With corn still available, tomatoes unaffected by late season blight in their prime, and apples coming into season, I’ve found the suddenly low temperatures have me craving the autumn months. I’m ready for butternut squash, hardy post-frost collard greens, and braised food.

Despite the cool temperature, I swam with Owen in the Mad River over the weekend. He still smells a bit skunky when he gets wet, and if experience has anything to do with it, I can safely say he’ll smell in February when he’s wet from melted snow.

Snow Leopard is here and I have it on my MacBook Pro. It hasn’t been long enough for me to form a strong opinion of this very significant release of Mac OS X, and no third parties support the 64-bit architecture quite yet (at least that I know of) so the speed gains are all in the Apple iApps as far as I can tell. We’ve long known there won’t be any new features, but Snow Leopard appears to be a solid beginning to the next chapter of the Mac OS’s evolution.

Enjoy this issue, and keep in touch.


  Snow Leopard Incompatibilities  

With each and every major operating system upgrade, there are a handful of programs that just won’t work. Snow Leopard is no exception, and the list includes some anti-virus software, old versions of Parallels (2.5 and earlier), a number questionably useful titles, and even some Apple software (AirPort Admin Utility for Graphite and Snow).

If these applications are present on your computer when you install Snow Leopard, there will be a folder called Incompatible Software at the root of your hard drive once the installation is finished. You can check with the software manufacturer for any updates in the coming weeks, but know that there is no workaround for incompatible software available from Small Dog nor from Apple—you must go directly to the manufacturer for any update.

Also on the list are a few applications that are not technically incompatible but will not be allowed to launch, registering a message that the application unexpectedly quit. Apple feels these are safe applications if they are updated for Snow Leopard. This list includes Parallels Desktop 3.0, the hugely popular virtualization tool from Parallels.

Also on the list are a few applications that are not incompatible but will not be allowed to launch, registering a message that the Application unexpectedly quit. Apple feels that these are safe applications if they are to be updated. The list of Applications that need to be updated includes Parallels Desktop 3.0.

The document can be found here:

  How I Use Spaces  

I discovered recently in an informal poll of my co-workers that I seem to be the only one in love with Spaces. When Leopard was released nearly two years ago, Spaces was touted as one of the biggest new features, allowing up to sixteen separate virtual desktops. While hardly a new idea in the computing world, I always found the implementation in other distributions cumbersome and clunky. Apple applied their expected touch of polish and turned a useful feature into a useful, easy, and fluid feature.

Space is located in System Preferences, paired with Apple’s other extremely useful window management feature, Exposé. Make sure the “Enable Spaces” box is checked, along with “Show Spaces in Menu Bar,” which creates a small menu items for a quick reference to which space you are currently in. I also find it handy to map Spaces to a hot corner, for quick switching between spaces. Once it’s enabled, you can assign applications to always open in a particular space; this is where the true power of Spaces shines through.

If you’re like me, you are probably browsing the web, listening to iTunes, checking Twitter, sending emails, and finishing a presentation all at the same time. With more than two applications open at once, the desktop can become very cluttered and hard to manage. Sure, Exposé does make jumping windows very easy, but I don’t necessarily need to have iTunes and Twitter in the way of my Keynote projects and emails.

Spaces also allows me to group applications onto a particular desktop and then use Exposé to work between those programs. This makes it much easier to multitask with your Mac and can actually improve your workflow quite dramatically. This works fantastically when working on presentations, photo editing, podcast recording, or even file browsing.

My personal Spaces philosophy is as follows: web activity in Space one, iTunes in two, downloads in three, email and Word documents in four. Not only does this allow me to mentally organize myself, it means I can have all these items open at once and not worry about minimizing or manipulating window sizes when working between them. The bird’s eye view Spaces gives uses also allows you to drag applications between desktops and even rearranges entire Spaces with each other.

Spaces is now one of my favorite Mac OS features and is now completely integrated into my everyday workflow.

To learn more about Spaces, check out Apple’s video tutorial on YouTube here.

Do you use Spaces? Email me your favorite ways to use Spaces!

  Accidental Damage: Why Protection Is Important  

With many schools and colleges back in session, we are seeing the usual and predicable spike in accidental damage repairs in our service facilities. It’s very important to remember that a dropped computer, one with a broken screen, or one with any type of liquid damage—no matter how new—has no warranty coverage.

Small Dog has a ton of products to protect your Mac or iPod from impact and liquid damage. Keep in mind, though, that you still should avoid dropping your laptop or drinking anything near it. Here are my favorite protective products for Apple laptops.

Speck cases are hard shells that are form-fitted for a precise and tight fit to your laptop. Available in many colors and textures, they are the best-selling and best-performing protection against impact damage.

The second part of protecting your laptop is a well-padded laptop bag like those from Timbuk2. These messenger-style laptop bags have lots of storage, look good, and provide great protection. If you prefer a sleeve-style laptop case, know that they provide less protection, but are still better than carrying around a naked computer. My favorite is the new Hammerhead line, named for CEO Don Mayer’s bulldog.

Jeremiah Johnson, assistant manager of the South Burlington store, likes the Incipio Feather line of cases, and has a review a little later in this issue of Best in Showroom.

The third element of a good protection plan is a keyboard cover. KB Covers makes a line of form-fitting super-thin plastic covers that’ll save your bacon if you spill a small amount of liquid on your keyboard. It only takes a drop of water to make it through your keyboard and onto complex (and very expensive) circuitry below. If you must drink near your laptop, you owe it to yourself to get a keyboard cover.

If, despite your best efforts to protect your machine (or if you didn’t protect it), your computer is dropped or spilled in, it is best to discontinue use immediately to prevent more damage. A dropped computer should have its hard drive preemptively replaced in most cases, and a computer that’s been spilled in should have a thorough inspection by a good technician. Our Technical Service team can often revive a damaged computer for hundreds, or even over $1,000 less than the same repair at an Apple store.

  Repair of the Week: Nvidia Quadro FX 4500  

A customer brought in his out-of-warranty 8-core 3.0GHz first-generation Mac Pro at the end of last week, explaining that the frequent kernel panics were making productivity impossible.

This computer was about as upgraded as can be: 32GB of RAM, four hard drives, a fiber channel card for a Promise RAID, and a Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 video card were all installed, so troubleshooting promised to be interesting. We keep tons of extra known-good service parts in stock for diagnostic purposes, but the Quadro graphics cards and fiber channel cards are so uncommonly seen (and extremely expensive) that we don’t keep them on hand.

After eliminating software, RAM, AirPort card, Bluetooth card, hard drives, main logic board, processors, and fiber channel card, we went to swap out the Quadro card for a lesser model to see if that was the culprit. Sure enough, installing an X1800XT video card resolved the issues immediately.

I mentioned this card was expensive—and that the computer was out of warranty. By expensive, I meant about $2,000 expensive. AppleCare for Mac Pro costs $230. Help us remain at your side and get yourself covered!

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