Mac OS X Leopard Part 7: iChat

Welcome to Part 7 of Deep Thought’s review of Mac OS X Leopard, the latest kitty to pounce on the world. It has been taking a while, but the Leopard review series should be completed this week. Woot!

In this particular sections, I get to discuss one of the more fun new features in Leopard: iChat 4.0. This is no minor improvement, mind you. So pull up a chair, relax, and get ready learn a little bit about iChat in Leopard.

Of course, no review segment would be complete without the following note on the score. That score you see way down at the bottom of the page only reflects whatever is discussed in this article. When all is said and done, we will assign Leopard a final score. Without further ado, let’s get into the heart of the matter.

(And pardon me for any typos--it’s 1:30 AM as I post this on the site and I’m really tired.)

Chat it up!

iChat made its debut way back in August 2002 as part of Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2). At the time it was a pretty bare-bones IM client. Despite its lacking feature set, however, iChat always had one thing going for it: its user interface. Accentuated by text bubbles in chats, a soundset that didn’t suck, and subtle animations, iChat made instant messaging fun. In time, audio and video chat support was added, along with support for Jabber and a number of other smaller features. This brings us to today…

Mac OS X Leopard Part 6: Time Machine [UPDATED]

Come one, come all, to Part 6 of Deep Thought’s Leopard review! There is still a lot to cover in Leopard, but we hope to have our review completed within about a week, if all goes well. In case you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed so far:

In this section, we will discuss one of Leopard’s marquee features: Time Machine.

Before we start, a quick note about the score: the score at the bottom of the page only reflects the features discussed in this article. When all is said and done, we will give Leopard an overall score.

Insert “Back to the Future” reference here

Time Machine’s entire existence can be owed to one fact: very few people back up their files on a regular basis. Those who do, however, use an assortment of tools. Some use commercial software such as Retrospect. Some use the free basic backup software that came with their external hard drive. Some manually drag files onto a disk. Still others use software like Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper!, which create exact copies of your hard drive on an external disk called clones (clones are nice because if anything goes wrong, you can start your computer off a clone of your internal hard drive).

Some of these backup procedures are easy, some are more tedious, but the bottom line is that millions of…

Mac OS X Leopard Part 5: iCal

Here we are, two weeks after Leopard Day, and here’s Part 5 of our Leopard review. Today I get to talk about a calendar application. Isn’t that exciting?

You’re snoring.

Okay, so it’s not the sexiest topic out there. An important, useful one, maybe, but it’s not exciting.

iCal is Apple’s calendaring application bundled with Mac OS X. One of my friends switched from Mac OS X to Windows (yes, seriously), but the one thing he misses from the Mac is iCal. Since its release in 2002, iCal has seen little in the way of major changes. Is this still the case with iCal 3.0? Let’s take a quick look at what’s new with iCal in Leopard.

First, here’s the customary note about the score. The score you see at the bottom of this page only reflects what I cover in this article. When we’re done with the Leopard review, we will give Leopard an all-around score. Anyway, let’s do this.

iCal’s user interface has undergone a major update in Leopard (screenshot). Some of the changes are merely cosmetic, others are usability improvements. First of all, iCal now looks prettier! The new Leopard look really suits iCal well. It’s an attractive, streamlined piece of software.

iCal’s sidebar has been reworked, and it now sorts your calendars by category (Calendars, .Mac account calendars, subscribed calendars). Also, you can create your own calendar groups. For example, if you have one calendar for article deadlines and one for event coverage(ahem), you can stick them…

Musings on Mac malware

As you may have heard amid all the Leopard talk the last couple weeks, there is an actual malicious trojan horse in the wild that affects Mac OS X. It is important to make the distinction between this and a virus or other malware that exploits an actual security flaw in Mac OS X. This trojan poses as a video codec and tricks the user into downloading it, mounting the disk image, and installing the trojan. It doesn’t exploit any security holes in OS X, it exploits user stupidity/gullibility.

Naturally, any time this sort of thing happens—a proof-of-concept, a security flaw found, actual malicious malware—there is a deluge of media attention, with some security analysts comparing Mac OS X to Windows 98.

Wait, what?

There are a few things people like to point to when to comes to Mac security. These one-liners may make for plenty of controversy, but let’s take a moment to dig deeper and see if there is something more going on.

Apple doesn’t pay enough attention to Mac security

Back in April I wrote about a Symantec report analyzing how quickly major OS vendors release security patches after flaws are discovered. The Symantec report looks at data between July and December 2006. Their findings? Microsoft took 21 days to issue fixes, Red Hat took 58 days, and Apple took 66 days.

In Wired’s article, New Apple Trojan Means Mac Hunting Season Is Open, security researcher Gadi Evron states that “Hackers will find it profitable and all too…

Nasty file-moving bug bites Finder users

Mac OS X Finder users moving (as opposed to copying) files from one volume or drive to the other may be in for a rude surprise if the connection is interrupted during a file transfer. Tom Karpik outlines this bug and how to reproduce it on his blog. If you’re moving files or folders from one drive or mounted share to another, and if the connection--USB, network, etc...--is interrupted, the original folders or files will disappear from existence. It isn’t simply a matter of files disappearing from the Finder, you won’t be able to access them from the Terminal, either. They will be, for all intents and purposes, gone. But you back up regularly, right? wink

The worst part about this? According to those who have commented on Karpik’s article, this bug has been around since Panther (Mac OS X 10.3).

As I mentioned before, this only impacts moving items between volumes. By default, the Finder will copy items to the target disk, leaving the original intact. If you hold down the command key while dragging a file to another disk, the files will be moved outright instead. This is when this bug comes into play. Karpik gives a short primer on what happens behind the scenes when Finder copies and moves files, which is worth reading.

John Gruber noted a workaround: copy the file to the other disk and then deltete the original if the copy job is successful.

I tried using the mv command in Terminal while forcibly interrupting the…

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