Miscellaneous Ramblings

Two Routes to OS X

Charles Moore - 2002.02.05 - Tip Jar

I've been interested to note the dissonance in approaches to making the transition to OS X between Dan Knight and myself.

My way has been to install OS X on a second Mac and gradually learn how to use it and the suite of native applications I will need to make OS X my production system. (This would also work on a single Mac, booting back and forth between OS X and OS 9, but would be less convenient).

Dan has chosen to make the switch first and then do "on the job training," as it were, with extensive use of familiar legacy applications running in Classic mode. Consequently, Dan is nominally switched to OS X before I am, even though I started the process back in November and he made his move only last week.

Editor's note: I disagree with that assessment; I haven't switched to OS X. I still spend most of my time in OS 9 simply because I'm more productive there. Maybe one-third of my time is spent in OS X getting comfortable with it, and about half that time is in Classic applications simply because I'm using Claris Home Page for my Web work and haven't yet completed the transition from Claris Emailer to PowerMail. Unlike Moore, I don't have a second PowerBook to dedicate to each OS. More on my transition in today's Going Ten, Part 3: Progressing Slowly. dk

Neither way he is "right" or "wrong," just different.

My philosophy on the matter has been that if I'm going to use legacy applications, I might as well use them in the legacy OS, and my determination from the start has been to go entirely OS X native when I take the plunge. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy who doesn't like compromises, whereas I perceive Dan as being more of a moderate (hope I'm accurately representing you here, Dan ;-) ). I've only started up Classic a couple of times under 0S X, both times by accident, when I double-clicked documents that needed a legacy app to run.

The downside to this, of course, is that I have to wait until the software I need to do my work is available and sufficiently debugged to make it tolerably usable. In my estimation, we're not quite there yet, but we're getting a lot closer.

A major advancement toward the goal was the installation of ViaVoice for 0S X dictation software. Because of a chronic physical condition, I require dictation software for stints of typing longer than a paragraph or two, so there was no point in my even trying to use 0S X for production until a dictation application was available. Happily, despite some significant bugs, ViaVoice X is the best dictation software I've used (when it works).

Dictation software aside, I suppose that the sort of software one uses will inevitably influence the way one makes their OS X transition. Here's what I'm using.

Text Editing/Word Processing/HTML markup

My main text-cruncher and HTML application in OS 9 is Tom Bender's Tex Edit Plus, and so it is in OS X. Tom got off the mark early in developing an OS X port of TE+, and it shows. The X version is stable and works just as well as it does in OS 9 as far as I've been able to tell so far, except that it takes a bit longer to start up - at least on the G3 PowerBook.

I'm also impressed with the new, OS X-only Okito Composer word processor, although it is very much a work in progress yet.

Email

I'm using three of the four email clients that I use in OS 9: Eudora 5.1 , SweetMail 2.1, and Nisus Email 1.6 (alas, old standby Eudora Light doesn't support X). All three work tolerably well, although Eudora has been buggy at times. I just downloaded the latest Eudora beta (20), and I trust that it will be an improvement stability wise. I should I hasten to add that neither SweetMail nor Nisus Email is bug-free either, but they're both quite usable as well.

Browsers

Again, as in OS 9, I use several browsers. In OS X - iCab, OmniWeb, and Netscape 6.2. I still have to get one of the text-only browsers - Links or Lynx - up to speed, that is: me up to speed on how to use them.

Graphics

MicroFrontier tells me that they are working on an OS X version of my favorite graphics application, Color It! However, for the present, there is the Open Source GIMP (too big and complex for me - 189 MB!), GraphicConverter (perhaps the best candidate until Color It! is available), Deneba Canvas (too expensive), and the painting module of AppleWorks 6 (which I don't have at this time). This is one area where I would be tempted to resort to Classic. I'm not waiting for Photoshop, because it's just too expensive. I don't use it in OS 9 either.

Desktop Database/NotePad substitute

Notepad Deluxe and Znippetizer so far - two different, but cool, OS X native apps from Scandinavia that do the job nicely.

FTP client

Transmit and Captain FTP. Both work. Transmit is very slick. Captain FTP is freeware.

Text Search Utility

SpeedSearch - works great, just like it does in OS 9. Better than Sherlock, and it doesn't require disk indexing.

Text Macro Utility

TypeIt4Me is quick, easy, and intuitive to configure. Rather than getting in the way, it streamlines operations remarkably, especially for folks who suffer from typing pain. The OS X public beta is a bit buggy, but this is one I wouldn't want to get along without.

Spell Checker

Since Tex Edit Plus doesn't have a built-in spell checker, I need a freestanding one. My favorite in OS 9 is SpellTools, but there isn't much hope for an OS X version, so the candidate here is Excalibur which is freeware and works reasonably well.

It will be interesting to compare notes with Dan as the OS X journey unfolds for both of us. Where both using PowerBooks - me a 500 MHz Pismo; Dan a 400 MHz TiBook. I am underwhelmed by the sluggishness of Finder response and application opening times on the G3, while Dan so far hasn't been complaining, inclining me to be deduce that his G4 machine is handling AltiVec-optimized Aqua, more slickly then my nominally 25% faster G3 machine is. I have 640 MB of RAM, so I don't think that's the problem - 500 MHz iBook owners with plenty of RAM are making the same observation. OS X is usable on G3 Macs, but it's better-suited to a G4.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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