Post-Leopard Upgrade Reflections

So I got a new computer last Monday, and I haven't reflected upon this very much, and I think it's worth reflecting on. So here goes.

My first reaction is to say: this was incredibly worth it, and I made the right decision. Both in terms of timing, and in terms of economy. While my old computer worked, in a certain sense, it had a number of limitations which this computer doesn't have. The battery was basically shot, the operating system needed upgrading, the computer was dead. Getting all that up to snuff would have been 25% of the cost of the upgrade. And all of the main components which would be prone to sudden failure (screen, hard drive, internals) would have still been 3 years old.

And there are some great perks to having a new computer. Its lighter, which is easier on the back. Its thiner which is easier on my wrists, it has a much larger hard drive which means I can keep my music collection onboard, at least for the next year or so, which solves my space problem. It can crunch through data faster. The camera lets me make stupid youtube videos of the cats.

The truth is, that 80% of what I do with my computer deals with a bunch of pretty small text files and a command line. I made a joke in a meeting this week defending my choice of ruby for a few scripts that I wrote a year ago on the grounds that while it's a bit slower than the alternatives, [1] I didn't have a great need to load-ballance my laptop, and that really hasn't changed.

The upgrade was really smooth, I ran the migration assistant, and so in some ways, I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get more of a chance to install programs with better practices [2], as the migration seemed to take care of this for me, but I think its testament to Apple that it feels like I've had this computer for much longer than just a week at this point.

Also, because Leopard, OS X 10.5, is a year old now, and I'm just really using it for the first time I have a few responses/reactions. First of all, I'm liking it. It's not a ground breaking change, of course, but the updates to core programs like, iCal, and preview are quite nice. Quite nice: useful I also really like the tabbed interface in Terminal. Terminal is basically where iTerm was for 10.4 except that the method of switching between tabs is a bit more asinine. But I'll get over it.

The biggest change is spaces, the multi-desktop ability in Leopard. Linuxes have had this for years, and there was even an add on for 10.4 that would let you do this. I must admit that every previous attempt at using more than one desktop space has ended in failure. I just can't seem to grok it, and at least this time around I'm more prone to just pile most things into one "space" and then use expose, (OS X's little trick to get a birds eye view of all your windows at a glance. I'm really good at letting expose allow me to feel comfortable with 15+ open windows. Though, these days, I rarely get more than 10 open.

Expose + Spaces is sort of cool, and I think I would probably be able to grok it better if spaces would have come out before expose. As it is, I'm not really using it, though when I start doing more (scientific) literature reviewing/perusing I can imagine how spaces would come in handy.

And I think this is the lesson that I take from thinking about technology: more half the battle is getting your brain around the solution, the rest is just making the computer act as a suitable substrate for your activities. While there's a little give and take, of course, the human interaction bit is crucial.

Over and out.

[1]I think that speed is the consistent complaint about ruby in contrast to languages like perl and python. I've heard some stuff about how it treats classes like objects, or something, but not a huge problem for me, right now. While the speed issue might be true, it's so not my concern right now.
[2]Sorry, I seem to be turning into a librarian, more on this later.
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