I’m starting to hate Safari 5.1!

I know hate is a strong word. But, it fits.

Foolishly, I installed Safari 5.1 as soon as it was released. Big mistake.

Apple, in its infinite stubbornness and misguided drive to oversimplify things, has made some maddening changes to Safari in the name of my security and ‘to make things easier’. Asswipes.

The end result is to take a lot of control out of those who know how to handle it.

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Leopard 10.5.0 problem spots

I’ve been using Leopard as my only OS for 4+ days now. Here is a first report on where I’ve encountered the most problems.

Safari:

I spend a lot of time with Safari (can’t use any other browser as my main browser). It’s the only Apple application that I use so extensively. So far I’ve noticed few thing:

  1. It crashes way more than previous versions of Safari. I guess they’re using a code-base almost completely different from the beta 3.0 version that they released for Tiger. The beta Tiger version was almost bulletproof for me. I’ve had unexplained crashes so far at least twice per day. Most of the crashes happened when I started typing in a form.
  2. It seems to be unable to block certain type of popup windows. I have the ‘Block pop up windows’ preference set, and yet I’ve had two or three instances where websites managed to show me some ads in a popup window. Not good.
  3. Visual glitches: A site I visited changed the size of my main Safari window to a really small size and then back to full-screen. After the expansion to full size, the tabs bar got clipped and only a third of its normal hight showed. I couldn’t get it back to normal size without quitting Safari. (side note: I wish Safari had a resize blocking feature like Camino. I just hate it when a stupid website decides that my window size is not adequate for its display and ‘helps’ me by changing the size of my browser window).
  4. Scripting: Apple changed the behavior of some AppleScript commands. The ‘open’ command used to open a new window with the URL, now it opens it in a tab. The kicker is that Safari doesn’t seem to respond to ‘make new window’ command. (I’ve worked around this one by modifying my code to anticipate a new tab instead of a new window and acts accordingly.)
  5. Spontaneous cookie loss: It has happened few times already. I would be surfing and managing my various websites, (most of my websites rely on cookies for log in), and suddenly, I would be logged out. I looked over cookies and most of the cookies weren’t there. They simply vanished. Not all cookies, just some. I have no clue how to track this bug.
  6. Web clippings don’t work: I’ve tested the Web Clip feature and it doesn’t seem to work. When I make a clip of a page, it appears correctly in Dashboard, but whenever I reload the Dashboard, the clip is empty. I tried it with various sites with the same result.

Folder Actions:

To show my geeky side, one of Leopard’s features that I anticipated the most is the enhancements to the Folder Actions engine. In Tiger, if you had multiple folders with folder actions, those actions don’t run concurrently. They run back to back. So if folder 1 fires its action and it takes a while to complete, folder 2 won’t fire its action until folder 1’s action ends. Leopard’s feature list promised to fix this.

However, not only they didn’t fix it, a bug seems to have broken Folder Actions further. Now, even if I have multiple folders with folder actions set up, only the first active one works. All the other ones don’t work at all. So now I have to choose which folder action I can live without and which ones are too crucial.

Leopard second impression

Well, after my first attempt at installing Leopard by doing a normal ‘Update’ on the previous system, I couldn’t get the Finder to respond, no matter what I did.

I changed strategy and re-installed by doing an ‘Erase and Install’.

‘Erase and install’ worked perfectly.

It took about 45 minutes to install from scratch, excluding all printer drivers. I don’t use the laptop for anything other than managing the site, internet access and email while on the road; so printing is not needed at all. That saves nearly 3 GB of hard disk space.

After that I went through the step by step setup and created my user account and internet setup. Everything went smoothly. Setting the system’s preferences to my own settings took about 20 minutes.

My main reason for this test install is to test if my site management software works with the new system. Great news for me, it works flawlessly.

I performed few tests. In each instance my software downloaded and extracted submissions; formatted them and re-uploaded them to the server. So from that point of view, my mind is at ease with regards to leopard. Everything else on my system is not crucial. Even if there were some bugs, they won’t matter much. The important things work.

I’m still not sure about upgrading the iMac. I can’t do an erase and install on it without wasting few days getting back to my old setup. I may try the archive and install option instead.

For the record, this is the first time an ‘update’ style upgrade of any version of the Mac OS fails. I’ve been a Mac user for the last 22 years. Also, this is the first time I ever attempted to do an upgrade on a system that barely meets the minimum hardware requirements for the new system. So that may have something to do with the failure.

Leopard is a very slick cat so far.

Leopard first impression

Today, at 10:30 am EDT, the Purolator guy dropped off the tiny package. Leopard is packaged in what have recently become Apple’s standard software package. A box barely larger than the DVD is housing the new system, along with a small booklet.

At 10:40 I had started the install on my non-essential iBook (G4, 1.42 Ghz 512 MB of RAM). With its paltry 512 MB memory, the iBook meets the minimum system requirement for Leopard.

It took 20 minutes to verify that the installation DVD is good (a good thing to do on the first use of the DVD). Total installation time on the iBook one hour and 28 minutes. The last minute (that’s when the installer progress bar reports ‘about 1 minute remaining) lasted about 18 actual minutes.

Once the installer was done, the iBook booted to the log in screen in three minutes.

From the log in screen to the Setup Assistant, 2 min, 40 sec.

After the smooth sailing through the installation and the reboot and the setup assistant, things became frustrating.

When the setup assistant declared that everything was done, including registration, the main menu bar showed up, the Dock showed up but the Finder was completely non-responding. I clicked Safari’s icon in the Dock and it launched, connected to the net and worked perfectly. First impression of Safari (3.04) is that it’s blazing fast, even on a busy, minimal machine.

The Finder still not responding.

I launched Terminal and started ‘top’. It reported no processor activity on the Finder, but the ‘mds’ and ‘mdworker’ were going crazy (mds is the main process for Spotlight and it launches an ‘mdworker’ process each time it needs to index something). Spotlight was re-indexing the drive.

By mistake, I clicked on the new ‘Downloads’ folder in the new Dock and the Dock became unresponsive. Not good so far.

I force quit the Finder and things improved a bit. Quicksilver launched after the Finder reloaded. The Dock is still stuck. I force quit that too. However, the Finder is still non-responsive.

It seems the Finder won’t respond until Spotlight is finished indexing the main drive (60 GB). That’s a crappy design if it is intentional.

After an hour or so, I lost patience and force rebooted the computer (the shutdown and restart menu items produced no results).

I rebooted the laptop using the installation DVD and checked the drive. All clear.

Rebooted again and this time the menu bar didn’t show up and the dock is non responsive. I can’t launch anything else. I can hear the hard disk whirring away. Spotlight indexing is proceeding.

I clicked on the Spotlight icon in the non-existant menu bar and it showed a panel telling me about Spotlight and showing a progress bar reporting 2 hours left of indexing.

So, so far, not very encouraging. The laptop doesn’t have any documents on it. So if indexing is taking this long on the system files and the applications (mostly standard), then I would be very, very hesitant to install it on my iMac, which has millions of files on it.

So, to sum it up: Leopard first impression on iBook 1.42 Ghz G4 with 512 MB of RAM: CRAP!

I’ll wait for Spotlight to finish and then try to get a second impression.