Living with Leopard

Living with Leopard

iChat. Now it's time to weigh in on the biggest disappointment that I found in the otherwise pretty damn good Leopard: iChat - more specifically, iChat Theater.


Don't get me wrong; I don't think that all of iChat's latest iteration is a buggy morass. Lots of the new features are quite attractive. Tabbed chats, for example, and audio and video recording. All good stuff. But I never could get iChat Theater working exactly right, and my experience with the new backdrops was a complete disappointment.


Let me start with the oddest bug I uncovered. Take a quick look at this photo of my Power Mac G5 (right) sharing a PDF with my Mac Pro (left) using iChat Theater's file-sharing capability and viewing the PDF in full-screen mode. Notice anything, well, amiss?


When I used full-screen mode to view a PDF shared in iChat Theater, the image reversed - but only on one of my test Macs.


I reported this oddity to Apple, but they haven't been able to replicate it - though it's completely replicable on my Mac Pro. Ah, bugs.


More distressing is iChat Theater's poor quality when I shared a PDF over my home network with a Dual 1GHz Mirrored Drive Door Power Mac G4 running Tiger. (Tiger-based Macs can see all of the new iChat's effects; they just can't generate them.) While the full-screen quality of the reverse PDF on the Mac Pro was quite good, the full-screen PDF shared using iChat Theater on the mirror Door looked like this:


Here's an actual-size detail of a PDF shared with a Tiger user on a Power Mac G4. "Crisp" is not the first word that leaps to mind, now, is it?


Sharing the same page with another Leopard user - Roman at the Mac|Life offices, by the way - elicited no complaints about image quality from him. I don't know whether it was the low power of the G4 here at home or the fact that it was running Tiger, but something was certainly degrading image quality.


Things got wonkier when Roman and I tried out iChat Theater's backdrops capabilities. As you'll recall, you can substitute either still-image or video backdrops for your real - and, presumably, boring - surroundings. First Roman tried instigating an iChat Theater session with him sitting in front of one of Apple's supplied still images, the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, the poor man's head appeared to be full of holes.


Shall we say, "suboptimal?"


Video whiz and Web guru Robbie Baldwin proffered the opinion that since iChat Theater uses a process similar to green-screen chroma-keying to map out all the colors in Roman's background, the fact that Roman was sitting in front of a dark, jumbled array of shelves, books, and equipment was throwing iChat Theater for a loop. We decided, therefore, that I should initiate the iChat Theater session from my far-more-boring home office.


Unfortunately, my Dual 2.7GHz Power Mac G5 wasn't up to the task, as Apple's iChat specs make clear. In fact, it wouldn't even let me try - the option to initiate a backdrop session wasn't available. Now, I wouldn't exactly call a Dual 2.7GHz Power Mac G5 a dog, but apparently the trickery needed for iChat Theater's backdrops requires some serious horsepower - I'm guessing that it relies heavily on Intel processors' advanced SSE media-processing instructions.


So I switched over to my Dual 2.66GHz Dual-Core Mac Pro. iChat Theater was definitely happier with my office's duller background, but the quality of the illusion was still far from anything that I have seen in any of the many Apple-managed demos I've seen of backdrops. There was still plenty of breakup in my image, and the borders between the backdrop - still or video - and my image were far from crisp and visibly unstable.


Roman and I then tried sharing a PDF using iChat Theater, but after our audio kept breaking up and our video froze entirely, we simply gave up - although the PDF looked quite nice, indeed. At this point in its development, Roman and I give iChat Theater two thumbs down.


Click the Next link below to read on.


Next: Other Apps


If you want to skip around, click on one of the links below.


1. Introduction

2. The Finder & the Desktop

3. Screen Sharing, Stacks, & Spotlight

4. Quick Look & Spaces

5. Bugs

6. Time Machine

7. iChat

8. Other Apps (Mail, Safari, Preview)




+ Add a Comment


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Its a good idea. I wont too more GB's for my new game spore spore.


Leopard Tips

Visit for daily posted Leopard tips for Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 users!!!!!


Brian Knoblauch

Relieved to see I'm not the only one out there that has crashes while emptying the trash! I'm on PowerPC. Intel users that I know haven't seen the issue yet (they don't also seem to have the TimeMachine issues either that I do).



Mine's locked while emptying the trash now. I'm on Intel, so sadly, it's an issue with both. What's the safe way for me to shut down with it like this? The x button isn't responding.



Белая оптимизация

eSATA PCI card, manufactured by Promise Technology, that was bundled with their drive (and I concur)y.



I want the biggesst HD I can get which is 250 GB but it is has a 5400 rpm drive. I do mostly picture editing. How much slower is this drive than the 200 GB 7200 rpm interms of real world performance. Is the differance
Many Thanks, Steve



While the features in this system are nice (I, for one, feel that Stacks has some great potential in the future) I really wish I could actually *USE* it.

Installed it on my Dual Core 2.3 G5 last night... I shouldn't have, it just plain refuses to work there, I've seen the "Your computer has to be restarted" screen about a dozen times...

Oh Apple, why have you forsaken me and my PowerPC?

For the record while it is still buggy it sure works a lot better on my Core2 MacBook.

My advice would be to wait, especially if you have a PowerPC. I just hope that a significant update is in the pipe soon because I really don't want to have to muck with going back to Tiger...

Okay, venting over...



A Proud Christian

You wrote that "There's no way on god's green earth..." Don't you think that the Creator of the universe deserves a capital letter on His name? Or maybe you California poeple try to keep His authority at arms-length.


A Humble Catholic

I'm sure the lord can forgive the occasional un-capitalization of his title (god is not a name). Think about how many times You've had to reenter a password because You failed to hold the shift key. Or think of how many typos You see on this website. If god has the capacity to forgive such a transgression then why can't You?

BTW: I am a practicing Catholic. Previous uses of "Lord", "His", and "God" without proper capitalization are not meant to deride God, but to contrast my intentional disregard for capitalization to the author's possibly accidental disregard for capitalization (Run-on sentence. I know. Lay off.).

Oh, and directly to "A Proud Christian." If you really wanted to draw attention to the fact that the author disrespected God, then you should have used "you california people."


Jon Angel

I was really disappointed with stacks. I loved how the dock used to respond to folders, as a matter of fact I put the whole hard drive down there and was able to navigate quickly though subfolder after subfolder. You can no longer do this BOOOO!


Hunter McConnell

Maybe I missed the mesage somewhere along the line but does Leopard not support Classic applications?



Hunter McConnell asks if Classic is supported in Leopard. Sadly, the answer is no. The last version to support Classic was Tiger -- Classic has gone the way of the dodo.



Right. Apple announced this WELL in advance of the Leopard release, that is, that Leopard would no longer support the 'Classic-within-OSX' feature.

Meanwhile, Rik, I discovered a bug related to this--my mirror-drive-door dual 1 GHz G4, which is Classic-bootable, wouldn't boot in Classic after Leopard was installed. And it wasn't a nice refusal.

Upon setting the Startup Disk to OS 9.2.2 and restarting, I got the dreaded blinking-"?" Mac icon. After finding out how to open the drive door with MacOS not running (hold mouse button down during startup--thanks, Apple, for the paper manual!), I used my Apple-supplied OSX CD 1 of 2 (which says on it that I can "boot from this disk"), but it wanted to force me to INSTALL 10.2. Maybe at this point I should have tried the Leopard DVD, but instead I started up my iBook G3 in Target Disk mode (hold "t" key during startup) and FireWire'd it to the G4, setting my startup disk to the iBook's HD (with 10.3.9), and that worked. I reset my startup disk to the G4's 10.5 and restarted successfully. Phew!! Lucky I had a spare Mac handy!

So Leopard apparently doesn't recognize a Classic OS system partition as bootable, and locks up (or out, actually). Yet it allows you to set your startup disk to that Classic OS and thus lock you out of your machine. This is a bug, plain and simple, and a somewhat nasty one at that.

Makes me wonder what the 10.5 installation did to my Classic to disable its bootability. And why.



Hi there,

There used to be two problems with e-mail from Mail when viewed in Outlook. #1 there were question mark symbols throughout when more than one space was used between sentences. This is fixed. #2 is that the HTML font was not set in an HTML e-mail. In the 2.5 years since Tiger, this still hasn't been fixed?! I just checked by e-mailing Outlook on XP.




In your spotlight screenshot of the list of Beatles songs, "Gerald R. Ford" was the user listed in the menubar.

And I thought he was dead.



Of two glitches I've come across in Leopard so far (one being the trash issue), Permissions Repair seems to go on endlessly....they will repair from the OS X Leopard Disc "Disc Utilties" folder, but not from the Disc Utilities Folder on the Hard Drive.


Karl Rowley

Thanks, Rik, great review. You mention the 4 possible connections for Time Machine and the fact that a NAS will work fine. I'm in the process of buying one (4HD-RAID1) for my small business and I'll probably hook it up by Gigabit Ethernet to maximime speed... Does that mean that yes, TM could work on such NAS but no, because it's through Ethernet? Weird. I'm presently hooked up by USB2 and frankly, it's too slow for our 2 macs sharing it from an AEBS. (is eSata faster?) Thanks.



In answer to your questions, Karl, about Time Machine backup-drive connections.

1. Yes, you can most certainly use Time Machine to back up to a NAS over Ethernet (and to a server as well, for that matter). Thanks for pointing out that lack of clarity in my write-up -- I asked Roman to post a clarification.

2. Yes, eSATA is a lot faster than USB 2.0 - even faster than FireWire 800, in my experience. If I could only get my Seagate eSATA drive running under Leopard...



I finally tracked down a solution for the Seagate Promise card installation under Leopard and thought I'd share since Seagate doesn't seem to care!

From the install disk, pull the eSATA300.pkg file from the eSATA300.dmg image to the Desktop. Right click and choose "Show Package Contents". In \Contents\Resources\, delete the file called "VolumeCheck". Run the installer and everything should work without the annoying "Index 17" message.

VolumeCheck is a file that checks the volume to see if it can accept the installation and apparently the Seagate installation doesn't find the correct checksum under Leopard.

Also, you can use the eSATA ports for Time Machine backups, but if you have to reinstall an entire volume using the Leopard boot disk, the Disk Utility in there won't see the eSATA ports to restore, so you have to use USB for restoring when on the Leopard boot disk.



It's good to see I'm not the only one having problems with my eSATA hard drive working under Leopard. I have the WD My Book Premium ES hdd. I've had no problems before I had upgraded to Leopard. Now, I just get all these errors.



I've been in communication with Seagate about my eSATA woes, with the result being that they're certain that the problem lies in a Leopard incompatibility with the driver for the eSATA PCI card, manufactured by Promise Technology, that was bundled with their drive (and I concur)y.

Both the exceptionally helpful Seagate tech-support guy (kudos, Alan!) and I tried to get satisfaction from Promise, but got nowhere. I gotta hand it to Seagate though -- when it became clear to them that trying to get an updated driver from Promise was a no-go, they offered to swap my eSATA drive for a higher-capacity FireWire drive.

I'd prefer to have a high-performance eSATA drive, of course (that sucker flew!), but Seagate is to be commended for giving me a drive that actually works in exchange for my not-happenin' eSATA drive. Call me one happy customer.



Maybe Leopard simply realizes that The End is truly the final showcase of all 4 Beatles talents in one song. Gotta admit no other Beatles song allows 4 separate solos. But of course there's that damned reverse logical order that stsacks uses as well lol.



If I ignore the feature of platform independence for the time being, I find Apple products including the Leopard & other Mac OS pretty convincing in their design, look & feel. However there have always been some performance issues with every Apple product. Apple never works to make its products platform independent. Users have to arrange seperate softwares & drivers if they are planning to use an Apple pc or a laptop. Even the highly efficient open source products like the premium wordpress templates need to have various modifications in order to run on a Mac OS.



Could you maybee share that image of the shared desktop crash in a bigger format ?



I find all of this very fascinating. I'm new to the Mac. Got my very first Mac on October 21st. I've enjoyed this week with it very much. I'm using my laptop less and less. And I got an iMac. I'm gonna get Leopard despite these bugs. I'm not some geeky kid. I don't know nearly as much about computers as I'd like and even less about Mac. Thank you though. I'll know what to expect when my dad orders me a MacBook. I've gotta call Apple. Gotta re-decide on which to get... a high high end MacBook or a high high end MacBook Pro... I'll bring up some of these bugs and see if I can't weasel a general idea of when they should be out of Leopard while I'm at it.

I'm a Tiger user... 20-inch iMac (250GB Hard Drive, 1 GB of RAM, 2.0 GHz CPU) and I noticed an issue with Pages. It may be in Leopard or it was just me. It got all glitchy like my second or third night with my iMac. I saved my work and closed it... then reopened the app. Still all glitchy. Closed it again and shut down for the night. Went back to it the next day and had no problems. Wasn't bad and far less than what I got use to with Windows. Anyone know if problems like that are more common in Leopard?

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