Tinkering with Tiger

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Switching to Tiger was smooth for many Mac users. But a few others who installed OS X 10.4 were left unable to use some of the basic functions of their Macs. I know—I was one of them.

In Tiger, Apple’s .Mac syncing moved from being part of the iSync application to a system preference, going from an application-based service to a more intuitive, integrated model. As one of the technologies that was almost completely overhauled in Tiger, there have been some kinks to work out— for example, .Mac syncing flat out didn’t work on one of my upgraded machines.

(The new iSync 2.0 has its own share of problems, with some people not being able to properly sync many cell phones and Palm OS PDAs. You can read about some of the issues users are reporting on Apple’s online discussion boards.)

Another issue that plagued me was that Keychain Access didn’t allow some services to remember my passwords. A quick search of Apple’s support Web site showed I wasn’t alone in the problem. Unfortunately, there also appeared to be no solution either.

I updated several Macs to Tiger, and only one had the Keychain Access problem I mentioned. This illustrates one of the strange things about updating an operating system: a bug that affects one user may not affect another with a similarly configured machine. As frustrating as many of these problems are, Apple realistically can’t make everything work perfectly on every Mac—there are just too many variables.

Less than three weeks after Tiger hit store shelves, Apple fixed many of the problems associated with the operating system with the release of OS X 10.4.1. The update included many improvements to applications, Dashboard, .Mac and syncing, iLife, and more.

One major improvement is that users are now warned when downloading images or archives that contain an application—you must click on the Continue button that pops up in Safari in order to complete the download. The fix—which prevents automated Widget installation—is a response to some of the security concerns surrounding Dashboard.

The 10.4.1 update also addressed several issues with Apple’s Mail, including one in which the application could unexpectedly quit, stop responding, or fail to import your previous emails if third-party software were installed in the YourUserFolder/Library/Mail/Bundles or /Library/Mail/Bundles directories. OS X 10.4.1 fixes the problem by preventing previously-installed plug-ins from loading. Several .Mac syncing issues have been addressed, including the alert that your Mac “cannot login to the .Mac sync server”that could unexpectedly appear when clicking the Sync tab in your .Mac preferences and preventing your from syncing.

While the first Tiger update fixed several well-known problems there are still going to be some more (even after future updates come out)—that’s just the nature of operating system updates. If you’re making the switch to Tiger, be sure to back up all of your files and keep them in a safe place. I usually do a complete bootable backup, so I can just plug in my drive and boot my old system if I need to.

But I must say, I’ve had more problems with past OS upgrades than I’ve had with Tiger so far—and that says a lot about the quality of Apple’s work.

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