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by Eolake Stobblehouse

Putting X On The Front Burner... And Back Again
March 29th, 2001

Over the past few days I have been giving Mac OS X a fast and furious whirl as my main production system. I have just rebooted back into OS 9. Why?

Well, I love many things about X, and I think it may become the perfect system within a reasonable time, for if there is one thing it does have that Mac OS 9 does not, it is a large potential for growth and development.

I did not want to, but I have to admit that Beth Lock is right. The famous Internet columnist wrote an article where she likened the new OS to a new born baby, that she simple does not have the time and the inclination to nurse. (Read the article, it is funny.)

I was getting used to X fast. I like its look-and-feel, I like many of its features, and I like that it is stable.

That is the main reason I was eager to change, as I wrote last week. Please note that I was careful to say "the potential for reliability". Because that is all we have yet.

For instance, Photoshop 6.01, on my Cube (500Mhz, 512 megabyte RAM), has problems running in Classic environment. And while Eudora, which is the app I use the most (I get 200 mails a day) exists in a beta carbonized version, it is not good enough yet. Sometimes it gave up on fetching mail automatically, and I had to reboot the app.

All of this is compounded by the fact that X is still noticably slower than OS 9. I don't think that this is a necessary complication of "all the eye candy" as some pessimists think. My computer is able to run a quicktime film in the background while I work without noticable slowdown, and solid-window dragging perfect, so surely it can make a little transparency and stuff without suffering. I think X just needs to be optimized some more yet. But as it is right now, it is just too slow for me. You have to take into consideration though, that I have lived my life happily in front of a mac now for years, and I am getting damn fast. I multitask like crazy. Back and forth between e-mail app, Photoshop, Web design program, music app, text editor, bam bam bam... I use the wonderful F-key shortcuts all the time for changing between apps, and the dock in X cannot keep up with the speed of that. (I really hope that keyboard shortcuts for starting things will come this summer to OS X.)

I really wanted to be like Bryan Chaffin, who apparently has been running X as standard since the public beta... but sorry Apple, I am just too busy. I'll try again with 10.1.

Yours, Eolake Stobblehouse

is a contributing editor to the Mac Observer, specializing in cultural matters, and comes to us by way of MacCreator. Comments invited.

The title of this column, "Fuzzy Logic", refers to an attempt to view the larger issues without getting lost in the details. Sort of "squinting" at things:) Of course it is also the term for an attempt in computing to get computers to look at the world like it is, in a spectrum of grays, instead of 1 and 0, or Black and White.

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