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Snow Leopard: First Followups

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Snow Leopard's got a new math, writes Jason Snell at Macworld, and continues to relate something bound to make computer scientists everywhere cringe.

Weeding out the real information from the Tolstoyesque narrative, one finds that Apple have now succumbed to the idea ordinary punters can't understand how a kilobyte is 1024 bytes - something computer scientists have taken as a working principle since Day One, based as it must be on the binary architecture of transistors and thereby computer processing.

It wasn't too long ago someone decided that the 1024 byte glob should instead be called a kibibyte and that kilobyte should now and henceforth represent an even 1000 bytes - a concept that's totally worthless and irrelevant.

But Apple have gone a step further in Snow Leopard: they don't work in kibibytes at all - all sizes are now in 1000 byte kilobytes instead. At this rate the world will soon be overtaken by morons, the computer scientists who make the world go round will tire of them and quit, and then the morons will blame the computer scientists for screwing everything up.

Rob Griffiths of Mac OS X Hints has another piece on what's happened to Cocoa services. Now they're suddenly a 'feature everyone can use' - which must come as a surprise to all the normally intelligent people who've had no issues with the feature all along.

'Despite their apparent usefulness, I rarely use services. And most users I talk to say they feel the same way', writes Griffiths, thereby revealing more about himself than he does about this brilliant technology.

You can look in System Preferences starting now. Previous griefs centred around the fact that the NSServices key in Info.plist was guarded by code signing - making it bitchy to remove services from apps that accessed the web or in some other fashion dealt with privileged information.

[Note that this was not an issue otherwise - even under Leopard. The excellent ACP Services Manager Pro can deal with Services menu cruft in a mouse click - and restore things just as quickly if something against all odds goes south.]

Users now have complete control over what appears (or doesn't appear) in the Services menu. That's because the keyboard shortcuts tab of the keyboard system preferences panel now has a services section. There you'll see a list of every service installed along with checkboxes to enable those you want and disable those you don't - plus an option to assign them keyboard shortcuts.

This is all for the good - despite the fact tools have been available for years that do the same task. What's important is that the file Info.plist is 'unlocked' so people can remove clutter without disabling important functionality.

Another big change is how services only appear when they're enabled - and this is not a change for the good neither for the programmer nor for the user. Ordinary menus certainly don't work this way and for a very good reason.

Yet another big change is that services can pop up contextually in application windows themselves. But there are still bugs, says Griffiths. For the most part this means you still have to use the classic Services menu and not contextual offerings. The bug namely still exists in the released Snow Leopard.

Griffiths also heralds the ability to create new services with Automator - this then the second thing computer scientists are going to cringe over in the new OS.

The final big question for this group is whether Apple have done anything about the T-Rex heap of programming errors they put into this AppKit feature starting with Tiger on 29 April 2005 - over four years ago. On that the verdict's still out.

Apple are also keeping a list of 'incompatible software' that's quarantined during install, a list that promises to grow as more and more punters install Snow Leopard, seeing as the install process 'phones home' to report any additional difficulties.

Currently quarantined titles include:

Application Enhancer, AT&T Laptop Connect Card, Internet Cleanup 5, ioHD Driver, iWOW iTunes plugin, launch2net, Missing Sync for Palm Sony CLIE Driver, Norton Antivirus, Parallels Desktop, Silicon Image SiI3132 Drivers, TonePort UX8 Driver, McAfee VirusScan, Intego Virus Barrier X4, SPSS 17, Adobe Director MX 2004, EyeTV, Ratatouille, and earlier versions of Apple's AirPort Admin Utility, Aperture, and Keynote.

See the Apple KB article for more information.

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