A retrospective look at Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Riccardo Mori:

My recent article, The reshaped Mac experience, received a lot of attention judging from the response on Twitter and the WordPress analytics — apparently, among other places, it reached Hacker News and Reddit. Unlike my four-part series ‌Mac OS Catalina: more trouble than it’s worth, however, it didn’t attract any hate mail at all. The sheer majority of feedback I received was very positive, with many many people agreeing with me and my observations. A few — some provocatively, some genuinely curious — asked me something along the lines of, Well, if you dislike the current Big Sur UI and Mac experience, what’s an example of Mac OS UI and experience you DO like?

It’s a more than fair question, and this piece serves as an answer. When I wrote back to those who asked me, I replied Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It was sort of a gut-reply based largely on fond memories of using that Mac OS version quite extensively.


But back to my ‘gut-reply’, I wanted to be certain that my fond memories of Snow Leopard weren’t just nostalgia. While I am confident when I say that Snow Leopard is the most stable version of Mac OS, I wanted to make sure its user interface was really the good user interface and experience I was remembering. So, after a few frustrating attempts at creating a virtual machine on my current iMac with Mac OS High Sierra, I decided to install Snow Leopard on a USB flash drive, and boot my 2009 MacBook Pro (yes, it’s still alive & kicking) in Snow Leopard from that flash drive.

Go read the blog to see all the screenshots, and comparisons with the same features in Big Sur.

My first exposure to Mac OS X was with 10.3 Panther and 10.4 Tiger on the PowerMac G4 and G5 towers I used for artwork preparation and CD/DVD authoring. My first personal iMac came with 10.7 Lion, looking mostly like Snow Leopard but minus the ability to run PowerPC apps.

I really miss the Aqua interface, and user interfaces with texture and depth. 🙁

Creating a Personal Journal in DEVONthink

Since the recent updates to both DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go, I’ve had a new impetus to make more and better use of both products to collect and organise information.

I’ve already got workflows in place to deal with important emails and financial documents, and those are working really well. I also have a system in place to collect the logs of my conversations in Second Life, and help separate out group and conference chats plus anything where I’m not involved (candidates for moving to the Trash.) I use Hazel to identify, tag and move files to the DEVONthink Inbox on my Mac, then once they’re in DEVONthink smart rules process them automatically and place them in the relevant databases.

My current journalling system consists of a folder in Documents (which is synched to iCloud Drive) and iA Writer, with a Hazel rule to archive old entries. Everything is in Markdown format, and that has been working for me for nearly three years now. But it occurred to me the other day that DEVONthink can work with Markdown text, as can DEVONthink To Go, so could it handle my personal journal instead?

Continue reading “Creating a Personal Journal in DEVONthink”

Designed for Discrimination

Google Has Been Allowing Advertisers to Exclude Nonbinary People from Seeing Job Ads

Dozens of advertisers instructed the company to not show their ads to people of “unknown” gender, meaning people who had not identified themselves as male or female

The Markup has been doing great work investigating the advertising systems of Google, Facebook and others, and exposing where these systems are facilitating discrimination, abuse and worse.

Google does offer a way for users to see how they’re categorized for ads, on an ads preferences page.

Google’s options for users amount to putting “a rainbow-colored Band-Aid” on “systems that were not really designed to include nonbinary people,” said Albert.

“Really the question they should be asking is which gender are you, and which of these gender categories would you like us to serve you ads for,” and explaining how the ads system uses gender, Albert said.

Once again, Google’s desire to keep the advertising dollars flowing in leads to their looking the other way as advertisers use the system to discriminate against people.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Hoping to Opt-Out of Tracking

What Do You Actually Agree To When You Accept All Cookies

I’ve started opening some of these popups, which I encounter regularly because I have tracker-blocking turned on. Very few have the decency to let you opt-out with one click, most are as labyrinthine as the ones Conrad Akunga investigated.

It is literally Designed To Make You Give Up And Agree.

From the Archive: Oh iTunes, why do you have to suck so hard?

I posted this to my old Facebook profile on 2nd November 2016. A lot of the gripe still applies to Apple Music app on the Mac.

Oh iTunes. Why do you have to suck so hard?

You used to be great at organising my music, syncing with my iPod (back when I still had one), even handling audiobooks for me.

But over the years, you’ve gotten flabby, forgotten how to play music for me, started losing music tracks, and now you’re liable to crash or throw an error message at me at the slightest provocation.

Is it because I hang out more with Spotify? Or is it just that you’re hooked on cosmetic enhancements?

Thank goodness I no longer need to rely on you to manage my ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts, apps or photos. And no, you can’t palm me off by blaming iCloud—unlike you, he has actually shaped up and raised his game.

So it’s time for us to part ways, alas. No, you’re not keeping my playlists. Perhaps Apple will see sense and put you into rehab (iBooks was a start, but they need to get serious and remove all the other cruft.)

For the record, I switched to Swinsian for a couple of years, but eventually it became clear that I’d need to return to iTunes in order to easily get music to my iPad. And now I’m subscribed to Apple Music, so that’s the end of my dalliances for now.

Inoculating against Post-Truth

Lockdown scepticism shows the limits of post-truth politics 

Ian Dunt:

There’s not much good to be said about lockdown scepticism. It is an ethical abyss, a testament to how certain commentators and politicians will allow their need for attention to overrule even the most rudimentary of moral standards. But it has at least achieved one useful thing: It demonstrates the limitations of post-truth politics.

This approach to politics has defined the last few years of British debate. It burst into the open during the Brexit referendum and dominated the way it played out afterwards. It didn’t matter how many experts pointed out that customs borders required checks on goods or how many studies were released demonstrating that friction in trade would reduce its flow. Hardline proponents of Brexit in parliament and the press simply dismissed it.

Lockdown scepticism functions in the same way. It has various levels of severity, from mild to outright lunacy. Mild versions treat lockdowns as ineffective, without questioning the basic epidemiology of virus transmission. Hard versions end up asserting that covid infection rates rise and fall seemingly of their own accord and are unaffected by people coming into contact with each other. Usually you see these two variants mix within the same argument – the former being used as the respectable window display of the argument and the latter readily on sale once you enter the shop.

Not a huge surprise that supporters of Brexit are also among those pushing lockdown skepticism. But unlike Brexit, the effects of Covid-19 aren’t as easy to wave away or shout down, and are with us here and now, not years from now.

Adios Firefox, for now…

I’m no longer using Firefox on any of my devices. On the Mac, I’ve now switched fully over to Vivaldi, while the iPad and iPhone are both back to Safari.

I still like Firefox, and there are features I’ll miss like the Containers system for segregation certain domains to limit tracking. But both Safari and Vivaldi are good enough for my needs.

I’m uncertain as to the future of Firefox, and Mozilla in general. I wish I could have more confidence in them, but it looks increasingly like they’ve lost their way. 🙁