[By Nic Lindh on Saturday, 25 October 2003]
Some quick Panther impressions to take us all into the weekend… All in all, a really solid upgrade; the “wow” factor isn’t as high as it was with Jaguar, even though in retrospect, most of that was Quartz Extreme, I think. With Jaguar or Panther, the oozing slickness you get on a machine that is QE capable is simply stunning. Slapping a transparent window around over a playing DVD without any kind of stutter and the CPU meter not even noticing it is still awesome, and great fun for the Nerd On a Budget™. The improvements in Panther are mostly buried a little bit deeper, but are just as profound as the ones in Jaguar.
My favorites at this point:
FileVault. For the security conscious (which should be everybody), FileVault gives your home directory AES-128 encryption. For laptop users, this is a godsend–if somebody rips off your machine, they can’t get into your data. Computers are cheap. Replacing all your credit cards and changing all your passwords are not. Worth it for that point alone. It should be noted here that I’m not enough of a cypherpunk to know how long it would take to break AES-128. Like anything else on a computer, it’s doable, but the question is, how much time and effort does it take? The crackhead who ripped off your machine is most likely to just wipe the drive and sell it to the first shady character who comes along, but your data will be safe.
Threaded discussions in Mail. This makes my nipples so hard. Finally…
XCode. Project Builder was a pretty good IDE. Not great, but workable. XCode kicks it up several notches.
Fast User Switching. Makes it non-painful to create different accounts on a machine and actually use them. Having your entire workspace obliterated just so somebody can log on for two minutes and check their email used to blow. No more. A cool Windows feature brought over.
General user interface tweaks. Less pinstriping, more cleanliness. Lovable.
Keyboard application switching grows up. I tried to explain keyboard application switching to some students in my class using 10.2, and it just didn’t take at all. When we get 10.3 in the laboratory, it will blow their minds. One teensy-tiny complaint is that I would like to be able to scroll through each application’s open windows. Please put that one in the list for 10.4.
Exposé. Yes, it’s pretty cool. I still would like to see a real desktop pager, though, as I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t like to clutter his desktop with open windows. If you’re in the habit of hiding non-active windows, Exposé just doesn’t do all that much for you. But the effect is to die for.
One thing that unfortunately still sucks is the Finder. Can somebody please take this thing out and shoot it? “Rewritten from scratch.” Uh-huh. Stutter, rainbow cursor, stutter. Finder copies taking 80% of CPU. WTF? No wonder I’m spending more and more time in the Terminal. The Finder, still the number one dog of the litter.