Confessions of a Partitioned Hard Drive User

by Derrick Story

As much as I like Panther, and indeed I do, I'm still not ready to jump in with both feet. My rule is to wait for the 10.3.1 update before I completely convert.



Even though there may be some wisdom in this approach, it turns my life into a geek version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have a partitioned drive on my 667 TiBook, running Jaguar by day from one partition and Panther at night on the other.



The evolution of a number of Mac technologies have further complicated matters, especially concerning Mail.app. At night and on the weekends I'm using all the new stuff -- Mail.app, iCal, Address Book, iSync, TextEdit, Preview, etc. During work, it's the same old stuff -- Entourage X, Palm Desktop 4.1, Acrobat Reader 6, etc.



So I have some real decisions to make soon that will impact my workflow. And I want to go over a few of them now in case you're pondering some of the same things.




  • Entourage X vs Mail 1.3 -- This is the biggie. I'm still using Entourage in Jaguar because I like the hierarchal folder system for organizing my mail. But in Panther, Mail.app is great. It's fast, smart, and the way it handles threads might be a tipping point for me. I'm tempted to archive my entire Entourage mailbox as text documents using Entourage Email Archive X and start anew with Mail.app.


  • Palm Desktop 4.1 vs Address Book 3.1 and iCal 1.5.1 -- This is my second toughest decision. I actually like Palm Desktop for OS X, and it works great with my Visor (with attached VisorPhone). But Palm is sooooo at slow keeping up with OS revs that I'm about ready to throw in the towel with them. As a test, I exported my Palm calendar (as Vcal data) and imported it into iCal 1.5.1. It worked great. And as soon as there's a Panther update from Palm, I could use iSync to coordinate Address Book and iCal to the Visor. I'm leaning...


  • Acrobat Reader 6 vs Preview 2.1 -- These are two apps going in two different directions. Adobe seems to be trying to make Acrobat Reader 6 an app to handle DRM and big digital docs. It takes forever to load. Preview is lean and fast and great for general .pdf and .jpg work. Nine out of ten times I want fast. Preview has become my default .pdf reader.



Those are the major decisions that I must make when I switch to Panther full time. The additional goodies, such as enhanced TextEdit, built-in zip archiving, improved networking, etc, etc, etc, are bonuses that make waiting for the complete transition even more difficult.



Until then, I continue to roam with Panther at night...



I'm curious, what decisions are you weighing concerning the Panther upgrade?


26 Comments

anonymous2
2003-11-04 09:15:14
Are you *really* gonna switch?
anonymous2
2003-11-04 09:19:07
Questioning iCal
Have you actually found iCal to be at all usable? I have had a hard time finding anyone who uses it that could explain to me why and how they do. Me -- I'm stuck on Entourage X for calender and other Palm stuff, but am leaning towards Mail for my email needs. Have you found no way to import your Entourage X mail into Apple Mail?


By the way, hands down Acrobat Reader has been revealed as a worthless, steaming, pile of junk, only to be pulled out of the gutter when "compatibility" comes a calling. Preview really has taken over. God bless Apple.

anonymous2
2003-11-04 09:22:55
Mail.app not good for going back and forth
Just a warning to anybody running Apple's "Mail" program on Jaguar AND Panther, switching back and forth -- DON'T. The index file formats seem to be a bit different, and your mailboxes get quite confused after having run Mail in a different version of the OS.
anonymous2
2003-11-04 09:43:23
Questioning iCal
I've been using iCal both at home and work for quite a while now. At work each of my coworkers and I have our own calendar that we export and keep updated, then we each import everyone else's calendar. By adding phpicalendar to the same webserver that is hosting our calendars, we can use NetNewsWire or any other RSS aggregator to be notified of changes to any calendar (something iCal doesn't do).


I have to admit I don't have very complicated needs, so there may be dozens of 'must-have' features in Entourage that I just don't know about.

anonymous2
2003-11-04 10:47:26
Questioning iCal
I use iCal quite a bit and it works well for my needs. I publish my class schedule for the benefit of my students so they know what's coming up. I also dump my calendar files to my iPod regularly (along with my contacts from Address Book) for a nice minimalist PDA solution. The Pantherized iCal is a distinct improvement.


I've been using Mail.app since 10.0. I've tried Eudora (nice app, but they seem to be forever in beta), Outlook Express (nuff said), Netscape/Mozilla mail (I don't want to have to load an entire application suite just to check my messages) and finally settled. I never got into Entourage, as I couldn't justify spending the money for it, since it wasn't available except as a component of Office.


Agreed on Acrobat Reader. Preview was one of the top upgraded apps I was looking forward to with the Panther upgrade.

anonymous2
2003-11-04 11:45:23
Disable plugins for Acrobat 6
Hi Derrick,


I wish I had Panther so I could say more about your switch. Regarding Acrobat Reader 6, yes it is total bloatware now (couldn't they have left that for the full version?!) but there is a way to improve your experience with it - "Get Info" on the app icon and deselect all the plugins in the "Plug-ins" sub-menu. This give the app a bit more perk and it launches much faster. Eventually you may need to reactivate some of them to get a certain doc to open, YMMV. The new Preview sounds great.


FWIW, I dumped Entourage for Mail.app with Jaguar. I lost a lot of features I really liked (including being able to follow threads) but I never cared much for Entourage's bloat and monolithic, proprietory database structure (which I've seen go south a few times leaving people with little recovereable data). Mail uses mbox, I can get my data back in almost any scenario with any program supporting txt. Why trust your data to MS's proprietory format? Mail may be lacking features, but how much is your data worth? For me it was a no brainer, give up advanced features for better data integrity. Now with threads, Mail.app may be worth the price of admission to Panther for me.


Regardig iCal. I use it a bit. Used to use my Palm with Entourage. When I dumped Entourage I tried to migrate to Palm Desktop, but fell out of use. Haven't tried getting back into it with iCal save for testing out iSync. I was amazed at how well that worked. Only drawback was no synching for Palm's Note utility, so you end up using Palm Desktop to get your note files anyway. Weak. Perhaps the latest iSync is different...


Cheers, Mark

derrick
2003-11-04 12:59:33
RE: Questioning iCal
I want to jump in on the iCal conversation. I tried it when it first came out and was totally unsatisfied. It was easy for me to stick with Palm Desktop at that point. But because there are unresolved Palm problems with Panther (as of last night anyway), I decided to give iCal another look.


The performance has improved much since my last experience. I use the monthly view and leave the Info drawer open. So I just click on any appointment in my calendar and have the complete info there in the side display.


The ability to share, and to look at other's calendars, is a good feature. And overall, iCal just feels more seasoned than those first versions. I think it still has a ways to go, but I'm seriously considering synching it with my Visor instead of the calendar in Palm Desktop.

derrick
2003-11-04 13:01:05
RE: Disable plugins for Acrobat 6
Good tip about the Acrobat plug-ins. Even though I'm mostly a Preview user now, I'm going to disable as many plug-ins as I can get away with for those times I do need Acrobat.
derrick
2003-11-04 13:05:59
RE: Mail.app not good for going back and forth
Actually, I'm glad you brought that up. Good to know.


I'm using Entourage X on Jaguar and Mail on Panther. I leave the open items on the server so Entourage is still my main mail management application.


But at night and on the weekends I'm using Mail to peek at my messages and of course to test the latest version. I *really* like the threading. We have lots of those conversations among O'Reilly folk, and Mail does a great job of helping me grasp an entire discussion quickly. Plus, it's easier to file the threads.


That alone has me leaning toward Mail...

anonymous2
2003-11-04 15:22:58
"hierarchal folder system"
I'm confused by this comment. I use Mail and mailbox hierarchies quite extensively. I don't understand what you think is missing.
derrick
2003-11-04 15:37:52
RE: "hierarchal folder system"
Ah, yes. That's not to say that Mail doesn't provide the same functionality. But for me, it was less intuitive setting up nested folders in Mail than in Entourage. I'm sure it's personal, but I just like folder management better in Entourage.


That being said, the other strengths in Mail are motivating me to switch. My guess is that after a few weeks, I'll be just as comfortable filing my notes in the new environment as I am now in EX.

rajivmanglani
2003-11-04 21:35:17
palm desktop on panther
palm desktop 4.1 works on panther. after i upgraded (did an archive and install) i had to download and reinstall the palm-isync conduit from apple.com and syncing worked just fine (using a palm v, keyspan usb-serial, powermac g4).


i moved from palm desktop calendar to ical when isync came out. now with panther i am moving away from palm desktop for addresses as well, and using apple address book. i also have been using apple mail for the last week and i think the panther version is the first one that will take me away from eudora (user since v3). it will be nice to finally have one address book for phone numbers and email addresses.


guess i have decided to ditch old apps and stop fighting 'the os x way'.

scottc@filogix.com
2003-11-05 03:32:45
RE: Mail.app not good for going back and forth
Hi Derrick. Thought I'd chime in as another partitioned user. I'm actually running 10.3 all the time, and have moved all (ie 20000+) messages to Apple's Mail, and haven't looked back once. The import was flawless, and (most importantly) it kept my folder hierarchy. You can set up Mail to not delete the server messages so that Entourage is still kept up to date while you check it out, if that helps. The one thing that's a minor annoyance is that when sending mail through a different ISP, you have to wait for the send to time out before you can pick a different smtp server - but once done, that change is persistent until you restart Mail, so I can certainly live with that.


The Threaded view certainly is a major improvement over my previous Entourage usage - highly recommend.

derrick
2003-11-05 09:27:20
RE: Mail.app not good for going back and forth
This is helpful because my situation would be similar to yours - about the same number of messages to move over. You guys have me leaning even more now...
derrick
2003-11-05 09:34:53
palm desktop on panther
Good. Thanks for outlining your procedure for synching your Palm on Panther. It's probably the route I'm going to take too. I was kind of curious to see if Palm would make any improvements to Desktop 4.1, but I haven't heard anything about a new release. If someone knows something, please post. I still don't see any specific mentions of Mac OS X 10.3 on the Palm site.
anonymous2
2003-11-05 12:10:53
Entourage X Contacts
Anyone tried exporting Entourage X vCards to the latest Address Book? I am afraid of losing information. Does Address Book support vCard 3.0? Does Entourage X stick with the vCard 3.0 standard, or are they an offshoot?


On my Jaguar box, I went to the terminal and brought up a vCard from Address Book using the VI editor. It loaded as nice looking ASCII text with some obvious delimiters. I then tried to load a vCard from Entourage X. It was in binary format (so I couldn't see anything). I want to switch to all Apple iApps if I go to Panther so I can iSync to my Nokia 3650 and iPod seamlessly..

r_miller
2003-11-05 12:55:41
Moving to all Mac Apps
Because Apple as decided to come out with something like 4 updates, in 4 years or so, I am using all Mac Apps on my Panther equipped ibook. It makes integrating over to another Mac "Update" easier. I usually do a clean install, wipe the drive and start over when I update. It makes life more difficult initially, but I don't encounter as many problems as friends that do it the easy way. After so many updates I am a little tried of all the partitioning. I think I do it more than some IT guys. No way, a neophyte would go to such trouble and get such performance from their computers.


And if anyone thinks that OS X was ready for prime time before Jaguar, you my friend, just don't use it enough. If our nemesis at Redmond, WA did something like this we would be making fun of them. Their Mac products are bad enough. I used to think that Entourage was a good email program, but my copy was a dog on 10.1 and 10.2, so I switched to Mail.app and that seems to work for me. Also, I don't use any MS products on my ibook that has Panther on it. Matter of fact, I will not be using any MS products on that machine now or in the future if I don't have to. And I don't think I will. Like Derrick, I have yet to use Panther on my day machine because I fear that it is not for prime time yet. However, I do think that Mail.app is better than Entourage. I am not missing anything by not using it.

anonymous2
2003-11-05 15:27:53
Exporting from Entourage
...doesn't require a program. Simply drag the folders out of Entourage onto your desktop and they'll be present as Mail.app-friendly little mboxes. True.


-Trev

anonymous2
2003-11-05 16:17:54
Questioning iCal
I have both Palm and iCal and keep synching them while I make up my mind! I like how Palm allows me to attach files to events. I write up a client note in Word, or attach a report (also in Word), and there it is "embedded" the appointment. In diary view, I can locate all the appointments so far (iCal does that too, but doesn't integrate this with Address Book).
So I think there is a way to go for the Apple apps to really replace the others.
anonymous2
2003-11-05 23:39:12
palm desktop on panther
In your original article you wrote: "...as soon as there's a Panther update from Palm..."
I was going to ask for clarification, but now it sounds like you think no such update is necessary? Just trying to figure it out myself... Cheers, DM
derrick
2003-11-05 23:49:57
RE: palm desktop on panther
Well, some clarification is necessary :)


My understanding is that if you want to use Palm Desktop on Panther, you should wait for the update because the current v 4.1 is a tad wiggy.


But, if you only need the Palm software to enable the iSync conduit for iCal and Address Book, then you can use the existing version now with the latest iSync conduit.


Clear as mud, right?

sam_wise
2003-11-06 01:08:46
Exporting from Entourage
And your Entourage calendar (iCal is still a bad joke), your contacts (so is The Address Book), and "links" to other files such as spreadsheets, letters, etc.?


Mail ate all my mail one time. It will take a while to live that down. Much to my amazement my Microsoft software is syncing well with my PowerBook. Stranger than fiction.

anonymous2
2003-11-06 08:44:46
Exporting from Entourage
Last time I tried exporting vCards from Entourage they were accepted by my iPod and Palm Pilot (through Address Book first).


The point is that I know Entourage contacts can be exported, but my experience is that some data is "stripped" out. For example, Entourage allows me to specify my contact's spouse name and their kids names. Alternate emails, categories, etc.


By the time the Entourage contact is imported Address Book, or dragged to my iPod, all of that precious (Entourage only?) data is missing.


I thought about writing my own little vCard exporter, but upon seeing the binary format of Entourage vCards, I just said "forget it"..

anonymous2
2003-11-07 10:02:32
RE: Mail.app not good for going back and forth
As much as i'd like to go from Erage to Mail, Mail.app isn't ready for primetime for me. As i have more than one accounts, i need the possibility to tie various signatures to various accounts. Mail.app can't do this, it can only have ONE DEFAULT sig or use all sigs at random (or linear).


Also, i am a heavy IMAP user and entourages "Schedules" just can't be beaten by mail.app. With Erages Schedules, i can exactly specify which SUBFOLDERS i want to check for new mail and i can decide per folder if i want to download new messages in FULL or ony Subjects...
Mail.app can only SYNCH your INBOX or Everything. And i have to say, with IMAP and a decent server, the INBOX is not your central mail place anymore as you already have rules on your mailserver file various messages into various different folders, so you'd not only have to check your INBOX for new mail.


I also totaly hate (personal taste) the COMBINED INBOX view MAil.app forces on you - i'd rather have my Accounts displayed totally seperately. Apple really should make the combined INBOX view a configurable option.


My $0.2


Stefan

derrick
2003-11-08 20:53:05
After some testing... slow synching
So I spent some time last night using iSync with the Palm HotSync Manger. I exported my Palm calendar data (vcal) and imported into the latest version of iCal. I also had my Address Book up to date and ready to roll.


The exports/imports went very well. I think iCal is really improving as a useful application.


Then, when synching to both my Visor and iPod, the data did indeed make it to both devices. But my gosh, the process slow! For the Visor, it took over 20 minutes the first time, and never less than 4 minutes in subsequent sessions. I expected the iPod to go much faster since it was FireWire, but it too was slower than I expected.


I fiddled with settings, etc, but could never get the speed to anything like what HotSync Manager can do directly to my Visor.


Does anyone have any comments on this? At the moment, using iSync daily doesn't seem practical.


anonymous2
2003-11-29 22:55:51
RE: Mail.app not good for going back and forth
"I also totaly hate (personal taste) the COMBINED INBOX view MAil.app forces on you - i'd rather have my Accounts displayed totally seperately."


But you can have them display separately, just select the account subfolder you want to view in the INBOX accounts list.


In other words the default is set to view all accounts, but twirl the inbox arrow and select wichever account you wanr to view