OS X is Godot at Macworld Expo

By Raymond Keneipp Operating Systems

Macworld Expo in New York has come and gone. The faithful remain waiting for OS X.

This summer's Macfest seemed to lack something. It's not that there weren't product
announcements; Steve Jobs had plenty in the keynote. But while the new dual processor
G4 box may excite that Photoshop freak down the hall, it won't yield an exponential
increase in performance. Folks at the show were more blasé about the dual
processors than they were about the performance jumps made by the G3 and the G4 when
they were introduced. I didn't hear people at the Expo saying that they had to run out
and get new dual-processor machines.

The G4 cube, on the other hand, was pure sex appeal. Take a G4 box, shrink it down
to eight inches square, and make it look like a crystal vase. It struck a chord with
the crowd, big time. People were lined up three deep at the Apple booth to watch a
robot arm take a cube apart and show its guts. (It wasn't hard to do; a handle pops up
to let you pull out the insides.) There was ooo-ing and ahh-ing every time the arm took
it out of the case and put it back in. I heard one broadcaster order a cube on her cell
phone in the press room between bites of her turkey sandwich. That's the kind of
response that makes a marketeer salivate.

And, sure, there was some new software to be had. My favorite was CopyAgent from
Connectix (of SpeedDoubler and RAMDoubler fame), a sort of Retrospect Lite for backing
up and copying files. It's cheaper and has a simpler and more intuitive interface than
Dantz's Retrospect, but won't work with anything that can't be directly mounted on the
desktop, as some SCSI tape drives cannot. (Retrospect handles these kinds of devices
just fine.) Instead of the hierarchical Windows-like Retrospect browser, CopyAgent lets
you choose the files you want operated on through the standard Mac interface.

But the feature of CopyAgent that I think will get the most notice among IT shops is
one Connectix underplays. You can truly erase deleted files by overwriting them. If you
choose a three-pass overwrite, you meet the government's Tempest security
specifications for deletions, which adds a new level of security to the Mac OS. To me,
CopyAgent is worth a look just for this feature.

On the downside, Connectix admits that CopyAgent will blow up under OS X. It needs
Mac OS 8.5 or better and a PowerPC to run, so its product lifetime may be limited.

Speaking of OS X, many developers were grumbling (although none would do so for
attribution) about how Apple is behind schedule releasing code to them so that they can
develop OS X applications. To me, this indicates that Apple still has a lot of work to
do before it can send OS X out the door.

Still, I bet that Apple will ship OS X by the next Macworld Expo, which starts
January 9 in San Francisco. Vendors and customers alike seem to be marking time until
the new operating system is available.

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