Quest for the Universal Binary

As the proud new owner of Lola, a Mac Mini Core Duo, it soon became very clear to me that the above logo was the sweetest sight on the net.

Of course, I was aware that I was buying into new technology when I ordered Lola. I was aware that any program compiled to run on a PowerPC processor was going to require the use Rosetta, an emulation layer, to run on my Intel powered Mac.

Now, Rosetta actually does a damn fine job most of the time. Sometimes the only way you’ll know if an application is PowerPC is the slightly longer than average load time and a quick check in Activity Monitor.

Other times it’s more obvious.

Some applications that I had earmarked for use when I got my shiny new Mac just wouldn’t work at all under Rosetta. NeoOffice was one.

I have stated before that my one ‘killer app’ is Photoshop. This is where I was going out on a limb a little bit. I have Photoshop CS2 and Adobe have stated that Photoshop will not become a Universal Binary until the release of CS3 and that will probably be in the 2nd quarter of 2007. That’s a whole year away.

Photoshop CS2 does run under Rosetta. Indeed after downloading any patches Adobe had released it runs quite solidly. Solidly and slowly. It is useable, it works - but if you used the thing to make a living I don’t think you could put up with it.

I am aware that it is possible to transfer my Windows license for Photoshop over to the Mac. However my plan was to download the evaluation version, run that for a while and only transfer my license if I felt it ran well enough.

There will be more about Photoshop at some point in the next few posts.

For the most part I have been able to find software that runs natively on the Intel processor. There is only one application in the ‘top drawer’ of my toolbox which is PowerPC - Adobe GoLive 6.

Yes, it’s ancient, but it does what I need. Even if I was to spend £200 to upgrade to the latest version of either Dreamweaver or GoLive then it would still be a PowerPC application and to be quite honest I really don’t need all the new features either. My main web site is composed of static pages with photos on them. Lots of static pages, it’s true - but nothing I need anything fancy for. The main thing is to have site management features like Dreamweaver or GoLive have.

To be frank, I was quite disappointed with what was on offer in the world of Mac web editing. Of course you can get both Dreamweaver and GoLive for the Mac, but I couldn’t spend that kind of money. More in my range were Freeway Express or Rapidweaver, both of which I’m sure are just fine if they work how you like. I didn’t feel comfortable with the template paradigm these, or the bundled iWeb, offered. It was all a bit too ‘painting by numbers’ for me.

Also in my price range were quite a lot of hardcore, code by hand HTML editors. Again, nothing wrong with them as such, but I really needed something that was WYSIWYG. I don’t have the time or the expertise to code things by hand anymore.

There just seemed to be a gulf between the lower cost tools and the Dreamweaver end of the market in terms of both price and functionality.

Well, I was sorted with my ancient GoLive 6 and that will do the job for me until such time as I can find a suitable, affordable alternative. And preferably one that’s Universal Binary!

The trickiest aspect of owning one of the Intel Macs is drivers. I know what the marketing spiel says ‘plug it in - it works’ and a lot of the time that’s true. It is probably true even more of the time with the well established PowerPC processor.

It does seem that Apple have worked well on printer drivers. The Tiger installation disk has support for loads of printers by Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark. Fortunately both my Canon i950 and my elderly HP LaserJet 6L are supported.

I’m not so lucky when it comes to my scanners.

My flatbed is a CanoScan N656U. Plug that in and OS X won’t even tell you it’s there. My film scanner… well, that is an Acer ScanWit 2720S and it needs a SCSI adapter to plug into, so I kinda knew I was onto a loser there anyway.

As luck would have it I have a license for VueScan Pro, bought to get the most out of my film scanner a few years ago. Luckily enough I’d invested in the Pro license which gives me perpetual upgrades. I had soon replaced my old serial number with a shiny new one and VueScan Pro started talking to my CanoScan without batting an eyelid. Big thumbs up to Hamrick Software!

I am left wondering what to do about scanning my old colour slides and negatives though. To be honest that film scanner is on the way out anyway. It needs replacing. I had been eying up the Canon 8400F, a flatbed with film adapter that is reasonably priced and got a good review in a recent issue of Amateur Photographer.

Looking through Canon’s support information for this scanner I could see no mention of Intel Macs. I decided to ask for some pre-sales support before just going out to buy one anyway. I’m glad I did :-

There have been some compatibility issues with the new Intel Macs. The issue is under investigation and we would suggest that you regularly check the Canon website for updates on compatibility.

So, I guess I’ll keep checking back.

Hamrick Software do say that VueScan will work the 8400F, but only after installing various bits of the Canon supplied software - which I’m sure will be compiled for PowerPC. So, I’m going to sit tight for now and wait.

And before I end for now, what have Apple got against USB webcams? The whole world uses them, but not Apple, oh no!

Of course they have their £100 iSight camera to sell, which admittedly is a lovely bit of kit but there is no way on Earth I can justify spending £100 on one.

I have a perfectly good Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000, it’s only a few months old, it works like a dream under Windows. I just don’t see why it shouldn’t do likewise on the Mac.

There are a couple of people who might produce third party drivers for this camera, IOExperts is one, the Macam project is another. I’m not holding my breath on either.

And NO I’m not going to buy an iSight. Apple - pull your finger out. Live up to your hype. ‘Plug it in - in works’ - remember that? Well then…

Yeah, I can plug in my miniDV video camera and use that as a webcam if need be - but it does feel a little bit like overkill!

Right, time to get ready for work now. More later…

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