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Backstage: Tiger kills first day’s productivity, then raises it

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, April 28, 2005
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When it first arrives (ordered direct from Apple) a day ahead of schedule, then installs smoothly onto all three of my computers, Mac OS X Tiger is 75% thrilling, 25% frightening. Within minutes of finishing each machine’s installation, it’s already making significant progress in indexing each of my hard disks, making metadata connections between files that I can’t quite believe. Search the files on my computer by the person who originally sent them to me? Yeah. Simultaneously pull up a flight tracker, dictionary, Japanese-to-English language translator, currency converter and the Yellow Pages with one press of the F12 button? Yup. Today is the day I can’t get anything done because I’m too busy learning how to work smarter for the next two years.

And then there’s the new iChat stuff. My old “microphone-enabled” icon now looks like a stack of three icons to indicate that I can have multi-person voice chats. The one chat I’ve tried this morning with an iLounger in France was clearer and better-sounding than any I’d had with the last Mac OS. And Mail just looks ten times better than before. All of my information, sorted however I like it, with video and audio that’s better than ever before coming from multiple directions at once.

That’s the scary part. This had better be every bit as secure as they’ve been promising. Because the last thing I want is to have my super hard drive indices accessible to random people - or not-so-random people - via the Internet. Tiger is about to enable an entirely amazing new level of simplified personal computing, but in the wrong hands, its tools could also make personal hacking and snooping far more dangerous than ever before. After seeing how Microsoft nosedived over the past 18 months, I’m trusting Apple not to let hackers find ways to abuse these tools - and certainly hoping that the company doesn’t do anything foolish like that, itself.

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Comments

1

Let’s quell this one right away. There is pretty much no way that anyone can get at the indices of your files. First, the user would have to get access to one of your Macs. Second, they’d have to “get root”, or at least have an administrator’s access. Finally, they’d have to be able to figure out what the indices contain. I’ve looked at them, and they are simply indices, not entire bits of files.

But I know you were just kidding about that, right? grin

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on April 29, 2005 at 6:12 AM (PDT)

2

WOO HOO!  TIGER’s HERE!!!

Jeremy, did you upgrade or choose to do a clean install?

I got my copy day early too, but haven’t installed it yet because I’m trying to decide if a clean install is really that much better than an upgrade.

Thanks

Posted by MacFanatic90 on April 29, 2005 at 6:44 AM (PDT)

3

Kirk, that is a HUGE statement to make.  Systems get hacked all the time, especially new OSes.  I haven’t seen the “indices” but I imagine that they could be used to quickly locate the files that are the target for the hacker.

One protection against hacking is that it difficult for the hacker to find what they want in Gigabytes of files.  But no more, now that they have indices.  Jeremy make an important point.  Why the hell must we “quell” it.

Posted by __redruM in Gaithersburg, MD on April 29, 2005 at 7:54 AM (PDT)

4

No, I wasn’t kidding, Kirk. grin And I was thinking along _redruM’s lines - an index accessible in seconds is a handy way for -anyone- to find -anything- they want.

MacFanatic: I did upgrades. All of my machines are working with upgrades just fine. I know other people prefer clean installs, but that’s way too Windows for me. grin

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on April 29, 2005 at 12:53 PM (PDT)

5

Indexing?  I have hundreds (thousands) of web pages I just “print”” and save to the desktop.  To be able to search PDFs, not to mention Word, BBEdit and every other kind of document is amazing.  Nothing less. 

I haven’t checked yet to see how big (Kbytes) those indices are yet but I’ll bet they don’t help my overcrowed Alum Powerbook G4 with its meager 40 GB drive.  I don’t even have iPictures folder (the standard one with 12,000+ photos) or the folder for removed iTnes and Audible.com books ((6 or 8 GB.  (I don’t use iPhoto) on that drive.

I made symlinks to an 80GB small (2.5 inch) FW drive.  By the time you add a few thousand photos to an iPod Photo 40 GB and toss in 10 GB of iTunes things get crouded a bit.  smile 

But it’s amazing how fast Spotlight is.  My sister just bought a $1700. HP (with the dinky “media” features in WinXP.  Searching for file with XPs is slower than searching for words with Tiger.  And she has a much faster drive 7200 RPM than my wimpy little 4400 RPM Powerbood G4.

But it really flies with my G5 DP 2 Ghz.  smile  Tiger roars.  smile

Posted by glockster in U.S. on April 29, 2005 at 10:33 PM (PDT)

6

Here’s something nifty:

in the Spotlight Prefs, you can add a folder in which the Spotlight results will omit the contents of that folder.

So you put sensitive documents in there (porn) and then you don’t have to worry when you do Spotlight demos for your friends.

The funny thing is, that in order to “hide” these things, you do something that make them even more obvious - designate them in the preference:  I’M HIDING THE FOLLOWING FOLDERS!!!!

pretty funny.

Posted by iPod Dance in VA on April 30, 2005 at 12:20 PM (PDT)

7

Tip for the paranoid: supposedly Spotlight indexes per volume. If you use File Vault, the index of your entire home folder would be on that virtual volume. And when not logged in, that volume, index and all, is unmounted—and protected by heavy encryption.

So consider a separate File Vault account for really critical private data.

If you’re paranoid smile

Posted by Nagromme on May 3, 2005 at 6:31 PM (PDT)

8

I think Apple is aware of the risk.  Note that Safari now warns you of Applications that may exist in ZIP files when downloading for example.

Spotlight’s API can be tied in to by an application now.  I don’t think there is anything stopping ThisSolitaireGameIsTheBest.app from searching your harddrive for credit card, bank account, or password information behind the scenes, then mailing that information out to a specific location.

Nor will it stop people from doing the same exact search when you step away from your desk for a few moments.

With access to the API, the technology is scarier than Google Desktop for windows.

Posted by John97 in Victoria, BC on May 5, 2005 at 5:05 PM (PDT)

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