- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Apple Computer Inc.'s new operating system upgrade, the $129 Mac OS X v 10.2, code-named "Jaguar," is a solid refinement of Mac OS X, introduced nearly a year ago. It boasts about 150 improvements and changes.

Among the most useful is a super-fast file search (found under the "Finder's" file menu) that located obscure documents on my hard disk drive in seconds.

The "Sherlock" application does a very good job of Web searching if you need to find a custom framing store, a Mongolian-style BBQ restaurant, or a pharmacy near you, as well as the driving directions for it. Want a picture of "CSI:Miami" actress Kim Delaney? Two clicks on Sherlock and you're there, even if the photos are mostly from Miss Delaney's former role on "NYPD Blue."

Jaguar also includes two communications features likely to attract fans. One, iChat, is an instant-messaging "client" that works with America Online's "IM" service, one of the few non-AOL pieces of software to do so, and perhaps the only one to have AOL's blessing at this time. If you have specified a picture of yourself, it can be used in iChat sessions every time you type in a line, making it look as if you're "speaking" on screen.

Yes, it's hokey, but it's a nice touch, nonetheless.

Apple's "Mail" software, now in version 1.2, offers substantial improvements in an e-mail program. The biggest improvement is in the program's ability to detect and segregate "junk" e-mail, or "spam," and its accuracy in my first hour of use let alone my first week is uncanny. I was able to import with ease e-mails from Microsoft's Entourage (though not from CE Software's QuickMail Pro, which may be the Alcatraz of e-mail clients, from which data dare not escape). The software's indexing and search features also are impressive.

I also like the "rules" structure of Mail: Unlike Entourage, all of the e-mail filing instructions created for the Apple program work, and work well. My e-mail is sorted and filed properly.

(Memo to self: Upgrade e-mails from the boss to a "code red" display.)

My biggest gripe with Mail is that users cannot specify a "read" or delivery receipt. Apple says this feature isn't sought-after by Mac users; I say it's something people in business often rely upon.

A somewhat larger issue at least for some of us is that Mail links solely to Apple's Address Book application, which will import so-called "vCard" files, electronic business cards, but which balks at importing text-based address files, such as those exported by Now Contact. That's left me with about 1,800 e-mail addresses that I'll either have to look up in the Now Contact application, or re-enter by hand into the Address Book program. Apple says they'll look into fixing the import hassle.

One interim solution, and rather elegantly handled by Mail, is to click on an e-mail message and have the program transfer the sender's name and e-mail to the Address Book. It's not a bad way to build a mailing list.

Ultimately, the Address Book is supposed to be a hub of communications for the Mac user, linking to Mail and synchronization programs, as well. For now, it's an OK tool that I have to use if I wish to send messages.

Overall, Jaguar is a good upgrade for Mac users, who may soon find they can't live without the new Sherlock or Mail features. Information is online at www.apple.com.

Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk to him live Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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