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Migrating to OS X
Jan 14, 2002 :: Michael Sippey

My iMac DV Special Edition in oh-so-neutral and home-furnishing-friendly graphite may be getting long in the tooth, especially compared to the hemisphered eye candy introduced by the cult's high priest last week at MacWorld. But after a $49 RAM upgrade which bumped my memory to unheard of levels, I figured why not take the one small step for mankind (and one giant leap for Apple) into OS X. After all, I'm a poster child for Apple's digital hub strategy: almost the entire CD collection has been ripped by iTunes, and is being portably enjoyed courtesy of a little white iPod; documentary shorts on the life and times of our offspring are being produced on iMovie almost monthly; and I've been dying for iPhoto ever since I first plugged in my Olympus C3030.

I won't bore you with installation details. (OK, I will -- insert one CD, point and click a few times, insert another CD, point and click a few times, wait 20 minutes, and voila.) And this isn't a review of iPhoto (even though it gets two thumbs up for simplicity and its proclivity for producing physical artifacts). But what puts this weekend's experience on the list was not only the easy installation and elegant implementation of iPhoto, but the fact that I was able to find a stopgap solution to a shortcoming of iPhoto's in about six minutes with a half-dozen clicks and a single command line.

Out of the box, iPhoto's "export" functionality spits out JPEGs at their highest quality. Great for CDROM burning or local viewing, but not optimized for the web. I'm certain iPhoto v2 will include a slider to enable the end user to determine the level of lossy compression in exported JPEGS (a la Photoshop or even Paint Shop Pro on Windows). Until then, there's ImageMagick.

This is obviously not a beginner's trick, but upon realizing that the appropriate slider was nowhere to be found in iPhoto, all it took was a visit to Apple's "Unix Apps & Utilities" page to grab a copy of ImageMagick. The OS X package manager worked like a breeze and a single "mogrify -compress jpeg *.jpg" command later produced a directory full of images that had been packed down another 30-40% and were perfectly suitable for the web.

This isn't news to anyone who's been using Mac OS X for any period of time, but once you actually experience the nutritious BSD wrapped in the delicious Aqua (and use it to get something done in a fraction of the time it would have taken using a GUI), there's no going back.



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