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Apple Revises Mac OS X, Revs Up MobileMe Syncing

Yesterday afternoon, Apple shipped another one of its large system updates. Mac OS X 10.5.6 brings a long list of bug fixes and minor tweaks to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, plus a significant change to the company's MobileMe online service.

That troubled service seems to have gotten over many of its initial performance hiccups, and with this update, it now provides near-instant synchronization of calendars, contacts and bookmarks between a Mac and Apple's site, instead of once every 15 minutes or so.

These updates seem to flow fastest from that site to a Mac: Two changes to the online address book took only 11 and 16 seconds to appear in a Mac's Address Book program, while edits made on the computer took more like two minutes to show up on the Web. The same pattern happened with calendar and to-do-list revisions, where a to-do edit online landed in the Mac's iCal program seven seconds later, but a new event didn't show up online until 1:20 after its addition to iCal and a new to-do needed just over two minutes to migrate to the Web.

Apple notes, however, that Windows machines still sync only ever 15 minutes, and other data -- such as notes and application settings -- get refreshed at less frequent intervals as well.

This update also includes multiple security patches, which Brian Krebs explains in today's Security Fix post.

Like many of Apple's recent OS X updates, 10.5.6 is not kind to users with limited bandwidth. Its standalone installer is 372 megabytes (although you may get a smaller download through OS X's Software Update mechanism), and the "combo installer," incorporating all previous patches to 10.5, weighs in at 668 MB. (If you've got Mac-using relatives on slow connections, use your own broadband to get that combo-update file, stow it on a USB flash drive, and take it home for the holidays to ensure your folks are up to date.)

Has this update delivered any other notable benefits -- or caused any problems -- for your own Mac? Recap your experience in the comments....

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 16, 2008; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Mac  
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I believe the error message that Time Machine displays when it fails to back up has been changed to "Latest Backup: Delayed" from the status bar instead of "Failed"; however, if you open up Time Machine Preferences, the "Failed" message is displayed there.

Also, after the update, Time Machine repeatedly was "delayed" until I looked at the error message in Time Machine Preferences and saw that it was unable to mount the backup volume on my Time Capsule.

I successfully, manually mounted the volume and then unmounted it to try to appease Time Machine, but that did not fix the issue. I had to reboot to get Time Machine to work properly again.

That's the only difference that I've noticed so far with this update.

Posted by: Annorax | December 16, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it ironic that Apple is found NOT to be so perfect with their OS upgrades. I expect all the Religious Mac Zealots will, as usual, deflect all the issues, and still say, "Well, it's better than Vista" For those, we are serving Kool-Aid and Crow.
Thank You.

Posted by: dennisl591 | December 17, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I know a major university that won't use Vista on their new Windows-based PCs.

So, yeah, OS X is still better than Vista.

And yes, it's still just a computer.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | December 17, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

the only difference is that a normal user can fix those imperfections, where as with vista, if something goes wrong, to put it delicately, your screwed.

Posted by: macncapn | December 17, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

“(If you've got Mac-using relatives on slow connections, use your own broadband to get that combo-update file, stow it on a USB flash drive, and take it home for the holidays to ensure your folks are up to date.)”

I have been using that method for a few years now. It really helps since we now have a new Mac at work. At home, I downloaded the Combo, all 668 MBs of it, using the slowest speed offered by Cox. At work, I tried to get the Combo, but with Verizon Business, the estimated time said 4 and a half hours.

I did a quick backup with TimeMachine before downloading the Combo. Installed the Combo, dropped it to a flash drive, OnyXed the Combo on my desktop to death (secure delete), and ran TimeMachine again. Then, I checked Permissions.

Yeah, the Combo is large, but I’ve never had a problem upgrading with a Combo.

Posted by: ummhuh1 | December 17, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else have to reauthorize their computer after the update, to get ITunes to allow you to play purchased items? I had to do this this morning, and I'm not sure why. Now I think it's messed with my number of computers authorized. Grrr...

Posted by: abgr | December 22, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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