from Technology & Learning
Apple's new OS offers cool tools for educators.
System Requirements: Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor; 512MB; DVD drive for installation.
Price: $69 (single copy with education discount); volume licensing available.
Pros: Time Machine; Boot Camp; Cover Flow; Quick Look; improved text-to-speech.
Cons: Stacks prove cumbersome when there are more than 12 items in the folder, can't drill down to folders in folders.
With more than 300 new features, Leopard is Apple's most impressive operating system to date and certainly worth an upgrade.
Two standout features include Cover Flow and Quick Look. The time-saving Cover Flow lets you preview the first page of multipage documents stored in a particular folder without actually opening the document, and arranges folder items alphabetically in a horizontal array. Quick Look allows users to preview file contents (not just the first page) without launching the application that created the file.
Leopard also makes content easier to access with the new Stacks tool. It can be used both to locate content more quickly and to remove desktop clutter. A stack is a particular kind of folder that, when clicked on, displays in grid or fan array. However, such an array is not the most efficient way to browse folders containing more than 12 items.
Several other utilities new to Leopard include:
Time Machine: Backs up all computer files, music, movies, images, and system software automatically as you work. Plus, it stores hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups until the backup drive fills up.
Boot Camp: Previously available only in Beta format as a separate download from the Apple Web site, theBoot Camp application lets you boot your Mac into Windows (as long as you have a licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista). With Boot Camp, you can run any Windows application you need without having to purchase a second computer. The Boot Camp Assistant makes a place for Windows on your existing hard drive without compromising existing installations.
Dictionary: The Dictionary panel feature that lets you right-click or Command-click a word in any Mac application such as Mail, TextEdit, or on a Safari page to bring up a Look Up in Dictionary option.
Safari Web Clips: Use Safari to enhance classroom lessons with snippets from any Web page. Click Open this Page in Dashboard on the Safari toolbar, select a portion of the Web page in view, then click Add. Your selection saves as a widget in Dashboard, complete with active links.
Text-to-Speech: Writers of all ages appreciate Apple's robust text-to-speech capabilities for audio support when revising written work. Listening to text as it's read aloud can help identify repeated words, passive voice, or problems with punctuation, and is a boon to struggling readers. Leopard's improved text-to-speech capabilities come with new human-sounding voices.
Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, is technology coordinator at Greenfield Public Schools in Massachusetts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.