OS X Lion and More New Stuff From Apple

Image of Lion From OS X LionIt’s tough to write about Apple’s new OS without a bad pun slipping through but I’ll try. Feel free to reach through the screen and slap me if one slips through. I wasn’t too excited about Lion in the lead up to it’s release, but once it was out I became more interested and  just finished installing it on this PC.

I got my hands on Lion last month for a little while and was basically frustrated. The reverse scrolling (but Apple says it’s “natural”) annoyed me and I turned it off since I knew my time was limited and I wouldn’t get used to it. I suspect I’ll be frustrated with it but am going to try sticking with it. I may give up since my desktop uses a scroll mouse and it’s completely frustrating on that. At least it makes some sense on a track pad. Still, been doing it this way for ever, why change now?

The other problem I had was with Spaces but I figured I was missing something since Spaces seemed to not exist in the form I knew it. I was missing something (not sure what) but Spaces is fine on this machine and works the way I’m used to using it.

I installed OS X 10.7 on my MacBook Air since the OS seems designed for it. Plus, it’s the least risky install as almost everything is plain vanilla without customization. I’ve been getting software updates for the last couple weeks, all claiming to make the software compatible with Lion. So while I still hadn’t done a thorough app review I was pretty confident.

The only problem I expected was with Microsoft Live Mesh, but Microsoft pushed out an update this morning (before I installed Lion) and it’s working fine. While I use Mesh on the Air it’s not critical and I could go without it. The upgrade only identified one app as having compatibility problems and it moved it to a new, out of the way directory. That app was Sugar Sync. To be fair I had stopped using it and it was probably an older version on the computer.  It never runs so it won’t update.

The upgrade was a bit disconcerting in that there wasn’t much to do. I bought/downloaded Lion on my Mac Mini and then stopped the install. I copied the installer to my Windows Home Server so I wouldn’t have to download it again, Then I simply copied it to my MacBook Air and ran the install. I agreed to the license but didn’t have to do much else. It rebooted to repartition the drive then did the install. I wasn’t paying much attention but it finished in under an hour (It told me it would take 35 minutes but I’ve no idea if that estimate was right).

It saved my Spaces configuration which made me happy. I’ve also successfully started and used VirtualBox (My VMs were fine – using one now), SpiderOak, TextExpander. Path Finder, Caffeine, Microsoft Live Mesh, ScreenFloat and probably others I can’t remember. I don’t claim they’re perfect, only that there were no problems in my normal use over a couple hours.

I’m not sure when I’ll upgrade my other Macs. My desktop Mac Mini uses Synergy which might have problems (rumor of some minor issues). Making it worse, I had problems getting Synergy going and I’m not using the latest version. So I’ll have to allow time to either troubleshoot it or roll back. As for my iMac that sits in the bedroom – I use Front Row on it and that goes away with Lion. Some early hacks to bring it over where broken with an iTunes update. I do have another app which I never bothered to install since FR was good enough for my limited needs.I’ll have to dig it out as all I want is something that can handle a remote.

I cringe every time I hear that Lion is the “IOS’ification” of Macs. That implies Apple is trying to make the Mac a big phone, the reverse of Microsoft’s (failed) attempt to make Windows phone look like a Windows Desktop. While Apple is certainly changing and simplifying the OS and there are features taken from iOS I don’t see them making it like the iPhone/iPad. That doesn’t mean I’ll like all the changes. They are certainly trying to make apps “just work” and avoid concepts like file and folder systems. They didn’t change the file system, but they are moving their own apps to not caring about structure. Hell, Finder has “All My Files” as a sidebar selection.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is easily my favorite computer.  Naturally Apple has announced new one. Even though my Air was bought this year I ordered it’s replacement. As a friend of mine says, if I don’t spend the money the government with eventually take it. My Air out performs it’s specs thanks to the SSD and I can’t say I’ve got any performance complaints. What made me push the buy button is the backlit keyboard. I use this a lot and often have to turn on a light (or carry a laptop light) simply for the keyboard.

And I was again sucked in by Apple’s marketing prowess. With my iPad, previous MacBook and my current Air I managed to stick with base models, unlike earlier purchases where I typically bought one level down from top of the line. With the Air I went right up the chain to the top of the line, I knew I needed help when I said “the i7 is only $100 more”. I did make one mistake there (only I didn’t cancel). I thought the i7 had hyper-threading while the i5 did not. It appears the i5 in the Air has hyper-threading. So my my remaining argument is that it’s for future-proofing.

The new Air is scheduled to arrive sometime next week and I’m looking forward to it.

There are some downsides to the Air but they don’t affect me:

  • Memory is limited to 4 GB (and if you get the stock 2 GB it’s not upgradeable – at least not simply by buying some chips.). I’ve had great performance with 2 GB, due to the SSD. So while 4 GB seems like a low ceiling, I’m not expecting issues with my expected usage.
  • It’s motherboard graphics only so memory is shared. Again, for what I do graphics performance has been fine. Although I’ll probably do more photo work and a little video. I’m not expecting problems.
  • It’s an SSD drive so relatively small capacity. My current Air has a 128 GB drive and I’m using about 1/2. I don’t have an iTunes library on here (the library is on my Windows Home Server) so that saves space. I do copy video over when I travel so that can take a few more GB depending on the length of the trip. In theory SSD’s can wear out based on usage. What this translates to in real-life I can’t say. I don’t do anything to limit writes to the drive so I may find out.

There are also the intangibles. The i7 probably stretches the cooling abilities to the max. I’m hoping that the new Air is enough like the old one so Apple has all the manufacturing and design kinks worked out. But I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of issues. Seems to happen with all new Apple hardware. Just hope it’s not me. At least I work near one Apple store and drive by a second on the way home so warranty service should be easy enough.

Other Shiny Stuff

Apple rally wants us to use the cloud (their cloud I’m sure). They’ve dropped DVD drives from their Mac Mini. I really like the looks of the Mac Mini and making it smaller may be a good thing for some. I often hear of them being put in small spaces or mounted in back of a TV. Still, I frequently use the DVD drive on my current Mini. Not for software, but to rip or watch DVDs. Yea, I know, I have iTunes – why have physical media? I still haven’t bought into using iTunes for video purchases/rentals. It’ll be easy for me to avoid a Mac Mini upgrade.

I really like the looks of the new 27” monitor and am lusting for one despite not having seen on in real life. But I still have my original 20” Apple monitor and it works well. While expensive, other monitors that look as good as Apple Monitors (to me) are also pretty expensive (but still cheaper). This one adds the ability to function as a bit of a docking station which is kind of nice. But what I’d really want is a monitor with a slot in back where my Air can be docked and out of the way while I use the monitor and attached keyboard/mouse. Less desk real estate this way. If this monitor had that I’d probably be trying to scrounge up another grand before the bill for it came it.

Anyone else upgraded to Lion or a new Mac yet? What do you think of it?

1 thought on “OS X Lion and More New Stuff From Apple”

  1. No problems or issues installing it. I had to get rid of the PowerPC apps that no long run on Lion but did not need those anyway. Seems to work good and I don’t mind the reverse scrolling yet.

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