Sunday, October 16, 2011

Going to Lion

Well, I finally broke down and upgraded my Mac Pro from Snow Leopard (OS-X 10.6.8) which I like to Lion (OS-X 10.7 and updated to 10.7.2). I bought the thumb drive version as I wanted the physical version if the download went south (read a few stories) and the reality of downloading it on a DSL would really take time, let alone to install it.

That said I started yesterday (Saturday) afternoon about 1 pm and by 4:30 pm had most of it done, only needing to watch it for the overnight stuff (backups) and to followup on the small things and check the remaining applications to get updates if necessary and a few were necessary.

So what did I learn?

For one, you can almost make it replicate the look and feel of Snow Leopard which was my real goal. Lion has the Launch Pad and Mission Control which sits on the far left of the dock (on my Mac) which I simply ignore. I have other apps which do the same thing and better (eg. XMenu for the former and function key F12 for the dashboard). And sadly it's one of those things you can't trash it or face real consequences.

For another some Apple apps changed but not for the better, just different and worse in some ways. I liked the older iCal app, the new one is iPhone/iPad like and it sucks. And yes I have one of each where it does a good job but nothing to write home about as a cool app.

I never used the desktop calendar on the iPad the Lion one is style after in Lion. I simply like the old iCal. The only good thing about the new version is the print option is still the same, producing page size copies I post on the refrigerator to keep track and write notes I don't put in iCal.

The E-mail program is new but you can still get the "classic" look which I switched back to, but there are some tweaks which I don't like, which are defaults you can't change, only switching it everytime with the menu option. One is viewing mail thread. I don't like reading all of them in one window, and you have to switch the view option to see just one at a time.

Another is the Finder window. Well, again, the older version is better. I really liked the border and the bottom pane with the pathname. The new one gives more to click on but simply makes you stop and think too often when trying to look for information, like the pathname (see below), which was displayed on the bottom. They added some features which were formerly third party apps (Get Info button), but not the "Go2Shell" app which still works.

The other option is to buy a third party finder window application. I use Pathfinder which has a lot more features and tools than Apple's, one being multiple windows in one window and two window view to manage files across HD's and folders. It's worth the purchase from the Apple store or their Website.

One of the dumbest things was the widgets. Lion breaks all of them and the widget management tool too so you can't do or change anything. You're stuck and you have to trash the file at:


Then go to the folder /Users/sknowles/Library/Preferences/Widgets and remove all the widgets there. Then after rebooting manage the widget to add all of them back and get new ones from Apple's Widget download page. You have to completely rebuild your widgets. Since I only had a few anyway (don't use dashboard much) it wasn't hard, just irritating.

As for some smaller things, the console window is different, and again like all the new stuff, not better, just different. I wish they had the "classic" look option for many of the basic apps, eg. iCal, E-mail, Finder, etc. The new look doesn't do much for me, just something to get used to using.

One really irritating thing for photographers. All the color calibration tools and software works with Lion but doesn't work with Lion. Yeah really. It turns out the color calibration tools (I use DataColor Spyder 3 since Spyder 2 wasn't Lion compatible but others I've read have the same problem) use a RunTime Environment package incompatible with the one in Lion which isn't current.

So you have to get an update to the RTE (free) to update Lion but then discover the software doesn't work with the new RTE where some features and tools bail out or crash and generate lots of error messages. Those companies need to update their software for the newer RTE and Lion 10.7.2 now. Let's hope they do.

As has been advertised, Apple dropped Rosetta which many applications used as an interface, usually to run on both PPC's and Intel Mac's. And all those apps won't work under Lion, which shows you with a symbol over the icon face. This includes all of Adobe's Creative Suite (CS) 2 apps (which I used two) and some small internal apps in some later CS apps (3, 4 and 5.x).

I was happy to learn National Geographic TOPO! application works, the features and tools I've used. This is odd since NG advertised it wouldn't and they were still only thinking about updating it. They don't need to do that but they should as it has some really bad quirks, like you can't "hide" - it freezes the app and your screen if you accidently to. You have to keep it open and quit/close.

I compared the three major topographic and GPS map applications and NG's is still the best for my use and interests.

Another change is the appearances of many windows. Apple now uses a kinda' faded gray look for buttons which is dumb. You can't change it (I liked the old version). Safari has some problems with the preferences, it keeps forgetting the home page URL in the user settings and starts with a blank page instead. I also prefer the old download window than the new upper right corner popup box.

But there is one really cool feature with Safari under Lion. It has forward and backward Web page scrolling with your mouse or trackpad. It's cool if you're wandering Website and move back and forth between pages, but not so when you working on one like entering information or writing and you accidently scroll back. Oops is the operative word, so use it with care but it's cool.

They also changed the scroll to a hidden one which appears when you need it. Again, I prefer the old style I can see there is more to a window than having to check the right margin or try to scroll to see if there is more to scroll and it doesn't display. It does display in some apps but not all of them, which again, is confusing.

The big thing Apple advertised about Lion is iCloud. Well, it's nice if you want it and use it. I don't, and gladly the preferences pane allows you to just turn it off and keep it off. In short never use it for now. I will have to eventually for my Mobile Me and iDisk account. I store a variety of files there which iCloud doesn't offer now.

There's rumors they may but they haven't yet, but the problems is that these files are used for public sharing and backup which iCould won't offer, only sharing across your devices, which I don't need. I keep my iPhone and iPad updated through iTunes on the Mac and don't have the interest to have some iCloud server (in North Carolina) holding my information) or have automatic up/download between the devices.

This is because I use the Mac for all my purchases through Apple, either the App store or iTunes. And I don't want everything on my Mac on those other devices. The music alone would break them as I learned. I want my Mac to be the center of the work and the iPhone and iPad just limited extensions.

On another note, I would recommend you limit your app purchases through the Apple store for apps which don't use serial numbers or licenses. All of the better or more expensive apps are better bought through the companies' Websites, since new versions, upgrades or updates are always available sooner. Some companies will convert yours with the reciept, but most won't, and many don't provide versions, updates or other tools (eg. subscriptions) through Apple store.

Anyway, that's it. I still have some small stuff to sort out as I work over the next week. Would I recommend the upgrade? Only if you don't want or like to be left behind with updates every company has these days. Many now and almost all major applications for Mac's in the future will be OS-X 10.7 and later, only 10.6.x if you're lucky.

There's some stuff I don't like about Lion, but I'll adjust and adapt, or I'll find a better third party app. That said, you can live without Lion for awhile, but eventually you will upgrade or face an obsolete Mac (been there with my 2006 PPC which took a week to transfer to this Mac Pro for Snow Leopard), so sooner ain't as bad as you think.

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