Mac OSX 10.7 Lion — Apple Has Labored To Render It’s Own Windows Vista (Not A Good Thing)

The more I experience and read about Lion, the more its strikes me as Apple’s “Vista” — meaning, epic fail.

I have been using Macs since system 7, used to the changes, and accepting of changes with purpose… that’s “purpose” for us the users, not Apple’s purpose to dictate how we shall use our Macs and how they shall drive us to use Macs of the near future. It just seems like this time around they really went too far. It is like they have run out of new ideas and instead are putting their effort into trying to build a better solution to a nonexistent problem.

The previous Mac operating system, Snow Leopard 10.6.8, just worked. No muss. No fuss. All apps worked as they should. No longer…

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The Power of Mac OS X. The Limitations of iPad

With Lion, Apple has taken a system geared to the iPhone/iPad limitations of visual space, lack of input devises outside of fingers, and component reduction… and applied them viscously to a desktop product with none of these limitations… and it’s an epic fail: lots of bogging down and cumbersome reshuffling of files (constantly) with no real new features that make this a new and wondrous experience affording us capability never before possible. Nope its just frustration to no real benefit.

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So, what it boils down to for me is this: Nothing in Lion compels one to abandon what is currently a stable and functional version of the Mac OS (Snow Leopard). As a mouse-centric power user who’s tweaked his Mac to near-perfection, it’s just not enough benefit with lots of frustrations. Wish I had stayed with Snow Leopard.

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While there’s much that is good in Lion (I jut can’t rattle them off), there’s also much that suggests that success has gone to Apple’s head.

Like Microsoft, Apple now thinks it is smarter than its users, and the company — not us users — know best what we need and want.

  • Auto-save and versioning are so poorly done, it seems Apple got no feedback from real-life users. Most apps that need either capability built it in long ago and did it better than Apple’s one size fits all scheme.
  • The new scheme of organizing files forces you to flip through folders and docs rather than just all shown in the grid format — to use the normal grid means the files reorganize how Apple wants them, not how I want them as a default.
  • Launchpad is such a pain to turn into something useful, within a minute of seeing it, I knew of a much better way to get the same result. Apple seems clueless to the fact that a scheme that’s tolerable (just barely) on an iPhone and iPad is worthless on a Mac.
  • Now there’s this mess with iPhoto and the fact that the program no longer integrates with Time Machine to facilitate restoration of a single or a few specific trashed photos. Nope, Apple wants you to restore every photo in the library (which leaves out your newly created photos absent in the Time-Machine restoration… or they want you to hack a workaround. Apple apparently doesn’t care how long it takes us to restore an image from iPhoto as long as the capability to do so can be checked off some list.
  • Worst of all, Apple either made the changes impossible to reverse or such a pain to do so that users waste a lot of time getting things like scrolling a scrolling mouse back to what they ought to be.

Apple’s former “Be Different” slogan is obviously obsolete. Their new slogan seems to be “Do It Our Way.” Or as some of us feel, “Do It Our Way, Bitch.” But, that’s Windoze approach, isn’t it? So I guess we really do have Apple’s Vista on our hands now.

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Problems? What Problems?

With all the problems that users have been having with Lion (and documented on many user sites, as well as on Apple’s on forums), you should decide not to upgrade to Lion, if at all possible.

  • First, because of all the “new” ways of doing things which are just opposite of the way one is used to.
  • Second, it seems that Apple is pushing everyone into using the cloud structure and into using mobile devices and not desktops. That’s the feeling Lion gives you, with the gestures instead of mouse and keyboard. Apple dropped the optical drive for Cd’s/DVD’s from the Mac Mini… you can be sure they will do so next on the new iMac’s… as Apple forces us to use “Cloud” — just like Microsoft forces it’s users to things its way.

I have an iPhone and an iPad, but I’m not a mobile computing person and have no need to watch movies on a phone, or have my entire collection of photos on it either. This all resides on my desktop, where it belongs… for me. I also don’t want my information floating through the air that someone may eventually figure out how to covertly borrow.

As for iPad, I use it for web browsing and email, even some book reading, but this too isn’t used for movies, phone or music collections.

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Safari Has Gone Off The Range

Safari got progressively better over the years. Now, Safari 5 is the first version to be a step backwards in terms of performance and responsiveness. I’m confident it will get better, but when and why should I have to wait?

If you’re running Safari 5.1, whether under Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Lion, there’s a good chance you’re not altogether pleased with how well it’s running.

If you have multiple tabs open in a Safari window, you may find that when you click to change the active tab, the newly selected page temporarily goes blank as it reloads. Typically, at this point, the same reloading will occur for each and every tab that you subsequently select to view.

In a few cases, when you attempt to access a Safari tab, a message may pop up warning you of impending forced reloading of pages: “Webpages are not responding. To visit the selected webpage, all webpages in the other tabs and windows must be force reloaded. Do you want to visit this page?”

Another complaint about the Safari Web Content process is that its CPU percentage, as listed in Activity Monitor, can explode to enormously high levels, sometimes in excess of 100%. Even when Web Content’s CPU usage is at a manageable level, Real and Virtual memory listings can be quite high. I’ve seen memory levels exceed 2GB. When this occurs, everything in Safari (and sometimes everything on your Mac altogether) typically slows to a crawl.

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Gestures? I’ll Give You A Gesture…

One of the major themes of Lion is the touch interface and gestures. To fully take advantage of them, you must use a trackpad. (Yes, Magic Mouse supports a smaller set of gestures, but mostly those gestures are wasted. I find a trackpad to be a frustratingly less precise input device than a mouse—more often than I’d like I have to wrestle with my trackpad to accurately place the cursor. So, I’m a mouse guy.

As one preferring a mouse, Apple’s “natural scrolling” is pure frustration with no benefit. I understand why it could be useful with a trackpad—it mimics the tactile scrolling, etc on the iPhone/iPad—but when you introduce a mouse’s scroll wheel or have been using the Magic Mouse “normally” for some time, the “natural method” breaks down as simply cumbersome. There’s nothing natural or intuitive about moving a scroll wheel or running your finger in the direction opposite to what we’ve used in the past.

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High-Minded Incompetence

In the end, Lion is lots of high-concept with reduced functionality and limited benefit — I haven’t found them, but I’ll give some slack and say that buried in all the cumbersomeness there must be a benefit… kinda like saying that with all this shit around, there must be a pony in there somewhere… but that’s not really a good endorsement for Apple.

When working with Lion focusing on what’s really happening, it’s just some really clunky product.

Launchpad, for example. The Launchpad idea works well on an iOS device given the constraints of the interface—no windowed environment or sense of a directory hierarchy. But on a Mac where I may have hundreds of applications? There are better ways. I know, it’s one of many options for launching applications. And it’s an option that’s best used by those who have very few applications. But for me—who has those hundreds of applications—it’s a clumsy interface that I’ll ignore.

Scroll Bars: This is another concept that works well under iOS but makes little sense to me in the Mac OS. How, in any way, does removing the arrow buttons from a scroll bar make that scroll bar more functional? The aesthetic of a less cluttered scroll bar (or no scroll bar at all) is interesting, but I don’t need my Mac to be aesthetically interesting in this instance. I need it to provide me with controls for easily navigating windows.

Autocorrect: I’ve found this feature to be really helpful on my iOS devices because of the small virtual keyboards, where I’m likely to mistype. However, with a full-sized physical keyboard at my Mac, I’m a much better typist… yet Autocorrect asserts itself to “correct” my perfectly fine word. So be careful, or wrong words will be inserted for you to go back and correct the autocorrection.

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Finally, we have Lion’s stability. It’s not unusual for these kinds of major OS releases to have problems when they first leave the gate. Lion is no exception. The initial Lion release was extremely “buggy” in my experience. The 10.7.1 release helped, but Lion is still far less stable than Snow Leopard.

And, in all of this, Apple gives the lie to their former tagline, “It Just Works.”

Ah, the good ol’ days.


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