Friday, August 12, 2011

In Like a (OS X) Lion...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did download and install Lion on my MacBook Pro. It was a reasonably painless experience. I had previously, of course, ran Software Update and MacUpdate Desktop to check for and upgrade all my applications (and so should you). Then spent the next 40 minutes or so downloading Lion and then the next 35 minutes installing it. I only had to click one button! When I rebooted, nothing seemed different. But as I began to look around and check out my apps, I began to notice some things. Before I continue, I would point out another blog post that a friend sent me that you should read regarding installing Lion. Made some very good points, which I'll touch on.
  1. Inside, outside, leave me alone... Natural as defined is something that you feel comfortable doing. Defining natural as the complete opposite of that is not... natural. So go into System Preferences and uncheck the "Move content in the direction of mouse movement when scrolling or navigating." You'll thank me later.

  2. Slow ride... take it easy. After Lion is first installed, your hard drive is reindexed for searching. So either put up with the initial sluggishness for a couple of hours or more (you can view the progress under the Spotlight menu) or go to Starbucks with a friend. Length of torture will depend on the size and speed of your system and hard drive. I recommend the mocha latte.
  3. Whatever  happened to the Transylvania Twist? What happened to fill in name of app here? It doesn't work anymore! Did you read my last post or what? Either it was a PowerPC app running under Rosetta and in need of an upgrade or you may need to contact the developer for more info. Office 2004, Quicken 2007? You're kidding, right? Time to upgrade or switch over to a new app. I did. See my comments at the bottom.
  4. She's goooone, oh oooo I... My /user/Library folder is gone! Well, no, it isn't. Apple decided to hide it in order to preserve the integrity of the info stored there. But if you're a hack like me and want to be able to dig into it, there is a way to fix it. Go into the Terminal and type in: chflags nohidden ~/Library/ If you don't know what I'm talking about, ignore this bullet point.
  5. We're on the road to nowhere. If you receive an error that the OS can't find the System, point it to /System/Library/Core Services/System Events and all will be well. Or maybe you get an error saying the location of the font vault can't be found, you may just ignore it, or check the setting in the System Preferences. When you restart, the error should be gone.
  6. Welcome, my friends to the show that never ends. Icons, icons everywhere! New applications to see! Step right up! Yes, there are now several new apps to see. Read below for a description of the predominant ones.
First off is FaceTime, video chat software that links Apple desktop and mobile devices. Of course, if you have Skype or some other 3rd party chat software, you may not be using it much. Then there is Launchpad which gives your computer an iOS facelift, showing you all your apps on pages you can flip through (kind of overwhelming when you have hundreds of apps). Next, there is Mission Control, which combines the features of Expose and Spaces.

My biggest interest so far has been in the full screen mode. All of Apple's major apps and many newer 3rd party apps offer the ability to go wall-to-wall on your screen, like the iOS, then using gestures you can "flip" through your active apps. I have been trying it and it's growing on me. It works better on the laptop or with a touchpad, for a desktop you can use the keyboard or go to Mission Control (F9) to switch apps. Using the full screen for a single app focuses your attention and maximizes screen real estate. It's odd at first, but especially on smaller screens like laptops and with some kind of touchpad, it can be very useful.
If you are using Quicken of any flavor (other than Quicken Essentials) then you can export your banking data to a QIF file. Do this before you upgrade unless you have a earlier OS running on another drive. This can then be imported into just about any other checkbook or banking app out there. I am currently playing with iBank 4, but there is also MoneyWell and Moneydance. Most banking institutions with online services should be able to also provide you with a web-connect or download function to also transfer account activity into these apps.

Upgrading Office 2004? Well, you could upgrade to Office 2008. Or your could use Pages if you already own iWork or you can easily buy and download it from the App Store. Or you could save some dough and try one of three, yes 3, free office suites out there, NeoOffice, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice. Technically NeoOffice requires a minimum $10 donation for the newest version, but that's a drop in the bucket. I have used all three at one point or another. OpenOffice being the most widely used, LibreOffice is a spin off that is becoming quite popular and NeoOffice lays claim to being the most Mac-specific suite.

The Three Faces of Office



During testing of my apps, I found that Savings Bond Tracker from Spotted Snake Software has a glitch in the registration module that doesn't seem to like Lion, but the author responded quickly to my plea for assistance and will be tracking that down soon. And Cocktail, the system utility from Maintain, has released an open beta of their 5.0 version that runs under Lion.

Now it is time for a confession. All this stuff I just wrote? It all happened on my desktop. Yes, in my last post I said I wouldn't do it, but I confess, I'm an upgrade junky. Net result? I am pretty much humming away, still working and playing on my computer with all but a few small bumps. And if my computer can upgrade with only a few glitches, yours should be fine. But do you have to upgrade? No. But you might find some of the new features useful.