Lion: First Impressions

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Scylax
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Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:06 pm Post

I guess I'll be the odd one out here by admitting that so far I like Lion.

I have been using it for a couple of weeks now on my 11" MBA, and it seems to suit both the machine and my workflow rather well.

I really like natural scroll- to me it feels... well, natural. I thought I'd hate the new scroll-bars, but I don't really notice them. I love the trackpad gestures. The new versions of Mail and iChat have, to my mind, improved hugely, to the extent that so far I have replaced Postbox and Adium respectively, and find them better than those third-party apps. I don't really have any need for Launchpad, but I can see why new users might. And I'm so glad that app-store apps now go straight there rather than cluttering up my dock!

Full-screen apps I'm loving unreservedly-especially Scrivener! On a small screen it makes a huge difference. I love that now not only can I use Scrivener's original full-screen mode for undisturbed writing, but I can also use it full-screen when I'm working with the binder and cork board.

I only use Calendar on occasion, and it is fine for my needs so far. I have no idea why Apple chose to abandon it's otherwise minimalist theme for some faux-leather style, which I am not a fan of, but it isn't a big deal to me.

I can certainly see why people are generally hating the new Address Book though. I took a look at it just out of interest and it doesn't seem as functional or easy to use as it should, but since it's something I never use at all, it doesn't worry me.

Mission control is taking more getting used to. I was a heavy user of Spaces in SL, and I do miss the grid structure and the static nature. But most of what I miss is the third-party app Hyperspaces, tbh. I would never have started using Spaces without it, and when I think about using Spaces in it's default state, I can't see Mission Control as worse, really, just very different. It will certainly involve some changes to my workflow, but I think I'll get used to it. It will probably mean I'm more likely to set things up as I like them and then leave the machine in sleep, but that's fine. And with the new auto resume feature even that may not be necessary.

I have no real issues with the new autosave feature either. In fact once I get used to it I think I'll like it. But I do admit that I can see why a lot of you don't. It's just that for me and the way I work, it makes sense. When I'm drafting I tend to use Scrivener anyway, so 'save as' isn't needed. Duplicate rather than 'save as' doesn't seem very obvious, but as long as it works, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

I haven't had any crashes or slow-downs so far, so I can't comment on whether it's buggy or not. Word I haven't bothered to install at all. I was looking for a reason to pretty much abandon it anyway and switch to Pages or Nisus Writer Pro, so I'm certainly in no hurry to install it, if I do at all. I've had so many crashes, bugs and annoyances from Word on every OS I've ever used that I wouldn't blame Lion for any bugs I find there anyway :D

The one thing that does really bug me is so small everyone will probably laugh at me, but... Why can't I have my personalised folder/file icons in the Finder sidebar? I personalise most icons on my Mac, a key part of my organisational process, and now they all look the same in the sidebar! I haven't found any solution to that at all, so if there is one anyone can tell me, I'll be forever grateful!

I'm sorry for writing such a screed, but I do feel Lion is a good OS. I can easily see why it doesn't suit the way some people work, and that they will either want to stick to SL or find it hard to adapt. But I see no reason, personally, to compare it to the utter nightmare that was Vista. It's fast, runs all my apps (and Windows wouldn't run a supposedly Windows-only app I needed that my SL mac ran fine), certainly doesn't seem as buggy in my experience, and for me works just fine. When I had Vista it was slow, unintuitive to the extreme and generally so annoying that I would avoid using a computer at all costs. I feel very different about Lion.

I don't pretend to be the expert user that you guys are. But I am not a newbie and depend heavily on my mac. Lion has been a bit of a shock in some ways because so many things are new or changed, but still it feels familiar, quick and easy to do what I want, and for me, that's more than enough. :)

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nom
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Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:06 pm Post

My initial opinion was pretty much the same as Scylax, including missing custom sidebar icons (one of the first things I missed). My opinion was tempered by Lion's instability relative to Snow Leopard. Now is not the best time for me to provide objective comment as I literally spent all day doing a reinstall from scratch (on the advice of AppleCare, I did a zero-out wipe of my hard-drive - that takes commitment and, sadly, more time than I had to spare) and am still reinstalling my favoured apps. I can proudly say Scrivener was the first 3rd party app to be reinstalled. :D

Despite being somewhat grumpy over the wasted day, the things I like about Lion are still there and the instability seems to have resolved (although, sadly, LaunchPad is still there). An added bonus is that I have gained about 60Gb in the process, and shed a lot of unused apps so not a complete waste. :)

I'll comment again in a few days after more thorough testing of the fresh install. Cautiously optimistic.

I will say this: I never thought of Lion as OS X Vista and even after today's trial still think it is an improvement over SL which was by far the best version OS X to date.
Complete and utter NOMsense.
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AmberV
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Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:23 pm Post

I hadn't even really cracked open Address Book; like Scylax, I've never found any of Apple's basic applications to be very useful---or I just have never had a need for them (I think I've set all of four appointments in the past ten years).

But...

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This thing is as bad as the first brushed metal QuickTime Player overhaul, way back when. I love how, if you don't start dragging precisely within the invisible borders of a text box, you can no longer select text. The whole window moves instead. Well, I guess if you decide that a window title & control bar is superfluous, what are you going to do?
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michaelbywater
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Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:44 pm Post

After a couple of weeks, I like it. It feels natural; there's nothing I notice myself missing from SnoLe. Address Book and iCal are visually hideous, of course; the absence of ToDos in Mail is theoretically inbecilic (though I never used them much in practice); but overall, it's a smooth and pleasant environment and, perversely, I fin I use FullScreen and Mission Control far more than I ever used Spaces.

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Foxtrot
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Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:56 pm Post

Since I installed Lion my MacBook makes a lot of whirring noises and the aluminium body gets very hot especially when watching videos - is this normal?
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pete340
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Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:12 pm Post

Foxtrot wrote:Since I installed Lion my MacBook makes a lot of whirring noises and the aluminium body gets very hot especially when watching videos - is this normal?


No. Well, maybe, depending on how long it's been since you installed Lion. Spotlight does a bunch of stuff to generate its index of what's on the hard drive, and that can suck down a lot of CPU cycles (i.e. heat things up) until it's finished, which can take several hours. But once that settles down, things should go back to what they used to be.

To see who's doing this, run the application "Activity Monitor" (in the Utilities folder under Applications). Down near the bottom there's a button bar; select "CPU" (the leftmost button). Then, at the top, select the "%CPU" button; this will sort the entries according to who's using the most processor time. (Make sure you've got the down-pointing arrow; if it points up, click the button again). There's probably one that's using 90% or more CPU time (yes, numbers over 100% are possible: there are two CPUs, so there's 200% CPU time...) If the busy process is "mdworker" or "mds", that's Spotlight. Eventually it will settle down. If it's something else, it could be an application that isn't compatible with Lion. Get its name and google. I vaguely remember that I had an incompatible application, and killing it "fixed" the overheating problem. But I don't remember what the application was.

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AmberV
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Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:21 pm Post

Depending on your hemisphere, it might also just be the weather. :) If the ambient temperature around the computer is warm, then the fans have to work harder to keep the core temps down, since the material they have to work with has less cooling power to begin with.

I haven't noticed a significant difference between Snow Leopard and Lion. I do run in clamshell mode, so in general the cooling fans tend to run more than they "should" in an optimum scenario. Depending on your Mac model, it could also be the GPU at fault. Some applications (like Aperture) use more GPU than CPU (relatively speaking), and so Activity Monitor won't readily illuminate which application is causing the machine heat up. Another way to help troubleshoot a noisy computer is to download a detailed stat monitor like the iStat Pro widget, which lists out every individual fan in your computer and its RPM status, along with all of the temperature monitors in the unit. If your computer has a separate monitor on the GPU chip, you can check and see if it is inordinately hot. Then try closing suspect applications in ten minute intervals until it cools off.

If by "watching videos" you mean Final Cut Pro or something; that is just a "hot" program in general. Heavy interface; heavy CPU. But if you mean in a web browser it might be the Silverlight or Flash plug-ins. No way around that.
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Ioa Petra'ka
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Foxtrot
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Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:15 pm Post

Thanks guys. I think it is ust that something has changed. I can hear the whirring now all the time and I can feel the casing heating up at certain times especially when watching youtube type videos (flash???)

I have iStat widget but it doesn't really mean anything to me.

The only thing running at the moment is Safari so I have had a look

Fans
Exhaust - 2008rpm

Temps
HD Macintoch 32 Degress
CPU 47Degrees
Enclosure bases 1-4 around 27/28 degrees each
Heatsink A 42Degrees
Heatsink B 48Degrees

CPU
user 4%
System 2%
nice 0%
CPU 96% idle

Casing is not hot at the moment but definitely warm - used to generally be cold to touch

The problem is that I don't know what these should be and whether anything is wrong - it is just different since installing Lion!
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AmberV
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Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:35 pm Post

Definitely Flash then. Flash has always overheated my computer, no matter what the OS version; but it might be you were running on the threshold before and some minor difference in Lion has pushed it over the edge on your hardware. I can't really compare because I'm using different hardware (probably older) so it struggled with Flash all along.

Keep tabs on Adobe updates; they might come out with something that fixes unnecessary cycles in Lion. Use the `Help/Installed Plug-ins` menu item; find Shockwave Flash, and compare the version number printout with what Adobe has published as latest on their site.
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Khadrelt
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Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:55 am Post

I just discovered something extremely annoying about Lion. In previous versions of OS X, if you dragged a large number of files into a folder that already contained some of them (like for backing things up) you could check 'apply to all' and press 'Do Not Replace,' and only the files that were not already in the destination were copied. A very simple, very basic function.

Well, that's gone now. There is no more 'Do Not Replace' when dragging more than one file. Now you have to either replace all of the duplicates, stop the operation entirely, or keep ALL of the files, with duplicates being renamed.

Really? Whose bright idea was that? "Hmm, let's take something that works perfectly well and is very handy and get rid of it for no reason. That'll be AWESOME!"
And that, my Liege, is how we know the earth to be banana-shaped.

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Eddie
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Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:55 am Post

Speaking of dragging files, did Apple ever fix the bug of potentially losing data when moving files? From TUAW in 2007:
"Having tested this on both Leopard and Tiger, I now agree that the Leopard issue is more serious than the Tiger issue. Under Leopard, instead of just a file in progress disappearing, the entire source directory may be lost if a move operation is interrupted..."

I noticed improvements with almost each OS X release. The first beta was terrible, and they even charged us to be bet-testers! Given all the complaints we were discounted the same amount once we purchased OS X 10.0
Everything got better until 10.5 which was terrible. By 10.5.3 things were better again.

I had zero interest in Snow Leopard and have zero interest in Lion. I was using plenty of the "new" features years before Apple implemented them, and I did not like Apple's implementations. Examples include the Dock, Dashboard, Spaces, and so on. I also don't use Mail, Address Book, or other Apple applications (which have definitely improved over time).

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xiamenese
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Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:32 am Post

I have held back a long time before commenting, bar my problems with re-installing. It was a real pain to do, and had to use the restore and re-download the whole caboodle ... an attempt to set up a USB stick installer failed ... so three complete downloads! Come to think of it I must try again, using a DVD, as if anything happens in China, the dowload process will be looonnnggg!

Since I did the reinstall, Synchronize! Pro X is behaving normally and I'm not getting hundreds of errors logged.

Anyway, I like Lion, and Lion has always been perfectly stable for me.

The scrolling, I've got used to and it feels perfectly natural.
Although I agree that the new versions of iCal and Address Book are pointless changes and not attractive, for me, all that really matters is being able to get at my data, which I can do easily. Other changes like the sidebar in finder windows, I've got used to. As usual, my desktop is completely blank unless I dump a file there temporarily or when I have external drives connected; and my dock is minimalist and hidden on the right. The only app icons there permanently are iTunes, Nisus and Scrivener as I use them often but they are not permanently open, and apart from them I have the applications, documents and downloads folders in the dock below the bar, so I can get at everything else through them easily. And a finder window is only Cmd-n away.
I never used Spaces, except as a way of hiding the SpiderOak desktop, but I use Mission Control the whole time, with four windows open, with my three virtually permanent-on apps running in three of them and a fourth for any other app I need at any moment. Flipping through them with a three finger swipe is great. What annoys me, though, is that when shutting down and restarting, although the four windows are preserved, all open apps are relocated into window 1 and I have to spread them out again manually.
I sometimes go into full-screen and it looks great, but I soon find I revert back to normal screen. None of the apps I use continually uses versions, etc., so I have no real experience of that. I have had an occasional use for Pages, but I've just used it as normal; I'm on holiday, so I'm not using Keynote at the moment.
Apart from the reboot thing, the one change that does get to me, as it makes my life more difficult, is the reorganisation of the Character Viewer and reduction in categorisation. Particularly annoying for me is the removal of "Phonetics" as a category. The glyphs are either spread between Latin, Punctuation, etc. and therefore more difficult to find, or else, it seems to me, are not included. That is a pain! I guess I must see if it is possible to add a category. Fortunately, I'm not a phonetician, and only need phonetics periodically.

But on the whole, my experience is generally positive.

Mark
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bargonzo
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Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:57 am Post

xiamenese wrote:I use Mission Control the whole time, with four windows open, with my three virtually permanent-on apps running in three of them and a fourth for any other app I need at any moment. Flipping through them with a three finger swipe is great. What annoys me, though, is that when shutting down and restarting, although the four windows are preserved, all open apps are relocated into window 1 and I have to spread them out again manually.


Mark--

Have you assigned those apps to those specific desktops? I believe that will solve this problem. To do so, go to the desktop/window you want the app in, click and hold on the app in the dock, and the option to "assign to this desktop" will pop up. Once you've done that, it will open the app on that window after restart.
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AmberV
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Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:49 am Post

I have that problem to, except it can't be solved by that trick. I tend to spread out application windows according to workflow. This means a clutch of Finder windows here and there and so on. Upon reboot, I end up with 30 Finder windows in one Space. Almost not even worth redistributing! Better to just Cmd-Opt-W and start fresh. As for whole applications, that seems spotty to me. Some applications come back up in the Space I left them on, others do not. I suspect there is something individual third-party developers have to do in order to remember that information.
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xiamenese
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Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:53 am Post

bargonzo wrote:Mark--

Have you assigned those apps to those specific desktops? I believe that will solve this problem. To do so, go to the desktop/window you want the app in, click and hold on the app in the dock, and the option to "assign to this desktop" will pop up. Once you've done that, it will open the app on that window after restart.


Thanks, bargonzo. Actually, shortly after writing my post above, I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if control-clicking the app icon in the dock will reveal anything interesting on this." And there it was, in "Options".

Have to say, it has worked for Mail — I am being good and giving that a real trial, and not rushing back to GyazMail, though I miss being able to set up filters to check and delete spam on the server mailbox — and for OmniWeb. MailSteward, on the other hand still put its little control panel on the wrong desktop, so more trials needed there.

One thing that is less than logical to me, is that although virtual desktops are numbered, if you go into Mission Control, they are ordered in terms of most recent access, not according to assigned number. Sometimes it's easier to use the dock to move to the app, rather than the three-finger swipe.

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …