Lion

(BDYBIS) Mountain Lion

Ok. Time to do a tech piece.

Mac OS 10.8, Mountain Lion to it’s friends. I’ve had it installed for a while so now it’s bedded in and everyone is talking about the iPhone I thought I’d give the world my two penneth whilst I’m waiting for my dinner to cook. (Sausages, if anyone is interested)

Released on July 25th 2012, installed on my machine 3 days later. I have learnt my lesson about purchasing operating systems on the day of release. This release like it’s predecessor Lion is only available via the Mac App Store. Now that we live in a broadband world this is the way forward. Just over 4 gigs over dial up would be a no-go! The purchase is associated with your Apple ID and if you are lucky enough to have 10 macs you can install Mountain Lion on all of them for no extra cost (although lets be honest, if you have 10 Mountain Lion compatible Macs you aren’t short of a few bob) £13.99 for ten licences is very good value.

The only criticism I have with the App Store launch of Mountain Lion is the fact that you can’t (well I couldn’t) find Lion to purchase anywhere. I understand apple want people to have the latest and greatest, but I recently purchased a MacBook which although not ancient is not up to the spec of Mountain Lion. Signing in to the App Store on this machine yielded only search results for Mountain Lion. Luckily Lion is in my purchase history so I was able to download again from there. Although this is no good for first time second hand mac buyers.

So what does Mountain Lion give you?

Well if you have an iOS device an awful lot of familiar features. Notification centre makes an appearance down the right hand side of your screen if you do the right magical swipe. I don’t have a multi-touch enabled track pad so it’s accessible via a click on the top menu. Housed within are twitter, mail, messages and the newly christened Calendar (bye bye iCal). There seems to be virtually nothing else in the way of notifications you can add, a sports results notification would be nice but no.

There are just three things that I really like about Mountain Lion. These are messages, iWork in the Cloud and Reminders.

Messages:

This was released as a beta as part of Lion. So there were no great surprises here. It replaces iChat. It is a great instant message client, with easy set up for Yahoo, Google Talk, Aim and most awesomely iMessage. This means that if you know anyone with an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone or another Mac running mountain lion you can message them from the comfort of your sofa. You can also FaceTime via Messages but if you want to use video chat over Yahoo or Google Talk you are out of luck. MSN is available via a third party addon.

iWork in the Cloud:

iWork (Apple’s office suite) has had cloud features baked in since the release of iOS 5, meaning you could write something in Pages (like MS Word but actually good) on your iPad and it would be there on your iPhone. You could also go to iCloud.com on your Mac and download the document, continue writing and upload when you were done. A little clunky. With Mountain Lion iWork on the Mac cloudyness is baked in. It’s so easy, it’s helped me this month with the blog-a-day thing. I’m able to write parked up in my car on my iPhone and then continue the same piece on my Mac when I arrive home, no fuss. As someone once said “It just works.”

Reminders:

Another iOS app that has been around since iOS 5. It can be used to remind you to do something when you are at a certain place. (Sounds good, however in reality I only used this feature once, it uses GPS all day which kills the battery) It can also be used to write shopping lists or to-do lists. For me these are easier to write on a computer, and Mountain Lion lets you. When you get to the shop, just fire up reminders on your phone and that order for a “Big fuck off Bottle of Jack” that you typed on your Mac will be right there waiting.

In summary:

I did tell my friend not to bother getting Mountain Lion. This is based on his usage, however next time I see him I think I will tell him to take the plunge. At £14 there is very little to complain about. I think I would pay that for iWork in the Cloud on it’s own. There are lots of other features but I haven’t really used them. Find out more here. If you have Lion or Snow Lep and your Mac can handle the big ML. Do it.

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Review: Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Since the Keynote speech, MacBoy has been excited for the release of Mac OS 10.7 known to his friends as Lion. Been doing a little Google Fu and the only reviews I have found thus far have been for lucky buggers who own recent Macs. I however own a late 2009 MacBook, relatively new, but old enough to be worn in and not have a fancy multitouch trackpad. How does that effect the user experience in Lion?

Well.. Lion is touch enabled, borrowing much from the iPad/iPhone operating system iOs. To scroll down a page, any page you hold two fingers on the trackpad and move up, yes Apple moving up to go down. Now my Apple brothers with more recent machines with full multitouch options have the ability to turn this off, and move down to scroll down, as it’s been since god was in short trousers. I however do not, or if I do I have yet to find it. So up to go down is the way forward.

My MacBook has the minimum spec required for Lion. Before install I was worried about this, coming from the Windows side of things I have learnt that minimum specs aren’t to be listened to. On a PC a minimum spec means, can you turn it on and wait until next week to work. Install of Lion took about 40 mins, and I think it’s added a few seconds to boot up but that is the only slow down I’ve noticed. Yes if you filled up all the different desktop spaces with Final Cut re-rendering Titanic there would probably be some beach ball action, but as I don’t intend doing that anytime soon. It’s all good.

Navigation in Lion is all about Space, freedom to set up your work/leisure environment how you want it. Several apps can run in full screen, nothing to distract you, for instance I am writing this in Safari in full screen mode. To go do something else, those with a fancy trackpad can swipe across with 3 fingers and go do whatever, but what can I do. Well  Control and a arrow key, not as fancy but it works.

Other gestures I have no access to include, pinch to zoom, LaunchPad and Mission Control. Pinch to zoom whilst nice to have is not essential there are always other ways to zoom. I have plans for Launch Pad and Mission Control:

Yes folks, Hot Corners. bottom left launches Mission Control, bottom right launches LaunchPad. The low tech mouse gesture. With a few moderations Lion can be fully enjoyed without multitouch. Although I’m bordering on Fanboi status, at £20.99 everyone who can should.

Other pluses and minuses can be found elsewhere, but briefly:

Pluses:

  • Spell correct, from the iPhone.
  • Yahoo integration in iChat.
  • Airdrop*
  • Full Screen Apps
  • Price!
  • Security

Minuses:

  • Mouse Gestures and Older Macs
  • Airdrop, this is a file transfer system, all users involved have to be in a airdrop window, no notification system, for example “Barry want’s to send you a file” so Barry has to send a email to say he wants to send a file, by which time Barry could have emailed the file.
  • Rosetta RIP. No Photoshop CS2 for me!

Takes a little while to get used to, but I am Lion, hear me roar!

Tech vs Viruses

Ok as I stated before I am a Mac Guy. It hasn’t always been this way, my first proper windows PC was a mighty powerful 166mhz Pentium, with I think 16 Mb RAM. On this I ran Norton Anti virus and no firewall whatsoever! When no-one wanted to use the phone (oh dial up how I don’t miss thee) I used this humble machine as a portal to another world. (Mirc and Porn then!) Until one day a virus.

This was back in the day when I wasn’t too tech savvy, having recently transferred to the PC from an Acorn Archimedes, so down to the local tech guys, who formatted my drive and charged me through the nose. Virus removed. Fast forward  15 or so years. Malware hits the Mac in the form of Mac Defender/Guard, not a virus but pretty close, a week later Apple release a security patch, killing the threat. Oh look how far we’ve come, vendors of the operating system now provide patches for viruses and computing is now hassle free, Apple and Microsoft must be commended by for their swift action.. no wait sorry.. apparently the PC variant of Mac Defender and millions of other security threats remain un-patched. Oops.

Microsoft famously in fact have taken 7 years to patch a known vulnerability in their software. 7 years! Now because Microsoft do not make computer hardware, it is unreasonable of anyone to expect them to patch for viruses, because each PC on which it’s software runs is different, but to not patch their own software for 7 years! That is a middle finger to all their customers surely.

People have said the reason why the mac has no in the wild viruses is directly linked to it’s market share. 90% of world use a Microsoft OS. 10% Macs. This is true, partly. Mac OS is built upon UNIX and according to folks more geeky than I, that means it’s more difficult to produce a successful virus. If this recent malware scare has taught virus developers anything it’s surely don’t dick with Apple. You make it, we’ll patch it. There is sure to be a little backlash, with the malware developers changing things, but as Apple announce Mac OS 10.7 Lion I’m backing cupertino.

With smartphones, there is debate about Googles openness in the form of Android Market vs Apples walled garden App Store. Obviously I’m going to favour the garden. All Apps validated by Apple, controlling yes, money making yes, consistent  you bet ya, screw up your phone no freaking way!

Android Market is riddled with Malware Google are removing apps but the open way in which everything has been done means they are always a few steps behind, so on Android your data could be half way round the world before Google have even had a chance to not be evil.

The Mac Geek Gabs Dave Hamilton put this best, when describing internet security.

“It is easier for me to leave my car unlocked with the keys in the ignition ready to go. I don’t because it is insecure.” So if in the future all apps are brought via Apples App store or a Microsoft equivalent and all these apps are validated, we sacrifice a the ease of free choice safe in the knowledge that all the personal stuff we have on our machines is safe. The debate goes on..