Saturday, August 18, 2012

OsX 1.8 Mountain Lion ... What you may have not been prepared for ...

Bad Kitty



    OsX Mountain Lion, it was an affordable (cheap) upgrade (sort of) that was pushed out by Apple before it was ready. I have been using it on my Mid-2010 MacBook Pro (fifteen inch) since it was released. Some of the features are good, others not so much. I will start with what I like about the "new" OS before I begin any sort of rant.

    First things first: Notification Center

    This is a great "feature" that I truly enjoy having. I like it enough to have since dropped the Growl Application from my computer. Its handy, easy to use and most importantly, it stays out of my way. When using an App, like say Transmission for example, I would walk away from my laptop long enough to get a refill on my coffee only to be greeted by a litany of notifications to review and remove. The builtin Notification Center really cleans this up a lot, and I prefer to have them tucked away instead of center screen.

    Number two: Mail return to top

    In the Mail App, at the top of the list of individual emails there is a pull-down menu that says "Sort By". Clicking to right of this menu, anywhere on the toolbar other than the menu, automatically scrolls your list of emails back to the top. I discovered this by accident actually, and I am really glad I did.

    Number three: Notes

    Moving the synced "Notes" from Mail to a dedicated application is a real plus for me. It keeps them available and easy to access. Having them in Mail was kind of irritating really, especially when you would be greeted with a giant yellow background. If you weren't expecting it, it was kind of a shock to your eyes.

    That's about it really for improvements. Now I will take a moment to get on my soapbox and rant for a minute or two. There are few things that I don't like, and some things that Apple has just plain broken.

    Safari's Giant Tabs:

    I hate these things, and as far I can tell, so does everyone else. They really need to put in an option to restore the fixed tab width. This is more of annoyance that I am forced to live with, but only because FireFox still will not support Common Access Cards without doing work under the hood, and even then it's iffy at best.

    Docking and Undocking my MacBook Pro:

    This is just plain broken. Under 10.6 and 10.7, all I had to do to "Dock" my laptop was slip it into the Henge Dock (great product by the way). To undock, I just yank it out again. While docked, I use two external screen and an array of USB devices. While undocked, my MacBook Pro is once again portable. It really has been the best of both worlds. That is, until Apple broke it with Mountain Lion.

    Now every time I undock, the system crashes completely. When I place it back in the dock, my USB video card (and thus one of my screens) no longer works. The same is true for a number of my USB devices. It will only work if I do a system restart after docking, and even then it forgets which screen is primary, what the background image is supposed to be, and all of my desktop icons get moved to the lower left corner stacked neatly one atop the other. Placing my MacBook Pro back in the Henge Dock has gone from insanely simple to a ten minute process that just doesn't work. For now, I just leave system docked only take it out of then when I absolutely have to.

    This is actually my largest complaint about Mountain Lion as it has greatly impacted the way I use my system and the way I work. No more popping it out do work on the Lanai (back yard patio in Hawaii) or sitting on the sofa doing some last minute paperwork while I watch the evening news. Nope, it just stays in the dock now and has essentially been turned into an iMac. I only undock it now, if I know ahead of time that I will require it while away from the house. If I had wanted an iMac I would have purchased one. I am not sure what they did to break it, but this really must get fixed in the next update.

    Mail Activity Icons:

    Always before, when you clicked "Get New Mail" in the Mail application, you where greeted by the spinning "working" icon. If you have multiple accounts you would get one next to the name of each inbox. Not anymore. Now you just click the button and wait. Then wait some more. Then maybe a little more. Still no new mail? Must be done then. Oh well. Wait! There is a new mail! It just took forever and a day to finish!

    Of course, you would have known it wasn't finished had there been at least some visual clue as to what the software was doing. But no, there isn't any way to tell what mail is doing. It just sits there and surprises you with notifications. Such a pity.

    Conclusion:

    Even with all of its "new features" I don't think Mountain Lion should have been a complete version upgrade. Almost every new "feature" could have been added as a separate add-on. That is of course, except for the new security features, which really are nice but most people will bypass them anyway and just run the software they want to run anyway, no matter where it came from.