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  • The Lion Report: More Odds and Ends

    July 26th, 2011

    As OS launches go, Lion appears to be quite successful, particularly when it comes to sales. Yes, there are scattered reports of those infamous version 1.0 bugs, but not the show-stoppers some might have feared. Regardless, some are curious issues, such as the unfortunately predictable crashes reported by author Kirk McElhearn whenever he attempts to view movies on his new 27-inch iMac. His temporary solution is not to do that!

    Performance readings are all over the map, with some testers reporting that Lion is somewhat slower than Snow Leopard, while others claim it’s actually a little faster. Since part of this disparity might be blamed on the kind of Mac you’re using, I suppose graphics driver updates might be needed to set things right. At least there doesn’t seem to be a trend indicating Lion is demonstrably slower than previous OS X versions, despite the added visual eye candy and possible system bloat.

    My personal encounters have been fairly straightforward. I have had to restart my work computer, a 2009 27-inch iMac, a few extra times to eliminate performance anomalies, but I’m still updating software. Just the other day, I installed version 3.4 of the Logitech Control Center, which supposedly makes that utility compatible with Lion. On the other hand, my MX Revolution mouse seemed to operate with all the custom tracking speeds and button mappings intact before I ran that update. But with drivers of this sort, some of those random system slowdowns might have been caused by using the older version.

    Among the new features, I’m not enamored of the way downloads are handled. In the past, if you selected the “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading option,” it would actually do something. Disk images would mount, installers would open. Yes, you could turn it off if you feared you were making your Mac vulnerable to malware, but I haven’t seen it function since Lion, which contains Safari 5.1, was installed.

    With Lion, your downloads jump into a tiny shaded down arrow at the upper right of the Safari window, under which you see a tiny dark blue progress bar. After the download completes, nothing. If you click on the arrow, you’ll see a listing of recent downloads. Double click on the one you want to launch it, or click the magnifying glass icon to see where the file is located, which is the Downloads folder unless you specified another place to receive those files.

    Microsoft apps seem to have fared decently, at least if you have Office 2008 and Office 2011. A previous version, Office 2004, arrived before the Intel revolution, and won’t run under Lion, because of the disappearance of the Rosetta PowerPC translation software. While it appears Microsoft will address the lingering bugs with the two more recent releases, they have yet to say when they will support such native Lion features as Auto-Save and Full Screen Apps.

    I also expect Adobe will take their sweet time delivering Lion upgrades for their most recent software suites, particularly since they tend to use customized developer tools.

    One particularly disconcerting bug was the erroneous messages that my business printer, a Xerox Phaser 8560DN, was out of ink whenever I printed a document. Xerox support confirmed this bug in Snow Leopard, and it wasn’t fixed in Lion until just a few days ago, when I discovered that new 10.7 driver package had been posted. Xerox support didn’t bother to let me know, even though I made that request. The only caution, though, is that you go to the Print & Fax preference pane and remove the printer before running the installer. Not to worry, it’ll be added again at the end of the installation process. Unfortunately, the problem only disappeared for a single day, after which it returned. So much for that update.

    Another curious issue — or missing feature — is the inability to name a desktop when used for the Spaces feature in Mission Control. Yes, you can drag an app to a new desktop. You can even change the desktop background by dragging System Preferences to the same desktop. But Apple’s own videos and online descriptions reveal desktops with custom names. Whether artistic license or a feature yet to arrive in Lion isn’t yet known.

    I’ve also been unable to configure the Lion version of iChat, version 6.0, to recognize my Face-book account. It works fine in AIM, an app not yet updated for Lion. Yes, the setups are correct, so far as I can determine, but it chokes on my username and password.

    In the meantime, there were published reports over the weekend that Apple has seeded registered Mac developers with a 10.7.2 update, which is said to be designed to support iCloud, the MobileMe replacement promised for this fall. Whether or not there are other fixes isn’t known.

    But where is 10.7.1? We’ll, it’s also widely known that the actual release version of 10.7 was completed several weeks ago, when it was made available to developers. One assumes Apple shifted resources to 10.7.1 as soon as work on the original release was finished, so it may well be that we’ll be seeing that update within days or at most a few weeks.



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