Lion Mac OS – Apple’s Vista

I did it. I couldn’t wait. t joined the ranks of Apple Fan Boys. I installed Lion OS X the day it came out. I had 30 bucks in iTunes gift cards sitting around. It was dumb. I learned from my mistake. Enough said.

If I were to write a product review of Lion, as a user, I would give it a thumbs-down. It feels like a very raw attempt at bridging the gap between the mobile and the desktop computing paradigms. Apple promised to bring all the best of iOS to my laptop and it didn’t work. I don’t have an iPad or an iPhone so I’m not used to some of its concepts. And when translated to my MBP, they just don’t feel natural. The full screen experience of Mail, the Mission Control, the “natural” scrolling and the multitude of new gestures just don’t translate well to the desktop world. I’m slowly getting used to some of these things, but the reason behind them still escapes me. The concept of the Launchpad sounded nice in Apple’s marketing, but is pretty useless in real life. I launch my apps from the Spotlight search, not from a desktop icon.

Overall, while touted as a major release of the OS, Lion feels like nothing more than a point release with a bunch of UI “enhancements” that I could do without. It reminds one of Windows Vista. To paraphrase one MS fanboy’s statement about Vista, Lion is not bad enough not to upgrade. Unfortunately, it is also not good enough to upgrade. If going back to Snow Leopard did not involve reformatting your drive, I would do it.

 

Mac Mail Plugin makes Mail useable

Finally!  There’s a Mail plugin that makes the Mail application useable.  Well, to tell the truth, it’s been around for a while but I have just found it.  It is new to me.

Enter WideMail, Widescreen Apple Mail Plugin.  The 3 huge improvements, for me, that it delivers are:

  1. Control over the message preview window and ability to have it on the right.
  2. Alternating row colors or row separators.  Row colors don’t quite work for me, but separators are great.
  3. Last but not least is the ability to control the height of rows.  Natively, Mail keeps individual messages on such shrunken lines that after a long day they all start running it together.  Now I can have rows nice and wide, messages are separated from each other — a much more eye-pleasing look.

At last I can stop thinking about running Outlook.

 

Mac Mail – 1 month later

So it’s been a little over a month since I took the plunge and switched my email from Domino to Exchange.  All this time I’ve been trying to exclusively use Mac’s native tools for my email and calendar.  After being a Lotus Notes user for longer than I remember, using Mac tools was a bit of an adjustment.

The good thing about these Mac tools is that they all integrate seamlessly with Exchange: mail, calendar and address book — even free/busy checking.  Configuring and setting them up was a snap.  They all sort of just found the Exchange server and configured themselves.

The best thing I like about Mail is how it consolidates multiple accounts in one interface.  I have my Exchange, Gmail and the old Lotus Notes mailboxes all in one place.   I can drag and drop messages between accounts.  I can read an email from one account, but reply to it under a different account by just changing the From drop down list.   I can open an old message from Notes and reply to it through Exchange.  I even have different signatures configured for different accounts and by changing the From value, the signature automatically changes.  Being able to switch identities and reply to emails from different accounts was always a big problem in Notes.

I kind of like how Mail automatically closes the open email when I reply to it.  But if you hold the Option key when clicking Reply, the original email stays open.

Calendaring though is a little weak.  I miss having Richtext event descriptions and being able to edit them.  Any lengthy description in iCal just ends up being a long run-on text.

Scheduling events with people from outside the organization doesn’t work very well.  Schedule changes, information updates and meeting acceptances don’t always know which meeting they are related to.  A bit of a mess.  Guess that’s where Tungle could be useful.

Now, Address is a bit of a mess.  Not so much on the computer, but more so when it comes to BlackBerry synch.  For some reason I keep losing email addresses.  They are there in the application, but not there when the contact is synched to my BlackBerry.  It takes a few edits to the address to get it to synch correctly.

The best thing I like about all of these applications is that they do the simple task of email and calendar and do it pretty well, without extra overhead and complications.  They load fast.  Very fast.  They don’t generate silly error messages about failed provisioning.  And they don’t have a progress bar at the bottom indicating some odd background process doing something.

My fan is driving me crazy

This is slightly dissapointing…  The right fan in my brand spanking new MacBook Pro is making noise.  It’s very low but very noticeable.  More so late at night when all is quiet and not even a mouse is stirring.  So I’m off the Apple store tonight.  Luckily there’s one right across the street of where I’ll be this afternoon.  Hopefuly they can do something about it and quick.

And in the mean time, hurry up, Time Machine.  Back this puppy up.

How to uninstall iStat Menus

In my quest for removing iStat Menus from my computer, I came across several forum posts asking how to cleanly remove this program.  Deleting it from the Applications folder didn’t do the trick.  Unlike most Mac programs, it partially stayed around.

The answer is simple.

  1. Download the latest version of iStat Menus from http://bjango.com/apps/istatmenus/
  2. Unpack the zip file and launch the iStat Menus program.
  3. As a part of the installer, there’s an option to cleanly remove/uninstall iStat Menus.

Much simpler than navigating Library folders for buried files.

Why I’m dropping iStat Menus

I love iStat Menus.  I love having all that information — CPU usage, memory usage, network traffic — appear in my status bar.

In version 3 of the product, Bjango is charging for a license.  I’ve been using iStat for almost 2 years now and $16 isn’t much to ask for a good product.  Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with Bjango’s store provider, FastSpring.com.  Everything I do, it doesn’t think that Illinois is a valid billing state.

It is just a little too much work trying to pay $16 for a license.  Sadly, I’m removing a product that I’ve grown to really like.

Me — a proud Mac user

What started as an idle curiousity question on November 17th if Apple ever has sales, thanks to Jim, responding with this Link to AppleInsider, ended as a trip to my local BestBuy store.  Long story short, I walked out of the store carrying an all too sexy little box labeled Macbook.  It’s been 2 weeks now and not once did I regret my decision.  Not only this 13.3″ laptop looks awfully terribly cool, it also works well.   In fact, it works so well and so intuitive, that at times, when turning back to a Windows machine, I find myself at a loss. (Why 2 fingers on the touch pad don’t scroll the page?)

I can go on and on about all the cool things about a Mac: from ease of use to all the out of the box features.  But I won’t.  Enough of that is said out there anyway.  The only thing I’ll say is that I miss the availability of open source and free software for Windows.  There is a ton of software out there for Mac, but, more often than not, you have to buy it.

And lastly, I don’t like that same applications that exist on Windows and Mac are often implemented just ever so slightly different on a Mac.  But I quickly forget about it every time I open the cover of my sleeping laptop and… Boom!…  it is on just like that and connected to my wireless network — no waiting!  Love it

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