Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion

I am a bit behind the times with respect to Mac OSX updates but finally thought I should take the plunge.  We have been running Snow Leopard on our gaggle of Mac’s for years now and until now hadn’t seen much reason to change.  After finally making the change  here are some of my thoughts on the differences between these two.

It all started at a recent conference, when I couldn’t send an invite to a event from my iPhone. To do this I could either move my calendar to iCloud or adopt Exchange/Outlook.  Not having an easily accessible Microsoft Exchange server  around, I thought it best to move to engage iCloud.  After installing it on Snow Leopard I found out about the “Find my Mac” MacOS application, iPhone/iPad app, only available with Mountain Lion and I was hooked.

So after a 2 hour download, an hour upgrade and another hour migrating to the new  MacMail, we arrived at Mountain Lion.

The good, bad and ugly of Mountain Lion

First, the good:

  • Dictation – a nice toy and probably works ok for short tweets and stuff but it’s not something I feel believe worthy of everyday use. But after using it a while, I may change my mind.  [08Mar2013 updates – still not using this 5 months in.]
  • Mission Control – an interesting evolution of Spaces. I was a fanatical spaces user mostly on my laptop with more limited screen real estate.  And after using Mission Control, I still prefer Spaces navigation better (3-d hyper-cube scrolling) over Mission Control’s navigation (2d strip scrolling). But other than that it’s certainly usable and more configurable. [I find that I don’t use Mission control as much, maybe due to the lack of 3d scrolling, also not sure you can go directly to a screen like you could before.]
  • Twitter (and Facebook) integration – a real nifty feature for the twitterers among us (ditto for Facebook I imagine).  I was using the new Safari and saw  the iPad/iPhone sharing icon. When I clicked to share a link on twitter, it brought up the Accounts panel from System Preferences to establish a twitter account link.  That’s about it and now Notifications tab, Safari and I suspect a bunch of other apps can now share content. [find the notifications (see below) kind of nifty and easily configurable but haven’t used the ability to post tweets, facebook updates as much as I thought.]
  • Notifications – nice feature but “here lies dragons”.  I have always been a proponent of not examining email every second of idle time and actually only checking it one or two times a day.  By default notifications generates a banner alert every time a new email came in.  But you can easily turn it off on any and all applications. I turned it on for twitter and it only notifies on mentions (~1 hour later than email, go figure).
  • Messages – interesting application. We are a pre-texting family and just found out that iPhone to iPhone texts (via iMessage) are free. and even so we probably do a text or two a day now.  But finding out that you can use Messages to send texts may just double or even triple that rate, at least until the kids get that texting fever.

Next, the bad:

  • Recovery Disk Assistant – ok, there had to be something for a complete disk wipe out, but a USB stick? Something about being in the storage business seems to make me need to backup of systems, applications and data.  When I first launched the app, it just spun and never got anywhere. I mounted a used USB stick which didn’t help, then ran Disk Utility to find that elusive Recovery HD partition on the startup disk but it never showed.  Apple support finally explained that the Recovery HD partition is hidden.  And that I had to have a USB stick in Mac OSX extended, journaled format. With the newly formatted USB thumb drive, I was finally able to create my recovery media. But I am not overly fond of USB data endurance, reliability and or fault tolerance.
  • IOS like iCal, Contacts and Mail – ok, maybe the look and feel for these make for a better UI.  I am probably ok with Contacts (didn’t use it that much),  less ok with Calendar (used that a lot), not ok with Mail (used that an awful lot). I am still trying to figure out how to sort mail (as I write this, there’s a small triangle at the top of the mail panel that supplies this).  And I don’t like the automatic preview.  But the automatic threading is a nice feature.  [having mixed feelings about the threading feature, I am still occasionally going back to non-threading to try to locate an email that I know came in on a certain date…]
  • Launch pad vs. Dock – ok, the iPad/iPhone look may have gone too far.  The new rocket icon on the dock provides an iPad like launch pane.  Ok, after playing around with it for awhile, it kind of makes sense. Getting to the applications folder was a pain before. Launch Pad makes it much easier and quicker to go after those less used apps. Maybe this will let me clean up my Dock.

Finally, the ugly:

  • #$%^ scrolling – I want to go back.  Not sure why but scrolling on the iPad or iPhone seemed pretty natural with your finger on the screen and I always thought the momentum scrolling was fantastic. But over decades, I kind of got used to scrolling with sidebars and bottom bars that moved the screen as you moved the bar.  Now I push and pull screens.  Ok, the side bars are there when I start moving screens around but it’s not the same.   I have yet to see how to change this back but I thought I would give it a day or so to see if it gets better.   At the moment (two days in), it’s frustrating me to no end. [you get used to it, and now when I go back to a Mac without it, I am a bit confused but shift back easily…].
  • [Launching apps at startup that were open at shutdown – Yes there’s a little checkbox on the shutdown pop-up that you can use to stop this.  And yes, occasionally it’s convenient to not have to wait for the app to come up when I get to use it for real. But, this kind of slows down my startup activity and I find I am quiting apps at shutdown just to not have them come up automatically at startup. Alright, I checked it is a persistent option you can uncheck the box and it will not startup the apps that were operating at shutdown.  I do however dislike the highlight it gives indicating that just maybe you should rethink not checking the box…]

Probably more stuff I will run into but this is my 1st couple of day view of the new OS.  I tweeted about (from notifications pane) and thought it deserved more lenghty treatment.