Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Playing in the Litter Box

Look Ma No Track Pad!

Installing Mt. Lion was a pleasant enough experience and at first everything appear honky dory...until I tried to use the track pad!  Oooops. Nothing happened.  My first visit to the Apple Forum and certainly not my last to this gathering of brave if befuddled Mac users brought a remarkably simple solution: reboot the computer!   This also proved to be the same cure for many future problems: Just turn the Mac off and on and voila, it  just works...now, that is.

Synch Stink

Synchronization generally provides rich opportunities for frustration and more of the magic of rebooting on Mountain Lion.  I suddenly noticed that Reminders (a clumsy new app that is no longer part of Calendar where one would expect to see reminders) was not the same on my MacBook at home and on my iPhone.  Bit of a downer since the idea is to remind you seamlessly wherever you are.

Next came a nasty surprise when I used iMessage to connect with a dear friend about getting together for lunch while I was on their side of town.  My day hung on the answer to the message which I had sent from my MacBook and had been confirmed as "delivered".  What I didn't know was that my iPhone was unaware of that conversation and the three messages sent to me went just to my laptop.  Arrrgh!  This wasn't just a minor inconvenience; a dear friend was in need of some support and was left out in the cold because Apple fumbled on the 10 yard line.  Another visit to the Apple tech Forum and the answer was maddeningly familiar but different: Reboot your iPhone, hook back up to iCloud and all is well.


Here we are on the eve (9/11/12) of the big Apple iPhone 5 launch that some say will net them 10 + million sales.  Certainly good news for Apple fanboys and investors but I see a very dark lining to the iCloud.  Apple's success is its own worst enemy.  Only those of us who have bought the devices and now depend on them "just working" as Steve Jobs once boasted, really understand the dirty truth that they don't just work.  Sure the iOS ecosystem is wonderful and it does a much better job of tying the devices into a common interface and paradigm but along the way some basics are getting lost.  Basics like a track pad that won't work after installing Mt. Lion, Reminders that won't sync without gymnastics and iMessages that aren't delivered to all the devices. Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, is a supply chain guy who understands about getting the goods in peoples' hands and the Apple PR machine is enviable ion its ability to make customers salivate on command.  Let's see if the universal love lasts the inevitable bungling that will soon follow. (Do you remember "Antennaegate"?  Apple scolding customers that they must be holding their new iPhone 4 the wrong way to make it drop all those calls?!)

I have invested too much in the orchard to turn back now and as a matter of fact I will be buying a refurbished Apple TV just as soon as I can collect the $85.  Why?  Because with AirPlay on my laptop, I can wirelessly stream everything that appears on my laptop or iPhone directly to my TV; no more switching monitor cables.  In the meantime I will do my best to also share the good and the bad of Mountain Lion with you and pray that the Apple software engineers are allowed to give their customers the kind of service that they overpaid for.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Housebreaking Mt. Lion

New Cat in the House (NOT a New Cathouse)!

I waited as long as I could (poor impulse control) and finally ponied up the $20 for the newest OS Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8.1) on my 2011 MacBook Pro 13" (Jan. 2012) If you are an Apple hater, feel free to bail out now; if you are an Apple fanboy/girl I may just offend you too.


Needless to say, I hope, there is some homework to do before you download even if your faith in the house that Steve built is next to Biblical.  Not all of your current software will necessarily be compatible with the new OS. This is not necessarily Apple's fault all the time because some companies just decided that you would need to buy an expensive upgrade of their wares in order to be compatible e.g. in my case Fusion vs 5 $50 or they just flat discontinued compatibility viz. Pro Tools LE 8.0.  The bottom line is to research ahead of time so that there are no nasty surprises.  For instance I decided to use the Boot Camp feature of Mt. Lion to install a dual boot version of Windows 8 Enterprise and I switched editing software to Amadeus Pro for $60 vs. nearly $400 for the baseline Pro Tools Edit Suite.

The next step is to make sure that you have a good back up copy of your previous OS (Lion or OSX 10.7 in my case) before you make the big leap.  Either burn it onto a DVD or USB stick or External HD just in case it all goes sideways, darned gremlins, don't ya know.  

My partner Cal Carson from the Internet Advisor show suggested using the SuperDuper app to burn a complete image of your current system as a safety back up on a removable drive.  Then he suggested installing the new Mt. Lion OS on another external HD and using that as another Start Up Disk (see System Preferences.)  That way you can boot into the new OS on the external HD and see if you like what you see before you buy the farm or more specifically sell the old one!

The download and saving the Install Disk

Like any purchase from the App Store, was pretty seamless since I was already using Lion (OSX 10.8). As a cautionary note I spent a good deal of time researching how to download the new OS and burn the Install Disk to a DVD only to find that even though the file is 4.35 GB, the system will not allow you to burn it to a normal DVD (4.74 GB) Huh?!  you say?  Yeah, my reaction too.

There was a cool post online about an Apple script that would fool your OS into thinking that the Install Disk was actually smaller (someone suggested that it just removes the foreign language scripts) and then allow you to burn it to a DVD.  No dice; either I couldn't figure out how to follow the directions about using Terminal (a very likely choice) or it just didn't work.  The solution?  Buy a $6 8GM USB stick at the counter of Micro Center in Madison Heights, MI (find a good deal wherever you want for a cheap one because this is just going to be filed away in case of disaster.  Just don't forget where you put it!  LOL)

I should mention that there is a little free utility that automates the burn which can be found on a number of sites that feature the instructions on burning Mt. Lion to a USB or external HD. (Just don't use the original one that still has the French instructions as part of it.  That one didn't work which raised my BP a few points until I found the right upgrade on another site.)

The Install

The install itself was pretty seamless and basically involved walking away from the computer for about an hour followed by a few anxious moments as I waited for the reboot.  No big drama but I did receive

In my next installment I will chronicle some of the ups and downs of housebreaking this cat including some annoying basic issues (how about your Track Pad doesn't work without a "fix" from one of the forums!)

Tata y'a,