Wednesday, August 24, 2011

As Steve Jobs steps down, I'm still left wondering whether I should shell out the $30 for Lion


Will Lion do anything for me except light my wallet by $30 and force me to relearn yet another new Mac OS?

by Ken

News of Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple presumably has dire implications for the state of his health, and I feel bad for him on a human level. About his stewardship of Apple, though, as a longtime Mac user I have pretty mixed feelings. The Mac itself seems to me to have lost most of its specialness (is there really now any particular reason to be using one rather than a PC?), and as for the earth-shattering innovations for which he's canonized in all the pre-obituaries -- the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad -- I'm not so keen. (I will refrain from using a phrase like "markers of the end of civilization.")

Rumors have been flying all year that Apple's then-COO Tim Cook (left) would succeed Steve Jobs (right) as CEO. Now it's happened.

Which brings me to a question I've been wrestling with, with regard to which readers can possibly offer some experience. I was actually a latecomer to OS X, having heard such bad things about it, and held out to what sure seemed the bitter end, when it became almost impossible to get software or hardware to work with OS 9. But since I made the trepidatious leap into Panther, and have since dutifully slogged along into Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard, and I suppose I've benefited from things progressively built into the OS as employed by hardware and software makers, but I don't do anything fancy on my computer (most of the "features" I read about in each OS upgrade sound like things I will never in my lifetime use). I can't say I've been thrilled by the wrenching changes, which have mostly forced me to learn uselessly different way of interfacing with the system, without experiencing much conspicuous gain.

I used to follow these things a lot more closely, and only realized just how far out of touch I've gotten when I heard about the magic day of the Lion launch and realized I didn't know a darned thing about "the world's most advanced desktop operating system." Even with Snow Leopard, I actually paid my first visit to an Apple Store on release day credit card in hand, and. (And goodness gracious, did I have the feeling that I'd stepped into some alternate universe.) Now I just don't know.

(At work we were just recently all upgraded -- from Tiger to Leopard! No, not even Snow Leopard. Hey, don't ask me.)

My friend Richard, who's a much more recent Mac user than I am, has upgraded and is thrilled. He said something about being able to resize stuff on-screen with flicks of his fingers on the trackpad he bought, but I don't have a trackpad and I don't want a trackpad. I had a trackpad once on a laptop I owned, and I hated it. Okay, these fancy newer trackpads are probably worlds better, but I've spent a lot of years developing mouse skills. Doesn't that count for anything?

Richard, who I learn has also taken to hanging out at the Apple Store, picking the children's brains, also tells me he's learned that Apple is in the process of eliminating disks, both CDs and DVDs, from Macs, on the ground that nobody uses them anymore, that "everything is downloaded." (Like OS X Lion, for example.) Everything is downloaded? Are we living on the same planet?

But I digress. I suppose that in the end, it being only $30, I'll do it. Meanwhile, however, my question is: Among people out there who've done the Lion thing, do you have any insight to share?

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At 8:35 AM, Blogger NB said...

You should upgrade. Read John Siracusa's review on for more details than you ever, ever wanted to know.

The major features that did it for me: full-disk encryption that doesn't suck, quick restore of saved application state and autosave, and much, much better security throughout the OS due to easily deployable sandboxing of least-privilege operations for applications.

Updated to add link:

At 10:44 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks, NB! The "whys" of it still sound kind of mysterious to me, but I love the decisiveness of your recommendation. Sometimes we just need to be told what to do. I'll definitely take a look at the Siracusa review.



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