First impressions on Mac OS X 10,7 Lion

I upgraded less than a week ago.

I don’t remember how long it took to download because I was working at the same time. Also, the Mac App Store put the download in the dock and only showed a little progress bar and no information such as total size, completed download, estimated time.

When the download was done, it took me 1h10 to install the new system (an installation window appeared, saying installation would take about 33 minutes, which took slightly more than 40, and then a new window appeared, similar to the first one, indicating installation would take about 20 minutes, which took 30).

And then, everything looked the same. The obvious difference was that the scroll bar of some windows appears at launch and disappears, the bar revealed only when the window is scrolled. At the top right corner of some windows, there is the new icon for “full screen”, in case I want my screen real estate consumed by just this one window. Windows are now resize-able by each side and corner (woohoo!). Back in 2004 when I used a mac for the first time I was looking for that feature.

Mission control is the new exposé and virtual screens. It’s nicely done. The layout in exposé view is pretty (that is, every window of every program minified and stacked behind the program’s icon) and useful: the icon of the program in the foreground of each stack, and then the window(s) opened belonging to that program are stacked. If I put the mouse pointer on a window and click space, I remain in the exposé view but the window maximises and the effect is similar to quick look. Active corners remain active. I had set them up for a particular Exposé action, and I keep using them as before.

The biggest change is natural scrolling on the touchpad. They’ve unified scrolling on Apple devices, bringing the iPhone and iPad scrolling to the touchpad. I’m still not used to it! As though my brain is cabled to adapt my scrolling direction based on the device. Anyway. When I want to read down a document, I’ve got to pull it (scroll up), and when I want to read up a document, I’ve got to push it (scroll down). In the systems preferences, one can choose old-skool scrolling.

I didn’t notice any improvement in system memory, cpu and battery consumption; it seems no better and no worse than OS X 10.6.

I gave a try for one full day. I set it up with IMAP with the same config I have on my iPhone. It didn’t work for me, I’m too used to Opera mail, which I resumed using the next day.

iCal presented me with one disappointment. I don’t mind their aesthetic choice of faux-leather and torn paper line below the leather pad, I really miss the left panel that showed the calendars and allowed me to display as many months I could fit in that space. This was convenient to quickly check, uncheck, select + refresh given calendars, and the small months view was convenient when planning, next to the main window in which I showed the current week. They added a year view which is pretty (small months featuring my calendar colours and the more stuff I have on a given day, the darker the colour), but doesn’t make up for the loss of the left panel. The calendars I created or I’m subscribed to appear in some popup window when I click “Calendars” at the top left of the iCal window and stays on while I mouse-over, click a cal, refresh, etc, until I click somewhere else.

I almost forgot to install XCode! But I had to because I you run stuff like CVS or make. This took me ages and I even feared it would never complete. The Mac App Store let me download XCode (it used to be, I think, on one of the installation DVDs), put the dl in progress in the dock, and when it was done, I was shown Launchpad. It looks like my iPad welcome screen, with icons of all my apps. I clicked on install XCode, entered my system password and waited, waited. Waited. Something went wrong, it was stuck, I had to force quit the installation, do it again, and wait, wait. I think it took more than a couple hours (by that time, I was busy doing other stuff, like cooking, entertaining guests, eating, so it may have just taken 2 hours).

Some apps like TextEdit have active window bars; if I click on the document title on that bar I see light grey text, for example “ – Edited” and if I mouse over, I see an arrow. Click the arrow to lock the file, duplicate the file, revert to last opened version and browse all versions. It might make some use of a my local CVS moot.

Amaya works fine. Quicksilver too.

That’s all folks.

The mds process was too greedy

Every now and then when my mac is slow, I take a peek in the Activity Monitor, to find out what is the culprit. Today I didn’t find any usual suspect and the only odd bit was the process mds. While it was using barely 10% of the CPU, the memory it used was outrageous. I remember having only 1MB free memory left, and that mds was using 14GB of the virtual memory (this figure stuck, while the real memory one didn’t).

I had learnt that mds is in use for Spotlight indexing. I have no use for Spotlight indexing, because I use other tools or tricks. So I searched for the way to disable Spotlight and did it in the Terminal:

sudo mdutil -a -i off
 	Indexing disabled.

All of a sudden the process mds jumped from using 14GB of virtual memory to 77MB of virtual memory, whee! And the system memory, of which 1MB was free, reached the comfortable level of 1.7GB, re-whee!

If I ever need Spotlight, the command above is reversed by using “on”.

You’re welcome!

Update of the day after:
It turns out I need that Spotlight indexing after all, if only to search in iCal. <sigh />
mds is on again! until it gets too greedy, that is.

sudo mdutil -a -i on
 	Indexing enabled.

Opera 10.53: hi/bye

Opera 10.53 for mac OS lasted about 36 hours on my machine. It wasn’t stable, unfortunately. It really felt like a beta version! It was so bad that I even resolved to try out Opera 10.60 alpha, but since it doesn’t have Opera Mail, it wasn’t workable for me. So I reverted to Opera 10.10 just now.

Opera is the program I use the most. It is my default browser and my beloved MUA. It is also the first time I am disappointed with a version to the point of downgrading. I’ve always been a fan of Opera, which I discovered some time in 2002, and that I adopted as mail client and default browser when M2 was part of the Opera 7 release in early 2003.

A few quick observations about Opera 10.53, expanded below:

  1. Spectacular unexpected* crashes in series.
  2. Intrusion with window coming in focus by itself.
  3. Enter key no worky on dialog boxes.
  4. Scrolling didn’t work consistently.

[* We need to admit to ourselves that sometimes we’re pushing the limits knowingly, in which case, crashes are more or less expected.]

I found them spectacular in the sense that I was used to Opera looking like it’s really trying to process whatever it is doing, entering the phase of being slower or unresponsive for a while till the application crashed. When Opera 10.53 crashes it is sudden and swift. My first impression was that the window had moved to a different virtual space, and I even looked for it, till I saw the box announcing the app had to crash.
And they happened in series. A series of 4 or 5 consecutive crashes triggered by all sorts of actions, followed by a phase of suspicious stability.
Actions that made Opera 10.53 crash:

  • double clicking a URI in the address bar in order to copy it.
  • clicking the send button in Opera Mail.
  • waiting for Opera to finish restarting after a crash.
  • it also crashed when I was busy with another app.

I was surprised, using Opera 10.53, that the Opera window would come into focus unexpectedly and for no particular reason, other than my mouse hovering over it from an application window to another, or each time Opera fetches e-mail, news or feeds. I found the intrusion quite annoying.

Dialog boxes
When a dialog box popped up, it appeared that the focus was on a button, yet, the return key had no effect. I was used to hitting the enter key when the focus is right, and I was disappointed to have to use the mouse to click.

Again, because of habits, I expected the trackpad gesture of scrolling with two fingers to work anywhere in the Opera windows, and consistently, be that a browser tab, or the panels and sections of the Mail interface. It wasn’t the case at times and it wasn’t obvious why it wouldn’t work as expected, when it didn’t.

E-mail stuck in Outbox

For the past couple of months I’ve been annoyed with Opera e-mail sometimes being stuck in Outbox, at the “Authenticating” stage. Sometimes. Hence the annoyance. Sometimes it works fine for days. And sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know what triggers it. I wish I knew 🙂 Assuredly I can’t be the only one experiencing this! I’ve looked and searched the Web, forums, Opera knowledge base and support pages.

I’m using Opera 9.64 on mac OS X 10.5.7 and outgoing e-mail talks to an SMTP server over TLS.

I just found a workaround that is not very satisfactory, but good enough so long as it does the trick: disconnect/reconnect wi-fi, try again, worky. <sigh />

I also found that even if the stuck message is removed from the Outbox, Opera will eventually deliver it. Sadly the original timestamp is not kept. So if I found another way to send that message, people will still receive it again. Later. <re-sigh />

I changed how Opera handles e-mail a couple of months ago, so that might be it. I used to ssh to a machine and Opera talked to localhost to pop and send.