I should note that I have many computers:

  • A quad-core I7 from iBuyPower that runs Windows 7 Pro.
  • An original MacBook Air running Lion that also has Bootcamp (in a very small partition) that runs Windows 7 Pro.
  • A Mac Pro that runs Lion and Windows 7 Pro under Parallels 7. This is my main machine. I run the Linux machines remotely from it.
  • A quad-core I7 Gateway that runs OpenSUSE 12.1, and is my server to the world. It is also my music server.
  • An HP Netbook that runs Ubuntu 10.

I generally use each computer for what it does best, and certainly know the advantages and disadvantages of Windows, OS X, and Linux. I also can manage a high-performance Linux luster.

Hardware

In 2007, I bit the bullet and switched to a Mac Pro, the fastest, most powerful, most expandable computer that Apple had. It had dual Xeons, 16 GB of memory, and all disk bays were soon filled. I even upgraded it to a solid-state disk for the boot drive. Two weeks ago I turned it off due to tornados in the area, and the next morning, it would not reboot. Yes, it was still plugged in, but to my very expensive UPS. After trying everything I could think of or Google to, I hauled it into the Apple Store. After two weeks of trying, they had replaced everything except the CPUs, with no success. Because new CPUs cost $2400 (!!!), I decided that it was time to buy a replacement.

Much to my dismay, I found that the latest Mac Pro was last refreshed in the summer of 2010! In computer terms, that is forever. For example, the newest Mac Pro with dual Westmere Xeons does not contain SATA3, USB3, or the Sandy Bridge chipset, and has relatively slow 1.333 GH memory access.

Nonetheless, I was stuck and plunked down $5450 to get a Mac Po with 8 GB memory and the better ATI Radeon HD 5870 because I plan to do some GPU programming. I also got 32-GB of memory in 4 8-GB modules from OWC, which meant that I had to remove the Apple memory because the larger OWC modules cause intermittent issues with the smaller chip sizes. I did manage to save some money by buying the computer from B&H Photo in New York City. They also tossed in (no rebate needed à la MacMall) Parallels, and sold the AppleCare for just $74.

So now I have almost the most powerful and kicking computer that Apple sells (they do have a faster 2.99 Ghz CPU for an extra $1200, but I opted for the slower 2.66 GHz ones). This looks like my old Mac Pro, but is completely different on the inside—even the disk mounting brackets are a different length. As is the way with Apple, the physical architecture is beautiful. The whole mother board (which holds the memory chips) slides out with no tools, as does the DVD drive enclosure.

Migration

My problem was how to retain my original four disk drives, including the SSD drive for the system. There is no longer a DVD for Lion included in the package. So I followed the following steps:

  • I removed the four Apple memory chips and replaced them with the OWC chips.
  • I installed the old HD3 and HD4 in their correct slots.
  • I installed the old SSD drive HD1 in slot 2.
  • I then booted the new system.
  • After registering the computer, the install program asked me if I wanted to migrate my old data and programs. I selected the SSD as the source.
  • Three hours later, the files were copied, and on reboot, it looked the same as my old Mac Pro. Even the program tentacles under /System were moved!
    • I did have to reenter the license key for Microsoft Office
    • I had to reregister Adobe CS5 by starting PhotoShop
    • I had to reenter the license code for Little Snitch.
  • I then updated all programs, including Lion itself.
  • As a computer security professional, I made sure that I had the latest versions of Chrome, Thunderbird, Firefox, and Adobe Flash.
  • Then I used SuperDuper! to clone the new HD1 onto my SSD. This took another 3 hours.
  • I removed the 1-TB Apple HD1 (another bit of wasted money), and moved the SSD from slot 2 to slot 1.
  • I moved my old HD2 to slot 2
  • I rebooted, and regained all my old files and programs.

I note that the reason for this convoluted process is that my old SSD Lion installation did not have the necessary firmware drivers for my new Mac Pro. So, it was necessary to base the new system on the Lion that Apple installed. It is a shame that I had to spend $6000 for an obsolete computer in order to regain my work flow and large investment in programs such as Office and Creative Suite.

Software

Software is another place where OS X is abandoning high-end users. Lion is a big step backwards from Snow Leopard, and Mountain Lion will be worse. A computer is NOT a tablet, nor is it a telephone.

Lion did just one thing that benefits me: They made all sides of a frame clickable to resize the frame rather than just the bottom-right corner. It is about time! This did break Thunderbird however.

It is time for Apple to move the menu bar for each program back to the window of the program itself. I have a 30" Apple Cinema monitor, and I do an incredible amount of mousing and neck turning (my neck is partially fused) to go from the active program to its menu. I see NO advantage to having the program's menu in the top menu bar. In Windows, the menus for each program are always visible, which wastes desktop space, but I would propose only displaying the menus for the program that has focus. Another reason for this is that my top menu bar runs out of space, especially on my Air. If a program has many top-level menus, they hide some icons that I need to access, such as Dropbox, Time Machine, or WiFi.

Lion has features that make it look like an iPhone or iPad. The key (F4 on my new Mac Pro) that displays all of your programs as icons is quite useless when there are 11 screens of them, each containing 40 icons.

Lion took away the scroll arrows at the ends of the scroll bars. I suppose they expect you to scroll using swipes on the trackpad or Magic Mouse. But this is not a viable option if you want to scan an Excel spreadsheet that has 200,000 rows. It would take many many swipes compared to just a single mouse press on the down arrow. Why would Apple remove important functionality for (I presume) the sake of aesthetics?

Lion removed Spaces and replaced it with Mission Control. Mission Control does NOT have the same functionality as Spaces. Using Spaces, I could rearrange all of my apps from desktop to desktop. With Mission Control, the source must be the current space. This requires many more operations, especially in the situation described in the next paragraph.

Lion by default reopens any windows that were open before the last shutdown or reboot. It is impossible to turn this off by default. You have to remember every time to uncheck this box. But sometimes, OS X hangs and you have o power it off. When this happens, all apps are reopened, and they all go to Desktop 1! This results in a Gordeon Knot of Windows that is a royal pain to rearrange. Although you can run Mission Control from Desktop 1 and move all the windows to the right desktop, you cannot rearrange the individual desktop apps without visiting each desktop. I may have 20 windows open at once, so this is a serious annoyance.

Lion removed Samba for sharing files with Windows and Linux. I had to install it using MacPorts. Again, this is critical functionality that disappeared for no good reason.

Apple is moving to requiring the use of the Apple Store for obtaining applications. I hate this. The store app is a real pain. I must sign in several times to get updates. I own an Android phone and Android tablets because I want and need the freedom to install whatever I like on my devices. Apple is rapidly requiring that they are the source of all that is Apple, or runs on Apple devices. This is unacceptable to a developer!

Finally, I am against talking to my computer. I can type about as fast as I can write, and since my neck operation, my voice is not what it used to be. Nothing is as useful for input as a keyboard.

Comments

Submitted by Drew M. on Sat, 04/21/2012 - 15:08

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"When this happens, all apps are reopened, and they all go to Desktop 1!"

I hate the default as well, but just in case you didn't know, you can assign each app to open in a specific desktop. For example, I have browsers set up in Desktop 1, music apps in 2, drawing/drafting apps in 3, and writing apps in 4.

Once you have your app on the desktop you like, right click on its icon in the dock. From there, highlight "Options" and there will be a few choices under "Assign to." Once you have that set, they'll always open in that window.

I know it does nothing to help with that stupid re-opening programs at startup thing, but it makes it a bit more manageable.

https://img.skitch.com/20120421-pgq7p8peywy5yuhwummtn665di.jpg

Submitted by jarome on Mon, 06/18/2012 - 08:32

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Apple just released a Mac Pro refresh. It seems to just have a faster CPU. USB 3 and Thunderbolt are still not available. I guess this makes me feel better about not being totally obsolete.

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