Home > Apple, Computing, Humor, MacOS X, Operating Systems, User interfaces > Apple started decaying before Steve Jobs’ death

Apple started decaying before Steve Jobs’ death

Sad MacMany have wondered what would happen to Apple after Steve Job’s death. I’m afraid things started to go south at Infinite Loop long before Steve passed away. Case in point: Mac OSX Lion, which I think is the worst version of MacOSX ever (and I’ve used all of them since Rhapsody).

What’s wrong with MacOSX Lion?

While there are a number of relatively useful features in OSX Lion, like being able to resize a window from all sides (granted, not exactly a new feature in the computer world), the general philosophy of that OS seems to be “We know better“. A computer company that thinks it knows better than me how I should use my own computer? Let’s not get used to it.

I will illustrate this with three real-life cases:

  • Ten minutes to reboot on a Core i7 laptop is not cool.
  • How I came to positively hate the mandatory auto-save feature.
  • The sad story of Quit, Select All, Undo and Close Window.

There are a few other smaller cases that I will brush on quickly at the end. Like the broken replacement for good ol’ Save-As, the stereoscopy crashes, the mysterious unimprovements to Spaces, the Screen Saver of Doom…

Ten minutes to reboot is not cool

Many know the great story of Steve Jobs telling an early Mac engineer that making Macs boot faster would save lives. This lesson seems to have been forgotten these days.

This morning, I had a kernel panic in Lion (a not so uncommon occurrence, sadly). So I was forced to reboot. And what happened next prompted me to write this blog entry. Crashing is enough of a waste of time. But then, MacOS X Lion aggravated that by reloading every single tiny window I happened to have open at the time of the crash. And not letting me do anything in the meantime, because you see, it was busy, it had better things to do than even letting me quit an application.

Being able to quit an application is what I took as an indication that the system was done booting. It’s as good a measure as any, since if you can’t quit an application, you can’t do much else. And it took more than 10 minutes for me to be able to quit Firefox: I booted the machine at 7:02 (according to uptime), Firefox accepted to quit at 7:14.

In the meantime, OSX Lion had reloaded, for my own good:

  1. Mail, with 7 windows
  2. Pages, with 4 documents
  3. Numbers, with 6 documents
  4. Keynote, without any document open, but hey, what’s wrong with launching it anyway?
  5. Terminal, with 2 windows, one of them was running a build. There’s a severe bug in OSX Lion restore-everything-at-reboot-time functionality: it didn’t restart my build!
  6. Safari, with 8 web sites, including two with videos I had already seen.
  7. Firefox, with 2 web sites, which I certainly didn’t wan tot re-open since they were payments.
  8. iTunes (which helpfully started downloading new contents)

While the system attempts to “please” you in some demented sense of “pleasing”, there’s very little you can do but wait. Actually, you need to do a little more than that, because the machine will occasionally ask for passwords or pop up some dialog box. And it does so in such a random fashion that even reading mail is difficult. All the more so because the machine is so busy re-indexing its Spotlight database and downloading iTunes contents you really don’t care about right now that everything crawls.

Even switching windows is difficult, even borderline hazardous. You think you brought up one window, but then the system shows another one right at the moment you click or close something or do something dangerous, and bam, the one and only window you didn’t want to close vanishes from the screen!

What is so infuriating about this incredibly stupid behavior of OSX Lion is that practically every single time I rebooted my machine, I unchecked that little box asking if I want to re-open my windows when I log back in. Can’t OSX Lion get the hint? If it’s smart enough to save my windows at the time of a kernel panic (of all times), can’t it save a little preference like “I don’t want you to re-open windows at boot time, ever”, without forcing me to resort to command line hacks.

Yes, I know how to fix it. It’s a script like this one:

#!/bin/bash
echo "#!/bin/bash" > /tmp/loginfix.sh
echo "rm /Users/*/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.loginwindow.*" >> /tmp/loginfix.sh
mv /tmp/loginfix.sh /usr/bin/loginfix.sh
chmod +x /usr/bin/loginfix.sh
defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook /usr/bin/loginfix.sh

Having to resort to something like is really annoying. And if Apple really didn’t want to store the “reopen windows” user choice in preferences, then it shouldn’t be a check-box. It should have been a separate action button, just like “Shutdown” and “Restart”.

I’m clearly not the only one who dislikes that features. If you look up on the web, you’d be hard pressed to find any site that explains how great that feature is. Instead, you’ll find dozen of places telling you how to disable it. So it’s a useless feature compounded with a bad UI made more annoying by a blatant disrespect for user preferences. That seems to be the general theme for changes in OSX Lion. Let’s not get used to it.

How I came to hate the mandatory auto-save feature

Another feature that follows the exact same pattern is the mandatory auto-save feature in applications like Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc. What this feature does looks good on paper. It helpfully saves things for you at regular interval. Since Apple implemented for Time Machine a relatively nice way to version files, Apple used that to offer a kind of per-document Time Machine. Isn’t that a great idea?

The problem with that auto-save is that it doesn’t scale, and that there is no way to turn it off, even temporarily. So here is what happened to me once. I was animating an event, and for some reason, they decided to use my laptop as the main machine connected to the projector. So they gave me this 150 pages Keynote made by copy-pasting together a dozen or so slide decks. So far, so good.

Then, various people started coming to me asking if they could change a word here, copy a new slide there, etc. Guess what: it took over one minute to save the 150 pages document. My guess is that Keynote uses a brain-dead algorithm to decide when to auto-save, something like “if something changed and if the last auto-stave started more than 30 seconds ago”. Just a wild guess. What I observed, though, is that it doesn’t check that after you do an operation, but before executing the next operation you request.

All these harebrained design decisions blend together in a perfectly distasteful mix. You hit a key. Keynote shows your keypress. You hit another key. Keynote detects it should auto-save. The save takes more than one minute. The “saving takes a long time” progress dialog shows up and eats the key you typed! So you need to type again, very fast. But usually you don’t succeed. Same with mouse clicks. You send mouse clicks that get eaten by the stupid “Please wait while I’m saving” progress dialog. Who decided to call this a “progress” dialog? It’s not progress!

Anyway, after a very painful 15 minutes trying to make this work, here is how I ended up doing things: I started another Keynote instance, edited slides one at a time there, and once it was done, I would copy things back in the original Keynote document. But talk about a counter-productive exercise fighting a badly designed UI that won’t accept my preferences (namely: I don’t want to auto-save. Period. I hit Command-S when I’m happy. I know what I’m doing.)

Quit, Select All, Close and Undo

The third scenario I came to hate in OSX Lion is much more specific. See, I’m French, so I often have to type French text. And I’m a coder, so I often have to write English text or computer code. At some point in my past, I started taking the habit of typing French text in the native French keyboard, which is AZERTY, and English text in QWERTY

I don’t think many other people do this, but to me, that means faster typing in both cases. In English, I can type all the wonderful special characters used in code, like [ and ]. In French, I have easy access to all the wonderful àccénts that pepper our language (and, by the way, in defense of Jean Dujardin, “Putain” is more like an accent than a swear word in French; it doesn’t really mean “Whore” anymore than, say, “OK” means “all correct” or “gay” means “in a good mood”). A and Qs flip automatically when I’m typing French. If anything, that shows how flexible the human brain is.

There’s just one little problem with that clever scheme: keyboard shortcuts. It so happens that Command-Q (Quit), Command-A (Select All), Command-Z (Undo) and Command-W (Close window) are some of the most frequently used shortcuts of all. And unfortunately, they flip places when I switch languages. And unlike complete words, which my brain has “short-circuited” to the correct keyboard layout depending on language, they have no context, no language associated with them. So often, I want to Undo, and instead I Close the Window.

So what does this have to do with OSX Lion, you may ask? Well, the auto-save feature has, for me, a very nasty side effect. If a document has been modified, OSX Lion no longer asks if you want to close it or save it. That dialog box that used to pop was my saving grace in the old days. If I hit Command-W instead of Command-Z, then the dialog box would pop up, I’d hit ESC and hit Command-Z. No harm done. Nowadays, my window vanishes, and with it, all my undo history. In other words, at the exact time I want to undo something, MacOSX Lion finds a way to erase the entire undo history!

Of course, Apple engineers know better. Their reasoning must have been that the auto-save feature is like a kind of persistent undo to disk. Unfortunately, auto-save and Time Machine are nothing like undo. Undo remembers the actions. Auto-save remembers the result. So Time Machine is way way slower to activate, and it makes it harder to find where a document actually changed.

So a couple of times a day, I close a document by mistake, and I swear. Nothing has been closer to turining my Macbook into some unidentified flying object than this feature. At some point, I’ll find the time to disable that auto-save feature as well, in a way that doesn’t break other things.

Then, there’s the small stuff

OSX Lion’s disregard for users’ taste and preferences permeates throughout. It looks more like a design philosophy than an accident.

There’s the odd reversal of the trackpad scrolling behavior. This one at least can be configured. But either you stick with the default, and you are backwards each time you return to a Windows, Linux, older MacOSX machine. Or you change it, and you are backwards each time you return to a Lion box that is configured with the default.

There’s the new technique for “Save As”. It used to be “Save As”, Command-Shift-S, select the new file name (defaults to the document’s directory). Basically, one keystroke. Now, it is “Duplicate” (no keyboard shortcut), close the old window, Save (which now defaults to the Desktop rather than where the original document was), find the original location, save. So you have replaced one keyboards shortcut with 4 to a good dozen clicks depending on where your original document was. And “Duplicate” seems to use more memory and take more time than Save As (maybe it saves the document somewhere?) The benefits? Hmmm. I don’t see any, it seems like a less intelligent way to do the same thing as before.

Stereoscopy is a minor nuisance to the majority of people. But it turns out Taodyne, my company, produces a 3D presentation software. Something like Flash blending with Avatar. One of the ways we generate stereoscopic images is with the OpenGL Quad buffer support. It was broken in 10.6.1: when our application ran, switching spaces would kill the window server. I reported it to Apple, it was fixed in 10.6.2. It was broken again in Lion (10.7.0). Only this time the crash is a random kernel panic or system freeze, a bit more serious. I reported it three times to Apple. It’s still there.

Overall, Spaces and the Window server are nowhere as good as they used to be. When you switch spaces, it used to be smooth. You used to have a single desktop background. Now, it’s not smooth. Sometimes, windows won’t drag from one space to another. Spaces can be “out of order” (i.e. the number keyboard shortcuts no longer correspond to the logical layout of the spaces). The windows that MacOSX Lion insists on reopening at startup don’t reopen in their original space. And so on.

It’s more than just spaces. For example, using full screen app mode on dual-screen setups makes one of the monitors become unusable (covered with a oh-so-nice Lionesque background). Try watching a DVD full screen on one monitor while you do something on the other. Worked like a charm in Snow Leopard, impossible to do in Lion. Try putting the DVD player full screen on your TV while the menu is on the main screen of your laptop (just because most HD TVs overscan, so putting the menu there means you don’t see it). Nope, Lion knows better, it will bring the full screen picture where the menu is, not when the window is. That also worked in Snow Leopard.

And there’s another one of my favorites, the Screen Saver of Doom. Some screen savers in OSX Lion consume all the memory they can. They evict all the useful stuff away. So when it’s time to log back in, you see your keystrokes show up. one. at. a. time. And by the time you logged back in, you see that 5G of your 8G of RAM are now free. For the next few minutes, every single application you will try to use will page stuff back in and be extremely unresponsive. That too is a nuisance. Let’s not get used to it.

Conclusion

OSX Snow Leopard was a lean and mean operating system, just like its feline counterpart. OSX Lion takes on its role model as well: it’s big, heavy, slow, lazy, and it doesn’t care about you a tiny bit.

Let’s just hope that Apple’s next OSX version, Mountain Lion, will not be smaller, less powerful but more dangerous than its predecessor… Unfortunately, I won’t hold my breath based on what we can gather from Apple’s sneak peek Making it more difficult to download third-party applications in the name of security? A chat application? Twitter support? A features page that has so little to show that it needs to boast on the US web site about stuff designed specifically for China? Seriously?

I still want to believe that Apple will soon focus again on making their OS lean, mean and efficient like it used to be.

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  1. March 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Interesting that http://mashable.com/2012/02/17/mac-os-timeline/ would describe Lion like this:

    Apple claimed the new OS had over 250 new or updated features, including a controversial AutoSave feature that removed Save As from many applications and frustrated some users.

  2. Jack Silverstone
    March 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    What are you talking about. Takes me 10-15 secs to reboot. Please look into your hardware. Sounds like hardware issue. Especially HDD.

    • March 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      As I said, it’s not the “boot time to login prompt” that matters. It’s the “give me the machine back” time. If the machine is still so busy loading applications that it doesn’t even respond to a “Quit” or “Copy” menu item, clearly, it has “booted” in name only.

      • April 27, 2012 at 5:14 am

        You can control most of your issues with system preferences and the shutdown screen. Lion runs slightly slower than Snow Leopard on my 2008 aluminum Macbook — one built only for seven or so months — but not enough to counter the amazing new Lion features. Productivity is up. Natural scrolling is amazingly useful.

  3. March 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Hi there! I absolutely agree with you and share the same pain using Lion. Apart from the issues you have described above, the synchronization is completely broken. It has converted all characters like ‘& and ‘#’ to escaped strings in my bookmarks and then stopped to syncing them. As a workaround I use Chrome to sync bookmarks.

    What is more, it is huge error to get rid of the keychain syncing feature. Am I supposed now to store my passwords separately on my 3 macs and 2 iPhones? People having many devices will end up using weak passwords, otherwise they will be unable to use their web accounts when switching machine.

    In order to avoid memory problems, use the “Menu meter” app to track the memory usage. Lion has broken memory management. Huge chunks of memory easily become “inactive” (menu meter shows the as gray). Use Safari for 2 or 3 hours and you will end up with all memory eaten and swapping. However, Lion introduce the ‘purge’ terminal command. Use this command to reclaim “inactive” memory. As a side effect, the computer will freeze for a second or a few but this way you can get back your memory and prevent swapping. I issue this command as soon as I see there is no free memory left (I have 12 gigs)

  4. fault
    March 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Mandatory AutoSave… why would anyone, let alone Apple, implement that unless the OS is unstable as hell?

    • March 4, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Fault,

      It’s not about the OS being unstable, because it’s not. It is part of the iOSification of OS X. The basic idea is users don’t care about saving. Like when you commit a change to a database driven application. You change a field and it’s automagically saved for you. The OS has been very stable for me and I’m not worried about these features. Apple will get them sorted out.

      • March 4, 2012 at 2:24 am

        Rob, you are right. And they will prioritize, like any engineering job. We have to let them know what doesn’t work and why. That’s what I tried to do.

  5. anon
    March 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I work and socialize with a lot of Mac users and have yet to meet even a single person who thought Lion was an improvement over the previous version.

  6. Cry baby
    March 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Stop crying. Spend your time worrying about something that matters.

    • March 4, 2012 at 12:19 am

      Pot, meet kettle.

      • Cry baby
        March 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

        My comment took 2 seconds. This blog post took how long? Your lucky I’m giving a reply. This is a worthless post.

        Spend your energy on a world problem like hunger or water.

  7. March 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    It’s kinda stupid to take OSX Lion as a indicator of apple’s decline, that’s not their only product.

    Also, from where I’m standing, I find the fact the it reopens windows when I restart very useful.

    • March 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      There are situations where it is useful. It’s just that I’d like to be given the choice.

    • March 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Andrei,

      I’m with you on this. I don’t think OS X is on the decline. Apple is moving computing in a different and it’s going to cause a bit of pain for early adopters because things are now different then they want, or are used to.

      I think continued feedback, like this, will help Apple mold the OS into something we’ll all love.

  8. March 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Have you posted the keyboard shortcut issue with Apple’s bug reporter system? That observation seems on target to me.

  9. Bogdan
    March 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Difference between windows and OSX boottime seems like the former loads in the same number of seconds as the latter does in minutes. So they are comparable.

  10. ghostcowa
    March 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Take a long hard look at all the apps you had opened, and got restored.
    I am no mac fanboy. But a computer that tries to take you back where u were including a failed build attempt deserves some kudos.
    Sure lion needs polish, hence the new mountain lion. But a new approach to the way an os is meant to function doesn’t deserve your blog title, much less this pointless rant. (thanks for wasting minutes of my life)

    My advice? Like every other smart computer user – use only apps you need. Flash is a hog when you’re done with it lose it.

    • March 4, 2012 at 2:33 am

      But a computer that tries to take you back where u were including a failed build attempt deserves some kudos.

      Yes. But Apple’s genius used to be that magic was transparent. Remember the first encounter with the iPhone? Sure it had limitations, but the scrolling was just magic. Dialing a number was obvious. And so on. Things that they wanted to do but didn’t have enough CPU or engineering to do well waited until the next release. The core of Apple’s genius was focus. It was more about what they didn’t put in the product than what they did put in the product.

      This is why I stand by my headline. To me, Lion is the first OS in the whole OSX history that is inferior in daily use to its predecessors. And that, unfortunately, may indicate Apple lost a tiny bit of focus even before Jobs died (but, granted, he was already quite sick and probably unable to supervise things as tightly as he used to).

  11. martin
    March 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    At least Lion has usable disk encryption.

    As for long boot times, I remember having a Powerbook G4 with OS 10.1 that literally required 10-15 minutes to come up after its frequent crashes. Customers made so much fun of me that I resorted to a linux laptop.

  12. March 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

    While I think your headline is over the top, I agree with the overall sentiment of this piece. Having heard so many negative things about Lion, I have stuck with Snow Leopard. Like you, I am concerned about this shift in philosophy regarding OS X. Apple has always had a “we know better than you” attitude in their OS, but up until recently it only manifested itself in subtle ways (like only being able to resize windows at one corner, or not really being able to go “full screen” by clicking the green button at the top left corner of the window). It’s truly disappointing that they are letting their new UI “features” interfere with the functioning of the machine in the ways you describe. I can only hope that Mountain Lion will improve some of these areas and not make them worse.

  13. March 4, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Sample size of one.

  14. Jason
    March 4, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Great write-up.. I agree. I hate auto-save and re-opening my windows on reboot. I hated it when the Linux DE’s started to do that years ago but at least it was a quick preference to disable it once and for all.

    I too have suffered then 10+ minute startup after a crash or forced reboot.

  15. March 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Yeah, it’s *Apple’s* fault that you had 30 windows open.

    The OS is only as lean as the habits of the user.

    • March 4, 2012 at 2:21 am

      30 windows is not a lot for a typical work day for me. And it’s Apple fault if they decide to reload these windows after a kernel panic without giving me any chance to opt out.

  16. March 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

    A bit nitpicky, but:

    1. If you had a kernel panic, then your mac goes through a longer reboot procedure to help you try to get out of trouble (if you are having regular kernel panics there’s probably something wrong with your mac). Normal rebooting should be about the same if not a bit faster than 10.5. If it’s not, you have some hardware issue.

    2. The thing about the finder reloading all your windows is an optional feature. (System Prefs/ General/ Unclick Restore Windows)

    3. Scrolling is a preference. There’s logic to it (I don’t like it either, but my kids prefer the new way). Old habits…

    4. I don’t have your issues with Spaces and for me seems to perform better with dual monitors than with 10.6.

    Totally agree with you on Save/Save As, but that’s more a bad choice than evidence of System decline. It’s also optional. I don’t see many (none actually on my machine) 3rd party developers adopting it.

    Generally speaking 10.7 seems like a minor update but at least in my experience I appreciate it’s apparent solidity. I haven’t crashed in months even when doing all sorts of dicey things over a network that used to be slow…

    • March 4, 2012 at 2:20 am

      @raul, Thanks for the insights.

      1. It’s not “boot-to-login-prompt” (including the fsck that may follow a kernel panic) that dominates the reboot time, but the reloading of documents.

      2. Thanks a lot. But that doesn’t affect the “reopen windows” option of the reboot dialog, still checked by default.

      3. Yes, old habits. But it seems to me like Apple had a “let’s invent a better mousetrap” moment here.

      4. Two nits about spaces are: more blinking, e.g. icons on the Desktop and the “transported” window, and the order of space for “Control-1″..”Control-9″ can become out of sync with that shown by mission control if you drag things around in Mission Control. For a change, that “preference” is sticky when maybe it shouldn’t (because what you put in spaces changes with each session).

  17. foo
    March 4, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Not so long ago, Macs were Apple’s flagship product. But now? The iPhones and iPads took over. I strongly suspect Apple’s focus has changed considerably in the past 5 years. So the careful attention to details you were used to may well have moved to the other products…

  18. Mac
    March 4, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I appreciate your gripes about Lion and agree that as a ‘transitional’ OS is does have some quirks and issues – which is to be expected. To say Apple is decaying is not only a bit baiting but simply untrue. If anything, Apple is simply evolving…

  19. Frank
    March 4, 2012 at 9:34 am

    That’s just another prove to me that Apple lost its ability to innovate and that OSX became more of a “let’s see what we can possibly do with technology and design” project, than a serious environment to get some real work done. It’s more like a playground for children where they can show off their nice and good looking games, that are after all just games and nothing grown ups need.

    An OS should be a thing that works, that you configure once and forget about it afterwards, and that helps you to get real work (in an economically sense) done. May it be some Photoshopping, spreadsheets, writing, researching, building, coding etc.

    I tried Linux for a long time – but Linux seems to me like a neverending construction site that needs permanent observation. I too loved OSX until 10.6 – Lion is just what I wrote above; a game – and 10.8 will be exactly the same. Or does anyone of you think it is a great achievment to implement twitter into an OS, or copy Growl and add a linen background to it? Are there any significant (real) improvements to OSX???

    I’m going to switch back to Windows, probably even stay on Windows 7 since this OS helps me to get things done.

  20. March 4, 2012 at 9:35 am

    That’s just another prove to me that Apple lost its ability to innovate and that OSX became more of a “let’s see what we can possibly do with technology and design” project, than a serious environment to get some real work done.
    It’s more like a playground for children where they can show off their nice and good looking games, that are after all just games and nothing grown ups need.

    An OS should be a thing that works, that you configure once and forget about it afterwards, and that helps you to get real work (in an economically sense) done. May it be some Photoshopping, spreadsheets, writing, researching, building, coding etc.

    I tried Linux for a long time – but Linux seems to me like a neverending construction site that needs permanent observation. I too loved OSX until 10.6 – Lion is just what I wrote above; a game – and 10.8 will be exactly the same. Or does anyone of you think it is a great achievment to implement twitter into an OS, or copy Growl and add a linen background to it? Are there any significant (real) improvements to OSX???

    I’m going to switch back to Windows, probably even stay on Windows 7 since this OS helps me to get things done.

  21. March 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    You should consider firing up Parallels and installing the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I would be curious to see your opinion, given your current experience.

  22. Cry baby
    March 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Pro tip: use a PC. You’ll have nothing to bitch about. ;)

    • March 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Huh? You still here? Aren’t you busy solving world problems?

  23. Landon Smith
    March 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    From my expirience, kernel panics are almost always caused by sketchy 3rd party apps that load kernel extensions. Just my two cents.

  24. Hawk
    March 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Apple doesn’t care about power users anymore.

    • May 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Exactly. I am aprofessional programmer. I have the skill and knowledge to turn off most of the new features, re-implement spaces for myself, and trick VMWare or Parallels into runing Snow Leopard despite their collusion with Apple to explicitly prevent it. But given Apple’s attitude, their attempts to force us to follow them (witness the efforts to make it impossible to continue to use Rosetta, even under a VM of Snow Leopard, and the) and the direction they are taking it does not seem to be worth the effort. Who knows what they will do at 10.9 or 10.10. Make it impossible to run anything other than Apple-Approved applications? Who knows. So I’ll run Snow Leopard until it is no longer viable or my hardware fails and cannot be repaired, and then I’ll switfh to Free BSD. I wish I had done it 10 years ago instead of joining the Apple fold.

  25. Hawk
    March 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Cry baby :
    Pro tip: use a PC. You’ll have nothing to bitch about.

    That is very unintelligent.

    For someone used to OS X, switching to Windows would be a major inconvenience. The same for any long-time Windows user switching to OS X. Neither operating systems are perfect and trying to compare them and say which is better is like talking about music – it’s too subjective to discuss.

  26. David
    March 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Nice writeup. Could you say your experience is probably worse than most because of the increased number of crashes you get with your unusual setup?

    I think Apple is making the right decisions, even if the present implementation has rough edges. Their goal of making it unnecessary to ‘save’ a file, but instead keep track of all changes (1 TB hard drives? the space needed is miniscule), is worthy. Also worthy, I feel, are the other innovations Apple is aggressively working towards, in the PC OS area.

    Apple’s strength has been their ability to make correct decisions. Obviously they are doing a good job generally on their decisions as indicated by the growing sales, etc. I think they have really put a renewed focus on the Mac in the last six months, and we will see some awesome Mac goodness this year.

    I like the fact, overall, that they are willing to break things to radically tear up the current file based paradigm.

    • March 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      I agree with your observation: they are trying to do the right thing. I’ve seen enough newbies lose files because they forgot to save. So I think this goes in the right direction. I complain more about the limitations of the implementation, and I do that hoping that someone at Apple will read this and (in the unlikely event they don’t know about it) fix it.

      Regarding how general my observations are, I’d say that the Save-As issue and reopen-at-reboot issue are pretty general. There’s a strong consensus they need to be improved. The crashes related to stereoscopy are specific to me, but I often reboot for other reasons (e.g. software update). The keyboard shortcut issue is really specific to my own personal workflow.

      Here is how I would fix this:

      1. Keep most of the auto-save infrastructure, but restore the Save-as menu (faster and easier to understand than “duplicate” with the associated “do you want to revert” complexity…)

      2. Make the frequency of saves configurable, and disable auto-save temporarily whenever the user is hitting Command-S regularly. I’d rather have Time Machine snapshots correspond to moments I’m happy with in the document. “Save a version” falls just short of that.

      3. Save incrementally, and connect saves with Undo. A persistent Undo would be quite useful, and a natural complement to snapshots (i.e. you have the “actions” view and the “results” view).

      4. Add an easy way, at login time, to restore a new, fresh session even if one was saved. Ideally, with a way to restore individual things from the original session at a later time.

  27. March 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Performance varies depending on the hardware. I have a late 2006-early 2007 MacBook Pro with 3 GB RAM and a regular hard disk, and I’ve been setting up a 12-core Mac Pro with 6 GB RAM and a couple 3.5″ drives for OS X and Win 7. The laptop has trouble running my email software (postfix, dovecot, fetchmail, thunderbird) with Xcode 4.3, three browsers, Skype, Google App Engine, Wing IDE, and Python taking up 100% of one core. The 12-core hardly notices (where I’ve run World of Warcraft with all that going on with no issues). The laptop takes a while to start up, the 12-core doesn’t. If you have some slow hardware, try swapping the main drive with an SSD. I’m running Lion. My only real beef with Lion is that it forced me to ditch the PowerPC build applications like Eudora with the loss of Rosetta.

  28. Da Chen
    March 5, 2012 at 9:48 am

    For me,mission control is really a pain in the ass.I just miss Space so much,easilly assign an application to a desktop.now you can only drag&drop to certain desktop and by click on the dock to do it.

  29. March 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for your article, hopefully some “important” developers @ Apple with considerable influence read this and think about it …

  30. rico
    March 7, 2012 at 7:45 am

    OMG – Get a life

  31. blue
    March 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I’m one of the legions who are disappointed with Lion as well. It really seems Apple has lowered their quality standards from Snow Leopard. I have 8Gb RAM in my 2011 Macbook Pro, and had no problems running a dev environment, web server, and two browsers with many tabs on Snow Leopard. The exact workflow cripples Lion – it grinds to a near standstill several times a day at 99% memory, and I have to restart all my apps or reboot. The system reserves a tremendous amount of memory, and there seems to be either leaks or a very poorly thought out memory management system. Really, why should Lion be such a memory hog on the exact hardware and sofware usage?
    I also have problems with random freezes, complete with screen snow, but the mouse still works. I suspect a buggy nvidia driver. I spent a day reformatting and reinstalling everything from scratch, just to see if it might be something else, but it’s Lion.
    To add insult to injury, I’ve got a Windows 7 machine with 4Gb RAM that runs the exact software workflow with a gig to spare.
    C’mon Apple, clean up your act, start writing software to your old standards.
    And Apple Apologists (you know who you are), if you can’t offer anything but shocked invective or explanations about how we really want it this way, don’t bother.

  32. March 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the article. Could not agree more. I sincerely hope that some developers @ Apple read your post and trigger some changes!

  33. March 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks to everybody for all the comments.

    Today, I just realized there is something else with “Save as”. Take the simple task of converting a JPG image to PNG with Preview, e.g. to use Instant Alpha.

    In Snow Leopard: open image, “Save as”, select PNG format, done.

    In Lion, no Save As. So instead “Export”, with the same issue as Duplicate, i.e. it chooses some random directory. But then the picture in the window is still the old one, that is the JPG image. So one more step to Open the file you just saved. That’s progress.

  34. Gabe
    March 27, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I can confirm that Apple has updated Mountain Lion (P2) so that the shutdown window remembers your last choice for “Reopen windows when logging back in”.

    Also, if you get into the situation where a login item is preventing you from logging in (crashing app, etc), hold down shift immediately after the login window to prevent them from starting up.

  35. March 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Here are another case where the “new way” is broken: using VMware full screen

    Before Lion, I could switch one VMware to full screen, and go to it simply with Control-3, Control-4, whatever number I had assigned to the VM. Now I can only do that if the VM is not full screen. I can Command-Tab to it, but that requires me to cycle through windows. I no longer have a predictable way to get there in one keystroke. True for VMware, probably true for most other applications in full-screen mode. The difference is: VMware was the one application I typically kept in full-screen mode, and now I no longer can because of that issue.

  36. March 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Christophe de Dinechin :

    I can Command-Tab to it, but that requires me to cycle through windows.

    Actually, even that is broken. Command-Tab sometimes brings me to the full-screen application (rarely), sometimes to the VM list (more often, and useless). I have not been able to figure out a pattern for when I get which…

  37. Adam
    April 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Another issue I, and every other Lion user at Technical University of Denmark, have is frequent (as in up to 2/hour) kernel panics from simply connecting to the wireless network. Was there in 7.0 – still there.

  38. Appler
    May 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for a great article. Really I hope the good amount of critics will turn Apple back to think about users. I was afraid to use Lion for almost 1 year because of bugs, started with 10.7.4 and it’s still as buggy as a beta product. Connections to SMB shares often don’t work when I need, not compatible even with older Mac OS X versions, no guest access to SMB shares from Win7, bugs with drag and drop = graphical glitches, slow sluggish animation on 2-years old graphical cards like NVidia 9400M, search in Mail is not finding keywords, nasty option of automatically saving documents when you click Cmd Q, sluggish bugs with the latest Safari and Flash player, idiotic changes in multi-touch gestures when they removed a click and drag gesture in favor of 3-fingers drag and many more..
    Unfortunately from I’ve seen in 10.8 preview is nothing better. They did something awful with a file system so surely many older apps will be as buggy as hell there. This nasty Gatekeeper “feature” to force developers to go to AppStore.. A mandatory requirement of sandboxing AppStore apps.. What they do is killing a promising universal operating system and making it a locked entertainment and digital consuming “app” for average consumer. but who will buy these expensive Macs if they already have an iPad? Really disappointed with the approach Apple is taking now. We need to save Mac OS X while not too late.

  39. Jonathan Payne
    July 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Probably long past interesting, but I thought I’d add some more information. If your reboot time is taking 10 minutes (as was mine) the issue is that you have a HDD instead of a SSD. That’s not your fault, of course, that’s just Apple being stupid. Clearly all their developers are using SSDs because they are awesomely fast, a better upgrade than memory a lot of the time.

    The “restart the apps” feature is really nothing quite so spectacular. If it literally look the entire machine state of the app, along with the machine state of all the other apps, and the machine as a whole, well then it really could continue the apps where they left off. But there’s another name for that: hibernate. All this feature really is is this:

    (1) snapshot the window
    (2) on reboot restore than snapshot
    (3) then fire up the app and wait for it to finish loading
    (4) get rid of the snapshot and replace it with the real window

    Unfortunately if you launch 10 apps at once and they all, in addition to trying to load themselves into memory, are also trying to load a huge image into memory, well they are all going to fight with each other and the whole system is going to thrash crazily. That is, of course, unless you have an SSD. In that case, it will be like on the iPhone, where apps are killed all the time, but you don’t know it because there’s a screen shot waiting, and the apps load very quickly from the SSD inside the iPhone.

    So that feature is useless AND slow, unless you have an SSD in which case it’s just useless. Do not use it, ever.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg with what is wrong with Lion. I agree with you. Lion got much better as soon as I bought an SSD for my laptop but it’s still a complete disaster of an OS. Snow Leopard was the best OS in the history of OSes, the best upgrade I have ever experienced, and Lion was just a huge HUGE step backwards. If they don’t fix all the things they broke for Mountain Lion I am going to have to consider … something else, which breaks my heart because OS X has just been the bees knees since I got into it in 2004.

    Fingers crossed that Mountain Lion does not also suck. There better be somebody at Apple cracking the whip …

  40. August 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I agree with Christophe; has anyone mentioned losing the colored icons in the sidebar? Your brain processes/recognizes the color SO MUCH faster than just the icon. There was no reason for it, it was just change for the sake of change.

  41. Rob
    August 11, 2012 at 1:54 am

    And enter “Cry Baby” on March 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm. WTF? Is every blog or forum post an asshole magnet?

  42. bob
    October 7, 2012 at 3:33 am

    new company … get used to it
    eventually it will become Dell, HP etc…
    won’t miss their arrogance…
    Timmy will be a billionaire…
    welcome to corporate America

  1. March 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm
  2. March 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm
  3. March 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm
  4. August 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

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