Not quite one of those days, but nearly…


Got slightly annoyed with my iMac the other day. Came home from a day out, switched the iMac on and it just stuck there on the grey startup screen with the grey apple and the grey swirly thingymajig!

I was reminded of my iMac problem in May when attempting to upgrade to Lion, my hard drive failed…

I tried to start in safe mode… and that didn’t work.

I did manage to get into recover mode and verify and repair disk permissions.

I did try a few other things and none of them worked… it wasn’t helping that I couldn’t access through my broadband connection. No idea why that wasn’t working.

The only real option left, according to what I was reading was to reinstall Lion. In theory I could do that with Internet Recovery, however with the ADSL connection I am now on, downloading 4GB of Lion install file reliably wasn’t really an option. I do have the Lion install on a DVD, but even that didn’t work…

In the end I decided that, as I am still covered by Applecare, that I would take it the Genius Bar at my local Apple store; so I made an appointment for the following morning. I then put the iMac into Firewire Target Disk Mode and backed up my important files. Not too bad in some respects as I had done a full backup back in May, and incremental since then, so not too many files to sort out. This time though I did do a backup of the Home Library folder. I forgot to do that last time and lost a few important files as a result as the data was stored there rather than the Documents folder!

The following morning, I needed to drop my car off for a MOT, so after checking the files had backed up, I (for some reason) decided to restart the Mac and leaving the grey swirly thingymajig to swirl I drove off to the garage. Having dropped the car off, grabbed some breakfast and got a lift home, I decided I had better pack the iMac before heading off to the Apple store. I was therefore quite surprised to see that it had booted properly and I could see my desktop. I decided to check that it was working as it should and restarted the system…. it started correctly!

Hmmm, not sure exactly what the initial problem was then. I suspect that there was something that wasn’t working correctly from a software perspective and leaving the Mac to reboot for an hour or so was what it needed to sort itself out. Still a little concerned though.

I cancelled the Genius Bar appointment and have since then put the iMac through its paces without any problems.

The car passed the MOT too…

It was one of those days…

I have been meaning to upgrade my home iMac to Lion for a while now, with the end of MobileMe imminent (end of June) and wanting to use some features of iCloud on my iMac I knew that I would need to make the move.

What was key for me was to ensure that the process was as smooth as possible. The first thing I did was back up all my data files. Though I back up on a regular basis, this process was to ensure that all my photographs, video files and documents were transferred to a backup hard drive. Once this was done, the next stage was to run Disk Utility to repair permissions, that went fine.

So the next stage was to start the Lion install process, and at that point disaster struck!

The install routine failed!

Install failed. Mac OS X could not be installed on your computer. Mac OS X Lion couldn’t be installed, because the disk Macintosh HD is damaged and can’t be repaired. Click restart to restart your computer and try installing again.

Yes, tried again same message.

Ah well, I thought, so I then decided to restart back in OS X Snow Leopard… but the OS X Lion installer wouldn’t let me.

Tried Disk Utility to repair the hard drive with no success.

At this point I was glad I had taken a backup of my data.

After looking at Apple Discussions, I tried to use my Snow Leopard install DVD to fix the drive, however this didn’t work. After a couple of hours of trying to repair the drive using various solutions, I decided that I wasn’t going to be successful trying to do that. So made the plunge and decided to format the drive and reinstall.

However… that didn’t work! I kept getting errors with the OS X install routine failing to install on the drive. In the end I just gave up and using the iPad booked a slot at the Genuis Bar at my local Apple Store.

Taking the iMac to the store went very smoothly, they connected it up to their diagnostic software, confirmed that everything was working as it should, except the hard drive.

As I had taken out Applecare on the iMac, the cost of the replacement hard drive and fixing it would be covered, however it would take between 5-7 days!

Hopefully it will all be sorted by then.

Roaring and Trackpadding

Having now used Lion OS X much more I am still getting use to the gesture interface through the Trackpad.

I did try “natural” scrolling for a while, but in the end, and I am sure partly because I still use Snow Leopard on a regular basis, I had to turn it off.

If you are wondering what “natural” scrolling is, well Apple decided that in OS X we had to use the same scrolling technique that was used on the iPad. On the iPad you generally “pull” the page up and “push” it down, so if you move your finger up the page the document scrolls down, and if you move your finger down the page the document scrolls up. This is completely the opposite to how the trackpage on existing Snow Leopard Macs work, likewise if you have a scroll wheel on your Mac. Then if you push up, you expect the page to go up and if you pull down you expect the page to go down.

So though “natural” scrolling feels somewhat natural on the iPad, I don’t like it that much on a trackpad on a Mac. I am sure if all my Macs (home and work) were Lion then I probably would go with “natural” scrolling however as my main Mac at home and the one at work are still Snow Leopard I am sticking with “unnatural” scrolling!

The use of three finger gestures to move around the desktop and applications is something that I feel should be smooth and effortless, however as not all the applications are use are full screen capable I have found it to be less than satisfactory when moving from a full screen application such as Safari to Chrome, or from Pages to Twitter. I am finding it confusing for example when I have two instances of Safari running in full screen mode. This can happen if I open a link in a new window rather than a new tab. Still haven’t also got the hang of Mission Control in finding what I have open, I think I actually prefer the chaos of the older Expose when every window was displayed… Though I do quite like how the three finger gesture upwards brings up Mission Control. Must remember to use that more often!

The four finger gestures for opening Launchpad take a little getting use to and if you have a small trackpad (and big fingers) you have to carefully do the gesture otherwise I have found it doesn’t work for me.

So far I am not that impressed or that contented with the gesture interface and the trackpad. Likewise the Lion additions of Launchpad and Mission Control are still taking some getting use to.

Installed the Lion

I have now installed Mac OS X Lion on the kid’s computer. Well it’s a good test machine and it it goes all wrong, I can just format and reinstall Snow Leopard. It’s an older Core 2 Duo iMac so not state of the art, but still does a great job as a home computer.

The install process was quick and easy and the Mac seems to work just fine.

There are quite a few old apps on there and some now no longer work as they were for my old PowerPC Mac and relied on Rosetta, which isn’t part of Lion and doesn’t work on Lion.

No real problem as I don’t use those apps myself, but something to be aware of if you do use older apps. To find which Rosetta apps are on your system, use System Profiler.

System Profiler > Software > Applications

Select by Kind and look for PowerPC.

These apps won’t work in Lion, do you will either need to find alternative apps or not upgrade!

Though there are some fundamental differences between Snow Leopard and Lion, you can “ignore” much of the changes and have a system that feels and looks more like Snow Leopard than the iOSation of many of the features of Lion.

Having said that I quite like Launchpad and certainly much easier to use than the Applications folder in Finder.

Still not 100% sure if I will install Lion on my main production iMac as I do have a couple of key PowerPC apps that I still use and there aren’t currently Universal or Intel alternatives. Also still have a few concerns about Adobe. What I will do though is install it on an external drive connected to my iMac and by using that on a regular basis I will have a much better idea if I like it or not.

1 million downloads

Apple have announced that there have been over one million downloads of the Lion OS X operating system from the Mac App Store.

That’s a lot of data at 3.49GB per download and £21m worth of revenue to Apple. Though with £47bn cash reserves that is mere pocket change for Apple, but not bad for one day methinks.

I haven’t downloaded it yet, but concerns about my Adobe software is making me hesitant about installing it on my main iMac. Adobe have published a list of known issues with Lion 10.7 and Adobe products. Previous experience with Adobe tells me they rarely update their current software, but release a completely new version that is compatible with the new operation system…

I will probably install it on an external drive and possibly on the kids’ computer and try it on there first.

So have you downloaded and installed it? What do you think? Is it a worthwhile upgrade?


The Lion is here!

Apple’s latest version of its operating system, Lion 10.7 has arrived. Unlike previous versions that you needed a DVD for, this version is only available via the Mac App Store and costs £20.99. The server version is £34.99.

OS X Lion is the next major release of OS X, the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. It includes over 250 new features that will transform how you interact with your Mac.  Tap, swipe, and scroll your way through your apps using fluid Multi-Touch gestures that make everything you do feel more natural and direct. Full-screen apps take advantage of every pixel of your display — perfect for reading email, surfing the web, or browsing photos. Launchpad gives you instant access to all the apps on your Mac in a stunning new layout where you can quickly find any app and open it with a single click. And Mission Control brings together Exposé, full-screen apps, Dashboard, and Spaces in one unified experience. With a gesture, your desktop zooms out, displaying a bird’s-eye view of everything running on your Mac and making it easy to navigate anywhere with a click.

I won’t be installing it straight away and will wait to see what happens with everyone else first. I will also probably first install it on an external drive before installing it on my “production” iMac.

It’s one big download 3.49GB and even if you have broadband, on a typical connection this is going to take hours to download. For those on rural broadband or 3G connections I have no idea how they are going to download it! Thankfully I have my BT Infinity fibre connection so it shouldn’t take me too long to do.

There is one advantage to downloading it through the Mac App Store and that means you can install it on all your Macs (legally).

Update: You can only download it and install on as many Macs you own or control if it is for personal use only (so not for commercial or educational use).

The screenshot was taken from the OS X Lion 10.6 License Agreement as linked to in the Mac App Store on the right hand side of the Lion App page.

Though in theory it does mean you need to download it each time for each Mac! I am sure there will be some workarounds soon.

This version of OS X combines the traditional elements of the desktop operating system with some of the features you will find on the iPad and the iPhone.

The use of gestures is much more useful in the OS, but I am sure will take a lot of training and getting use to.

I still smile when I see Apple talk about full screen apps, this is something that has been in Windows for ages. Often when people I know used Windows for the first time they would ask me how to make an application full screen, I said that it “wasn’t possible” and that the maximise window feature was there to put the application window at the ideal size for working with. So with Lion we now have full screen apps.

I have been using iPhoto full screen on Snow Leopard, however most of the time I have found I hadn’t needed to click the “full screen” button and have worked with it the same way I always have.

Apple have said that most of the refinements in Lion are behind the scenes, they have improved the way the operating system works rather than lots of new features, which in some ways is a good thing, but I am guessing provides less of an incentive to people to install it, if they can’t see what it brings to their Mac.

So if you have downloaded and installed Lion, what do you think? It is an incremental change with little new, or is it making a radical difference to the way that you work on your Mac?