So this is one of those posts. [A tech one.]
I know, I know, most of you don’t care. But remember: my tag line is “the dichotomous life of a Mac Geek Farm Girl.” To know me is to love me? And Macs are a big slice. I must feed the beast.
I left Lion to languish since it’s arrival in the App Store several months ago. I did not have the time, nor the inclination to tackle a new operating system on top of everything else. OS updates never — I mean never — go without a hitch. It could be your printer drivers. It could be some element of your main programs that don’t play nice. Eventually you get it figured out, but only after spending hours researching the fix. Most of the time it comes in the form of “trash your preferences.” Or, “uninstall Windowshade.” And you find yourself thinking, “if I had only known that ahead of time!”
My decision to upgrade usually hinges on some small thing. In this case, it was iOS 5. I simply cannot resist the temptation to update my iPhone. It’s so fun! And never as scary as my Mac OS. So I upgraded.
And was faced with iCloud.
…And the constant reminder to transfer MobileMe (contacts, calendars, mail, etc.) before June. The clock was ticking! But first you had to upgrade to Lion. *sigh*
Having had my head in the iSand for months now, I didn’t recall ever hearing about iCloud. And for the life of me, I could not figure out what the fricken difference was between it and MobileMe. A serious head scratcher. And frankly, it still is. I was irritated that I had to move everything when it was all working fine. But it was now in my head. iCloud, iCloud, iCloud… “I wonder if it’s better. Maybe I should switch to Lion… I wonder if…” And so it goes. I’m hooked.
My guess is, that just like taking on a simple home project, iCloud morphed out of Apple’s not being able to fix MobileMe the way they wanted to. From what I can tell, the benefit of iCloud is for NON MobileMe users. I can’t really see any improvement with iCloud — unless of course Back to My Mac starts working reliably, or cloud storage and back-up starts working like Dropbox (my all time favorite program/backup system/syncing system/file sharing system EVER!). But I don’t see that happening yet. I like the idea of all Mac device users getting mac.com or me.com accounts. I like free back up, but I don’t like having to make the move. I do like saving $100 on a MobileMe subscription.
So anyway, starting on Monday, I spent two days cleaning out our Macs. To listen to me cleaning out the three user profiles on the iMac, going through the kids’ downloads folders, the TV seasons folder, and the messy desktops would have been indistinguishable from listening to me clean up my kids’ rooms. There are a lot of similarities. They are both packrats and digital packrats.
After that, I backed everything up. Time Machine is good for that, but I only trust it so far. It seems a little flaky to me. I use SuperDuper for big back ups. Next I read as much as I could about the update. The big Lion deal-breaker for me was it’s incompatibility with Quicken 2007 for Mac. I truly believed Intuit would update Quicken and all would be good. The more I read about Quicken, however, the more insane it became. Turns out, no, they aren’t going to update Quicken. All Intuit’s Mac-eggs are going in to the Quicken Essentials basket — a watered-down version of Quicken. No more online bill pay being the biggest issue for me. (No more export to TurboTax and no investment tracking being the big issue for other people). So, I researched the other options. I thought I had settled on iBank and downloaded it. But after reading about troubles importing Quicken Classes (all my job numbers were recorded as classes) I got nervous. In the end, I rolled over and bought Quicken Essentials. I’ve committed to using my bank’s online bill pay instead of through Quicken and having reconciled four accounts for two months, I can say it is just fine. Nothing great, but transferring and getting up and running was effortless. And that’s what mattered most to me.
I installed Lion on the MacBook Air first, then the iMac, and last night I took a deep breath and updated my MacBook Pro. I’d read so much whining and complaints about Lion, I was pretty nervous. But I have to say, so far I really like it. I’m trying hard to get used to the backwards (they call it “natural”) scrolling. Working on three different hardware devices, I have this to say: natural scrolling on a screen makes perfect sense. On a trackpad it makes some sense, but is less intuitive. On a magic mouse it is one step removed from a trackpad, but doable. On a scrolling button mouse, it is insane and borderline impossible.
My biggest loss is the App Switcher. I simply loved it and now it is gone. I’m trying hard to embrace its replacement: LaunchPad. I’m also embracing full screens and moving between apps that way. So far I love it.
The mobile OS, iOS, doesn’t seem too much different to me. I have to say I do LOVE the way notifications stack on the screen now instead of piling up on top of each other.
MobileMe’s transfer to iCloud went OK. Not 100% smooth, but I got lucky. It turns out that if you had a POP Mail account set up in MobileMe before the transfer – and my DSL Frontier is POP, iCloud could choke on it. The mail transfer hung up 1/4 of the way in. I forced quit, found the user library (now hidden in Lion, but found it by choosing “go to folder” from the Finder and typing in ~/library/) and trashing com.apple.mail.plist from the preferences folder. I rebooted and then mail was able to transfer to iCloud. Some have not been as lucky and have had to reinstall Lion.
I guess the best advice is to always back up, but to ALSO read up before an upgrade. Search “Lion problems”, “Lion troubleshooting”, etc. And don’t put too much stock in to online reviews. I swear, they seem to get worse and angrier with each passing year — which I suppose makes sense. Most unhappy customers voice their experiences while happy customers don’t take the time. That certainly applies to me.
This was probably the easiest I’ve ever had it for a major upgrade.