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ATPM 17.08
August 2011


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by Mark Tennent,

Eaten by a Lion

This weekend, I had to say goodbye to some very old friends who have been my best buddies for many years. It wasn’t my fault, really. It’s just that, for me, Lion went GM.

I’ve been Mac OS X Lioned-up since around about March or maybe earlier, but having slashed open an artery to sign in blood I wasn’t able to say anything about Lion. I had to mention Mac OS 10.7 in only the vaguest terms in case the Infinity Loop Patrol noticed, clicker-click their sawn-offs ready to blast me to smithereens in a dark alleyway.

When my Mac rebooted in the trusty, old Mac OS Snow Leopard 10.6 partition, to convert it to the new OS, I ran back to Lion with relief. I hated Lion at first, then I bought a trackpad, found alternatives to applications, and now think it’s the best OS since…err…the change between Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. Yes, it’s that good.

However, we have lost a load of friends in this last switch. With a bit of brilliant forward thinking, I have a sparse disk image of my entire Snow Leopard disk start-up, complete with Applications and Users folders. Belt and braces just in case, eh?

I managed to get an Iomega external 2 TB hard drive, which had been designed to sit under a Mac mini server until Apple redesigned the Mini’s case. As a hint, it means there are some superb FireWire 800/400/USB 2 drives waiting for someone to find them on the Web. I love the way the drive spins up with an ooh-wup sound, and it sits neatly on top of a Mac Pro, matching aluminium casing and looking exactly unlike any other desktop drive I have ever seen. “Mac-top” would be a better description.

The loss of old friends is a heavy burden. Gone are FreeHand, Adobe Suites CS 2 and 3, Switch, VisualHub, Turbo.264, can Call of Duty UO MP (ooh). In fact, there are so many that I can’t bear the loss without shedding a tear or two. We have many workarounds, such as using Apple’s free Image Capture to get scans into Photoshop. And Pages or Sun Office has replaced Word, and Handbrake steps up for VisualHub or Turbo.264.

It could be time to investigate virtual OSes to run the old PowerPC applications, but how far back does one go? After all, Steam does exactly the same with its Mac OS games. We miss Vette and good old StarTrek, AfterDark, Streamline, and Talking Moose, but those are things the kids nowadays think are films on DVD rather than CRT or LCD.

One thing’s for sure: my partner (still PowerPC-based) and I are heartily sick of the interface Adobe slaps on its applications. We have been using them for more than 20 years and still think they are the dog’s vomit. If Mac OS X Lion forces us to find new vector graphic and pixel editors, it’s not a bad thing. As my partner said, “Adobe’s interfaces rival the worst Microsoft has designed,” which means the absolutely daft Ribbon of its latest Office. Why break a paradigm without offering something better?

Which was my first thought about Lion—until I let it get its teeth into me.

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