In January, I retired my 2006 Mac Pro. Still a good workhorse of a computer, but Apple had left it behind as support for the hardware ended with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
In June, 2013, I acquired a taste for a new desktop in the form of a new MacBook Air. While not really a desktop, I put the MBA through it’s paces as a replacement for my Mac Pro. The MBA was fast, especially the 256 GB solid state drive. The system booted quickly and programs launched with imperceptible delay. It could be my new desktop; except for one drawback. The laptop was equipped with 4 GB of RAM, not the 18 GB in my Mac Pro. For normal operations, the 4 GB did the job, but when I launched a series of Windows and Linux Virtual Machines, the memory limitation was evident.
My next foray was to use the Chameleon boot-loader trick to spoof the old 32-bit EFI hardware so that OL X 10.9 Mavericks could find a new home on the machine. This worked with limited success, but was tedious to say the least and never felt just right; kind of a “hackintosh” taste with visions of disaster around each corner.
In stepped a new 2013 iMac. I upgraded the original 8 GB of RAM to 24 GB. All was well…except I had failed to learn the lesson of the MacBook Air and SSD technology. I succumbed to an enticing price at my local Best Buy and purchased a unit with a traditional 1 TB, 7200 RPM spinning piece of “sloooooow” regrets.
Don’t get me wrong, the iMac is a great machine, but, it would have been greater if I had skipped the bargain basement price and opted for a unit with an SSD. Well, there are silver linings. I run my desktop on a 24/7 basis and I have noticed that my electricity bill has dropped since I unplugged the old Mac Pro.
And then there is that nagging “Pssst” sound every time I walk by a new Mac Pro in the Apple Store.
Back in 2006, I purchased my Mac Pro 1,1. Over the years, it has served me well. Starting with OS X Tiger (10.4) to OS X Lion (10.7), I added upgrades to my system; additional RAM, more hard disks and, in anticipation of OS X 10.8, a new ATI Radeon 5770 HD graphics upgrade.
Well, I was a little more than disappointed when I learned that Apple was abandoning support for my Mac Pro at the shores of OS X Lion. The 10.8 ship sailed and my Mac Pro wasn’t on it.
When OS X Mavericks was announced, I hoped against hope that Apple would rescue my Mac Pro and bring it back into the fold. This was not to be. Instead, I updated my MacBook Air 2013 to the new OS and relegated my Mac Pro to “ride the bench”.
In the past few weeks, I started to consider my technical life after the Mac Pro. My Air was playing the role of a desktop, but I really wanted a true desktop for my office. What would it be; a Mac Mini, iMac or perhaps, the new Mac Pro 2013? Also, what would I do with my old Mac Pro. Maybe sell it on eBay…
My old Mac Pro had enough of this sort of talk. “I can still do the job! Give me a chance!”. I looked at my Mac Pro, considered it for a moment and then decided to give it one more upgrade.
Just a quick post to air my Apple disappointments for 2012.
Another OS Abandonment
Once again, Apple abandoned a number of older hardware with the release of OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. Chief among the cast-offs was the original Mac Pro 1,1 (2006). I had updated mine in January 2012 to 18 GB RAM and an ATI Radeon 5770 HD only to learn later that the final OS release would not support the hardware.
Prior to this letdown, I survived the PowerPC layoff caused by OS 10.6 Snow Leopard.
I will continue to slog on with OS 10.7 Lion; event though the Messages beta was pulled. My Mac Pro had too many productive years still remaining. My hope would be that either Apple would relent with OS 10.9 or that a workaround would be available that didn’t take 30 steps to accomplish.
iOS Accessibility – Keyboard Themes
I don’t want to jailbreak my devices, but Color Keyboard may force the issue. All I want is the ability to change the color theme for the on-screen keyboard in order to aid my impaired vision. On my iPad, I want black keys with white letters. I know. I can get this effect by using the High Contrast settings in Accessibility, but that also affects the entire screen which I do not want.
The jailbreak app Color Keyboard shows that this feature is entirely possible. Why, oh why Apple can you not provide such a simple request?
iPad mini – No Retina Display
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly enjoy my iPad mini, but a Retina Display would have been nice
I understand that technology marches on, but I had hoped that my iPad 3 would have been “cutting edge” for a few more months; at least until 2013.
In a previous article, I bemoaned the fact that my Mac Pro 1,1 (First Edition) was left behind as part of the Mountain Lion launch. Even though I had upgraded the video to an ATI Radion 5770 HD and boosted the RAM to 18 GB, Apple decided that my workhorse machine was just to ugly to get an invitation to the Upgrade Party.
Not wanting my Mac Pro to feel left out, I decided to take action.
First, I did upgrade my 2008 Aluminum MacBook to Mountain Lion. Thankfully, that machine had secured a spot for an upgrade, just barely. Once that installed, I moved back to my Mac Pro.
Using Parallels Desktop for Mac, Version 7, I created a Mac OS X Lion virtual machine from the recovery partition on the Mac Pro. Once I had that up and running, I tweaked the Virtual Machine settings in preparation for Mountain Lion.
Boosted the virtual RAM to 4 GB
Increased the video RAM from 32 to 512 MB.
I restarted the Mac OS X Lion Virtual Machine and launched the App Store inside the VM. On the Featured page, there sat that Mountain Lion. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that it had an “I’m too good for you” look on it’s face.
Never the less, I pressed the “Download” button to the right of the Mountain Lion icon and patiently waited for the installation app to download. The network traffic was such that I had to attempt this multiple times. At first, I thought the Mountain Lion would get the better of me. Was it detecting that I was using a VM running on obviously inappropriate hardware? Was that why the download was failing?
On the third attempt, the Mountain Lion installation app beamed at me from the VM Launch Pad. I clicked the icon and the OS installation process started up. After about 35 minutes, and a couple of restarts, I had a full fledged Mountain Lion OS running as a VM on my Mac Pro 1,1.
It’s still not what I really want, i.e., Mountain Lion accepting my Mac Pro and running natively on it’s hardware, but , at least I can let the Lion roam within the confines of it’s virtual world. Hopefully, a reprieve will surface that will give me what I want, but, in the meantime …
On July 25th, I, like many other Mac users, purchased and installed OS X Lion 10.7. July 25th, Christmas in July. I immediately installed the update on my desktop (Mac Pro 2006). A few days later, I installed the update on my 2008 MacBook along with an upgrade to 8 GB ram. This leaves only my 2007 MacBook which is currently off at college.
Both my updates completed without a hitch. The process was amazingly simple.
I had intended to make an installer, either USB or DVD, but I missed my first chance with my desktop when the install package disappeared afar the install completed. This forced me to download the package again for my MacBook. This time, I saved a copy of the install package prior to launching the process. Haven’t made the install disk yet, but it appears to be a simple process.
Now that I’ve been using the new OS for a few days, I can give a few first impressions.
The change in scrolling behavior incorporated into Lion seems to be a huge topic with both supporters and detractors. There is no shortage of “how to’s” to reverse the default “Natural” scrolling. For my part, I like the new scrolling paradigm. The “natural” scroll mimics the direct drive mode in use on iOS devices. Instead of pulling the window up and down over a fixed page, now you push the page up or down. This method of scrolling is certainly natural on the iPad or iPhone, but I can see how it may prove difficult for those equipped with the traditional scroll wheel mouse. For myself, I have been using the Magic TrackPad for quite a while, so the “natural” proved to be natural after a short period of time. I still have to go “unnatural” when at work, but, so far, moving from “natural” to “unnatural” and back has not been so distracting as to reverse the mode on my Macs. I do admit that I sometimes have to think a bit to transition from work to home use.
Another blending of iOS and OS X is found in the LaunchPad. Those with iOS devices certainly recognize the home screen with the multiple icons, folders, etc. I didn’t realize I had so many applications installed until I began scrolling through all the pages of apps. Most represented application that I might run once in a blue moon. Thankfully, LaunchPad Control soon came to the rescue. LaunchPad Control is a free Mac application that allows you to customize which apps appear in the LaunchPad. I still have some work to do here, but at least I now have a tool to do it with.
To me, Mission Control is a composite of Exposé and Spaces. I’ve used it a little, It certainly seems to be a much simpler interface for moving apps into different spaces.
Full Page Apps
I have certainly enjoyed the new full screen mode for Apple applications such as Mail, Safari and iTunes. It will be only more and more enjoyable as more vendors push out apps supporting the new full screen capability.
With all the new User Interface (UI) candy, you knew that new gestures had to be included. I did do some tweaking here. On iOS, to move from one app to another, you swipe with four fingers. (At least those of us that could use Xcode to enable the gestures). By default, Lion had this set for three fingers, but allowed a change to four fingers. I appreciate consistency, so I made the change. I also enjoy the new “back and forward” in Safari using two fingers (left or right swipe), but have run into circumstances where the old arrows would be nice.
All in all, the upgrade to Lion from Snow Leopard was certainly more pronounced than the previous leap from Leopard to Snow Leopard. And it is certainly worth the $30 price tag. Right now, the Lion is ROARING!