OS X "Lion"

About version 10.7.x

Recommended for all OS X "Lion" users with limited RAM environments or those who wish to protect their privacy

Due to the difficulty in this OS X version to clear the inactive RAM after quitting memory-hungry applications resulting in poor performance issues on your Macintosh computer (especially if you have a traditional hard disk with limited RAM), you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (preferred) RAM memory purging utility. Available for OS X are the following tools:

  1. Boost&Memory 1.1.0 costs US$4.99.
  2. FreeMemory 1.8.4 is free only from the App Store.
  3. iFreeMem 3.5 costs £10.
  4. MacPurge 1.2.2 is free.
  5. Memory Clean 4.6 is free only from the App Store.
  6. Memory Diaz 1.0.2 from the same makers of FreeMemory comes this app, which is free only from the App Store.
  7. MemoryOptimizer 3.2.0 is free (and discontinued).
  8. MemoryTamer 1.2.1 costs US$2.49 from the App Store.
  9. Purge 1.0 is free.
  10. purgeRAM 1.0 is a free Automator app from SUNRISE.

The situation can be best summed up this way by a MacUpdate user:

[Memory cleaning apps] works as intended. The bigger issue is how Apple chooses to allocate memory. I have 24 GB of memory in my i7 iMac. Safari alone will use a big chunk of it. No other browser eats memory like Safari. This has been true since Safari's intro. Fortunately I have an SSD drive on the iMac, so there is no loss of performance when memory becomes lean.

But it's a different experience on my MacBook Pro with a standard 7200 drive. There, even though I have 16 GB of memory, beach balls when memory gets low. I don't mind closing apps. However, it's more the closed apps retained in memory that's the problem. Here, Memory Clean does what Apple doesn't - retrieves this otherwise unavailable memory.

NOTE 1

Beware of the fact that some commercial apps will constantly call home to check it is registered. This is an opportunity to send other information about your computer, who you are, where you are located, and the apps you have used, which kind of defeats the purpose of memory cleaning and protecting your privacy. It is also possible such apps could have been developed by programmers working for Apple, Inc.

NOTE 2

Any automatic RAM clearing tool must work on the basis of a user either specifying an inactive memory threshold below which the clearing of the memory is run, and/or setting a timer for when the apps will run their memory clearing process. The ability to detect the quitting of non-system-related applications to enable a software programmer to automatically run a memory clearing app is not achievable according to the way the OS X has been designed by Apple. So all memory clearing apps are imperfect and some data about your applications and other information will still be retained in RAM for a certain period of time (which is what Apple wants).

NOTE 3

The SUNRISE manual RAM clearing solution can be used in OS X "Snow Leopard" or earlier versions if you have Developer Tools and Xcode installed on your computer.

About version 10.7 (before the official launch)

Gee whizz! Already reading this? Surely OS X "Snow Leopard" can't be that bad. Or maybe all those Apple software bugs and regular updates have killed off the enjoyment in using Apple products these days?

Never mind. At least the rumour mills had started to fly fast and furious from the inner bowels of Apple, Inc as of July 2010. If the rumours can be taken with any seriousness, it seems something special could be arriving in OS X version 10.7.x. According to this CNET article, it is claimed Apple is letting a bit of the cat out of the bag by stating the following in a job listing:

"Are you looking to help create something totally new? Something that has never been done before and will truly amaze everyone? Are you excited by the prospect that what you helped create would be used every day by millions of Apple customers? Then come and work with the Mac OS X software engineering team to help build a new and revolutionary feature for Mac OS X.

We are looking for a senior software engineer to help us create a revolutionary new feature in the very foundations of Mac OS X. We have something truly revolutionary and really exciting in progress and it is going to require your most creative and focused efforts ever."

Or does Apple always give this kind of positive spin on a job advert whenever an employee on the OS X team gets sacked or leaves the company?

As far as this special feature is concerned, it is all wishful thinking at this early stage. Perhaps it could be to make the desktop look more three-dimensional as you move around finding your files and applications. The new OS X will probably come with 3D goggles to make the experience that much more fun. But wait! You will probably have to upgrade all the Macs today to one with full 64-bit architecture in order to rip through the extra bloated code of the new OS X.

Mind you, given the experiences in previous OS X versions, just removing all the bugs and having virtually no major updates other than the odd security update or two would be considered revolutionary and a true special feature. Anything along these lines and users will be queuing up for a copy. Forget the rest.

As far as a suitable name for the new OS X version goes, the competition had begun among the users. As one CNET user has suggested:

"Out of big cat names? How about...

Lion?

Siberian Tiger?

Catamount?

Cougar?

Cheetah?"

Or instead of using aggressive cat names, how about being nice to the consumers? Why not call it "The Pussy Cat" upgrade? No psycho cats or cats that act like Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde by trying to be nice on the surface but under-the-bonnet it is a monster to deal with. Just a nice awesome OS X that we can all enjoy.

Someone must be thinking along the same lines when he said:

"What about Mac 10.7 Kitten."

So good was the idea that one German user by the name of Waffle decided he would design on Adobe Photoshop the perfect box to hold the new OS in October 2010:

Soon a series of copy cats suggested alternatives of their own:

Excellent!

Indeed, the last one has to be particularly pertinent in the light of the fact that a number of Mac users are feeling like "guinea pigs" with all the beta testing they have to do for Apple, Inc.

But if noit, OS X Kitten is just right. And to make it perfect, give the startup chime a cute "Meeowww!" and everyone will feel at ease. Seriously, Mr Jobs is not going to be alive forever. So why not just give us a nice OS X that purrs along beautifully and be done with it? We will certainly remember Mr Jobs for his niceness and his innovative ideas for all times if the next OS X is truly great and free of bugs.

Apple gives an early announcement on the features of OS X 10.7

Apple has held a special event on 28 October 2010 dedicated to explaining to the public the OS X 10.7 features and the rationale behind the latest changes.

New Apple hardware will also be announced. Whether this will include the new amorphous alloys for the casing and designs for laptops that are super-thin is unclear at this stage. But the mere mention of the phrase "new hardware" at the same time as Apple announces the changes in OS X 10.7 is already starting to send shivers down the spine of would-be Apple consumers thinking that maybe they shouldn't buy an Apple right now in case the new OS is going to need considerable grunt to run it.

Will consumers face another round of purchasing new Apple computers to handle the potential monstrosity OS X 10.7 is predicted to show?

OS X 10.7 is definitely going to be called "Lion"

Apple will be flexing its feline muscles very soon when the version of OS X 10.7 is introduced sometime in June 2011. Details of the new OS X are now emerging as we speak.

Firstly, Mr Jobs has confirmed the name will definitely be "Lion". An interesting choice for a name. Could hide a whole variety of possibilities. For example, does the name suggest OS X will reveal something quiet and sinister inside the OS X architecture that users will not be expecting until it decides to let out a great big roar and then it will be too late? Will it involve closer scrutiny of users in the type of software they use and gathering more personal details and later roar loudly when something doesn't seem right when observed by commercial software developers online (assuming the Macs are connected)? Or is it more a sense of greater robustness and reliability even though it isn't exactly going to be a cheetah for its speed?

And secondly, the main emphasis given by Apple on the latest OS X changes seems to be the merging of some familiar and fancy graphical and organising features from the latest iOS 4.2 running on iPhones/iPads into OS X 10.7 "Lion" such that using a Mac laptop or desktop machine should be seen as not too dissimilar to using an iPhone or iPad. It is unclear whether this means next year's laptops and iMacs will have touchscreens to allow users to select applications using a finger just as iPhone users do right now. One will have to wait and see what happens in 2011 before we know exactly how Mr Jobs intends to whet the appetites of consumers. If so, could this be a hint that OS X 10.8 will finally be locked down in the same way as Mr Jobs has done for iOS? Yuk if it ends up being true!

Among the allegedly new features in OS X 10.7 being promised is a thing called Launchpad. Similar to the Launcher in the classic environment of OS9 (although it wasn't used as extensively as Apple had hoped), you will get yet another application organising tool where you can have instant access to all your applications on your hard disk (and anywhere else it can find applications). These applications will probably be shown in a grid format on the desktop where you can click once with the trackpad/mouse before they disappear from view.

Another organising option is when opening a folder to display a window of all your applications, files and other folders: they should be displayed and organised like the fancy iTunes approach. In other words, there is a way to display applications, files and folders as little pigeon holes or boxes below one-half of an open window and the top half gives more details about the application selected including any files opened (looking like the CD covers that flip across into view in iTunes). But this looks the same as what's available in OS X 10.6.4 and higher with the View as Cover Flow design in the Finder. Perhaps the improvement will be in the merging of the Mac App Store to this Cover Flow view together with adverts, information on updates and anything else you always needed to know about regarding your applications, not to mention the possible gathering of statistical information about your applications and sending them off to Apple (well, it is necessary for the Mac App Store to know what you might need).

And in case you get bored by all of this, there is also a third way known as the full-screen apps. Worth exploring we hear if you have nothing else to do in your life. Seriously, the method of showing applications in the iTunes format, grid or whatever suggests Mr Jobs is running out of ideas for real improvements and just wants an App Store for OS X to be established and well-and-truly embedded into the OS X architecture while emphasising the importance of checking people's applications while the Macs are online. Everything will look similar to the iTunes Store to help users purchase not just iPad/iPhone Apps, but also any Apple-approved OS X application for consumer use. The organiser could also permit in the future the likely automatic display of adverts in the open window for new updates, upgrades and anything else relevant to the application selected and being viewed.

This is exactly how Adobe CS4-5 applications currently work when you are online. Just launch the application and it will tell you of an update or upgrade to your application.

Does this mean the familiar Dock will no longer make an appearance? Apparently not according to the screenshots of the new OS. While most people can open applications through aliases on the desktop or use a hierarchical pop-up menu when accessing the hard disk, or use the Dock, it seems consumers like to see a more colourful and fancy display of all their applications (and probably files and folders) similar to the way MP3 music is organised by iTunes (we must assume it is highly popular for Mr Jobs to go to all this trouble of adding another application organising feature to OS X). This may all be part of the experience of enjoying a Mac and less of the technical details that geeks are used to.

Perhaps new Mac users don't know how to use the Dock? Or maybe creating aliases are too hard these days?

Certainly the aim of all computers is to make every function seem simple, easy-to-use, and does not require a single piece of programming to be done by users. Technology should ultimately be seen as a seamless piece of our everyday decor.

The question is whether this would be a sufficiently compelling reason for the more experienced users to upgrade? Maybe they will have to if the aim is to make and sell applications to consumers. For business users, the case for making the move is not so clear. In fact, the more experienced users are asking how the Launchpad is any different from having aliases on the desktop and using the minimise window to look at the desktop, or use the Dock to launch applications instead.

As one user going by the nickname jakemochas said:

"wait wait wait.... i think i've seen the launchpad before.... *minimized window to look at desktop*" (Melanson, Donald. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion announced, coming summer 2011: Engadget.com. 20 October 2010.)

Another user said:

"I think Apple is taking this the wrong direction. A mac should stay a mac and an iPad should stay an iPad. Don't try to port something over from something that is entirely different. Why use launchpad if the dock is there?" (Melanson, Donald. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion announced, coming summer 2011: Engadget.com. 20 October 2010.)

Maybe Mr Jobs is trying to flex the feline muscles of OS X because his real aim in all this application file hunting and presenting them in a fancy way is really to stamp out software piracy and to start expanding his empire and get a greater market share of the PCs by tailoring the experience of a Mac to suit the more inexperienced or new consumers? It must be where the money is, not so much with the more experienced Mac users who can take their time deciding when to upgrade and how it should be done (e.g. buying secondhand computers, software etc).

Or maybe Mr Jobs is letting us know how much more efficient we can work on a laptop or desktop computer using the latest iOS features? If so, maybe Apple should have released the first touchscreen laptops and desktop Macs so we can truly see the benefits?

Or perhaps there is a need to gather more accurate statistical information about the applications people use and link this information back to the users' registration details sent to Apple after purchasing a computer and ultimately to the commercial software manufacturers so everyone can see if users are doing the right thing?

Could the lion be rearing its ugly head at last?

We can only hope all these methods of organising and accessing applications through the Dock, aliases and any other conceivable way will satisfy just about every consumer on the planet (please, Mr Jobs, don't ask the Eskimos for more ideas).

Okay. So when will we get a quality speech recognition-to-text software built into OS X? Surely this would have been a more productive use of Apple's time when improving OS X.

A slightly more useful addition, although by no means critical to getting your work done on a Mac, is the decision by Apple to present an overall thumbnail picture of what's happening in all open applications including Expose, Spaces and Dashboard. Known as Mission Control, this is thought to help users see which applications have finished their jobs so you can attend to those applications and decide what other work needs to be done. Basically we all hate to see a computer doing nothing. Therefore we need to make sure the computer is constantly doing something so it can make everyone think we are busy and being productive. Still, it is a worthy addition and helps users to get an overall indication of what's happening on the Mac with so many processes running at the same time.

Given the remarkable similarities we are going to see between iOS and the upcoming OS X version for release in 2011, does this mean we will eventually get a consumer locked-down version of OS X to follow in the footsteps of iOS? As one user said:

"One thing's clear though, this is the beginning of the end of Apple personal computers as we known them, and the day is approaching when the only way to (easily) instal/load anything on a Mac will be via iTunes/Apps Store." (Melanson, Donald. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion announced, coming summer 2011: Engadget.com. 20 October 2010.)

Probably not. People will find a way to jailbreak OS X 10.8. Thanks to OS X's UNIX underpinnings, UNIX gurus will create applications that compile under the Terminal utility to run and break any restrictions. And any web browser is literally an open port for downloading the necessary UNIX programs directly onto a Mac. And if that is not enough, questions of anti-competitive behaviour and not giving consumers choice on how they wish to sell, purchase, install and run their own applications will be asked. And knowing there are businesses who have invested in Macintosh computers, it would be a crime to see all this money wasted. Consumer and business law will likely ensure the Mac remains open and accessible.

Mr Jobs would know about this.

As another user said:

"As Steve said in the keynote, the App Store is just ONE way to get apps onto your Mac. You can still buy a DVD-ROM and install programs from there or download shareware from the internet. But honestly, this isn't that much different than many similar app-selling apps that are available on the Mac today, it'll just make things easier for newbies to find software. It's a good thing." (Melanson, Donald. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion announced, coming summer 2011: Engadget.com. 20 October 2010.)

Maybe this is all that Mr Jobs will ever try to achieve with OS X?

Finally, the special event in October also unveiled the new MacBook Air, not the amorphous alloy casing as observers are expecting for the new MacBook Pro design. As the new MacBook Air laptops were running OS X 10.7 "Lion", there are good indications the new OS will run quite happily on any existing Macs. Good news!

And you can even run all your existing Intel-based applications. So no more waiting around for updates or upgrades for your important applications. A good decision. Otherwise it would be more difficult for Apple to assess the exact situation of people's applications on their computers using the latest OS X "Lion" and its statistical gathering techniques.

But wait. Where one giveth, another taketh away! Apple has decided it is time to rip out Rosetta — the indispensable tool for running PowerPC OS X applications. It sounds like the Lion of OS X 10.7 is going to be without a heart and needs the Wizard of Oz to fill in the emotional void. And don't get your hopes too high for Apple to provide the option to install Rosetta for the unlucky few still needing to run PowerPC applications. There is no option other than to stay with OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard". This is one where you must make sure you purchase the latest Intel-based software before moving onto the next OS X version. As a MacFixIt user said:

"I was unaware that OS X 10.7 will not support Power PC apps. Thanks for the heads-up. This will be an important caveat for some people who still use older software versions. I consider it a feature of Snow Leopard that it still does support PPC code, though it's surprising how many people are unaware of the fact - probably because Rosetta is not a default install in OS X 10.6. Besides Quicken 7, Photoshop CS3 (and other CS3 apps) runs just fine in Snow Leopard. And some people favor the relative simplicity and stability of CS3. Essentially, any program over five years old will not run in Lion. I would be interested to know if the loss of PPC support is for practical reasons relating to how well Rosetta would or would not run in Lion, or whether the decision was more arbitrary, having to do with reasons of preference or convenience only. Given the suspicion that Apple has aroused recently in some quarters for various reasons, both real and imagined, I hope there is a good, rational and convincing (and available) explanation for this decision. I see a strong potential for controversy once this issue becomes more well known. And if the decision not to support PPC apps in Lion can be reversed, now would be the time to start raising a stink about it. At a minimum Apple owes the public an credible explanation." (Kessler, Topher. Managing PowerPC applications on Intel Macs: CNET News. 4 March 2011.)

Yet another user gave the opposite view stating at some point Apple will have to make the decision to abandon all support for running PowerPC applications in OS X:

"The abandonment of PowerPC is nearly complete. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, if we cared to read it." (Kessler, Topher. Managing PowerPC applications on Intel Macs: CNET News. 4 March 2011.)

But shouldn't that be the users' decision? Just provide a plug-in option to install Rosetta and be done with it? Fine move on and improve OS X if Apple hasn't got anything else to do, but allow the option to run older software if users choose. Somehow some users don't feel this is exactly a positive new feature of OS X 10.7.

Come to think of it, none of the features (not even the idea of dropping off support for older software applications) are hardly unheard of or original concepts given what we have seen in the past from the company. In fact, the thing we are surprised is why the new features of OS X 10.7 "Lion" outlined above weren't made into OS X plug-ins where you can install them onto virtually any older OS X version? And why not a plug-in for Rosetta for those users wanting to run older PowerPC applications? As a case in point, the application/file/folder preview, viewer and navigation system can be achieved in a similar way using a 4.15MB application running on OS X 10.4 or higher called Application Wizard 2.5.2 (and costs only US$19.00). The only reason one can fathom why Apple hasn't chosen to make these ordinary features into installable plug-ins is merely to entice users to see the value of paying more to Apple for an upgrade to the latest OS X while gathering more reliable statistical information about the type of applications people install and use by stealth.

It will be interesting to see how many people will make the move. But if you have never used a Mac before, well heck!? What is everyone waiting for? Just use it.

OS X 10.7 "Lion" is officially released

On 20 July 2011, OS X 10.7 "Lion" made its roaring grand entrance on the world stage. Not surprisingly many early adopters (i.e. the young Apple fanboys) have dived in head over heels to see if they can get the edge over their friends who haven't upgraded (the mine is better than yours scenario), which would explain the 1 million copies sold on its first day of availability according to an Apple announcement. As Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement:

"Lion is off to a great start, user reviews and industry reaction have been fantastic. Lion is a huge step forward; it's not only packed with innovative features but it's incredibly easy for users to update their Macs to the best OS we've ever made."

But it might also be possible for a number of first time users of iPhone, iPod and iPad products to have taken the risk of purchasing a Macintosh computer knowing there are a number of familiar features in the latest OS X already found on the smaller devices. Most likely this is where Apple will try to make its bread and butter.

As for many experienced users running OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", it is a "wait and see" game. Wise choice considering Apple is famous not just for its reasonably good looking interface, but also allowing a fair few bugs to appear at the start of a new OS X upgrade release.

Now that the latest OS X has finally hit the shelves (well, actually you will have to download it; later in August 2011 the DVDs will be made available, which is probably the better time to get a copy in case Apple has added something extra in the downloadable version which some users may not like), is there anything worthy of an upgrade?

The most notable new features to be included are:

1. The appearance of the LaunchPad application to help users find and display all your applications on the hard disk (in case users can't organise their own applications — no wonder the medical profession think people are getting morbidly obese. Do we need fat finger exercises?).

2. A more rigorous low-level disk verification and repair routine in Disk Utility designed to check the health of hard drive partition tables, boot loaders and the rest.

3. Redesigned user interfaces of Apple Mail and iCal applications for a better user experience.

4. A few other niceties and quirks (the latter appears to be configurable in the system preferences section).

In all, Apple has boasted about 250 new features with an emphasis on providing a more secure (i.e. better encryption) experience and with new disk recovery options. The former aspect is probably a wise decision considering customers need to feel comfortable before Apple can introduce the new iCloud technology. As for the latter, this could be to convince customers of the benefits of Flash drive technology as it is likely Steve Jobs will decide all Macs in the future will come with just Flash memory drives. Yeah right. Hasn't anyone told Apple people we can't really recover files from a flash drive, only reinstall them?

Maybe that is the intention?

Apple needs to stop focussing so much on OS X and all its new features and start thinking about the users and what they need to achieve with a Macintosh computer (we are talking about the ones doing the real and legitimate work of achieving something useful for society — leaving aside gamers, computer hackers and the never ending supply of software pirates for a moment). From a users' point-of-view, the aim should be to make sure people can continue using OS X with minimal disruption and achieve what they are really there to do with a Macintosh computer (in most cases it is to perform work) and not sit there and play around with every new feature Apple has put into the latest OS X. Users want to see they can do everything just as they did before, but hopefully in an easier way and with enough flexibility to make it enjoyable and useful.

Well, let's see.

LaunchPad

In an attempt to merge familiar software design concepts of iOS from the iPod, iPad and iPhone into OS X, Apple seems determined to have a thing called LaunchPad. It doesn't have a great purpose other than to find and present to you as icons in a grid-like fashion on the desktop the entire full range of applications you have installed (and presumably use) and shows the benefit of doing all this work for you by letting you click on an application to launch it. Yes, very useful indeed. As one CNET user said about the way LaunchPad works:

"...it [LaunchPad] collected automatically all apps it had found on my primary partition as well as from a second internal bootable partition as well as from an external clone of the primary partition. Plus, it also collected countless little extras apps and scrips, anything with an app extension." (Kessler, Topher. How to reset and manage the OS X 10.7 Launchpad interface: CNET News. 2 August 2011.)

To be fair, the LaunchPad does provide one other benefit if you may call it that. It does link up to the App Store. Why? To help users see the added advantage of being informed when their applications need updating. Of course, in order for users to know this, Apple must acquire the list of applications from your computer and compare them to what's available on the App Store. Somehow information has to be transferred between your computer and Apple when you are online.

In other words, LaunchPad has another clear purpose other than just trying to look fancy.

The default behaviour of LaunchPad under OS X "Lion" is, most interestingly, to create a shortcut for every known application you have on any hard disk. No doubt a great idea for Apple (and potentially other software manufacturers if they are privy to this information) if it wants to know what you have on your hard disk. A bad idea for users. LaunchPad in its current version is slow to find and display the full list of applications especially if you have a large number of them hanging around on your hard disk. Putting the applications into groups may help to speed up the process. But it takes time. In fact, you will be forced to spend considerable amounts of time organising all the applications into groups. Not a pretty job. And Apple has not seen any need in its present version to provide a means to speed up the simplification process. It is almost like Apple wanted to see what's out there and not give users anything else to make their lives easier. If any improvements are expected of this latest OS X release, users should see a major enhancement to the speed of LaunchPad in an upcoming OS X update. In the meantime, users have seen no better feature to achieve the task of organising, presenting and allowing the launch of applications than the familiar Dock application for the moment.

As the CNET user also quite rightly suggested:

"I agree that the Launchpad is of little use as it is now. It's probably just ok for absolute beginners who have no idea what apps they have and how to get them." (Kessler, Topher. How to reset and manage the OS X 10.7 Launchpad interface: CNET News. 2 August 2011.)

To quickly tame LaunchPad by removing all the unnecessary numbers of shortcuts to all your applications created by the Launchbar in the default and freshly installed OS X "Lion" format, users may also find useful a utility called LaunchpadCleaner. With it, you can change the default (which is presently to create shortcuts of every application you've got), clear all or selected application shortcuts (you choose, yippy!), and help you to add applications of your choosing to the LaunchPad in a simple drag-n-drop of the application icon over the utility icon in a manner not unlike how it is done with the Dock. Exactly how it should have been done. Much more sane, and clearly not what the Apple executives would have wanted.

Interesting to see how much statistical information Apple Inc. has managed to glean from users online after these people have updated to the latest OS X so quickly.

But if you prefer a quicker way to hide applications and not show them in the LaunchPad, try a utility system preference pane called LaunchPad-Control. Visit http://chaosspace.de/launchpad-control/ for further information.

Either way, a reduction in the number of shortcuts to your applications should ultimately mean less information about what you do and have acquired ending up at Apple Inc. And should speed things up when finding the essential applications you want to launch.

Maybe this is why OS X is called "Lion" — to start aggressively gathering information about the applications people have on their so-called "personal" hard disks? While users have to be the lion tamers to keep the beast under control. OS X is the circus show. LaunchPad is one of the star attractions. But no Apple lion tamers means it is up to you to become one on behalf of the company.

No wonder Apple likes newbies to the Macintosh computer world, especially those with iPads, iPods and iPhones. How else can Apple entice these users to see the value of buying a Macintosh computer.

As of February 2012, a third-party version designed to imitate Apple's own LaunchPad feature and make it available to Leopard and Snow Leopard users is available. Known simply as LaunchPad beta 5.1(the Apple lawyers will have a field day with this developer's choice of an application name), it has been re-written with speed in mind, and will display all applications on first run on a grid-like pattern on the screen. Fortunately afterwards you can remove most of the applications and have it how you like it. However, the most interesting thing is the file size: around 35MB. When compared to the entire OS, this is miniscule. Effectively the feature is a system-plug-in. Fortunately with this third-party solution, you can uninstall the feature at any time. With Apple, you can't. The feature is permanently incorporated into OS X "Lion".

Apple definitely has a good reason to include this feature permanently for all users and they don't want users to tinker or remove it.

Disk Utility

This is a good improvement. Although Apple could easily have included the latest Disk Utility in one of its standard updates to OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" (again Apple choosing to provide an excuse to get people to upgrade to have this benefit), the latest Disk Utility will now permit more powerful verification and repair of low-level information relating to the partitions and boot loaders as well as the usual file catalogs. Disk Utility also shows a temporary partition on your hard disk (i.e. it is saved on the hard disk) if you invoke it called "Recovery HD" where you can install a fresh copy of OS X "Lion" and the Disk Utility tool to help you repair problems on your main disk (is this a good idea?). It only needs 650MB of disk space which hopefully most large hard drives can provide (most newbies to the Macintosh computer may never have seen the benefit of partitioning a large hard drive before, so one must assume this is the rationale behind Apple's decision to save the recovery disk on the primary hard disk). And if, for any reason, the temporary partition cannot be loaded up (maybe that's part of the problem?), the latest Macs released since July 2011 can download the boot image and Disk Utility direct from Apple's servers (please supply your Apple ID and password for identification purposes), and install and boot into RAM to check hard drive integrity (a much better option to protect the main disk assuming the RAM itself is in good working order). To create the temporary disk, restart the computer and press Command R during the startup. The Disk Utility will show the temporary disk. With all these new features, does this mean users can do away with Disk Warrior, DiskTools Pro, TechTool Pro and Drive Genius? And will users never need to install a second copy of OS X on another partition ever again? If you are strapped for cash and/or time, you could probably survive with Apple's new Disk Utility. However, for the more experienced users, other tools of the trade always comes in handy and may provide additional options, especially for the recovery of files stored on a damaged hard disk.

SPECIAL NOTE: Apple, Inc. has made the excellent decision to allow people to create an external USB recovery disk (and so avoid affecting the primary hard disk) as of 8 August 2011. A very good choice. You should find a Lion Recovery Disk Assistant tool from this Apple KnowledgeBase article to help you create your own portable recovery disk. For general online information, click this Apple KnowledgeBase article.

Apple Mail

A very good improvement. If you have used Apple Mail before and just had to live with the way it was until a better version would come along, the wait has finally ended. OS X "Lion" may at last have provided the much-improved Apple Mail application you've been looking for. This is a completely redesigned application with a simplified menu, and a two column format for easier glancing of all emails. The only thing missing is a feature to send emails at a user-specified date and time just like the popular Eudora could do. Apart from this, the question must be asked: why should users upgrade to benefit from an application improvement such as this when it should be available to users of any older version of OS X?

Safari 5.1

Slight improvements mainly to maximise speed in accessing and displaying web pages. Other changes such as a newly designed message telling users when the browser can't reach a server seems superfluous and adds nothing to the experience. Otherwise it remains the same familiar browser. And at least Safari 5.1 can work on OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" and probably OS X 10.5 "Leopard". Good to see some common sense prevailing among the developers and management team at Apple, Inc.

iCal

No major concerns here other than a annoyingly slow turning the page animation issue when showing the Monthly and Yearly view compared to the iCal on OS X "Snow Leopard". One user has provided a solution through a tool called iCal Classic Page Flip 1.0. Otherwise works as expected.

Other subtle differences being introduced is the option by Apple to allow users to download the 3.5GB installer file. At time of writing, users were forced to download it until Apple released the DVDs in August 2011. It is unclear if Apple is trying to gather statistics to see how popular this method will be not to mention the benefits of gathering information about the applications these early adopters of technology have without their permission. Anyway, if we pretend to be naive and assume it isn't an application thing, there is every likelihood Apple will consider saving money on DVDs and their distribution by having all Apple software installers downloaded from the App Store. If it doesn't happen with OS X "Lion" for all users, then almost certainly in OS X 10.8.

The ability to scroll the content in a window luckily remains, but it does have a new default setting to confuse some experienced Macintosh computer users. When users scroll with a mouse or trackpad, the direction the mouse is pushed is translated on the computer as a movement of the content in the same direction. In OS X "Lion" this is reversed for users who are familiar with scrolling content on an iPhone or iPad. In other words, push your fingers up on a touch screen and the content of a window scrolls down to let you see what's at the top of the window. Fortunately Apple has kindly provided a Scroll & Zoom tab in the TrackPad and Mouse preference panes to help you reverse the scrolling direction. Maybe when Apple sees the benefit of a touchscreen on a Macintosh computer will this new scrolling feature become more natural for all users. Although this could get interesting: will users have to continually switch the scroll direction settings if a touchscreen and a trackpad are combined in one machine at the same time? As for the idea that this feature is necessary to warrant an upgrade, a developer named Nick Moore from Pilotmoon Software has blown it out of the water by providing a 182.64K freeware utility called Scroll Reverser for OS X 10.4 "Tiger" or higher. The utility does exactly the same thing as in OS X 10.7 "Lion".

Also to keep it simple for novices, Apple has hidden the user's Library folder. The rationale being that Apple thinks users will never, or shouldn't, go into the folder. So why show it? For experienced users, it is usually the opposite. Sometimes you have to clean up third-party garbage or corrupted files such as plug-ins, preferences panes, and.plist files. At any rate, if you want to see the Library folder (no harm in leaving it visible), run the following Terminal command:


chflags nohidden ~/Library
 

If you decide it is better to hide it, type the following:


chflags hidden ~/Library
 

Alternatively a freeware utility has made its mark in this area. Known as DesktopUtility 1.2.3 by SweetP Productions, the tool will provide users with easy access to the Library folder via a menu command under the Finder.

In an attempt to turn Expose into a more useful tool, Apple has developed the new Expose on steroids update known as Mission Control where, for the first time, you can now see all the windows opened for all running applications. A useful feature for professionals trying to run, say, a 3D rendering job, send large print jobs in another application, download a large file from the network, and so on and tells you the state of those applications and where they are at in their jobs. Again this is a feature that could easily have been made into a system extension or a separate application and bundled as an update for older OS X users.

Another potentially useful feature is the ability to select an application and view it in full screen mode without other applications getting in the way. For the more professional user, this feature would have been useful if it weren't for the fact that it needs more improvements to allow full screen mode of two or more applications and have them automatically sent across multiple displays. In its current version, full screen mode is restricted to just one application at a time and is shown only on the main display. A slightly limited feature. Should get better soon.

Another feature is a thing where you can now get your computer to remember the documents, windows and positioning of applications after quitting so that the next time you launch the applications, everything associated with the work you were doing in those applications are restored. A useful feature so long as you don't want anyone to view sensitive data, or get back to a point when the application had crashed (applications will need to be programmed to a very stable state by the developers). If you want to stop this feature, do one of the following:

1. Go into the General system preferences and remove the tick in the check box that says "Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps".

2. Alternatively, go into /[username]/Library/Saved Application State/ folder (i.e. another good reason not to make the Library folder invisible to users in case they need to get into it), clear the file relating to a specific application you don't want to see restored (or delete all files). Then do a Get Info on the folder and place a tick in the check box that says "Locked". This will stop OS X Lion trying to store additional information inside the folder for telling OS X how to restore something.

NOTE: If you don't want the application state to be saved on quitting, press down the Option key during the quitting process.

Effectively this is another system extension that could have been made installable on any older OS X if Steve Jobs wanted it. In fact, at time of writing, the software developer InerziaSoft has developed a freeware utility called InerziaMode for Mac, which does a remarkably similar thing to the above OS X "Lion" feature. As the developer wrote:

"InerziaMode lets you create Modes: they are a set of applications that can be launched and stopped with just a single click. But that's not all: you can also configure options for each application. For example, you can configure an app to automatically open a document, when launched or you can do complicated tasks automatically, using AppleScript. When you have to work on something, you have to prepare your workspace before starting: this is not a problem anymore; InerziaMode lives in your menu bar and can launch applications, open documents, run scripts and make your computer ready to work, with just a click. You will also be able to switch between your projects with just a menu click. InerziaMode does not slow down your computer, because it requires CPU cycles only when you really use it: when modes are running, InerziaMode does not affect their performances."

The total size for InerziaMode is: 1.87MB. Sounds like a pretty good size to make into a system extension.

Also part of this feature is a thing called versioning. It involves auto saving documents in any application and keeping various versions of your documents at different times and dates. So in the event the computer is so unreliable that it shuts down, or the application is unreliable and crashes, or a virus somehow passes through the network and disrupts your computer and applications, you have a chance of recovering a version of your document. Or if you have accidentally deleted something important and can't recall what it was, you can always go back in time to see which version of your documents had the information. Interestingly Apple has not provided enough controls to users for things like which application will have this feature. It is an all or nothing affair. Unless you have an old application version that doesn't support versioning, it is a feature you will have to learn to accept whether you like it or have your own method of doing things or not. And speaking of system extensions, the third-party developer Total Force Software has produced a very similar if not identical versioning feature through a software tool called ForeverSave 2.1. At 1.7MB in size, it would have been perfect as a system extension and for users to decide whether to install it or not. Apple prefers not to.

Likewise the AirDrop feature developed by Apple, Inc. and exclusive to OS X "Lion" for allowing users to share files through the Wi-Fi network with other users within the wireless range of your laptop and those around you is something that could easily have been developed into a system extension for older OS X. There are already third-party utilities to share files with anyone on the Ethernet network while bypassing most organisation firewalls. Therefore it doesn't take too much imagination and programming work to build something similar for Wi-Fi (people are already sharing files across the internet through email systems using Wi-Fi, so why not simplify the process?). The main advantage of the AirDrop is how easy it makes the process by solving many of the configuration settings, detection of other users, and automatically fixing up file permissions needed to share and make files accessible to everyone. If you like this feature, please be aware it will not work for these Macintosh computer models:

MacBook (mid-2008 or earlier)

MacBook Pro (mid-2008 or earlier)

iMac (late 2008 or earlier)

Mac Pro (late 2009 or earlier)

Mac mini (early 2010 or earlier)

MacBook Air (late 2010 or earlier)

Apparently the wireless controller chip for these models haven't been designed to think far enough ahead to make this local networking possibility a reality and is now considered too old. To determine if your machine supports this feature (after upgrading to OS X "Lion"), open the System Profiler utility (it has been updated to tell you what you need to know regarding the AirDrop feature) and look in "AirPort" under the Network category. It should say something like "AirDrop: Supported". If not, would this be a time to upgrade your computer too? Hopefully it would be as simple as an upgrade of your Wi-Fi card. Get a professional technician to help you with any replacement of the card inside your computer.

Beyond that, Apple has stayed true to its word in doing away with support for running 32-bit system extensions (e.g. some users will have trouble running their older analog Apple USB modems), and there is no Rosetta for running PowerPC OS X applications resulting in many unfortunate users stuck with OS X PowerPC-only versions of Quicken 2007 and other similar applications to either stick with OS X Snow Leopard, or pay extra for new software. As one user said:

"I haven't upgraded to Lion because I need Quicken 2007 and I am still waiting for a reasonable substitute. If Apple made it easy to boot into Snow Leopard when needed (or cam up with a Rosetta function in Lion) I would gladly buy the Lion upgrade." (Kessler, Topher. VMware 4.1 lifts block on Snow Leopard Client virtualization: CNET News. 21 November 2011.)

And while many third party developers have tested their applications for "Lion" compatibility, Adobe hasn't quite seen the light in doing the same. Instead, the company believes it is better to wait until the release of OS X "Lion" and then show its apparently good customer service by telling users of some early known issues. The main issue appears to be the fact that Apple no longer supports Java in OS X "Lion". Thus a number of Adobe applications needing the Java Runtime to be present will behave unpredictably or certain features may not work at all. No wonder professional users are sticking to OS X "Snow Leopard" for a little while longer.

Adobe has provided a knowledge base article to assist users to manually install Java Runtime on OS X "Lion". Essentially you have to perform the following steps manually by you:

1. Open the Java Preferences.app in Applications/Utilities/ folder.

2. If Java is not installed, you will see a message asking whether you like to install Java. Click the Install button.

3. Accept the license agreement and download the file.

4. The installer should automatically install the Java software.

As Adobe stated:

"Many Adobe applications are dependent on the Oracle Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for some features to work. Apple recently changed the way it includes Java in Mac OS, and with Lion, Java is no longer preinstalled; it is now an optional install that the user must select."

Any other issues to be found with Adobe software should soon be addressed with the company's own set of updates in the near future. Make sure you have correctly installed your Adobe applications and in the right locations and folder names or else these updates will not work (all part of combating software piracy).

Microsoft appears to have followed in Adobe's footsteps in this regard. And with such an atrocious Microsoft office 2011 package with plenty of bugs and doesn't run efficiently and simply like previous versions, it is not surprising Microsoft likes to see users perform regular updates on legitimate copies of its own applications.

In summary, OS X 10.7 "Lion" hasn't provided anything truly radical or different to warrant an upgrade (unless you have nothing better to do except be entertained by the latest OS X features and brag about them to friends). As for the handful of the more useful features and improvements to certain Apple applications and previous system extensions to enhance the OS X "experience", all could have easily been made available and workable at least under OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard". But thanks to good old Apple, Inc. with its shareholders needing to see a big profit from the company, how else can the company achieve tthe dreams of its shareholders except to make users think it is necessary to pay more money for an upgrade containing a host of new features. If profit is such a motivation for developing OS X, Apple would have been better off making system extensions of the new features and sell each feature for US$5 a pop. With 250 features, Apple should be making a big profit at US$1,250 per user. But since not every user will purchase every new feature, Apple would still make a higher profit than what the company is trying to sell the behemoth of an OS X with all the features at the App Store right now. In fact, you can be sure enough users will purchase more features, if not now then definitely in the future as the need arises and where the new touchscreen technology eventually comes to the Macintosh computer. So instead, everyone is forced to accept all the features of the new OS X while being geared up to attract first-time iPad, iPod and iPhone users to convince them of the benefit of purchasing a Macintosh computer. Is Apple, Inc. running out of ideas for OS X? Have we finally reached the pinnacle of all OS X development?

Otherwise the only other reason to be selling OS X is to gather statistical information on the applications and other activities of users while they are online.

So which is it?

As users discover the range of other new features (and undoubtably some bugs), Apple is currently trying to flog OS X "Lion" at a price of US$29.99 (geez, equivalent to buying 6 new system extension features if Apple was thinking along these lines given the emphasis on the 250 new OS X features) in the downloadable file version from the App Store. Expect the price to be at least double for the DVD version (to encourage users to see the advantage of purchasing the online download version and so supply their personal details to create an App Store account). At the present time, the downloadable version can have unlimited installations on any number of Macintosh computers capable of running OS X "Lion". A good idea if Apple is trying to gather statistical information about the sorts of applications people have installed on their computers.

And just wait when enough people have settled in with their new OS X and eventually the iCloud technology gets introduced. Do you think all the application gathering information is enough to tickle Apple, Adobe and other software manufacturers' fancy? Ha! If you are able to bypass the face tracking technology in the HD iSight camera under OS X "Lion", remove additional application shortcuts, turn off your Apple iPhone, and possibly minimise internet access on your Macintosh computer, by the time you start storing personal information on Apple servers as well as the applications themselves using iCloud technology, they will know practically everything about you — where you live, who you are, what you like, your friends and where they can find you and all the rest. Then the manufacturers will know all the iClowns with software they shouldn't have if it isn't to gather commercial-in-confidence information or anything else. Very clever. Of course, you aren't thinking the improved encryption (why did it need to be improved?) supplied by Apple will be enough to protect you.

Yes, very interesting times ahead for all to enjoy!

UPDATE
27 July 2011

Apart from direct observations of a slow performance in LaunchPad for hard disks boasting a hefty number of applications, users have also discovered an alleged bug in OS X "Lion". It involves a new feature where the latest OS X can now combine the contents of two folders named identically and have them placed in the same directory presumably in one folder or the other of your choice. A useful feature certainly so long as a more up-to-date identically named file within the second folder isn't replaced with an older version in the first folder you are using to replace the contents in the other folder. According to CNET, this feature is not quite working consistently enough to be of use. The main problem being that the option to combine the folder contents via a button that says "Keep Both" doesn't always appear.

Another user has also noted another issue with this new feature:

""Keep both" is a useful option for folders of the same name, but it has come at the cost of losing "don't replace", which had the advantage of allowing the copy operation to continue. Now when Finder hits items with the same name during a copy operation, its only choices are Stop, Replace All or Keep Both.

I frequently copy dozens of image files to my archive by simply selecting all the raw files in my temporary workspace and dragging them to the archive. In previous versions of Finder, I didn't have to worry about whether some files had already been archived. I could simply tell Finder not to replace the first duplicate it found, and to do the same for all others. It was an easy way to "equalize" folders. (Copy both directions, while not replacing duplicates.)

Am I the only one who misses the don't-replace-but-keep-going function???" (Kessler, Topher. Folder combining in Lion appears to be buggy: CNET News. 27 July 2011.)

In another CNET article, OS X "Lion" does not contain sufficient support to handle a RAID volume especially when using the FileVault encryption option.

And this CNET article suggests certain fonts are not being displayed correctly in Safari 5.1 (not earlier versions) under OS X "Lion" resulting in the appearance of square or block characters with the letter "A" in them. As the problem does not appear in OS X "Snow Leopard" or any other third-party browser, it is likely there has been a change in the way fonts are validated and activated in OS X "Lion". CNET has reported the likely cause for this:

"...this issue shows up only in Safari and Chrome, which both use the WebKit engine, and specifically for those users who have font manager tools installed. It turns out this issue is likely a compatibility problem between how third-party font managers store fonts and a limitation in the WebKit framework that deals with the new sandboxing features in Safari and Lion." (Kessler, Topher. WebKit sandboxing conflict causes Safari block-A font problem: CNET News. 2 August 2011.)

Users with third-party font managers such as Linotype FontExplorer Pro X will need to wait for their updates.

As one user has recommended:

"This is why it's usually best to wait for some updates before upgrading the OS..." (Kessler, Topher. Folder combining in Lion appears to be buggy: CNET News. 27 July 2011.)

UPDATE
3 August 2011

The Reset Password application designed to help you reset forgotten passwords of user accounts found relatively easily (probably too easily for some people's liking) in previous OS X versions in the Utility folder has magically disappeared under OS X "Lion". It is now merged with the Recovery system. To invoke the utility:

1. Boot into the recovery partition by holding down Command and R keys at startup.

2. Select Terminal from the Utilities menu.

3. Run the following command: /Applications/Utilities/Reset\ Password.app/Contents/MacOS/Reset\ Password. The Reset Password utility will be launched.

4. Don't close the Terminal as the utility now displays messages in Terminal to let you know what is happening. With the utility launched and ready, select the volume and the account and change the password for that account.

UPDATE
4 August 2011

Mission Control bugs do exist as this CNET article suggests. Overall, Mission Control is probably one of the more useful additions to OS X and should get better over the next few updates.

UPDATE
4 August 2011

Apple, Inc. has realised it might be possible for OS X 10.5 "Leopard" users to choose an upgrade to OS X 10.7 "Lion" (understandable considering they are not getting any improvements to their OS X, but most of the essential improvements are already there in OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" so less of an issue for these users). At last, the company has released an updated Migration Assistant update for "Leopard" users. It comes roughly two weeks after OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" users received their update. Very good.

UPDATE
9 August 2011

This CNET article suggests problems for users of Boot Camp after upgrading to OS X 10.7 "Lion". The most likely culprit is incompatible third-party NTFS read/write drivers designed to help users access the files directly within the Windows drive partition. Uninstall these drivers to see the partition and boot up to Windows normally again. Wait for updates to these drivers in a few months time before re-installing them.

UPDATE
9 August 2011

An Adobe Flash 10.3.183.5 update (6.08MB) has fixed a number of incompatibilities with OS X 10.7 "Lion" and provided 13 security fixes where "buffer overflows and memory corruption in the handling of media could result in arbitrary code execution" (Kessler, Topher. Adobe Flash update fixes unresponsive settings in OS X Lion: CNET News. 10 August 2011.), which is another way of saying the Adobe programmers were pressed for time by the Adobe management team to come up with any reasonable solution just to get the product out to consumers as quickly as possible for profit reasons. Yet not all users were entirely happy with the improvements. As one CNET user commented:

"The latest Adobe Flash Player update has caused corrupted text in Facebook games Farm Town and Gardens of Time. (Firefox 5.0.1)

Can't comment on any other impacts yet."

Perhaps further improvements are expected to come soon from our beloved Adobe?

UPDATE
25 August 2011

Apple has released Boot Camp Software Update 3.3 to fix incompatibilities found by users after applying the OS X 10.6.8 update and running the 10.7 "Lion" upgrade.

Man, we need to get a real life.

OS X 10.7.1 Update

Apple couldn't survive a month before an update had to be issued. In probably one of the fastest release of an update for a new product ever made by the company, Apple released on 16 August 2011 the first update to OS X 10.7 "Lion". In fact, the update was so quick, Apple developers didn't have time to merge two separate 10.7.1 updates for different Macintosh computer models. One update will be for the new 2011 MacBook Air and Mac mini computers. The other update for everyone else. In means if you are one of those diligent users wanting to keep a full combo update on your backup drive for future use and hope everything is on it, think again. You will have to be careful in choosing the right update. Or download both?

We can see why Apple likes users to do everything online by applying the Software Update option under the Apple menu and let the App Store or wherever the updates are stored on an Apple server update your OS X through the correct choice of the update file. How else will Apple check to see what you have on your hard disk?

The delta update file selected by Software Update varies in size but should be less than 20MB to download. The full "general" combo update is 79.3MB. The fixes are mainly in other areas not mentioned above, specifically:

  1. Address an issue that may cause the system to become unresponsive when playing a video in Safari.
  2. Resolve an issue that may cause system audio to stop working when using HDMI or optical audio out.
  3. Improve the reliability of Wi-Fi connections.
  4. Resolve an issue that prevents transfer of your data, settings, and compatible applications to a new Mac running OS X Lion.
  5. Resolve an issue in which an admin user account could be missing after upgrading to OS X Lion.

A separate full "special" combo update (68.9MB) is available for the 2011 MacBook Air and Mac Mini. This update fixes additional issues, namely:

  1. Resolve an issue where MacBook Air may boot up when MagSafe Adapter is attached.
  2. Resolve an issue causing intermittent display flickering on MacBook Air.
  3. Resolve an issue that causes the SD card slot in Mac mini to run at reduced speed with SD and SDHC media.

If one could reduce the issues to the core principal improvement provided by this update, it would be in addressing some glaring graphics issues under OS X "Lion" which somehow escaped the initial testing phase prior to the release of OS X "Lion" to the public (assuming these is testing).

Further details can be found through this Apple Knowledge Base article.

UPDATE
26 August 2011

Reducing the input level to zero for the Microphone Input in the Sound system preference does not effectively turn off the microphone. Tap on the computer or table and the sound meter will still jump to the noise. This is clearly not how the average user would interpret zero in the input level. Your other option is to switch the sound input option to Line In. This forces the meter to read nothing. But does it actually turn off the microphone input? Nobody knows for sure.

UPDATE
24 August 2011

Perhaps in an attempt to highlight a problem with OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" and help encourage users to see the value of OS X 10.7 "Lion", a CNET user has upgraded from OS X 10.5 "Leopard" to "Snow Leopard" only to find Apple's audio software suites Logic Pro and Logic Express crashes on launch as if suggesting OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" is not perfect. However, on closer inspection it is starting to look like a third-party add-on for the software has not been updated to handle "Snow Leopard". Also make sure the latest version of the Apple software is installed for full compatibility. But the question remains: why has it taken so long for users to realise the problem while "Snow Leopard" has been around for a long time? Has Apple been that slow in providing the update? Or is it really a third-party add-on issue?

Otherwise there is nothing really inherently bad about OS X "Snow Leopard" to warrant an upgrade. Although we have to wait and see what Apple decides to release in the final OS X 10.6.9 update and whether users will discover additional bugs in the system. This is the only way Apple can entice users to upgrade.

UPDATE
31 August 2011

Evidence is emerging to suggest OS X 10.7 "Lion" is demanding far more work from the graphic processing chip than ever before when it comes to displaying all the fancy iOS graphics features. Users of the mid-2010 MacBook Pro are discovering a black screen bug on waking up the machine and more regular running of the fans under the latest OS which never, if rarely, have appeared under OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard". Users of the early to mid-2011 MacBook Pro have not been affected suggesting Apple had to reduce heat emissions using a new graphic processing chip and introduce the new Intel quad-core processors before introducing the new OS.

Will some users be forced to pay for a new MacBook Pro to handle the latest OS? Convenient for Apple, Inc. where profits is a priority.

UPDATE
2 September 2011

A couple of more bugs surface from users. This one from Myles Taylor:

"A couple other things I hope they fix are certain settings that they took away from Lion that now are locked into place. If the IR sensor is turned off in Snow Leopard the setting to turn it on and off disappears completely in Lion. Also if you assigned applications to a specific space it will stay that way, even though the ability to do that is gone in Lion." (Kessler, Topher. OS X 10.7.2 and iCloud betas suggest impending release: CNET News. 2 September 2011.)

And Topher Kessler of CNET noted a serious security bug:

"...a new vulnerability in LDAP server authentication was found that may allow Lion systems on LDAP-enabled networks to log in with[out] any credentials (even nonexistent usernames) by supplying a blank password." (Kessler, Topher. OS X 10.7.2 and iCloud betas suggest impending release: CNET News. 2 September 2011.)

Users and commentators are anticipating the impending release of Apple's OS X 10.7.2 update will address many of the pressing bugs mentioned to date. Why not all of the bugs?

UPDATE
6 September 2011

Another new feature guaranteed to confuse a large number of Mac experts and enough Mac novices migrating from the PC environment is the new Duplicate command. Under OS X "Lion", Apple, Inc. has seen a more efficient way of working with duplicates of an original document opened within an application. Prior to the release of OS X "Lion", seasoned Mac users and their novices (including those migrating from Windows machines) have been accustomed to a Save a Copy command in a number of applications. The purpose for this command was to help a user save a modified version of an original document (in whatever file format you require) and open these modified saved files at a later date to review the changes. Although the approach can be a little tedious after applying multiple Save a Copy commands, it did serve the purpose for what it was intended. Also a Save As command would be included in the File menu to permit users to save the original or one of its modified siblings into another file format (although technically speaking the same approach would effectively be covered by an Export command, but usually with more options). Under OS X "Lion", these commands have changed to Duplicate, and hopefully a Save a Version (but always keeping to the exact same file format), and with a bit of luck for those users wanting to save an original or duplicate file into another file format, an Export command.

Assuming you do not need to change the file format of an original or a new modified duplicate document, you can simply enact the Duplicate command to create an exact duplicate of the original document (or current modified duplicate version) and have it opened ready for you to make changes from the last position you were at. Then you can continue working on the new duplicate with hardly any interruption to your workflow. Want to save a modified version of the duplicate document? OS X "Lion" will keep a version at time of creation on the disk. But if you want to save to a new location with all the latest changes, just choose Save a Version (or a simple Save command if available). If you don't save, OS X "Lion" will still save the file at time it was created. Or choose Duplicate again to save the latest modified duplicate version. The old version will not be lost. It will just be added to a potentially long list of other modified duplicate files you've created (and so build up a history of all the changes you've done and wanted to save). Seems reasonable so far, until you discover another feature being incoporated into Apple applications. It is called AutoSave.

Apparently Apple is moving towards an AutoSave approach for documents you create and work within an Apple application such as Pages, and there doesn't appear to be an option to turn it off. Because hard drives are getting so large, Apple believes it is better for users to save any number of modified versions of an original in a prescribed time interval set by the AutoSave feature so users can go back to a previous version. But to make sure it doesn't use up the hard disk space, the saved duplicate versions will only save what's changed and not the entire original document over and over again for each version. Certainly there are some benefits in this approach for certain file formats such as text-based documents. Graphics files could also benefit from this approach but unfortunately changes done to these files often means the entire file has to be saved. Apple and Adobe have noticed this possibility and have tried to save only the instructions for modifying an original graphic image. We see this best in Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture. But not all graphic applications have this ability incorporated as standard. At any rate, if users do ever have to reboot their machines and need to go back to any modified version, it should be possible under OS X "Lion" to recreate it from the original or, if not, open the full modified file.

But suppose you don't want this feature and instead you decide to work on the original document and choose not to save the changes (e.g. a What-if scenario in an original Excel spreadsheet file), this AutoSave feature could end up being more of nuisance value by the way it automatically saves the changes you've made to the original file. And it takes time to autosave a large document (even a 300 page manuscript) — just as you are trying to write or edit something crucial in a document, the application decides to pause for several seconds to save the file.

Plus it means greater wear and tear on the hard drive (or flash drive) to save all these changes on a regular basis as set by the AutoSave feature within the application.

It is also a security nightmare for users who don't want other people to be recovering a version of your files off the hard disk. You will have to be diligent in your work to manually trash all the duplicate file versions (leaving behind the final duplicate version and the original file (or save the final modified file version as the new original file version and delete the earlier original and duplicate files), and security wipe the free space on your hard disk.

The combination of the AutoSave and Save a Version features appear to be designed for absolute novices who have never used a PC or Mac before and aren't familar with how experts do things on a computer (i.e. the real oldies or teenagers) and regularly saving their work to avoid losing important changes. So Apple has decided to make it about as automatic as it can for everyone (including the Mac experts who don't seem to get much of a say in the direction of OS X these days).

Or, it could be a means for Apple, Adobe and other software manufacturers to observe how users use their software. For example, a software pirate claiming to be trying out the software could be tested. Should the software manufacturer see evidence of a long list of save a version files on the hard disk, it would be enough evidence to argue the unpaid software is being used for commercial purposes.

Probably explains why after quitting an application Apple doesn't provide an option to the user to delete the Save a Version files.

To get around this latest idiosyncratic change through the AutoSave feature, you will have to lock the original file in the Finder to prevent the application from making changes. Or hope the application has an option to turn off "AutoSave" as it does in Microsoft Office. But if not, or you use one of Apple's latest application offerings for editing text-based documents, you could be in some dire straits.Hopefully Apple will see the light in providing an option for users to stop AutoSave as soon as possible and keep it off in the default mode for a bit of common sense. Let users decide at what point to duplicate a document and save the duplicate, and what to do with the duplicates once a document is finished and ready.

For an idea to give to Apple on how it should all work, we should listen to at least one Mac expert. According to this CNET user:

"It's my opinion that autosave should be only used for backup purposes [enabled or disabled by the user], [and] to restore the application/document as it was before a crash or forced shutdown. When manually quitting, however, the system should prompt you that edits have been autosaved and ask you whether you wish to keep them or revert to the last manually saved state." (Kessler, Topher. Duplicate vs. Save As in OS X Lion: CNET News. 6 September 2011.)

However, if you don't like the Save a Version and Duplicate commands, you won't be able to get around this in OS X "Lion". Some third-party applications may provide an option to switch back to the Save, Save As and Save a Copy commands. But if you prefer the old approach, stick to OS X "Snow Leopard" (until enough new applications start to rely on the new approach and then you will be in trouble).

UPDATE
9 September 2011

A useful Security Update 2011-005 to install. Details of the update:

Impact: An attacker with a privileged network position may intercept user credentials or other sensitive information.

Description: Fraudulent certificates were issued by multiple certificate authorities operated by DigiNotar [from the Netherlands]. This issue is addressed by removing DigiNotar from the list of trusted root certificates, from the list of Extended Validation (EV) certificate authorities, and by configuring default system trust settings so that DigiNotar's certificates, including those issued by other authorities, are not trusted.

UPDATE
9 September 2011

One of the big "no-no" for Mac users is an OS that somehow forgets the placement settings for icons of files and applications, as well as the window itself for holding these icons (i.e. the folder). When users try to position windows and move icons into a certain order, there is usually a good reason for doing so. Now we learn under OS X "Lion" how it has managed to break this golden rule, or so it is alleged according to CNET reporter Topher Kessler when he said:

"A number of people who have upgraded to OS X Lion have recently found this to be an issue with their systems." (Kessler, Topher. Icon and window positions shifting in OS X: CNET News. 9 September 2011.)

An Apple discussion board has been set up by enough disgruntled "Lion" users specifically targeting this issue.

When users first noticed the problem, Mac experts suggested the most logical cause is a corruption to the invisible.DS_Store files designed to store the placement settings of icons and windows and clearing the files should help solve the problem. But when there are literally thousands of these little critters roaming on your hard disk, you'll need special tools such as OnyX, Nude, IceClean, BlueHarvest or iRemove.DS_Store files (take your pick — it is a nice way to get yourself familiar with the sorts of tools you may need to solve Apple problems now and in the future) to handle it. And even then, users have reported the problem persists after doing this cleaning job.

An absolute shocker.

One user has gone so far as to describe OS X "Lion", at least for the crucial Finder application component, as:

"Lion Finder is at best a train-wreck in terms of GUI and respecting user settings." (Kessler, Topher. Icon and window positions shifting in OS X: CNET News. 9 September 2011.)

Well, to be somewhat fair to OS X "Lion", some users have commented the problem does exist in previous OS X versions, it is just that some new features in OS X "Lion" could be exacerbating the problem. As a CNET user allegedly observed:

"The Finder's icon location has been buggy for a long time, not only in Lion. And it gets even worse with the introduction of Finder gestures. The gesture meant to magnify the Finder's icon is nice, but it totally messes with the icon's location. Worse, going back to the original scaling won't put your icons where you had carefully located them. And to top that, the magnifying gesture sometimes fires in error, especially with wet Fingers and in damp setups. There's no reason for that, even when resized, icons should retain their relative locations in a window." (Kessler, Topher. Icon and window positions shifting in OS X: CNET News. 9 September 2011.)

Or it could be a nice way of supporting a new OS and pretending it is better than any previous OS version.

Even if this is true, there are an incredible number of "Snow Leopard" users who have never had to worry about this issue, at all. It doesn't seem to be a concern. Maybe it is because users have kept the features of the OS to a minimum by turning off unnecessary functions? Who knows. But when users move to OS X "Lion" and find a more poignant reminder of the problem, it really starts to make people think "What's the point of the upgrade?" other than to give Apple more money.

And the problem may not be restricted to just the placement of icons and windows if this CNET user's observation can be relied on as being vaguely accurate:

"What's really bad about this is that, much like washroom in a restaurant, the Finder not being able to display icons correctly should also make us worried about how it handles other less "look related", and more mission-critical processes as well, like file copying and such.

Actually, it's happened to me more than once that a Finder copy can't proceed correctly, but not only that, it also fails to report what files weren't copied, leaving me to copy everything by hand, one folder after the other, until I find the one that's misbehaving.

OS X used to be one of Apple's pride, but more and more, it looks and feels like those roads they failed to maintain, except for patching the most obvious holes, with rough bumps of asphalt." (Kessler, Topher. Icon and window positions shifting in OS X: CNET News. 9 September 2011.)

Gee whizz. Not being able to copy all files and not telling you about the ones that weren't copied? This is potentially a serious problem. Let us guess, will the Mac experts recommend another tool to fix file permissions and hopefully everything will work again? No wonder the PC trolls are out and about in droves stating jokingly to the Mac fan boys on various Mac sites discussing these problems "And it just works" in reference to Apple's previous advertisement claiming the Macintosh computers and OS work right out of the box. The Windows OS may not be perfect either, but at least it probably works better than OS X "Lion" at the present time. So maybe we need to concede at least the PC trolls might be right on this occasion. In which case, maybe it is time Apple, Inc. performs a serious overhaul of the entire OS and get everything working again.

If anything, this copying issue is sounding remarkably like the kind of thing Apple, Inc. would probably love to introduce quietly into the latest OS to help combat software piracy. As we know, software pirates need to copy files from one computer to another in order to steal the software. Any way to make this copying process more difficult and not tell them what is happening when something is not working right would hopefully be enough to discourage people from stealing software.

But let's look at it on the other side of the fence. Suppose a user is legitimately wanting to copy files from one computer to another. He has a deadline and the files need to be sent to a client. If he is not told some files have not been copied, how would he look to the client? Clearly like a bloody idiot. And anyone else trying to copy files will always have at the back of their minds the possibility that some files may not have been copied for whatever reason. So are they going to check every copied file to see if everything is there? Not likely. Knowing the OS cannot reliably copy all the files would be enough to see the users switch to another OS that can do the job properly.

Essentially the ability to copy files reliably and not to leave out files without a very good reason (otherwise the OS has to make an attempt to fix file permissions to ensure it can) is another golden rule no software manufacturer of an OS should ever break.

It is getting ridiculous. It is about time Apple, Inc. stop focussing so much on profit and start focussing on a quality product. And make sure the product "works".

As for this nonsense of trying to combat software piracy by making it harder and trying to be a nosey parker of seeing what people are doing when they are online and therefore potentially compromising people's privacy, it is already starting to affect enough people. And what is it achieving? Has it really solved the issue?

It is like the romantic idea of trying to win the war on drugs. Let's face it, the war is over. The winner is known and it is clearly not the people trying to stop the drugs. The same is true of software piracy. It can never be eradicated. Sure, you might be able to reduce it a little, but people are smart enough to find ways to circumvent new technologies. And time is often on the side of software pirates. So if they can't copy all the files, they will come back again and again and, if necessary, on different computers, to get all the files. So it is about time we get to the source of the problem of ensuring people have what they need including a job and the cost of things are kept to a minimum. OS X "Lion" costs US$30 to buy and download? Great. That's about right. No one is likely to want to steal OS X (even less so with the bugs that people are seeing with it). But $1,000 or more for Adobe software? The company is better off selling a $30 version of an old Adobe Photoshop package revamped to work on OS X "Lion" and let the professionals who need more features pay the big prices for the latest version. But make sure the basic version isn't crippleware. All the essential things people need to do with the software should be there for any version. Otherwise it will be an incentive to pirate the more expensive software. Yeah, people need to survive by making money. But keep the prices down and then there is little if any incentive to steal the products. People will have to survive by other means by being creative with the sorts of things they can achieve with the software. Need more features but can't afford the higher price? Apply a group buying power approach to purchasing extra features and make them available on a communal computer system (e.g. at a public library) where more creative ideas can be generated. But for everyone with a computer of their own, give them the basics at the lowest cost possible (or why not for free?).

Really, how hard can this be?

Going back to this silly placement issue, we all like to hope this latest problem in the new OS is untrue and someone had been drinking too much happy juice at the time. But if it isn't, it would be a truly remarkable insight into the state of OS X "Lion" in its early release state to the public with new features that ought to be simple additions to OS X "Snow Leopard" and yet somehow manages to affect the very basic functions of an OS in terms of icon and window placements. A real eye opener for anyone contemplating an early move to OS X "Lion".

At this rate, it probably wouldn't be unreasonable to think that for every 250 new features added to a new OS, Apple has probably managed to add 250 new bugs somewhere in the process. And users are just stumbling on these bugs and so-called features by chance. Some features might be good. But other features and bugs are getting users to scratch their heads and ask, "What the heck is going on at Apple?"

It is starting to look like OS X 10.7.2 update can't arrive early enough for these "early adopters of technology" users. And when the update does arrive, it needs to wipe out an incredible number of bugs and silly missing courtesy issues. In fact, it will probably have to be almost totally bug-free in every sense of the word before Mac experts will ever consider an upgrade to the new OS.

And will they?

Let's see what the focus of the next update will be. According to Topher Kessler:

"The main focus of the 10.7.2 update is support for Apple's iCloud service, which is Apple's successor to its MobileMe online services and offers a more "Cloud-based" array of options for syncing documents and online purchases as well as managing their use on multiple devices you own." (Kessler, Topher. OS X 10.7.2 beta includes built-in iCloud: CNET News. 12 September 2011.)

Hmmm? Sounds like either the company has got all the bugs ironed out, or Apple management really has lost the plot.

UPDATE
17 September 2011

Early September is the month for EFI firmware updates for 2011 models of Macintosh computers to help fix bugs and ensure a consistent performance in the Thunderbolt port. Check the various 2011 edition Mac models for the correct download links to get these updates. You may also be overwhelmed by a 50MB Apple Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0 strictly for OS X "Lion" users, which you are recommended in downloading and installing (since you are beta testing the OS on behalf of Apple) once the first Apple displays to handle the Thunderbolt ports start to come off the production line at time of writing this section. As Apple explained the purpose of this hefty update file:

"Apple Thunderbolt Software Update provides support for the Apple Thunderbolt Display and bug fixes for Thunderbolt device compatibility."

By 20 September 2011, "Snow Leopard" users running OS X 10.6.8 or higher would be privileged to receive the Apple Thunderbolt Display Firmware Update 1.0.8 (945KB). However, for this to work, you will need to install the Apple Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0, which strangely enough only works for Lion users. Use Software Update under te Apple menu in the Finder to check for this. Or wait until 19 September 2011 to get the correct update for Snow Leopard. And then, you won't need the smaller update as the EFI firmware updates mentioned above will cover it.

At any rate, this second smaller firmware update does work with OS X "Lion" as if suggesting another update was needed.

Are we there yet?

UPDATE
18 September 2011

Lost the privilege of running 32-bit software under OS X "Lion"? We hope not. But if you have, it may interest you to know that "Snow Leopard" users are enjoying a resurgence in 32-bit commercial software from software manufacturers willing to give them away or at very low cost as we speak (since the software manufacturers know the software will no longer sell, so they might as well make the most of the opportunity to attract new customers and potentially turn them into loyal users of the latest 64-bit software available for purchasing simply by giving away or selling dirt cheap the old software). Need an example? Try downloading DAZ Studio 4.0.2.55 (an easy to use 3D figure posing and animation tool) basic edition valued at US$45. It is absolutely free (yes, your wallet will love you for it) until 31 October 2011. And you can see if this software will help you to achieve whatever you need to do. If so, feel free to purchase the company's other interesting software.

UPDATE
19 September 2011

Yet another bug to plague "Lion" users? It is almost like a broken record player. CNET has reported that while it should take an administrator of a Macintosh computer to change passwords of users' accounts (the preferred method by all administrative owners of a Macintosh computer sharing the system with other people), it seems under OS X "Lion" it may be possible for any user in their own accounts to change the passwords of any other user including the administrator. Although for this to work the hacker would have to be at the computer and applying the following Terminal command:


dscl localhost -passwd /Search/Users/USERNAME
 

with USERNAME being the name of the user account (if the hacker happens to know it), it is still a concerning lapse in Apple's security credentials for an OS that has been boasted by long-time Mac users and technology experts as being more secure than Windows. Now OS X "Lion" is looking decidedly less secure than Windows XP or 7. In fact, your fridge in the kitchen is probably starting to look more secure than your humble Macintosh computer. And yet computers are suppose to hold sensitive or private information.

For most users who are able to carry their computers around physically, this shouldn't pose too much of a problem. But if you are someone who likes to leave the computer at home and there are other people who could access it, it is a serious security issue.

Another bug to add to a particularly long list of bugs for Apple to fix. This OS X "Lion" is definitely not what it is cracked up to be. Now when is the OS X 10.7.2 update coming out? Or is OS X "Snow Leopard" looking more attractive by the day?

No wonder one CNET user said:

"Snow leopard was a wonderful operating system. Lion seems to work just fine but snow leopard feels like an upgrade from lion not the other way around." (Kessler, Topher. Apple issues another OS X 10.7.2 build, with no known issues: CNET News. 16 September 2011.)

Mind you, there is one method guaranteed to stuff up any security plans you may have had for your personal computer (might as well consider storing all your sensitive files on a Cloud Server at this rate). Known as Target Disk Mode (TDM), it is a security issue that makes people wonder "What's the point in having OS X to launch my applications and give me access to the internet and emails?". TDM is one of those useful features where you can connect two computers and allow one to act like an external hard drive for the other. To turn your Macintosh computer into an external hard drive, restart it and press the T key down until you see the FireWire symbol on the screen. Next, plug it up to another computer (even a PC). Except one tiny problem: it is a little too useful. In fact, TDM has been developed so particularly well by Apple to the point where it will allow any user of the other computer to rummage through every file on your Mac. Not even the supposedly private files stored in your account folder can escape the eyes of the other user. So if you leave you Mac lying around, another person can come along, restart the Mac and hold the T key down until he sees the FireWire symbol displayed on the screen, plug a FireWire (Guess what? It's even faster with the Thunderbolt port!) cable, and have a field day as he gathers all the files stored on your hard drive. Great if you wanted to transfer your files quickly from one computer to another. Not good if the other person wants to grab sensitive files off your system.

It is starting to look like the only purpose for having an OS these days is to make your computer look attractive and make others think you have the world's best and most professional and secure OS in the world. Yeah right. Consumers have been duped for a very long time.

And both Apple and probably Microsoft have been laughing all the way to the bank.

Don't like the idea? The only solution is to install military-grade encryption software as a means of protecting your personal files on both your computer and before sending the files to the Cloud (if you are encouraged one day to go without a hard drive or flash memory unit in your new computer and have to do everything online including relying on the Cloud for all your storage needs - sounds like the new computers in the future will have to cost less than AUD$100 to get consumers to purchase one and be connected online continuously to be of any use).

Reduce the amount of secretive traffic coming out of your computer

As Apple joins the growing bandwagon of people interested in seeing what you have stored away on your so-called personal computer, this might be a good time to consider investing US$30 in a utility called Little Snitch. This is a well-designed utility for stopping unnecessary snippets of electronic information from getting released to Apple and other third-party users without your consent. And while you are at it, we also learn how Google.com and others can track your online habits even after you have left their web sites. To stop this over eagerness to learn about you, consider installing a freeware Safari extension called Incognito. Beyond that, turning on Firewall (choose "Stop all Incoming Connections") and having a good anti-virus software can't be underestimated. Finally, never allow Safari to open what it thinks are "safe" files. Disable the feature in Safari and you make the effort to check what you have downloaded. If the programs don't look familiar, trash them.

Damn! Almost forgot. Have you got yourself a file encryption software tool to protect your most sensitive information?

Anything else to keep the hoards off users' back these days?

NOTE: Why so much snooping around on your computer by strangers? Basically it comes down to the fact that people need to be paid for their efforts to make the software and hardware tools you use to create your personal knowledge, and as well as realising knowledge is indeed power and how you use the knowledge stored on your computer can cause either great harm or achieve great things for society of which a lot of money could potentially be made. Thus the purpose of all this snooping around by other people relates to law enforcement purposes, making sure the software license fees have been paid, marketing people wanting to know what entices you to buy certain products and services and how to sell you more, and certain individuals in dire need for your personal information or anything else you have on your computer to help them steal your money or sell your intellectual property because they are poor or want to support an illegal activity (which initially helped them out of poverty). It really is a reflection of our modern society in terms of the emphasis on money to survive and be rich, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the limited education to help protect the vulnerable people in society.

Should you wait before you install OS X 10.7.2 Update?

Some web sites are promoting a "wait and see" approach just to see how many bugs people will find when OS X 10.7.2 Update gets released at around 12 October 2011 (the time when a whole heap of things from iCloud to iPhones gets the official public release). Very sensible. However, given how many bugs there are in OS X 10.7.0 and 10.7.1, this is one situation where it would be better for everyone on OS X "Lion" to do the exact opposite. Basically, anything to reduce the number of bugs plaguing the current OS X version for that extra peace of mind.

As for the specifics of the update and the sorts of things it will address, it is too early to tell. However, rumours are rife (principally from the unpaid Apple beta testers) suggesting the update will have numerous tweaks to the graphics drivers to make the graphics processing chip run cooler and more efficient. If so, this should go a long way to stopping any further damage to the GPU causing the horrid "black screen of death" or BSOD as it is known. But if you already have the problem, don't hold your breath that it will go away. Depending on how much damage is done, the GPU may survive after the update. But if not, it is time to get Apple, Inc. to replace the logic board as soon as possible.

So far, it shouldn't be an issue for anyone with the latest 2011 model machines containing the newer and tougher Radeon GPU (you damn lucky guys!).

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)

24 August 2011

Mr Steve Jobs has made it official: he will resign from his position as CEO of Apple, Inc. While he didn't give the reason for his departure, many analysts speculate it is due to health reasons as the former long-standing leader has been battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer as well as a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs will take on a less stressful role as chairman of the board of directors at the company — the place where he first co-founded with Steve Wozniak in the early 1980s — he loved so dearly and wanted to see succeed.

Tim Cook will take up the reigns as the new CEO.

Sadly, on 5 October 2011, at the age of only 56 years, the world lost the greatest creative genius in the hi-tech industry. Succumbing to his long battle with cancer, Steve Jobs will be remembered as the man who pushed the hi-tech industry to the very limits, creating inspiring, desirable and highly compact computers and personal devices for consumers which only those in the PC industry could emulate and keep up. Never has anyone else been able to outdo the creative abilities of Steve Jobs and succeed in selling products as well as Steve can.

Thank you.

The legacy of Steve's creative genius will now rest on a team of dedicated and talented industrial designers headed by Jonathan Ive. The future of Apple rests in their hands.

iCloud service

Apple's new US$1 billion eco-friendly iCloud data center in California will be fully operational from 11 October 2011 with the early release of iTunes 10.5 (without QuickTime included). Users will have all their music lists of both purchased and non-purchased music tethered (or made available) to Apple in a matter of minutes once you are online. In return users can do away with their computers when syncing the music to a portable music playing device such as an iPhone or iPod. Any music Apple doesn't have from your collection will be automatically uploaded and made available to other users with the same songs. Plus Apple will conveniently help you to download a better quality 256kbps version of any songs you own even though how it originally sounds on your speakers will not make a difference unless you had a really low-grade original (how did you manage that? Time to throw away your old MP3 creator tool).

OS X 10.7.2 Update

Updates are coming thick and fast. Leaving aside a new trojan to keep Apple fans entertained and the need to run XProtect to ensure the virus definitions file is up-to-date, you will be glad to know Apple has released the iPhoto update, and Aperture 3.2 update, and finally the biggy we have all been waiting for — the OS X 10.7.2 Update.

A great deal of emphasis made on the fact that all the updates, including iTunes 10.5 now come with iCloud support. As highlighted by Apple:

  1. iCloud stores your email, calendars, contacts, Safari bookmarks, and Safari Reading list and automatically pushes them to all your devices.
  2. Back to My Mac provides remote access to your Mac from another Mac anywhere on the Internet.
  3. Find My Mac helps find a missing Mac by locating it on a map and allows you to remotely lock the Mac or wipe all its data.

If you are riveted by these iCloud features, you may be wise to also downloaded the iOS 5.0 update for your portable devices to ensure a relatively smooth and flawless experience in this area.

Looking behind the iCloud stuff, users will discover a heap of fixes just to encourage everyone to see the value of this latest update.

Of interest to most users is is how Apple has addressed a number of issues. According to the ones Apple is happy to let everyone know about, the fixes include:

  1. Allow reordering of desktop spaces and full screen apps in Mission Control.
  2. Enable dragging files between desktop spaces and full screen apps.
  3. Address an issue that causes the menu bar to not appear in full screen apps.
  4. Improve the compatibility of Google contact syncing in Address Book.
  5. Address an issue that causes Keynote to become temporarily unresponsive.
  6. Improve VoiceOver compatibility with Launchpad.
  7. Address an issue that causes a delay in accessing the network after waking from sleep.
  8. Enable booting in to Lion Recovery from a locally attached Time Machine backup drive.
  9. Resolve an issue that causes screen zoom to stop working. Improve Active Directory integration.

And Apple is happy to report there has been an update to the RAW support for new digital cameras released in recent months, namely:

  1. Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200
  2. Olympus PEN E-P3
  3. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3
  4. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF3
  5. Samsung NX11
  6. Samsung NX100
  7. Sony Alpha NEX-C3
  8. Sony Alpha SLT-A35

And Apple has provided details on the security fixes provided by this update.

As with any major update, you can always let Software Update under the Apple menu do the downloading and installation for you. Or better still, if you have nothing else better to do in your life, we recommend a full combo update. Taxing on your broadband allowance at 818MB unless you download it for free at your local public library. In that way, you download once and keep the file in case you need it again in the future. Much better than the way Apple wants to keep the file on its server for all times and force you to use the Software Update to download whatever you need (the smallest OS X update you can get away with is the Delta version at 435.5MB, but if you have to download it again you are better off getting the full combo update and do it once and properly). Obviously good for Apple's own statistical analysis to see which updates are needed by people and how often over a period of time. Not good if you are paying for the download using your own broadband network plan.

Fortunately one thing you can be grateful for is that fact that Apple has included the Safari 5.1.1 update in the OS X update. That's a 40MB saving to you!

Still hungry for more big updates? How about the 376.3MB iPhoto 2011 version 9 update. Nice one Apple! Apart from the iCloud support, this one will fix the following:

  1. Left and right swipe gestures can now be used to navigate between photos in Magnify (1-up) view.
  2. Previously imported photos are now displayed in a separate section of the Import window.
  3. Book/calendar themes and card categories can now be selected using a pop-up menu in the carousel view.
  4. Resolves an issue that could cause some pages of books to print incorrectly.
  5. Rebuilding a library now correctly preserves saved slideshows and books.

Any further problems and you should try pressing the Option and Command keys together when launching iPhoto and tick off all the check boxes and let iPhoto run a repair and rebuild your iPhoto Library Database and thumbnails. Still having problems? Beyond a file permissions check, sounds like you will have to wait for another update to make its rounds early in the new year.

And how can we overlook the improvements provided by the Aperture 3.2 update:

  1. Resolves an issue that could cause the "Loading" indicator to reappear in the Viewer when cropping a photo.
  2. Aperture now automatically relaunches into Full Screen mode if the application was in Full Screen mode when last quit.
  3. Pinch-to-zoom gesture now automatically activates Zoom mode in the Viewer.
  4. Left and right swipe gestures can now be used to navigate between photos in the Viewer.
  5. Microsoft Outlook can now be chosen in Preferences as the application used by Aperture for e-mailing photos.
  6. Fixes a problem that could cause Aperture, running on OS X Lion, to quit unexpectedly when using brushes to apply adjustments.
  7. Loupe now correctly displays magnification levels between 50 and 100 percent.
  8. Fixes an issue that could cause Aperture, running on OS X Lion, to display the incorrect color profile on externally edited images.
  9. Import window now includes an option to delete photos from iPhone and iPad after they have been imported into Aperture.
  10. The Lift & Stamp tool now displays the correct cursor icons when being used in Split View and Viewer only mode.

After doing all of this, have all the original issues in OS X "Lion" been addressed? Too early to tell. But one thing is starting to emerge from the update is the possibility that those users who have not enabled Spotlight could have the feature turned on automatically. Makes sense if the iCloud feature is to figure out where the files are located before pushing them to the iCloud server.

As one MacUpdate user named John Anfin has reported immediately after installing the OS X 10.7.2 update:

"I've installed Mac OS's since System 6 and Lion brought me and my 3.06 GHZ 8GB memory MBookPro to our knees. I tried every possible solution to stop the constant, I mean constant hang-ups, the interminable, hours on end spinning pizza, and the sloooow motion response of my apps when the pizza stopped caused by this beast. I AM NOW IN THE PROCESS OF REINSTALLING SNOW LEOPARD. I guess the four initial failed attempts to install Lion should have warned me. Anyway, what I saw of Lion wasn't worth spending another two weeks trying to make a poorly implemented product better. Never in my life would I have thought I'd be writing this kind of review of an Apple product. I'm just lucky to have had a PowerPC iMac to use during this Lion torture on my Mac BookPro." (MacUpdate.com: Apple OS X Lion 10.7.2. 12 October 2011.)

Another user has suggested Spotlight as a possible cause for the hangups:

"Have heard spotlight indexing can cause a lengthy initial slowdown that stops when complete. Any possibility this is what you were experiencing?

Have been holding off on Lion on my MBP until stable. Many installs seem to be flawless, but would hate to have your experience."

As for the specific ones where users would like more control over in the new Lion features such as LaunchPad and AutoSave, it appears they have remained relatively unchanged from the previous version if this chap 's statement at MacUpdate is anything to go by:

"This is the worst version of Mac OS X to date. First off they removed support for the Apple USB Modem by simply not writing a 64-bit wrapper for the 32-bit driver. I paid $50 for it a couple years ago and now it's worthless.

They also removed iSync. This is a blatant move to make it harder to sync any phone with Lion than an Apple phone. The application still works if you move it from Snow Leo to Lion so there is absolutely no other reason for this.

Autosave and versions are implemented terribly. There is good versioning software out there and Apple should have copied what works instead of writing this steaming pile and then giving me no controls to disable it. Apple thinks they know what's best for me so I have to do it there way or hit the highway.

Apple's answer to the no longer included Samba, the netbiosd daemon, is a complete disaster. Windows file sharing is now completely broken. This daemon runs all the time weather I initiate any kind of SMB service or not and if you have Little Snitch installed and use a public wifi it will drive you insane.

Thank god I did a clean install on an external hard drive rather than installing over Snow Leo on my internal. It was easy to revert back to SL.

I have sent Apple more feedback over this release of OS X than I have cumulatively previous to trying to use Lion.

I don't care about Launchbad and gestures I can take it or leave it but this "update" takes control from the user and I will not tolerate that. This may be my last version of OS X, and my last Mac, after being a dedicated user since the 80s. Windows is just not that bad of an alternative anymore.

In summary, Lion is a disaster. Give me back my Mac, if I want an iPhone or iPad I'll go buy one! "

But if you like letting Apple run the new features in the way they want and give them access to the location of all your files through Spotlight and decide which ones should get pushed to the iCloud server, this should be the best ever OS X update you have experienced in your entire life.

UPDATE
26 October 2011

Another Thunderbolt Software 1.1 update (72.5MB). With a bit of luck in this post-Steve Jobs era, the update will knock the remaining Thunderbolt bugs on the head. Designed only for OS X Lion users running the absolute latest 10.7.2 update.

Thanks!

Users re-establishing support for older scanners

Speaking of providing support to Mac users, developer Mattias Ellert has kindly filled in the gap left behind by Apple and Adobe by providing for free the backend and SCSI/USB system extension library and a frontend TWAIN interface and Preference Pane to re-establish support for older scanners requiring the TWAIN drivers to run these devices and extract digitised data acquired from your scanned documents. Known as TWAIN SANE 3.0, you can download and install the following items in the order shown:

1. libusb 0.1.13 beta (172kB)

2. TWAIN SANE backends (7.5MB)

3. TWAIN SANE Interface (274kB)

4. TWAIN SANE Preference Pane (168kB)

The links shown here are for Lion users only.

Source files are supplied for your convenience should you want to ticker and improve the code for any or all of these software tools.

Enabling ftpd service disabled under OS X Lion

While considered an acceptable improvement under OS X "Lion" on the basis of increasing security to users, Apple has disabled the ftpd service.

The service ftpd is designed to turn your Mac into an ftp server, meaning you can share files on your hard disk to any other user on a network. Basically the same thing as the Web Sharing control panel in OS 9 (if you can remember that far back). However, the service is considered sufficiently insecure in the sense that the password people need to enter to access your Mac for file transfer and sharing is unencrypted and can therefore be intercepted by a third-party user anywhere along the network path to the legitimate users at time of login. Instead, Apple has provided an alternative service called sftp, or secure ftp.

But if you ever need ftpd to be enabled, the service is there ready and waiting. All you have to do is type:


sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
 

To disable the service, type:


sudo -s launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
 

Or else, to save on all the typing and give your fingers a break, try a utility called Lion FTPD Enable 1.2.

Not enough people using App Store and iCloud?

Certain signs from Apple could be indicating that perhaps not enough users are embracing the App Store and iCloud service.

For example, the latest iTunes 10.5.1 download has put a number of users offside by constantly showing a nag message everytime the application is launched. The nag message might be innocently trying to remind people to connect online when running iTunes or else you won't be able to keep up-to-date and in sync any new files on the iCloud server. But without an option in the preferences to remove the nag message and with an extra click or Return key press to annoy users thoroughly, it looks like the company is a little desperate in getting people to use the iCloud service.

If the iCloud service is meant to be so good, why the annoying nag message?

And at MacUpdate.com, we find enough users criticising developers for choosing to sell their software exclusively through the App Store but not anywhere else such as the developer's own web site. And more often than not, you have to buy the software before you can try rather than the other way around. Take, for instance, Pneumatic Image Converter 2.0.0.

Are developers salivating at the prospect of making money using the App Store's unique model of buying before you try?

Well, looking around more closely, there seems to be other examples where certain developers are trying to entice users to register on the App Store by offering so-called free for a limited time software. Could some of these developers work for Apple? And could Apple be finding ways to get more users to join the App Store?

Further observations should bring out the truth behind these interesting examples.

Stay tuned....

Safari 5.1.2 Update for Lion

Safari 5.1.2 is available for download. As MacWorld.com explained the improvements:

"Specifically, version 5.1.2 of Safari now makes it possible to view PDFs within web content. It also addresses bugs that caused web pages to flash white, as well as issues related to excessive memory usage and overall stability" (Chang. Alexandra. Apple releases Safari 5.1.2 with PDF Viewing Support, Bug Fixes: MacWorld.com. 30 November 2011.)

Sounds like a needed update in anyone's language.

Thunderbolt Display Firmware 1.1 Update

It is definitely not quite right inside the firmware software for running Thunderbolt displays, so Apple has released on 12 December 2011 the Thunderbolt Display Firmware 1.1 Update. Hopefully this time around things will be looking up for the Thunderbolt technology! Enjoy a relaxing Christmas everyone.

The above update works for Thunderbolt-enabled Macs running OS X 10.6.8 or higher or 10.7.2 or higher. Also, if you run the update as a Snow Leopard user, it may tell you to install the 50MB Thunderbolt Software Update 1.1 (Snow Leopard). And even then you have no way of telling if the 50MB update is suitable for your computer. From our experience (to save you on bandwidth costs), it seems these updates are designed for the mid-2011 or later Thunderbolt models.

App Store will impose restrictions on developers applications that do not support the Lion Sandboxing system architecture

Either not enough users of previous OS X versions are upgrading to OS X "Lion" or Apple Inc. believes OS X "Lion" is so popular that the company can force other users to upgrade, but it seems the App Store will only sell third-party applications for older OS X versions until March 2012. After that date, if the application does not support the Lion Sandboxing system, it will be deleted.

Some developers have decided to get around this by going into the application's info.plist file located inside the application at:


[appname].app/Contents/info.plist
 

and setting the Minimum System Version to "10.7" so Apple Inc. thinks the software will only work on OS X "Lion" (i.e. supports the latest Sandboxing system). But users, if they are really clever, will change it to "10.6" to make the application work on OS X "Snow Leopard". To see this mysterious Contents folder, press the Control key and click on the application with the mouse button. A pop-up window will be shown. Select "Show Package Contents" and the folder will open up into a window where you can navigate within the sub-foders or open files as usual. In the case of info.plist, try BBEdit or Xcode to edit the XML text file and look for Minimum System Version.

Adobe CS5 and 5.5 Extensions Manager not installing extensions

Changes to the OS X "Lion" architecture over the several updates has required Adobe to issue a bug fix to its latest Creative Suite 5.x software packages to repair a problem of the Extensions Manager not working. The problem, noticed by users since December 2011 (suggesting a recent Adobe CS5.x update could have contributed to the problem), has been the inability of the Extensions Manager to install extensions at the users' discretion.

The patches to fix this problem are:

  1. For CS5.0, download and install this patch.
  2. For CS5.5, download and install this patch.

NOTE: Consider restarting your Mac in Safe Mode to ensure no Adobe programs are active. And do keep the Adobe CS5 programs in their original default installation locations, or you may have to reinstall all the applications again.

Are we there yet?

Adobe CS5 and 5.5 Extensions Manager not installing extensions

The RAM hungry nature of the 64-bit OS X "Lion" as well as running 64-bit applications is suggesting the next batch of Macintosh computers will have to come out with the minimum 8GB RAM as a factory standard. While OS X "Lion" can manage the memory at 4GB, it tends to use the hard disk too often to handle the limited memory, slowing things down considerably and resulting in extra wear and tear on the disk.

So apart from the new features of OS "Lion" where people are trying to use freeware tools such as Lion Designer 2.9.9 to fix or improve the new features, more RAM will also be called for at least in the hardware side of things.

Alternatively, consider running applications in 32-bit mode using the Get Info option. Or check out freeware utilities designed to mass convert these apps to 32-bit mode with ease.

OS X 10.7.3 Update (third attempt!)

In this post-Steve Jobs era, it is likely Apple is starting to settle down with the task of creating a quality OS for all Mac users. Changes in the policy of how often to update the OS has changed to approximately once a year compared to the once every 3 or 4 months under Steve Jobs' rule. And OS X "Lion" is experiencing some important changes to ensure greater stability and reliability for the long term.

Today's release (5 March 2012) is no exception. The latest OS X update is a third attempt at making version 10.7.3 more stable. And so far many Lion users are not disappointed (i.e., more importantly, no new and unexpected bugs to be reported on this occasion). Excellent. But will the latest update be enough to convince the other two-thirds of Mac users still running older versions of OS X to make the upgrade? Only time will tell. The critical thing to remember for the company is to make sure all annoyances are removed from the OS, make it super efficient and easy-to-use, and ensure adequate flexibility for users to decide which features they want installed or turned on/off.

The latest OS X "Lion" 10.7.3 supplemental update (currently 1.26GB in size) is available from here.

Safari 5.1.5 more backward compatible for Mac users running it in 32-bit mode

Safari 5.1.5 has been released on 26 March 2012 to fix a bug when running in the 32-bit mode (but not critical if you are running your machine in 64-bit mode) that prevented users from running older 32-bit version plug-ins and accessing a variety of web sites. Enough Mac users (PC users running the Windows version of Safari have been happy with its backward compatibility while running on Windows XP SP2) had requested the improvements and Apple has kindly listened. Thanks.

Apple Java for OS X Lion Update 7

A new update on 7 April 2012 to make all your Java experiences on the web and elsewhere seem stable, secure and reliable. This one is suppose to stop the Flashback Trojan from automatically downloading after users visit websites infected by it. The trojan attempts to steal your username and passwords to web sites you have visited in cookies. The improvements were slow to come since the Java update was available since mid-February, but better late than never. Originally the first update came out as Apple Java for OS X Lion Update 7, but Apple has had a quick turnaround on 13 April 2012. In fact, the file you should now download is Apple Java for OS X Lion 2012-003, which is effectively Apple Java for OS X Update 8.

Don't have Java installed on OSX "Lion"? Don't assume you are free from the malware. Apple has provided a Flashback Malware Removal Tool just for you.

Hopefully all sorted now.

Or you could always upgrade your OS to OSX "Mountain Lion" when it gets released later in 2012 for a hopefully more secure experience (no guarantees!). Certainly the availability of a technology called "sandboxing" in OSX "Lion" (and available in OSX "Mountain Lion") will help to keep running applications playing within prescribed limits as another level of protection (although it won't stop a user from choosing to download something that is infected and run on his/her OS). Obviously good for Apple and Microsoft to know people are likely to be encouraged by trojans and other electronic nasties to upgrade their OS if it means making more money. However, there are many things you can do right now on your existing OS to protect yourself and be just as effective. See at the end of this article for advice.

And you probably can't go wrong installing the latest Security Update 2012-001 for that extra peace of mind. As this is now bundled with Apple's OS X Lion 10.7.3 Update, further details about the security improvements can be found in this article. Other general information about Apple's OS X Lion 10.7.3 Update available from here.

Could Apple be helping to set the scene for users to upgrade their OSX software?

With security now at the forefront of many users's minds (as of May 2012), the timing for the discovery and release of information about a new and rather severe security flaw in OSX "Lion" versions 10.7.0 to 10.7.2 is suggesting Apple could be encouraging users of older OSX software (either an early version of OSX "Lion" or any OSX version prior to this) to upgrade, if not to OSX "Lion", then definitely OSX "Mountain Lion" when it is expected to be released later in 2012.

It is unclear whether Apple is directly involved, but it is claimed that security researcher David Emery has found a security flaw. This is believed to have been caused by an unnamed Apple programmer "accidentally" (the word used by David) left a debug flag on in OX "Lion" resulting in users' FileVault 1 passwords appearing unencrypted in the debug log file (which is stored in the system files outside the encrypted area set by FileVault 1). This only occurs after users have upgraded to OSX "Lion" version 10.7.3. To resolve this issue, you will have to turn off the old FileVault 1 technology, clear the old debug log file containing the compromising password details (although this is no guarantee), and turn on FileVault 2 with whole disk encryption. As David said:

"This is worse than it seems, since the log in question can also be read by booting the machine into firewire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk or by booting the new-with-LION recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition and read the file. This would allow someone to break into encrypted partitions on machines they did not have any idea of any login passwords for."

Emil Protalinski put it more bluntly the severity of this security flaw in the following quote:

"This leak of credentials could be catastrophic for businesses that have relied on the FileVault feature in Macs for years. FileVault is intended to protect sensitive information stored by providing an encrypted user home directory contained in an encrypted file system mounted on top of the user's home directory. If an employee has their Mac stolen, however, anything they encrypted, as well as anything that requires those credentials, can be accessed without hindrance if the vulnerable configuration is in place.

This also affects Time Machine backups to external drives. If your hard drive is stolen, it doesn't matter that the backups require a key to read. The backed-up log file contains the required password stored in clear text. This means your compromised password has been backed up for the long term." (Protalinski, Emil. Apple security blunder exposes Lion login passwords in clear text: ZDNet. 6 May 2012.)

However, users should not expect OSX "Mountain Lion" (to be released later in 2012) to be perfect in the security aspects either. Indeed, each major OSX upgrade version will come with a certain amount of improvements to the known security issues mentioned in previous versions. Yet something will always be left behind.

Occasionally Apple may genuinely be unaware of certain security problems brought to its attention by security experts and some Apple users. When this happens, a security update or two will be provided especially where the problems are serious enough. But on the whole, there is a tendency by Apple to leave behind a number of security lapses in its software (accidentally or otherwise) and waits until someone mentions the problems. Then, depending on the version of the software, Apple will usually patch only the latest version of its software as a means of encouraging users of the older software to upgrade.

In the above example, Apple has not yet provided a solution for users of older OSX software, and probably never will.

If you need any reasonable security solution under OSX, enable at the very least FileVault 2 with complete disk encryption under the latest OSX "Lion" version.

For older OSX versions, try Disk Utility to create DMG files with a minimum of 256-bit encryption level and never use the Keychain Access to store the passwords. Use DMG files to store only the most sensitive information you need encrypted and out of the prying eyes of family members, friends, Apple Inc. and other software manufacturers etc. This leaves only those people in the military and in certain clandestine organisations with the tools to bypass these encrypted DMG files. And even then, there are third-party solutions that will provide well over 1,024-bit "military-grade" encryption. However, for most purposes, the DMG encryption method, together with secure trashing, remains the only effective solution you have for now under any OSX version.

As far as greater security for your internet access is concerned, it is recommended that you disable Java, use Private Browsing in Safari, keep your anti-virus software running up-to-date and all the time, and consider installing a powerful utility like Little Snitch to prevent those invisible outgoing information from being sent to third-party servers (it effectively stops Trojans from stealing your personal information too). And make sure no body has installed a keystroke recording utility if you leave your computer unattended for extended periods of time (as this is how people will extract your passwords).

Apple releases OSX "Lion" 10.7.4 update

Within a day or two of the above security iconcern coming to light, Apple has released the 10.7.4 update (perhaps to alleviate public concern about the security quality of the latest OSX software). While some improvements have been made, unfortunately not all issues and problems noted by users since version 10.7.0 have been addressed with this update. As one user stated:

"Wonderful new innovative features, old bugs still plague the system. Don't expect fixes to Mail.app's tendency to chew your battery and processor, Calendar snafus, Address Book index problems, and incredibly slow wifi, with some general app crashing across the board." (MacUpdate.com. 10 May 2012.)

Could Apple be spending more care and time getting OSX "Mountain Lion" right this time around?

Still, one must be happy to see some improvements, as can be seen by the list of changes Apple has mentioned. Among the changes include a swath of improvements to local network and internet in terms of more reliable communication protocol and allow certain features like saving files to an SMB server and logging into Active Directory accounts. More improvements to SMB in terms of print queue issues. These ones are critical for businesses and any users needing to perform work using any network service.

Apple has also fixed up permission flags when users select the "Apply to enclosed items..." option in the Get Info window.

The rest of the changes are generally standard improvements to Safari bringing it to version 5.1.7 for greater stability, and the RAW image compatibility files needed to handle a range of new digital cameras for Adobe Photoshop or camera enthusiasts and professionals.

Perhaps there exists other improvements in the wake of the recent security issue with FileVault 1 passwords as it contains the latest Security Update 2012-002, but it is unclear at this stage if the FileVault 1 security problem has been fixed.

The update is available from here.

Apple releases OSX "Lion" 10.7.5 update

Released on 19 September 2012, the update is primarily to fix up the Launchpad problem where it may get rearranged after a restart, better reliability of Wi-Fi on an iMac of the late 2009 and newer models, fixes up a problem for Spotlight in not being able to properly searc an SMB server, and greater compatibility in connecting to Active Director servers.

Full client combo update available here (1.8GB).

Is it worth your trouble to update Apple (Xerox) printer drivers for OSX 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8?

We say this since the old motto, "If it ain't broke, don't fix" usually applies in the IT world. It is not a critical security update or anything. Just something to increase the compatibility of your computer to handle different Xerox printers. This Apple (Xerox) Printer Update 2.3 may only be useful if you have purchased the most recent Xerox printers and need your Mac to properly communicate with them. If you have a trusty old Xerox printer that works fine, do you want to risk creating more problems by applying this update? Our guess, probably not. But if you do want to update, try installing the update on another OSX startup disk partition and connect your printers. Does the update work? You lucky person, Apple has been good to you this year.

Apple Security Update 2013-002

At the same time as OSX "Mountain Lion" 10.8.4 was released on 5 June 2013, Apple hasn't forgotten the "Lion" users out there. Apple has kindly provided you with this security update.

Java 1.6 2013-004 Update

Apple has released Java 1.6 2013-004 Update, raising it to version 1.6.0_51. More details are available from here.

Apple Security Update 2013-003

More security improvements to keep Mac users of this OS version happy (yes, you are still loved by Apple). Of course, no one will ever know how secure your Mac really is, and how many security updates it will take to fix everything. At any rate, Apple Security Update 2013-003 is available for download. So far, no obvious signs of a problem during installation.

Could Apple be providing top quality installers with useful improvements at last? Keep up the good work.

Apple Java 2013-005

Released as of 16 October 2013 is this update, thought to be essential for improved security and reliability of Java-based apps and Javascripts on web pages.

Oracle Java 7 Update 45

This update for OS X Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks users has been released as of 16 October 2013. For Windows 64-bit machines, download from here.

Apple Security Update 2014-002

More security improvements. Apple has decided to divide the security updates into three separate updates to cover Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks given the amount of changes Apple has done to each operating system. The easiest is probably to use the Software Update menu to download your particular security update. But if for any reason you lose access to this and need an alternative approach, try this link. For the Lion Server version, try this link.

OS X bash UNIX shell security bug

A UNIX security bug has been identified on 24 September 2014 in relation to the bash UNIX shell command used by OS X and Linux. The problem, known as the Shellshock security flaw and identified by security experts as CVE-2014-7169, allows third-party hackers to use the bash UNIX shell command to control your OS remotely via an untrusted software application downloaded from the internet and run continuously as a malware daemon app in the background while your computer is online. Apple, Inc. has issued a security patch on 29 September 2014 for three OS X versions to cover this main Shellshock issue and another known as CVE-2014-6271, but not all UNIX Shellshock exploits have been patched according to ZDNet:

"Testing by ZDNet showed that while the patch fixed the issues outlined in the original CVE-2014-6271 report and CVE-2014-7169, OS X remains vulnerable to CVE-2014-7186."

Indeed, there appears to be a number of other Shellshock exploits not mentioned by ZDNet that can be patched right now. And the worse one that will permit more serious remote code execution is identified as CVE-2014-6278. This one has not yet been patched by Apple. In fact, the Apple patch merely raises the UNIX bash version from 3.2.51(1) to 3.2.53(1), but the current and most secure version is now 4.3.27(1). It means Apple has not updated certain open source software components of its OS such as UNIX and its various commands for a long time. Perhaps too much focus on iPhone 6 and iOS8 (and still they have not been tested properly, especially the iPhone 6 Plus, by the company's own Quality Assurance department assuming it does actually exist somewhere deep in some hidden room)? And now with the imminent release of OS X Yosemite, we can see where the company's priorities lie. Fingers crossed (but don't hold your breath) that Apple will soon provide a complete and user-friendly security patch. Alternatively, here is the manual method of updating to the latest bash shell script command for OS X "Lion" and higher versions (please note that this method does work on OS X Snow Leopard):

  1. Download bash-4.3.27-10.4u.zip.
  2. Uncompress the ZIP file.
  3. Move the file bash-4.3.27-10.4u to the home directory folder you are currently logged into (it will be in your Users folder). Remember, you must have Admin access for the next steps to work.
  4. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.
  5. Type the following UNIX shell commands in the order shown to back up your current bash and sh commands and copy the new file into the right location, and make sure you make no spelling mistakes:

    exec tcsh
    chmod +x bash-4.3.27-10.4u
    sudo mv /bin/bash /bin/bash_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/bash
    sudo mv /bin/sh /bin/sh_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/sh
    bash --version

  6. You should see the version of bash has been updated to 4.3.27(1).
  7. As a further test, type:

    env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test"

  8. You should see the text "this is a test" and nothing else. If it says "vulnerable", it means you have not applied the patch correctly. Try again.
  9. Restart your computer.
  10. Delete bash-4.3.27-10.4u from the home directory folder (you don't need it anymore).
  11. In Finder, choose Go to Folder under the Go menu. Type /bin and press the Go button. Now trash the bash_old and sh_old files, restart the computer, and empty the trash.

Now you should have the highest security protection available at this time.

If you intend to use this basic Apple patch or the above complete manual patch method, remember that it will only be useful if your computer regularly accesses the internet and especially if you host various network services using Apache as well download and run various software applications. Even if you do not apply the patch, Apple claims the default settings of OS X has already provided reasonable protection to Mac users, so it isn't critical. It is only for those advanced UNIX users with serious network needs that ought to apply the patch. As an Apple spokesperson said:

"Bash, a UNIX command shell and language included in OS X, has a weakness that could allow unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable systems. With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users."

The support provided by Apple to patch this security issue only goes back to OS X Lion. OS X Snow Leopard users will miss out. Here are the download locations (3.2MB file size):

  1. OS X Lion security patch.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion security patch.
  3. OS X Mavericks security patch.
  4. OS X Yosemite should receive the abovementioned full manual fix of the latest bash version. But if not, Apple has mentioned providing some kind of a fix to this issue in the Yosemite Gold Master 2 edition. Therefore, the final official 1.0 release to the public when it comes out before the end of 2014 will have the same fix applied.

Not much information is revealed publicly by the company about the security bug from the Apple web page (OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion, OS X Mavericks), but you can learn more from here.

Security Update 2015-004 not provided to OS X Lion users

A major vulnerability has been discovered in October 2014. Further details can be found in OS X Mavericks and OS X Mountain Lion. Although Apple has provided a fix via Apple's Security Update 2015.004, unfortunately this update will not be available for OS X Lion. Apple recommends users upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion (or preferably OS X Yosemite).