Lasting Value – On the Future of Our Older Macs

There is no denying that the world of Mac is changing. The dramatic success of iOS first had a significant impact on Mac OS X back in the days of Snow Leopard.

Snowy was always billed as a release not focused on features, but on stability, and it took a little while longer to arrive than was originally announced. We waited 22 months for it to grace the Apple Store shelves, but at the time, this made a lot of sense — we accepted that Apple’s teams were working hard on their iOS products. Snow Leopard may not have brought us ‘shiny’, but I for one was quite happy to settle with ‘stable’.

Since that time, that narrow focus on iOS has broadened back out. Lion brought some iOS concepts back to the Mac, as well as introduced iCloud. We now await OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. Scheduled to be released a mere year after Lion, we are promised even more features ‘inspired by iPad’.

Wait a second. What was that? It is due to arrive this summer. Just one year after Lion was released.

A new release of OS X hasn’t come so quickly since the operating system was very young and was still being established and stabilised.

This strikes me as quite a shift, and it brings me to an important issue — how does this affect the lifespans of the Apple products we buy?

[Read more…]

Taming Lion: A Few Months On

With the release of Mac OS X Lion, many of the fundamental Macintosh concepts to which we have grown accustomed began to change. We were released from the heavy burden of having to click ‘Save’ periodically (in some apps at least), with Auto-Save and Versions. We welcomed in Launchpad, the iOS-inspired way of firing up our favourite apps. We even had the scroll direction reversed.

In the first few days of using Lion full-time, I found myself struggling with some of these changes. It took some time re-learning which way to swipe my fingers to move down a document, and I often found myself puzzled by some of the dialogue boxes inviting me to ‘Unlock’ or ‘Duplicate’ my files.

Several months into using Lion, have things got easier? How has the transition gone? [Read more…]

My Second Apple Store Opening Experience

Few would that disagree that Apple retail stores seem to inspire enthusiasm few other retail outlets can. I don’t know if it is the Apple brand itself, the beautiful design and attention to detail of the stores, or just the free WiFi, but I have never yet been able to pay a visit to an empty Apple Store!

A new store opening is a particularly special occasion. I was lucky enough to go to the opening of the WestQuay store in Southampton, UK, back in 2007 — but this time, it was the turn of the new Festival Place store in Basingstoke, UK.

This new store is particularly convenient for me, being only a 20 minute train ride away. The peace of mind one gets from knowing that knowledgeable people and repairs are easy to access is particularly important. This is perhaps one of the things that sets the Apple retail store concept apart from other tech retailers — it genuinely is not just about making the sale, it’s about the whole experience, including sales, supporting new and old users, training, learning and repair. [Read more…]

Start Taking Control of Startup

On Windows computers, startup programs are a frequent cause of slow down — startup slow down, perhaps. Of all those apps that Aunt Betty has downloaded and installed, a large number have unilaterally decided they’re important enough to run every time the computer starts. The consequence, of course, is that the computer now takes five minutes to ‘sort itself out’ and be ready to use after hitting the power button.

On the Mac, apps tend to be slightly better citizens about not starting up on each boot without a good reason — or without asking you first, and it’s usually easier to take control of the situation, but it can still be worth taking a look at what’s in this list if you’re having problems, or just want to see what is going on with your Mac.

So, in this article, I’ll be examining startup items in Mac OS X and showing you how to take control over what gets to run right after that familiar chime. [Read more…]

Securing your Mac – Safari Security

A web browser is an application we rely on a lot. From simply reading articles and catching up with news, to checking our email and banking online, it is the interface into much of what we do online.

That also means a web browser is exposed to a lot of potential security risks — and shoulders significant responsibility for keeping the stuff you do online separate, private where necessary, and safe. In this post, I’ll look at the Mac’s default browser, Safari, and some of the things you can do to enhance and ensure it is running as securely as possible. [Read more…]

Securing your Mac – Sharing (Too Much)

Sharing files on your home network is fantastically convenient. Mac OS X makes it especially easy to access others’ shared files too, because it all shows up front and centre in the Finder — well, actually it’s left-aligned, in the sidebar, but you get the point.

Making your Mac behave as a server, even if it is just for accessing your stuff at home, is something you do need to be aware of when it comes to security. Sharing your files on your home network is great — but are you sure you’re not unintentionally sharing too much when you leave the house with your MacBook?

In this second post in my Mac Security series, we will be looking at sharing, servers, and switching things off. [Read more…]

Securing your Mac – Trust and the Firewall

“Macs don’t get viruses, do they?”

It’s a question I’ve been asked many a time by somewhat less tech savvy friends. There’s a perception that the Macintosh is impervious to security issues, and while it’s true that your Mac can’t run the majority of nasty software out there (unless you’re running Windows on your Mac of course!), complacency is never a good idea!

In this series of articles for For Mac Eyes Only, I’ll be examining some basic steps you can take to ensure your Mac is kept safe and secure. In this first post, I’ll be looking at some basic principles and then delving into the Mac OS X Firewall. [Read more…]

Thoughts on the Mac App Store

App Store iconMac OS X 10.6.6 and the brand new Mac App Store were released just days ago, as promised, even showing up a few hours before the official 9 AM PST start time. I found myself, like many other Mac fanatics, breaking open the virtual shrink-wrap on the new store and having a look around.

Making it Easy

The Mac App Store is likely to have its biggest impact on new and, dare I say less geeky, Mac users. A couple of weeks from now, when all the new Macs that people will buy are pre-loaded with 10.6.6, finding and purchasing third-party applications is going to be a lot easier. The very fact that the Mac App Store is so familiar — and installed right there on the Dock — means that many more people will be able to be connected with high-quality, very useful applications that they would never previously have known about.

While there are concerns of another ‘race to the bottom’ with regards to pricing, it seems more than credible that developers will also do very well out of the Mac App Store, just because they will be reaching more eyes than before and will shift more copies of their code.

So, it’s great for new Mac users, it’s great for developers. The App Store is a great success on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, but is it really the right fit for the Mac? [Read more…]