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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Sweet Spot for Macs

I read a posting on today, which discussed how to downgrade from Lion to Snow Leopard. Why would you want to do that? Because Lion is in its awkward infancy as a consumer application, that’s why. Microsoft Office 2011 apparently has troubles with it. If you use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device that connects to your Mac using the AFP protocol,…you need to wait for an upgrade of some sort. Apple changed the rules regarding AFP and apparently some hardware vendors didn’t get the message. Or shell out the money for the Lion Developer Previews.

Which brings me to my point: If you bought a Mac between 2007 and June 2011, your Mac now lies in the lucky Sweet Spot, where it can boot both Lion and Snow Leopard. All those peripherals that depend on Snow Leopard’s retention of the Rosetta technology for PowerPC programs are still good with Snow Leopard. But you can also take a document that you needed Snow Leopard to acquire and use the new features of Lion upon that document.

In a sense, you’re back to where many users stood after the introduction of OS X. They needed their Classic OS programs to work. Unfortunately, some of those Classic OS programs only worked under full-blown Classic, not the OS X Classic environment. So you had to dual-boot between the two operating systems. As time went on and people didn’t upgrade old vital programs, those machines that could dual-boot became rarer and rarer, and more sought after.

So if your Mac can run both Snow Leopard and Lion, hold on to it! You have a valuable Mac .

I’ll bet this situation will occur again when Apple decides to switch processors from Intel to? I didn’t say it would be the ARM processors used in the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad and I certainly don’t know when. Based on Apple’s past pattern of behavior, though; I would say a switch would happen if Intel can’t wring out of the silicon the performance that Apple desires…and someone else can.

If that switch happens, remember to start updating your programs. Apple’s operating system will only retain the ability to run the programs for the Intel processor for a finite amount of time. Don’t be caught off-guard like the users of Quicken have been.

You Can’t Go Home Again

The article also makes another point. The new MacBook Air and the new Mac mini require drivers in the new Lion operating system to run. You can’t run Snow Leopard on these new machines. So I hope you didn’t get rid of your previous Mac if you need to need old programs on it. Did you check the Roaring site to see whether your vital program would run under Lion? If not…how will you bribe your kid or spouse to return the old machine? All I can say at that point is “”

Trackpad versus Touchscreen

Apple clearly differentiates between its computers with touchscreens, the iOS models; and the computers with trackpads. For those of you who want to try out a TrackPad, get over to the Apple Store and try out the Magic Trackpad, which Apple has placed by all of its desktop models. It’s sweet, as the kids say.

Windows computer makers, by contrast, have begun offering touchscreen desktop models. Both H-P and Dell offer all in ones with touchscreens in the basic system or as an option.

Which fashion of touch input device will users prefer? (I should mention the Wacom Bamboo Touch tablet, which has a USB interface and works with either Macs or Windows) I find the trackpad more convenient. I also have my monitors located at least a foot back from my head. Your mileage may vary.

A lot of pundits and ordinary users reference the touchscreens in the movie Minority Report. As I recall, Tom Cruise stood next to the displays, not sitting; and stood within a few inches of the display. I would compare it to working at a chalkboard or an easel.

I would also compare costs of the opposing touch devices. The Magic Trackpad cost me $70, with the Bamboo Touch going for $59 or less. A touchscreen monitor, on the other hand, costs a lot more than a comparable monitor without the touchscreen feature.

I will say that the two modes may come together. I can envision a 24” monitor that functions as a tablet when set on an easel. You would use it for graphics functions or presentations. Later on, you would set it in its cradle on your desk, where it would function as a conventional monitor. You might use a smaller tablet, a 7” to 10” size one, as a trackpad in this mode.

Any other ideas? E-mail me at

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