A few observations from a little over a week on the final release of OS X Mavericks (which is worth $20 and I still cannot believe Apple released for free):
- Safari 7 might be good enough to switch to permanently. It just absolutely flies and its ability to pick out links from my Twitter timeline and present them as a continuous reading list is really nice (unless a friend gets hacked and sends spam, anyway).
- I just replaced the battery in my MacBook Pro on Wednesday, and I am getting better life out of it with Mavericks than any prior operating system version. Over the last few years, Apple has been steady at work bringing features back to OS X from iOS. Seeing what they’ve learned from engineering for mobile power consumption come back to the Mac just enhances the value of the hardware that much more. I particularly like the ability to see which programs have the most “energy impact” (their terms, not mine) on the machine in Activity Monitor — a great nod to power users from a company that is increasingly struggling with power users, IMO.
- The UI feels much more responsive. It really is impressive how my aging MacBook Pro still feels fresh and plenty fast even on the newest OS X upgrade — I’ve gotten over four great years out of it and it looks like that will continue for at least one more year. I am more than a little surprised to hear that people are having issues with performance of all things — by all measures, performance is up across the system.
- I never knew just how many sites disabled form autofill until the advent of iCloud Keychain. I wonder if sites will rethink their policy on form autofill for login pages now that Safari can generate strong passwords on autofill-enabled forms. I also wish iCloud Keychain would have gone as far as its MobileMe predecessor; it gets awfully inconvenient to retype some exceedingly complex passwords in locations other than Safari.
- Multi-monitor support in Mavericks is such an improvement over the Lions it isn’t even funny, but it still has some room to improve. My typical workstation setup puts my MBP directly underneath my external monitor; the screens are positioned to stack one on top of the other. It works well with one huge caveat: the Dock (which I align on the bottom of the screen) doesn’t follow me from screen to screen. It is undoubtedly difficult to get the Dock to take a vertical stack into account, I can imagine, but I can’t be alone in this configuration.
- I’ve signed up for push notifications from the New York Times; one has not yet come through, though. I’ll be interested to see what their editorial standards for triggering a push to Mavericks machines will be. (For those who might be wondering: Yes, I’m looking into how I can implement this on chswx.us.)
- Mavericks bundles PHP 5.4; this is working fine for WordPress development with my existing MySQL 5.5 install and the built-in Apache, though I think I’m going to switch to Homebrew versions of the aforementioned at some point in the near future (and trade Apache for nginx). I’ve decided to replace the built-in Vim 7.3 with a Homebrew-built version 7.4. The only major catch right now is getting the PHP xdebug module up and running, though I chalk that up to not putting too much time into trying to get it fixed (this machine won’t be my primary work machine shortly). I’m not seeing too many performance differences or other issues otherwise.
I successfully updated to Mac OS X 10.7.3 the other day via Software Update, but there were a lot of people who didn’t. Looks like Apple is now pushing the entire 1.3GB Combo Update package at least temporarily until they find and fix the delta update.
For what it’s worth, 10.7.3 has been great so far. Wi-Fi after wake is much faster and I’m not quite seeing the discoloration issues I once was switching to my external monitor. Fingers crossed…
Looks like Mac OS X 10.7.3 is close. I’m hoping that’s the case, because I’ve suffered from an incredibly annoying bug where portions of the user interface are discolored when I attach or detach from an external monitor (a configuration I switch between a couple times a day). It’s not just me, so here’s hoping that a fix will be along sooner rather than later. 10.7.2 was a pretty rough build of Lion in general so it will be good to get an update.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Mac OS X Lion for the last few months — thus, I’m pretty excited for today’s release and plan on acquiring it as soon as bandwidth allows. I’m looking forward to many of the user interface changes in Lion, with full screen apps and Mission Control the things I’m looking forward to the most. I am an obsessive user of Spaces, so anything that can make that feature more intuitive and powerful I’m all for, and being able to take apps full screen will be incredibly beneficial to my as-yet-undiagnosed case of ADD. It’s not all golden: I could probably care a bit less about Launchpad, which arranges apps on the screen iOS-style, I think I will immediately turn reverse scrolling off and will make sure that the lights indicating running applications in the Dock are re-enabled. What are you looking forward to?
I’d noticed that Google Chrome (on my Mac, at least) was taking longer and longer to get started, and then I’d still have to wait for several minutes for any of my autocomplete history or favicons on the bookmarks bar to show up. As it turned out, I’d never cleared my history before, and that was really killing startup performance on what is otherwise a very, very fast browser. Of course, after clearing my history, all the URL auto-complete history I’d built up over months of use has to be restored, and that is mildly frustrating — but not necessarily as frustrating as waiting for the browser to get started.
In the end, I didn’t have to go very far to find a Mac-native Twitter client that was capable of real-time User Streams; there was one already in my Applications folder: Echofon for Mac. I had forgotten that they had opened User Streams up to every user (and not just paid Pro users). After self-updating, User Streams was turned on for all my accounts. Echofon is tiny and sits out of the way — really what I want from a Twitter client (though interface-wise I still think the enigmatic Tweetie for Mac wins). TweetDeck is just too immersive for passive Twitter usage, which is more of my mode these days.
Updated April 16, 2014 to reflect the new conference.weather.im XMPP server.
Many years ago, the Iowa Environmental Mesonet at Iowa State University established iembot, a service that relays National Weather Service products from each forecast office in real time. iembot messages are available using a Web-based interface, via Twitter (for example, I follow to receive products from the National Weather Service in Charleston), or via XMPP. While I’ve used all three methods, I far prefer XMPP — nothing beats the immediacy of receiving important messages in an IM client, and for me, weather messages certainly fit in that category. Thanks to Growl and Adium, two excellent (and open source) pieces of software that really make the Mac worth using, I’m able to do a number of cool things with the most important messages: sound an alarm, speak out the text of the alert, and even send a push notification to my iPhone when I’m not around (using another app, Boxcar, which has a Growl plugin).
My favorite Growl theme, Mono, has finally been updated to version 1.5 to fix strange display issues that cropped up with the Safari 5 release. 1.5 also seems to have a tighter appearance, which makes the theme even more attractive than it already was. Christopher Lobay’s other themes, Basics and the new Eleven, are also very sweet, but I like Mono best.
It’s been around a month since I pulled the trigger and made the Google Chrome beta channel (which I’ve since upgraded to the dev channel for extension support) the default browser on my Mac. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to where I can’t go back to Firefox now as my daily driver.
The three big reasons why Chrome reigns supreme? Speed, more speed, and WebKit. And now that extensions have come over to the Mac, there’s not too terribly many reasons to stick with Firefox anymore.
Random observations made on an approximately three-to-four day blogging hiatus that involved a great photowalk (the above photograph and two new images in the titlebar rotation being products of said photowalk; you can find the rest in my Flickr set), an epic lazy day spent with Windows 7, and other day-to-day snippets: Continue reading