Some Additional Lion Thoughts

One thing that is hard about writing a review for yet-to-be-released software is there are only a handful of people that have used the software and typically those people are all geeks. This means that somethings, perhaps important things, get missed or are simply lacking in ‘coverage’.

I don’t care to read every review of Lion out there, but I feel like I didn’t do a few aspects of Lion enough justice in my initial review.

FileVault

I didn’t write a lot about FileVault in my review because I had only recently enabled it (I basically waded through the dev forum posts on FileVault 2 to make sure my computer wouldn’t melt upon enabling it before I turned it on). I have had it enabled for a while now and I have a few thoughts on it:

  1. I don’t know why you wouldn’t enable this. It is not like old FileVault as the entire disk is encrypted and this encryption is transparent to all Applications.
  2. John Siracusa has a great overview of it and reiterates my above statement: “The end result is that regular users will be hard-pressed to notice any reduction in performance with encryption enabled. Based on my experience with the feature in prerelease versions of Lion, I would strongly consider enabling it on any Mac laptop I plan to travel with.” That’s Siracusa saying it, not me. I completely agree.
  3. Again, if you have a portable Mac I strongly recommend that you enable FileVault. (Perhaps one exception being people who need maximum performance and have no concern for losing or having their laptop stolen.)
  4. You can use your computer while it is encrypting, budget about half a day depending on your disk size and type (smaller SSDs will be faster, larger HDDs will be slower).

I hated the last iteration of FileVault, but I love this version. The process is fully reversible leaving you little reason not to give FileVault a try.

Automatic Termination

On Episode 19 of the B&B Podcast I was talking with Shawn about my hatred for Launchpad. I mentioned that I thought it was poor because it would eventually lead users to using too much swap files given that the dock doesn’t show application status by default (more on this in a bit).

What I didn’t know is that Lion actually has a protocol called Automatic Termination. This allows Lion to close down your apps that support this command in order to reclaim RAM space. For more advanced users this probably seems a touch unnerving.

What will perhaps be more interesting is which developers choose not to support this (Yojimbo would be one I would think shouldn’t support this, ever). Though if an app supports the ‘restore’ functionality in Lion I don’t see any reason to not support Automatic Termination unless it is something that is only beneficial when it is running (again, Yojimbo).

I actually think this is a huge deal and a massive change for full-fledged OSes. This is basically Apple asking users to stop worrying about managing system resources and to start treating apps on your Mac the same way that you would in iOS.

Dock Dots

So the Dock by default does not show the application status dots. My Dock only has applications that are running in it and so I keep the dots turned off (they aren’t very attractive). I would suggest that until more apps get Automatic Termination support that you should turn the dots on. After a few months turn them off as it is likely that your Mac will just be better if you trust the OS to manage your RAM allocation. Again, likely.

The biggest problem I see with the Dock dots being off is that for the system to work well developers need to support auto-save, restore, and Automatic Termination all together — what could potentially make this default setting problematic is support being too slow in rolling out.

Option Key

Go crazy holding the option key in Lion before you click on things — there is a whole world of options and extras waiting to be discovered here.

Natural Scrolling

A lot of people seem to hate the new natural scrolling — leave it on for the next two weeks. At the end of those two weeks if you still hate it then you can turn it off. I bet after 6 days you forget all about it.

More

Shoot me an email, or an @reply on Twitter if there are any nagging questions that you have because somethings I just don’t think of mentioning.

Originally posted for members on: July 22, 2011
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