Mountain Lion Day

If you’re going to upgrade your Mac to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, then you’re going to want to take a look at this article that will help you get ready for the upgrade…

Millions of Mac users all over the globe have been patiently waiting for the OS to be released so they can download it and upgrade their supported Mac to the new OS.  That last link is especially important for new upgraders, as it contains all of Mountain Lion’s Technical Specification Requirements, like supported models, RAM, disk space, etc.

A couple-three points on general requirements:

  1. If you aren’t running at least OS X 10.6.8 (the latest version of Snow Leopard) or later on your supported Mac, you’ll need to upgrade to it before upgrading to Mountain Lion. Users of Lion on supported Macs don’t need to worry about this point.
  2. Apple says you need a minimum of 2GB of RAM to run Mountain Lion. 4GB is better, 8GB or more is the sweet spot.
  3. Apple says you’ll need at least 8GB of available disk space.  Mountain Lion is a 4.5GB download. It needs another 3.5GB of temp space to do the upgrade, and the upgrade file eats itself after it executes. Make sure you make a copy of it before it runs so you don’t have to download it again if needed.

Before you get started on your upgrade, you need to do a couple of important tasks. If you don’t do all of these, the world isn’t going to end. You’re still going to be able to upgrade; but if you don’t, and you run into trouble, you’re gonna wish you had.  So, while they may make the task a bit longer, they’re probably the right thing to do.

  1. Bandwidth– It’s going to take a while to download the installer.  4.5GB takes a good while to pull down even on a good day, but ba-zillions of peoples are going to want to download Mountain Lion all at the same time. The best time to download is likely overnight.  So, you may want to wait…If you live in a bandwidth challenged area (like some rural area or back-40), you might want to make a trip to an Apple Store or a Starbucks or other free-Wi-Fi zone.  Apple isn’t going to deliver a Mountain Lion installer on a USB stick, like it eventually did with Lion.
  2. Backups – If you use Time Machine, make sure you have a good backup if you plan to restore applications, music or other content on clean install systems.
  3. Backups – Make a system backup of your boot drive (if you have a Mac with more than one hard drive). Super Duper is my new favorite, and WILL save your bacon if you need to start the upgrade process over again.

Once you have everything ready to go and you start the upgrade, your biggest obstacle is going to be patience.  The upgrade is going to take a while, likely 90 minutes or so from start to complete finish; and it will include three or more reboots, depending on your system.  Give yourself something else to do and let the upgrade run its course.  Rushing things is only going to frustrate you and jeopardize the integrity of your Mac later.

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Discretion, Being the Better Part of Valor…

Here’s some of the BEST advice when it comes to making system upgrades; and something that everyone should consider before taking the upgrade plunge

Apple released Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 yesterday.  Like many, I pulled down the OS update yesterday, but I haven’t pulled the trigger just yet. Some have scratched their heads when I relay that bit of news, others look me in the eye and see wisdom.  Let’s take a quick look at that and digest it a bit.

Mountain Lion is NOT the same kind of upgrade to 10.7 Lion that Snow Leopard was to Apple’s 10.5 Leopard.  OS X 10.8 is a HUGE upgrade, and there are a few considerations that you need to take into account before you perform the upgrade, because, “once you buy the prize, it’s yours to keep.”  In other words, with OS X 10.7 Lion now removed from the App store and Apple Store shelves, if you make a mistake, recovery will likely be a long, painful and difficult road at best.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I’d wait a bit before upgrading to Mountain Lion.  I’ve run the Developer Previews on my Mac and you need to know that there are a number of apps out there that do NOT play and work well under it just yet.

If you’ve got a critical legacy app that you’re concerned about, you need to check Roaring Apps for a Mountain Lion compatibility rating.  The site rates the compatibility of a number of different apps and app versions and let s you know which ones will run, and how well they will run, on both Lion and Mountain Lion.

The biggest point here is that 3rd party app developers have only had the final Gold Master code for just over two weeks.  This means that while they may have been developing, tweaking and fixing things under Mountain Lion Developer Preview releases, they’ve had less than 21 days to test, tweak, fix and resubmit bug app updates to Apple for all of their Mountain Lion compatible apps.


I’ve been a software quality and testing professional for more than 20 years. On an operating system update as large as Mountain Lion, this clearly isn’t enough time to work out all the kinks.

So, here’s my recommendation to most everyone wondering if they should take the plunge now, or if they should wait – I’d wait.

If you’re a regular consumer, I’d wait about a week or two, giving app developers additional time to submit updates to their apps not only to the Mac App Store, but their own web stores and other download sites, like Soft32.

If you’re a small business user, I’d give it a couple of months at least. Not only do you want 3rd party app updates to come through, you want Apple to have time to issue an update to the OS and make sure that there aren’t any other hidden pot holes or bumps in the road.

If you simply MUST be an early adopter and install Mountain Lion on a machine you’re going to be using pretty much every day, then you need to make certain that you provide feedback to both Apple as well as the vendors of the apps you are using so they know about the problems and challenges you’re bumping into.  It’s likely the only way the problems are going to get resolved quickly…

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Keep your PC running at peak performance System Cleaner

If I had a dime for every time I had a friend come to me and ask for help in getting their PC up and running after a crash, I could probably retire a rich and happy man. Windows is an interesting operating system, in that it might be the most popular on the desktop, but it certainly isn’t the most well-constructed. Its so easy to make it fall down. That’s one of the reasons why I like applications like System Cleaner. It’s a Registry and optimization tool for Windows.

System Cleaner is an advanced registry cleaner and system optimization tool that cleans, repairs and optimizes your PC to minimize seizures and crashes. With System Cleaner, you will see an immediate increase in PC performance and a decrease in crashes. System Cleaner allows you to quickly and easily scan for issues on your PC and then repair them in a single action. All major tasks, such as removing junk files, defragmenting hard drives, repairing registry errors, optimizing your internet connection and identifying security vulnerabilities can be done with just a couple of mouse clicks.

System Cleaner has an automatic maintenance mode that allows you to clean and optimize your PC to keep your computer running like new. Automatic Maintenance allows you to perform maintenance tasks to keep your PC in top shape. If you’re not sure what’s on your computer or how it got there, System Cleaner’s Disk Cleaner can show you and help you keep your computer running clean.

If you’re an old computing pro like me, its often easy to forget how many programs you’ve got installed, have uninstalled or deleted or the number of files that were copied to and from it, and so on. Most of these “tracks” are still sitting somewhere on your computer, and Disk Cleaner can help you recover all the wasted space used by this junk information.

When your PC’s performance starts to tank, the Registry is often the first place you need to look System Cleaner offers a way to help you look at the Windows Registry. Its a set of data files used to help Windows how it looks, operations and ultimately, where programs store their data. Over time, parts of the registry become invalid or point to locations that no longer exist. Registry Cleaner allows you to find and resolve all the registry problems that can cause errors and unwanted PC behavior. After using Registry Cleaner to identify and remove problems, the recently invalid entries removed leave empty spaces, meaning that the size of the registry remains unchanged. System Cleaner can condense and optimize the Registry. Loading a smaller registry is faster than loading a big one.

Read full Review | Download System Cleaner

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Scan, fix and repair issues on your computer with Reimage

The Windows Registry is a touchy thing. Screw up your Registry, and I don’t care how great your PC is. The performance is going to tank. This is one of the reasons why I like Reimage. It’s a Swiss army knife utility for windows.

With Reimage, you can perform a quick scan of your PC’s Windows operating system. This will help you uncover specific information that will help you understand the problems your system has and what needs to be repaired. While the Registry is one of the items it scans, Reimage does a lot more.

Reimage scans for security threats. Malware including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, dishonest adware and other malicious and unwanted software are easily identified. Any files that have been tagged as malicious and harmful to your system will be deactivated and quarantined.

If your PC is having hardware issues, such as low memory, hard disk speed, CPU power and temperature, Reimage can recommend solutions for you. For example, if your PC’s CPU temperature is too high, you’ll be advised to clean your cooling fan. If the scan detects low memory, you’ll be advised to add more, etc.

Reimage is also the only PC repair service that has the ability to reverse the damage done to your operating system by replacing any damaged or missing files on a Windows operating system. It does this with the use of a continuously updated online database of over 25,000,000 updated essential components. Every time you run the Reimage program, it will immediately download the latest version and files you’ll need for a successful repair.

Read full Review | Download Reimage

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Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

continue reading

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One year of Windows 7 Service Pack 1

It’s a long established practice that Microsoft have continued – releasing critical updates, security add-ons and new features to their operating systems through a series of additional ‘packs’. The latest operating system is no exception, with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 being released in February 2011.

Twelve months since the launch, Service Pack 1 (SP1) has met with mixed reception. The pack includes the standard security coding patches and improvements, which affect very little of the user end experience – in contrast to, say, the Windows XP Service Pack 2, which introduced a series of new facilities and functions that dramatically changed how you interacted with your computer.

While most users found that there were no issues installing this latest SP1, some running ‘mature’ copies of the system found initial difficulties with compatibility of third-party software. This is nothing new and tends to affect all service pack roll-outs. As a result, many experienced users decided to sit tight and hold off, allowing other PC consumers to be the guinea pigs.

The biggest criticism to be leveled at SP1 is that it does little to improve the experience of using your PC. Yes, there may be a host of back-end coding adaptations that further bolster the security of your machine, but these aren’t particularly exciting for day-to-day users.

read full review | download Windows 7 SP1

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HP & WebOS – What does its Loss mean, really?

In a mobile world currently dominated by iOS and Android, does the loss and then open sourcing of WebOS really matter?

I’ve been in mobile devices most of my career. I cut my teeth on them. I’ve watched some devices and operating systems grow up, grow old and die. PalmOS, WindowsCE and Windows Mobile are a few. WinMo was killed for Windows Phone, and its totally different.

WebOS with its cards motif was a big step forward and a huge step away from Palm’s traditional PalmOS. The hardware was ok, the OS was pretty good; but Palm lost their momentum and wasn’t able to turn it around.

Palm mothballed the OS and sold it to HP. HP promised to do something with it, but they couldn’t get it together either. They initially decided to let the OS die, but later decided to revive it and open source it. Its been a number of weeks since that announcement. I can’t help but wonder what the impact of that development means at this time.

In a word or two…not much.

HP’s official development and work with WebOS has ended. They’ve given the software to the development community to tweak and use as they like. Right now, there aren’t any CURRENT devices using the open sourced (or any) version of WebOS. Unless a major hardware manufacturer or OEM decides to go that way, you likely won’t see it, either.

So again, what does that mean? Will it make a difference in an iOS and Android dominated market?

I don’t think so. The iPhone is the iPhone and will continue to grow in popularity all over the world. Android will continue in current and new devices, and be as diverse as the day is long. Windows Phone will continue to chip away at both; and RIM will likely disappear,  regardless of what WebOS does or doesn’t do.

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Nokia Windows 8 tablet to hit the stores in early 2012

With analysts predicting an explosion in computer tablets sales over the next four years, Nokia have joined forces with Microsoft in a bid to break Apple’s iron grip on the market.

The new Nokia Windows 8 tablet which is set to hit the stores some time in 2012 has been designed to seriously challenge the might of the iPad.

Yet, exactly what special attributes will this “new kid on the block” posses to make it a serious contender for Apple’s heavyweight belt. And will its potential success dramatically alter the course of Nokia’s future and fortunes.

Nokia have already tied their colors to Microsoft’s mast and launched a number of Windows Phone handsets in a bid to rejuvenate its smartphone line-up and keep pace with not only Apple, but other rivals such as Samsung that use Google’s Android operating system.

Now the two technological giants are yet again pooling their impressive resources and attempting to make inroads into Apple’s dominance by launching their very own tablet.

Nokia is no stranger to tablets. In 2007 they introduced the unsuspecting public to the Nokia N810, but the keyboard sporting device was always doomed to failure in the same year that the iPhone was busy revolutionizing technology and the way we interact with it.

Other rivals of Apple have already lost millions trying to compete on level terms with the iPad, so how will Nokia’s foray into this difficult market be any different.

For a start the Nokia tablet’s operating system will be the yet to be released Windows 8 software, which will attract hordes of die-hard Microsoft adherents and bait the curiosity of those slightly disappointed with the limitations of the iPad.

Microsoft is still to confirm the exact release of Window 8, but with the company promising to update the platform every three years, it will be due for release some time in 2012, and all Microsoft updates generate mass interest in the technology loving public.

Microsoft has already committed itself to the tune of one billion dollars in ensuring that Nokia’s Windows Phone competes on a level playing field with Apple’s iOS and the Android, and it is guaranteed they will maintain the same levels of focus and commitment to make the Nokia Windows 8 tablet a success.

Since its launch in January 2010, Apple has led the charge in the tablet market and has shifted more than 40 million units. It’s only rivals to date have had an appalling reaction in terms of sales. At the last count, BlackBerry maker RIM had only shipped 700,000 of its PlayBooks and after only 48 days Hewlett-Packard canceled its ill-fated TouchPad.

The last time Nokia made a major foray into the world of computers, was in 2009 with the small laptop – Booklet 3G, and that has remained a niche product, but with the backing of Microsoft and the excitement being generated by Windows 8, the market is Nokia’s for the taking.

As Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said earlier this November, “There’s a new tablet opportunity coming. We see the opportunity. Unquestionably, that will change the dynamics of the tablet market.”

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