Yeah, I’ve got a few complaints about Lion

Make no mistake. My advice to you is that you unequivocally should be upgrading to Lion if you haven’t already.  Almost all apps that were working fine on Snow Leopard are working just fine in Lion (unless the developer of your software is enough of an asshole to not get with the program and support Lion.  From the nerdiest changes to polish in the user experience and UI overall, most everything is a huge step up.

There are a few exceptions, though.

No, it isn’t the change in default scrolling direction.  Yeah, yeah, it’s tinkering with years of muscle memory, but if you’ve been using it more than a few days and still are bitching about it, you really should verify that your cognitive function is up to snuff.

But my biggest complaint is about color. Like in the Finder. Where did it go?

My sidebar is this monochrome wasteland of icons with poor contrast. Hoping it was just a poor selection of icons, I quickly looked in CandyBar to see about replacing these icons pronto with some nice colorized ones, only to find that the icon files themselves have color, meaning that the Finder is putting a mask over these to eliminate color (there are also specific b&w sidebar icons if you dig in the /System folder, but even if you replace these, the mask remains).

If that wasn’t enough, Finder also helpfully replaces my folders’ unique icons (which I give them for easier identifiability) with the same icon for each folder, leaving me with no visual cue for which folder is which, besides name and position. Great.

Now, some people who know UI are jumping to Apple’s defense on this decision, saying that it’s about de-emphasizing the UI and emphasizing content. But it’s the freaking Finder! Files and folders ARE the content!  The option to have color icons in the sidebar will be a welcome (restored) feature for an OS X update, but I’m not holding my breath on this one, even though usability really took one for the team.

There are definitely some bugs here, too.  These will for sure be fixed in due time but in the meantime, they are a pain.  The biggest bug I’m experiencing is one in which the cursor will move to a far edge of your multi-monitor setup if you make a sudden fast motion with the mouse after it has sat still for a bit. It sounds like a small annoyance but in a day it gets impressively annoying. Safari 5.1’s new separate web rendering process (which was supposed to let you interact with a page as it renders but I’ve yet to see that happening) leaks memory like you wouldn’t believe. And the now all-Cocoa iTunes still manages to suck just as much as its part-Carbon predecessor. It astoundingly puts background audio encoding in a single thread when syncing, and scrolling through stuff is jerky when the app is busy. But at least the app is 64 bit now (so it’s welcome to consume more than four gigs of RAM as a single process, otherwise we don’t gain much from that).  Some aspects of performance are a bit better, but I was really hoping for more to be gained from the Cocoa-ification of iTunes. Multithreading an app like iTunes is a monumentally difficult task, though. Despite the great tools provided in Snow Leopard like Grand Central Dispatch, the issue still remains that the things you need to accomplish in a GUI app are really really difficult to split up into multiple smaller tasks that can be run simultaneously when they are all touching the same set of data. We’ll get there someday (I hope).

Now that I think of it, I really don’t have many bad things to say about Lion. I hate the lack of colors, and there are a few bugs.  That’s not so bad for a major OS release, I guess!

A new next-gen file system would have been really nice for Lion. It’s long, long overdue.  HFS+ is doing a great job with the insane demands I put on it, but it still has its issues.


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