Mar 10

Can this tablet thing be a massive fad?

Apple, Tech, iPhone 3 Comments »


I mean, who buys Hula Hoops, Furbies, and lava lamps no mo?

Farhad Manjoo lays out his case on how the iPad could be unbeatable, and how competitors may be just hoping that the tablet is a fad.

I know that the iPad was purchased more than any laptop from another manufacturer… but I can also sniff the fad.

I remember getting the first iPad… such a long couple of years ago. At first it was fun to explore the touch interface, and I carried it everywhere I went. I felt like a dork pulling it out for meetings, so I kept it tucked away, but it had its place.

Shortly thereafter however, I got a MacBook Air, which is by far the best computer I have ever owned. Comparing my iPad to my 17″ Macbook Pro was different to the new work of the light, small, SSD packing, powerful Macbook Air. At this point the iPad stayed in my bag so much more. It turned out that having a keyboard was a nice feature! As was this “hinge” thing that meant that I didn’t have to hold the device…. and I could have multiple windows on the same screen (which was nicer than putting my iPad in a keyboard dock say).

My iPad is now a niche product. I enjoy it for certain tasks, mainly content consumption, but it is niche. So…. maybe this is a fad! The iPad killer could be the Macbook Air! In fact, the killer could be an Air with a retina display and the ability to touch the screen and undock it!

That doesn’t work though, as the UI would then end up in old Windows stylus land. OS X isn’t ever going to be touch friendly like iOS. Mixing and matching iOS and OS X though? Mmmm.

Then I turn from myself, and I think about my Mum and mother-in-law. I got them both iPads in short order as I saw a consumer-oriented OS for the first time. Instead of being afraid of messing up their computer, or worrying about viruses and the like…. they were free to explore and get things done. They would never go back to an OS of yore. Surely this market is the lion share. Add to that the fact that iOS will grow and grow, and I think that the fad isn’t here chaps. Time to dig in and execute.

But, there lies the other problem that Farhad Manjoo articulated. Many have told me that iOS vs. Android will end up as MacOS vs. Windows. “History will repeat itself”. That assumes that the same natural forces are in play, and I think there are huge differences. One big one is that the CLONES can’t just come in and win here. I had a huge gulp when I HP bought Palm and I quickly saw that we couldn’t make a tablet for the same price as the iPad. HP. They have scale. And, they couldn’t do it. Apple loves their margins and all, but they have a lot of room to make life reaaal hard for any competitor. You can’t just make something meh and cheap and win.

Also, the nail in the coffin, we have seen the tablet in the future…. on Star Trek, as seen at the top of this entry. Maybe a hip flash is good enough.

Mar 06

Messages Beta, iCloud, Apple ID, so near yet so far.

Apple, Tech Comments Off

When I installed the Messages Beta, I was surprised to launch it and see two world colliding in such an obvious way:


One window from each world…. from AIM and iMessage. I agree with Francisco on how weak the beta is, and it once again got me frustrated on how we are far from the unified world that Apple has the power to make happen in their eco-system.

My assumption when iMessage came along was that finally my phone number and email (and Apple ID) were all joined together. The fruit of this would surely be the following: when someone sends me a message to my email, the Apple system knows my phone, and that it isn’t available on the iMessage system, and thus I end up with a text message. Now that, would be magical. Instead I found myself confused in a sea of “OK, so if you iMessage me using my email it will get to my various devices, but now I can’t text message you back”.

It was the same feeling that I have had with Apple ID’s for some time. In the world of my home media, I want to be able to share my media across the devices that my family uses. Ideally there would be a root account of some kind, but I could delegate, so my wife could see and share all of the media too. Instead I end up in a world of setting up the store / home media sharing with one ID and making sure they are all in sync.

Then we have iCloud.

It feels like we are so close to a system that “just works”, yet right now…. it feels so far.

Jan 02

The rise and fall of webOS is an epic tale; webOS != Web OS

webOS 12 Comments »

“WebKit remains not ready for prime time, because the Web cannot deliver yet.”

– Paul Mercer, creator of a non-Web OS

There has been a lot of chatter over the article on the HP Touchpad flop, which conflates success of the Touchpad with the success of webOS and even gets into anti-Web territory.

I do think that the HP Touchpad was doomed, mainly due to how it was released before ready, with the hardware of an iPad 1. It wasn’t fair.

The sad thing is that there is a great story behind the rise and fall of Palm (and webOS). I wasn’t there for all of it, but learned a lot from stories… and my time in the belly of the beast. Palm was a juxtaposition for me. On the one hand I met phenomenal engineers. They were hard working (working all hours of the day for my entire time there, and I know beyond), and cared a lot. Many of them came from Apple, and other great companies. Some folks are posting that Palm should have hired better caliber engineers, and that is just wrong….there were plenty there. The fact that they shipped webOS in the timeline that they did amazes me. The other side of the coin is one of dysfunction throughout the company. Going up against iOS (and later Android) was a tough proposition, but I really think that we coulda been a contender, and we shot ourselves in the foot time and time again.

The New York Times article quotes Paul Mercer heavily. It is important to know where those quotes are coming from. Paul is a technologist who left Apple to create the Pixo OS (which sold to Sun) and later created technology that Palm acquired. This was not webOS as you know it. It was a Java based operating system (hand written JVM!) with a proprietary XML dialect for layout. Does that sound familiar? (I have seen Paul and Andy Rubin together in Los Altos many a time :) Can you imagine if Palm came out with a new OS that was basically Android, but not Android? It would have flopped. Instead, imagine a brave engineer hacking WebKit as the head to the system…. and suddenly you have webOS. There was a reason that people were excited when Palm announced webOS. The user experience was superior to iOS of the time in many ways (cards, network sync, multi-tasking, etc). For developers, especially Web developers, in theory they could write web apps that would live in this beautiful UI.

In practice, I admit that there were real issues. webOS 1.0 was more like a beta. Timing required that it just had to ship, but the performance wasn’t there and it was buggy. The article also mentions the return issues on the hardware. If you think about it, this is beyond a bummer. Apple has their own stores that customers can’t wait to go to. When you walk in, the experience is all Apple, and you will walk out with some of their product. Contrast that to where webOS devices were. I don’t know about you, but I never enjoy walking into carrier stores, and even in retail venues such as a Best Buy…. you are surrounded by competitors product. If the sales force sees a large return rate, they will push people to buy something else. I remember going into Sprint stores asking for a Palm Pre and being told “hey, get a Blackberry instead!” That was an immediate “uh oh” moment for me. The sales channel was poisoned. Doom.

With the early webOS releases, there were scrambles to fix issues on software and hardware, and then a classic second system syndrome kicked in. Many shortcuts were in place, so people wanted to go in and fix those problems and “build it right”. There were some real core architectural issues to be fixed here too (no sandboxing of apps so any bad code could mess up any other bad code, a lesson not learned from Pixo) and “fixing” these in a performant way is far from trivial! Needless to say, webOS 2.0 came waaaay too late and didn’t fix the core performance problems. In hindsight it would have been much better to have had a performance tzar who had people sitting with profilers open and fixing the darn problems.

The structure of the teams was also wrong in my opinion. App teams ran all the way up and down the stack, and there was no real platform. At one point there was a VP of Developer Platform that didn’t have direct reports that mapped to the platform itself!

So, there were a ton of core issues, from market timing to executive decisions etc… but none of these meant that the Web wasn’t up to the task.

Brendan Eich mentioned that B2G already has 60Hz flicker/tear-free panning/zooming using HTML/JS/WebGL. and that isn’t on bleeding edge devices. It is hard work to pull this off. Apple has a core system that is optimized for this, and they have to work their arses off to keep it solid (I am sure), and Android still has a ton of issues here, even with dual-core systems. It is naive to think “all you need is GPU acceleration!” and that there are other silver bullets. Blood, sweat, and tears is still needed. When you have a GPU in the mix, you have to worry about moving data between CPU and GPU… and using both in an optimized way. iOS views map nicely to GPU textures which is great, and can help a lot at the architecture level. Another great example is Kinoma. This crew came from the Quicktime and Carbon teams of Apple. Check out their demos and then think to yourself…. this is all done in software. Videos playback beautifully and when you minimize them they keep playing as their shrink into the icon location. Amazing. Again…. blood, sweat, and tears… on low end devices.

Don’t get me wrong. A Web runtime is a tough proposition. The Web wasn’t built to be an app platform, but its evolution is fast. Core platforms such as WebKit, and V8…. with standards such as WebGL and hardware accelerated graphics, make it better than ever to pull this off. But those who poo-poo the Web as “just a document platform” miss the great things about the Web. This is where webOS missed out. It was a Mojo platform more than it was a Web platform. We tried to change that and get functionality into the Web platform layer rather that in the “user land” of Mojo.

If we brought a true, reliable, performant, Web platform with the great UI of Matias and friends…. webOS wouldn’t be in the hands of Meg right now.

Great engineers, such as the Enyo team, keep the torch alive. Being able to create an Enyo+PhoneGap application that can deploy to iOS and Android as well as webOS is key. I keep harping on PhoneGap Plugins as a way to get into the land of native when needed… and it *is* needed. Android WebKit and even iOS WebKit are not there yet. At Walmart we build native+Web hybrid applications for a reason, but in my heart I long for someone to come along with a true Web runtime that lets developers write to a standards-based multi-vendor platform that no one company owns. Democracy is messy, but the Open Web is worth it. Don’t read one article and think that it can’t be done.

We often love to focus on the mistakes. The things that “went wrong”, but there is a lot that went right too. To truly learn from the rise and fall, it is important to know both sides.

Dec 04

Feeling spritely about

Tech with tags: , , 2 Comments »

Man, I haven’t been as excited about a development tool as I am about Joe Stump’s in a looooong time (GitHub is probably the last time).

It is an incredibly timely tool for me. I use a variety of small tools for different projects. Open source hacking vs. large projects at work with a bunch of different teams.

I enjoy Pivotal Tracker, and have even begun to appreciate why I have to use JIRA…. and thus, for some projects I am forced to use both. This is far from ideal, and every few months I look to see if I can shoot one in the head to focus on one tool.

For some context, I should write down my high level believes around creating software products, and then we can talk tools.

If I try to distill my beliefs I get:


Everyone in the team builds software products (and should be empowered). Great organizations push down responsibility (yup, even Steve Jobs). This enables teams to have minimal bottlenecks, and by enabling the teams they will enjoy their work more, and will care. How many situations have you seen that end up with “well, some bozo boss told me to do that…. so duh, I did it… and of course it was dumb!”


The closer everyone is to a shared understanding the better. There are many levels of communication, on a variety of themes. In general I believe that a business/group should trickle down: business goals -> strategy -> high level roadmap -> products that fullfil.


Some people tell me that agile == an excuse not to plan. This seems to stem from people thinking that “we can’t see into the future” means “we shouldn’t plan, and instead react.” This is almost always a false assumption :)

If you aren’t thinking about the future and “skate to where the puck will be” then you can only ever slowly evolve. As an example, right now at my company we are trying to re-imagine what commerce and retail could be like for customers 5 years from now, and we can back track from that. Not being able to see in the future means that you end up making bets, but it is critical. This planning and thinking is all about product vision. It is not set in stone, and it can evolve itself. Steve Jobs thought that the network computer would be the future at one point (he was friends with Larry after all ;) but we still have hard drives.


I don’t favor complex planning tools. I like the basics. There are a list of things that need to get done for your product. You have people to work on making this happen, and you can prioritize the work. You need to keep on top of the queue of work and keep changing the prioritize tactically.

To execute you need all roles firing. Product management, engineering, UX, QA. The role of “stories” can give a high level common language that can be a great starting off point to interface these roles.

Although you can’t look into the future, the longer that a team has worked together, and the longer a project is in place…. the better chance you have of knowing how true your view of the project is.

So, with this all in mind, how do some of the tools stack up?

Pivotal Tracker

Tracker has been a great tool for development. It fits in to a lean methodology and the “queue of work” mentality. I find the UI very simple, and with one screen and keyboard shortcuts all interactions are fast.

The integrations, including Campfire (critical for communication), JIRA and others are crucial…. since no One Tool has been the solution.

There are some things that I don’t like though:

  • Although each story has a URL, if you go to the URL you get the entire UI loading… and then your item pops in (vs. a simple page with just that content)
  • Stories have tasks, but you can’t assign different people to those tasks. So, if you wanted to have a QA task and a design task as well as a development task…. the assignment breaks down. With JIRA you could use subtasks just fine, or you could use an assignment workflow
  • No ability to make bulk changes
  • Searching is a lil weak
  • Tags end up being the Solution For Everything
  • “The application has died. Please reload.”
  • Reporting is weak. Tracking the backlog and tying to versions etc is hard.


JIRA is an issue tracker. It is incredibly complex compared to tracker (and Lighthouse and Trac …) and you can extend the data and workflow behind it. The complexity is frustrating to many though. Having to grok Projects, Versions, Components, labels, issues….. is more than you often need.

It does let you have nuanced views on the data though, so you can make it do the right thing for the different roles. Searching is rich (there is a query language for the beast! eek :/) and you can slice or dice all day long.

I do not like JIRA for main development and tracker is for that…. but JIRA comes into play due to QA and other groups knowing it well.

I have tried Greenhopper a few times, trying to see if that view can take the place of Tracker, but it is overly complex for my needs and a frustrating experience. First, you need to configure things (setup a Ranking Field blah blah), and then you think that you should be able to drag things around and it never quite works right for me.

There are other things that bug me about JIRA too, such as:

  • The emails. They hide the interesting data and I need to look carefully to see what the heck it is trying to tell me!
  • The performance of…. I keep picturing OFBiz trying to keep up
  • How is there not a simple Campfire integration???? Really? I have to use Hubot?


I enjoyed meeting the Asana team, not only because it was fun to chat about their platform (Fibers and such), but also because they are trying to make Enterprise software not suck. The meta-system for master-detail is definitely something that you can use for planning and executing software products. It was a little too meta for me though (this was early beta) and I wanted some more features specific for software than custom fields to use. Also, the fact that there wasn’t a way to access on mobile or API to tie into integrations, mean that it isn’t there yet for me.


GitHub is amazing. It is an integral part of my software development and I think that these guys and this product could keep growing to Own It All if they so fancy. I like GitHub Issues, but they are still a little too simplistic for me for larger projects. For some open source projects of mine they are perfect, and having the great integration with code, commits, and pull requests is spot on. Working with larger cross functional teams though…. not so much. I again need more than “well you can use tags and a taxonomy to kinda make that work.” I very much do appreciate their vision, and how fast the tool is to use!

There are so many other tools across the stack (Lighthouse, Trac, VersionOne, ….) but I won’t go on and on.


If I look at the things that I believe in (up top), and the things in tools that I have used over the years that I like and don’t like, and then map this onto a “tool I wish I had” I quickly see that a lot of those features map on to Sprintly.

I haven’t even used it yet, but am very much looking forward to giving it a go. It seems to be the sweet spot around:

  • Thinks about cross functional teams
  • Stories and tasks in a way that makes sense (assign tasks to different people)
  • Great dashboard: visibility FTW!
  • GitHub integration up the wazoo
  • Looks beautiful!

It looks great already and it is probably a 0.6. I hope they keep pushin’ and make I can use GitHub+Sprintly as my go-to pair…. and I can leave the rest behind.

Has anyone been using it and thinks it stacks up? What other tools am I missing? Michael Mahemoff is a Trello fan :)

Oct 24

Mixing inputs; Voice++

Tech, UI / UX with tags: No Comments »

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant”

Really Andy?. I found this very defensive, and wrong. Who doesn’t want more help? Don’t get me wrong…. Siri isn’t there yet at all, especially for a Brit who has been in the US for almost half of his life, and one who lives without a great network available. It doesn’t get my words. It frustratingly doesn’t assist me when I need it (e.g. “launch pandora”). But, a good step, and you can see where this can end up.

Interestingly Android had a lead here with great voice integration deep into the OS. When working, it changes how we do things. I love texting via voice. Finally, asynchronous voice!

The other side of shit that siri says is the humanity that it sometimes comes up with (faking it, but aren’t we all?). The opposite of the robot. I was very excited to hear Matias Duarte talk about how many people don’t love Android as they should. That is ballsy to come out and say that. He is someone who cares, and who can fix that. We need that competition.

Lastly, voice has always been an obvious input. It is hard to do, and it will keep taking time…. but it is close, and usable. I am excited to start to see mixed mode input.

I want to be able to start typing a password and concurrently say “show password” and have the mode flip. Type an email and say “send”. I enjoy seeing trends from pushing buttons, to touching and swiping. Voice fits in nicely.

Smellovision here we come…. oh, and reading your brain waves.

Oct 18

The four personality types on the spectrum of design; VOL_07

Tech, UI / UX 1 Comment »


I was looking at the car display in my wife’s new Toyota and had a double take when I changed the volume. The display literally reads “VOL_##”. Who would ship that? Even more baffling was the fact that my own older car of the same make doesn’t have this ugly format at all. Surely this was the result of some i18n(”VOL_07″) and the mapping to “Volume 07″ was missing?

This started to remind me of the sliding scale of design and fashion awareness that I see out there. Here are some stereotypes:

Fashion Deaf

Have you met those people who couldn’t care less about fashion? Well, not even that…. they can’t even see the difference in quality. You give them two pieces of clothing, or two user experiences, and they have no preference what-so-ever. These people have no idea why some folk much prefer Mac. They would never notice or care about VOL_07 and more power to them.

The A/B Eye Test

Next up you have the folks who can tell that something is “better”. They love their iPhones, although they can’t really tell you why. If you put two UIs in front of them they will tell you that they prefer A over B, but can’t *really* articulate why. They get it at an unconscious level.

My eyes! my eyes!

Then you have the folks who are personally pained by unfashionablistas. VOL_07 and Android UIs make their eyes bleed. They think that Google needs to hire some designers for many of their products.

When given the A/B test, they are able to discern what they like and dislike about a given design, and they come up with things to improve. They get it.

The Creator

Then there are the folks who can go to the next level. They can create great design. It can look good in the current fashion, or the best ones are able to make the future. They come up with new amazing interactions and visuals. They make you love their product.

Now, of course these are gross generalizations. I can jump around a little between these categories even depending on my mood that day. I can amaze myself coming up with something decent one day, and then be staring at crap another. Kinda like my golf game…. you hit enough good balls that you are willing to come back some time to play again.

I really enjoy watching folks in the top two categories. Ben is one of those guys. I can stare at the same thing as him and he will find 20 holes in it that I do not. Watching a creator such as Sean Martell wielding his Wacom tablet is a sight to beyond. Watching greatness at work.

Where do you fit?

Sep 23

Why install time permissions suck. Why we wanted access to contacts in the Walmart app

Tech, UI / UX, Walmart with tags: 5 Comments »

I have always disliked install time permissions. The user is asked to make a decision up front that:

  • They don’t have any context around
  • They can easily forget
  • They often say “yes” just because they wanted to download the darn thing
  • There is no way to tweak the permissions


This reared its head today. We released a new version of the Walmart Android app. In there we are trying to make the user do as little typing as possible, so when you create a new address there is an option at the top to grab the address from your contacts. There is a good chance that you are sending the goods either to yourself (home, business) or to a friend / family member…. and you may have that info already available.

The problem is, that for us to get that information, we need to blanket ask every user for that access on install. Many users are privacy conscious and I respect that. They should be able to say “thanks, but I don’t want you to have access to my contacts”. We are using a contact picker UI, so the user is explicitly tapping to launch this and selecting the contact, so we don’t need access to anything other than what the user would select. Why do we need READ_CONTACTS?

Why can’t I let those users NOT allow the application access to contacts, but still be able to do everything else? The zero-sum game is nuts.

This shows up all over the shop. If I have an application that happens to have one screen that would be able to help the user by accessing the Geolocation API…. I have to ask for that up front. That screen may be used 0.0000001% of the time, and it just may be aided by that (not required to function).

We need to fix permissions. Would it be so hard to let us say “these permissions are nice to have and can even be on demand” so users can check or uncheck permission there? (this has happened to others too, and we should have realized it would be an issue, so that side of things is our bad :/)

For our users who were scared off when they saw the request for that permission, I am very sorry. We are looking to setup a new build that doesn’t require it at the expense of the convenience feature.

On another note, I am super jazzed at the hard work that went into this release. This app has a bunch of native and Web integration. Our Android and mobile Web teams have worked together to great affect, and although this is just the very tip of the iceberg, it has been great to see!

Remember, if you want to do Android, iOS, or bleeding edge mobile Web development that reaches millions of users globally, please let me know. Join us, the water is warm!

Aug 21

Facebook webOS; Playing to Win

Mobile, Palm, webOS 2 Comments »

I have been taking in the news and constant amazement as the “HP webOS” situation changes in front of my eyes. A month ago we had folks from HP saying that we are staying the course and great devices are coming soon, and now we have utter chaos. I don’t know what HP’s plan was, but man…. surely it wasn’t to be executed as badly as this.

I feel so bad for the webOS userbase, developer base, and employee base. They have been left in the lurch again. Shocking, really.

It has made me look back at my own career and think about the good times and the bad. As I reflect on my experiences, I definitely see a trend. I have felt the most frustrated when I know that we didn’t “play to win” and were too conservative. My successes have come from projects and products that had a strong vision and we went all out for it. The funny thing there is, even if the outcome wasn’t a home run, great things came out of it.

I don’t think that either Palm or HP were anywhere near aggressive enough, and I can look back at early meetings that Ben and I had with folks where big ideas were shot down for being too risky. Many of the folks at the top wanted to be another Apple, and you can’t fight that war. Android has been so successful through a) hard work by engineers and b) a disruptive and very different business model. Java is yesterdays technology though, and if we saw webOS at Google I think that Android would have been even more than it is today. The interaction model is vastly superior. This doesn’t mean that the user experience is superior. I can’t say that is the case because webOS hasn’t performed well enough. It has been too slow and buggy, and it pains me to say that. webOS 2.0 was a case of second system syndrome to the extreme, and if we had instead had folks sitting in a darn profiler, we would have ended up at a much better spot.

I think that the only real hope for webOS is not for an HTC to come along and make some hardware for it. It needs an owner that cares and will push the hell out of it. The only owner that I really see is Facebook of all people. They very much have a culture of playing to win, they are making large bets on the Web. They need to do so, as the last thing they want is for an iOS/Android duopoly surrounding them.

They could take webOS and do some very interesting things with it. Imagine an open source webOS that could run on top of Android (hint: I may have seen this before). This way, your system can be installed by the Android user base, and Android apps can even run on it. They may not run perfectly, but who cares…. you get access to that application base and you can kill the “number of apps” arguments.

Why stop there? You can run webOS a la iCloud, but even more so. The entire experience is in the cloud, and the synergy concept can now truly go where ever you want, even onto iOS and Android. The core WebKit platform could join the PhoneGap project. Now the Web gets a massive boost. Instead of waiting for the Web features to trickle into the Android and iOS WebKit implementations, we could rally behind a WebKit (or Gecko if they work with Moz!) platform that you can target on any platform. Chrome Frame for Mobile. We need it to compete.

There are some great engineers who (very kindly imo) stuck it out for love of the platform and their teams. However, many great ones have left too. So, whoever comes in needs to rebuild the team.

It is hard for HP to come in and recruit talent, especially now, but Facebook? If they step up to the plate with a killer vision and stock options to boot…. wow. I can see the team now. It is amazing. It has many WebKit engineers (which are much much needed). If I was a college for computer science I would be spending as much time with the WebKit code as possible :)

It would be a crazy big bet for Facebook, but they have the funds and cojones to pull it off. As great as the Web is, it needs a lot of help on mobile devices. iOS is fantastic and has a great mix of a high level language in Objective-C with a fast low level runtime (especially with ARC). The Web is a very forward looking solution. We need a lot of engineers to keep accelerating it, but that is happening. The JavaScript runtimes are on an amazing streak. We are getting better and better graphics and low level APIs made available.

Man, I would love to see someone really give it a shot, and go for broke. HP’s fire sale will get some users in the field, so someone can swoop in and take advantage of it.

Facebook actually has a fair few engineers and execs from Palm over there, and what about Amazon? They have made a big bet on Android, and are going gangbusters on being the company that makes money off of Android. However, if they went webOS on top of Android? Oh, and Jon Rubenstein is on the board of Amazon (which always seemed a bit weird to me!) Maybe Amazon and HP could at least be good partners.

Aug 03

Bad Email UI

Apple, Tech, UI / UX 2 Comments »

It is so easy to nitpick on UI…. but this one gets to me everytime, and doubly so that it comes from Apple (known for user experience).

Season Pass Email

There are two links in the email. One is at the top, and the other is after the header showing the name of the show. The one next to the show sends you to preferences rather than downloading the darn thing! Both are “click here”.

How about a big link/button: “Download your show now”.

Is this just me?

Jul 26

Lion wimpers on Spaces

Apple, Tech, UI / UX No Comments »


There have been a slew of posts on Lion since launch. As with any new change of experience, there are bound to be detractors as well as well wishers. Just look at the new Facebook groups that jump to light whenever Facebook changes a pixel on the screen.

Lion has been somewhat buggy for me, and slower than its leaner leopard friend. The “natural” scrolling was a pain for a few minutes, but a couple of days in and your brain flips. In fact, even when I hit the up and down keys my mind considers them working on the paper as opposed to the scroll bar (and thus it goes the wrong way).

Sometimes one step forward can be one step behind. I just witnessed this over the weekend when voice mail was installed on the land line at my families cabin in Colorado. Before-hand, we had an old digital answering machine system. How archaic! As we setup voicemail we consider the improvements:

  • “Now we can check this from anywhere!”
  • “If the phone line isn’t working, voice mail can still be left by the caller!”

However, you then realize that you lose benefits:

  • “How do we see if someone has left a call?” Before-hand you could glance at the phone to see if there are new messages. We would need to purchase something that could do that for us now. Instead, you have to pick up the phone and listen for the tell tale voice mail beep.
  • “How can I screen a call?” Before-hand if someone called and you didn’t know / didn’t want to pick up right away… you could listen to them leaving the message and even jump in to pick it up mid way

This feeling of “step forward or step back?” is how I feel about the whole mission control / spaces overhaul. I really enjoy putting some apps full screen. However, that breaks my workflow. You see, I have a series of spaces that are configured for different use cases. I access them via Apple-1, Apple-2, etc. If Apple-2 has been my “calendar” space, I could wish to instead have a full screen calendar in that place. Unfortunately, as soon as you full screen an application it lives in its own space, and one that you can’t directly access via a quick key like that. So, I am now forced to keep Calendar out of full screen mode, and it becomes a tease.

When plugged into a monitor, I am further teased with full screen. It doesn’t take into account anything more than the one main screen. I can no longer have my email full screen on the main screen with my calendar staring at my from my laptop screen.

Ah shucks. I look forward to a world where I can neatly configure my various use cases (if plugged in, keep X, Y, and Z over on my secondary screen, else put them on these spaces).

Although we hear more about the visual changes within Lion, it appears that the under the hood changes are really the most important (security sandboxes, versions, etc).