How should I upgrade to Mojave?

I have been reading about Mojave and was wondering which of the two ways to upgrade would be best: clean (wipe the computer and start over), or just drop it in the computer and go…

I’m real glad you asked! Almost always, I recommend simply upgrading your existing insulation. Apple’s upgrades have historically run pretty clean, and typically do some nice housekeeping in the process. The only conditions that make me go for a full erase-and-reinstall are a) someone is moving to a new computer and has a burning desire for a fresh start, or b) something is real obviously messed up and no other troubleshooting has been successful.

But there is an implied question here, namely, should you upgrade to Mojave yet?

Short answer: It would probably be fine to do so, but I’m still going to recommend that you hold off for a couple of months.

For iPhones and iPads, the big upgrades usually go smoothly, but on the Mac, unless you really need or want the new features and don’t mind some quirkiness as Apple squashes bugs, it’s best to wait a couple/few months for the new OS to reach its x.2 or x.3 update.

Mojave has been working fine for me, and there are no reports of big problems. I think it’s one of the nicest upgrades to the Mac in recent years, specifically because Apple gave Finder some long-overdue love. The new screenshot features that mirror what iOS got last year are also really helpful.

But as this article demonstrates, some folks have encountered minor issues. They have quick enough fixes, but if you count on your Mac to run smoothly without having to engage someone like me, might as well wait a bit!

Guess I’ve been consistent; this guidance dates back a while: 2007, 2011, 2013


iOS 7, after the folderol


I want to start by sympathizing with iPhone users who have been reluctant to upgrade to iOS 7, and for those who did the upgrade and regret it. They have legitimate issues, ones that can’t be lumped under a sweeping, “Change is hard.”

Many folks have suffered dramatic decreases in battery life. Some found their apps crashing, and older apps not working at all. The new animations are dramatic enough to induce vertigo. If not for those serious problems, more people might have forgiven Apple’s choosing garish colors for their app icons, and going rather overboard in the Kate Moss-ification of their interface design.


Now I’ll say that I have had an almost totally satisfactory experience with the new OS. Control center saves me a ton of time, Siri feels smarter, I love knowing my phone is locked to my Apple ID, Safari works better, and Camera and Photos saw massive improvements. And the layered-but-simple interface makes the whole experience more fun, more playful.

But I got bit by the iMessages bug, and was annoyed by the fix. And I have weird problems placing the text cursor.

I would entertain the popular beef with Apple’s app icons, but I don’t use many apps by Apple. Only the ones I have to, like Phone and Messages. On my phone, I have gone into Settings > General to Reduce Motion (I wish it were more comprehensive), adjust Text Size larger (I wish more apps accommodated Dynamic Type). I tried Increase Contrast, but I prefer the new translucent effects.

I do appreciate where Apple has taken their design language, and I think they had to push it as far as they did. They had to make a dramatic point about software UI, to challenge the rest of the developing world to break out of the bubbly chains of skeuomorphism. The resulting overall look is unquestionably cleaner and more efficient. It’s also worth saying that 7 beats the current Android and Windows Phone offerings into the ground.


While iOS 7 does represent a marked step forward for mobile technology, those who haven’t upgraded don’t have to just yet. Apple should have an update out soon that fixes the majority of bugs, and until they do, later adopters might stick with ol’ reliable iOS 6. When you do make the switch, there are dozens of articles to help you recover from problems and tune the system to your liking.

But change is inevitable. Developers have actively left iOS 6 behind. Apple is sure to require 7 to interface with whatever new magic they release. And once you’re in it, I really think you’re gonna enjoy it.

J2 News: Buy, Sell, or Hold

What a fantastic bunch of new toys and tools to talk about! Since Lion, iPhone 4S, iOS 5, and iCloud have come out, we have some recommendations to make. Here goes:

iOS 5: Go get it!

The free update to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches is nothing but awesome. Better notifications, better messaging, faster camera access, readable web pages in Safari, and location-based reminders… Whew. I’m really pleased by the whole lot of features. Run, don’t walk, to update your iTunes to 10.5, and then plug in your iPad or iPhone (3GS or later).


You’ll be invited to begin updating your device to iOS 5.0. Agree to the license, yadda yadda, and it will start downloading. Might take a while, depending on your internet speed, and then iTunes will start applying the update to your gadget.

The entire process can take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on how much stuff you keep on your phone or tablet, so set it running when you can be without your little digital lifeline for a bit. (I know. I get the shakes too, sometimes.)

iPhone 4S: Can I have mine now, please?


The camera: Best-in-class.
Performace: Darn right I want two processor cores in my pocket.
That voice control thing. Magic.

(Many of you already have Siri Assistant on your phones, because we put it there, starting about two years ago. As of today, that older version is defunct.)

I chose not to pre-order my iPhone 4S, because I remember the 3GS+MobileMe debacle two years ago. As eager as I can get for the latest-and-greatest, I don’t need it badly enough to justify downtime. But anyone ordering from now on will receive the phone long after iCloud is in full swing, thus enabling some very cool features, including photo sync between devices.

It’s so worth mentioning that iPhones, even older ones, bring a great price on Craigslist, and newer ones can be easily sold to, an incredibly easy place to unload your old gadgets.

Lion: Hold Til Ready

OS X 10.7 “Lion” is lovely. A tasty chocolate coating around a very solid, nutritious walnut of a system that was 10.6 Snow Leopard.

They called me Coleridge in pre-school.


Most people will want to upgrade to Lion, and will be very happy with the new system. Installing is easy: If you have Snow Leopard, and you keep up with Software Updates, you can buy Lion for $29 from the Mac App Store in your Dock. It will install itself right in place, restarting when it needs to.

Many features in Lion are refreshing, especially the full-screen modes available in many apps. Schedule us at and we’ll show you how to use multi-touch gestures, recover auto-saved versions of your documents, and organize your workspaces!

Auto-resume of apps and documents after a reboot is easy to get used to. Scooting around your workspace with a trackpad instead of a mouse is the wave of the future. Apple has reduced visual clutter, and aimed at keeping their users productive. (Some of the prettiness in Lion I can do without. A lot of it I turn off, grateful there’s a switch.)

But Lion is still young, and a bit wobbly. We’ve found instabilities in iChat and elsewhere, and some things just don’t seem to work like they should. A second update, 10.7.2, just hit on October 12, and we are hoping it will clear up some of the inconsistencies.

Another issue affecting long-time Mac users is that programs written before 2006 won’t run on Lion. At all. This includes Microsoft Office 2004 and Internet Explorer. Good riddance and all, for sure; but a lot of you don’t have Office 2008 or 2011, and at least one office still needs IE for the Mac for time tracking.

We’ll look at iCloud in a sec. It’s very slick… and it requires Lion. I’ve upgraded my MobileMe to iCloud, so because I can’t live without Address Book syncing between all my computers, I am going to have to upgrade my second laptop this weekend. I just have to go through my applications and figure out what I need to export from those older programs. Most newer Mac users won’t have to deal with this process at all, but we are happy to help those who do.

Organizations with a bunch of Macs should hold off for now, until a hardware or software upgrade requires them to move forward. For businesses using a Mac server, I’m also officially recommending against upgrading to Lion Server until at least 10.7.3.

iCloud: The point is moot, the cloud is yours

iCloud is the very worthy successor to MobileMe. If you are using MobileMe, you will transition to iCloud services by June 2012. If you have a new iPhone or iPad, or you update to iOS 5, you’ll be living in the iCloud.

When it launched, iCloud had some trouble, and I couldn’t sign up until a day later. But everything seems clear now, and I am so far very pleased by iCloud’s function: Photo Stream syncs your photos from iPhone to iPad to iPhone. The Find My Mac feature could recover your computer from theft.

It does appear that all your MobileMe configurations will continue to work until next year, so if you are hanging onto older phones and computers for a bit, you don’t have to be rushed about making the move. Give us a call at 210-787-2709 or email our new Help Desk! at and we’ll make sure it all goes smoothly.

In memoriam


Steve Jobs is directly responsible for my livelihood, my passion for technology, and even many of my hobbies and pastimes. Even for this 1984-baptized Mac geek, computers were clunky, nearly pointless contraptions until Steve returned to Apple in 1997. (Perhaps the internet helped a little.) I may no longer be the Apple fanboy that I once was, but I’m awed to have witnessed this fundamental change in our civilization that this one guy helped usher in.

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Your man in the cloud,


Getting Ready for Snow Leopard

Note that I didn’t say “whether.”

Apple has announced that their new system for the Mac — Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” — will become available this Friday, 08.26.09.

Apple typically delivers big with their upgrades. Since I started watching more closely in 1993, each new major version of their OS [operating system] has been a massive improvement, and inevitably a must-have. Indeed, since any new Mac will come with the latest system, you have to spend effort to avoid it.

This OS X 10.6, however, was not designed the way most big revisions are. It has been promoted as a “performance” upgrade. Much like the latest iPhone model, Apple has focused not on bells and whistles, but on the need for speed. It purports to make a Mac “faster, more reliable, and easier to use.” The reports that have come since 10.6 was in released to software developers, and reviews in the media this week, have been stellar, affirming that Snow Leopard is slicker, smoother, snappier, and more stable.

Well, sign me up! Right?

SHORT ANSWER: Hang tight, McCoy. Don’t buy Snow Leopard on Friday. Wait two or three months, and then ask around, check MacFixIt, or call me.

Also, if you’re one of our clients, we respectfully request that you read the following before buying 10.6, installing it, then calling us to say, “Help, it’s not working!”

Now, the proper answer:

I’m not going to delve into the specific improvements Apple has made. Their OS X page spells out the big stuff, highlighting the refinements,” the geeky details of the underlying technologies, promising additions for those with disabilities, and the new compatibility with Microsoft Exchange services. That last, if it works, could be huge for shoehorning the Mac deeper into the workplace.

For a more thorough digest, Wired has “6 Things You Need to Know About Mac OS X Snow Leopard” and I really dug on some of the little features on page 2 of this ComputerWorld article.

So, the nut: When should you, dear reader, consider the switch?

Consideration 1: Hardware. Snow Leopard will work on any Mac with an Intel processor, which includes most Macs purchased since January 2006. If you have a pre-2006 Mac, please review “my standard spiel” in this post. If you buy a new Mac, it’ll come installed with Snow Leopard.

While Apple officially requires 1 GB RAM, we always recommend that you put as much RAM in your Mac as budget and specifications allow. Any Mac purchased since 2007 should have at least 4 GB RAM.

Snow Leopard significantly reduces the hard disk space taken up by the operating system, the “footprint.” You’ll need 5 GB of available space on your startup disk, down from Leopard’s 9. Shweet! Note that you won’t reclaim the savings until after installation; in other words, the install has to complete before you learn what will get deleted. But word up, yo: if you don’t have at least 10 GB free on your drive at all times, you’re playing with fire. I peg my upper tolerance at 90% full.

Consideration 2: Price. OS X 10.6 will cost a very affordable $29 for any Mac with Leopard 10.5, or $49 for a “Family Pack” of five licenses. Apple’s previous updates have retailed at a standard $129. Thirty dollars says that Apple believes that everyone currently running 10.5 will benefit from this upgrade. That’s a bold and generous move, considering the pain and expense that Microsoft has put their users through with the much-maligned Vista, and the imminent, costly Windows 7.

If you purchased a Mac after June 7, you qualify for Apple’s $9.95 Up-to-Date program.

Consideration 3: Compatibility, or Will It Work? Probably, yes, but if you’re in a production environment, using apps such as Adobe Creative Suite, you will want to wait until all the reports are in. (Adobe guarantees nothing about CS3, but supports CS4 as 10.6-friendly.) If you have any kind of specialized hardware or software, you will really want to test it out in Snow Leopard, running from a separate hard drive, or on a machine that no one else is using.

This guy has a too pessimistic but nonetheless practical view of how compatible new releases typically are.

Consideration 4: Process.

!!!!! For the love of Mike, please backup Backup BACKUP all your stuff. Run both your daily incremental Users backup and your weekly HD clone. !!!!!

Lifehacker has a nice rundown about how to go about the upgrade. And Engadget reports that the Archive and Install that I have previously recommended may be moot.


Consideration 5: Trust. Early adoption is fun, but early adoption can also be an adventure, and any good adventure involves risk, exhilaration, sweat, swearing, glee, despair.

Your Humble was one of the fools who bought an iPhone 3G on day one. !@#!@*$&#(%&#$)$*$*T#&R(*$#$#@!$!#@$&(!#@$!!!!!!!! Similarly, I remember too painfully how Leopard Server completely chewed up Apple File Sharing, all the way through version 10.5.2. Like a freakin’ sushi chef who can’t cook rice. Sheesh.

On the other hand, Leopard client itself was pretty smooth, and iPhone 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS were nearly flawless.

Mac users typically see reward for sticking with the platform, but we don’t need anything screwing up productivity in our profit centers. Therefore, my official recommendation to our clients is to wait until at least 10.6.2 before you start rolling out Snow Leopard, especially to non-geek family members or co-workers who would have a hard time working around problems.

I can think of several options to offset the risk of trusting Apple: Maybe you have a second workstation to can test 10.6 on. I am going to clone my server to an external drive, and do a fresh install, because servers have so far always wanted that. I could also run a completely separate test copy on a cheap external hard drive.


You can guess that I can’t wait to put the new system on my second MacBook Pro, and on my Server. I’m gonna like poking around and discovering all the new goodies, and the finessed details. I know, that, in the short or the long term, it will do well by our Macs, and by our trust.

Y’all enjoy!