Running with the Mountain Lions (Mac OS 10.8)

Some people are afraid of change.

Especially when it threatens to affect their livelihood.

My world these days is rather tied to this computer and the amazing things which it is able to help me accomplish (for fun and for profit), and there are a few specific software programs on which I depend in order to make this happen… Day in and day out.

For over 20 years, I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and pretty much anyone should be able to figure out a thing or two given that amount of time. But I use it every day for adjusting dimly lit photos which are sent to me for marketing materials, or to create concept renderings (what would that wall look like with a 9′ x 9′ framed backlit display on it, for example?) or to resize images for websites with overlaid text… there are so many examples and great uses.

I have several customers who call on me every day with the expectation that I can quickly deliver something that they cannot or do not have time to tackle themselves, whether it’s a change to their website or an update to a series of documents I routinely maintain for them.

The entire Creative Suite package from Adobe is fairly indispensable to modern graphic designers, among which I find myself included. Adobe Illustrator is essential for logo design and vector graphics, while Adobe’s InDesign is the premiere for multi-page layouts and bringing together paragraphs of beautifully set type.

Periodically Adobe will release a new version with even more robust features which make possible new creative directions or streamline workflow so that I’m able to work more quickly, or update a series of documents simply. And each new release typically requires hundreds of dollars in addition to an already considerable initial investment.

And for the last 10 years at least, I’ve been running these programs on a Mac.

Not always the case mind you, but I am familiar enough with so many versions both on Mac and PC, spanning back to the first time I used Photoshop 2.0 to set up a student magazine back in high school… and let’s just say this past weekend that marked a reunion for a graduation day long ago passed!

Periodically systems need to be upgraded, and I’m generally happy to reinvest in my company and my skill set with a new machine, the latest release of Adobe Creative Suite (now in version CS 6.0+), or the next generation of operating system (Mountain Lion, or Mac OS 10.8) from those developers at Apple, Inc.

But, there is an understandable amount of anxiety in my trade when the developer throws a new wrinkle into the mix… before I had this laptop, for example, I had a previous machine which had been upgraded as far as it could go.  Without the new Intel Duo-Core, it wasn’t possible to upgrade past Adobe CS 2.0.  And given that there were newer versions on the market, I was going to have to reinvest in a new computer eventually, so the developers forced my hand.  Eventually.

Now since that purchase, I had been running a very stable Mac 10.6, but once again found myself in a situation where certain programs were requiring the more modern operating system.

The question for me becomes do I stay with the reliable, though antiquated version or take the leap of faith and upgrade to the current release (10.8)?  After all, it’s only $20 for the new operating system.  Though I did my homework, read a plethora of reviews both positive and some extremely negative, and I asked every designer and I.T. professional that I know.

One colleague in particular convinced me, as he always does, when he said that many developers (including anti-virus software manufacturers and eventually Apple themselves) would no longer be “supporting” the old operating system, which I was running.

So I backed up my entire hard drive to an external source, began downloading the 4.4 gigabyte update and crossed my fingers that everything would go smoothly. I spent several hours on Saturday going back to check on progress, and eventually the whole bundle was ready. One quick restart, and I would be in business…

Happy to report that the Mountain Lion (10.8) runs like a beast, and issues have been virtually non-existant.  I seem to be getting better battery life, and a few of the tweaks are genuinely improvements from what I was running before.

That said, my old versions of Microsoft Office became officially obsolete (question marks appeared over the program icons, and would not fire up when clicked), but that is the cost of doing business these days, apparently.

Now another upgrade is in order, and another reinvestment in the company, for another software developer…