I was looking through Fernando's blog archive when I realised it's been a while year since Snow Leopard was released. This is pertinent because at the time I was a little dissatisfied with the performance of this Macbook, and the new OS was supposed to speed things up. So here I sit, 13 months later, having not upgraded and becoming even more disappointed as performance has been degrading further since that time.
There are several reason that might be the case, but it's likely I've been a victim of software updates. One upgrade I've really fancied was an SSD replacement for the hard drive: several offer quite astonishing data transfer rates, with users describing startup times as astonishingly quick, applications opening 'instantly'. However investigating the murky world of upgrading an Apple leaves one seriously wishing that a) Apple wouldn't 'upgrade' their software and b) that one hadn't bought an Apple to begin with.
It seems that Apple's OS isn't really ready for handling SSD properly (for technical reasons to do with how data is written, erased and then written to the same place again). It seems that the SS drives they supply are only capable of slow data throughput. The hardware on which Macbooks are based was capable of SATA 2 speeds, but were crippled down to SATA 1 speeds for a variety of reasons. Many users found that SSD drives capable of SATA 2 simply would not work at all in Macbooks (especially Macbook pros from mid 2009). Apple did eventually send out an 'upgrade' to the EFI chip, but the effect this had was than many people saw the spinning beachball (a sign that the OS is waiting for the hardware to do something) much more frequently than they did before. Some users even found a way of 'downgrading' to the previous version of the EFI software to fix the problem. It seems there were also issues down to a poor quality SATA connector, but that's another story.
Why do I grumble? I see that darn beachball far too often these days, even when the external HDD is not attached, and I'd *like* to upgrade to a super-fast SSD but there's every likelihood that it won't help much. I'm still tempted by the idea of upgrading to Snow Leopard, but wonder if I'd just be opening an even larger can of worms than is already sat in front of me.
To be honest, I can't see why this company seems so determined to do silly things to make life less sweet than it might be for its users. The thing is that they didn't have to place artificial restrictions on their hardware, but they chose to. It makes no sense, other than to try to shorten the useful life of a brand that had a reputation for longevity and a great customer experience.
In some ways I'm grateful for my Mac experience, in that it helped me to feel more comfy with non-microsoft operating systems. I've been running openSUSE 11.3 on my main home machine for several weeks now, and it seems mostly stable, reasonably fast and a decent user experience. However I'm finding that the more I use it, the more it highlights the shortcomings of OSX's weak window management and file handling. What's curious is that in some ways it's like OSX but yet does it better: combining the best of Apple and microsoft.
If I can learn how to use the WINE windows emulation package to run M$ office then I'd seriously consider rebuilding the Macbook with Linux and ditch OSX altogether. Now that's a thought and a seriously geeky one at that!