Geeks tend to be binary creatures in more ways than one: we’re either Mac or PC, vim or emacs, happy or unhappy, tremendously motivated or in the throes of aimless depression.

Today’s Apple keynote is sure to make a lot of people in the industry go bipolar, either due to their wholesale “reinvention” of popular third-party and competitor’s features1, or to their bold step forward into providing cloud services.

My personal take is still one of moderate disenchantment - it’s not as if I don’t want to have ready access to some of those novelties (especially the iOS related ones, on which I’d probably write an entire post if I had the time), but rather that they have been so long in the making and yet still don’t address some basic needs - either out of a somewhat autistic worldview or either due to a constant need to save further enhancements for later, some things still fall short of the mark or, as is mostly the case this time around, go way off the mark.

Take Lion‘s availability through the App Store, for instance, with which there is no provision for easy reinstalling on a new hard disk nor deployment across a range of machines. I fervently hope that is only for launch and read the possibility it will take much the same approach as the utterly asinine Xcode 4 “app store experience”, which gobbles up 4 GB of hard disk space in your Applications folder with a throwaway installer (which, incidentally, was recently replaced by another slightly larger installer due to an “update”).

Even if I can understand (and probably take a decent stab at the math) behind removing physical inventory of Lion, what Apple has managed to ensure is a lousy, multiple-download installation experience for people with multiple Macs, and I, for one, would pay well above the $29.99 for a physical installation disc that I could use to maintain or reinstall my machines at my leisure.

Update: It’s since been established that, at least as far as the developer preview is concerned, you can extract a bootable image from the installer. Let’s see if this will be made easier later on.

I also have mixed feelings about the upcoming phase-out of MobileMe. Having been a subscriber since April 14th, 2002, I see the transition as reasonable enough (I get a year’s free service), but given that I’ve already got over 4GB of archived e-mail in there, I find iCloud’s pedestrian 5GB rather uninteresting, and the way it falls short of Dropbox’s feature set even more of a put off2.

I’ve already started archiving my older e-mail on Google Apps (which is where this site’s mail is hosted), and all my mailing-list traffic still goes to a “regular” Gmail account, but I still have a fair amount of photos online - we’ll see if Photo Stream has a public gallery component, but then again there’s really no big loss.

But to end on a positive note, it’s about time Apple bit the bullet and copied Android’s notification system - and, thankfully, avoided making my 3Gs utterly obsolete in the process (I hope).

  1. Many, I’m sure, to the point of alienating quite a few people, but I digress… Others will tell the tale of all the apps and developers whose efforts were made redundant today. ↩︎

  2. This is, in my view, where they seriously dropped the ball. People like me who only ever tether their iPads for upgrading the firmware still need “regular” file syncing, and seamless file syncing across the entire ecosystem of any files would make iCloud a killer service. ↩︎

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