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Sierra Notes 25/9

Some of the online reviews from 20/9.

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CUPERTINO (Rixstep) — There wasn't much of a murmur from the online community on 20 September 2016 when macOS 10.12 Sierra shipped. Most webspace real estate covered the basic half dozen or so features that everyone's been expecting. But there were a few exceptions.

Apple Insider (1)

Apple Insider announced Siri and Apple Pay. Siri options include reminders, restaurant reservations, and 'deep Finder integration'. Clipboard syncing is mentioned.

The magic clipboard seems to require iCloud authentication, but your data doesn't make it to the cloud, as it's only passed back and forth with Bluetooth.

APFS isn't prime time yet, but you can play with it a bit. Tabs now go onto most any multi-document app at all, in a dedicated area that's automatically inserted into the document window.

Optimised Storage is mentioned but no test results given.


Apple Insider (2)

Or a troubleshooting guide published one hour later. Mike Wuerthele claims that Sierra 'appears to be one of the most problem-free initial version releases in some time'.



'It's been a long time since the Mac was Apple's favourite child', write Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson in what turns out to be the big Ars review for this release. This one's definitely 'L' but not 'TL', and you should try to find the time to read it.


Ars on APFS

One of the most exciting things about Sierra is something that's not arrived yet. The brainchild of Dominic Giampaolo of Be fame, the new Apple File System APFS will at long last replace the overly whiskered HFS iteration, some time in 2017.

APFS will have cool things like time stamps to the nanosecond, but seems to prefer atomic file moves over verifiable copies.

This Ars compendium, from June this year, comes originally from the blog of ZFS programmer Adam Leventhal. This is a good read. Most amusing is the command line flag from earlier releases that Adam promises is 100% genuine.




Dana Wollman claims that Sierra is a 'modest update' where the most useful features are also the least flashy.

Dana highlights Auto Unlock and Apple Pay for this review, and cites Siri, Universal Clipboard, Picture in Picture, Apple Music's makeover, iCloud Desktop and Documents, Optimised Storage, the new Photos app, Messages, and tabs on document windows from an earlier review.



Lifehacker teaches you how to make a bootable macOS Sierra image. Good to know. You can either download an app for the task, or better still, there's a tutorial how you 'DIY'.

Coolest thing is the command line you'll use. (You change 'Untitled' to the name of your flash drive.)

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app --nointeraction &&say Done


OS X Daily

This review takes you through all the steps of downloading and guiding the install of Sierra, but little more.


Apple Security

This page describes the security content of the Sierra update. And it's quite a lot.



Another 'here's how you get the download' tutorial. Quips 'OS X is dead, long live macOS', which may fluster Ms J Capulet. Brief mentions of Siri, Photos, Messages, Picture in Picture, and doc window tabs.



'Apple's desktop operating system has found its voice', quips Kane Fulton Siri-ously. A full review that can be worth a read.



Michael Cohen is the first in this list to bring attention to Notification Center, which he says, from El Capitan to Sierra, is 'literally night and day'. He also likes Finder's ability to group folders above files in column and list views. (No one yet mentions that 'open' and 'save as' dialogs don't do the same, something that's very needed.)

But Michael doesn't think you should rush to upgrade just yet.

'My advice is to hold off, at least for a couple of days or weeks. Not that I have found any show-stoppers in Sierra, but, honestly, Sierra isn't going to go away and it's much better if someone else finds the inevitable bugs than if you do.'



Sierra is more than the name, cautions Edward Mendelson, who goes on to point out it's free and ships with Siri, a universal clipboard, Picture in Picture, Finder improvements, iCloud Desktop and Documents, interesting Photos features, and doc window tabs.



Mendelson covered APFS back in June this year.

'Sometime next year, Apple will start using a new file system on all its hardware. The new Apple File System (APFS) will replace Apple's old HFS+ file system, used on all Macs since 1998 which in turn was based on the archaic HFS, introduced in 1985.'

The Mac was introduced a year before HFS. No mention is made of what was used back then.

'Folders existed as a concept on the original MFS-based Macintosh, but worked completely differently from the way they do on modern systems. They were visible in Finder windows, but not in the open and save dialog boxes.

'There was always one empty folder on the volume, and if it was altered in any way (such as by adding or renaming files), a new empty folder would appear, thus providing a way to create new folders.

'MFS stored all of the file and directory listing information in a single file. The Finder created the illusion of folders, by storing all files as a directory handle/file handle pair.

'To display the contents of a particular folder, MFS would scan the directory for all files in that handle. There was no need to find a separate file containing the directory listing.'

Mendelson points out that APFS is meant to be used on all Apple devices.



  • Security must always be balanced with user-friendliness. OS X has never suffered a serious 'technical' or 'systemic' flaw. Those who were duped were idiots, and they're going to be duped again. Isn't it a bit amazing that some of the smartest people on the planet work so hard to help the dumbest? Think about it. That's what's always going down in IT. Tap tap tap.

  • As for OS X/macOS: it's Unix FFS. But there's security featuritis going around, contagious as can be, seems to have originated in Redmond, Washington, and it's going to cripple a platform that no one was really able to attack anyway. Programmers will tire of it, that'll be reflected in their work, end-users will pick up on it, market share and revenues will suffer. No matter how much you're willing to pay a programmer to do an uninspiring crap job, it won't be good, and your programmer will ultimately cut out on you.

  • David Pogue once said that the inevitable cycle of any software product is to see it improved and improved and improved until no one can use it anymore. Steve Jobs said software projects had to be phased out after ten years.

  • There is no freedom to tinker anymore. True creativity is dead. The only person who doesn't see that is your boss.

  • Sierra styles were perhaps brought on by mobile contingencies, but how long will it take before Aqua or even Ohlfs come back and they introduce the 'new black'?

  • When's the last time any of us saw an idea that was so brilliant it was disruptive? Anything since early 2007? We're seeing cautious and very skilled incremental improvements, but we need excitement. Sierra is 'anti-excitement'.

  • FTFF. People went hysterical, thinking .DS_Store was finally gone. It's been recognised as a bug by the leader of the team who wrote that software. It's relatively easy to fix - a bit of logic shuffling in a relatively small snippet of code. But it's been there, known of but unfixed, for nineteen fucking years. Maybe someone can take five minutes off a coffee break?

  • And while you're at it: start putting back all the native file system and ancillary functionality that you removed, so you thought, to 'comfort' your users. You've insulted them. They're much smarter than you admit.

  • Stick to the basics and stand on the shoulders of giants. The whole world fares better that way.

That being said, the best to Sir Tim and his team.

See Also
Developers Workshop: macOS Sierra's Coming File System

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