Tag Archives: apple

My take on Apple’s Magic Mouse

Never one to let new toys sit on store shelves too long, I picked up a Magic Mouse as soon as they were available in the local Apple stores. I was one of those rare folks who actually liked the mouse-formerly-known-as Mighty Mouse, so thought I’d write about it from that perspective.

First, I love the scrolling action when you slide your finger on the mouse. _Love_ it. I also find that I really like the momentum scrolling option, which, like the iPhone, dampens the scrolling effect when you lift your finger rather than stopping abruptly. I thought I’d hate the momentum (makes sense on the iPhone, but on a computer?!?), but it didn’t take long to get used to it, and then like it, and then actually be bummed when it didn’t work well in an app. The only app I’ve found so far that it doesn’t seem to work well in is Tweetie; I think it is actually working, but it’s so highly damped that you can’t really tell. [I saw a tweet from Loren saying he’s waiting for his mouse to come in so he can work on it.]

If you want to stop the scrolling abruptly, like other mice, just don’t pick up your finger when you’re done scrolling…and it will stop in its tracks. Perfect.

The only scroll-related gotcha I’ve found is when you’re in an app where you can scroll down one line at a time (the example for me is the ThinkOrSwim trading app, looking at level 2 quotes, trying to scroll down one line at a time)…with the mighty mouse, it was easier to scroll down just one line, or three lines, or whatever you wanted. With the magic mouse, it’s still possible, but takes some finesse, which I haven’t mastered yet.

The other thing I really like is the fact that you can use the whole surface of the mouse for scrolling. Sometimes I’ll be reading a long web page, and take my hand off the mouse. Now when I want to scroll down a bit, I don’t have to position my finger right on the scroll ball, but in fact can just stick a finger anywhere on the mouse and scroll around.

Right-clicking on the magic mouse works exactly like it did on the mighty mouse, which works well for me. The two-finger swipes to go back and forward in a browser do work…but I haven’t trained myself to do it yet. It’s a touch awkward now, IMHO, but who knows, maybe I’ll grow to like it.

I do miss the extra buttons on the mighty mouse, which I had assigned to dashboard and expose. My hope is that Apple maybe adds some options in the mouse preferences to re-map the two-finger swipe to other functions, so we can customize the behavior to our liking. Or perhaps there are other gestures the mouse can recognize that just aren’t implemented in the driver yet. I’m not holding my breath, though. :-)

All in all, I like it a lot. I’ll probably end up buying another one for my other computer now. And, in case you want one, here are make-me-rich Amazon links for the Magic Mouse and the wired mouse!

Lightroom and Mac Pro performance – part 2

Back in February, I wrote about the performance I was seeing with my Mac Pro, and compared it to several other machines. My intent was to compare performance between various different machines and configurations…but it had the unexpected side effect of giving me a baseline with which to measure new versions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

This data proved to be quite useful when Lightroom 2.0 was released, and I could test the 32-bit build against the 64-bit build. What I found was surprising.

Just like last time, the basic test was generating 1:1 previews for 211 raw images (compressed NEF format from a Nikon D200), about 1.75GB of files.

First, Lightroom 2.0 32-bit:

Mac Pro, 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon, 8 cores, 12GB RAM, OS X 10.5.5
CPU utilization between 350-500% throughout
Total time 4:57, average 1.41 sec/image

And Lightroom 2.0 64-bit:

Mac Pro, 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon, 8 cores, 12GB RAM, OS X 10.5.5
CPU utilization between 500-550% throughout
Total time 7:06, average 2.02 sec/image

So the 32-bit version on OS X 10.5.5 was actually a bit faster than my previous tests of Lightroom 1.3.1 on 10.5.2, which could be due to either the Lightroom 2.0 upgrade, or 10.5.5 changes.

But the 64-bit version of Lightroom 2.0 totally blew chunks, as you can see. Pretty disappointing, and totally reproducible for me, so I opened a ticket with Adobe. They got back to me saying they could reproduce the problem, and also had a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about how there is more overhead in accessing memory in 64-bit mode (which I’m not sure I believe, but I’m not up to speed enough on the Leopard 64-bit implementation to know for sure).

Well, Lightroom 2.1 was recently released, and here is the data:

Lightroom 2.1 32-bit:

Mac Pro, 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon, 8 cores, 12GB RAM, OS X 10.5.5
CPU utilization between 350-500% throughout
Total time 4:55, average 1.40 sec/image

Lightroom 2.1 64-bit:

Mac Pro, 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon, 8 cores, 12GB RAM, OS X 10.5.5
CPU utilization about 400% throughout
Total time 4:05, average 1.16 sec/image

Wow – obviously a big change; the 64-bit version now totally rocks. There was something in the 2.1 release notes about enabling SSE extensions in 64-bit mode – sounds like that might have been the bug!

I didn’t record the memory usage numbers, unfortunately…but I remember watching during the runs, and the 64-bit version seemed to be using about twice the memory that the 32-bit version did.

Mac Pro performance

I’ve been torturing myself with the idea of buying a Mac Pro for a while…I mean, come on – 8 cores, for $2799? So last week, I finally broke down and pulled the trigger. But of course it didn’t stop there – I added another 10GB for a total of 12GB of RAM, and added a couple of disk drives as well.

It certainly “feels” fast – but I wanted to actually make some measurements, to see if it was just my imagination. I could run benchmarks, but that didn’t sound like much fun. So instead, I ran a process in Adobe Lightroom 1.3.1 to create 1:1 previews for 211 raw images (compressed NEF format from a Nikon D200), which is roughly 1.75 GB of files.

Here’s what I did. And yes, I’m apparently geeky enough that this sounded like fun. :-)

On the Mac Pro and the Macbook Pro, I generated these 1:1 previews in an existing Lightroom catalog with about 12,000 images in it. On all other systems, I generated the previews in a brand new catalog with nothing in it other than these 211 photos.

All of the virtual machines mentioned below are using VMWare Fusion, running on the Mac Pro.

Here are the configurations I ran, and the results:

Mac Pro, 2 x 2.8 GHz Xeon, 8 cores, 12GB RAM, OS X 10.5.2
CPU utilization between 350-400% throughout
Total time 5:36, average 1.59 sec/image

Macbook Pro, 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2 cores, 4GB RAM, OS X 10.5.2
CPU utilization between 150-200%
Total time 13:35, average 3.86 sec/image

Dell XPS 420, 2.8 GHz Pentium D, 2 cores*, 3GB RAM, Windows XP SP2
CPU utilization about 50%
Total time 27:00, average 7.68 sec/image

Virtual machine, 2 processors, 3GB RAM, Windows XP SP2
CPU utilization between 150-200%
Total time 8:58, average 2.55 sec/image

Virtual machine, 1 processor, 3GB RAM, Windows XP SP2
CPU utilization about 100%
Total time 15:12, average 4.32 sec/image

Virtual machine, 2 processors, 3GB RAM, Windows Vista
CPU utilization between 150-200%
Total time 8:29, average 2.41 sec/image

* – not sure why this process on the Pentium D only seemed to be using a single processing core, that’s what happened when it ran.

Clearly the Mac Pro is pretty darn fast, and Lightroom interestingly appears to use up to 4 processing cores. The VM data was interesting to see, as well; I can run Windows XP in a VM dramatically faster than running it on my (admittedly old) Dell XPS 400. I wish I had a Core 2 Duo windows machine handy that I could try this on – would be interesting to compare that data with the virtualized Xeon processors on the Mac Pro.

UPDATE 10/30/2008: Additional data from Lightroom 2.0 and 2.1, on OS X 10.5.5, comparing 32-bit and 64-bit performance.