Doesn’t Play with Lion

Mac OS X LionI was recently asked which private schools in the Atlanta area had 1:1 laptop programs, and I honestly had no idea, so I contacted two colleagues, and I discovered that of the schools who have 1:1 programs, most use Macs. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a Mac fan. I wanted to upgrade to Lion as soon as it was released, but I discovered that several programs I run regularly don’t play well with Lion. This is probably no surprise, especially due to the fact that in Lion, Rosetta is discontinued. I advised my Mac-loving colleagues at work to hold off on an upgrade until I could find out when these programs would work with Lion. The main programs I’m concerned about are the following:

  • GradeQuick Web Plugin (not really a plugin, but a program). In my opinion, GradeQuick doesn’t work well even in Snow Leopard. It functions, but the UI is terrible, and it opens a different window for each class.
  • SMART Notebook 10.8. I only know of one teacher who regularly connects her SMARTBoard to her MacBook, but I am sure others use Notebook on their Macs to create files to use with their SMARTBoards.
  • Konica Bizhub copier drivers. We can print to our copiers using our Macs, but the Konica website doesn’t have a driver for 10.7 yet, and they have published no ETA for releasing one on their website.

I am going to an Edline/GradeQuick conference next week, and I hope to be able to find out more about when GradeQuick will work on Lion at that time. This email from Edline support to the LRSD Technology Center is the only information I’ve been able to find. The tone of the letter disturbs me because it sounds as if Edline is blaming Apple for the incompatibility. Apple switched to Intel-based processors some time ago, and Rosetta (at least to my understanding) was meant to be a way to transition from PowerPC-based to Intel-based processors. The announcement that Apple was making this change was made in 2005. Snow Leopard, which was introduced in 2009, was released as Intel-only and you had to download Rosetta in order to run PowerPC programs. To my way of thinking, software developers knew two years ago which way the wind was blowing, but because Apple was still supporting Rosetta, they effectively decided not to make any changes to their software until Apple forced them to. Education software is not always known to be the most proactive bunch, but given how many schools seem to be moving to 1:1 laptops and how many of those programs are using Apple, it just doesn’t make business sense to decide not to upgrade until you’re forced to. There are alternatives out there, and if you want to keep a school’s business, it seems logical to make sure your software runs on their hardware.

SMART is making the same mistake. A cursory glance at the SMARTBoard Revolution Ning reveals users are having a whole host of problems with Notebook 10.8 on Lion—actually, seems to be unstable with Macs in general. Take a look at this thread. The answer that the original poster was given when he asked when SMART would be resolving known issues with Macs and SMART Notebook? Not until next year when the next update is pushed out. So users need to downgrade to 10.7 if they wish to use Notebook on their Macs? When so many schools use Macs?

I tweeted Konica about the drivers for the bizhub copiers, and they replied that the new driver should be released next month, but that the driver for 10.6 would still work on Lion. That is good news for those of us who print from our Macs. Still no firm date, and “should work” doesn’t mean “will work,” but since I can’t upgrade due to issues with GradeQuick and SMART Notebook, I can’t test it.

I have decided that I want to install VMWare Fusion to run the programs in Windows on my Mac. I admit I feel frustrated. Would the software companies drag their feet like this on Windows software? Given the large number of Mac OS users in education, how can they justify dragging their feet on Mac software?

Do you know of any other programs educators might use that will not work in Lion? Please share in the comments. Also, feel free to share any other issues you’ve had with using Macs in school.

Image via TUAW.

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6 thoughts on “Doesn’t Play with Lion

  1. I tried uploading the SMART software on my 2008 Mac (snow leopard) and it always froze, so I deleted it. I just send things to school via email or use a flash and load things into notebook when I am there. Probably not the most efficient way, but it is working so far. I want to be more savvy with the SMARTboard this year, so I am interested in what other people with macs may be doing. I have a new Mac with Lion (the old one was jacked) now, so I am not sure what to do…

    • There is or was a known issue with Flash with the previous version(s) of Notebook, and I wonder if that was at the root of your problems. There is a fix for it, but it sounds like you're on Lion now, so I'm not sure it would be worthwhile to try it. By the way, have you tried Dropbox for your SMARTBoard files? It works great.

      • No, I'll have to check it out. We switched our school websites to echalk- is it compatible with that because it would be great to put notes up for kids who are out! I think you can see my email address as the moderator…

  2. Hi Dana and Elizabeth – thanks for your inquiry. The short answer on compatibility is “yes.” While we do not integrate DropBox, we have our own version of a school-specific drop box within the app itself for sharing/submitting homework assignments and resources.

    Additionally, we do have customers who save SMART files and post to their eChalk classroom for later retrieval and/or to make viewable by parents and students. There’s ample storage for files in the MyFiles area and unlimited storage in the Class Resources section, so there are a range of options for storing and posting SMART files. eChalk also has an alert function that notifies parents each afternoon of that evening’s announcements and homework assignments.

    For technical support inquiries of any kind, please don’t hesitate to email support@echalk.com or call toll free 1-800-499-2741. Each school also has a dedicated client services manager that can offer assistance on planning, utilization, and further support. See your site manager or call the technical support line to get connected.

    Thanks –

    Leah Woods

    Director of Operational Services, eChalk

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