Desperately slow

This morning, I tried to install Razer Synapse on my Mac now equipped with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). That worked very well but brought absolutely NO improvement with respect to mouse smoothness. In fact, it does absolute nothing: no compensation or removal of the unwanted acceleration, and no handling at all of the side buttons. That program seems to only manage keyboard macros, completely ignoring the mouse. I thus had to reinstall SmoothMouse.

Then I started to have issues with the mouse wheel. Sometimes it wasn’t working at all, sometimes it was scrolling in the wrong direction, sometimes it seemed correct after a couple of attempts. I found an option in Mouse preferences to invert direction of scrolling and unchecked that. That may partly explain the erratic behavior.

The biggest disappointment came from performance. Boot up time is more than a minute and a half and no video playback of any kind is possible. I tried YouTube with Flash, with HTML5: choppy video with correct sound. I tried to play MPEG4 videos with QuickTime: choppy video with correct sound. It seems I would have to convert all my videos to QuickTime, probably with reduced resolution. This is kind of pointless and very time consuming. In fact, QuickTime won’t play AVI files as well: again, transcoding is required. That can of course be worked around with any good video player such as VLC, MPlayer, maybe even Kodi/XBMC, but then I slowly but surely come up to the conclusion that ALL Apple applications need to be supplemented or replaced with a cross-platform alternative that can also work well, even better, on a non-Mac environment!

Final Cut Express, while claimed in the documentation to support many input video formats such as MPEG4 and AVI, happens to support only QuickTime .mov files. As far as I read, QuickTime is a container: a .mov file can contain different kinds of video and audio streams. In practice, there is no tools capable of repackaging a MPEG4 or AVI file into a QuickTime movie: tools will slowly and wrongly reencode video, recompress audio, into some kind of probably proprietary, unknown, undocumented, Apple-specific format. Maybe only trial versions of commercial tools can do the repackaging, if at all possible.

Final Cut Express miserably failed at importing MPEG4 files from my Android phone, bailing out with useless error message. I tried with AVI files from video captures with Bandicam with a bit more success: Final Cut Express imported the clip, was able to preview sound but displayed no video.

Sometimes, more and more often, system response became unacceptable. The mouse started to be choppy, literally jumping from one place to another. Sometimes, the movement was smooth, sometimes the mouse would jump ahead, sometimes the mouse would stop moving. When that happened, I had to shut down applications, which took up to THIRTY seconds!

After that, keyboard stopped working properly. This started with CTRL-F2 not opening up the menu bar. I had to change the binding for CTRL-F10, for no obvious reason. That worked an hour or two, then ALL F1-F12 keys on my Razer external keyboard stopped working, no reason, reboot required to fix! Probably the USB stack has some quirks to flaw non-Apple devices but make people believe they CAN work. So I would have to pay 50$ for an Apple keyboard, 70$ for an Apple USB trackpad or mouse, and find some place to install all this or move all my stuff around when switching from my PC to my Mac.

Conclusion: this machine is almost unusable. I REALLY would have to downgrade to Snow Leopard, probably even better to Leopard, to do anything with this, and even then, what’s the point of using Final Cut Express if I need to preprocess all my input files into QuickTime, loosing quality during the lossy process, and then let Final Cut Express scramble the video information once more during its rendering phase?