Daily Archives: Monday, 17th Dec 2007

Mac Mini – First Impressions

OK, once I’d downloaded and installed[1] Firefox, I began to feel at home. I have had a play with the Mac’s native browser, Safari, which is quite usable, but for some reason the posting page in WordPress is completely borked in it. I suspect this is down to one of the various plugins I use rather than general borkage, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, the last couple of posts (and indeed this one) have been done on the Mac. The main difficulty for the moment is that some keys are in different places than I’m used to, and I need to remember that it’s the “Command” key that does things that “Control” does on Windows, but other than that, I’m quite liking this slinky Apple keyboard. It’s an amazingly low profile thingy, which comprises a thin plate of aluminium with some keys in it. The buttons are big enough to be comfortable to type on, and feel quite nice – you can definitely tell you’ve hit one, which is better than some keyboards I’ve used.

I haven’t got round to plugging speakers into the Mini as yet, but its built in sound is quite clear and moderately loud. I wouldn’t want to use it for music, but it’s good enough for general use. Lots more to explore, lots more to get to grips with. What fun! :bouncy:

[1] And that’s a wee bit different than on Windows…

Nice Fishies?

I’m indebted to The Register, not only for keeping me entertained informed at work, but more specifically for telling me that Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, will be providing the voice for Captain Haddock in the forthcoming computer animated Tintin movies. This seems appropriate, as Gollum was always fond of fish…

On a more serious note, Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat is providing scripts for the project, which has to be a Good Thing.

It’s an emergency!!

Oh dear, oh dear. In a probably vain effort to stem the tide of deeply inappropriate misuse of the 999 emergency number, Cambridgeshire Police have released recordings of some hideously bad examples. There’s the caller who’s deeply distressed about not being able to find Homebase and the, errr, interesting lady who really wants to contact the Prime Minister. The page has some serious comments from a Police person, but the main event has to be the MP3 files of the calls. Worth a listen.

For assorted comments and reactions to this, have a look at the article on the Register which led me to the story.

Weight Report – 17 December 2007

Yes, well, I was expecting that. Today’s weight is quite significantly higher than yesterday’s, but as yesterday’s was unusually low, I’m not all that alarmed by that. So there.

I walked to work, but got the bus home, as I was carrying toys. And I now have just one more day in work this year! :bouncy: :bouncy:

I may need a bigger desk

What’s this? Two screens on the Losing it[1] desk? And what’s that on the left? Could it be an Apple computer? Could it be a dinky little Mac Mini connected up to my older 17″ monitor? Well, yes. It could. Not only could it be, but it is!

I may need a bigger desk

I may need a bigger desk

I may get a KVM switch at a later date...

Before anyone deluges me with either congratulations or derision[1], depending on their personal prejudices, can I just say that this is something of an experiment. The thing is, I’ll be replacing the main computer here at Losing it[1] Towers at some point next year. The poor old thing will be five years old by then, and although it’s had new RAM, a new hard disk and a new video card, it’s still getting a bit too old for what i want to do. So I’ll be in the market for a new beastie computer – something with one (or two) of the latest processors, lots of RAM and a biiiiiiiiiig screen. Even bigger than that 20″ widescreen thingy I’m using at the moment. Now if you’d asked me a while ago, I’d have told you that I’d be looking at a 64bit Windows thingy. Nooooo question about that. But there are some problems there. For a start, driver and software support on 64bit Windows is still a wee bit variable. Or pants, in some cases. And there is the matter of Vista, which is the first Microsoft OS in a long time that I haven’t found the slightest inclination to investigate. But if I want a new Windows machine, I’ll have to bite the metaphorical Vista bullet sooner or later.

And that’s what set me thinking, and investigating and researching, and all that kind of thing. And I began to reconsider the whole thing. It’s something of a tradition for Windows people to look down on Macs, and indeed vice versa. The interesting thing is that the disdain on both sides tends to be based on either erroneous concepts or ever so slightly out of date information. I’m sure a lot of Windows people think of either those little 9″ black and white Macs from the late 80s, or maybe the garishly coloured iMacs of the late 90s, and assume that Mac mice always have one button only. And Mac people think Windows still looks and acts like Windows 95, or worse, Windows 98.[1]

But things have moved on in both camps. Windows has developed into a mostly stable and well behaved multi-tasking operating system, held back by the limitations of its 32bit heritage, perhaps. It would be nice to be able to have more than 3GB of RAM available without having to sacrifice compatibility with applications and devices…

Meanwhile, while a lot of Windows people weren’t paying attention, Apple replaced their OS with a new graphical shell sitting on top of a seriously powerful UNIX core. Mac OS X[2] can deal with lots of RAM without any silliness about 32bit or 64bit versions. Their hardware range now includes chunky (but expensive) tower machines, laptops, remarkably pretty iMacs which have the computer hiding behind the screen[3], and this dinky little Mac Mini. Inside that ridiculously small box is a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 120GB hard disk, a DVD writer, and it’s got WiFi[4] and Bluetooth on board, which is a little unusual for a desktop machine, or at least for the ones I’m used to. I got it as an experiment. I want to see how it goes with some of the things I usually do – mainly using Lightroom, which fortunately has a civilised licence which will let me play on both species of computer. Sadly, Photoshop is not so civilised, so I won’t be able to do much with that (though I could get a trial at some point, I suppose).

Getting to learn a new OS is going to be a bit of fun, if nothing else. Expect more Mac-related mutterings over the next few weeks and months.

Meanwhile, here are some more pictures of my new toy. The Icicle Works CD in some of the pictures, quite apart from being a quite wonderful album, is there to show the size of the computer.

[1] Proof of this is an icon in MacOS intended to represent PCs on a network. It shows a Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), something most Windows users have seen once or twice. The funny thing is that it’s recognisable as a Windows 95 BSOD…
[2] I recently learned that you’re supposed to read that as the Roman numeral “ten” rather than “X”. Which makes sense as it is the tenth major version of their system software
[3] Not a kind of machine I’d be happy with. While it saves on space, that all-in-one thing is a bit worrying in terms of repairs…
[4] Which connected to my router without any trouble at all