More Mac Muttering

Following yesterday’s shocking Mac announcement, things have moved on a bit. For a start, the two screens thing just wasn’t working – there was far too little desk left, and I was running out of power outlets, which was annoying. So I’ve removed the old 17″ screen, fitted the supplied DVI to VGA adapter to the Mac Mini, and connected it to my Dell 20″ screen. I now have to press the source button a few times to switch from Windows to Mac, but that’s not a problem. I still have separate keyboards, mice and speakers as DVI KVM switches tend to be expensive, and in at least one case, reportedly flakier than a truckload of Cadbury Flakes. There’s also the little matter of the different layouts to deal with, and I need to get used to the Mac layout if I’m going to get anywhere with the new toy. And yes, I do find myself typing on the wrong keyboard from time to time, but that’s something I’ve been doing at work for years, so it’s unlikely to change.

The next change was making arrangements to back up the Mac Mini. After my nasty experience with a dead external drive, I’ve become a little paranoid about protecting my data. As one of the two 250GB drives from the old enclosure is in full working order, I decided to make use of it. I bought a new enclosure from USB Now. Well, I ordered a dual interface (USB and Firewire) one, but as it was out of stock, they sent me a slightly more expensive one for the same price, which is the kind of service I like. I fitted the drive to the enclosure, then hooked it up to the Mac Mini, using the Firewire interface. I reformatted the disk to the native Mac format, at which point the nifty Time Machine backup utility popped up and asked me if I wanted to use this new disk as a backup device, which saved me from firing it up and telling it to do that.

Time Machine is basically a “fit and forget” backup solution. It does a full backup immediately, then backs up new and changed files at regular intervals – the default being hourly. The clever bit is that it uses these backups to create point in time restore points going back to, as long as it can fit on the backup disk. Clever stuff, and infinitely easier to use and of more practical use than the rather unfriendly utility that comes with Windows XP[1]. Which means that non-technical users are much more likely to make backups than they would otherwise be – all they have to do is get an external hard drive and plug it in, and then accept the default options.

There have been reports of potentially nasty[3] bugs in Time Machine. Apple have already fixed some of these, but perhaps not all. We shall see…

[1] To use that properly, you need to know what a SYSTEM STATE BACKUP[2] is
[2] Hi Twisty :wave:
[3] Nasty as in “eating your data” :uhoh: