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Slab - my new Mini

So, what are my thoughts about the new Mini? A few:

My Mac mini, modelled by Tux and the Moose

  • You can't use the migration assistant without a special computer-to-computer FireWire cable. The G4 only came with a computer-to-device cable (smaller plug on one end), and the assistant only does FireWire. Bummer :-(
  • I used an ethernet cross cable to transfer stuff manually. Mainly copying everything outside Library I wanted, most of Preferences, Fonts and a few subfolders of Application Support. Plus anything Safari- and Mail-Related. Worked like a charm, though I didn't stress my luck (i.e. I reinstalled Photoshop Elements from its CD and didn't even try copying it over -- runs like a charm, though. Doesn't feel any slower to me)
  • The Mac Mini only supports one screen. I knew that, but it's easily the thing I'll have to get used to the most.
  • The Apple infrared remote is tiny. Kind of iPod Shuffle/Pack of gum size. I hadn't realised that before. (It runs on a wristwatch battery, that's how small it is). And of course, it has a minmal UI (six buttons), but does all you'd want. It even works in other apps besides Front Row. I.e. it changes the system volume setting, and you can use it to play/pause iTunes and DVD Player or even put the Mac to sleep after you've finished watching a DVD.
The apple remote in my hands - tiny
  • FrontRow, iTunes and DVD Player share state. So, you can watch a DVD in DVD Player in a small window while coding, then quit when you're done coding, lean back and continue watching where you left off in FrontRow with fullscreen.
  • The Mini is quiet. Even while watching a DVD the noise is lower than my G4. Even before the G4 got that noisy CPU fan with that upgrade.
  • The Power light on the Mini is a glaring white, but really tiny. It hardly lights up my room at night, quite a difference to the G4's.
  • As I mentioned, there's not yet a universal binary version of the MS keyboard driver (though of course the basic keyboard works with the built-in driver). On the other hand, WACOM has one for their tablets already, so at least the more important device is covered.
  • There's no official Intel build of VideoLan client yet either. You need to get one of the latest nightly builds to watch DVDs in a floating window that's always on top.
  • For my uses the GPU is more than fine. The OpenGL implementation definitely does large textures, and so far that's the main thing I need in my OpenGL-based apps. Of course, I don't have an Intel Myst or anything to compare against.
  • Yup, iLife really is a Universal build, not Intel only. So, that'll probably go on my Mom's Mac save for iPhoto. Also, iPhoto now imports movies made with a digital camera, not just the pictures.
  • Since Office 2004 and iWork 06 are only included as demos, I was surprised to find that it comes with full versions of OmniOutliner, Big Bang Board Games and Comic Life in addition to iLife. The Board Games are made with incredible love for detail, and I just noticed Comic Life has my name in the "Thanks To" section. Cool :-)
  • It definitely is faster objectively (even though the UI feels the same). iPhoto scrolls like a pro, my apps compile in no time even though they build for two architectures now, and those two CPUs both only seem to be stressed to ~50%. Similarly, the Moose fades in smoothly, and generally I didn't have to wait much yet. However, that means the network becomes the more noticeable bottleneck now. It's obvious now when Safari is waiting for data to trickle downstream and Finder seems to freeze up even worse when the network becomes unavailable again.
  • I named it "slab". Complicated but boring story behind the name, but luckily it kinda looks like a small slab of marble, so the name fits in several ways.

All in all, it's a great machine. Quieter, smaller, faster, inexpensive. Your Mileage may vary. And I just realised what an idiot I was back when I complained about the iMac Core Duo/G5 comparison.

Update: Now that Photoshop is installed and I've found a build of VideoLAN, I mention that here. Also added an entry on the bundled software.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Ruth Less writes:
What did you contribute to Comic Life? :-o
Uli Kusterer replies:
I don't really know ... I guess it's about an e-mail with lots of comments and suggestions I sent them. :-/
BrianC writes:
"I used an ethernet cross cable to transfer stuff" I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the new hardware coming from Apple doesn't requirea cross over cable, but can use a standard ethernet wire. They even have a nice "do I need a cross over cable" page: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=42717
Uli Kusterer replies:
Auto-detection of a cross-connection has actually been in Macs for close to five years. Even my G4 already touted this feature. It's simply that all longer, non-cross-wired Ethernet cables in the house are already in use (not that I have lots of networking hardware), so the only one left was my cross-cable.
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Created: 2006-03-09 @660 Last change: 2014-07-25 @758 | Home | Admin | Edit
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