Thursday, July 28, 2005

the mac goes back

Just a mere 17 days after purchasing my new Mac Mini, I'm returning it today for several reasons, but the largest being that Apple has just upgraded what you get for $599!

Apple Store

You can now get built in wireless($130) and bluetooth($??) capabilities as well as double the RAM($80)!

On top of all that - I'll get the Tiger OS, which will save me another $130. That's a lot of savings!

CompUSA in Ann Arbor is still selling the old versions of the Mac, and they come loaded with Panther. Buyer beware - because Apple used to have a "Up-To-Date" program that would allow you to purchase an older system and then upgrade the version of the OS for $10 - $20, however that offer ended on July 22nd. I think it is completely horrible that CompUSA is still selling the old versions and that you can't upgrade the software at a discount. I plan on sending a message to CompUSA corporate and Apple regarding the situation.

Luckily - I am within the 21 day return policy. However, because I paid CASH - I get to wait 10 business days for CompUSA to get me a refund check.

-- update: I just got back from CompUSA and I got three different answers back from three different people regarding how quickly I would get my refund. The first said two weeks, the second said within 7 days, the third said four weeks. Let the waiting begin.

no cube talk!

I sit on the outskirts of a 70+ rep product support department. I'm used to working in an above average, noisy environment. I have a new pet peeve...

Why is it that people feel the need to converse (out loud) with a person that is two cubes away from them for long periods of time? I'm not talking about just a "hey, I need this..." or even a "hey, how's it going..." - I'm talking about

U1: hey, I think I drove by your house last night...
U2: yeah..
U1: there were no lights on...
U2: i was out...
U1: you're lawn is looking great though... what are you using to keep it so green? One time while applying weed and feed I felt really sick... it was weird.
U2: Yeah, I've worked really hard on it this year...
U1: - so how come you weren't home... were you out?
U1: How's your new (b/f : g/f)?
U2: Awesome... they are SO cool.
U1: Cool - I had (food) for dinner last night. It was yummy.
U1: I went to bed around 1am. How about you?
U2: I was up so late partying... heheh
U1: Sometimes when I go to bed I giggle.
U2: You're weird.
U1: Sometimes I don't.
U1: I like the color yellow and wish I lived in a little pink house.
U1: Did you like the song "Pink Houses" - isn't it cool?
U1: Oooh - I got a call. Hello, (company name) support, can I have your phone number starting with area code, please?
U2: Gotcha!
U1: Hahahah... I can't believe you got me... you're SO funny.
U2: Ha! I'm good.
U1: So - what are you doing tonight?

... and it goes on - and on- and on!!! It never frickin ends! I've grown used to most things in the corporate environment, but this one is really starting to get to me.

I know, I know - headphones, right? A programmer's best friend.

Well - I've tried it and it works for a while... but when I take them off - the convo is still going strong.

Maybe I'll introduce the newbs to the office instant messaging app - as it's such a nice low decibal solution. =)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Trimming the fat - Adobe Reader

This is an oldie but a goodie!

Shows you how to rename the plugins folder and then copy over only the basic ones needed. As the article states, you may need more depending on what you use Adobe Reader for and the type of PDF's you're working with - but this worked fine for me and it loads files so much faster!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Sure it's still a long way off ... but I found this interesting, so I thought I'd post about it.

While browsing on Pete Freitag's blog I found a link to this presentation on what to expect from the next version of the XHTML spec.

As I'm still working on getting the most out of XHTML + CSS in my sites this won't be of any particular use right now... but it's nice to see what lies ahead.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

more with Mini

When deciding to purchase the Mac Mini I wondered if I should get the faster version (1.42Ghz) for the boost in processing power. I've read that the slower model (1.25Ghz) has a faster spinning HD. 5400 rpm on the slower model vs. 4200 rpm on the faster model.

If you're thinking about purchasing one - my suggestion to you is to still go with the 1.42Ghz model. The reason? Simple - the HD size. The 1.25Ghz model comes with a 40GB drive. The 1.42Ghz model comes with an 80GB drive. The real difference comes when you start up your machine for the first time and notice that the OS and the installed Applications take up over 15GB of space!!

I would have been very disappointed to get home and find out that I only had 25GB left on the 1.25Ghz model.

Food for thought - if you're thinking about purchasing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

First Day with Mac Mini : Initial Thoughts

As I rushed home on Monday evening with the purchase of the Mac Mini under my belt, I knew that I had purchased it for a specific reason and that reason was testing. I also knew that it was now 6pm and I would still have to set the computer up in a given location and begin the daunting task of trying to learn how to use OS X. Part of me was excited. Another part was frightened and didn't feel like doing a ton of work to setup and start using a new system.

I sat the cubed box that the Mini comes in off to the side of my regular sitting area in the living room and unwound a bit with some dinner and television. After dinner I ran downstairs and grabbed a network cable so that I could connect the new system to my router and configure it to use the internet. I hesitated slightly as I went to grab my Dell Flat Panel monitor from my parents room, just "knowing" that it would probably be a beast to get it working with the new Mac. I collected all the items I needed and gathered them around my recliner, opened two TV tables, one for my laptop PC and one for the shiny new Mac. It was time, and I was ready.

I reached for the Mac Mini box as eagerly as if it was christmas in July. As I opened it - the first thing I noticed was a very well designed box about the size of a CD case embossed in foam protection. The silver box with white Apple logo caught my eye right away and as I opened it I found that it contained all the software installation CD's for the operating system and applications that were loaded. "Very nice", I thought. I lifted the first layer of foam (in which the CD's were held) and there was the Mac Mini safely surrounded by another layer of foam protection. As I pulled it out I noticed that it also had a thin layer of plastic protection on the actual unit which I removed slowly and it revealed a pristine little machine. I could help but notice how well made this little computer seemed to be made. It weighed in at 2.9lbs, but was built like a rock. No rattling of moving components inside, just "strong". I looked back in the cubed box hoping that there was more for me to find, and there was! Under the layer of foam protection that held the Mini was yet another encasing that held the power supply and cabling as well as the DVI -> VGA adapter. "This is slick packaging", I thought again. You have to understand, I've bought many brand new computers and NOTHING even compares to the presentation quality that Apple put into the packaging of this system. It was impressive. Impressive enough that I'm writing about it! I wondered if as much time had been put into the keyboard packaging and design. It had. The Apple keyboard was also protected by foam on the two edges (not a big deal as most keyboards are), but also had the thin layer of plastic protection right on the hardware that needed to be peeled off revealing another perfectly crafted item. The keyboard is USB and had a nice plastic USB cover that protected the end of the cable from dust, etc. Again - these little things impressed me quite a bit. But there was more to come...

After unpacking the Mac Mini, I couldn't help but think about all the times that I'd heard the saying "it just works" when referring to Apple products. I quickly found the DVI -> VGA adapter and took a look at it. It was designed very well and simply instered into the DVI slot on the back of the Mini. It has nobs on the side that allow you to screw it down tight - these nobs are built right into the adapter and aren't like the kind that you'd find on PC adapters - yes the one's that end up getting stuck or unscrewing nuts from within your PCI / AGP cards because the threads seem to have seized somehow and the adapter is now part of the card. Anyone who's worked with computers a bit will know what I'm talking about. This was very cleverly and carefully designed on the side of the adaptor and designed to be extremely easy to use. I plugged the monitor cable into the DVI adaptor. I hooked up the PC based USB mouse and the new Apple keyboard. I plugged in the network cable too my router and found the power cable for the Mac Mini and plugged that in. Crossed my fingers and turned it on.

OS X welcomed me with open arms as the machine started with a wizard that walked me through registering for a new Apple account. No need to configure a network card - all was setup and working, it had already grabbed an address from my DHCP server and had already communicated information to Apple. Registration was a breeze and within 5 minutes I was greeted with the OS X desktop. "that's it?" - I was shocked at how easy it was to setup and the presentation of all the components. Basically Apple did a good job because they made it extremely easy for anyone to pop out a new system and get up and working with it in no time.

Now that the machine was working - I needed to get to work and complete some of the testing that had to do. But wait - I didn't even know how to install software on a Mac or launch an application. Good thing that the OS X interface is also VERY intuitive. Browsing around a little had me locate "Finder" - which when clicked on listed my home directories and Applications and much, much more. This was a good start. I then located System Preferences, from which I could configure certain parts of the system. Safari caught my eye - so I launched it. BAM - browsing the net I downloaded an application called TextWrangler which is a powerful text editor that I needed to install for my testing. To my surprise, once the download was done a window popped up telling me to drag an icon into my applications folder ( I knew where this was now.. .) and it would install the app, and it did. It mounted as a drive to my system and installed the software from there. Once finished with the installation, you can just eject the mount and move on. Again - the system just kept impressing me. I think some folks may be a bit shy when they find out that the OS X backend is Unix, but don't be... things couldn't be easier. What's nice about it - is that if you do have 'nix knowledge, you'll be able to use it in this new found land! I was able to find "terminal" and I felt right at home. It's like having a linux box with the world's best GUI. It was good - and I was happy.

I did quite a bit that night - found out how to work with Apache (preloaded) and upgrade the version of PHP that comes with OS X. Worked within, and installed applications. Browsed the web and setup email. Changed System Preferences and learned quite a bit about the desktop layout. This was all accomplished in a period of four hours.

Overall - my initial thoughts are very good when it comes to the Mac Mini, Apple and OS X. They've really managed to impress the heck out of me and who knows - if I grow to like it even more - there may just be a G5 in my future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

nadon goes mac

I made the leap yesterday, and have started an adventure in a new world called Macintosh.

I purchased a Mac Mini.

Weighing in at 2.9 lbs and costing me $680 ($599 for the Mac Mini and $30 for the keyboard) I figured that this was the perfect way to introduce myself to the world of OS X, while also filling a need I had for testing software on Mac.

I purchased from CompUSA in Ann Arbor. The experience was a good one, as there was an Apple Store rep there at CompUSA who was more than happy to take some time and answer any questions that I had. Some of those questions:

q: Can I use a VGA monitor?
a: YES! The Mac Mini comes with a DVI -> VGA adapter that allows PC users who already have a monitor available to them to connect that up to their Mac.

q: Do I have to buy a special keyboard and mouse?
a: NO. You can use any USB keyboard / mouse with the Mac. Even a two button w/ scroll mouse works just fine. If you buy the Apple keyboard you'll notice that it comes with an extra USB port on it, so you could just plug your mouse into that and that way you would have one USB port free on the Mini.

q: What about speakers?
a: The Mac Mini has a regular headphone jack that you can use with external speakers or with headphones. I also found out that it has a built in speaker as well.

q: I do quite a bit of media production. Creating music / movies on the PC using Sony's Vegas Video and Acid Pro 4.0. Is there similar software for the Mac?
a: YES. Mac is made for media production. The Mac Mini even comes with some software that will help you get started like iPhoto, GarageBand, iTunes, iDVD, and iMovie - which are all part of the iLife Suite.

q: Will Mac Mini be able to handle the heavy processor load for music / video creation and editing?
a: KINDA. Mac Mini was made to accomplish exactly what it did with me - get a PC user to check out the "other side" of the playground. It's not a "power" machine by any means. It has a laptop processor and comes with 256 MB ram installed. (can be upgraded very easily to 1GB for $114 through Crucial - thanks for the tip Kevin!) When doing music creation in GarageBand, for instance, you may notice a difference in speed if you're working with anything over 5 tracks. Also - although iLife comes with iDVD, you won't be able to burn DVD's unless you add in the Apple SuperDrive to the Mac Mini. These points didn't sway my decision too much as part of the goal of purchasing the Mac is to check out the software - and if I like it, upgrade to a G5 system later this year.

q: Networking? Does it support it?
a: YES. Mac Mini comes with a built in 10/100 network card, so you can just plug it into your hub/router and you're ready to go! You can also get the optional AirPort Express to give you wireless freedom.

q: Warranty?
a: 90 days - full. 1 year limited, with the option to buy Apple Care Protection for an additional $150.

q: Will it make me cool?
a: YES. As soon as you make the purchase you'll notice that people, starting with the clerk, will start treating you different. It will have nothing to do with you just spending $680. You'll have entered a secret club and should get your handbook with special Mac slang cheat sheets and instructions on how to do the Mac Mini handshake within a couple of weeks.

I think if I had signed up for Apple Care, they would have thrown in a decoder ring and lapel pin... but oh well.

With these questions answered I was prepared to make the leap... and I did.

Next post: First look and initial thoughts...

Monday, July 11, 2005

closer to the dark side...

I've been tossing around the idea of getting a Mac for quite a while now. Recently I have contracted for a project that will allow me to purchase it. Now it's time to figure out which kind to get and how heavily to invest my time in learning the OS. I'm familiar with Linux, so I'm assuming it won't be a huge leap to get things up and working but only time will tell.

At this point I'm thinking about picking up a MiniMac to "test the waters" and if I fall in love may purchase a laptop later this year.

The initial use of the Mac would be for testing purposes of a new beta product as well as setting up Apache / PHP for testing. I'm figuring that this may also become the computer that I'm able to record my music on... filling a double purpose.

Check out the system that I'm looking at here.