Yes, I’m back… with a shiny new Mini

Apologies to everyone who has emailed me about the staleness of this blog. Yes, I need to update it. Yes, I need to acknowledge the fact that I have left Imperial and to reflect what I am currently up to.

I’ve been held up by two things. Firstly, I had already announced my intention to migrate from Drupal to WordPress. I have a working WordPress installation but it isn’t yet configured to an extent that I’m happy to switch over. In the meantime I carried on blogging with Drupal (as I didn’t want to pause) but I didn’t want to change any of the static content as I wanted to leave that for the WordPress migration.

Part of the reason the migration didn’t happen was that my computer half-died. When I say half-died I mean it stopped booting Mac OS X. For those who don’t know my desktop was an aging PowerTower Pro. It was beefed up with a G3 processor upgrade as well as copious amounts of memory and some UltraSCSI storage. Of late it had become increasingly unreliable. The latest crash resulted in it unable to boot OS X – again. This time I couldn’t do a re-install because the CD-ROM drive had stopped working. I didn’t have a spare SCSI CD-ROM drive to hand (after a recent clear-out of old ‘junk), a netboot was out of the question on an unsupported Mac and I knew the hard disk would corrupt itself again anyway. So I decided to order a new computer. (I’d come to the conlusion I needed to do this anyway and the hardware failures simply forced my hand.)

I ordered a shiny new Mac Mini, from Apple. Whilst I could have picked it up from a retail store I wanted the maximum educational discount and that meant getting it built-to-order from the Apple Store online. It took about two weeks’ to arrive (because I went for a custom-configuration, of course). During that time I didn’t want to risk doing much as my system (now restricted to an old, corrupted install of Mac OS 9) was averaging a crash every 20 mins – so I was forced down to the bare minimum of web and email. Once the computer arrived I was slow to get started as the time co-incided with all the novelty of starting the academic term at a new university (more on that in a future blog).

So anyway, I am now mostly up-and-running on my new Mac Mini system. I was worried it might be a little on the slow side but the performance is surprisingly good for a low-end machine. It is certainly good enough for home DV work and more than good enough for most other desktop applications.

Here’s a picture. Doesn’t it look so cute? Apologies for the poor image quality I only had the basic VGA-resolution camera on smartphone to hand.

The device underneath is a Lacie mini Firewire drive. IMHO it’s the best designed of the many Mac Mini companion drives available. The airflow allows it to operate without a fan which means it isn’t too noisy. That’s quite important to me as part of the reason I opted to get a Mini (other than price) over a PowerMac was to get to minimise noise. My ears do not take kindly to listening to a computer fan for several hours at night when I’m trying to get some work done. Now that computers are generally fast enough I think it’s important that manufacturers start focussing on improving the ‘human’ aspects of computing technology rather than out-and-out performance.

As you might be able to tell, I’m still a geek, so I’m quite excited by my new shiny toy. Hopefully, the WordPress migration will happen real soon – depending on what new exciting things I find on my new computer.

2 Responses to “Yes, I’m back… with a shiny new Mini”

  • Macs
    I came across a link to your blog on T R-P’s blog, so I thought I’d take a look…

    The PowerMacs are really not noisy at all- we had a quad delivered earlier in the week, and it’s so much faster than the minis it’s incredible (it should be, I suppose, at 6 times the cost).

  • Would have to agree with Mustafa, Mini Mac’s are a lot better. Our company is engulfed by the recent influx of Mac’s and the Mini wins hands down! It is so much nicer, takes up less space, and almost silent, in contrast with the PowerMac.


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