Mac Mini

glenwilson

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15 Mar 2012
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I've tried running a few Windows boxes as a music and video servers and they work OK but do tend to be either a bit bulky if you want enough space for disk drives or noisy. I built one machine which is totally fanless (silent apart from HD noise) and does the job. The only downside is that the case is still too big and looks completely out of place in the living room. A decent looking case for this sort of purpose tends to cost at least an arm if not also a leg.

The Intel NUC machines look ideal but don't have enough room in for HDD and SSDs are not large enough capacity to hold a music and video library.

So, after much debate I got a Mac Mini. I've had iPods, iPads, and iPhones and they have been easy to use but OS X to me is baffling! Trying to install applications is turning into a hell! With Windows you down load the file and run it (or burn it to disk if it is an ISO image and then run) and it gets installed. On OS X you download it and more often than not it says drag the icon to the applications folder. What F'ing icon. The download is a dmg, drag that and nothing happens. I think I'm pretty computer savvy and literate and have used Windows, Mainfames, Linux but this is totally baffling to me. Macs seem to be marketed for professionals and muggles but I seem to fall between those two camps.

For general use the Mini is a really nice machine. I had thought about waiting for the next version to appear but went with the current version. Also went with the 2TB server version purely for the extra space. The box is gorgeous - not too big and very very quiet - not hear the fan running at all (I checked it was working). It came wit 4GB RAM but have upgraded that to 16GB and that makes it a bit more responsive. The I7 chip works fine. With Bluetooth, wifi built-in you can hide it out of the way and leave it running. Also got a 4TB external drive (£100) for backups of not only the Mini but also other PCs. Works great as a music and video streamer to the Apple TV. Stille baffled by some of OS X though.

Also got it to have a go at app development. Previous job was as a Lead mainframe analyst/programmer writing COBOL and IDEAL progs. Converting to Objective C is fun but a bit challenging. Apart from the language being different a lot of the basic structures are similar but having different names. Had a few ideas for simple apps and that is what I'm hoping to produce - not expecting a fortune to appear but maybe someone would find them useful!
 

samoz83

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15 Mar 2012
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Nice, I really hated the last time I touched OS X. I found it so unintuitive and had similar problems as you described. I'm not a great fan of obj-c prefer standard C++/C# personally. But sounds like a really nice little server you got.
 

glenwilson

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15 Mar 2012
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Nice, I really hated the last time I touched OS X. I found it so unintuitive and had similar problems as you described. I'm not a great fan of obj-c prefer standard C++/C# personally. But sounds like a really nice little server you got.

I've been OS X curious for a little while now. I think you hit the nail with "unintuitive". I've used various Linux/Unix flavours before and have generally not had to resort to manuals but OS X seems far from obvious as to how to do things or even find out how you do things. Also, as an example, after a reboot you get a log-in screen. Trouble is how the F*** do you get the mouse/keyboard/touchpad to wake-up? Tapping and mutturing doesn't work so I had to get in via the iPad! Doh! I'm sure there must be a way to do it but...

Maybe I need to grow a beard and dig out the white socks and sandals to get the full OS X effect! I appreciate that coming from a mainly Windows history it will take a little time to adjust but it took a week to work out where I could adjust the screen settings. Windows does do many things right which Apple could learn from. I was tempted to put Win 7 on it but I'll stick with OS X and keep it as a server and dev work station.

Never touched C or any of the other variants so it is interesting having to learn again. COBOL was quite structured and it will be fun to see if any of that experience can be put to go use. When I was doing COBOL you would write a program that could be a sub sub sub sub program or at the main level that would have to interact with tens and sometimes hundreds of other programs and databases. Testing was a massive part of the process and I think we did pretty well in getting progs live without too many bugs. You would get some user interface issues but we never managed to completely screw up a database. I can appreciate the complexity of BF4 (and previous generations) and what it takes to create what is in general a good experience. However, there does seem to be a lack of production testing. The open beta was little more than a preview as I'm sure that if any feedback was gained there was little time to make radical changes before it went live.

I do love the Mac Mini's form and size as it does make it practical to hide out of the way and just let it run.