Apr 2008 16

I'm a software guy...

Randomstrings Review


I have discovered as I have gotten older, and more experienced in the ways of computing that I just don't care what operating system I use. I'm a software guy -- having said that, sometimes I feel that I need to give a particular OS a nod -- and in this case, a piece of hardware too.

I have 2 main computers that I use at home (beyond my work laptop, my home server and my firewall proxy box).. One is my super uber game machine, and one is my catch all play around machine. The game machine is a windows box because I don't have much choice -- you want to play games, you use windows. Go Win-tendo!

The play machine was an Ubuntu box until last weekend when a thunderstorm killed it. We have surge protectors on all our machines and a dedicated circuit for this part of the house, but for whatever reason this machine didn't weather the storm. It was a very old machine and it had been rebuilt many times over so really it was due.

So, I figured it was time to get a new machine. Originally I was going to get a "shuttle" machine which is a small PC but then someone else pointed out that the MacMini's are perfect for what I am wanting to do.. I was intrigued. Firstly, I wanted to do some iPhone SDK stuff and didn't have a mac, plus I wanted to get a small machine that wouldn't be the huge honkin box it was replacing. The mini would be perfect! I figured what the hell and made the splurge. It was only $600 after tax with my IBM discount so really I couldn't complain -- and let me tell ya, this little machine is great!

I really haven't ever been a full time mac user, so I didn't really know what to expect. Most of my mac experience comes from a machine I used for about a year back in 1994.. Quite a different animal, trust me. Leopard is fantastic. It really is very simple and intuitive. Plus now that it's just a BSD machine it is amazingly simple to get stuff working.

My very first challenge was to get Synergy up and running so I didn't need a keyboard/mouse attached to the box. Yeah.. that took about 20 minutes. The hard part was figuring out the "launchd" system which I wasn't used to. But once I got that sorted out, it was cake!

So far everything just works. It reminds me of Ubuntu in that way.. I really have to wonder how Windows is still around.. And you're reading the blog of a LONG TIME windows user.. I mean I went from Amiga to Windows 3.1.. I continued to use Windows NT long after it was popular to do so, and then used Win2k pro well beyond when XP was the standard..

I can honestly say that at this point, I'll never go Vista. Why would I?! XP does everything I need for games, and for anything else I'll use linux or now Mac. So far I'm very happy with the MacMini.

I do have one complaint about the hardware: it comes with Wifi and frankly, it's not very good. The mac mini wifi seems to drop it's connection or at least work intermittently at best, even when the receiver is less than 3 feet away. I was pretty underwhelmed by that one aspect of the device.. Other than that its great!

And I do have one complaint about the software: the home and end key don't work the way I think they should and no amount of remapping or fixing seems to make them work like they do on the PC. It's annoying.

I would highly recommend it.