Mac Mini anyone??


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Zplus

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Mar 16, 2002
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#1
I am seriously thinking of getting one of these to start me onto Macs... anyone has one of these and can comment on its performance in terms of photoediting in Photoshop??

Any good display to recommand for it as well??

TIA!
;)
 

Darren

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#4
Chronicling the first couple of weeks with the Mac mini - From a long-time PC user's POV.

Exactly two weeks ago, I received my Mac mini (henceforth referred to as Mm) and eagerly unpacked and installed it. The diminutive size and weight makes the Dell PC which I have been using positively ginormous. I can now say that I have Mac OS X running on an x86 Dell PC as the Mm is placed on top of the Dell underneath the computer table. :D

Plugging in the necessary peripherals was easy although I had some initial reservations about the Microsoft Wireless Desktop Set which I plundered from another PC (now being used by the kids) as, on the PC, it required both USB and PS/2 connections on the transmitter to be plugged in. Oh well, too late now - I just plugged in the USB portion (leaving the PS/2 cable dangling) to the Mm. Also pluggged in the LAN cable from the ADSL Router at this stage.

Now comes an interesting step - which monitor "connection" to use? My Dell 1701FP monitor can accept dual inputs - one VGA and one DVI-D. With one of the PCs transferred to the kids, the VGA input was now free. So, I plugged in Apple's DVI-VGA adapter and subsequently the VGA cable from the monitor. More to come on the video portion in a minute.

Last step was to attach the power input and I was set to switch on the Mm. Gingerly pressed the power button (located at the back just above the power input) and "BOING!!!" the Apple startup sound was so damned loud I almost fell off my chair. (Sidenote: Unfortunately, the loudness of the Mm does not extend to the OS sounds - all other sounds other than the startup sound are very muted even on max volume.)

I see the grey Apple logo and a revolving thingie on my screen (at what seems to be 800x600 resolution) and it spins and spins for a good few minutes. After a while, I get to some registration and setup screens and after duly filling them in, I am deposited at the Finder. At last, a proper taste of OS X.

Back to the monitor issue. Prior to the order/delivery of my Mm, I had already read about the problems that some users had/are having with the display outputs. Being the eternal optimist, I was hoping that this would not occur to me, but alas, Lady Luck was not smiling on me (although I did win $25 on a $10 wager in the Chinese New Year lottery via the office pool) and straight off the bat, I noticed that the output via the VGA display was dim and grey compared with the Dell PC connected to the same monitor via the DVI-D input which was bright and vibrant. The difference was like night and day.

Thinking that calibration would help, I plugged in the Gretag Macbeth Eye One Display calibrator (of course having downloaded the necessary OS X version of the application first - lucky that Gretag Macbeth provides both PC and Mac versions of its software FOC) and ran it with settings at 6500Kelvin, Gamma 2.2 (yah yah I know Mac is Gamma 1.8 but I wanted to match with the PC); LCD Luminance value of 140 cd/m2 - which is basically the same setting as the PC overall. No luck, the entire display is still dark - measured at 80 cd/m2 vs desired luminance of 140cd/m2. Switching back and forth between the two PCs (Mm and Dell) didn't help - I wanted both displays to be the same.

*Sigh* No choice but had to try the DVI-D input on the Mm. Since all my cables are tied behind the computer desk, I had to dive deep into the dust-ridden and tangled mess to extract the DVI-D cable from the PC and hence to plug into the Mm. After switching the DVI-D input to the Mm and the VGA input to the PC, I started up both the Mm (again startled by the bloody loud "BOING") and the Dell PC. Success!! Now both displays show the same brightness and the output from the Mm is much sharper (forgot to mention that on the VGA output, the Mm display was very fuzzy and indistinct as well). Thankfully, the VGA output from the Dell PC (driven by an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) is as stable and sharp as its DVI-D output. Ran the Eye One calibration on both PC and Mm, and finally, I have calibrated displays showing same settings (Color temp, gamma and luminance) on both PC and Macintosh platforms. BUT, my happiness was short-lived as I ran smack-bang into another issue with the Mm video output - random static was being displayed on black backgrounds. At the time of writing this, the issue is still not fixed although some workarounds have been published. More info can be found from :-

http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/feedback/mac_mini_dim_video.html
http://discussions.info.apple.com - under Mac mini/Displays

Anyway, with the monitor issue partly resolved, I started to explore more of OS X. The first couple of days were just spent tinkering with the OS, trying out stuff and setting preferences.

Something which I found quite disconcerting was that the mouse response on OS X was different from on the PC. There would be a slightly perceptible delay between moving the mouse and seeing the pointer move on the screen. This was annoying and also partly tiring on my hands as the mouse seemed to require more effort to push around. I downloaded and installed the MS Intellipoint and Intellitype software and now the mouse response seems much better (changing the settings via Apple's Mouse pref pane did not do that much for me - in fact, at one point it got worse) although the responsiveness still does not match the PC's mouse response. Bonus: the Intellitype software installed and mapped out the various shortcut buttons on the Wireless Desktop and now I have one-button access to Web, email, iTunes, volume control, etc etc.

Although I found the networking setup to be very easy, I noticed that surfing the Net on Safari or Firefox (I prefer Firefox) was exceedingly slow. Pages which would literally pop up on the PC would hesitate and lag for a good few seconds and even then, some pages would not complete loading. I pondered about this for a couple of days, and after some searching around, discovered that the default MTU setting may not be optimised for broadband connections. So, after figuring that out, and delving into the Advanced controls Networking pref pane and setting the MTU to 1492 (default was 1500), now browsing was much snappier. Am still having some problems with some sites (mainly due to Flash and Java) which I will probably fix in the next weeks or so.

So at the end of the first week (and apart from that niggling monitor problem), I can say that I am a happy Macintosh user again (I last owned/used a Macintosh IIsi way back then). I am looking forward to using the Mm more in the weeks to come (installed Quicken 2005, now trying to figure out how to transfer the Quicken 2004 files on my PC to the Mm and whether the files are compatible or not). Next to come - video-editing and DVD-creation on the Mm ... want to find out how easy it is compared to the PC.

P.S. I got rid of the startupsound by installing some freeware app which resides in the Preference pane (can't remember what it is right now) and now the Mm starts up silently. :D
 

Darren

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#5
Update on the Quicken 2005 application - I decided to *not* transfer over the entire data file from the PC, but instead chose to create a new set of data based off the previous months closing figures. Finding that the UI/process for Quicken 2005 is quite different from Quicken on the PC which is slowing me down in the accounts/update process.

StartupSound pref pane
- I find that setting the volume to anything OTHER than total Mute plays the StartupChime at full volume. Would like to have it play softly, but mute is better than waking the entire household at midnight. :D

Monitor - still having issues with the monitor as the random static appears on black backgrounds. Very pronounced when using the DVD player thus making watching DVDs a total turnoff. Waiting for an official fix or at least a doable "self-fix" for this one.

DVD/Movie Creation - have not had time to transfer footage from the miniDV camcorder, but may experiment with some AVIs I have on the PC (big files .. > 14GB each). Probably will setup a network (the Mm is connected to the ADSL router which has 4 Ethernet ports) and do a transfer from the PC, although over 100Mbps Ethernet, the transfer will definitely take some time. Can't use my external FW drive as its formatted for FAT32 which does not support file sizes larger than 4GB (I know that reformatting to NTFS will solve that issue, but then Mac OS X will not be able to write to it).

Mouse - getting more accustomed to the mouse response on Mac OS. Installing the Intellipoint software and using the Intellipoint settings for acceleration seems to bring the mouse response more in line with WinXP (not totally, but close).
 

Zplus

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#6
Thanks Darren for the detailed first hand experience. I am surprised to hear about the display problems. MM gave me the impression that everything plugs and plays. Looks like given the extensive 3rd party peripherals out there, it's logical that MM would have some compatibility issues as compared to its other Mac counterparts where every part is under Apple.

OK, some questions, probably to TMC as well:
1) Wats the street price of the MM? And will it be on offer at the IT show?
:)

2) Storage space, what is the default hard disk size and if I wanna add additional space or upsize it, can I do it on my own like a PC? Or must it be back to Apple to do that?
 

nightwolf75

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Dec 18, 2003
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#7
Zplus said:
Thanks Darren for the detailed first hand experience. I am surprised to hear about the display problems. MM gave me the impression that everything plugs and plays. Looks like given the extensive 3rd party peripherals out there, it's logical that MM would have some compatibility issues as compared to its other Mac counterparts where every part is under Apple.

OK, some questions, probably to TMC as well:
1) Wats the street price of the MM? And will it be on offer at the IT show?
:)

2) Storage space, what is the default hard disk size and if I wanna add additional space or upsize it, can I do it on my own like a PC? Or must it be back to Apple to do that?
give TMC a PM. he will be at the Apple booth during the IT show. ;)
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#8
P/S: Darren, not sure abt ur idea of 'loud', but adjusting da volume using da volume keys on my Mac Keyboard lowered the *Bong* to a whisper.

U might have to get a Mac Keyboard to complement ur Mac mini.

Den again, the Dell display prolly doesn't look nice. How abt an Apple Cinema Display to go with it? ;)

Hmm.... U noe? The mouse lookz awfully chunky. I suggest Apple Bluetooth Mouse Pro to go. :D

In short....



























BUY BUY BUY :D
 

Darren

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#12
Zplus said:
OK, some questions, probably to TMC as well:
1) Wats the street price of the MM? And will it be on offer at the IT show?
:)

2) Storage space, what is the default hard disk size and if I wanna add additional space or upsize it, can I do it on my own like a PC? Or must it be back to Apple to do that?
1) Believe its S$928 for the 1.25Ghz, 40GB version and S$1088 for the 1.42Ghz, 80GB version. Memory on both is 256MB (not enough, recommend upping it to 512MB at the very least).

2) Default for 1.25Ghz version is 40GB; default for 1.42Ghz version is 80GB. Apple does not offer HD upgrades and there is no room inside for 2nd drive (obviously). You need to dismantle/remove half of the internal components to reach the HDD. Better to add an external FireWire drive.
 

Darren

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#13
jsbn said:
P/S: Darren, not sure abt ur idea of 'loud', but adjusting da volume using da volume keys on my Mac Keyboard lowered the *Bong* to a whisper.

U might have to get a Mac Keyboard to complement ur Mac mini.

Den again, the Dell display prolly doesn't look nice. How abt an Apple Cinema Display to go with it? ;)

Hmm.... U noe? The mouse lookz awfully chunky. I suggest Apple Bluetooth Mouse Pro to go. :D

In short....
Adjusting the system volume in did nothing for the *Bong* ... it was either LOUD or muted - no in-between.

Hmmm Apple Cinema Display ... nice ... but doesn't support dual-input which I need as I am still using my PC (for games ;) )

Dont need Apple keyboard, Intellitype s/w mapped out the multimedia and various keys on the MS Wireless Optical Desktop k/b to one-touch launch of iTunes, iPhoto, browser, email, voume etc etc.

Apple mouse ... hmm .. tempting, but I think I wont be able to live with just one button.
 

#14
Darren said:
Adjusting the system volume in did nothing for the *Bong* ... it was either LOUD or muted - no in-between.

Hmmm Apple Cinema Display ... nice ... but doesn't support dual-input which I need as I am still using my PC (for games ;) )

Dont need Apple keyboard, Intellitype s/w mapped out the multimedia and various keys on the MS Wireless Optical Desktop k/b to one-touch launch of iTunes, iPhoto, browser, email, voume etc etc.

Apple mouse ... hmm .. tempting, but I think I wont be able to live with just one button.

heh heh heh... you can actually mute the system sound with 3rd party mac programs. Give it a search at versiontracker.com :D
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#15
Darren said:
Adjusting the system volume in did nothing for the *Bong* ... it was either LOUD or muted - no in-between.

Hmmm Apple Cinema Display ... nice ... but doesn't support dual-input which I need as I am still using my PC (for games ;) )

Dont need Apple keyboard, Intellitype s/w mapped out the multimedia and various keys on the MS Wireless Optical Desktop k/b to one-touch launch of iTunes, iPhoto, browser, email, voume etc etc.

Apple mouse ... hmm .. tempting, but I think I wont be able to live with just one button.
Maybe my G3 is really old, my ears something wrong or I'm not keeping up liaoz. :(

Somehow I can adjust the *Bong* to complete mute, it doesn't sound loud to me. Maybe I 'season' liao. :D
 

Darren

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#16
SniperD said:
heh heh heh... you can actually mute the system sound with 3rd party mac programs. Give it a search at versiontracker.com :D
I know lah.. i downloaded the StartupSound pref.pane software. But then, its also either LOUD/MUTE, cannot set to just lower volume. Weird.
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#19
maddog said:
i dont quite like the mac although i have a g5 and g4 laptop at my disposal. must be all those years of windows use.
Its all about freeing ur mind and not doing silly things anymore like clicking the start button to stop the computer.
 

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