In non-iPhone 4 news

Apple stealthily revised the Mac mini.  Get the full story here, but the part I think is the most interesting is that they designed in a removable panel on the bottom to make it easy to replace the RAM yourself.  It shows a rare bit of flexibility from Apple when it comes to their hardware.

As for the rest of the device:

  • No more power brick?  Nice!
  • Tons of ports (including HDMI).
  • SD card slot
  • No Blu-Ray?  Rats.  “Bag of hurt” or no, that would have been nice.
  • The price bump from the previous version of the Mac mini seems a bit steep.

The original Mac mini was the first computer I ever bought from Apple.

More frustration with Alienware

Today I come into the office to work, and find that my machine blue-screened overnight. I figured it was Vista acting up (again), so I restarted. Once the machine is back up, I log in, only to discover that I have no network access.

This is only the latest in a continuing series of problems I’ve had with Alienware’s Area 51 machines. If it wasn’t locking up for no apparent reason, the performance of virtual machines (VMware or Virtual PC) was slow. One cause of at least some of the problems turned out to be incorrect voltage settings for the memory (though I’m not sure how they got out of the factory with that wrong).

We spent about an hour uninstalling and reinstalling drivers and rebooting to see if we could solve the problem ourselves. After those efforts failed, I spent 2 hours on the phone with Alienware (1/2 of which were wasted by their tech support person walking me through things I’d already tried). The one really new thing we tried (installing a new BIOS) didn’t solve the problem either. Alienware has concluded that the motherboard has gone bad and needs replacing. This is a stunningly bad result for a PC less than 2 months old.

Two thumbs down on Alienware and Vista. If you must run some version of Windows, you’d be better off doing it on a Mac.

If you’re wondering how I posted this without a machine with Internet access, the answer is, with my iPhone.

The mini has landed

The Mac mini I ordered online back in February finally arrived tonight. The only real problem I’ve encountered so far is that it had trouble detecting my Linksys router from upstairs. What I’m not certain of is whether this was because I had MAC address filtering enabled initially. Once I disabled that and set everything up closer to the wireless router, Internet access worked fine.

Software installs were very simple. For the most part, I’d just download a file and drag it to the applications folder. Very easy, very clean.

I still have plenty of configuration work left to do though. If the mini can’t access the Internet wirelessly from a distance, I may spring for an Airport Express to see if that will boost the signal enough. If I can get a DVI cable, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for less than the Airport Express, it may be worth it to hook it up to my HDTV & stereo instead.

Networking it with my Win2K server will be another challenge.

Update: I moved the mini upstairs and turned everything on again. Now it’s connecting wirelessly with no trouble at all.

Cult of the Mac Membership++

About half an hour ago, I purchased a Mac mini. If you’ve read anything in the press about the “iPod halo effect”, I’m one of those buyers. Before buying my first iPod in 2003, I hadn’t spent a penny on anything from Apple. I was (and still am) a PC user. I still make a living designing and developing software for Windows. I’d barely used Apple machines at all outside of designing yearbook layouts for my high school in 1991 and on occasion during college. But my experience with the iPod has been so positive, when they announced that they would start selling a “headless” Mac, I knew I would buy one. Today just happened to be the day.

Here are the specs:
Mac mini 1.42Ghz processor
Bluetooth + AirPort Extreme Card
80GB Ultra ATA drive
4x SuperDrive
56k v.92 Modem

I bought AppleCare for it as well.

If you’re a Mac veteran, I welcome any tips and advice you have to share.