So, after several years I have finally bought a Mac. Why? Is it because I’ve always secretly wanted a Mac? Is it because I’m tired of Windows? Well, no. As a computer enthusiast I like getting my dirty fingers on whatever OS / platform I can get, and although I’ve used Macs before I’ve never actually owned one. I’m a very cheap bastard and it’s always been very difficult for me to justify the outlay when I can put together a system that’s three times as powerful as any Mac at half the price. Or twice as powerful at one third the price.
Yes, that’s right, fanboys, I know how to put together my own computers and I can do what I just said. Furthermore, I don’t worry about viruses even though I don’t have an antivirus and I haven’t seen a blue screen in months. So shove it.
However, Apple introduced new Mac Minis a couple of weeks ago and, even though they’re still expensive for what they are, the price is not so high that it’d be so painful to get one. So I got one. I’m putting it through its paces right now.
The first impressions: Hardware-wise the system is pretty neat. Extremely compact and yet packing serious features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This new generation of Minis includes more memory, faster dual-core processors and bigger hard drives. It’s obviously not the most powerful computer out there but it’s very impressive for its size. All you need to add is a keyboard, a mouse, and a monitor, of which I have a ton. Well, a ton of keyboards and mice, I have a monitor that’s not really a spare but I can let the Mini use.
Software-wise: Apple fanboys are full of shit. But we all knew that before. Sure, OS X looks nicer but setting up the computer is not that different from setting up Windows (Windows, not the bloated collection of crapware that most manufacturers insist on installing in their systems, yet one more reason to put together your own computers). Installing stuff is not that different either, OS X even asked me to enter my password as it should, whereas Vista’s dreaded UAC simply asks “are you sure?” (alright, it asks a couple of times each time, but pressing “OK” is quite simple).
Some things were more transparent, for example, I didn’t have to configure the network, it detected where the gateway was and happily connected to the internet. On Windows I usually have to tell it where the gateway is. And you have to name a Workgroup. Or maybe it’s just me doing that automatically. It’s been so long I had to do that I don’t really remember. Anyway, my point is that it’s not that hard in Windows either.
In the Mini setting up the network to talk to the internet is not necessary, but there was something I needed to do. The new Minis come with a 160GB hard drive, which is better than the 120GB or so they had before, but pales next to the 2TB I have on the PC. Therefore I want to get the Mac and the PC talking to each other to share the drives.
That was a bit less transparent that it needs to be. I’m pretty sure mine is a common scenario, so I started looking around in Network and places that had networkish sounding names. However you have to go to Finder > Go > Connect to server… and then enter smb: and the IP address of your Windows machine. In retrospect maybe I should have tried that before, knowing that OS X uses Samba to connect to Windows. But it’s still far from intuitive and it took me a few minutes of googling around to get a hint.
However once done the shared folders appear in the Finder, so it’s not too hard to get at them. I’ll now try to set up Time Machine to use one of the shared folders as back up (and then I can use the PC back up to back that up, see?)
Meanwhile iTunes is happily getting acquainted with the music in my shared drive and I’ve downloaded Perian to play the movies I have on the other computer. Will keep you posted.