One Week With the Mac Mini

I never expected to become a Mac user. Really, I didn’t. Not that I was all that enamoured of Windows, but it was just the OS I had the most experience with. Besides, as a pretty avid computer gamer, if I wanted to play most of the latest games when they came out, Windows was pretty much the only way to go. That is, unless I wanted to purchse a gaming console, which I didn’t.

I was no stranger to Macs, though my last experience with the Mac OS was back around 2000 or so, when my employer at the time got me one of those plastic G4 towers. Prior to that, I’d been working on a Mac so ancient I’m sure the original files for the book of Genesis were somewhere on its hard drive. My experience with the G4 tower was brief, though, as I switched to another job in the organization, and my new computer was a Windows-based laptop.

Then I got my current job. I should have known something was up when I was asked in the interview if I had a preference of operating systems. However, it didn’t dawn on me what I was getting into until I showed up one day to find everyone working on Macs. It wasn’t long before I was too. An iBook was purchased, so I no longer needed to work on my personal laptop That was sometime in late August or early September. In December, I purchased an iPod because my old MP3 player was already showing its age. And then in February, I ordered a Mac mini, which arrived in March, and has been sitting on my desk for a week now. In fact, I’m writing this post on it, right now.

How did this happen? When and how did I switch?

The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have switched—or at least not switched when I did—if I didn’t have to. That is, if I didn’t have to use an iBook for work, and gotten familiar with Mac OS X over the past six or seven months, I probably wouldn’t be using the mini right now. I might be thinking about getting one, but it wouldn’t have happened as fast or as soon as it did.

Over the years, I learned my way around Windows pretty well, how to fix little things here and there. But I also had my moments when there just wasn’t a fix. I got wiped out by viruses a couple of times. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep my computer completely free of viruses or spyware. Finally, I mucked around in the Windows registry, after the email client and IE installation from my ISP went haywire, and I couldn’t fix it or completely uninstall it. Editing the registry as a last-ditch effort only served to cause more problems that aren’t fixed to this day. I could probably get it fixed, but that would probaby require lots of time on the phone with tech support; time that, as a working parent, I really don’t have. Besides, it looks like I may have switched just in time, with news of yet another potential Windows security issue.

So, I’ve spent the last several months working in Mac OS X every day, around people who know their way around it, and can usually answer my questions, and point me towards a tool that will do what I need done. That helped a lot. Over time I became impressed with how easy it was to get things done using Mac OS X. And it seemed I was always learning some tip or trick, or finding some new program that would make it even easier to do some things. (Particularly the ease with which programs can be installed and uninstalled.)

Great. So I can get a lot of work done on the Mac. But what about having fun? I can’t count the number of computer games I own or have owned, but they’ve all been PC games. So, I’d still need a PC for games, right? Well, yes and no. I always thought there was a dearth of Mac games, and it’s true that the vast majority of computer games come out on the PC platform long before a Mac version is available, if one’s available at all. But that’s changing. The Mac version of The Sims 2—the sequel to my favorite computer game of all time—just hit beta. (It will, though, be available in June, just under a year after the PC version.)

Then my co-workers (again, I blame then for much of this *grin*) introduced me to World of Warcraft, which was released for for Windows and Mac OS X simultaneously. In the same box, on the same disks, even. My understanding is that more game manufaturers are starting to do this. It leads me to my current theory about computer games. With the mini, a certain percentage of Windows-users will probably switch to Mac. Some of those people, like myself, will be gamers. Their switching is likely to lead to an increased demand for Mac-platform games. So, just maybe, the will be more games for the mac in the future.

One more thing made it easier to switch: getting a KVM switch. Until I learned about these, I reasoned that I’d have to buy a new keyboard, monitor, and mouse, in order to use the mini. Once I learned about them, well, my last excuse pretty much vanished. I bought one before I ordered the mini. Once I did that, I was committed.

So, after all that, how’s the mini working out after the first week? Beautifully. It’s one hot little machine, for sure. It’s as fast as I need it to be. It makes no audible noise, except when I put a disk in. I’m already using it more often than I use the PC. I’ve pretty duplicated the suite of programs I used on the PC, with some substitutions where necessary, and I’m doing just about everything I did before. The only thing I need to do is moved my music library from the PC to the mini, probably via a network connection and enabling file sharing between the two. In the meantime, thanks to a recommendation from a reader here, I’ve purchased what I think will be a pretty handy reference.

As for a review, the mini arrived last Tuesday. It was Sunday before I turned on the PC again. ‘Nuff said?

Well, I promise more of a review after the mini and I have had more time to get to know each other.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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5 Responses to One Week With the Mac Mini

  1. James says:

    Well this certainly explains why we haven’t seen you in CoH recently 🙂

    I’m all for conversion to Mac, although a PC is always handy for that software that didn’t port over to Mac (or ported over, but not successfully).


  2. Brad says:

    You know, engadget is holding a Mac Mini Review contest. You should type this up within their guidelines and see if you can win.


  3. Brad says:

    I got here via Technorati while searching for blogs that blogroll me (I’m a member of the PBA).

  4. Brad says:

    Congratulations on winning the engadget contest! I’ll be by to pick up my finder’s fee later 😉 Just kidding.

    Seriously, great review. Apple is finally starting to seem more like a viable, affordable alternative to windows-based machines.


  5. Pingback: The Republic of T. » Blog Archive » We Have a Winner

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