eXtra Notes

Blue Apple

Graham K. Rogers

Unpublished ideas that are not going to make it into print

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I know it is no excuse, but these online comments have no timescale, no deadline; so I run them as time permits. This also includes time I have free from the Bangkok Post columns. As these have been runnng a little more often lately, the purpose behind the xnotes diminishes.

The Mac mini has caused so much in the way of generated information that it is sometimes difficult to know what to use, what to pass on and what to dump. One pice of advice I had about writing was that it is easy to throw away the bad stuff, but a lot harder to dump the good stuff. The idea there being that, even if you have good ideas, if they spoil the general flow of a text, then out they come. Perhaps they can be used in another article, or perhaps not (these may be the litle bits one might find tacked on as an "end note"). With Information Technology, there is a definite shelf life.

The Mac mini is producing many ideas. If you want to look at a good review, you might try this from iPod Lounge What is surprising about this little machine, that bears the "Thou Shalt Not Enter" tag from Apple (mainly because it is so packed in there that inexperienced hands are gopig to cause dead computers), is that so many people are ripping them open, trying things out and putting them to all manner of uses that could not have been thought of even in Steve Jobs' wildest dreams. I am not privy to the Steve's patient notes, so that is stretching things a little of course.

Only today (I am writing this on Valentine's Day), I read a detailed piece on how a new user had installed a MAc mini in a Land Rover Discovery II. I am adapting his words, so in the interests of academic honesty, his name is Dennis Monckton and he has put up some pics of the deed. The computer, power brick and a firewire drive are in the glove box and he has a Lilliput touch screen above. I would hate the thouhgt of all that gear in a car of mine and would be worrying constantly about either an accident or the threat of car-theft.

Others have installed Mac OSX server and used the Mac mini as the core of a network system: mail, web (which OSX has anyway) and SQL. I suppose it beats the alternative of hundreds of dollars for overkill if all that is needed is a small system.

What I like about the mini, and the recent software releases, is how this shows just how stagnant Microsoft is becoming: the endless patches that do not work; the high costs, particularly in third world countries; delays for the release of Longhorn (already two years behind, and way behind OSX); insecurity by default, with an army of lawyers to back them up. One wit wrote a column ostensibly criticising the Mac mini and complaining that Apple had omitted to include any virus protection software. Several people made sharp comments about the article until it was pointed out to them that this was actually a pro-mini text. Of course Apple does not provide anti-virus software. . . .

I like this comment from Rafe H.: "Who wants the overhead of having an AV program constantly checking every single file the system opens, or creating a gigantic list of files known to be clean? Ever notice that a knight with full body armor can't run very fast? This is why we moved from Windows." I thought of this when I walked into work the other day and saw our technician, Nung, gamely reinstalling XP for the umpteenth time.

It is possible to overclock the Mac mini. The speed on the boards iis controlled by jumpers which can be altered. It needs quite a bit of skill at soldering and is just the thing for ruining a logic board, as well as a warranty. The current maximum usng this method is 1.58GHz, but the tyesters settled for 1.42 from the 1.25GHz Mac mini.

Transferring the data from a PC to the Mac mini would really benefit from the purchase of Move2Mac, a copmbined hardware and software solution, which is advertised on the Apple website for $49.95. And where does one get this if living in the Land of Smiles? You don't. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there is no distributir here, so no sales. Moving from a Mac to a Mac is fairly easy as the latest machines include the necessary software called Setup Assistant, although you will need a 6-pin to 6-pin Firewire cable. You can borrow mine.

I was slightly surprised to see a student in my office last week with an iPod which was displaying Thai. He is a bright lad and has a job already running a network. At home he has Linux computers and also an old Apple II. I asked him and he showed me the blog of a young Thai who had developed a "firmware" installation that probably breaks all manner of copyright rules. Who knows if it will break the iPod too? I sent the young man an e-mail asking him for more information and he wrote back telling me he had been one of my students (graduating some three years ago) and remembered my English class. I quickly checked his marks. The software has been written as a Windows program (it downloads as an .exe file) but he tells me that it will work on Mac-synchronised iPods. I pass this on for what it is worth, and make zero guarantees about the application. At least it can be done.

All materials ©copyright G.K. Rogers. Free for individual use.

Other links:

Bangkok Post, Database
Mac Center: Thailand
OSX Faq Mac Dr Smoke's X Lab Site George Mann
Applelinks MacNightOwl MacNightOwl

Phuket Mac User Group

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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