Mac Mini

Oh yes.

My new Mac Mini

Update (late, late in the evening): Oh no.

What’s good:

  • It works.
  • It’s beautiful.
  • Q: whereis ruby? A: /usr/bin/ruby. Yum.

What’s bad:

  • My shiny new 21″ flat panel monitor has died on me. Well, partly died. It’s not accepting any signals over DVI any more, only VGA. Crap. Fortunately, it’s still well within its warranty period.
  • The Mini isn’t automatically detecting the monitor’s native resolution of 1680 x 1050, and I don’t know enough about OS X to change the resolution to something non-standard. So I’m running in crappy 1400 x 1050 fuzz-o-vision right now.
  • Actually, I don’t know enough about OS X, period. (How does this dock thing really work? What’s the right way to install applications?) Anyone with Mac experience care to recommend a decent book?
  • I got myself a new Apple Pro keyboard aaaaand….mmmm…not convinced yet. I like the keyboard action, but I don’t like not having anythere to rest my right hand’s fingers nearby the arrow keys without them getting caught in the grooves.
  • And what the hell’s up with putting the @ sign over the number 2 key? Yuck. (Again, anyone with Mac experience…please point me in the direction of a keyboard remapping utility.)
  • And the mental gymnastics of getting used to a different set of command keys… Yurkle.

7 Replies to “Mac Mini”

  1. “System Preferences” is the equivalent of “Control Panel” (fire it up from your applications folder or the Apple logo top left of the screen). Lots of useful utilities in there and you can play with display settings. I’ve never played with a keyboard remapping tool but then I’m lazy and happy to stick with the default mapping! Using apple>C/P rather than control>c/P for copy/paste was a bugger but I got used to it.

    I had an earlier version of David Pogue’s “Mac OS X The Missing Manual” which was pretty good. Mind you, most of the info you could either work out yourself by mucking around or info off the net.

    The dock is plain odd to begin with. Although it works for me I know lots of people switched it off and got 3rd party equivalents. Basically you can stick commonly used applications on it (for easy lauch). It shows which applications are open (small black triangle beneath them) and also holds minimised windows (on the right hand side of the black line). Settings for the dock are in System Preferences.

    F9-F12 are interesting (Expose and Dashboard). You can setup Active screen corners for these in System Preferences (which I find invaluable).

    In my experience most applications come as a compressed zip, sit or dmg file. Double click will either unpackage into a folder or mount the disk image. Within this there will either be an application setup script (very like windows and you’ll need to enter your password) or simply the application itself (one icon that you copy to the Applications folder). To uninstall – go to the applications folder and find the application icon (occasionally this is a folder). Then stick it in the trash.

    Hope all that nonsense helps!

  2. Install Quicksilver, which will help avoid the Dock.

    Get a copy of Disk Warrior, in case you have disk problems.

  3. I would second the recommendation for Pogue’s book.
    And Quicksilver is the best thing since sliced bread. Example, I want to open a file called Budget but can’t remember where I put it: I press my hotkey then ‘budg’ and it finds it. I want your blog, I do the same with, say, ‘sunp’ and it finds it.

  4. I think the Pogue book looks like a goer. The web is great for finding material on specifics, but it you want to get a nice bird’s eye view, with the option to quickly zoom in on topics of interest…sometimes you just can’t beat a good textbook.

    Quicksilver looks like exactly the thing I need. I’m a keyboard jockey at heart, and I am used to starting up apps in Windows without using the mouse (Windows key + R, followed by the app name). I’m also going to have to find the right way to pull down menus from the keyboard, too…

    Oh, and what’s up with the tabbing between form fields? It seems like I can only use the tab key to move between text fields, but not onto checkboxes or buttons. Surely there must be a way to avoid having to actually *mouseclick* a checkbox to activate it?

    (I’d be playing around with it right now, but I’m on my laptop right now. My monitor is boxed up, awaiting the courier to take it back to Dell. I could lug my 19″ CRT back out of the garage, but I figure I can live without big iron for a day or two…)

  5. OK: here are some recommendations from Londra:

    I relegate the dock to “keeping a list of open apps at the right hand side of the screen duty”, and use DragThing for launch etc etc. Check it out: google is your friend.

    Installing applications is just like it used to be on System 6: most of the time you just drag the application to where you want it. Done. Some may have install routines. Most of the time you can uninstall aps by dragging them to the wastebasket. Some settings may be left in /Library, but nothing significant usually. Trivia: an application icon in OSX is in fact a Unix directory with a .app extension: if you go into terminal, you can cd “inside” your apps, and see what’s really in there. This means that an app is actually a self contained thing, and you largely avoid all the registry/dll-hell bollocks that you’ve got used to. It also explains why dragging it to the bin largely gets rid of it.

    Erm: keyboards and mice. I have come to a (shock horror) heretical decision. Microsoft natural keyboards and intellimouses are best. Plug them in: they work. Microsoft do actually make one with software for the Mac: but beware, the software only works for the US keyboard layout. Fear NOT. If you poke around in OSX you will find out that you can define keyboard layouts via an XML file in ‘/Library/Keyboard Layouts’ (you can create the directory if it isn’t there). Email me if you want an example file. This is acutally great, because learning to hack these is a piece of piss, and very flexible.

    Get a two button mouse.

    Dave’s advice is all good: you can also do the system preferences thing to sort out your monitor resolution issues.

  6. I’ve got the point of hiding the dock now, but on the left hand side (matches up with the location of the Windows Start menu in my mind). And I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Terminal already. Command-line goodness–yum.

    As for keyboards and mice, I’ve come to the same conclusion. I never went for an apple mouse, staying instead with my MS intellimouse optical, and I’veditched the Apple pro keyboard in favour of an MS “Digital Media Pro” thing. I don’t like it nearly as much as my old keyboard (“MS Internet Keyboard”), but it was a PS/2 thing, and the PS/2 to USB adapter didn’t work. Still kicks the pants off of the Apple, though.

  7. I just got my MAC Mini last night and have the same problem of getting it to work on a LCD that is 1680×1050 native. The best I can get out of the Mini is 1400×1050 and everything is fuzzy. The LCD has a DVI input that is on my desktop computer so I intend to use the SVGA on the MAC. I mucked around with ScreenResX to get to the native resolution of the LCD and ended up with a blank blue screen and no mouse. Note…not a black screen like when you mess up the resolution and the monitor cannot display. A blue one like the normal blue MAC background. But, the Mini also wasn’t reachable on the net.

    I booted from the install CDs and flattened it. It is back up and running at 1400×1050 without a problem. I wish I could figure out how to get it to native resolution.

    I have never bought a computer that didn’t come with a keyboard so I was surprised when I got it home and opened it. I have 20 keyboards in the basement, but not one of them was USB. I found an old SGI USB keyboard and got that working.

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