It's a Mini Adventure

On Tuesday I ordered the Mac Mini. On Wednesday I got the email to say it had shipped and I could expect delivery in 2-3 business days. Imagine my surprise to find the knock at the door yesterday was "a delivery from Apple computers mate!". Now, that's service.

At first I thought I would tease myself and carry on working, leaving the boxes unopened on my desk. This lasted all of about 10 minutes (if that). Within the next half hour I had it all plugged in and booted up.

As with most things Apple nowadays it's a thing of beauty. I found myself handling it with extreme care and gently placing it down on the desk, like a baby. I went for the mouse/keyboard option too as they just look so cool and the keyboard feels so nice. Most of my Mac experience so far has been on the laptop with smaller keyboard and touchpad, which is probably not doing it justice.

It goes without saying that it's love at first sight. Still, I have to say I am both annoyed and disappointed with Apple (there's always something with me isn't there). When I started the Mini I expected a growling Tiger to pounce out at me. Instead a slightly coy Panther hid inside purring away.

Let me explain. My two year old iBook runs OS X version 10.2, known as Jaguar. Since then version 10.3 has been released, known as Panther, which I never bothered upgrading to. Just recently (Friday just gone) version 10.4, known as Tiger, was released.

The reason I waited until Tuesday to order the Mini was to ensure it came with Tiger. Two people at Apple confirmed that it would. But it didn't! So, I called them. If they said anything about the £11.99 upgrade fee I really was going to return the whole thing to them. However, the guy I spoke to apologised, saying it's "strange" and that it "should" have come with Tiger. They're putting a free copy in the post and it should be with me next week.

Call me cynical but I'm sure I smell a rat. Here's what I think is going on: They tell all the people who ask that, yes, new orders will ship with Tiger. If the customer then notices it hasn't and calls to complain they apologise profusely and slap it in the post. Chances are some people probably won't notice. It took me a while!

After all, what happened to their stock-pile of Minis with Panther pre-installed on Friday? They aren't going to open each one and upgrade them. Surely?

What should have been a treat turned in to a hassle. Why is it never simple? Even with the masters of simplicity.


    • avatar
    • jono
    • Fri 6 May 2005 04:20

    so, now you've got it, is it worth having? I can't say I've ever owned a mac, used powerpc's a bit at uni all those years ago but generally have no experience and feel I'm missing out!

    The fact that it's small and wouldn't clutter my already cluttered office is pleasing but a little (infact, tiny) voice in the back of my head is asking why I really need one - I know that's what my other half will say...so I need some ammo!...

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 6 May 2005 04:36

    >is it worth having?

    I can answer that for me. but not for you jono. For me it IS worth it. I do have a jutifiable business reason for needing one (just in case the taxman comes knocking): An increasing number of clients want their sites to work in Safari (sometimes even Mac IE). Not just websites but I've also worked on Intranets that had to be Safari-friendly.

    We're all professional web developers rights? Well we need a working knowledge of all the browsers then! There's justification enough.

    Work aside, it's nice to look at and nice to *use*. Plus it's cheap. Get one.

  1. wow! here in italy they *write* on the apple store: "The Mac mini comes with Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger" but i don't know how they ship them: i'm still lusting for my mini...

  2. >>It goes without saying that it's love at first sight. Still, I have to say I am both annoyed and disappointed with Apple

    Substitute 'Lotus Notes' for 'Apple' and you have the mantra for Domino users!

    It's interesting you say

    >>An increasing number of clients want their sites to work in Safari (sometimes even Mac IE).

    Do you think that means Apple usage is on the increase, or just increasing awareness amongst your clients?

    I have never used a Mac, (though I remember reading about the Lisa when it first came out - yes, I *AM* that old) and raving about the OS predicting that would be the future) but have always assumed they would eventually disappear.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 6 May 2005 06:38

    Apple usage probably is on the rise Tim. Albeit slowly. Nothing for Bill to worry about I shoud imagine. They're there though and, as you say, making it know. Awareness is probably the biggest factor in increasing demand for sites to work in Safari.

    Although, as pro webbies, it's our job to make the web work for as many users as possible. IE is dead for the Mac now and we need to start supporting Safari. Mac users can use Opera and Firefox (which should give the same experience as its Windows counterpart) but new Macs ship with *just* Safari, which makes it importatnt to support it.

    • avatar
    • jono
    • Fri 6 May 2005 07:16

    Just to annoy you Jake, it looks like Apple have reduced their RAM prices - it's now an extra £30.01 to upgrade to 512MB...


    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 6 May 2005 07:22

    They must read my blog jono. No wonder they Panthered me after all crap I've given them.

    Damn them. It now works out it cost me £5 more than it had to to get £512 (although I now have a (useless) spare 256MB DIMM). Not only that but I have prize the damn thing apart when I pluck up the courage...

    • avatar
    • jono
    • Fri 6 May 2005 08:08

    if they are reading this then I'm sure you'll have an apple engineer on your doorstep on monday morning to fit your memory upgrade for you for nowt!


    • avatar
    • Gerolf
    • Fri 6 May 2005 08:47

    Since it's Friday, I thought you might be glad to know that you can get some extra value from your new *box* (given that you replace the contents): {Link}


  3. I used to be a Mac person many years ago. I owed a SE30 so it was many years ago but it was a great computer. Far superior to the pc of the day. The biggest problem was everything was expensive which sounds like some of the problems of today. I wanted to a get a 14.4 modem (really!) and the only option was external for about $300. While pc modems were about $80 for internal. The list goes on and on but what I great computer. I used to love hearing that Windows 95 was going to be plug in play. I didn't know what the big deal was because Mac already was and it worked. Oh well enough of remembering the good times and back to work. Maybe some day I'll switch back

    • avatar
    • Bernard Devlin
    • Fri 6 May 2005 14:31

    Like everyone else I guess, over the years I have used many different brands of PC hardware and laptops. ( I even have a Cappucino PC which is really a very similar form factor to the mac mini). In recent years I also started to explore what Apple had to offer by buying an iMac and an iBook. But the mac mini stands out from them all. It is by far the most delightful personal computer I've owned - compared to all the others it is silent and cool to the touch. Bearing in mind that it is just about more powerful than any of the other hardware I've owned, that is quite an achievement. It has all the power of a unix-like OS, but it also has a lickable GUI. The iMac and the iBook both had good features, and I didn't regret buying them, but I think the mini mac is even better. My other Apple purchases didn't seem particularly cheap compared to the alternative PC hardware, but the mac mini is really at the lowest end of the price range, yet still offers amazing qualities. If my reaction is typical, then I think Apple are really onto a winner here in terms of units they can shift. I'm not sure it is going to be so profitable for them though - I was considering getting a powerbook before I bought the mac mini - I can't see any reason to do so now :-)

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 6 May 2005 16:58

    Are Apple on to a winner? Hmm, I'm not so sure. What they might gain with the Mini is the share of the market who were thinking of getting an Apple but not quite sure about the expense. I can't imagine they'll end up with their target - those with a PC who want something new, while keeping most of the kit they've already got. Almost definitely they won't win any of the first time buyers out there.

    What's is good about the Mini is that it's affordable for those with a PC who've always wanted a Mac as well. Especially folk like us with a justification for buying one.

    Whatever. They are beautiful!!

  4. The plan is to make it cheap enough that the people buying iPods opt for the matching unit on the desk. They're hoping for an iPod halo effect.

    I really like my iBook and would certainly like a Mac Mini.

    Though I'd really like the iBook Mini (though probably just rumour), but I probably have a vision of what that could be which isn't reality (assuming the machine even is).

  5. I made the leap to a powerbook last year as my primary development machine. I was VERY nervous to begin with since all of my experience to date was on Windows (and a touch of Linux). Would it have my development tools and software I needed on a dialy basis?

    Short answer is: I have never been happier with a computer. Everything is just so well put together...and just works without continual bluescreens and reboots.

    Admittedly I don't use Notes Designer (which does not run on the Mac), so that's about the only thing that would be nice to have. There is Virtual PC, but is runs like a lame dog so don't recommend that.

    My 2c.

  6. Did you install the memory upgrade yet? I've had the new RAM for two months and I just can't bring myself to try the "puty knifes". The local Apple reseller wants $85 to do it.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Sun 8 May 2005 11:13

    I've not dared yet Ed. I'm waiting for Tiger to arrive and I'll upgrade RAM and OS at the same time - hopefully it will have a greater impact that way.

    • avatar
    • Dick Norman
    • Tue 10 May 2005 15:08


    In the SE/SE30 days, there was a Mac Cracker which was kind of a round disk 1-1/2" in diameter with a thin "blade" welded across the circumference. The back side had a handle about 14" long that gave the blade the leverage necessary to crack open the Mac. Based upon your description, it sounds like a Mac Cracker would work nicely, if you could find one on E-bay or somewhere.


    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Tue 10 May 2005 15:34

    Dick. I used a wallpaper scraper (US: "putty knife"?) in the end. Wasn't too hard. Although it was a little un-nerving having to apply more pressure than seemed necessary in order to prize it apart.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Fri 15 Jul 2005 08:29

    Jake -

    After having the mac mini for two months now, what are your impressions? How often do you use it, and what is it not able to do for you (excluding Notes, of course). Thanks.

    -- Mike

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 15 Jul 2005 08:33

    Mike. Hmm, two months on. What to say? Well, it's not my primary machine but is always on and is used mainly for iTunes background muzak as I work. If I could, I'd love to use it as my sole PC - just because it looks so damn cool. it is still mainly there to check web designs in Safari and for this it's a must-have.

    For the price I'd recommend everybody get one. What have you got to lose?

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Fri 15 Jul 2005 08:41

    Nothing to lose at all. I'm tossing around the idea of a mac mini or going all the way up the ladder to a powerbook. Decisions, decisions.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Tue 19 Jul 2005 08:01 AM

    Thanks for the info, Jake. Dove into the Mini last night. Way cool.

    -- Mike

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