Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Back to a Mac

I recently switched my primary computing environment at home to a Mac. I started out using computers on the Mac platform (I was on System 7 back then). I had a string of Macs starting with a Quadra 660AV, followed by a PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 250 and then I purchased an iMac (Summer 2000, Indigo) and a PowerBook G3 500 FW that I bought at a "steal" right after the PowerBook G4 TiBook was introduced.
My initial use of Macs (and computers really) was Music creation. I eventually made some friends who were into the PC game, Counter-Strike which moved me into PC's. I was able to sell off all of my Macs (I kept the Quadra for sentimental reasons) and build a heckuva PC Gaming rig. Fast forward a half-dozen years or so and I hadn't used a Mac since until I got a MacBook White Unibody as my work machine. It served me well until Lion came out and it was woefully slow. I also as a novelty around that same time purchased a Mac Mini that for whatever reason was horribly slow out of the box, and served as a media server of sorts for a while before finally getting shuffled off to eBay. This man and that machine never clicked at all.

I decided recently that I wanted to learn a little about Objective-C, and so, I needed a Mac. I didn't want to spend the money on one outright, so what does a geek do when he wants a new toy (without shelling out cash)? He sells stuff on eBay, of course. So, I put my Linux rig up on eBay and it brought even more than I expected, and is now acting as a home server somewhere in the Las Vegas suburbs. Yes, I toyed with the Hackintosh idea, and even set it up just to see if it'd work, and it did, but I didn't feel I could trust it over time, with OS updates, and I didn't want to run my main machine on a totally unsupported platform.

I purchased a new "Late 2012" Mac Mini and pumped 16GB of RAM into it that I purchased on NewEgg. I'm really happy with this little machine. My first thrill is the near silence in the room now. I still have two computers running, the Mac Mini and a MiniITX machine I built a while back that is running Linux (and connected to the Mac via Synergy). I can't hear either machine and it's wonderful. I'm also looking forward to a probable drop in my electric bill.

The Mini is a snappy little machine (in contrast to the last Mini I tried) even given the reduced specs compared to the machine it replaced (which in reality was far more than I needed for a home computer). I purchased a Thunderbolt to DVI adapter to allow me to run one display via that connection and another via the built-in HDMI port. I have noticed some oddities on the HDMI connected display, for example, font rendering does not seem quite as nice, but it's my secondary display and hasn't annoyed me too badly.

I'm enjoying Mountain Lion - it's a nice OS that gets out of my way. VirtualBox is running my Windows and Linux Virtual Machines quite nicely and I'm still exploring some new tools and apps.

I'm alternating between Chrome and Safari for a web browser. Firefox feels clunky on the Mac for some reason. I hated the Mac Twitter client, but TweetDeck was in the App Store and is working well. The notifications feature in Mountain Lion has eliminated the need for Growl (for me at least), I'm also using the built in Messages app to connect to my Google Talk (instead of installing Adium). I'm using Sublime Text 2 (as I do on all platforms) and I've installed XCode. I'm happy with the new Mac native version of Gimp that no longer requires X11 to run, Homebrew is the best thing ever and the only app I have purchased so far has been PCalc (on sale for 99 cents in the app store right now). I've also installed the usual collection of Dropbox and Google Drive. Spotify was also a must-install very quickly. I am a little disappointed in Steam on Mac - I'm happy that Counter Strike:Source is on the Mac platform, but the whole thing feels shaky (it crashes every time I exit the game), but aside from that it runs very smoothly on the Intel HD4000 graphics of the Ivy Bridge Core i5 in the Mini. Steam itself did ironically feel much more stable in the Steam Linux beta than the "mature" OS X version.

It's fun getting a new machine, and the Mac suits me well. It's UNIX at it's core, seems it seems to be a superb VM host with VirtualBox allowing me to run both Windows and Linux at will. I'm exploring Xcode and the Objective-C language, but I obviously set up Mono and MonoDevelop as well to have access to C#.

No comments:

Post a Comment