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The personal site of Jamie Knight, a slightly autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

A new Mac Mini

It’s been a little over 16 months since i sold my very high spec 2012 Mac Mini. I sold it because it didn’t do the job i needed it to do very well considering the cost. At half the cost, i would have been over the moon, but as it was the money was better spent on a MacBook.

A couple of days ago, a rather amazing series of events led to me having a new Mac Mini, direct cost to me, zero. Someone was extremely kind and gifted me the Mac Mini.

Whenever i buy new hardware i give it a bit of a hard run before i trust it. So ive spent lots of time with it over the last few days and have got it setup. Its such an impressive little machine.

Hardware.

The Mac mini is a great bit of kit. They pack am impresive amount of CPU grunt into a small space. The 2014 models are disapointing as they cannot be upgraded and the price for a strong configuration is huge. However the older models are really flexable.

The Mac mini i have is a slightly stripped mid spec server model from 2011. It’s got the 2ghz Quad Core i7 CPU and connectors for two hard drives. It didn’t come with the original drives, instead it has one slot free and an older 250gb drive in the other slot. I suspect they took the drives out for security.

Performance wise, it is the 2nd fasted computer i have ever owned. It’s about mid way between my MacBook and my old Mac Mini with a geekbeench score of about 9000. It’s faster than any 2014 Mac Mini at a fraction of the cost. In use, it feel much slower as it does not have an SSD, but once it gets going it goes really well.

The only change I have made is to spend some money to buy a larger hard drive. All the things i want to do with it require lots of storage. A 2TB drive (the largest i have every had in a computer!) cost me £70.

It has 4gb of RAM installed, which is plenty for the uses i have in mind at the moment. If needed, it might get a RAM upgrade in the future as an 8gb kit is only £25-30. Im going to hold off till i see a need.

What im using it for?

The Mac Mini is both powerful and always on. That lends itself to a number of useful functions. Here are some of the projects and plans i have in mind:

1. Media Server – my main media library (including all my iTunes purchases!) will live on the Mac Mini. I haven’t had my library in one place for a long time due to space limits on my Mac. I have no backups of some of my iTunes purchases (!) so will redownload them and store them safetly on the Mini. The Mini is also plugged into the TV, so i can use it for watching back my high quality bluray files.
2. iOS Sync – with the extra storage space, i can afford to keep mutiple different file sizes around. So i plan to use the Mac Mini to create and host a iOS optimised copy of all my media. This means i can make better use of the storage space on my iPhone etc. These files wil also be the ones i load onto my MacBook.
3. Photos.app – i plan to also host an instance of photos.app where it will download and store the originals for all of my Photos. I also plan to merge all my libraries into a single photo library going back to 2003.
4. Time Machine – it will be the time machine target for my MacBook. Ensurng my work files are always being backed up!
5. Hue Server – i also plan to use it to host my various Phillips Hue smart light control scripts. For example, using an amazon dash button by the front door as a master lightswitch and using a dash button in my bed as an emergency nightlight. (see: hub.com/JamieKnight/dash-hue and http://github.com/JamieKnight/xbox-node-hue)
6. Satelite TV Recording – i have a satelite tuner and plan to set it up on the Mac Mini to recored major TV Shows like Dr Who or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
7. iOS App Development – in the future, when i have been able to add some more RAM and an SSD, i’d also like to use the Mac Mini for iOS development. The CPU grunt will make building apps way quicker! In the mean time, i might use it as a build server.

Final Words.

I am really excited to see how this Mac Mini works out. It’s been a while since i had a new computer to play with. I am now looking forward to the new hard drive arriving so i can enjoy a bit of hardware assembly as well.

Published: 17 January 2016 | Categories: , Permalink

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