Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mac Mini - Problems

Ok, so I've had the thing for a while now, by this stage I had hoped to have my PC switched off, and out of daily usage. I've even upgraded to "Tiger" to see the latest features.

Its a great little unit, and a fine operating system, but I still find that I am much more productive on an XP machine running cygwin. All the Unix command line stuff is available, plus all the great features of XP.

Anyway - for me the biggest problems (in no real order):

Remote Desktop

M$ has the market cornered on this one, their Remote Desktop is head and shoulders above any other product on the market. My PC in the Kitchen can behave exactly as if it is my office PC, with the windows button and all its shortcuts working perfectly. The sound transfer is the piece de resistance for me , all my MSN / Yahoo alerts are transferred to the client PC, even whatever music is playing, its great. The only downside is video playback doesn't really work, but we'll excuse that ;)

The Mac version of remote desktop hasn't a hope, I don't think it does sound, and there is certainly no windows client.


I have a Geovision hard disk based CCTV system in the house, and it works brilliantly. I have looked at a lot of systems, and I think the Geovision is very feature rich, and very usable. The problem - the client is ActiveX, and wont run, even on internet explorer under the Mac. There is a mjpeg client available, but you really wouldn't bother if you saw the quality.


I thought for maximum Mac acceptance I would need an apple keyboard. I have to say it is a nice keyboard, but they've forgotten some keys, and got some of the most useful ones in the wrong places. The # key is non existent, although you can access it via Alt-3 - but I am primarily a Perl programmer, and I sometimes like to insert comments in the code. Also # is a necessity in "vi". Then run up windows remote desktop client for Mac (another point for M$) and everything looks great. Try to type a \. Go on, just one \. I'm waiting....

And another thing. Page up / page down / home /end. Enough said.

Windows Media Player

I know this is somewhat controversial, but I really like Media player. I have about 12Gb of music on a centralized server (2500 songs), which I then index on the two main computers in the house. I can share playlists, and update tag information from either PC. I know iTunes is supposed to be all-singing-all-dancing but again WMP does my job very effectively. Plus it works nicely with the little remotec remote control I bought from eBay.

Networking - Network Shares And Printers

I have three XP machines in the house. The CCTV server also acts as a print server, 'cause its always on. On my other two XP machines, I didn't even have to install the printer, it was already there. To this day I have not managed to get the printer working remotely with the Mac. It works locally - i.e. plugged into the USB port, but I can't get the Mac to connect to the XP shared printer. And yes, I read all the FAQs about printers, and I think I've just got a bad one (ML1210)

The Mac also doesn't let me view all the files on a windows box at file:////windows_machine/share/folder instead you have to mount "share" as a drive. This is limiting

Thumbnails / Explorer slideshow

This bothers me. In XP I can quickly select a folder thumbnail view from any explorer window, no matter what the view, or even in a file dialog. On the Mac, this is not so simple. There are various hacks you can turn on to see thumbnailing, but its not trivial, and as far as I'm concerned not very useful.

Hold on - is it all bad?

NO! not at all. There are lots of nice things. Drag and drop is great, I love the fact that you can drag urls, or folders into the terminal etc, etc... other things:

SSH Access

I love how easy this was to set up, a checkbox, and a setting on my router, and it worked first time. Very useful too.


This is the best thing. I really make a mess with zillions of windows, and expose sorts this out for me.


The jury is still out. I haven't made up my mind, but I have to say I'm leaning back towards windows at the minute.

My first intention was to basically retire my PC, but using the Mac is like starting al over, I have to learn how to customize everything, its like learning to walk again, that may be useful, but I can already do it.

I am currently a lot more efficient on my PC than on the Mac.

No comments: