Friday, January 27, 2017

Rusty’s Next “Mac mini”

Russell Ivanovic:

No worries you might say, go to Apple and buy a new Mac mini! Except when you do, you quickly realise there’s something up with the Mac Mini[…] Yes that’s right, it hasn’t been updated in 813 days…and the last update Apple made to them was mostly a downgrade in terms of performance. No one except the most desperate of people should even consider buying one of these things. The fact that Apple will still happily sell you a 2-3 year old computer for new prices is beyond insulting.

With the above in mind, I asked myself a question I haven’t really considered since switching to macOS (the artist formerly known as OS X) back in the early 2000’s. Do I actually need this computer to run macOS? I quickly realised I don’t. I need Chrome, I need a few basic apps and I need my Elgato EyeTV Diversity USB stick to be supported so I can watch TV. It turns out there’s another OS that has all those: Windows.

Update (2017-05-07): Russell Ivanovic:

Out of the box a few things struck me. Firstly: Just how small it was. If that iPhone 7 above doesn’t give you an idea, here it is sitting on top of my old Mac Mini.

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If you actually need a Mini (like I did) I'd recommend buying the quad-core 2012 model on eBay (like I did). Aftermarket memory and SSD is cheap and you end up with a much better machine that Apple sells for less money.

That's interesting -- and practical. Padraig and Oisin from Supertop (Castro's makers) were discussing pretty much this on their podcast recently: What would the cost be to swap to Windows? How difficult would it be to set up shop, so to speak, if they couldn't use a Mac? For iOS dev, well, forget it. But Ruby on Rails? Padraig's biggest concern was a git client. And it's not that they aren't out there. It's simply finding comfortable replacements that's holding him back (again, if there was no iOS requirement).

I recently started work on a project with a new company, and they asked what hardware I wanted. It's some .NET work, but mostly raw JavaScript and crossplatform techs. I considered a Mac with VMWare for when I had to use Visual Studio, but ultimately decided that I'd rather use the Windows "replacement" apps to do my work. That is, macOS' advantages weren't enough to convince me not to have Visual Studio running outside of a VM. Sublime Text, KDiff3, SourceTree, Chrome, and Firefox are all on Windows. There are good VPN clients, WinMerge, and even a good Markdown editor, not that I'm biased.

Five years ago in the same situation, I went for a MacBook with VMWare. Not this time. I got a Razer Blade 14" instead of a 15" MacBook (even though, strangely, they're essentially exactly the same size). And having USB 3 and HDMI is nicer than I gave them credit for.

The longer Apple goes between compelling hardware releases, the more comfortable even its long-time loyalists will get using its replacements.

(Disclosure: I am one of two sponsors of the podcast episode linked, above. I felt it was a very good, interesting podcast well in advance of sponsoring, and even though that topic was perfect for my app, the topic is germane here too. ;^D)

I'd love for WWDC attendees to take Hackintosh laptops to the lab sessions. Even if they just borrow them for the conference, or buy a laptop, install OS X, and return it after the conference.

Just get it right in Apple's face that people have work to do, and Apple is standing in their way. If Ive and Newson want to design useless items like katanas and skeuomorphic hotel lobbies that look like winter forests, they should probably move on and let someone who designs tools for workers take over.

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