Tech stuff

The neglected mini – Mac mini

When iPad mini was introduced the enhanced Mac mini largely stayed at backstage. I was however very interested in that new Mac because I was thinking about computer upgrade. I think it is quite a pity that Mac mini was at background in the Apple event. It would be a very nice option for many thinking about a new computer.

I am comparing my new Mac mini to my 2009 MacBook here. That white MacBook is my baseline so to say. It has 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4 Gb of RAM. I have used that MacBook a lot for post-processing my photos with Aperture 3 and LR 4. Otherwise it has been quite regular computer use (web browsing, email, some writing etc.).

I have been thinking for a quite long time to buy an iMac. So, why I chose Mac mini over it now? There are few practical reasons for that actually. Some time ago a bought a Magic Mouse and a Magic Trackpad for my MacBook. Recently I added a 23-inch IPS monitor and wireless Apple keyboard. In addition I have two 1Tb external hard drives. So I have quite much stuff but my computer was at a low side. I can connect all the above nicely to a Mac mini, so I had to buy only one additional item and not to think about what to do with extra mouse, monitor etc. (as it would have been the case if I would have purchased an iMac).

How I feel about Mac mini then? I have the basic model (2.5 GHz i5 processor, 500 Gb hard drive) with RAM added to 8 Gb. This combo seems to give nice power boost as compared to my old MacBook. And that's exactly what I was looking for. I do not need the most powerful machine and I feel it is quite needless to pay extra about fractional things. It is the real world power what counts here. And that little Mac mini has just that. Nothing more, nothing less. Mac mini has very nice connectivity with USB 3, Thunderbolt and HDMI. It also has a SD card reader which is very nice because both of my cameras use SD cards.

I tested Mac mini last evening using Aperture 3 and LR 4 to process some photos. I can see clear increase in speed with both of these programmes. Especially with Aperture the zooming to 100% is so much faster now. Everything is smoother than before. I am very happy as this is my main use for a computer at the moment.

I really can recommend Mac mini for everyone especially if you already have a keyboard, mouse, monitor and other stuff. And it is not that expensive option. My Mac mini did cost 713 € which I feel is quite reasonable for a powerful and beautiful Mac.

Here is my setup at the moment:

TNT rant

I have ordered something (more about this later, i.e. when the goods are delivered) and waiting the delivery. The delivery was actually today. But at 10:24 am. I am at work at those hours and they delivered to our home address. No phone call to me about the possible later time for delivery today from TNT. I had to call them to arrange everything. Blaah. And of course they won’t deliver to our address anymore today. So I asked them to deliver to our home address tomorrow. But not possible after I am back from work because it is too late. Well, I changed the delivery address to my work place. Of course I should have been wise enough in the first place to mark my work place as a delivery address. Hopefully they will deliver the goods to me tomorrow morning because at afternoon I have lectures and am not able to receive the delivery then.

Blaah. Again.

I updated my MacBook – by buying a new monitor

Yesterday I bought a new life for my trusted MacBook (2009 model). I purchased a 23 inch LED monitor which has an IPS panel. Earlier I upgraded the memory to 4 Gb and that was of course huge thing too but so is this monitor thing. I really can't understand how I was able to adjust my photos with MacBook's quite mediocre 13 inch display. Now my eyes are like wide open. Nice! I also bought Apple Wireless Keyboard which is very cool and small in size.

Here is one photo shot with Fuji X-Pro1 in JPEG. I loved to adjust this one with the new monitor.


Why I chose Pages for writing meeting minutes

First of all I personally have a Mac, iPad, and iPhone. And at work I am forced to use a PC with MS Office package.

I work in science and we have quite a lot of meetings and I would like to use my iPad to write short minutes of them. I want to read those minutes using all my devices at home and at my workplace. So, there are many things to fullfill for a notes/writing app. And I really have tested quite many.

It would be nice if a note app is easy to use and fast for writing using mobile devices. Of course somekind of syncing feature is also a must because I am using many devices to create and read them. I’ve tested at least the following ones (some are iOS and some for Mac, some for both):

Evernote, NoteMaster, Elements, iA Writer, TaskPaper, Note Taker, ThinkBook, ByWord, and Pages (at least these – there may be some else which I do not recall now).

Some of those are really great writing apps. I especially like iA Writer and ByWord for distraction free writing and I am using them for that purpose. But they are not perfect ones for taking notes. Pages is a word processor (at least sort of) and is not a pure note taking app either. But there are few reasons why I chose Pages over the other for my meeting minute app:

You can make decent lists by Pages (even though you have better system for that in other apps – like TaskPaper). But the lists are decent and quite easy to make. The main reason for choosing Pages is the iCloud sync. It is fantastic. I have many of those other apps which use Dropbox sync which is also very nice but Pages with iCloud is very special case – at least for me. When you have your Pages documents in iCloud they are in all of your iOS devices and also in your Mac. Okay, Dropbox will do the same. Some of the other apps use file formats which are not so good if you want to use them in Word. And that’s what I need (I have to circulate the minutes to many people who are using Word). Plain text format will of course work but then I have to do quite a lot of formatting in Word before I’ll send the minutes to others. If I use Pages I can download the minutes from iCloud as Pages, Word, or PDF format. That’s super handy! I can even send the file in Word or PDF format straight from my mobile device as an email. And I can upload Word documents to iCloud too. Even more handy. So, there is much less messing around when I use Pages instead of those other apps.

One bonus more when using Pages. You can easily add some pics and charts in your documents when using Pages.

Using Aperture with Magic Trackpad

I upgraded recently to OSX Lion and I am using Apple’s Magic Trackpad with it to fully enjoy all gestures Lion offers (I have 2009 MacBook). I am slowly learning to use all the gestures to change pages and programmes etc. with Aperture it seems to be a different story, however.

With Magic Trackpad I have to double click Aperture’s adjustment sliders to “lock” them. After that I am able to move the sliders. Same thing with keyword list; I have to double click the keyword to move it out from the list on the photo. To release the lock I have click again. That’s quite annoying. With Magic Mouse I just click once with left button and keep the button down and am able to move sliders and keywords right away (normal dragging with a mouse). There is an option for “three finger dragging” in the Magic Trackpad preferences but I would like to use three fingers for changing the programs (I find using four fingers little bit awkward). Maybe it is so that I have to use Magic Mouse when using Aperture and Magic Trackpad in other occasions.

Now we can iMessage

My wife got iPhone few days ago. I remember some five years ago when we were about the purchase our first shared iMac and she was very much against changing from PC to Mac. Now she is a real Mac advocate and I am very proud of her. She is always recommending Macs and other Apple products to her friends.

Vlingo as Siri-like functionality for iPhone

I just downloaded Vlingo to test it as Siri-like voice recognition assistant in my iPhone 4. It seems to have very good palette of things it can do. You can use it for searching the web, sending social app updates, dialing the phone numbers, finding places, sending SMS and email. So, it really sounds nice option if you are not going to have iPhone 4S. It recognizes US and UK English. And that is where the problems start. I am not a native English speaking person and Vlingo will understand me partly. I have tried it now for different tasks mentioned above and only few times we had a mutual understanding. Even if I tried to be so perfect with my English pronounciation as I can. For sending emails and SMS for my Finnish friends or relatives is of course totally useless using Vlingo because it won’t understand Finnish. Well, once I got the email’s receivers name right when I pronounciated it like American’s would. 😉

The conclusion is that I find Vlingo quite useless with my English pronounciation skills. That could well be the situation also with Siri. It is faster to write the messages and social updates than first use the voice assistant and then correct the output by writing using iPhone’s “keyboard”.

P.S. The first social app update I did with Vlingo went totally right! But after that, well…


iMac fever

During last days I’ve had high fever (at least +39 C at the moment) for a new iMac. I have a MacBook (not a pro model) now and I am especially longing for a bigger screen. Of course more power and speed would be nice too. I have already decided the possible iMac model too: basic 21.5′ iMac (2.5 GHz i5 processor) with 8 Gb memory plus Magic Trackpad (I’ve already have a Magic Mouse). I think that quite basic model is just nice for me (all I want) and it will be a big leap forward from my MacBook. It will cost about 1300 euros which is at my limit at the moment.