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Alive 11
Mini Mac Review
                        The Mini Mac considered, part 2

Here  we  return to the Mini-Mac review.  You might recall last time that  I
went  into  a lot of detail about my motives and reasons for  choosing  this
machine,  and  even  skirted  around the Mac versus  PeeCee  ongoing  tribal
conflict.  This  time,  I've  now got my hands on one,  so we move on to the
practical part of the review.


There are the two models of Mini,  1.25ghz,  and 1.42ghz. The extra 40gb and
the  miniscule speed increase on the cpu is not enough to justify the  extra
60 ukp, so I went for the base model.

Some  daring  people,  who  throw  caution and warranty to  the  wind,  have
overclocked  the  base  model to go higher already  by  desoldering  certain
resistors  on  the  motherboard,  speeds in the order of  1.5ghz  have  been

One theme that kept recurring,  was that 256mb ram was barely adequate, so a
ram upgrade was factored in. I chose 512mb, which did not break the bank, as
the  1gb  upgrade  by Apple is too costly.  I find it faintly  amusing  that
512mb,  which  is  considered  to  be cavernous on a  CT60,  is  just  about
sufficient on here,  and with 256mb,  you have enough ram to run Tiger,  and
errm, that's it!

You  do  have the option of going down the self-opening  route,  the  famous
'putty  knife  manouvre',   and  replacing  the  memory  yourself.  This  is
theoretically  not  breaching the warranty,  but you can bet on a degree  of
weaselly  behaviour from Apple if something went wrong and this was  put  to
the test!

The  Bluetooth  and wireless options were appealing,  but they bump  up  the
price,  so I went for the plain option.  To this, I got a wired keyboard and
mouse, which adds 40ukp to price for an Apple original. Finally, it was only
another 30ukp to increase the hard drive from 40gb to 80gb, so I did.

There was no screen needed,  I've already got one, and Mini Mac and CT60 are
going to play nicely with each other and share!

The final cost came out at 457ukp,  for 1.25ghz, Apple keyboard/mouse, 512mb
ram,  and an 80gb hard drive.  Oh yes,  as I ordered on the 29th April,  the
launch date for the new version OSX 10.4,  or 'Tiger',  that was included in
the box as well.

My  budget could have run to the base model iBook,  with a very similar spec
for 700ukp.  but with less memory and a 30gh hard drive.  I have seen one of
these  close up,  and it is a lovely little notebook,  but I figured I would
get the Mini and spend the difference on the CT60 instead!


This took me slightly longer,  a period of 2 - 3 weeks from making the phone
call  to Apple,  which was about a week longer than expected.  I was able to
track the progress of my order as it headed across Europe.  This was made up
in the Czech republic. It looks like Mini Mac will nearly do this journey in
reverse  when we're going to the Noise party next year.  There was the usual
comedy  delivery  attempt  at  home when I'm not  there,  but  the  couriers
delivered to my work address the next day, so that was ok.

It  seems that the Mini is in great demand.  I have seen them on a couple of
occasions at the local PeeCeeWorld,  but not for long,  as they seem to sell
out very quickly, even the display unit. I also gather that the waiting list
has got longer since I bought mine :-/

FIRST IMPRESSIONS (In and out of the box)..

Apple  are one of the central icons of the early 21st century consumer  age.
We've seen it with the iPod.  Their products are dripping with tactile 'must
have'  appeal from the box it comes in onwards.  You get a real Xmas morning
feeling of anticipation when you open one of these.

These are no dull cardboard crates, but works of art dripping with expensive
design.  For  me,  it  goes  back to the early home computer days,  when the
manufacturers  last made a real effort in that area.  The original  Sinclair
Research  packaging  for  all  their computers was a  classic,  as  was  the
Enterprise  64 box.  Now with most computers being dull and generic,  it has
mostly gone downhill with the cheapest packaging possible.

As always, there is a huge polystyrene to product ratio. The Mini Mac itself
is small as expected and perfectly formed.  It is quite heavy in relation to
its  size,  although  lightweight  compared with the Win-others.  I had  the
opportunity  to compare directly,  as I was installing a new Hewlett Packard
PeeCee  just  before  I  got the Mac.  There was a  lot  more  weightlifting
involved with the HP!

It  has  a simple and elegant design,  which gives little away.  There is  a
single  bright white LED on front to tell you the beast is alive.  The shape
resembles  a  rounded  steel tobacco tin.  This has stainless  steel  effect
sides, and a white plastic coated top with a grey Apple logo on it. There is
a  single  slot  for  a frontloading combo  DVD/CD  drive.  The  useful  but
unsightly connections and ports are hidden at the back.

Of the ports,  there are a fair range of these, although the Mini could have
used a couple more USB ports.  As it is, you have 2x USB2 ports on the back,
one of which is taken by the keyboard/mouse,  and a spare USB1 port from the
keyboard.  There are also Ethernet,  Monitor connection,  Firewire,  a phone
socket for the built-in 56k modem, and a headphone jack for audio output.

Also in the box,  we find a power supply, which is a sizeable block, about a
third the size of the Mini itself. There are other assorted items, including
a monitor adaptor for DVI to SVGA output, a setting-up guide, and O/S disks,
including  a DVD of the new Tiger 10.4.  There are various other try  before
you  buy  things,  such as iWork bundled in.  In separate boxes,  we find the
keyboard and mouse.


This was simple, merely plug in the appropriate cables to the clearly marked
spots  and  off  we  go.  When I first fired up,  the Mini started up  in  a
slightly  coarse 800 x 600 screenmode.  I soon found the system  preferences
icon  to  switch that to a much more acceptable 1024 x 768  mode  at  60mhz,
which is as good as my LCD gets.  I opted to get Tiger on asap, and that was
easy, if the best part of 20 - 30 minutes to complete the install.

The Apple single-button mouse looks neat, but it is slightly off the pace as
OSX supports two button mouse operation. If sticking with the Apple mouse, I
have  to  fudge this with ctrl and click.  Apple say that you can use  other
mice  and keyboards with Mini,  and you are not just restricted to  official
Apple products.  More recently,  Apple have taken steps to remedy the button
deficiency  with  their own official Mighty Mouse',  which has  multi-button


There is already a fair bit on there before you get a chance to do  anything
else  with the machine.  The best part of fifteen of your 80 gig has already
been used for the system and various little extras loaded on with it.  It is
a good job I got 80 gig in the first place.

The  first  place  to start looking,  is at what is in the icon bay  at  the
bottom of the screen.  Of immediate importance, is 'Finder', the desktop and
file  manager,  it  also provides shortcuts to other things.  There is a new
feature  for Tiger called 'Dashboard'.  This will get its own section later.
The Apple pack-in web browser 'Safari', is close to hand, and comes into its
own once an internet connection is set up.  Following closely is the emailer
simply  called  'Mail'.  Then  what are the component parts of  the  'iLife'
series.  These are iTunes,  iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband. Somewhere on the
disk is a trial version of the the more business orientated 'iCal'. You also
get  the  ubiquitious  Quicktime  media player at version  7,  but  have  to
register  to get the ability to save files,  even if you had the  previously
fully working Quicktime 6 before you installed Tiger,  which is a little bit
naughty of Apple!

There  is  more hidden deeper within the applications file,  but their  turn
will come.


There  is a reasonable but not overwhelming choice of print media  available
in your local newsagent. These proved quite useful before I got the machine,
when I was a total newbie, but less so afterwards.

We consider the inevitable Future Publishing entrant,  the teasingly familar
sounding Mac Format.  Browsing a copy brings back old memories of ST Format.
You  get  the same breezy and very slightly patronising tone,  with the  odd
really  useful thing sliding in under the Future Publishing consume  or  die
ethos.  It is very well presented and does have nice CD-ROM cover disks. The
magazines  tend to overlap each other with previews of the  major  packages,
especially  games.  A crucial difference between the ST Format days and now,
is the availability of vast and fast internet resources.

Once we're running with broadband and able to get what the hell I want,  the
cover  disks  are  a distraction.  The magazines are more useful  for  their
actual written content, hints and tips and tutorials now, than for the pack-
in software.

Considering  some  other titles briefly.  There is 'iCreate'.  This is Uber-
glossy,  the  queen  of  glossy and expensive with lots of  "Spend  it  like
Beckham" ads for expensive gear and furniture.  The current Mac Magazines in
general  have a wide range of advertising,  with some very expensive gear in
there, and not all of it computer related.

Mac User,  is cheaper than the rest,  has no CD cover mount.  Otherwise, not
too dissimilar in style and content from the rest.

Mac Addict is slightly different from the norm.  This is a USA import,  with
no  local  concessions  whatsoever.  But they have a  more  spontaneous  and
natural  style,  and  seem to have more fun doing what they do,  and are the
sort  of  people  who could get down really deep and dirty  in  a  technical
sense,  rather than just playing at it.  Out of all of the mags, this is the
one I'm most likely to go back to,

GETTING ONLINE (Earth calling Zetnet!)

I actually managed to get my dialup config transferred and working from  the
information  on my Falcon!  This took a fair bit of pulling and pushing  and
guesswork!  At  that  point the online experience was satisfactory.  Running
Safari points by default to the Apple home pages.  You also have to register
your machine online. The Mac mailer was ready to run out of the box as well.

BROADBAND ADDENDUM (Planet Tharg calling NTL!!)

Shortly after I got the Mini,  NTL came up with a new round of package deals
designed  to get more people onto broadband.  After a ten minute chat  which
saw their crappy cable tv service thrown in for an extra tenner, I've signed
up  for a 1 meg broadband connection.  Now this is the real reason why I got
the Mini.

Amazingly for NTL,  this goes swimmingly easy. A five minute job for overall
bloke from NTL called Kevin to install the thing with the pre-existing cable
terminal.  Then  time  to boot-up,  then ring NTL customer services for  the
missing  details  from  the welcome page.  After that,  the web-based  login
procedure practically completes itself, and we're off!


We've  got  the power!  so it's time to take another look at  this  internet

For the Browser, there is an early choice of Safari, Apple own offering, and
some mac-i-fied version of MS Explorer. Suitably advised by Evil, I got hold
of Firefox. This is more compatible than Safari, and quicker and more secure
than  Explorer.  Firefox  is  now  the first choice,  although  Safari  pops
frequently up as a useful secondary browser, as I am too lazy to install the
plug-ins for Firefox at the moment.

Email  is straightforward,  with Apple's own Mac Mail taking care of things.
This is very Microsoft Outlook like in feel. It can display or play a lot of
media  sent with the email,  which may be a good or bad thing compared  with
the  ultra-secure  Newsie  on  the Falcon?  It can also  flag  up  items  as
junkmail,  based  on the subject header,  which would be the majority of the
email I get ;-)

Finding a reasonable IRC client wasn't too difficult, with those needs being
taken  care of by third party software,  X-Chat.  It wasn't too difficult to
transfer my settings from Atari IRC to here. I'm at a loss to understand why
some  people  (Hi John Hayward!) struggle to get going with  IRC?  Maybe  he
should think of a Mac himself ;-)

There  is a wealth of choice for FTP clients.  I left that until recently to
sort  out.  Some of the available options are very sophisticated,  and offer
functions way above my own needs. A client called Cyberduck did nicely. This
is open source, and more than adequate for what I want to do.

When  broadband  kicked  in,  the real role and potential of  the  Dashboard
became  apparent.  The best way to describe the Dashboard and Widgets on the
Mac,  is  like  they are posh desk accessories,  and internet enabled.  Apart
from  the usual onscreen calculator and bouncing ball type  desktoys,  there
are also realtime RSS news feeds for various interest sites like the BBC and
Slashdot,  weather reports,  travel timetables and television listings,  and
lots more, I even spotted classic vector Asteroids playing in a widget.

Apple  try  to  make  the tedious business of  system  patches  as  easy  as
possible,  They  have a built-in system updater which prompts when there are
new  software patches available.  As the majority of these downloads are  in
the  multi-megabyte class,  you really do need broadband to keep up at  this


There  are things that I want to do,  which the Apple supplied software does
not  quite  cover,  so  it's  time  to roam the net  to  look  for  suitable

A  good  replacement for the default Apple text editor is  'Smultron'.  This
Swedish application is an Evil recommendation.  Apart from general text,  it
is  also good for hand-coded simple html editing.  It highlights things like
speech quotes and html code tags. It is a neat text editor in general. It is
my main app for handling the non-Atari created bits of Alive.

I  also  found  early on that I needed an alternative to  the  Apple  CD-ROM
burning  utilities.  After a little searching,  I came across 'Dragon Burn'.
This  is a reasonably priced shareware alternative to the  better-known  but
expensive  Roxio Toast.  Most importantly,  it can burn Atari compatible iso
9660 CD's.

A  good  place to go to,  which saves finger and keyboard wear  looking  for
stuff,  is  a site called '' - This acts as a repository and
rolling  news  collection point for a lot of Mac software out there.  It  is
possible to browse a category, and come up with a dozen variants of what you
are looking for, and two or three of them are open source or freeware.


There  are  plenty of options here.  Many of these are mainstream,  some are
professional,  and  very very expensive,  sometimes a fair bit more than the
price  of  the  Mini!   There  are  also  versions  of  famous  open  source
applications like The Gimp and Blender.

There is just one small problem, as I've so far not been able to get X11 aka
X-Windows to install. This is helpfully included with the Tiger install DVD,
seems to go through all the motions, but nothing seems to be showing for it?

UPDATE:- I managed to get X11 to install in the end,  and yes, the Gimp does
run now.  I've only had the briefest time of playing around with it,  but it
looks like it could be the graphics editing package that could nicely do for

I  have to admit that the deadline is looming,  and this is one major aspect
of the Mac that I have not so far considered in detail.

When considering image processing and photo editing, there is iPhoto already
provided out of the box, which works very well with my digital camera. And I
got  on fine with iMovie,  which is a great fun package to play around with,
and has several demo-ish possibilities with the special effects provided!


Quicktime 7 is out of the box. As mentioned earlier, you have to register to
get  the full 'Pro' version.  Quicktime does not cover all the video  codecs
out  there.  A  certain  other  company  has a lot  of  sway  with  its  own
proprietary  format,  so  I  needed  to visit  the  Microsoft  support  site
(shudder!)  to  get  their player for .wmv files.  Anything else  which  the
others  miss seem to be nicely covered by the Videolan VLC player,  which is
happy  to  pick up and play whatever you throw at it.  Usefully,  it is also

Versions of popular players on other formats also get in here.  We discussed
Mplayer in some detail on the Atari,  as a Linux port.  It also has a glossy
and  sophisticated  Mac OSX face as well.  I'd still rate VLC as the  better
player at this point for covering a wider range of codecs.

These  are  very useful programs,  as streaming media and movies are a  much
bigger part of my internet experience than was previously the case.


The choice of music is mindboggling,  and that is even before you get to the
more demoscener orientated players.

For  most  people,  they  will  get their audio fix from  a  combination  of
conventional audio CD's,  and iTunes mp3 files.  Both of these work straight
off iTunes.  There is the retail aspect, heavily plugged by Apple, to buy as
much as you can from the iTunes store online ;-)

iTunes  is  the  main music player for the Mac.  it sits heavily  as  a  key
component  of  the iLife suite.  Quicktime is versatile enough to play  back
mp3's  as  well.  As if you didn't have enough choices already,  VLC does as
well,  and  Mplayer  is in with a chance too.  I daresay if you search  hard
enough, there will be a dozen other variations on this theme.

Moving onto more scenish tastes, there is a huge range of options there too.
Sidplay  was  discovered  very early on,  and the entire  High  Voltage  SID
collection was my first bulk download on broadband!  My most used day to day
audio application has to be the rather good 'Ximple' modfile player. This is
very  much a multi-format player,  with PeeCee standards such as S3m and  XM
handled, and various others too. I think even midifiles might get in there.

I  managed to get the Nectarine scene radio working with my Falcon  and  56k
modem.  This was at the lowest streaming rate,  but still ok. It was never a
habit,  more  of  an  experiment.  Now  with  broadband,  the  possibilities
increase.  When I have been trying Nectarine,  it rather seemlessly switches
into  iTunes.  The  Kohina scene radio works fine as well,  but uses an .ogg
player instead.

For  even  more  narrowly  specific  scenish  tastes,  Evil  of  DHS  kindly
contributes his player 'XSC',  which plays back various ST and Amiga formats
converted  to  a  common SC68 format.  These include just about all  the  ST
soundchip  formats,  most  of the Amiga softsynth ones,  and even misc music
from TCB Tracker and Quartet files!  There is an improved version on the way
with many enhancements, according to the Swedish gentleman in question.


I  remember  my first lukewarm impression of Mac gaming from  the  68030/040
years.  It  was  a Mac Performa or something like in a high street  computer
shop,  running  probably  the  crappiest slowest version of  Lemmings,  with
flick-page "scrolling" which made the game virtually unplayable,  and yes, I
tried!  That  machine  clearly lacked attributes taken for granted on  other
machines  to  make  decent gameplay possible.  It was not only  missing  the
hardscroll  and other graphics functions of the Amiga,  it didn't even  have
the compensating coding skills for the ST syncscroll equivalent.

The  good news is,  that it has got better since,  although the Mac is still
considered as a poor relation to just about every other platform out  there.
Apple  even supplied a couple of pack-in games with the machine.  These were
nice  enough,  with 'Nanosaur 2',  a dinosaur based 3-D flyaround shootemup,
and there was a more cartoony marble madness style game 'Marble Blast'. This
latter  game  works well for a casual player who just wants to pick  up  and
play for a little while.

Versions  of  the more popular PeeCee games do make it to the Mac.  the  big
news  of the summer was all about 'Doom 3'.   It is debatable however,  just
how  many  of  the very latest games will run on the Mac  Mini  Radeon  9200
graphics  card,  which  has  an  underwhelming  32mb  video  ram  by  modern
standards, (But that is still more than I'm used to!)

There is a world of games out there,  many of which are homebrew or semi-pro
shareware.  I found things like an updated 'Elite', there was an OSX perfect
version  of  the ST classic 'Oids',  and many more.  Some of these look very
good, but many of the others are quite basic and not giving even the ST, let
alone  the  Falcon  many sleepless nights.  I can confidently say  that  our
homebrew  freeware  games  are better than the majority  of  their  homebrew

DEMOS (Mac demoscene, a well kept secret!)

The  Mac demoscene is generally so low profile,  it has its own special home
at the bottom of a trench!

Well for most people,  iTunes has got some funky sound to light visuals, and
that is the most demoscene they will ever need!

For  those  of  us who are less easy to please,  a search  of  the  internet
reveals  that  there was one dead demoscene which ran from the mid  to  late
nineties,  and  glory  be!  A  real  live living one.  The home for this  is And we musn't forget to mention

There  are  several  interested parties,  and a relatively small  number  of
'leet' crews with a bigger presence. Special big shouts go out to 'Fit', who
we know from another context, and a group called 'Spontz' have releases some
rather nice productions as well.

The demo which comes at the top of's top ten list is actually a
'classic' O/S 9 based one.  This is called 'Macrostrange' by Haujobb,  which
is dated for 2000. In terms of the design, it works better than the majority
of  modern  demos,  which  often try to cram in too much.  I'd like  to  see
something like that texturemapped fish on the CT60.  Incidentally,  this was
the first time that I discovered the Mac O/S 9 'Classic' emulator built into
OSX ;-)

The Mac demo scene attracts a large proportion of ports from other machines.
The  main group for this being 'Fit',  who manage to release their works  on
almost  every  platform out there.  There are plenty of others,  which  also
started life as a Linux or Windows prod ported to the Mac. Some of these are
rather obscure to get running and need expert abilities on the terminal.

There are no Mac diskmags! I seem to remember very early on, back in the Mac
classic days,  there may have been something of the sort which even predated
ST-News, but the Mac hasn't been well known for its cool diskmags since.

Generall,   releases  are  infrequent,  but  the  major  demo  parties  like
Breakpoint  or  Assembly usually have something for the Mac.  There  is  the
Macscene home page,  which offers a community scratching post,  a little bit
like DHS,  but less active.  They do provide a demoscene community servie by
attempting  to  massage  some  life  back  in,  with  a  series   of  online
competitions.  The  current  one of these has only just been finished.  This
produced  some  nice,  if  not groundbreaking releases.  Although the  first
Widget demo has to be noted from the latest compo.  Incidentally, it has yet
to  be  seen  if  there  is any specific take-up of  the  Mac  Mini  by  any
interested demo freax?


There  is  quite  a lot of activity in this area,  with just about  all  the
popular platforms being emulated, and quite a few obscure ones too. It helps
that  there is a good centralised website,  which  provides
links to everyone who is maintaining MacOS emulation software of some kind.

Of  primary interest are the various flavours of Atari emulation  available.
This  is  getting  its own separate and more detailed  two  part  appraisal,
elsewhere  in the issue.  For those of you who can't wait and want to read a
slight  taster,  the  three ST or TOS emulators are  'NoSTalgia',  'Hatari',
which  has  just been updated very recently,  and the rather more  ambitious
'Aranym', which insists it is more of a TOS high-end virtual machine, rather
than an emulator.  The second part of this round-up,  in Alive 12, will sort
out the early classic Atari emulators, such as the Atari 800, VCS, Lynx, and
any others.

I've  been playing with a good Mac-specific C64 emulator,  'Power64'.  There
are  also versions of 'Frodo' and 'VICE' which await further  consideration.
As it is,  Power64 is mostly demo-perfect, although there are some questions
over  diskloading?  MacVICE is going to be a good second choice with X11 now
in play, but that is still
early days yet.

There are ZX speccy emulators,  I got 'ZXSP.063' working, which even goes as
far  as  loading  tape  files .TAP format at the  original  speed,  with  an
animation  of  the  tape player.  Even consoles up to the N64  and  original
Playstation  are covered.  The former of these not doing too badly with some
demo examples.  There are so many more, and so little time. At some stage, I
will get to have a go with MacMAME.


The  Mac Mini is cool hardware on its own,  but you will want to expand  its
inbuilt  capabilities  sooner or later.  In this section,  we consider  what
might be worth adding on to it.

The  first question was "To floppy,  or not to floppy?" As you will  recall,
Apple  were  famous,  or notorious for being one of the first to  ditch  the
floppy drive entirely from their product line. For those of us with holdings
in pale but interesting retro hardware, that lack wasn't an option, so I was
needing  to get a USB floppy drive fairly early on.  This comes in handy for
any quick file transfers that don't justify a CD-rom burn.  Peecee formatted
disks read and write on both the Falcon and the Mac, which is useful.

The other early must-buy item was an SDram card reader for my digital camera
memory. In general, low level USB devices like the floppy drive and the card
reader,  and  most likely any other memory sticks and mini-drives,  boot and
display to the Mac desktop and work first time.  There is none of that extra
driver  software malarky that makes Windows so much fun.  OSX is not a  dumb
blonde  in that area.  It is also safe to hot-swap devices like the  camera,
and  SDram  cards,  as long as you remember to eject the latter  first.  I'm
awaiting  the completed EtherNat with interest,  as it promises to open up a
great  avenue of communication with the Falcon,  if both machines can accept
and read the same portable memory device for data transfer.

Ultimately,  there  are  too  few USB ports on the current  Mini  design.  I
daresay  I  will have to get a USB hub to extend the available  ports,  most
likely  when  adding a proper external Hard Drive or a  printer?  There  are
several  handy small hubs for laptops out there.  These are petite sized and
not fugly,  therefore very suitable for the bijou Mac Mini concept.  I think
there is even one from Belkin which is specifically designed for the Mini to
stack on top of it.


And here's to the future now, what will Apple do next? I posed this question
when I first got the Mini Mac.

Well  some of their plans have become public knowledge since.  In fact it is
dizzying to try to keep up! What we do know of, is a paradigm shift from PPC
cpu's  to  Intel,  a move which will upset a lot of the Mac community.  From
there,  it  has been suggested that the first models to change over will  be
the  budget  end Macs,  which would point to an Intel powered Mini  at  some
point in 2006!  I'd be interested in something like an upgraded Mini, but as
I've only just got this machine a few months ago, not just yet.

Apple  are also riding a wave of iPod sales and interest,  with a new  model
seemingly  launched every other week.  Their latest iPods have now got  even
more multimedia. Some are very small, and some can now play back video.

I  still tend to think there is a gap between the sub-400ukp Mini  Mac,  and
the cheapest iMac,  which starts at around 800ukp. I wonder what the chances
for something placed midway as a natural upgrade path would be?

Whatever Apple do,  they have a knack for surprising us and reinvigorating a
stale market, it won't be boring.


Here's a few random thoughts to close with, in no particular order.

There  is a Mac equivalent of the famous Windows 'Blue screen of Death'.  It
is called 'Kernal panic'. It has not happened to me as yet.

It amused me that some of the more tribal critics slated the Mini for  being
a  bit too 'mini'.  "It's too small!  We want computers we can walk into and
close the door behind us! Buck your ideas up Apple!" they cried. But the Mac
Mini  has prodded some peecee builders to think "What if people  don't  want
computers  which  have the look and feel of American  refrigerators?"  Intel
actually  produced a lookalike mock-up.  This was a short time before  Apple
dropped  their little bombshell about getting into bed with these people.  I
think the coincidence was very amusing.

At the time of writing in mid-October, my Mac and Falcon useage are starting
to get a bit back into balance.  One factor which had put me off any sort of
new system for a while, was the fear that the distraction factor would prove
too  much.  Essentially the Falcon would find itself not ever being switched
on  again.  Once the Mac was up and running,  this seemed to be coming true.
Ultimately  other  people manage to balance their time  spent  on  different
computers, so I should do so as well.

Relating  to  the paragraph above,  one of the things I am trying is to  get
some  quality time with the Atari emulators.The Atari ST emulators  are  fun
but still a bit cumbersome to do too much serious work with.They are only  a
partial substitute for the real thing!

My  Mac travels resemble being sucked into a vastness of options.  There  is
just  too  much  to follow all at once.  There are huge parts  of  this  new
universe  which I will never see.  There are even a lot of things on my hard
drive which I won't see.  On the other side, the Mac Demo scene is small and
easily followed. I guess that is what appeals to me about the Atari scene on
a deeper subconscious level, it is manageable and on a rational human scale.

There is just the one niggling technical issue. Where has X11 got to? When I
ran  the  install off the Tiger DVD,  it said that it was all done,  but  it
isn't anywhere to be seen on my machine? (Ok, now I was being silly, as that
was one issue I managed to sort out in the end.  X11 is alive and well,  and
so are the Gimp and VICE.)

I'm  also  amazed I kept this lot down to a reasonable length.  There are  a
couple  of you still struggling to finish reading my Maggie 28  CT2  review!
Then again,  I have split this into two parts,  and also spun off a separate
article on Atari emulation,  which again will run to two parts, so maybe not
so brief?

The Mac Mini has managed to live up to its potential.  It is a useful member
of  the  CiH-HQ hardware menagerie.  At this stage it is still too early  to
determine  whether the Steve Jobs reality distortion field has  claimed  me,
but  there is always a part of me which is forever Atarian,  most of me,  in


I've  avoided any harsh words about the WinOpposition this time  around.  We
touched on the tribal rivalry last time.  However,  there is a quote from an
interview  in the December edition of Mac Format,  which is hard to pass by,
impossible in fact.

It was with the actor Stephen Fry, well known at least in the UK. When asked
the question "Why a Mac and not a PC?" by floormat, he responded thus...

"You may as well ask someone who has the choice why they live in a  Georgian
house  and not a 1960's tower block.  It drives me mad that people who spend
their working lives in front of a screen do so in a Windows environment, the
equivalent  of  a sick building syndrome office,  with strip lighting,  ugly
furniture,  and no imagination,  freshness or sexiness in design. People are
dragging out their lives in the computer equivalent of a sink estate and no-
one  questions  it.  God rot Windows and all it's ugly clunk badly  designed

And with that closing thought, goodnight!

CiH, for Alive Mag, Oct '05.
Alive 11