I’ve had the Mac mini for a few weeks now so I thought I’d write a bit my thoughts on the mini and OS X in general. There is a lot to like about the mini and OS X but there are also a few items I’ve come to dislike which I’ll discuss below.

The Mac mini is a tiny computer that looks great. I am personally not aware of any sort of PC that is this small, includes the same features AND looks good doing it. That said, aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder and are a matter of opinion. With that in mind I’ll try to steer clear of personal opinion and concentrate more on practicality and usability.

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One of the more dismissed iPod features announced recently is the one that allows users to instantly find out what song is playing in a Starbucks and then buy the song on the spot if they so choose. At first glance it’s easy to dismiss this as something you’ll never use but I believe this will lead into something bigger.

Although I would tend to agree that teaming with Starbucks is a bit of a yawn you can’t deny that the idea is great. How many times have you been somewhere, heard a song and wished you knew the name of the song or artist? Now imagine if more places teamed up with Apple to make this a reality. The local gym, mall food court or what have you could be setup with similar equipment to what Starbucks is putting in to place. Or, how about a small band playing at a venue making album sales while performing?

Since Starbucks is a place that benefits simply because it is the kind of place a person can order a drink and listen to music, I imagine Apple would need to build in some kind of incentive for other businesses to get involved. Someway for the company to pay for the equipment needed to run the service.

The real benefit, for Apple anyway, is that the chance for an impulse buy goes up substantially because the customer can buy the song right away, they don’t have to try to remember the song and buy it later. This will undoubtedly lead to increased music sales for Apple and even though we’ve always been told iTMS exists to sell more iPods one has to think Apple makes something on music sales. With an increase in sales volume iTMS will become more of a money maker than it is today.

I just read on engadget.com about the new iPod touch. New iPod Touch is essentially an iPhone minus the phone part, but it adds in WiFi so you can connect to 802.11b/g networks. It includes Safari and a special icon for YouTube specifically. Battery life is claimed to be 22 hours for audio and 5 hours for video.

iPod Touch can also buy songs directly through WiFi without the need to be hooked into a computer but it will sync songs back to iTunes when the two are connected.

I recently started doing some freelance web work. The company I’m working with right now demands that sites be coded to XHTML strict standard and that testing be done on all major browsers on the major platforms. Macintosh is one of those major platforms that I don’t have yet have always secretly wanted to get one. Doing freelance work is the perfect excuse to pick up a Mac Mini so that’s just what I did today and I’m expecting it to arrive sometime next week.

I’m not sure if owning a Mac Mini will convince me to make a full switch or not. It’s hard to say at this point because I’m so used to the Windows world but others have tried to make the switch for themselves and lived to tell about it. And with the new Mac’s being based on Intel processors and the availability of VMware Fusion or Parallels it’s possible to run Windows along side OS X anyway.

Recently on digg.com there was a list of UNIX/Linux commands every person should know. A few people were a bit miffed that the list included nano rather than VIM. VIM is easily my favorite text editor so I wanted to share some of the most useful commands that VIM provides. No doubt there are people out there that have their own set of commands they use most so I encourage them to comment about it.

Read on to learn more about VIM.
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Interesting new product coming from Microsoft called Surface. It allows you to interact with a computer using nothing more than the screen itself. I’m not quite sure yet if Surface is the OS itself or the entire experience from machine to OS but videos of the product show some interesting ideas. Being something entirely new, there is no telling what people will come up with for this thing.

I’m calling the projector project itself officially finished. I’m really pleased with how the whole project turned out, especially for the price paid. Here’s a listing of everything I’ve gotten to make complete this project.

Projector: $380
Ceiling mount: $17
Blackout cloth: $40 (three pieces, two for window coverings and one for the actual screen)
Wood for the frame: Free, previous owner of the house left it here
Cabling: $85 (50′ VGA to md1, 50′ component, component cables for Wii)
ATSC HDTV card for computer: $25
Other misc parts including outlet box, plates etc: $10

Total: about $555

For under $600 I now essentially have a 90″ EDTV, not exactly HDTV but very close. I’m able to view over the air HDTV of all of the local stations, play DVDs and Wii on a fairly large screen. The HDTV content looks very good despite the projector only having a native resolution of 854×480.

Click here for an screenshot.

I’ve been a Linux user for a long time, eight years in fact. Now I’m not trying to toot my horn, I merely am pointing out that I’ve been around long enough to see a lot of changes and a number of flash-in-the-pan distributions come and go. Most of the time the short lived distributions were simply repackaged and re-branded versions of an existing Linux project like Red Hat or whatever and they were pretty easy to pick up. Everything looked and felt like a Red Hat system but this “new” distribution focused on a certain aspect. Mandrake Linux or Linux Mandrake as it might been more commonly called back then, was in fact based on Red Hat but with an experience more focused on KDE and ease of use. Today of course Mandrake is known as Mandriva and you can no longer say that it is simply a repackaged Red Hat (or Fedora) distribution.

Now like I said, I’ve been using Linux as a desktop or server OS since about 1999, probably longer than a lot of people. During that time I pretty much have used Red Hat (or Fedora Core) exclusively and I’ve grown accustomed to it’s inner workings. I don’t have to reference anything to know how to install packages, what packages are called, manage services, edit config files or what have you, it’s all just familiar territory. Much like walking around my house in the dark, there are no surprises anymore.

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