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#719: Mac mini Refresh, Don't Delete It!, Protect Your MagSafe, Garage Sale Updates

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday,

I spent the weekend in Northwest Connecticut at my ten year high school reunion. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long. Thinking back to 2000, events I then considered seminal in my life now seem inconsequential—so much can happen in the span of ten years. Where were you around this time of year in 2000?

Apple released a completely revamped Mac mini that’s thinner, more powerful, more attractive, and just as energy-efficient as the still-great last generation. I love how the unibody design language is now in place for almost all of Apple’s Mac products. The gains in manufacturing efficiency must be huge, and the impact on recyclability is clear. Finally—HDMI from a Mac!

If you haven’t already, check out our (some say famous) Garage Sale. We’ve reduced prices, added new product and there are still plenty of great finds; it won’t be up for much longer!

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.

Matt
matt@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Mac mini Updated  
   
 

Apple slyly released a major update to its smallest desktop system this morning. The Mac mini has received both a redesign as well as exceptional performance upgrades. Featuring Apple’s new unibody manufacturing process, the mini now sports a 1.4-inch-thin seamless aluminum enclosure and styling similar to the iMac and MacBook Pro lines.

Catering to the wishes of many, Apple has finally included an HDMI port in addition to a Mini DisplayPort on the new mini. This move solidifies the Mac mini’s niche as a media computer/server in addition to an affordable desktop solution. The only other new port inclusion is that of an SD card slot to make transferring photos a breeze.

The NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics card, featured on Apple’s latest notebook releases, has also found its way onto the mini. Offering a 2x speed boost over the previous card, the 320M enables the new mini to take on a multitude of tasks with relative ease. Ranging from creative work to gaming, the mini is now an even more versatile machine than before.

Apple has also addressed the mini’s upgradability. A weak design point of the original mini required professional service for RAM upgrades. In the new mini, however, Apple has included a removable bottom panel which offers direct access to the mini’s RAM slots. This DIY upgrade system will enable even basic users to confidently upgrade their machine. The mini can now be configured with up to 8GB of RAM, which combined with the boosted graphics and processor speeds offers a lot of performance potential.

Similar to the previous generation, the mini also is available in a server edition. This more expensive version omits the optical drive in favor of 1TB of storage making it an ideal match for anyone seeking an affordable, compact, and efficient server. Speaking of efficiency, the mini is also the world’s most energy-efficient desktop computer! Due in part to its largely recyclable design, the mini now requires less packaging, and includes a built-in power supply, saving on space and making it up to 90% energy efficient.

All of these changes position the mini as a unique contender in Apple’s desktop lineup. Ideal for basic to intermediate users as well as media enthusiasts, the new mini is slated to be a perfect primary or secondary machine. To learn more about the new Mac mini click here

 
   
     
  Don't Know What It Is? Don't Delete It!  
   
  Delete, Trash

These are magic words to live by when it comes to cleaning up your computer’s hard drive. As things tend to come in waves, the past week has brought me a slew of clients who began getting the dreaded “Your startup disk is almost full” error and so they started chucking files and folders that they thought they didn’t need anymore. The problem arose when the files they deleted were files that the system relied on for basic functions. Two of them were left with machines that didn’t fully boot anymore and others had varying degrees of software corruption.

Apple suggests leaving 10-20% of the hard drive free for maximum disk operation. When a disk starts to get too full it will begin to overwrite files which causes software corruption. The key to a healthy drive is simple; keep it clean and organized. With the introduction of OS X, we were gifted with User folders. Each user on the computer has his or her own folder within the Users folder of the main hard drive.

Within the User folder one will find a series of folders: Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Library, Movies, Music, Pictures, Public and Sites. Ideally, one would only put personal files within one of the folders in his/her user account. This makes clean-up a breeze!

If you’re running out of space, check out your Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music and Pictures folders and see if there are old files that you could either delete or move to an external hard drive or disk. If you happen to regularly have an external hard drive plugged into your computer, you might even consider hosting your iTunes library on the external drive to free up some space.

Here’s what you don’t want to do. Never delete files from System or Library folders unless you’re 100% sure what they are. It’s also important to be careful when deleting applications. For example, I’ve had quite a few clients over the years who have deleted their entire Utilities folder from within Applications because they “never use it.”

Then, when they ran into issues, they didn’t have the tools to identify their problems or even identify the specs of their computer (thanks to deleting System Profiler) so others could help them with their problems. This brings me back to the title of the article: if you don’t know what it is, don’t delete it!

Are you still itching to delete a few things that you don’t know what they are, but you kind-of-sort-of remember that a friend-of-a-friend installed it years ago? Stop and ask for help. While this may sound like a plea from a suicide-hotline, I’m quite serious. Apple Discussions is your friend!

 
   
     
  Tip of the Week: Protect Your MagSafe  
   
 

One of the most common things we see in our shop is MagSafe power adapters with damaged wire insulation and/or fraying where the thin cord meets the power brick or where the cord meets the actual MagSafe tip. While many consider this the result of a design flaw (coupled with the fact that Apple does offer free replacement in some situations), the simple fact is that these conditions are completely avoidable.

It is my opinion that Apple’s offer to replace these damaged cords is more a customer service measure than a reaction to any design or build quality issue. I have three 85 watt adapters from the original MacBook Pro; they are the larger variety, about four years old, and in fine condition. The logical solution is to not let there be tension at the two crucial points of the cord.

Most commonly, fraying at the power brick end is the result of wrapping the thin cord too tightly when the adapter isn’t in use. Wrap it more loosely, and wrap it such that the cord remains perpendicular to the power brick. This eliminates the strain. The same principle applies for the MagSafe tip end: keep it perpendicular to the computer to eliminate strain, but also never pull on the cord to remove the plug from the power port.

Replacement adapters are $79.99.

 
   
     
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