Mac Mini, incoming!

I’ve just ordered my first Apple device, it’s a big day! The device in question is not an iPhone (bah! I would never).


Mac Mini - Wikimedia Commons
My new baby

It is however a beautiful Mac Mini that hopefully will bring my never ending media playback issues to an end. I’ll give you the background today and the update on how it went when I get setup and tried it out a bit.

I have tried multiple ways to playback my media. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, I just want to be able to play both my digital videos as well as the ones on disc. If possible I would like to be able to play my music as well, all of course through my Home Cinema system (not that fancy but now that I got it, it sure as hell shall be used). So far I’ve tried…

TvIX 6500 HD: A cute little box that was my last attempt at salvation. It should’ve been able to give me Full HD (1080p) both from the internal HD as well as over the network from my server. Well, it didn’t. Not very reliably at least. Xvid/Divx and DVD images worked just fine though. Managed to sell it without a major loss so, problem solved. Music interface was so bad that I only used it a few times, hence a separate solution for that, and no disc drive for DVDs and Music.

Home Cinema system with DVD player: Aside from not playing my digital videos it has so far spent most of the time since my investment back in the shop for repairs. Reason for that is that first the DVD playback wouldn’t work (or the remote), got it back with a new remote. Remote works fine, plays DVDs the first few tries and then both CD and DVD playback stopped working. Back to the shop. The biggest drawback however is that I need another device to play music or digital video.

XBOX360: I have a Microsoft Windows Home Server. One would think that MS figured out that their users might want to use their shining new XBOX as a Media Center (Hey, that’s what everyone did with the old XBOX). But no. XBOX360 is quite lousy as media center. Doesn’t play xvid/divx without some hacking (works but…strangely hard to accomplish), doesn’t play DVD images at all and the music interface is as slow as a turtle without legs. Microsoft, I did everything you wanted me to, got the server, Windows 7 and the XBOX360 and still I need workarounds or 3rd party software to free my files. Not good marketing strategy.

HTPC: Tried some different solutions (running the PC version of XBOX Media Center was one) under different OS version (XP, Vista and Windows 7). The media center capabilities are still crippled and I often found a need for a full keyboard to make things work. What I haven’t tried is to buy a full HTPC of the shelf. Since my experiences from running both stationary and laptop computers as HTPC isn’t exactly great I’m not that keen to pay the huge stack of money that a decent looking, decently quiet, remote controlled and working HTPC costs (in Sweden you’ll have to pay roughly 800-1000$). The reports on usability issues, regular playback problems and angry family members not being able to start a simple DVD didn’t encourage me either.

So what do I use today then? Feels ridiculous but I’m back to using my old XBOX. Yes, that’s correct, the one launched in 2000-2001 something like that. It’s huge, ugly, sounds like a tractor, can’t play any HD material and cheap me hasn’t got the cordless remote. I use the regular joypad instead. It does however presents all the capabilities I ask for in a media center, plays (almost all) DVDs and digital video files. Since it’s really quite outdated it’s not exactly foolproof but it works most of the times, it even plays videos in compressed archives. The music interface is not awesome but works, it’s just that the joypad isn’t that great as a remote.

I write to extensive for a blog, shame on me and poor readers. That was the background, the next time I might have become a Mac fanboy, who knows? :)

Stumbled on this review when I tried to decide if Apple really should get my hard earned money, sure pushed me over to the order button! http://www.mrobsession.com/osxmbc-review/

>Windows 7 – what to like

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After a short vacation I’m back.
Those of you that are returning visitors (and you actually are a couple, thanks for that) know that I’m looking damn hard right now to write about something that don’t come from the company in Seattle which I won’t mention by name this time (one post without it should be doable don’t you think?).

So I figured it’s time for the post about Windows 7, it’s really a must for every techie blogg.
I’ve been using Windows 7 on one of my computers since the Beta and have been running the Release Candidate since, well it’s release. So why haven’t I posted anything before?
Simple, it ain’t that much to write home about.

It’s fast, it’s sleek, it’s shiny and I absolutely love it.
With that said, little has changed on the outside. That’s not entirely true either, they changed the taskbar (love it) and they gave the start-menu a tweak (nice) but it’s all minor changes to a lot of things. Combined they give a new and very nice feel to it that in my opinion is quite hard to put your finger on.

One neat thing that I’m guessing that everyone using it haven’t noticed is the new way to work with windows. You can maximize a windows by dragging it to the top of the screen and vice versa but that’s not something I use everyday. What I do love is the ability to “pin” windows to the sides. By just dragging a window to the edge of your screen you can make it take up ½ the screen, do it on both sides and you just got yourself a split-desktop. This is something that I find very useful on large screens, try it! I read an article in The New York Times a while back stating that big screens increase efficiency. I was a bit sceptic then, the research was initiated by NEC for gods sake :) But with this small function it just got easier to actually use that big screen of yours so maybe on some tasks.

Touch-ups in the following areas that annoys me with Vista:
· UAC (you know, all those pop-ups asking you if: you really meant to do what you just did, and then: are you sure? yes dammit I wouldn’t have clicked yes the first 5 times if I wasn’t sure!)
· Sleep, Sleepmode, Shutdown, Have a nap, Go fore a pizza. Who remembered the translation of all that Vista options? This is much clearer in W7. (This might have been a bigger issue on non-english Vista, I don’t have any English version installed anymore to check with)

All in all, go for it! I most definitely will, there are no down-sides with W7 compared to Vista. It even requires less from your hardware. If you’re an XP-fanboy well…if you can run it you should still try it, you won’t be disappointed! Microsoft just announced that they relaesed Windows 7 to manufacture, also known as: Windows 7 rtm. October is the month if I’m not out in the blue!

The picture at the top is an Icon in Windows 7, if the dear Microsoft don’t want it here in this very positive article…well you just let me know.
Can’t find the NYTimes article, just a reference: http://nwitimes.com/app/inbusiness/?p=489