Joining the Shiny People

I bought a Mac Mini, and so far, it’s been a pretty disappointing process all around. Some nice people gave me some Amazon vouchers, so I went to buy it there, I’d never bought anything at Amazon before, so that was a new experience, and it was a bad one!

The biggest shock was that it simply doesn’t work, I needed a keyboard, so I looked at the list of keyboards, I wanted a cheap one so I sorted them by price. I ended up at the list of keyboards sorted by price low to high, so the cheapest keyboard Amazon had was 21.95, that surprised me somewhat as normally a fiver is a bit much, looking down though the numbers were, 21.95, 47.74, 22.99, 89.99, 147.95, 9.95. There was a 3.50 one at 15 in the list, but all very unsatisfactory. I didn’t bother with a keyboard from amazon, I borrowed one instead. Amazon are a big site, how can they get such fundamental things wrong? Are Amazon customers really so price insensitive that they don’t order things by price - the same effect happens all across amazon uk, it’s not just keyboards, sorting by price is simply broken.

So the parcel arrived, 3 days after ordering it, pretty poor again considering I paid for the fast delivery, next day delivery was what I would’ve expected, somehow the “normally ships in 24 hours” actually meant, ships a couple of days after you order it. They were my Amazon disappointments, next came my Apple disappointments.

It came installed with 10.3.7, fair enough, that’s all that was advertised, but you’d think it would be a free upgrade as it’s now 7 weeks since the upgrade was released (I guess Amazon UK doesn’t actual sell much volume of mac-mini’s), nope an upgrade would cost 11.99 with the up-to-date programme. I knew this fact before I bought it, and I took a risk that there would actually be a 10.4 OS in the box, but still at least I know how much Apple values my custom, I don’t even get the up-to-date software.

When it finally arrived, I went out and donated blood, figuring feeling slightly faint with tea and biscuits inside me would put me in the right mind for clicking around with one button on my mouse - I was using a borrowed keyboard and mouse from an old iMac. Installing it seemed to go pretty easy, it asked me some questions about where I was, the only oddity was that after telling it I was in the UK, and wanted a British settings, it suggested the date was 06-29-2005, so that was a little disappointing.

Next it started asking me a lot of personal questions about my address, and name and things, why does my computer need to know this - this is stuff I know already - there was no way to skip it given in the menus! Fortunately, the good folk in #SWHACK tipped me off the CMD-Q would let me get out of it, hardly the best advertised feature though.

It started, and I had it all onscreen, then a box popped up telling me it wanted to download updates, ah, that’s good I thought, then I noticed it wanted to download things like iPod Updater 2005-06-26, thinking I must have a free iPod I quickly looked through the packaging I threw away, it wasn’t actually there though, maybe it got lost? I can’t understand why an iPod updater or iTunes are Mac OS-X updates, it just wanted me to download 100mb of stuff that I have absolutely no need for. Of course it also didn’t download a load of security updates it now things I need - I had to manually force another check after installing the first load, no idea when it might have told me those. I thought the Mac was supposed to make me more secure?

Starting up Safari came next, I’d heard good things about it, and seen it render pages well, and it did! Worked nicely, first things first, let’s get rid of all those animations - I can’t concentrate with any movement on webpages - hmm, no options to disable flash, or animated gifs? Off to google, apparently the only way to kill flash is to remove it from the plugins directory. Something that removes it from all browsers, and requires a restart of the browser to re-enable, hardly useable. Killing animated gifs seems to need a 3rd party plugin costing 10$, disappointing, I guess I might just have to make Opera my default OS-X browser.

Installing OS-X VNC was quick and painless, and works very well on the local network, if only it could just export a safari window though, that would be much nicer, is there anything that can do that?


  1. James Says:

    I bought a mac mini about a month ago, and while 10.3.x was the standard install it came with 10.4 upgrade discs. Perhaps amazon are sending out old stock?

    It is a pain that you have to recheck for extra security updates, though I’ve had the same thing happen in windows (and last time I was using linux, had to use cron to make those updates automatic). I have my macs set to check software update daily (through system preferences), so at least things don’t slip through the net for too long. If the system offers you an update you don’t want (such as an ipod update) you can disable that update using the ‘Update’ menu (or by just hitting backspace with the update selected).

  2. Jim Ley Says:

    Hi James, yes it’s fair enough that patches aren’t all rolled up everytime, that would be a testing nightmare, but the automatic upgrade tool should as soon as it’s finished an upgrade immediately upgrade again - especially if the patches it just installed are many months old, that’s what Windows does do at least. I beleive the mac would’ve waited a week before trying again to update the system, leaving it insecure in the week.

    Yep, I found out how not to install the things I didn’t want, but I could do with getting rid of them from the list, one day I guess…