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A Windows User’s Intro to the Mac Mini

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If the Apple Mac Mini has you curious about adding this to your setup or switching from a PC, you'll want to read up on Paul Ferrill's journey back into the world of Apple after a long hiatus. Here you'll get a personal tour of some features of OS X Tiger, to compare them to similar Windows functions.
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Apple Computer's Mac Mini has made a lot of people think about either switching from their PC or just adding it to their existing setup. Here I'll describe my adventure in stepping back into the world of Apple after a long hiatus. I'll look at some of the features of OS X Tiger and compare them to the similar functions on the Windows side.

My first real personal computer purchase (in 1980) was an Apple II plus. I say "real" because I actually built a computer based on the S-100 bus before that. It had a whopping 16KB of RAM and stored programs on cassette tape. After several years of expansion cards and a burned-out power supply, I graduated from the Apple II to an IBM PC XT clone. Many of the businesses in my local area were buying IBM machines, and I needed to keep up with the times.

This past February, I rejoined the ranks of Apple owners with the purchase of a Mac Mini. I was in San Francisco on business and just happened to be in the vicinity of the downtown Apple Store. The clerk told me they were all sold out but that there might be a unit that a customer had returned. I waited around, and, sure enough, there was this "slightly" used Mac Mini with the faster processor and larger hard drive. With the assurance of a full warranty and a 10% discount for used equipment, I took the plunge.

My boys quickly latched on to the Nanosaur 2 game that came installed on the Mini, and I couldn't seem to get the machine back. It also makes a great little movie player for my two-year-old daughter when she wants to watch Winnie the Pooh. When OS X Tiger came out, I determined to upgrade the memory (from 256MB to 1GB) and get on with my reintroduction to the Mac.

Memory Upgrade

For the memory upgrade, I went with Crucial. On its website, Crucial has a very good guide to selecting memory for any model Mac. The best part is, you don't have to guess what to order for the Mini, and you get a lifetime warranty. They even have free shipping.

Installing the memory was not that hard. A quick Google search turned up several sites with illustrated instructions and one with a nice video that takes you step by step through the process. The toughest part is getting the case open: You'll need a clean, flexible putty knife to unhinge the plastic clamps. About the only issue I had was getting the case back together. You have to be sure to seat the rear panel first and then seat the other sides. I did have to use the putty knife to release the front plastic clamps before it would totally go back together.

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