Mar 22 2009

[Update: Part 2 with some external drives is posted here ]

Quite a number of people wonder if it is worth upgrading the Mac mini 2009 from its default Core 2 Duo running at 2 GHz to 2.26 GHz (13% CPU increase), so below are my first benchmark results.

I hadn’t see any 2.26 GHz benchmarks yet, when I decided to order my mini with this upgrade. I figured it was worth it since I was going to save money on doing the other hardware upgrades myself. Upgrading the CPU, memory & hard drive kicks a mini over $1000. 

Note that I consider 2GB pretty much a mandatory upgrade, so it enables both memory channels and unlocks the shared graphic memory from 128MB to 256MB. The jury is still out, I think, about a 7200 rpm drive.  Generally the hard drive is the slowest component in a computer (ignoring the optical drive) and a 7200 rpm drive should be faster than a 5400 rpm drive. But, other technical details come into play like amount of cache, # of platters, platter density, … and so you can see a great 5400 rpm drive hold its own against an average 7200 rpm model. Research is key.  The PowerBook greatly benefits from the 100GB 7200 rpm drive over the default one, but maybe Apple made a good hard drive choice here. 

Note: Geekbench 32 bit demo mode. 

Mac mini 2009 2.26 GHz – 1 GB RAM - OS X 10.5.6 – 1st Boot * 

Geekbench 32: 3007 — Integer: 2428 — Floating point: 4343 — Memory: 2410 — Stream: 1558

Xbench: 124.57 — CPU: 142.52 — Thread Test: 307.03 — Memory Test: 154.54 — Quartz Graphics Test: 170.22 — OpenGL Graphics Test: 110.46 — User Interface: 248.38 — Disk test: 48.79 

* I noticed after completion that Apple had a software update process running in the background that was pulling several hundred KB/s of updates, so that may have compromised the result.

Mac mini 2009 2.26 GHz – 1 GB RAM - OS X 10.5.6 – Restarted

Geekbench 32: 3032 — Integer: 2448 — Floating point: 4413 — Memory: 2413 — Stream: 1486

Xbench: 178.53  – CPU: 136.81 — Thread Test: 321.07 — Memory Test: 156.73 — Quartz Graphics Test: 179.30 — OpenGL Graphics Test: 137.04 — User Interface: 244.39 — Disk test: 48.52 

Upgrading the mini is not for the faint of heart, but I did it. More on that in my upgrade story. 

Mac mini 2009 2.26 GHz – 4 GB RAM - OS X 10.5.6 – Restarted

Geekbench 32: 3081 – Integer: 2492 — Floating point: 4378 — Memory: 2476 — Stream: 1821

Xbench: 130.57  – CPU: 137.74 — Thread Test: 252.28 — Memory Test: 174.42 — Quartz Graphics Test: 185.21 — OpenGL Graphics Test: 136.94 — User Interface: 285.55 — Disk test: 48.90

I had no idea why the second Xbench score was significantly higher the second time around with 1GB, only to see it drop back to a still improved level with 4GB. A fourth & fifth result were 131. Actually, the only difference that I am aware of was that the initial monitor topped out at 1024 x 768 pixels, versus the mini’s monitor now being 1920 x 1080. Back to the original 15″ monitor: Xbench 132. 

Also noteworthy:

Default installation takes up close to 17GB with the OS & iLife ‘09. 

Boot time: 4 seconds to the “bong” and 35 seconds to desktop fully loaded with custom menu bar (iStat Menu), Wifi on DHCP, BlueTooth on. 

Shut down time: I have seen it shut down as fast as 5 seconds. Another time 32 seconds, where the display goes blank in 3-4 seconds, but it takes another half a minute for the mini’s power light to extinguish. 

All in all I am very pleased with the mini’s performance.

Mar 22 2009

I have been waiting for the mythical midrange mac for so long – namely since the G4 Cube was shelved and Apple went with Intel – that I finally bit the bullet and purchased a Mac mini 2009.

Mac mini 2009 box.

Of course this probably means we will see Apple release such a mid-range machine in the next few months. Which would be the third, or is it the fourth?, time an Apple product we buy is significantly upgraded or replaced by a new model a few weeks later. C’est la vie. I know, you just can’t time Apple for some things.  

So, why the Mac mini? Well, it is very simple. There are three things I like in computers: horsepower, silence & a sense of value; and one thing I absolutely hate: glossy screens.

The latter immediately rules out the glossy iMirror, I mean iMac. If it were matte, I could be convinced about the all-in-one factor. Glossy MacBook & MacBook Pro = no thank you. We have two glossy portables (one of which a MacBook and the screen is really sub-par) and I see no need to buy another. The Mac Pro certainly has the horsepower, but $3000 for another behemoth like the G5? I would have to be mad.

If Apple had a new Cube or a one third or quarter size Mac Pro, with Core i7 CPUs (instead of those $$$ Xeons), somewhere in the $1000 – $1250 range, I would order one instantly. Unfortunately the new Cube is still a pipe dream, so, there is only one machine  left: the mini. With the 2009 revision it includes dual monitor support and after some evaluation, I figured the time was right to simultaneously downsize (in size) and upgrade (in cpu). I decided on the base Mac mini with 2.26 GHz CPU and will do the upgrades myself. 

Mac mini 2009 unboxed

During the un-boxing I found it funny how I kept thinking there should be something more in the box, like a mouse or a keyboard. Pretty much any new computer I have purchased or set-up for someone else ( apart from self-build ) came with a new keyboard & mouse; so it felt like the mini was lacking those. No luck fitting them into the mini’s box, I guess ;) 

Only a mini DVI to DVI adapter is included, so if you have a VGA monitor, or something else, you will need an additional adapter as well as the keyboard, mouse and monitor. 

I was somewhat surprised by the huge power brick. It is hefty, but fortunately smaller than that of a Cube. 

Here is the port configuration in the back: including FireWire 800 and mini DisplayPort. While I didn’t like Apple’s decision to use mini DisplayPort on their MacBook & MacBook Pro, I am happy it is added on the mini besides the DVI port, so it is dual monitor capable. 

Mac mini 2009 port configuration

I know some people are interested in the Mac mini 2.26 GHz benchmarks and I will post those next. Default as well as upgraded with more RAM and later with a 7200 rpm drive.

Mar 19 2009

We had two FedEx deliveries within 5 minutes of each other this morning. One of which is this “mystery” box.

mystery box

2.9 KGs from Shenzhen, China? MMmm.

Mar 16 2009

Positive temperatures have returned. The snow is melting and since I can step outside in a t-shirt (I am pretty cold tolerant), spring must be around the corner. Finally! Though, I shouldn’t say it too loud. While spring may come next week, according to the calendar, we are looking at another month and a half before it will stop freezing (crossing fingers).

The past winter was the coldest and strongest we have experienced. Record cold temperatures – as cold as -50F or -45C is a new state record – and back to back snow storms really make you wish at times you were in a tropical place instead of the Maine foothills and mountains. One is almost a prisoner inside his/her house. Absent a january and february thaw, today is the first day I can start pulling up our outdoor Christmas decor, now that the last bit of snow & ice is melting. It looked great for about two weeks, until it was entirely burried under snow.

A few people have asked how things are, since I haven’t blogged in way too long (mea culpa).

Things are good. We can’t complain. 2008 was an odd year, and a busy one too. I don’t know how many trips we made and miles I drove, off the top of my head. Looking back it feels like I was somewhere else every few weeks and didn’t get anything done, so to speak.

The year started out nice and quiet, spring came, we started gardening and prepared for some DIY projects. Then extra family responsibilities cropped up … and time flew. We ended up not doing much remodeling, besides a total redo of the TV room & closet under the stairs. I had planned  to work on the cabin, but we were just too busy and pre-occupied with work and family matters.  I did learn a thing our two about cars, trailers and boats though. There is a Jeep in the family now and I am the captain of our boat :)

But, more on that in a short while.

Mar 16 2009

Did you ever wish to export your entries from iBlog 2 to another platform?

Absent completion of iBlog 2 and an official export tool / script from Lifli, you were pretty much on your own if you wanted to switch away from iBlog.

With iBlog 1 there was a 3rd party tool, but the geeky adventure is not really for novice users or the faint of heart. If you are interested in this route, I recommend Bruce McKenzie’s  Step by step guide iBlog to WordPress. There is some change regarding versions & installing of MAMP & WordPress, but the guide outline still holds.

With iBlog 2 you were looking at long nights of copy – pasting, depending on the size of your blog. That is, until now.

I was contacted last week by fellow iBlog user Jerry Seeger from Muddled Ramblings and Half baked ideas. Facing the thought of manually exporting his entries, he grabbed the bull by the horns and developed an export script that allowed him to migrate his entries from iBlog 2 beta to WordPress. Story about this on his blog. He contacted me to ask if there are fellow iBloggers out there who would benefit from his script.; which I know there are some. In brief communication with him I suggested a tutorial and forum might be handy to more easily help other users and aid with communication & troubleshooting. So,  he created the iBlog Survivors forum.

Regardless of whether you want to move to WordPress right now or later or wish to keep using iBlog; I think it would benefit all current users to register on the iBlog Survivors forum. With the loss of the ibloggers. net forum we lost a major line of communication and peer to peer assistance.

I think that, using Jerry’s script, it should also be possible to easily migrate from iBlog 1 to WordPress. Get iBlog 2 beta. Import your v1 blog into v2. Then export using Jerry’s script.