M1 Mac mini.

So I’ve been plugging along at work on my new Mac mini and it is amazing. As a software developer, a Unix systems administrator, and a guy that needs to attend several meetings a day via various video conferencing platforms, I have to say I’m blown away by this new M1 Mac mini. Blown away.

This new machine never gets warm. Ever. While doing to same workload on my 2015 maxed out MacBook Pro, I’d hear all sorts of fan noises, wheezes, and gasps from that computer. Beach balls would spin everywhere. But this Mac mini, with 8GB RAM, is plugging right along cool as a cucumber. I have run into zero difficulties with software compatibility. The only “workaround” I needed to do was set one of my terminal programs to “run in Rosetta mode”. The Rosetta mode is the compatibility layer to run software not designed for Apple’s new M1 chip. Other than toggling a setting in the applications window, the Rosetta layer has been absolutely transparent. Everything just works.

Hard drive performance in quick, network connectivity has been flawless, and I’ve had zero issues getting my day to day chores done on this new computer.

At $699 it is well worth the money for a desktop computer. I highly recommend this new Mac.

Spring Loaded.

Apple had their “Spring Loaded” event today and as a dutiful Apple Fanboy, I watched with great interest. Like the other Apple events over the past year, this was a virtually attended event with slick video and impressive editing. I’m assuming the entire production was created using Apple products. I say this because one time a Windows event was produced with Apple products and that was somewhat smirk worthy.

I was pleased to see everything that was announced today. The highlights of the event for me included the new AirTags and the new iPad Pro.

AirTags are small devices that attaches to various things you have a habit of misplacing. Luggage. Car keys. Your spouse. AirTags work with the existing Apple “Find My” ecosystem, so you can locate these tagged items using your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. With Apple’s focus on privacy and security, all of this location data is anonymized and encrypted but still available to your iDevices with pinpoint accuracy. You’ll never lose your car keys again. Totally useable in our household.

The new iPad Pro, especially the 12.9″ model (I currently have the 2018 version) is especially impressive. The new iPad Pros will have the same chip as the newest iteration of Macs, the Apple Silicon M1 chip. Up until last year, Macs used the same chip, and “industry standard” Intel chip, to power their Macs. These were the same chips you’d find in any Windows computer on the street. They tend to run hot, require a lot of power, and have other limitations, so Apple designed their own chip. I bought an M1 Mac mini for my work setup last week and it has been fantastic (more on that later this week). Moving to the M1 in the iPad Pro ramps up the already very capable device. I’m certain my next “laptop” will be this iteration of iPad Pro. Someone tell my husband to prime the credit card later this year.

Apple also announced a completely redesigned iMac and, surprise!, they come in an assortment of colors with matching keyboard, mouse, and/or trackpad. The new iMac is incredibly thin and is now powered by the aforementioned M1 chip. This will make the machine absolutely silent, something I really enjoy about any computer.

Side note, today I moved the NAS, or hard drive storage device, out of my office and into another room of the house because it was making too much noise and distracting me from work. While there are times I enjoy some music playing, most the time I try to work in complete silence. And when I want it silent, I want it silent. This was another reason for purchasing the M1 Mac mini last week; my older mid-2015 MacBook Pro fires up the fans a lot, especially during video calls.

Apple also announced a new Apple TV 4K and more importantly, a completely redesigned remote. Bonus feature, the newly designed remote will work with existing Apple TVs. While we already have an Apple TV 4K (the current version), we are both ready for a better designed remote. We’ve had too many instances where we couldn’t figure out which way was up when holding the remote, or hitting the wrong button because we were lost in the navigation, and mistakenly backing completely out of a show we were watching. The new design of the Apple TV remote looks promising and I’m anxious to add one to our collection of iDevices.

Overall I enjoyed the event very much and I just added another notch to the inevitable status as an Apple Fanboy. There are a lot of choices out there these days, I simply believe Apple does consumer tech in the best way available. They’re far from perfect, but when compared with other platforms, it just works.

Mac Tip: Keyboard Editing Commands.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been Mac and iPad focused with my technological endeavors. I’m trying to get away from editing code with editors designed in the 1970s but I love being able to navigate without using a mouse.

I found a list of the Mac navigation and editing keyboard commands. I hope you find these helpful as well. I am sharing these tips from the results of a Google search, where I landed on Amsys, an Apple Authorised Service Provider in London.

Note: these also work on an iPad with an external keyboard.

General 

ctrl + d  – forward delete
ctrl + k 
 – deletes everything to the right of the insertion point to the next new line.
command + delete – like ctrl+k, but reverse.
command + ctrl + d – look up the word under the mouse position in the dictionary.
command-f – Find dialog
command-t – Font dialog
command-g – Go to dialog
command-e – Align Center
command-j – Align Justified
command-l – Align Left
command-r – Align Right

Text Selection

Shift + option (alt) + ⬅ – Select up to beginning of word the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬅ – Select up to beginning of line the insertion-point currently is
Shift + option (alt) + ➡ – Select up to end of word the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ➡ – Select up to end of line the insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬆ – Select up to beginning of document from insertion-point currently is
Shift + command + ⬇
 – Select up to end of document from insertion-point currently is
option (alt) – changes the cursor to a + , and you can now select columns of text!

Navigation

ctrl + a – Go to the beginning of the line the insertion-point is on.
ctrl + e – Go to the end of the line the insertion-point is on.
option (alt) + ⬅ – Go to beginning of word
option (alt) + ➡ – Go to end of word
command + ⬅ – Go to beginning of the line
command + ➡ – Go to end of the line
command + ⬆ – Go to beginning of document
command + ⬇ – Go to end of document

Night Photography.

Living in the desert and in an area with light pollution ordinances provides an opportunity for night photography. I decided to climb up on the roof and play around with my Canon EOS Rebel XS with absolutely no idea as to what I was doing.

I need to put a time delay on the shutter, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

Weather.

I’ve been watching the clouds roll in late this morning and this afternoon. Since moving here nearly a month ago I haven’t seen much in the way of clouds. We had just a couple puffs of clouds over the mountains this morning and they’ve been building since. There’s little chance of rain in the forecast and as a weather buff, I’m interested to see if these clouds just go on their way later today. I might need to take a few shots of the sky from the roof tonight. I’m in the mood to try my hand at this.

One of the things I quickly discovered about Chicago when we moved there in 2017 was that the weather wasn’t too awfully different from what we experienced in Upstate New York. Now that we’ve moved to a completely different part of the country I’m looking forward to experience all facets of the weather here in the desert.

I find the change of scenery quite rejuvenating.

Family Game Night.

Jamie took a photo during family game night. We played “Catan”. Truman kept an eye on things. Chris won. We all had a good time.

Sears.

This Sears in Tucson is closed. I like the little southwestern art over the entrance. Apparently this store opened in 1982. It has a slightly interesting vibe to the design, but it’s a shame the store has been closed and is empty.

Caturday.

Truman knows the status of every creature in the back yard at all times. He watches every bird’s arrival and departure, keeps track of the lizards running around, and probably sees things we humans haven’t seen yet.

Mac.

I took the opportunity to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our condo to purchase a Mac mini. The computer arrived today.

I’ve had a few of these machines over the years and I’ve always been pleased with them. I’ve nothing but glowing reviews of the latest incarnation, which is based on Apple’s new M1 chip. The new chip was designed by Apple specifically for Apple products, as opposed to the outsourced Intel chips that have been in Macs for the past decade or so.

My initial impressions are quite favorable. This little guy is quite snappy, even while it’s downloading my iCloud data and installing apps and the like. While my mid-2015 MacBook Pro would constantly scream with the hum of fans while driving my external monitor, this little Mac mini doesn’t even get warm.

I’ll be putting the new computer through its paces next week, as it’s intended to be my primary work computer. I’ll probably be following up with blog entries once I have a bit more experience with it.

Thoughts.

I was feeling particularly introspective during my morning walk today. I don’t know if it’s the arrival of spring (however that’s defined in our new home) or the magical sound of the wind sweeping across the desert or the presence of nature all around us again, but something had me pondering life and I’m better for it.

I am happy. I’m actually very happy and am thankful for this blessing of life. I try to never take things for granted and I realized it could all be taken away in nearly an instant, so I strive to treasure each moment, each thought.

For some reason I was thinking of my high school friend that passed on from cancer a couple of years ago. We were close friends in high school, lost touch with one another, found each other on the streets of Boston, connected again, and then he became ill and passed on to whatever lies beyond. I enjoy that he was always a calm one with a dry sense of humor. Now that I think about it, many of my high school friends were rather calm. Maybe I was the high strung one of the group.

This led to me to thoughts about death, and my eventual passing (it happens to everyone, you know), and how I’m very likely well beyond the half way point of this life. I’m not afraid of death. I fully believe without hesitation that something lies ahead on our path and it’s beyond our comprehension as to how wonderful it is. What we call life is just a part of a much larger journey. A sixth sense, a flirtation with death as a youngster, it all just makes sense and is part of a universal truth. I just know these things to be true. I need no proof. I need no reassurance. I just know it to be.

Where am I going with these thoughts? Forward. That’s it. They’re probably mere ramblings written down buy some middle aged guy in a blog of little consequence or impact.

I’m thankful to be able to share them.