Ryan (he of the inestimable fame) Clark suggested that since my professional and my hobby projects were on the iPhone, that I make the Mac Mini my “home” computer for a while.
So I did it. This is how they get you, you know.
The Mac Mini felt sluggish to me in development, and I knew it probably wasn’t because of the processor – it was probably due to the fact that the poor thing only had one gig of RAM.
I also must must MUST have two monitors when developing. (I’m now spoiled and cannot go back.) The video ports on the back of the mini are tiny and they are both different, requiring not only one adapter to run a monitor but a second, completely different adapter to run a second monitor. I only had one of the magic adapters and so could only run one monitor.
So the job this morning was to run out and get another gig of RAM and another video adapter for the Mac Mini.
This little sojourn began with me taking the thing apart. The Mac Mini is basically the guts of a laptop crammed into a cute little box. But unlike a lot of laptops, the thing is not designed to be user-expandable. You’re supposed to take it to an Apple Store (c) and let a Certified Apple Genius (c) work on your Mac Mini (c).
So the day started with me taking the thing apart. I’d already done it once when David shoved two DVDs into the drive at the same time, causing it to do nothing but attempt to read the discs over and over and over forever. To the device’s credit, after I removed the top of the DVD drive and took the discs out, it worked fine again.
But this was different. I was venturing into the dark heart of the machine, where no end-user is meant to go. The RAM sits on the very bottom level of the machine, underneath the drives and other guts, on the motherboard itself.
The thing about doing this type of disassembly is that there are lots of clips and pins holding the top half of the machine onto the bottom. So when you unhook the Airport antenna and take out the screws holding the top half of the computer to the bottom, it’s easy to unhook something and not realize it. Fortunately, I was looking very closely at what was happening as I opened the computer up and saw that I’d unhooked two pins from their clips.
But the bottom of the computer was finally exposed and I could fish out the single RAM chip. I took it with me to Best Buy to make sure I got absolutely the right memory (I think I’ve already established how with Apple, you play by their rules or you get kicked in the nuts).
So I go up to Best Buy. They don’t have Mac Mini RAM but it’s obvious that the MacBook uses exactly the same RAM, so I buy a two gig stick (all they have). I also get the second display adapter.
Got back and installed both RAM chips back into the computer – so yes, this computer now has three gigs of RAM in it. Got the clips put very carefully back into place, and boy are they finicky little suckers. Got everything reassembled and the machine works fine.
Time to get the second monitor hooked up. What the – the adapter goes right on the end of the VGA cable, which plugs right into the port on the Mac mini and starts working with no problems?! That’s not how things are supposed to work with Macs! I guess I got lucky.
So now I’ve got an upgraded Mac Mini with two monitors, a machine that is probably at least as good as my PC. World of Warcraft runs fine, and WoW is pretty much my benchmark for whether a machine is usable or not.
And hopefully I’ll be posting a progress report on Inaria soon.