The New Desktop, Completed
Posted on July 17, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 42 Comments
It is thus.
As noted before, the new desktop is a Mac Mini, which I got for a number of reasons. This first is, simply, it’s relatively cheap; the other computers I was looking at were a couple of multiples more expensive, and I decided for this round of computer acquisition that I just didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money. Losing an expensive MacBook Air kind of took it out of me for this round, you know?
The second is, hey, this thing is tiny. And that’s not a bad thing because I have a small desk and I kind of don’t want it cluttered up. And not just the desk; with the last tower I had there were wires snaking all over the place. This time things are a bit less snakey. Third, I decided that I want this computer to be primarily a work computer rather than a game computer I also worked on. One advantage to this is that the Mac Mini is almost entirely silent while my tower always had fans chugging along. Maybe I’m just getting old or something, but I don’t miss the fan noise.
I’ve also realized, damn, I forgot how big a 24-inch screen is. Some of the other computers I was looking at had 27-inch screens; aside from the fact I’m not sure they would fit on my desk, that’s just a massive amount of real estate to scan across. Working on a 13-inch screen for a better part of a year and then going back to the 24-inch screen is kind of overwhelming. It may take me a few days to get used to it.
One major difference this time around is that I’m (at least temporarily) ditching a mouse for the Apple trackpad, in part because I got so used to using it on the Air and in part because Apple’s trackpad technology is sufficiently advanced to make it easier to use than a mouse. I may change my mind (and I will probably plug in my Logitech mouse when I am playing games in any event), but for now I’m trying it out and liking it.
There, now you are all caught up on my tech. Aren’t you happy.
Proud of you! Looks great! Welcome to the world of Apple desktops. Coke Zero Apple what a mix.
Thanks to you posting about all your losses in NY cabs, I made sure that I turned around and checked the seats on my recent trip after Comic-Con. And yes, on the last cab ride, I saw my lucky silver bracelet had fallen on the seat. But because of you, I still own it. Talk about a silver lining (at least for me, sorry).
You went for a single monitor on the MacScalzi?
I have to have at least two 23-inch widescreen monitors. One additional 21-inch rotated 90 degrees is optimal for me.
The keyboard! It’s so tiny!
The trackpad is SO much nicer than the mouse, especially if you don’t have much desk space. It always takes me a while to readjust when I switch from the Mac back to the PC (and to remember to scroll the other way), and I find myself wishing they made a Windows version.
What software are you using to write? Are you into the minimal writing apps (iAWriter) to go with the new minimal set up?
So pretty! I’ve been looking at the new MacBook Pro laptops (my current guy is going on 4 years old). They. Are. SOOOO. Expensive and beautiful. But I need something robust for editing and graphics work. Your Mini should be great.
I upgraded from a 22″ monitor to a 27″ monitor. Even with my eyesight, I think when this one goes (not for a long time, I hope, but still) I’ll replace it with a 24-25″. The 27″ is a tad too large for my needs.
Will the Mac Mini get its own name like you gave netbooks a new name?
““Mencken 7,” which as you may expect means it’s the seventh desktop I’ve had; I think the first Mencken was a Mac Plus 1MB rather some years ago, although I won’t swear to that. I name the desktops “Mencken”; the laptops are “Parker,” as in Dorothy (I’m up to Parker 4); when I got the netbook, I inaugurated the “Heinlein” naming convention, henceforth to be given to computers smaller than standard laptop. Why yes, I am a big fat geek.”
It’s an issue of desk real estate. The desk isn’t big enough to hold two monitors, basically.
If I need more screen real estate, I’ll upgrade from 1920×1200 to something with more pixel space. At the moment it’s not an issue.
The 24 inch is just perfect to have two Word docs up simultaneously, like, say, an outline and a novel.
Got to agree on the magic trackpad– after purchasing mine I don’t ever want to use a mouse again. They’d be better for gaming but I have an Xbox for that. Anything else, I’d prefer the trackpad.
Love this! I love my Mac Mini. I have one at work and one at home. Glad you’re as cool as me now.
It seems like a good solution for a writing machine. I always cringe when you write of using a laptop without an external monitor and keyboard as a primary writing machine. I’ve yet to encounter a laptop with a truly pleasant keyboard, and I’d rather not look down into a laptop screen all day. I guess you are accustomed to it, but the screen on your desk seems low to me.
I don’t know how your process works. I would think that the 24″ would be nice so that you can have a window for notes and the editing window on the screen in a large size at the same time.
I have two 4:3 monitors on my desk and I still crave screen real-estate for editors, compiler environments, and reference documentation.
Man, you’d hate my setup, then. I have a 32″ screen. It isn’t troublesome (for me) because windows are sizable, and the increased real estate just means I can have more non-overlapping windows open at the same time.
Looks like the perfect set up, clean, tidy, right size.
good on ya mate
You’ll love the trackpad. I started using one when I got my 27″ iMac, and I haven’t looked back – gave the mouse away.
Wish the magic trackpad worked better in Windows (and perhaps will in Windows 8?) Would love to use it at work where I’m confined to a PC…
You can write on the standard Mac keyboard? Best thing I did with my iMac was add an ergonomic Windows keyboard. For lengthy writing and/or editing, it means a lot less pain in my hands and wrists.
Is that a Blue Yeti?
Ten years ago, I was the first person to think to ask to expense a cheap ($40, I think) G400 card and run dual heads. At the time, I was writing software documentation, and the argument “I need one screen for the software, and one to work in” was persuasive. Within a couple years, everybody had one. Dual 17″ tubes eventually gave way to 19″ panels. Now I have 20″ panels both at home and at the office. I’ve gotten so used to having massive screen real estate that being on a laptop with only one screen just feels cramped.
Oh, and you might be interested to know that das keyboard makes a mac version of the Model M now, just in case you want a keyboard that can also be used as a weapon.
When we got our new iMac, a 27-inch refurb, in December, we sprang for the full-size (wired) Apple keyboard because it has the number pad and other features, and feels and looks great; we’re saving the wireless keyboard that came with the iMac (same as the one pictured here) for use with our future iPad. I can’t do tiny keyboards of any kind.
My hands are not large so I don’t find the keyboard to be problematic. I like it a lot better than the previous Mac keyboard I had, back in ’05 — I hated that one so much I swapped it out within a day.
So I guess, despite having tracked your MacBook Air to the general area, recovery is a lost cause? I hate humans sometimes. :(
So what are you doing for on-the-road mobile computationings? Are you keeping the 11″ Acer in service for that job? (I just bought one of those, and I can’t believe how much bigger that 11.6″ screen feels than the 10″ LCD on the old netbook.)
I got a MacMini to my parents last fall and one thing I noticed is that it gets quite hot if it’s on whole day and while doing just pretty normal stuff. After searching various forums I discovered that seems to be normal but it surprised me a lot. So, just that you know. It’s a nice computer otherwise. IMHO it won’t be my next non-laptop computer, though… And sorry to hear that the MacBook Air was not returned.
Love my Mini. I started to buy the upgraded model, but bought the entry-level unit instead. Also bought 8GB RAM for $50 (that’s OEM memory, baby!!). Well worth the investment, even if you bought the upgraded model w/ 4GB. This assumes you have the need/desire for the extra memory.
I have found that a 24″ screen or even a nice 21″ screen is fine for writing and gaming, but for photography, there is NOTHING like having two separate monitors. My setup tends to make people go slightly insane (I was already past that) because one monitor is calibrated for print and the other is calibrated for looking at web pages where everybody assumes you’ve left your brightness and contrast turned all the way up. :) Also, I can have the Lightroom Library up on one screen and the Preview pane on the other, and when I click on an image in the library (mine displays at 4×5 images) it instantly appears full-size on the other monitor. Bliss. I wouldn’t trade my two monitors for one ginormous one.
My wife has a 27″ iMac and you are right about the real estate. Her desk has a hutch and it WON’T FIT UNDER IT. iMacs aren’t height-adjustable and she wouldn’t let me cut a hole in her desk, so that’s that. This has required some creative chair arranging so she isn’t looking down to read the speedometer. But Warcraft looks AMAZING and she can look at her genealogy charts at a size where she can actually read the text so she’s very happy.
The flat keyboard that Apple sells now is nice. It’s easier on the wrists than the old big ones. I was surprised to see the new one you got there didn’t have a number pad on it. The one I have does have that and has wider key spacing.
That is not a desktop. That is a sliver of a desktop. That looks into a corner. Without legroom. Shudder.
The desk I have now is an old vanity converted into a desk. It’s cramped but the important thing is I have a place to work. Everything else is secondary.
John, what is that desktop wallpaper you have up on the screen?
It’s the one that comes with the Mac. I will change it presently.
Is heat an issue with the Mac Minis? It seems to me that there would not be enough airflow around the processor to keep it from overheating.
Christu, man! You can’t change the wallpaper…doing so has got to be illegal, because (a) you’re a science fiction writer, and (b) “My God! It’s full of STARS!”
I like the small Mac keyboard – it’s small enough that you can easily keep a small notepad in between it and the trackpad, without spreading things out too far.
Chris Sears:”Is heat an issue with the Mac Minis? It seems to me that there would not be enough airflow around the processor to keep it from overheating.”
I expect the heat issues are less severe than in a laptop, and the Mini uses laptop components.
The current Mac Mini doesn’t come with an optical drive, right? Do you not need one, or did you have an external one already from your MacBook Air?
It’s been so long since I’ve used an optical drive I can’t remember when it was.
Have you given up on PC gaming? Or is the old gaming computer now someplace else where it won’t distract you when you’re trying to write?
I hope you like using the wireless keyboard as much as I do. Being able to move it around without the damn wires getting caught up is great.
Just a tip, when the batteries run out on either or both of the keyboard & trackpad, if the computer is running take the devices out of bluetooth range before changing the batteries, or better yet, shut the whole schemozzle down, then change the batteries. Saves all sorts of hassle.
This is me – teacher of methods of sucking eggs …
Out of curiosity, what is the object to the left of the phone? It looks almost like an old style microphone.
I only just got read this post and i was wondering what games you play, and if there are any particularly good ones you might suggest