Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

10 years a Mac user

Portalicious

10 years ago today, my very first Apple Mac computer arrived. Previously, I’d only ever used computers running Windows or Linux, so this was a big change for me. In 2004 I bought myself an iPod Mini, and was so pleased with the build quality and user interface (when compared with other portable music players on the market at the time) that I decided to splash out on an Apple computer. I’d also worked out that the majority of things that I wanted to do in Windows could also be done on a Mac, and having experience with OS X would be useful.

The Mac Mini was the most affordable option available to me at the time. I ordered the slightly more expensive model, which had a faster 1.42 GHz single core PowerPC processor, as opposed to the standard 1.33 GHz processor offered as standard. It came with 512 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive and 32 MB on-board graphics. The optical drive was a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, which meant it could read and write CDs but only read DVDs. I also opted to have Bluetooth (version 1.1) and Wi-fi (802.11g) included, which were both build options; this was the first time I’d bought a computer with these features built-in.

The box itself

The ports on the back included an Ethernet port (100BaseTX), a socket for the internal 56k modem, a DVI port for connecting a monitor, 2 USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire 400 port. There was also a 3.5mm headphone socket, but no microphone. It’s interesting to note that the modem, DVI and Firewire ports have all been superseded and aren’t found on modern computers. But at the time, the modem was useful as I initially didn’t have broadband internet in the house that I was living in.

10 years on and I still have this computer, which has survived five house moves. However, it hasn’t really been used much since about 2007, partly because it become surplus to my requirements, but also because Apple abandoned the PowerPC architecture shortly after I bought it. I was able to upgrade it from OS X 10.4 (Tiger) to 10.5 (Leopard), but in 2009 Apple released 10.6 (Snow Leopard) which was for Intel-based Macs only. Very little new software is available for PowerPC machines – nothing from the Mac App Store, for example. TenFourFox is a Firefox-derived web browser that is still updated and maintained, but this is pretty much the exception.

One helluva transformer

I suppose there are two reasons why I haven’t gotten rid of the computer. On the one hand, I doubt anyone would be interested in buying it, seeing as how it’s practically useless to anyone other than a hobbyist. It perhaps has limited usage as a kiosk computer, but you’d struggle to run any recent software on it, due to its underpowered, outdated processor. A Raspberry Pi is more powerful, has more modern ports and is cheap. The other reason is that there’s part of me that still wants to find some use for it.

After this Mac, I bought a MacBook just over a year later in 2006, to replace my ailing Windows laptop. From this point I was Mac-only, although my MacBook could run Windows as a virtual machine if needed. And then I bought my current Mac Mini in 2010, which I still use daily.

I am actively considering buying another new computer sometime in the next two years, as my current Mac Mini is also starting to get rather sluggish. Whether I will get Apple’s latest and greatest Mac Mini, or save my pennies and splash out on a Mac Pro, remains to be seen.

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