Categories
Computers

Unboxing New Apple Mac Mini M1 2021 Setup Review

Aaron Garcia unboxes the new Apple Mac Mini M1 with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD from Best Buy. The new computer is incredibly fast using Apple’s own silicon instead of a traditional Intel processor. He chooses a dual monitor setup with two Walmart 22″ Surf Onn monitors, Bose speakers, and a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, which were also purchased from Walmart.

The Apple Mac Mini M1 is as blazing fast as they say! After several days of using it, I’m am pleased with my purchase, especially because the price was reasonable and there are no batteries to deplete lifecycles.

The pros of buying this device are the speed, the price, and the likely longevity of using wall power vs. batteries that would have ensured planned obsolescence. The cons are the limited number of ports on the back and the incompatibility of the M1 with some Intel-based apps and accessories.

The Good

There are several videos on YouTube showing users opening every application on the dock all at once, I tried it in my video, and yes, the new Mac Mini M1 is really snappy!

I might appreciate this more since I held on to my 2010 MacBook Pro and 2013 iMac for as long as I did. I believe everyone in the world has struggled at some point with a prolonged computer where just opening up Chrome induces anxiety. Perhaps our computers were always that slow, and the iPhone just made that more obvious? For this reason, I believe that most users will appreciate the speed of this Mac as their top reason to get it.

In addition to a responsive app opening experience, I am now updated to macOS Big Sur, which has several improvements that I’m still exploring. And the newest version of Final Cut Pro X flew through, rendering an hour 4K edit in what seemed to be less than an hour! A 1080p of similar length would have taken my 2013 iMac 7 hours to render. So speed is definitely noticed and appreciated!

One of the other reasons I hadn’t upgraded my Mac in so long is the price, and the Mac Mini M1 is set at a great price of $699 to start, though I opted for the $899 model. With as long as I plan to use this computer, that price isn’t intolerable.

And the final thing I like about the Mac Mini, in general, is that it is a desktop that does not have a battery soldered in. Batteries have a short lifespan with me. I use my computer a lot, and I would like to easily replace them without spending a fortune or tossing the whole computer away. With the Mac Mini, I do not need to worry about battery lifecycles because there are none. That gives me peace of mind.

The small size of the Mac Mini may encourage many users to treat it as if it were a laptop by stuffing it into their bag and taking it with them. Even at a base model configuration, the new unit’s speed is enough to be content with spending the least amount possible and still feel like a major upgrade was made.

The subject of price brings me to the bad. Before we dive into that, I want to emphasize that while Apple’s pockets get deeper, the average customers do not. Price is important to those who would like to remain out of the red.

The Bad

I have already experienced keyboard issues with several Logitech wireless keyboards. I believe this will get resolved with software updates and, of course, newer keyboards. The limited number of ports makes using the official Apple Keyboard and TrackPad a more practical choice. For that reason, I believe Apple made a mistake by not including them with the Mac Mini.

One of my more recent frustrations with Apple is that they are nickeling and diming their customers for basic functionality; the accessories required to make their devices useable are costly! A keyboard that is not included with the Mac Mini ranges from $89 to $149. A mouse that is sold separately ranges from $79 to $149. And then there is the limited number of ports that prompt users to purchase dongles – the dongle I bought was $109! It’s as if Apple creates expense by removing necessary features.

I still buy from Apple because of their operating system, which they offer for free every year, and is an amazing OS. But, I feel the meme pay more for doing less is becoming increasingly more accurate with every release.

For as much as Apple speaks about core values, I believe they are losing their way again. Products should exceed a customer’s needs, not price-gouge them. I believe this is a principle that Amazon understands, which is why more Echo Dots are in the world than Apple Pods.

Criticism aside, the Mac Mini is fast, which I couldn’t say about my previous computers, and the software is great. I appreciate the more reasonable price with the Mini, but I do sense a trend with Apple.

Don’t even get me started on the iPhone case ($49.99), wallet ($59.99), charging puck ($39.99), and wall adapter ($19.99). None of those items should costs so much, especially when combined.

Bottom Line

I’m happy with my purchase, as you can see in the video above. I may have some gripes with how Apple has been conducting business lately, but this particular product makes sense to me. It’s affordable and competent.

Categories
Computers

Hard Drive Formats

If you’ve ever wondered what to reformat your flash drive or external hard drive, you are not alone. There are several formats to choose from, but there is likely only a couple that will work for your needs.

Formats

FAT32

FAT32 is the most common format found on flash drives (also known as thumb drives, USB sticks, or jump drives). FAT32 is perfect for these small devices because the format can be read and written to from every major computer or device (including Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux computers).

There is only one problem with FAT32, it cannot save a file larger than 4GBs. That might be a problem if you’re working with video or have a large ISO file that you’d like to store.

exFAT

FAT32 is being phased out for exFAT that can store files larger than 4GBs. Unfortunately, older operating systems do not support exFAT and there may be some compatibility issues.

Just like FAT32, exFAT can be read and written to across many platforms, including Windows and Mac OS.

NTFS

NTFS is a Windows format that can only be written to by a Windows computer (unless special software is installed). NTFS is the format of choice for running a Windows operating system but isn’t ideal for flash drives.

HFS+

Like Windows, Apple also has their own format called HFS+. This format has been the standard for Mac computers and their external devices. This format can only be read and written to by other Mac computers (unless special software is installed).

This format isn’t ideal for devices that will need to be accessed by Windows and Linux computers.

APFS

APFS is Apple’s newest format. It will replace HFS+ in the coming years and will offer several advantages over the 30-year-old format. APFS is designed for solid state drives and will make all of Apple’s devices more compatible with each other. Apple TVs, Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and iMacs will eventually all run on APFS providing greater security and speed in the future.

ext4

ext4 is the successor of ext3, the format used by Linux operating systems. This format cannot be read by Macs or Windows computers (unless special software is installed). Unless you are running a Linux operating system, you may never run across this format.

Categories
Apps

Shuttle Tracker for iOS

I am currently developing an app called Shuttle Tracker for iOS. I have taken on the project as part of an elective course; formally known as MIS 4399 iOS App Development.

I first came up with the idea during my sophomore year at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) while a friend and I were waiting for the campus shuttle. Since the shuttle doesn’t run on a set schedule – it’s hard to know when it will arrive. A decision had to be made: would it be faster to walk or wait for the shuttle?

There’s nothing worse than waiting 15-25 minutes for a shuttle; deciding to walk, a half-mile, only to get passed up by the shuttle and arrive extremely late to class.

With the app I am developing – there will no longer be a need to make such an uninformed decision again! The app will determine where the shuttles are located on campus, which shuttle is the closest to the student, how long it will take for the closest shuttle to reach the student’s current location and then how long it will take to reach the student’s final destination. The app will also compare how long it would take to walk to the student’s final destination vs taking the shuttle. Then the app will either suggest to walk or wait for the shuttle

Generally, it isn’t recommended to share your app ideas with the public before the app is available in the App Store, but for the class, I needed to run through the whole process of creating an app and marketing it.

Since publishing our apps to the App Store isn’t a requirement – the only way to simulate the demand for our app would be to measure the number of likes it receives on Facebook.

So far, Shuttle Tracker has received 60 likes organically. That means, even after I was awarded $50 from Facebook for receiving 50 likes for my app – I did not utilize their targeted advertising tools. I didn’t want my app to go UIW viral until after I finished it and had it up in the App Store.

Shuttle-Tracker-Aaron-Garcia

Even while trying to keep mum about the app I managed to have a feature article written about it in the LOGOSUIW’s student newspaper. Perhaps at this point, it wouldn’t matter if I used the targeted advertising tools or not – it already has the potential of attracting a lot of attention! I have been told that the article should be coming out in their next issue.

Shuttle Tracker was never intended as just a class project – it has always been something more. And since it’s designed specifically for the students at UIW, it’s only right that they get to witness it develop. I hope to continue working on the app long after I graduate in May. But, until the app is complete, I’ll try to keep the megaphone’s volume on 1.

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Categories
Apps

My Experiences with App Development

I was first inspired to create an iPhone app by Steve Job’s presentation at the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in 2009. At the time I was a junior in high school and had just transitioned to Mac OS X after terrible experiences with Microsoft Vista and Hewlett-Packard’s customer service. I didn’t know much about Apple, but I knew I wanted to learn. The enthusiasm of Steve Job’s and the others who spoke at the WWDC was very inspirational.

It didn’t take long for me to register as a developer. From the developer member’s page, I was able to download early versions of XCode and the entire WWDC 2010 podcast. I found myself regularly coming up with ideas for apps, including one I called Shuttle Tracker.

The basic purpose of Shuttle Tracker would be to track the whereabouts of shuttles on university campuses. I have continuously developed the idea all the way into my senior year in college, which is when I was walking down the hallway and I saw a poster advertising the iOS App Development course. The poster read: “Open to all majors as a general elective. No experience required!” I immediately signed up to take the course during my last semester.

MIS 4399 iOS App Development is in its pilot stage. Only two institutions offer this course – Stanford University and the University of the Incarnate Word. By far, the difficulty of the material and expectations of the course are exceedingly high. However, the potential of the course is equally so.

Dr. Bo Han at the University of the Incarnate Word is by far the most enthusiastic professor I have ever met. Each lecture he came in ready to share knowledge that could potentially transform everyone in the room to the next self-made millionaire. I was very impressed with his enthusiasm. His enthusiasm was similar to that found on the stage of the WWDCs during Steve Job’s tenure at Apple. I found myself believing that each new line of code was going to change the world – as it already has proven true several times before!

He studied the material very hard and went beyond the two textbooks to develop practical explanations of what each line of code was doing. I cannot stress how much I really appreciated that.

The experience I gained from being exposed to Objective-C and Xcode has already increased my employability. The first question I am asked when meeting with business professionals is usually related to my experience with that course and my progress on the Shuttle Tracker app.

I was definitely challenged by this course. I learned a lot about something I knew very little about and now I can say I am on the right track I’m getting closer to reaching my goal. It won’t happen overnight, but with persistence and the instruction I have received – I know I can change the world!