Why my next Computer will be a Mac mini.

Currently my two primary computers are my iMac at home and my MacBook for on-the-go computing. Not the MacBook Pro I bought my Aluminum MacBook two months before it was renamed the MacBook Pro. but hardware wise its practically the same thing. I do lots of photography work on my iMac and while its almost 4 years old, it does a wonderful job still.

My Macbook and My iMac are pretty much Identical except for the RAM and Video Cards. Both Machines have Core 2 Duo, 2.4 Ghz Processors. the iMac has 4 Gigs of 667 MHz DDR2 ram and a RadionHD 2600 with 256MB of Video Memory, while the MacBook only has 2 Gigs of 1067MHz DDR3 ram with a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Also with 256MB of video memory.

My next computer really doesn’t need to be all that powerful I’m looking for something I can connect to my HD TV in the living room and connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to. then I can surf the net, listen to slacker and watch Netflix from my entertainment center. There is one other reason I’d like to pick up a Mac mini over a newAppleTV. I currently have the old version of the AppleTV with the absence of Netflix can do pretty much everything else the new one can. Also I run a server 24×7 for monitoring a Linux server I manage, I’d like to move this over to a Mac mini as they draw MUCH less power than the Linux server I’m currently running.

When Idle the Mac mini only draws 10 watts, that’s less than a standard light bulb, when sitting just monitoring a remote machine I estimate it may use around 15watts, even at max power though the Mac mini will only draw 85 watts, far less than the 300 watt power supply currently powering my existing monitoring server.

Eventually I’d like to upgrade my iMac to a new 27″ model, but for now its doing just fine. =)

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Quick and easy eBay auctions with iSale from equinux.

I picked up iSale 5 a while ago in a bundle of Mac software. I found it’s a wonderful tool to quickly get good looking auctions up on ebay.  But it doesn’t stop there iSale offers tools to help you out before and after the auction as well.

Before you even set up your auction iSale’s Research Assistant finds images and descriptions for the items you want to sell. Save the information for later reference or send it straight to your auction template.

After you have your template picked out and are ready to place your action you can schedule the auction to start at a later date. Why would you want to do this? My research and experience shows the best time for your action to end is Sunday evening. Why? That’s the time most people are home from work browsing the internet (and eBay) so what better way to tempt people than an auction that’s ending in an hour or 2?

During the auction iSale will keep tabs on your item even going as far to show you recent bids on the item.

Ok, the auctions over, surly iSales job is done… Right? Nope. Now iSale can help you contact your buyer, and even print a shipping label for your newly sold item.

Equinux recently released iSale express which is the quick way to get your eBay auctions up and running. Dive straight in with a simple choice of designs and layouts. Edit your text, add some photos and watch the bids roll in. iSale express is the basic alternative to the full iSale experience. Its not quite as powerful as iSale 5 but it still helps you get your auctions up quickly. And I have 5 promo codes, I’ll be giving out. What do you need to do? Post a comment telling me what you need to sell on ebay, 5 random commenter’s will get a shiny promo code for iSale express.

Check out the full Feature comparison on Equinus’s iSale Express Page.

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Linux Mint

Linux Mint

So I’ve always been a fan of Ubuntu, yea yea I know what your saying already, but Ubuntu is for people that don’t know anything about Linux. We’ll your right and thats party why I like it because its designed in that manner, It installs super fast, I can have a Ubuntu server up and running AND hosting a web page in under 10 min, and its stable.

I have a few Ubuntu servers I manage that have upwards of 150+ days of uptime and they are still running great. Ok now I hear all the Linux guys out there complaining that Ubuntu systems are so hard to Troubleshoot and Diagnose. Right again, but who cares, remember I can have a Ubuntu system up and running in under 10 min if its a simple Web or Database server, so if I determine I’m going to have more then 10 minutes of troubleshooting time to fix my issue, I reinstall the system and restore backups. My linux boxes do daily backups, if your running a more mission critical Database server you may want to run Hourly backups, in my case its only a simple internal Wiki.

MintDesktop

Okay, enough server talk, lets talk desktops, I’m usually a Mac guy but I have an extra box at work thats my own personal Linux box, I talked my Manager into letting me bring it in because the Linux network diagnostic tools are wonderful, It used to be a Ubuntu system but when the Primary hard disk failed I opted to give Linux Mint a shot.

Initial impressions were wonderful the Installation process was very straight forward and I’m confident any computer user would be able to figure it out, with the exception being the partition management, but then again partition management on any Unix system is fairly hard to wrap your head around for anyone coming from a windows environment. This is largely due to the fact that Unix does away with each disk getting its own filesystem (kinda). On a unix system there is the root filesystem which is mounted on a disk but you can then mount others disks into directories on that filesystem, so while each disk still gets its own filesystem its all transparent to the end user.

A common way to set up your system is to install the os to a small but quick disk then mount a big beefy disk to the /home folder of the partition this allows the system files to load very fast and at the same time allows you to separate tee users home folders. another advantage to this setup is if you ever have a problem with the system you can wipe the main disk reinstall the system then simply remount the disk with the home files back to the new /home folder, instant restore of users files.

This is actually the setup I was running under ubuntu until the primary hard disk failed, then I ditched it and installed the new system to a single disk, eventually I’ll go get a second disk for it an copy the home files over to the new disk and mount it over the systems /home folder.

MintPackage

Package management is super easy in mint, when you see the little green check mark on the lock in the task bar go away you know your system needs an update, click it enter your password and the system automatically downloads and installs all relevant updates. And since Mint is based off Ubuntu any applications designed for Ubuntu should also run on Mint with little or no extra configuration.

if you have an extra machine laying around give Linux Mint a shot Im glad I did you just may decide you like linux =)

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Social Media And Business

What is “Social Media” and why is it important to your business? It’s important to use every edge you can. Social Media can separate you from your competitor. In a good way.  Many people interact online on a daily basis. Why not join them and start interacting with them? Show them what your business has to offer them.

Wikipedia defines Social media as:

“Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal and business. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”

From a business owner’s point of view the most important things to focus on while using social media are…

  • Quality content – publishing useful information lends credibility to your business in the eyes of readers
  • Giving valuable information freely – by giving away information worth selling customers feel the need to reciprocate and a certain percentage then buy something from you
  • Creates two-way communication with prospects and customers – You can actually engage in two way conversations with customers personalizing your relationship with them

Quality – Among other things, your online presence needs to look professional and well-designed. Ugly templated sites won’t do anymore.  Keep in mind, well-designed does not mean you need to go spend thousands of dollars on a flash-enabled site. Although I used to love watching flash intros, I recommend staying away from flash now. I focus on building sites that look good without having to install extra plugins. Just make sure your site looks like you spent a reasonable amount of time on it and that it represents your company in a positive manner appropriate for your type of business.

And stay away from plain white backgrounds. They typically appear too bright making it difficult to read.

Check out this article at http://www.smashingmagazine.com which compares an up-to-date well-designed website vs. one that looks like it was designed 10 years ago.

Give Valuable information…and keep the information coming. If you keep your site static and don’t add updated information regularly, what reason do your visitors have to keep coming back? Even if it’s just a matter of keeping a photo gallery updated. You can accomplish this by displaying a flickr photo stream on your website. Set up a blog and keep new information flowing about products or services you offer. This keeps users visiting your site. Once they read something about a service you offer or a product you sell, they’ll be more willing to purchase it from the person they learned about it from. That can be you, or it can be your competition.

Create two-way conversations with potential customers and current customers too. Keep your potential customers informed about the services you offer and products you sell. If you post a few times a day on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace, people that otherwise might never hear about you and your business get exposed to your message. Or you may see someone asking questions about a need one of the products would be perfect for. This opens the opportunity for you to give them as much information as you can.

Most importantly, this is often two-way communication so you not only get to talk, you get to listen to your potential customers as well.

What should you be listening for? Here are a few possibilities…

  1. What do your customers think?
  2. What are customers in your niche saying? 
  3. What are your customers actually doing?
  4. What are they spending their money on?
  5. How do you compare with others in your industry?

Where you should you start?

Sign up for and account at http://twitter.com/ and do some searches at http://search.twitter.com for users interested in the products or services you offer. Start following people that you find interesting and ones that seem involved you activities related to what you offer. Don’t spam them with direct messages. Twitter is more about offering interesting comments and adding value to the conversation. You can post links to interesting articles you’ve added to your blog or website.

Add your profile to Linkedin if you offer professional services of any kind. It’s a great place to connect to people that need what you have to offer.

Next set up a flickr account and start uploading pictures, making sure to let everyone know via twitter when you upload new images. Next start expanding your company’s website to embrace social network technology.

I’ll delve deeper into Social Media in future posts.

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Mac’s Vs PC’s

I’ve tried to stay out of the whole Mac Vs. PC argument.

Which actually is no longer the Mac Vs. PC argument. Mac’s are now Intel based, so they are PC’s.

So it’s now the Mac’s Vs. Windows Argument.

I’ve still tried to keep my head out of it because I don’t think one’s better than the other, both serve their purpose. Windows just serves a purpose that does not suit me anymore, so I stay away from it except for at work. (OK, that’s only half true. I  do quite a bit of work on my Linux box even at work. I love the network diagnostic abilities resident in Linux).

A perfect example.Want to play games on your computer? Don’t bother with a Mac. I don’t really play to0 many games on my computers anymore, and the few I do play all actually have Mac clients, so I’m good. But Windows currently holds the edge in the gaming market, way above Apple.

Anyway, let’s get down to the point. I recently got a comment on my MySpace profile (yea yea I know Myspace, Ewww. but If I want to communicate with my friends up north that refuse to use any other communications means other than MySpace, so I’m stuck). He writes:

“so you finally did it! you went to the dark side and went full on mac?! well since i now know someone that knows computers, can you tell me this? what makes mac’s better than pc?”

And My responce:

“I don’t play the Mac’s are better than PC’s game, they both have their purpose. For you since you play games you’re better off with a PC. I like Macs better because they are full on 64 bit (processor and OS), granted you very well may have a 64 bit CPU but until you get a 64 bit OS it’s useless (of course this is not PC’s fault this is Windows failing to keep up with hardware, you can always run Linux and you’re set.) Yes I know windows has a 64 bit version but hardly any applications are actually compatible with it.

Second reason, Mac software is reasonably priced.

How many Vista versions are there? 6 versions.

How many Versions of Mac OS X? One it does it all. How much? $129.

The best part? My step-dad has an iMac and a MacBook, my sister has a iMac and a Macbook, and my Mom has a iMac. Thats 5 Macs in my parents house.

Let’s see, doing a quick search on Amazon, I see I can get Windows Vista Home Premium for a Mere $117.99. Oh dang. we need 5 copies. That comes out to $589.95 for the basic version of Vista. Ultimate? Yea, that’s going to cost you $1199.95

How much for the OS X Ultimate? Oh wait, that’s right, only one version of OS X, 649.95? Nope, go grab the family pack for $199 and you’re all set.

Got 4 gigs of ram like I do in my Mac? Oh wait,  you can’t use it all because the 32 bit version of Windows doesn’t know how. Got the 64 bit version? Sweet. Oh dang, now you can’t install anything because its not compatible.

I just got tired of dealing with it all. My Mac just works, all the time, whenever I want it to, it works and works well. Am I saying its better than PC’s? No I can’t even say that since everything after OS X is Intel based which means Mac’s ARE PC’s. I can even load Windows on it if I need to, but why load an OS on my Mac that can’t even utilize the hardware to its potential? The only game I currently play on the computer is EVE Online and it has a Mac client. Oh yea, ditto on World of Warcraft, Mac client works fine.

I actually have an AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core 4600+ box laying around that had windows on it but I don’t game enough on the PC platform anymore to need it. And I got sick of Windows so it’s now running Ubuntu Linux.

No more blue screen of death and I don’t have to reformat and reload every 6 months (or more often if I’m lucky).

So, Am I saying My Mac is better than your PC? Nope But I sure prefer it. =)”

Any other thoughts?

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