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The mighty mini


While the iPhone, iPod and laptops get most of the glory, the Mac mini chugs quietly along, doing its job well and making owners happy. Earlier at my day job, I was working with one of our minis and recognized how I rely on it to perform a critical function without the slightest hesitation. In other words, it's time to give the little guy some recognition.

When I'm not blogging for you folks, I'm managing the web presence and other tech goodies of a large museum here in balmy Massachusetts. When customers arrive in our lobby, they can view a slide show of what's new via a gorgeous HDTV hung above the ticket counter. Behind the HDTV is a Mac mini running Keynote. Once a week, the art department sends an updated Keynote presentation to the mini via Dropbox. This simple and reliable system is powered by an Intel-based mini.

Here's the best part. Before our guests move on to the exhibits, they view a brief orientation film and slide show that displays sponsor information. Thousands of people watch both the orientation movie and slideshow every week. Behind it all is a G4 Mac mini (pictured on the right*).

This machine has been absolutely rock solid. Again, the art department uploads new slide shows to it via Dropbox and the whole operation couldn't be simpler. When I look at the Laptop Hunter ads, and I see Lauren squealing over her Dell, I think, "Would I trust that machine to do what this mini does when it's 4 or 5 years old? Heck, no." The G4 in question is stock from the factory. Plus, if its HD croaks tomorrow, the only critical bit of data -- the slide show and movie -- lives on Dropbox so we're covered. In a pinch, we've got a Mac Pro that could take on the workload in under 10 minutes.

In a world where the new and shiny gets most of the attention, the plain and reliable is often overlooked. So here's a post to praise the Mac mini. The tiny, go-anywhere, do-anything, ultra-reliable computer that I absolutely love. No wonder there are racks full of them at Macminicolo and other facilities.

Now I'm certain there are others out there with dutiful minis. Home servers, media centers, carputers, etc. If that's you, send a snapshot to Flickr and tag it TUAWmini. We'll post some of our favorites this weekend.

*No, it doesn't live on the floor. I moved it to compose the shot. Rest assured that it was returned to its cozy shelf immediately after.

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