Category Archives: Linux

Getting rid of my Mac mini

There are a number of things tying me to the Mac platform in 2011. It wouldn’t be time-efficient to list them all; of course it wouldn’t, but that would also require me to actually consider what is tying me to my Mac and why don’t I just sell it and get a powerful and sweet brand-new Linux box instead?

iTunes
This is kind of an obvious one, but it’s for two reasons. Firstly, the DRM on content in my iTunes library is frustrating and disgusting; while audio content can be de-DRM’d relatively easily, stripping the DRM from iTunes Store-purchased video content would probably take fucking ages (real-time plus time/effort at either end of each video) and it would most probably require me to break the Terms of Service. The second reason is that I haven’t found a decent Ubuntu ‘jukebox'; this is probably because, since I’m tied to iTunes for other reasons (cf. above and elsewhere on this blog at a later date), I haven’t been looking for an iTunes-ish/-esque equivalent for Ubuntu—it might also be because my current Ubuntu machine is a netbook with a solid-state drive and I’m scared I’m going to run out of write cycles a lot earlier than I actually will; “I don’t hit :w very often because one day it might not work” is what I’m saying.

iPhoto
(Another bloody iLife-suite application.) I’ve been moving away from iPhoto over the past few months; it’s served more as a ‘dump’ library than anything to do with organisation or touching-up photographs. There’s a bug in my installation which crashes the application if I assign more than a few (what iPhoto calls) ‘keywords’ (which are tags, basically; what Flickr calls tags) to more than a few photographs. I’ve tried Shotwell, which has tags (which I actually quite like) but it just doesn’t feel …rugged enough: maybe this is because I haven’t tried it out following a 3000-photograph import from my Mac mini—I’ve worked out how to use scp so I might tar up my iPhoto library and send it over to my netbook …but those write cycles.

Audio Hijack Pro
Audio Hijack Pro is an excellent piece of software from developers Rogue Amoeba. Put simply, the software can record the outgoing audio from any application—so Skype calls can be recorded, audio from YouTube can be recorded, …if I need to record something from iPlayer for my ND Radio course, it’s a piece of cake. It’s only available for OS X, however, and I don’t think I’m able to leave it behind.

Quicksilver
This is an easy one to fix, but I just haven’t got around to finding a replacement for the “original application launcher” Quicksilver—and, by the way, it was the original. I’ve been getting used to a neat little utility called gmrun on my netbook and, in all honesty, while I used to use Quicksilver’s ‘advanced’ features quite a lot, I now only use functions like X and Y infrequently and Quicksilver is now just my application launcher—sounds harsh, but that’s the reality. gmrun‘s a little different from Quicksilver: it’s a ‘run’ utility rather than a “graphical shell” [quote source] like Quicksilver. You may be wondering “well why don’t you just use Alt-F2 in GNOME?”; put simply, the Run Application dialog Alt-F2 brings up is too convoluted and I just don’t like it. gmrun on the other hand is simply and it works perfectly for my needs.

CloudApp (aka cl.ly)
CloudApp is a screenshot sharing application—a bit like the late GrabUp—and it’s been useful right from day one. While I know that applications like CloudApp have to exist for the Ubuntu platform, I haven’t found the time (again … I’ve been busy, goddamnit) to research these things enough. While I’ve got work experience next week and for a fortnight afterwards, my hotel in the Netherlands’ll hopefully have Wi-Fi; I’ll hopefully be able to investigate Mac application replacements, as well as pruning my netbook and Dropbox and also finishing off my Main Document: my document of notes from the past eight-or-so months of National Diploma Radio.

WhatSize
WhatSize, which used to be freeware but has since been heavily worked-upon and made shareware, is a utility I occasionally use to prune my Mac’s hard drive. One specifies a directory, and WhatSize‘ll list directories and their files by descending size, allowing one to see which files are taking up the most space. It’s easier to explain with a screenshot:

My Dropbox directory (~/Dropbox) in WhatSize


Looking at the above image, which shows a small portion of my Dropbox directory, I can see a few files that need to be organised and look: I’ve got two cyclingengland.tar tarballs: one in the root, and another in tarballs/. It’s such a neat little utility.

Hardware
Put simply, I don’t have a desktop machine other than my Mac mini. I’m just after a decent ‘beige box’ with a decent sound card, maybe a graphics card with more than one VGA port and a DVD+RW drive; I can get a PCI wireless card easily from somewhere like Maplin and a FireWire card might also be advantageous.

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