Mac mini, the end.

iFixit has a teardown of Apple's new Mac mini. The device is impossible for normal users to open up, only the HDD is user replaceable, but after you disassemble the Mac mini completely and all other parts are soldered down or proprietary.

The only reason I can see Apple lowering the Mac mini's processing power and removing user access to RAM is them planning on releasing an ARM based model in the near future with a logic bord similar to current iPads. A low powered machine than uses even less energy than the current Mac mini's useable as a server or media center. But aside from this strategic approach, I can't see why they take options away.

When they killed the Xserve, they pushed the Mac Pro Server and Mac mini server as good replacements. With last years Mac Pro release, only the mini was a good choice when building a server. Now... It's a pity they harmed this little machine so much. The Mac mini was a robust and powerful (home) server. Now it's an expensive low end device without any future.

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iCloud Photos on Mac OS X

With the release of iOS 8.1 Apple has released two thirds of their new photo managing solution.
With iCloud Photo Library every photo you take with your iOS devices is now automatically synced to iCloud and available on every iOS device you own. You can edit, delete, favorite or organise these photos and the changes will sync across all devices.
They also added Photos as an iCloud.com application so you can view those same images in your webbrowser. The only part that's currently missing is support for the Mac, which they promised will arrive early 2015.

As an intermediate solution I decided to use a favorite app of mine, Fluid, to build a viewer for the iCloud Photo Library. I won't get organisation, editing or uploading. But what I do get is a convenient way to view and download any picture I've taken with my iOS devices right from my dock.

Setup

  • Download Fluid.
  • Download an icon for the app.
  • Open Fluid and add the following base url: https://www.icloud.com/#photos. (It's not live yet but will be soon, if you want to try it now, use https://beta.icloud.com/#photos)
  • Give the app a good name, like Photos, or iCloud Photos.
  • Select your icon.
  • At first launch iCloud gives an error about not being compatible with your browser: go to Your app name > User Agent > and select Safari.
  • Relaunch the app.
  • Enter your iCloud credentials.
  • Enjoy your photos! (the very first login took a minute or two for me)

Telenet Hotspot - Wifree

My internet and cellphone provider, Telenet, recently updated their free hotspots across Belgium. Instead of using a traditional webportal to get access to the Wifi, they replaced their hotspots, TELENETHOTSPOT or TELENETHOMESPOT, with TelenetWiFree and now allow users to use their Telenet account as an 801.X enterprise account to connect to the network.

The benefit: the hotspot now works as any other wifi network. The iPhone discovers the hotspot and logs in, not only at known places, but across Belgium, and does this much more reliable than with the old web portal. (Which never seemed to remember me)

Performance

This last week I've travelled across Belgium for my job, and I purposefully disabled mobile data on my iPhone.
While walking through three or four towns my iPhone managed to connect to the Telenet WiFree network so often that I was able to stream music without major hickups or have Facetime calls over wifi while walking across town. And it didn't cost me multiple gigabytes of cellular data.
I'm impressed both by the concept, and the performance.

Issues

I see two problems with this: security and privacy.

Since every user uses his default Telenet account to connect to the hotspots, in theory someone could intercept the connection and find out my Telenet ID and password. So suppose someone creates a rogue Telenet WiFree network in a popular coffeebar, I guess they'd find a few users who try to login to this network and unwillingly share their Telenet ID.

The other issue is privacy. Since the iPhone connects to known networks across the country almost continuously, tracking a user would give Telenet a lot more data with this new network.
Not only data on who's connecting where with what kind of device (which is useful to improve performance), but also where I'm surfing to, what I'm downloading etc. I trust Telenet, but it's something to think about.