I’m on a journey to reskill, upskill, and refocus my life on a more positive path. However, I’m inhibited a little due to lack of finances, so I’m having to make do with the following equiment.
Mac mini (late-2014)
Just before Christmas 2018, a very generous running buddy was having a clear out of his old equipment and he was kind enough to pass his old Mac mini along to me. The specifications are pretty cool, and I’m sure it must have been a real beast when it was new.
- Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
- Memory: 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000
- Storage: 500GB (5400RPM) hard drive
My Mac mini:
- Processor: 2.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5
- Memory: 16GB 1600 MHz DDR3
- Graphics: Intel Iris 1536 MB
- Storage: 1.12 TB Fusion Drive
I understand that Apple’s “Fusion Drive” is a combination of a 1TB regular hard drive together with 128MB SSD flash drive, which helps overcome the relatively slow 5440RPM hard drive in the base model(s). This, together with the faster processor and 16GB RAM is, presumably, why it’s still capable of running Xcode reasonably well, if not comfortably so, some 7-8 years after it was released.
I have the Mac mini connected to a 27″ LG monotor (also generously donated by said running buddy).
iPhone SE, iPad Mini 5, Apple Watch series 4
Just prior to my current situation, I was able to replace my original iPhone SE (2016) with the new one of the time (2020), which is helping enormously when testing the apps that we’re coding as I LearnNewStuff. It’s the bottom of the range of iPhones, but it currently runs iOS 15.3.1 well enough (although the battery life could be better). It’s due an update to iOS 15.4 soon.
My old iPad Mini 2 (released in 2013, but I didn’t get it until much later) has also been replaced by the iPad Mini 5 (2019). We haven’t started producing apps for the larger screen yet, but I know this will be essential when we do.
Due to my running, I used to use sports watches from Garmin. Initially the Garmin 310XT until its strap broke (it had a moulded strap that, once broke, was far too expensive to have fixed); then the original Garmin VivoActive (its strap also broke, but it was much easier to replace – I did that twice!). I had planned to replace the VivoActive with the newer model of the time (VivoActive 3), but I wanted the music version and the price never came down. By the time there were discounts in the offing, Apple announced the replacement of their Apple Watch series 3 with the series 4. Thanks to that original iPhone SE I’d managed to pick up, an Apple watch had become an option. I guess that’s, really, where my Apple journey really began.
I believe this Mac mini came out when macOS X Yosemite (10.10) was around (that was released in October 2014), so that it is still currently supported with Apple’s latest macOS Monterey (12.2.1 at time of writing) is a testament to this hardy little beast and Apple’s willingness to give such an old machine a continued lease of life.
I wouldn’t hold out much hope that it’ll get whatever macOS 13 is called, though. This is the oldest in the Mac mini range that is officially supported by macOS Monterey and although there is an older Apple product (Mac Pro 2013) that is also on the list, with the best will in the world Apple aren’t going to support them indefinitely.
It’s probably pretty obvious from my blog posts that I use Xcode for learning, because it’s available for free from Apple and it has the simulators built-in. With my own Apple hardware being from the budget end of the range, having simulators available to work with is both invaluable and essential.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the version of Xcode I began with. I only know that I was using version 13.2.1 a couple of weeks ago and I’m currently on version 13.3. I believe that the update to this behemoth of an ‘app’ is what caused, or at least contributed to, the three days in which I couldn’t get the Mac mini to do anything useful recently.
Still, I am thoroughly grateful that, despite its drawbacks in performance, Apple still allow the latest version of Xcode to run on such an old Mac mini.
In addition to that, I use a variety of cloud storage services depending on usage. I use Sync.com for important files, and OneDrive for everything else. I used to use Dropbox, but I dropped down to the free service after figuring out Microsoft gave the same amount of space for the same price for OneDrive, plus all the office software. It was a no-brainer. Dropbox then introduced a “three device limit” restriction on their free option and, after that, there was no real way back. I rarely use it now – I just keep it around because, well, it’s free and it is an alternative service to the others.
Of course I also use Apple’s iCloud Drive but, because it doesn’t have a massive amount of space, I generally reserve that for my iPhone and Mac.
We seem to have moved on from the old days of having Outlook Express on our computers (who remembers that?). Today, I use ProtonMail for secure email through two of my domain names; together with Apple’s iCloud Mail which helps keep email from several other domains off my web-server.
I also use the HideMyEmail feature from Apple, and also Duck Address from DuckDuckGo, for temporary email addresses on the net. I keep around Gmail and Mail.com accounts for convenience, but don’t use them that often.