Ode to the Mac Mini

Rumors about the death of the Mac Mini and now, the rebirth of the Mac Mini prompted me to post my own personal wish that the Mac Mini retain many of its current characteristics. At the MIT Museum, we use Mac Minis whenever we can. They are insanely reliable and are easy to place in just about any situation. Here are four different setups we are currently running on the first floor.

MIT & the Sea - Mac Mini in a box hung from the ceilingThis one is hung in a box near the ceiling. It’s been running for over a year. We set them all to reboot after a power loss, so we almost never need access. When I do need to do anything to it, I grab a ladder and plug in a keyboard & mouse.

CityCar - Mac Mini inside a small enclosureThis one has also been running for about a year. Prior to that it was sitting in a server room for about two years. The enclosure gets a bit warm. We used to have a Shuttle XPC inside but it failed after about 4 months. I think it was the heat.

CityCar - Mac Mini hung under table in wire basket.We have two display tables with baskets attached underneath. The Mini fits in the basket. We used to have two additional setups just like this. This photo is of the CityCar interactive exhibit. There’s another Mini at the other end of the floor in the MIT & the Sea interactive exhibit (below the Mini-in-a-box pictured above).

Holography - Mini placed on top of large projector, driving small projector.The latest one to be put into service is a Mini that we strapped to the top of a monster Panasonic projector. The Mini drives the smaller projector to the left in the photo. This Mini is running Vine Server so I can access it remotely. Once we’re done tweaking it, I’ll probably shut off the Vine access.

Our Admissions Desk also uses two Minis, one for the staff to access various admin tools, mail, etc. The other to drive a sign displaying admissions prices, welcoming groups, etc.

In January we’re going to be installing an exhibit developed by the Sociable Media Group at the Media Lab. So far it will have seven Mac Minis in it, as well as an iMac. There will also be a couple of Dells so I guess we’ll see how they hold up in comparison.

My wishlist for the Mini: Keep being ultra-stable, don’t get too heat sensitive. Faster graphics would be nice, but not at the expense of being more finicky.

PS – I have one in my basement at home as well, it’s running this blog, among other things. I think it’s about 3 years old. I have it on a small UPS to deal with short power outages, connected to the web via Verizon FiOS (also very reliable!).

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  1. […] maintained computers to drive displays or do other odd jobs around the museum. The Mac mini is still the gold standard for me. But even with the educational discount, a Mac mini can seem like overkill. We have an exhibit […]