Playing Spore on a Mac Mini

I have a 2007-model Mac Mini Core Duo 1.83GHz with 2 GB RAM. I adore my Mini, but I am limited in the gaming department due to my Mini’s integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics chip. Newer generations of Minis use the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor. Using the NVIDIA graphics, newer Minis can play more complex games than I am able to with my hardware.

A favorite game of mine is Spore. I don’t think Spore got the best reception from PC gamers, but I personally enjoy playing it. EA Games generously provides both a PC and Mac version of the game on the Spore install DVD. Unfortunately, the system requirements for the game strictly forbid Mac Minis using the GMA 950 graphics chip. I did a lot of online research and found people who said they were able to rig it to work, and others who disputed that.

Frustrated at all of the conflicting information, I decided to try it myself. After a lengthy install, the game updated with patches from EA, but when the actual game launched, it failed time and time again. Therefore, I’m here to say once and for all, you cannot play Spore on a Mac Mini that uses Intel GMA 950 graphics. Period!

With that being said, you can run Spore on the very same Mac Mini if you boot Windows via Boot Camp. Within Snow Leopard, I activated Boot Camp and installed Windows XP SP3. From the Windows side, Spore is indeed playable with the same hardware. Go figure.

So now I am enjoying the fun of Spore, only I’m doing so running Windows on my Mac machine. Doing so, Spore runs just fine using the lowest graphic quality settings within the game, at 800×600 full-screen resolution. I hope this clears up all of the Spore/Mac Mini uncertainty that is all over the web.


Snow Leopard Upgrade!

Tonight on my way home from work, I stopped by the crowded Apple store in Raleigh to pick up my $29 upgrade copy of Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6. I have now upgraded my Mac Mini to the new OS! Despite trying as hard as I could to find a way to do a clean wipe and install, I resorted to a traditional upgrade, which took about 45 minutes to an hour on my machine. The new OS does appear to be much faster on boot and Finder operations. I’ve only been using the new OS for a half hour, so bear that in mind.

Snow Leopard locks out old PowerPC users, as it available for Intel processors only. I’m at the shallow end of that requirement, using a two-year-old Mac Mini with an Intel Core Duo. You can visit for a list of potential software issues with the new OS. So far for me, in my tests, Cyberduck (FTP) won’t launch at all on the new OS, and Firefox 3.5.2 crashed once. A few other applications that I use have issued updates for 10.6 compatibility today. Expect more to come over the following days. I haven’t tried to load all of my apps yet.

In my short usage so far, the most notable difference is seem in performance and in the Dock. I’ve barely scratched the surface. Expect more posts to follow! Meanwhile, visit Macworld for updated information!


Snow Leopard Coming August 28

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is to be released this Friday Aug. 28! It’s confirmed on the Apple website. Grrr! I’m sure to find myself in line at the Apple store in Raleigh Friday night after work! The upgrade from 10.5 is only $30. Hell yeah. I can’t wait! But I do love my Mac so much already, how can it get any better?

I probably sound like a crazed Apple fanboy, but it matters to me, being the Mac, iTunes and iTouch user that I am. Apple is the center of my computing world today. Hooray for OS X. In my opinion, it’s the best operating system on the market.

Mac Stickies Come in Handy

Lately I’ve started making use of the Stickies app that is included in the Mac OS. I often jot down notes and URLs at work on small pieces of paper. If I don’t get a chance to follow through on some of my items, I type them in a sticky note. I now keep several notes running on things to do, bills due, hate list ideas, blog ideas, etc.. I keep another note open just to cut and paste URLs and stuff.

There are many ways to customize your notes. I found a good page that lists several ways to spruce up your Stickies here.

Mac Stickies

Safari 4.0 Mac is Incredibly Fast

Yesterday, Apple unleashed the latest release of their Safari browser, version 4.0. I immediately downloaded it for my Mac. If you’re using Windows, I can’t say how secure or efficient the latest Safari will be for you. Personally, I have always preferred Firefox on Windows.

I have been a diehard Firefox user for years, on all platforms. I have even been using the latest beta release of Firefox 3.5 for a few weeks now. Despite my loyalty to Firefox, I am won over by the new Mac Safari 4. It is draw-dropping fast. Even on my aging Mac Mini, Safari blazes at lightning speed. Pages pop on my screen with such lightning speed and elegance, it has to be seen to be believed. Safari 4 is hands down the fastest web browser I have ever used. That is no exaggeration.

In addition to increased speed and efficiency, Safari 4 has other new features. Most notably is the new Top Sites view. Using this view, I can see (on a single page), a beautifully arranged collection of live thumbnails of my top dozen most visited places. Top Sites is very elegantly designed, complete with a 180-degree curved screen view, even sporting reflections and shadows. I don’t know how often I’ll actually resort to this new view, but it is downright gorgeous, I have to say.

Firefox, with its giant library of browser extensions, is nearly impossible for me to neglect. I use several Firefox extensions that have become invaluable to me over the years. Despite that major obstacle to my complete adoption of Safari, I can’t help but be lured by the extreme speed and polish that Safari 4 now has to offer. Wow!

Plants vs. Zombies

I recently heard about the insanely fun game Plants vs. Zombies, from PopCap games. I downloaded the trial, and loved it. It’s available for Mac and PC, and I’ve played it on both systems. Your goal is to squash an oncoming zombie raid using a barrage of plants and other clever weapons. This game has proven to be very addictive. Try it!

Plants vs. Zombies

Tweetie for Mac and iPhone

I was listening to the MacBreak Weekly podcast from Twit today and heard about the new Tweetie application for Twitter on the Mac. The folks on the show raved about it, and now having used it, I must agree. It is very well made. The layout is incredibly intuitive, it’s a true native Cocoa Mac application, and it is the best of its kind. If you use Twitter, I highly recommend it.

I am using the free ad-based version, in which the ads are barely even noticeable. To purchase the program, the author is only asking $14.95. In addition to Tweetie for Mac, a version for the iPhone is also available. This little program is a gem on any platform.

My Mac Daddy!

In a surprise move, my dad has ordered a brand new, fully-loaded iMac from Apple. After fighting with Vista, he now wants to completely convert from being a decades-old Windows user. I am absolutely thrilled. Better days are ahead for him and his computing experience. After a short time of adapting to a new world of computing, I’m confident he won’t be looking back. Hooray! Good job, Dad. I’m proud of you!