November 24, 2020
Mac mini Initial Review Notes
My First Experiences with Setting Up an M1 Mac (the Mac mini)
From the outside, feels like a normal Mac mini, including the physical size of the case.
M1 chip inside of course with 8 cores, 8 GPU Cores, and 16 neural engine core.
I deliberately purchased the standard version: 8GB RAM and 256GB hard drive.
Ports: Ethernet, 2 USBC/Thunder bolt, HDMI, 2 USBA, and 3.5MM ear phone jack.
Under the ports, is a wide vent for the internal fan air flow.
Being a desktop, the Mac mini has to be plugged in to power, no brick as in the very old days.
Tips for setting up the M1 Mac mini though: for the initial setup you will need a monitor or at least an HDMI cable that will fool the M1 Mac mini in to thinking it has a monitor plugged in: otherwise you won’t go anywhere.
I also plugged in my Magic Keyboard 2 as a USB keyboard, this made things easier. However, during the setup, the I kept having to dismiss the dialog that wanted me to connect a Mouse or Trackpad.
Once I discovered the monitor issue smile, setup was slightly different to what I was used to in setting up a Mac. Now with Big Sur you have onboarding for accessibility, which whilst I found fantastic, just put in more options to concentrate on in the whole setup process. By the time I got to choose using two Apple IDS, and not using Fire Vault, my concentration was getting a bit warn, and I ended up getting my I
Ds back to front, and chose Fire Vault.
Once setup was complete, my Mac some how decided that I had put in the wrong password to login to the Mac. After several attempts, I just chose a simple password, which then worked.
So usually setting up a new Mac which usually takes me less than 30 minutes, this with all the issues, took me 2 hours.
It is great to see the start up chime back, which if you don’t like it, you can turn off in System Preferences, Sound.
Once all setup and logged in, the M1 Mac mini has been a dream to use with Big Sur.
Because I am using Fire Vault, VoiceOver speech that comes up before the login prompt is using good old Fred, then after logged in, it is back to my usual Karen speech synthesiser.
I now don’t need my monitor plugged in, which was my 24 inch TV on my desk for the Apple TV, so now it is plugged back in to the Apple TV box.
The first time I ran a non Apple silicon app, I was prompted to install Rosetta, after which all of my usual 3rd party apps were fine: eg Amadeus Pro, Dropbox, Just Press Record, Twitterific, Zoom etc.
Now of course, you can run iOS apps on the M1 Macs.
Searching for iOS apps on the Mac App Store is sort of relatively easy. I tend to search for an item first, then go in to the Toolbar and choose iPhone/iPad apps over the default Mac apps, then usually above my name, is the start of the hit list which I then interact with via VoiceOver.
However, when there is editorial stuff happening or other unknown things, the Mac App Store gets down wright hard to navigate with VoiceOver, I found myself searching on the web for the Mac app link which most of the time brought it up in the Mac App Store.
So far I have used (all which have worked) Frotz, Nature Space, Overcast, Sensibo, TravelEar, Voice Timer, Weather Gods, and White Noise.
When using iOS apps on the Mac, VoiceOver treats them as “normal” Mac apps.
In Big Sur, VoiceOver gives you a keyboard shortcut to get to Notifications Centre VO+O, and the new Control Centre VO+Shift+O.
The only thing I could not find in doing all my usual changes to the OS, was Announce Time, it is now under Doc and Menu with in System Preferences.
The new VO+Command+Space Actions menu comes in very very handy, and you can also access the context menu from this Actions menu.
The only slightly annoying thing I have so far noticed with Big Sur, in the Extras menu for WiFi Connectivity, you don’t get told the name of the network you are connected to.
I only got one time the dreaded “busy busy” from VoiceOver during setup. The only time since I have gotten this is using Twitterific, but no where as bad as it used to be on my other Mac: may be once in the last 48 hours.
The VoiceOver speech rotor VO+Command+Arrow keys, which used to take a second to switch to the next or previous parameter, is still slightly paused on the M1 Mac mini, but certainly usable.
The current time accessed with VoiceOver via Right Option+T, is again, a lot more responsive than on my other Macs: a significant delay on older machines.
As I type this, I have 18 apps open, am streaming music, and am copying files to an external hard drive.
The combination of Voiceover Keyboard commander to allow me to launch apps from the Right Shift key, and all of my favourite apps on the Dock, there is no waiting around on this M1 Mac mini: its actually VoiceOver still speaking whilst the app is sitting there ready to go.
As I said, an absolute pleasure to use.
Of Course, Big Sur is Now Available
New Control Centre, pin Conversations in Messages, and new VoiceOver VO+O command to take user to the Notifications Centre and VO+Shift+O to the Control Centre.
Victor Reader Trek 2.1 avialble
Main feature is virtual maps like Sound Scape.
Chat to Humanware about the new feature or update it from within the unit.
AssistiveWare and Acapela Announce discontinuation for the Infovox iVox voices
Here is some of the text sent to all Acapela voice users:
Dear Infovox iVox User,
(Vous trouverez ci-dessous une traduction au français du message)
Saying goodbye is never easy, but we are thankful to have you as a friend on this journey. After a long talk and much thought, AssistiveWare and Acapela Group have decided to discontinue development of Infovox iVox due to a shrinking user base and increasing development and support costs. This was not an easy decision, but with the current pandemic economic crisis, the fact that macOS allows you to download free multilingual voices, and AssistiveWare’s shifted focus toward AAC, we were compelled to bring up the topic we could no longer ignore.
The Easy Chirp app is no longer Being Maintained
This for a long time was the easy way to access Twitter via the web.