Rise and Set: Replacing My Dell Rack-Mount Server with a Mac Mini

I own a ca. 2012 Dell rack-mount server. It’s nice? It’s loud. The VMs on it are slow. It has a lot of disk space.

I own two ca. 2020 M1 Mac minis:

  • 8GB, 1TB
  • 16GB, 2TB

They are both cold. Time to spin them up.

And time to spin down the Dell server. It’s certainly an energy hog. And its fans are loud. Plus, do I need it anymore? I used it for:

  • Pi-Hole VM, which I’m not presently using. I forget why.
  • An Ubuntu VM I don’t use. It was just for fooling around, and I never fooled around with it.
  • A VM to run one Windows app for work, and to do some documentation in the Windows version of Microsoft Word
  • A Plex server for the house

Some months ago (November 2023), my employer provided me with a Windows laptop (ThinkPad P1 Gen 5). So I use it for work now, instead of my MacBook Pro. (By the way, this ThinkPad runs super hot, for no good reason. Piece of junk.)

So… some weeks ago (maybe a couple of months), I got VMware Fusion running (for free) on my M1 MacBook Pro 16GB/1TB. It runs fine. I don’t use it. But I could. It runs the one piece of work software I had that VM running. But I run that software on my work-issued laptop now. And I do my Windows Microsoft Word documentation work on the work laptop, too.

Plex Server is available for Apple Silicon now, so I set it up on the big Mac mini a while back. A couple months. More recently than when I set up VMware on my MacBook Pro. And it works. Better yet? It uses basically no energy, even while someone is watching a movie over Plex. Just wow.

So my Dell server is cold now. And one of my Mac minis is… well, it’s also cold. Because it runs like an ice cube. But it’s in service! I’ll probably sell the smaller Mac mini on eBay for $600.

Now I’m going to set up a two-computer KVM switch so I can share keyboard, mouse, and monitor (48” OLED TV) between my work laptop and my Mac mini. I don’t think I’ll use the mini much. It seems likely that I’ll just plug my MacBook Pro into the KVM here and there. It’ll be nice to have a KVM.

I bought this one: SABRENT KVM Switch, USB-C, 1 PC to 2-Displays with 60 Watt Power Delivery (USB-CKDH)

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BR4JMMGZ?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

I picked that up used for $63 via Amazon Warehouse Deals. Normal price is $129.99.

I don’t really need my MacBook Pro anymore, now that I don’t use it for work. I could process photos at home on the M1 Mac mini. For mobile stuff, I could use my 2018 12.9” iPad Pro.

Maybe I’ll sell my MBP. But I just renewed AppleCare+ for the year for $150.

macOS File Search Software Utilities Compared

I want to be able find files on my Mac. It’s a constant problem that I haven’t tackled till today, Friday, 29 September 2023.

Raycast 1.59.0

I use Raycast as an app launcher. For some reason, it’s deeply unreliable as a file finder. I get file lists sorted stupidly sometimes. The file I’m looking for is not in the list sometimes. It’s not usable and I don’t know what’s broken about it.

So what to get?

Houdahspot 6.4.1

Houdahspot uses Spotlight’s search index. Presumably exclusively. More on the expensive side at $34 for a single-user license and $52 for a family license. But I do not begrudge them making enough money to actually want to continue developing this thing. I’ll probably buy HoudahSpot soon.

Screenshot 2023 09 29 at 9 10 25 AM

10 October 2023 Update 7:04AM: I bought HoudahSpot. It’s just great. You can search for, for example, “file extension x” and then a list of possible file contents. That’ll save me so much time. On the (very off) chance that anyone else in my family will want a copy, I bought the family license ($52) instead of a single-user license ($34).

Find Any File (FAF) 2.4.1

Find Any File (FAF) looks okay. Doesn’t use Spotlight’s search index, so it seems slower. But it’s got an alright user interface and seems charming and sincere. At first, I didn’t want to give it full disk access. So I didn’t. But then I saw that the creator has a list of other search tools on this page: https://findanyfile.app


Screenshot 2023 09 29 at 9 39 48 AM

The sincerity of that won me over. So I used the tool for a few more minutes and decided to buy it. $8 on the App Store. Done. Will I use it a lot? I don’t know. I’m not trying to have The One True Search Tool. I’ll buy whatever quantity of tools I need. No problem. Anybody who puts that list up and makes a useful app that I can actually see myself using here and there gets my eight bucks. I’ll probably still just use HoudahSpot most of the time because it keeps everything in one window, uses Spotlight (so it’s instantaneous) and lets me edit searches while a search is running. But I want FAF’s maker (Thomas Tempelmann) to get my $8 and I want to own his tool. Easy purchase decision.

Screenshot 2023 09 29 at 9 11 41 AM

I do have one gripe. Find Any File needs a new icon. This one just brings the product down:

Screenshot 2023 09 29 at 9 12 42 AM

ProFind 1.24

Horrible reviews on App Store. And only like two reviews there in total. Here’s what ProFind looks like:

Screenshot 2023 09 29 at 9 01 39 AM

That ProFind user interface is not dated. It’s modern and just fine. But it’s not as good at presenting advanced options as HoudahSpot, which puts them on a left panel which you can easily collapse or expand. Even if it were not expandable, having them stacked on a left-hand panel works for me like magic.

And ProFind doesn’t have the excellent App Store reviews of Find Any File (FAF). So what differentiates ProFind? Why would I buy it?

Most importantly, though, I couldn’t get ProFind to include local files and iCloud Drive files in one search. So it’s a no-go for me. I reached out to the developer. We’ll see what they say is possible.

Amazon Stars Falling

It is Saturday, 19 August 2023 at 7:42AM.

Amazon just switched to showing one start and the average star count next to it as a number:

Screenshot 2023 08 19 at 7 42 54 AM

URL: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Lasko+SF-20-G&crid=F27XHX2UD6KM&sprefix=lasko+sf-20-g%2Caps%2C184&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Initial impression: It is horrendous. I could previously scan search results and zero in on the listings with better ratings with ease. I could instantly tell how many ratings the average was based upon.

Previously, it showed how many ratings were averaged into the displayed star value. That’s very important. And now there’s just a floating point number showing the average. Yuck.


Wednesday, 23 August 2023 7:48AM Update: Amazon has added a parenthetical percentage of how many of the ratings are 5 stars:

Screenshot 2023 08 23 at 7 48 13 AM

My immediate impression when I started this post four days ago was that Amazon is burying the quantity of ratings that the average is based upon. That is against users’ interests.


Friday, 15 September 2023 at 8:11AM Update: It occurred to me just now to check this. Looks like the good stars and rating counts are back:

Screenshot 2023 09 15 at 8 11 59 AM