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Collecting my thoughts

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Putting Appcelerator Titanium on the back-burner for the time-being, as I've deemed it to be not-as-yet mature enough to solve all of my problems. Much as I'd like to build everything with free tools, the maturity's not yet there. It'll be there when I need it (around Android/Blackberry time) and in a better state in the future.

So I'm switching gears and going with maturity for now. And that means C and XCode and suchlike. Unfortunately my little Mac Mini isn't in a state where it can write iPhone stuff. First off, it's got OSX 10.4, and OSX 10.5 is necessary for iPhone development. That's $130. I'd like to just leapfrog to 10.6, as there's a $160 10.4-to-10.6 package that's gonna include all of that iLife/iWork/iWhatever stuff, but that's not happening until September and I don't wanna wait until then. I don't use the Mac for everyday productivity stuff anyway, so the iWhatever stuff isn't that big a benefit.

Also I need more memory. The Mini's got 512mb which'll run 10.4 and 10.5 but won't run 10.6. 10.6 isn't a must-have to develop iPhone, but most stuff on the Mini runs about as fast as an ox pulling a U-haul trailer right now, and 2gb memory upgrades are now cheap ($35 shipped), so I have that in the mail and will mess with the plastic spatulas (no, really, you need plastic spatulas to open a Mac Mini) when that arrives.

And I'll likely get a new processor too. This is a first-gen Intel Mac Mini and contains a "Core Solo" processor (AKA a Celeron, but Apple can't call it that after their old campaign to rebrand Celeron as "Decelleron" when they were still pretending that PowerPC chips were faster). I looked it up and the chip's not soldered in and you can slap a dual-core into the original Intel Mini and it'll recognize it. Only problem is that the Mini is put together a bit like that magic-demon-puzzle-box thingy in "Hellraiser" and you gotta disassemble the whole danged thing to get to the processor.

And Shelly's pestering me to be vigilant about the process so my mind don't wander. So the process thus-far is as follows. . .

1. Come up with fabulous mobile game idea (already done)
2. Document idea (will do by Friday)
3. Install OSX 10.5 into Mac Mini so I can install iPhone development stuff
4. Install 2gb memory upgrade when it arrives so the Mini won't be quite so pokey.
5. Develop iPhone app in C, most likely using Cocos2D for the presentation layer. I'm not wild about the process, but it's undoubtedly mature (squillions of games having been developed, used, and deployed with this system), so I won't complain much.
6. Simultaneously with 5, order a dual-core processor for the mini, re-disassemble and install processor. Hopefully the Mini will then be even further from pokey than in step 4.
7. Finish iPhone app.
8. Get app approved by content police.
9. Deploy and sell game for free or a very low price (this is my "getting my feet wet" project so I'm not shooting for big big profits with this go-round).
10. Return to step one and repeat process with a larger-scope game, eliminating the upgrade steps as my Mac Mini is now hopefully quite beefy enough to develop reasonably.



Speaking of processor upgrades, I had a really weird thing happen on Shelly's machine. It just got slow. And not just a little slow. A lot slow. We're still not sure exactly what the deal was, but it just got really slow. At first I thought it was software. Perhaps something got installed that was running in the background and hogging up all the CPU. But it never seemed to improve. Sometimes we'd get a brief respite, but it'd inevitably go right back to being slow again.

Just for grins, I ran that Windows Experience Index that came with Vista, and the CPU was scoring itself as 2.2, which is almost comically slow. As a comparison, the Celeron in my cheap laptop runs at a 3.9. The identical system (my machine across the room) had a CPU index of 7.1. Clearly something was wrong. A quad-core machine shouldn't get a 2.2.

Finally I got a light bulb above my head. Shelly's computer is pretty-much identical to mine. I plugged Shelly's drive into my computer and booted it up. Given that my computer is pretty-much an identical machine to hers, it should give similar results. And the Windows Experience CPU index registered 7.1, which means that the problem was NOT software. If it was software, it would run slow no matter what machine it was plugged into.

So a couple of hours and a motherboard later Shelly's computer was back together, happy as can be and running quick as a quad-core machine should run. No idea what'd be happening to make it get slow like that. But it's one of those things that you can only wrestle with for so long before you just have to replace stuff until the problem goes away.

Bleah, expensive problem. Anyone want a slow motherboard?



Also I replaced the CPU on my laptop. Just for grins, I googled to see what I could do to make my little $350 "Wal Mart Special" Acer laptop faster. And it turned out that my laptop is about the most upgradable one on the market. Everything's accessible from a panel on the bottom, and it runs dual-core CPU's just fine. So I ordered myself a dual-core CPU and prepared to disassemble the whole danged thing. The whole process ended up taking about ten minutes, and my little cheapo disposable laptop is now pretty quick.

So I'm getting a little more life from the cheapo computers.
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We had a similar problem with a machine at work. Ultimately we looked in the bios and the L2 cache were turned off for the CPUs. After that everything was fine.


As a note on your Mac dev machine I doubt there's any advantage to get Snow Leopard anytime soon. You have one core and only 32 bit support and a graphics card that's not supported by OpenCL so I'd just stick with Leopard since you cannot really using any of Snow Leopard's new plumbing.

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