Office Ergonomics: Jarvis Desk and Topo Mat Review

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I get teased and/or asked about my office equipment enough that I thought it might be time for a review. I say equipment because the word furniture doesn't seem to adequately describe its importance. I have a couch that I lounge on to watch Netflix, but it is nowhere near as important as the seating I have in my office. Why? Time. Sure, I might sit or lay on the couch for a couple hours to watch a movie, but I'm at my desk anywhere from 8 to 16 hours a day. That's a lot of time, and just like dating, the more time you spend together the more the flaws become apparent (current girlfriend excluded - you're perfect, babe). That slightly inadequate padding (talking about seating, not girlfriends) becomes lower back pain. That awkward reach for the mouse becomes carpul tunnel. The little things add up.

It's a lot like Office Space. There's a doorknob that zaps the protagonist every morning on his way in. He eventually snaps and takes a power drill to it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdlN-5V0Exs

The main contributor to office discomfort of course is a static positioning #dadjokes. Sitting in the same position all day is a pain, literally. Some people will laugh at this and say, "Well, get off your ass and move about." That would be great advice too, if I was actually able to work while walking about. Sure, if you're on the phone, reading reports, or even just brainstorming, moving around is totally feasible. The problem is that 99% of my work requires me to be at my computer. I'm a CTO, developer, full-stack integrator, and all-round technical bad-ass. If someone calls me, it's going to be about a technical issue that requires ticketing, documentation, remote access, etc. These are all things that mean I'm at my keyboard, sitting. My brainstorming, planning, and other tasks are also all done virtually, on-screen and online.

I'm surely not alone. As we improve efficiency, go paperless, and cut down on live meetings, we typically replace that time with time at our desks. That's why so many startups invest in good chairs.

The Embody Chair

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embody_chair

Yeah, this is a review for a standing desk and mat, but let's set the stage. The Embody chair came into my life back in 2010. The chair was relatively new back then, and was (still is) pretty darn expensive. A fully customized chair with arm rests and castors came to about $1400 after tax. I know. OMG. Please keep reading. Let's do a quick rationalization:

  • I spend more time in my office chair than I do in my bed.
  • I spend more time in my office chair than I do in my car.
  • Considering my career path, this is not likely to change for years, and hasn't.

My previous strategy of buying cheap $200 leather office chairs from Office Max and Staples wasn't working so great. The chair was OK for the first year, usable for the second, and useless for the third. The issue was always padding. Eventually it breaks down, and eventually comes way to soon when you use a chair for hours on end every single day.

The Embody chair has an interesting solution to this. It doesn't have cushions, foam, or anything of the sort. The adjustable seat uses layered matrices of bunjie-like material. The back is supported using its signature spinal-support-thingy. Yeah, that's what I call it.

The funny part is that the entire Embody design story is based on the idea that sitting is bad for you. It is designed to allow movement and change throughout the day, not forcing you into awkward positions. The chair reclines in a way that slides the seat forward instead of leaning it back and taking your feet off the ground. The back is tapered and flexible to allow you to bend to the sides, stretch, and wiggle about. The back also supports your spine without the need for a clunky headrest that can often push your neck into unhealthy positions. At the end of the day however, you're still sitting. After 5 years with my Embody, that's the thing that's settling in. I'm still sitting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a desk-job kinda guy. I'm an asthmatic, allergy-ridden dude who blisters all too easily. I'm also getting old enough to start seeing the effects of my career choice.

It's a hard-to-describe feeling. None of my limbs are falling asleep (if any of yours do, buy a new chair immediately), but I often get out of my chair at the end of the day feeling like I just rolled out of bed. In a way, that's a good thing, if you have a nice bed, but doing that every day has left me feeling sloth-like. After a few months of research, I made the leap to something new.

The Jarvis Desk

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I started to look at standing and treadmill desks, but realized that sitting and standing on their own aren't the problem. The problem is the lack of movement. It just so happens that standing makes us more inclined to move than sitting does. The Jarvis desk is actually the perfect solution because it moves with you.

No, sitting probably won't actually kill you. But if you do want to stand, we can help. And if you want to sit, we can make sure you're doing it right. That’s our thing: we've got your back.

Jarvis is a sit-stand desk, which basically means it goes up and down. There are options through other brands for crank-style desks, but I knew that I'd be too lazy/annoyed to constantly crank the desk up and down. Jarvis, especially with the optional memory module, makes moving between sitting and standing as easy as pushing a button. I love walking into my office in the morning, hitting a button, and sipping my tea as my desk moves into position.

Some specs:

  • Industry-leading warranty: 7 years on all frame, mechanical, and electrical components (amazing)
  • 350lb lifting capacity (enough to lift both kids)
  • Height adjustable from 23.25” to 48.75” (~24.5" to 50" with top)
  • Adjustment speed of 1.5" per second with soft start/stop
  • 4 programmable height presets
  • Auto-darkening LED display (to eliminate any annoying glow)
  • Adjustable foot leveling studs (perfect for my shoddy floor)

And here's their video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtThI9beM74

As many other reviews have stated, assembly is super easy. It was way easier than the particle board mess I was sitting at previously, and about the only issue to work out is cable management (see my video for info on that).

Price, quality, and service were all great. My particular model has a very nice bamboo top, dark metal legs, and arrived within a few days. Note that base price is about $600, but you'll definitely want to at least get the memory module so you can save preset heights. I opted out of any additional holes for routing cables, just in case my use changes in the future. It's definitely more expensive than my previous, and still awesome, Z-Line desk. Yet, it's still cheaper than a lot of basic L desks that are made out of inferior materials. Again, you also have to consider that you can sit AND stand at this thing, so the versatility is really great.

Now to complete the package, one of the most recommended accessories for standing desks is an anti-fatigue mat. When I scooped up my Jarvis from Ergo Depot they were running a special deal for the Topo mat. I honestly bought it because it was on sale and I needed a mat. I didn't expect it to be one of my favorite things ever.

The Topo Mat

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The Topo mat came in an unassuming brown box just like the Jarvis desk. It was the last thing I opened, and I certainly didn't expect to be excited about it. I usually completely ignore the usual marketing blurb, but Topo's is actually pretty accurate.

Look down. Your legs and feet aren't as happy as they should be. We know humans weren't meant to sit all day, but standing on flat ground isn't exactly a natural position either.

Topo is the only anti-fatigue mat designed with standing desk users in mind. The calculated terrain encourages healthy movement while supporting the user with incredibly comfortable environmentally-friendly foam. The peaks and valleys activate blood flow and engage more muscles than simple standing mats are able to.

Bringing outdoor, natural environment variations into the office increases range of motion, circulation, and connects you to your surroundings. Static standing leads to postural fatigue, which forces people into unhealthy positions. Adding standing position variations alleviates cramping and other discomforts associated with unnatural positions.

Topo Mat Features

  • Calculated terrain encourages healthy movement
  • Incredibly durable and comfortable polyurethane foam
  • Easy hands-free position let's you slide the mat on various floor surfaces

Topo Mat Specs

  • 29" wide (along your desk) x 26.5" back (away from your desk) x 2.7" tall at highest peak
  • Durable skin wipes clean and resists puncture
  • Data-driven design facilitates blood flow and movement
  • One-piece integral-skin polyurethane foam colored with dye, not paint

In other words, they put a lot of thought into this thing. While most the mats are your typical rectangular foam pieces, the Topo mat is this awesome alien spaceship shape. It's nice to see someone unafraid to break the mold and put out something totally unique. Here's a video of it in use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g7GYWApXLU&feature=youtu.be

I'm not quite as enthusiastic as the actors in the video (Seriously, who has that much fun at work?), but I am pretty happy about stepping on my Topo mat in the morning. The memory presets on the Jarvis pair nicely with this. I can press my preset, open a can of Red Bull, and hop on the Topo. My feet feel awesome. To be fair, I didn't do much stretching or anything with my feet before, but that's kind of the point. Even a sedentary dude like me can hop on this thing and stand at a desk for hours. This week I averaged 5-6 hours of standing per day when most people say they aim for two.

So far my favorites are stretching my calves on the back ledge, rolling my toes in those front corners, and of course, the piece de resistence: massaging my arches on the center teardrop. I don't even wear sneakers. Throw on a pair of Ininji toe socks and you're all set.

How It's Going

The above experience is by no means scientific research, but after nearly a decade at a desk you can probably deem this significant anecdotal evidence. I've been using this for nearly 3 months now, and I'm standing at it every day. Some days, I just stand all day, but here's the usual schedule:

  • Morning: Standing and working. Definitely have some tea.
  • Late morning: If I get into something deep I tend to sit for an hour or so before lunch, spinning in the chair and trying to figure out life's problems (like how to cool my Mac mini).
  • Lunch: Sitting.
  • Afternoon: Standing post-lunch definitely helps with any afternoon lethargy.
  • Late afternoon: Sitting, running reports, tying up the day.
  • Evening: Standing makes it easy to jump in to do little pieces of work without ending up slumped over the desk for hours.

Wnat to see it all in action? Check out the video review.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Go_BORSeI

Imagify VS Kraken

Imagify VS Kraken

It's an image optimization showdown!

Image compression is important for any website. Once your server and site are optimized, your images are likely the heaviest page asset. In the past, and even now, the best way to deal with this is by opening up Photoshop, Pixelmator, or some other app. Resize and compress your images, and do this for each thumbnail size.

That's a pain. With the services I'm about to compare, you can follow the 80-20 principle, get great looking images at a fraction of the size, and all you need to do is upload them to your site.

Misfit Shine Review

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The Misfit Shine 2 is out now, so I should probably go ahead and publish my review of the one I have, the very first-gen Misfit Shine. The tech pundits totally missed the point of the first Shine, and I want to set the record straight. The TL;DR version of this review is: If you don't already have a fitness/activity tracker, or have anything other than something from Misfit, stop everything and buy this now. I've tried nearly every fitness band available, from the various fitbits to both iterations of the Jawbone Up. I even had that little virtual Pikachu pedometer thing. Yes, that counts. It was awesome. Where are they now? I think one is in my dresser, another is in my desk somewhere, and the rest are in a storage drawer waiting to be tossed. It's a sad truth considering each cost over $100 at the time of purchase and was adored by bloggers. My Misfit Shine was gifted to me by Mom, and I later gave one to Girlfriend. Everyone I know has loved this thing so much that we all have one now. You can grab your own first-gen Shine for only $50 on Amazon. Buy two. Give one to a friend.

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Why is the Shine so different? Here's how my experience with trackers usually goes.

  1. I receive the new tracker and eagerly set up yet another account on some site I'll probably never log into again.
  2. Set up the app and try to get everyone, Apple's Health Kit and other apps, playing together nicely.
  3. For a couple of weeks I dutifully sync and check my stats. I charge during the day whilst sitting at my desk.
  4. Forget to charge.
  5. Device runs dry and I'm forced to plug it in overnight, thus missing out on tracking a night's sleep.
  6. Forget the band on my night stand, and one night turns into three days.
  7. Finally remember to start wearing the band again.
  8. Slog through the horrid app suggestions based on the premise that it thinks I was in a coma for three days.
  9. Go back to step 5.
  10. After a few cycles, I inevitably stop caring so much.
  11. The band sits on my desk until finally being tossed in a drawer.

Basically, the problem is that I don’t want to track my tracker. I have better things to do. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be wearing an activity tracker at all. I’d be swimming laps with Michael, pedaling alongside Lance, sipping Gatorade and laughing at the idea of tracking vague motion throughout the day. Alas, not the case.

I like tracking my activity. It's cool. It let's me know that I'm not crazy, and I really did only get a single hour of restful sleep last night. It confirms my suspicions that I am progressively getting more and more out of shape. It rightfully suggests that I get away from my desk more often. Unlike what many of the ads suggest, I’m not tracking intense workouts. I'm lucky to get away from my desk for 15 minutes let alone work out. The value of a fitness band for me is its insight into my overall health and behavior. I like to know my average activity level, sleep patterns, etc.

In order to get a holistic view of my health however, I need a tracker that is always tracking, not just on for a few days a week. I also do not want to be constantly reminded that I’m wearing a fitness band, lest the observer effect kick in. I don’t even want to spend a great deal of time syncing and reviewing my stats. I want to forget about the entire experience until I actually need the data.

The misfit Shine achieves this in, what I believe to be, an intentionally unremarkable way that no other fitness band does.

  • The battery lasts for months. Yes, months, even in bad weather, showers, and heavy use. Misfit cleverly solved the battery issue by creating a low-power band that runs on a common watch battery that last forever. Furthermore, when it does finally run dry I just need to swap in a new battery. Don't worry, you can buy a pack on Amazon for like $1 per battery. I never have to take the band off for hours to charge, and therefore significantly reduce the chances of forgetting to put it back on.
  • The whole thing is waterproof. Waterproof, not water resistant. No, I don't swim at the Y, but I do occasionally shower. Having it on during my aquatic vocal sessions means one less time that I could forget it.
  • It's low profile. Both the fitbit and jawbone designs are bulky. I did like the bangle-like design of the Up, but it was always getting caught on things. It also didn’t sit well under the cuff of my Harley jacket. That’s a real deal breaker. Plus, the low-profile design is great if you tuck your hand under your pillow like I do.
  • It’s stylish. I’m not an expert on this, but Mom says that most other bands look like location tracking bracelets that criminals wear. I mostly like that the Shine is available in a bunch of different colors and with various accessories.
  • Those accessories let you wear this tracker however you like. It comes with the typical silicone sport band and a magnetic clasp that lets you clip it to your pants, shirt, or shoes (great on a bicycle). They also make watch-like bands, and my girlfriend loves her Bloom necklace.
  • Lastly, the app is unobtrusive. You sign in with a social account, no need to create an account online, and the device automatically syncs when you open the app. That means that I can just open the app, let it sync for the second or two required, and then go about my day. When I want to see how I’m doing, the app has a no-nonsense display of sleep and activity.

Sure, you an also compete/share with friends. The tracking is also pretty accurate in my experience. These are things that are common in wearables. Wear Misfit really shines (see what I did there?) is in its combination of some pretty basic features. Waterproofness and pretty design aren’t exactly innovative talking points. Heck, they even used an “old school” replaceable battery! Yet, no one has their act together as well as Misfit. It’s like while everyone was over here focusing on features and tech, Misfit just left the party and said, “We’re just going to make something people will like to wear”.

Maybe we need to stop treating wearables like tech gadgets, and start treating them like a new pair of jeans.

If you're salivating over this by now, you can head over to the shop to pick up your very own. You can also check out Misfit directly for the latest stuff.

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What the driverless car means for Batavia

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Elon Musk made some waves announcing that Tesla will add an autopilot mode to their cars this summer. Granted, this isn't for city driving, but it does mean that freeway driving is about to get a whole lot easier. Having grown up in Batavia NY, we Batavians have a unique view of the region. Buffalo and Rochester are just a "short" 35-40 minute drive away down the I90 or maybe 490. Get on, engage cruise control, and soon you're enjoying the niceties of a major metropolitan area without having to live there. In fact, it's something the Chamber or Commerce and other people will readily point out as Batavia's greatest benefit or even part of its identity. The words "close proximity to Buffalo and Rochester" appear on nearly every travel packet out there.

I think that this proximity is far from our best quality, but it is a convenience. Batavia is a great, and relatively cheap, place to live. The fact that one can live here, but also sample the flavors of two different cities after a short drive, is pretty cool. Personally, I prefer the sushi in Buffalo and the pubs in Rochester. :)

Still, for people who don't grow up here, this drive can be a little too much. When I talk to friends in either city, they act as if driving 35 minutes away is equivalent to driving across the country. The driverless car could change this completely. Given that our city has its own thruway gate, and is at the intersection of other major roadways, the majority of any drive could be driverless. Who knows what the legalities will be yet, but you could potentially spend the time taking a nap, texting your friends, or eating a snack. The possibilities are endless and transform a potentially boring drive into productive or playful free time.

For people looking at Batavia as a possible place to live, this means that a commute from Batavia to Buffalo or Rochester is as easy as a commute from within the city, possibly even easier given the parking situation. For businesses in Batavia, this means that you're now on equal footing with some big-city businesses. I long for the day I can hop in my car, call ahead for my table, and review the menu while my car drives me to my destination.

A driverless vehicle potentially redefines how we view local.

Now, where's my flying driverless car?

The latest Mac mini is low-priced, but doesn’t skimp on power

Mashable recently posted a pretty decent review of the Mac mini. They did a good job, but seemed to miss a few things along the way.

Absolute power

If you use a computer everyday, then you should have some idea as to what it is you do regularly. Are you a gamer? Video editor? App developer? Depending on your usage, the Mac mini may not simply be a good choice, but the best choice. Sure the Mac pro may be the king of raw power, but unless you’re doing a ton of video encoding, gaming, and 3D rendering, then you’re barely going to be using the hardware. The 5k display on the iMac may be drool-worthy, but unless you’re a photographer or graphic artist, then it’s probably just indulgent. The Mac mini is the perfect choice for web developers, app developers, students, or anyone looking for a home media server.

Flexibility

Yeah, I know this is a Mac-specific issue, but being able to use your own monitor, or steal a friend’s, is a feature. I used an iMac for several years as my primary workstation, and after suffering some screen issues I’m questioning whether I would ever buy one again. Over the years iMac screens have suffered from screen yellowing, static lines, cloudiness, etc. Granted, these issues aren’t hugely widespread, but if you’re one of the unlucky ones then you probably know that Apple’s geniuses are seldom a help. With the Mac mini, this isn’t a problem. Swap in a new monitor and you’re good to go.

Portability

Don’t underestimate this machine’s portability. With a solid state drive, wireless keyboard and mouse, and a standard power cord, you’re packed up and ready to go. The mini uses a standard power cord, so picking up extras on Amazon is easy. Also, there’s no power brick, which makes packing things up way easier.

Back when I had an office, I would keep a monitor and power cord at the office, and another set at home. That way I only had to transport the mini itself. I would also keep a cord in my travel bag. For conferences I would only need to bring a power cord, keyboard and mouse (or track pad). The hotel TV works fine as a monitor, and I’d be using the projector for any talks. Just don’t forget your display adapter dongles.

Your first, and only, Mac

The Mac mini isn’t just a good deal or good first Mac. This implies that you should only buy one if you’re looking to save money and that you’ll eventually upgrade to a different model. The fact is that for many people this is the perfect Mac, now and in the future.Sure, the base model is a good deal, but you can also max out the upgrades and purchase a beautiful large display. It is a good fist Mac, but that’s mostly because you can use existing PC peripherals. That also means that upgrading your peripherals won’t mean buying an entirely new Mac. Plus, nestle your Mac mini in a M3 mount and your Mac is bound to tackle the many years to come.

Quad-Core Mac Mini Reappears on Apple’s Online Store but Don’t Get Too Excited

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MacRumors reports that the 2012 quad-core version of the Mac mini briefly reappeared in the Apple online store. The new dual-core models are powerful, but many of us are sure to miss the quad-core of the previous generation. Hopefully this means a new quad-core version will be available soon.

Regardless of cores, the form factor of this generation’s mini is the same. That’s awesome because it means the M3 Mount for Mac mini will work with everything from the 2010 mini to the current model.

MacRumor’s articles follows:

Apple today has mysteriously added back a 2012 model Mac mini to the Apple Online Store for $699. The over two-year-old machine still has the same hardware specifications as it did in 2012, including a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The listing also shows that the computer ships with OS X Mavericks installed.

It is unknown if the outdated Mac mini has mistakenly resurfaced on the Apple Online Store, or if Apple intentionally reintroduced the model on its website. One plausible reason that Apple may be making this older Mac mini available for purchase again is to provide customers with a quad-core option, as the existing 2014 models are each powered by dual-core Intel Core i5 processors.

The entry-level Mac is listed as out of stock in the United States, and MacRumors could not find the model listed for sale elsewhere after spot checks of the Apple Online Store in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and several other countries. Apple still offers a refurbished version of the same 2012 Mac mini for $589 on its website, although that model is also currently out of stock.

Update 11:30 PM PT: The 2012 quad-core Mac mini appears to have disappeared from the Apple Online Store for the time being. It is unclear if it will officially return or if its appearance was a bug.

A brief history of the M3 mount for Mac mini

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All ideas start somewhere. This is where ours started.  

An idea to keep a gaming PC cool became a piece of furniture that then inspired an awesome piece of gear. Most desktop computers cool the same way. Cool air at the bottom/front and hot air out the top/back. Even the Mac mini does this, just at a much smaller scale (you could fit a few Mac minis inside the average gaming PC).

This is all well and good so long as air is able to flow into and out of the case freely. Remember all those XBox 360s that died? Chalk that up to some pretty bad heat issues. Heat stuck inside your machine kills components and slow things down. The M3 mount provides adequate space for your mini to breathe and since “passive cooling” isn’t always enough, we also left room for a fan to really get things moving.

Hello M3 mini cooler

Well, here ya go. Version 2 of the Lego-built Mac mini cooler. After the proof of concept worked out so well, I decided to build something more akin to a prototype. This time around I paid a little more attention to form and efficiency. Especially necessary since my son wanted his Legos back.

In regards to form, I found that the huge 200mm fan, while awesome, did not fit the footprint I was looking for. Also, mounting options for 200mm fans are still not standardized. <insert “when is 200mm not 200mm" joke here>. The variety of 140mm fans is much greater as well, and a 140mm would have no problem fitting within my design.

Swapping out the fan also allowed me to drop things a little lower. This prototype is nearly half the height. That’s great for stability and also a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Inside I added blocks around the fan. This prevents the backwash of heated air. This backwash occurs when the fan pushes cool air against the computer (a mini in this case) and then the heated air is reflected back over the fan. Without the blocks surrounding the fan, that heated air would wash over and around the fan and then be re-circulated. That’s not good. Adding the blocks forces the air out the sides and away from the unit.

Lastly, I was able to start looking at how the mini would sit on top of the cooler. The bottom is kinda rounded, the corners too, so it was kind of tricky. After a few hours of experimenting, I finally found something that works...

And a name.

Behold, the M3 mini mount!

 

Mac mini custom cooler

I built a custom Mac mini air cooler.

It seems like the simplest thing, but apparently no one else thought of it yet or considered it worthwhile.

This all started when my Macbook Pro, which I use for work, started having some heat issues. Not anything severe, really. I just noticed that the fan was always running. It’s understandable. I usually have tons of apps open, run a web server in the background, and push video to my 27-inch Apple display and two Dell 24-inch displays.

I understood why I was having heat issues, but running less apps or taking away a monitor were not viable options. So the only remaining solution was to increase cooling. That meant exploring the vast world of laptop coolers for something decent, and so far I’ve been quite happy with my Cooler Master cooler: http://www.coolermaster.com/mobile/laptops_and_ultrabooks/notepal-x-slim/

Now that my Macbook was running at an acceptable temperature, without having the fans constantly on max, I turned to my whirring Mac mini.

I love that little machine. http://www.apple.com/mac-mini/

I purchased the mini two years ago. I bought the base module with an i7 procedssor, and then I gutted it, tossed in 16gb of RAM and two OCZ Vertex 500gb drives in RAID 0 (it’s OK, I have time machine). You can do this too http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/. The end result is an extremely powerful little machine that can comfortably sit on your desk.

The mini acted as my office work-horse until I started needing a more mobile solution (enter Macbook). Now it acts as a media server (thank you Plex https://plex.tv/) and torrent machine for sharing Linux distros. Transcoding video and serving it apparently requires a little processing power, especially on a machine without a dedicated graphics processor. It heats up quite a bit, the fans start whirring, and the little box heats up my whole cabinet.

Get a cooler for it? Like I did the laptop, right? I think not.

Apparently no one thought of the poor mini when making their products. There are a few stands that let you put it into vertical orientation, but I find that pretty ugly. If Steve wanted the mini to be vertical, then he would have made it that way!

For anyone interested, here’s how the cooling on the mini works: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/12/apple-reveals-the-mac-mini-from-design-to-removable-hard-drive.htmlBasically, it draws cool air from around the black circular base and spews hot hair out the little exhaust port in the back.

Amazingly, that’s quite a bit like a classic PC case. The difference? PC cases usually have intake and exhaust fans. They also tend to have a little more ground clearance than the mini.

So I did what any guy with a problem would do. I grabbed my son and played with Legos for a few hours. The end result was this little beauty.

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Consider this “version 1”. The model above uses a 200mm fan which proved to be just a little too big. It was really just a proof of concept though, and boy did it do its job. Simply using the stand passively dropped the temperatures about 5 degrees celsius. Using the fan dropped it about another 10 degrees! Aside from the cooling, the mini was way quieter. The case fan mounted inside was way quieter and more efficient that that tiny little blower in the mini. So the cumulative result was near silence.

Maybe it’s time for some small-scale production? I could go the lego route: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fED5J10hT10#t=342 and have my little guy take care of assembly. That may not be entirely cost or time efficient though. Plus, I think there may be some issue with child labor laws.

In reality, I’m thinking more along the lines of the Midi Fighter strategy. DJ Tech Tools built this awesome midi controller and scaled production rather nicely. The first version was quite simple, and they even offered a DIY kit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtmENdE38zc. I’m pretty sure I could achieve something similar with some acrylic or 3D printed parts. We’ll just have to see.