Grump Grump Grump – Weekend Edition

Yeah, well, so I finally got around to playing a bit more with the Mac mini today. Not much, though, because there’s a new collection of outlets in WA now, and much like the outlets in CT (same owners, ironically) they are near a casino… priorities! So, before I get into the Mac mini story, I gotta say that those new Texas Hold’em Bonus tables are a lot of fun and I’m pretty thrilled that Tulalip got them already – I follow the company that makes the tables and they’re still pretty new. The game play is odd, but fun. Um…

Odd in that it’s weird to be playing against only one hand, even though there are six players per table. Like the blackjack tables, you play against the dealer, which as it’s pros and cons. The pro is that you don’t have to have a clue about poker to play the game successfully. The con is that all of that poker knowledge you might have accumulated over the years means little to the game. The oddity is that you can play waayyyy looser than you ever thought possible… a 9-6 can win a game without causing a lot of bile.

Basically, if it’s a $5 table, you have to bet a $5 ante, pre-hole cards. Once you get your hole cards, you have the option of betting the Flop, which has to be twice your ante bet. You can also fold at this point and you’ll only be on the hook for the ante. After the Flop, you have the option of betting the Turn and the River; both have to match the ante. If you win the hand – meaning that you beat the dealer – you are paid even money on the Flop, Turn, and River bets; the ante is only paid even money if your winning had is a flush or better, otherwise the ante pushes.

In addition to all of this, there’s a Bonus bet which is optional and can be $1-$10. I usually don’t bother with bonus or fortune bets in other games (most notably Pai-Gow Poker) but in this game it’s pretty attractive… at least it gives the illusion of being attractive. The Bonus bet is paid out on the hole cards. A pair of 2’s to 10’s pays 3:1. AJ and AQ off suited pays 5:1. A pair of Jacks, Queens or Kings pay like 10:1. It goes up from there: AK and AQ/AJ are paid higher odds depending on if their suited or not. A pair of Aces pays 30:1. A pair of Aces in your hand and in the dealer’s hand pays 1000:1. And all of this is paid even if you don’t win the main game! Typically, you’ll have to put up $20/hand (Ante, Flop, and Bonus bets) which is why I think the casino will like the game… forces a lot of money to get on the table and if the dealer pulls something odd (we saw her get a flush with a 67 in the hole – that’s an odd hand) then they casino cleans house. Also, with a straight appeared with the 5 open cards, everyone on the table pushed – good to know that pushes are possible, if not too common.

Anyway, after screwin’ around with this for a while I eventually made my way home and decided to play with the mini for a bit. As I might have said before, I’m not treating the mini as a PC, per se – I’m treating it more of a consumer electronic type gizmo. In the past I had tried to replace or augment my PC and quickly became frustrated while trying to make things work together… especially when I had a Powerbook. I need my notebook to connect to multiple networks, hard drives, printers, etc. My ThinkPad is more suited for that.

On a bright spot, I’ve been able to get out to my network with an issue with Tiger. I’ve been able to print from Safari via the network to a Windows shared HP printer. I’ve been able to use “remote” desktop via VNC, so I can control my Mac from my PC; Microsoft’s RDC works for Mac’s that want to see PC’s. In fact, I’ve been able to do this via the local LAN and from the ‘net proper. The video is a little dimmer than I would want it to be, but if I keep connecting remotely, what do I care? :)

And now a bit about iLife. Once of things I’ve been toying with is moving my iTunes library from the PC to the Mac… I probably won’t, since the Mac has a fixed HD size (unless I add another external) and I’ve still got 100GB free on the PC… with the 10GB of music on it. Besides, I don’t do much with my music collect except to sync it with an iPod – I don’t play music off the home PC really – and even if I did, iTunes lives on PC’s anyway. My [limited] photo collection falls into the situation: moving it to the Mac for iPhoto won’t buy me much. I’ve been happy with [Microsoft’s] Digital Image Pro, and I don’t have enough images to have a problem cataloging them. For music editing, movie making/capturing, and DVD mastering… well that was the whole reason for getting the Mac in the first place.

I’m pretty fucking impressed. Honest. I sorta didn’t want to be… yet I kinda can’t not be impressed by it. iMovie HD brought in the clips off my miniDV camera via FireWire. My PC can do that, so that isn’t all that impressive, but it was good to see that it worked OK. I was able to add transitions without reading a manual. That was nice. I was able to crop and splice too. When I realized that I had more clips than I wanted in the project, a Save As allowed me to split the main project into two separate ones. Click-click-click, it was easy. Click the iDVD button in iMovie and I was allowed to add scenes based on the clips in the movie and shove them into a new iDVD project. iDVD’s themes made my head swim… the map editor made sense too – more so than the other packages I’ve used. So much so that I finally got only one menu to show up and use a pre-loaded theme.

The only thing that threw me for a loop was how to get a scene preview in the drop sites of the menus in iDVD… I still think it’s easy, but I had missed it on the first go around. What’s neat is that any clip could be dropped in the drop site, if you want a movie to play there. Or you can save out a still/JPEG from iMovie and use it for iDVD. Yeah… it was neat.

Since I don’t have a SuperDrive, I had iDVD make an ISO image in the form of an IMG file. Took Disc Burner and wrote the DVD out to my external burner… and I used a DVD+R, too, which I think only the newest Apple drives support (if at all), but that’s OK: dropped it into the DVD player and it worked. And what’s more is that I’m think the quality of the video was much better than anything I got out of the PC packages! That could be because I captured at the wrong settings or I didn’t tweak something like I was supposed to, but after seeing iMovie and iDVD, why should I have to do that? The default settings were better than I expected for this.

Yep. Impressed. I’m not happy about it – I still say that there’s software out there that let a PC do this same stuff with the same ease and I just haven’t found it yet – but jeesh… I am very impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

Now I wanna see what I can do with Garageband… *smirk*

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