Small Biz Mac, Small Biz Mac focuses on using Mac as the foundation of a small business--the operating platform, the market, and more. This blog will discuss both the challenges of operating a business on Mac hardware and software, and the impact of the broader Mac market on business.

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Kevin Walzer and Lori Jareo, publishers, software developers, Mac/iPhone users, and small business owners.

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Sun, 03 Mar 2013

Mac Mini quietly gains ground

Via Slashdot:

In 2005, the first business to offer colocated Mac Minis inside a data center made its debut, provoking criticism of everything from how the Mini was cooled to the underlying business model. Since then, more than half a dozen facilities are either hosting their own Mac Minis for rent, or offering colocation services for individual consumers and businesses. And although you may not find the Mini being used for high-performance computing, plenty of customers are finding them to be a cost-effective, dependable solution for Web hosting and other tasks.

Not a bad idea for small businesses who want to make use of a Mac server but don't want the headache of managing it in-house, or whose data needs are more sensitive than an in-office setup can afford.

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Another use for server: Server-side product data

Part of our business is publishing, and the other part is software development for the desktop (Mac) and mobile (iPhone) platforms. Our OS X server setup plays a vital supporting role in these businesses, even beyond hosting their websites; it also provides direct support for the mobile apps that we develop.

We've developed and released two mobile apps, QuickWho, a whois client, and WTPoem, which is a poem-of-the-day app. In both cases, the apps themselves are written using a combination of the Jo JavaScript framework and the PhoneGap application wrapper for native deployment on the iPhone. However, by themselves the apps don't do very much; they call out to code running our OS X server for their data. In the case of QuickWho, it talks to a Python module running on our server, which runs the whois inquiry and returns the data to the iPhone client. In the case of WTPoem, it gets its daily poem data from a Perl module running on the server, which parses a flat-file database of poems and related info, and nicely formats that day's poem in HTML for download to the iPhone.

Developing these apps and testing them is greatly simplified by having control of the server. Not all web hosting companies support certain programming languages, especially Python, so having that control is very helpful. It makes it easier to install custom code libraries, test, make changes quickly, and deploy with a minimum of difficulty. It's another reason that the time spent maintaining our own server setup isn't wasted.

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