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This Christmas season I used the downtime supplied by most of my peers taking two weeks off of work (can you say downturn?) to get around to a number of highly geeky personal projects on my residence’s IT network.  Aided by the web (and knowing which instructions to safely ignore) I successfully completed all of the following:

thumbsup-icon Upgraded the CPU on my Mac Mini from Core Duo 1.6GHz to Core2Duo 2.33GHz – (instructions & discussion)
Results are amazing, and the bump in performance, even during transcoding of video, is immediately noticeable.  Note that there was a dramatic increase in fan noise so hope you’ve got your Mini in a closet somewhere as I do.  (UPDATE:  Fan noise was due to broken heatsink screw.  Here‘s an example of why this upgrade was a great idea)
thumbsup-icon Created a generic bootable USB OSX Leopard installer on a 16GB Thumb Drive – (instructions & instructions)
Upgrades and refreshes are now a breeze.  It’s also got all of my (licensed) apps like Adobe CS and Microsoft Office on board in case I ever lose my hard drive, etc.
thumbsup-icon Installed and began regularly using Sxipper for login automation – (install)
Apart from making it WAY easier for me to log in to sites and keep track of all of my passwords, this has allowed me to emancipate myself from a broken Firefox configuration that I have beeb married to since the early Betas.
thumbsdown-icon Hacked my AppleTV and installed XMBC/Boxee – (instructions)
Since I already store my media within iTunes, and since Boxee has very limited content avilable at the moment, this was FAIL.  I do find it interesting to see what others are watching, but the only active friend I have is Boxee CEO Avner Ronen.  If Boxee wants me to be a frequent user, it needs to allow me to subscribe to torrent feeds and automagically download the movies to my AppleTV.
thumbsup-icon Maxed out the RAM on all of our Macs – (get some)
RAM prices are artificially deflated thanks to the manufacturers vastly overestimating the demand for memory following the release of Windows Vista.  My friends @ CanadaRAM have great prices as a result.  Their loss is our productivity gain!

All in all my future wife was quite dismayed at the number of times I broke out the torx screwdriver and cracked open a computer on the ottoman while watching “Long Way Down” but I’m grateful it’s over with.  Happy New Year all!

UPDATED: One more Bonus thing I did!

thumbsup-icon Installed Nambu on my MBPro and iPhone for managing my Tweets etc. – (discussion & iphone app )
The Nambu Desktop app is in beta, so you can’t get it yet… but the iPhone cllient is available for cheap from the iTunes Music store.  Keep an eye on the Nambu web site for the launch of the Desktop client.  Nambu in both cases revealed a number of Direct Messages I never knew I had… twitter is notoriously bad at revealing these via its web interface.