Pimping Out a MacMini as Media Center, etc.
March 16, 2009 9:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm consolidating and trying to save some money in the coming years. To that end I've acquired an older Mac Mini and pulled out an old monitor. I've set it as a working media center, but I think I could do more and do it more efficiently.

This Mac-Mini pretty much only has one job - dealing with media. I've a normal computer I use for everything else. Right now my setup is like this:
I have boxee for Netflix and Hulu (sometimes). For videos I might download I use a program that grabs the videos for me automatically an begins downloading them in Vuze. Cause I am security sensitive I use the IP Filter with Vuze.

After they are complete they are moved to a "completion folder" where Hazel (the program) moves them to the proper directory. This way I can watch stuff I download on Front Row or Boxee.

I also have Connect360 running so I can watch movies from my 360 in the other room.

I have screen sharing as well so I don't have to worry about needing a mouse and keyboard for the macmini.

-Still, having some troubles. I can't seem to slow down the file moving, so errors crop up in Vuze all the time.

-I'm wondering if there is a more efficient way to do this. Boxee has torrent downloading, but no ip-filtering.

-What else can I use this for? It seems I should be able to do something else with this thing but I'm not quite sure what. I don't need to share files or anything (mobileme allows for that). But what other things might I do?
posted by Gideon to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Eh. Vuze is a bloated beast on an OS X machine. I use Transmission and it is uber-perfecto. I use TVShows for my tvrss.net feeds. I have TVShows save the .torrent file to the "completed" folder. Transmission has that folder set as a watch folder, so as soon as a torrent hits that folder it starts the download, deletes the original .torrent file and starts the download in a "pending" folder. When the download is complete Transmission automagically moves the file "completed" folder. Transmission also has a pretty easy to use web interface for when you're adding shows manually.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:40 PM on March 16, 2009

Ugh. Vuse. Used to be such a nice client, now it's a bloated pile of trouble. Transmission.

I use mine as a media center as well. Running music out of it using iTunes and my iPhone as a remote is very nice. Stopped using my Sonos for it.

It's also my recreational web browser with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Using page zoom in Firefox (and the NoSquint add-on) keeps everything legible.
posted by Ookseer at 12:38 AM on March 17, 2009

Oh, and I also use it as a network drive that all my other computers backup to nightly. And then in the morning it backs all of that stuff up to [popular remote backup solution]. And a Skype phone for calls to and from other countries.
posted by Ookseer at 1:52 AM on March 17, 2009

yeah, I would drop vuze. At home I use transmission which has a little web server built in, so I can upload torrents to it from anywhere, as well as have it watch a folder that RSS feeds can drop torrents in; I then use plex as my front end.

I use a drobo for my storage, and w/ gigE Ethernet I have no problem streaming 1080p video, which plex handles pretty comfortably.

I also use the mini as a general file server for the house, and for casual web use with a wireless keyboard. I've also got one of the old external isight cameras that somehow manages to basically click into the top of my TV, and I'm going to pick up a random bluetooth headset for random skype video chatting from my couch.

At parties I use itunes and pass around an iphone with the remote app for people to pick music with.

I'm waiting for snow leopard server, at which point my mini will start being an ical and address book exchange (or whatever) server for the rest of my life.
posted by cmyr at 3:10 AM on March 17, 2009

Question for Ookseer re backing up: What network are you using? I was intending to do that but 802.11g turned out to be slower than I expected. Also, what software are you using and are all your computers Macs? I want to use Unison but the learning curve's a bit steep.
posted by snarfois at 4:45 AM on March 17, 2009

Response by poster: Ok... Yeah, I know Vuze is bloated. But I like the ip-filtering, so whatever I use has to have that as well. But if anyone has another option out there for that, I'm all ears.
posted by Gideon at 5:55 AM on March 17, 2009

Best answer: Transmission has IP Filtering, it can download a blocklist weekly from Blue Tack.
posted by philomathoholic at 8:59 AM on March 17, 2009

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