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crontab
Apr 9, 2008, 02:06 PM
Hey all - I am still waiting for the upcoming updates to happen before I buy my first mac, probably the Mini.

I wanted to ask all you folks to tell me of all of the cool things I could be doing with a Mini if I had one. Aside from email, web, authoring - what are some of the other cool uses? Some things I have picked up on from reading various posts: some of you using it to stream (?), using it as part of home theater(?), server(?), hooking these up to hdtv(?), backups(?), dvr(?)....



anglez
Apr 9, 2008, 02:32 PM
Use it as a Door Stopper!!

crontab
Apr 9, 2008, 02:40 PM
Use it as a Door Stopper!!

LOL - look I'm askin' what YOU are doing with YOUR Mini - if you don't have one - then shaddup!:p

Unless of course you do use yours for a door stopper, then shaddup!:p

Cave Man
Apr 9, 2008, 03:00 PM
One dedicate as a home theater system (see sig). The other as my photo processing machine (Aperture and Photoshop CS3).

gwerhart0800
Apr 9, 2008, 03:13 PM
I use mine for developing iPhone applications. It is great for that purpose:

1. Cheapest Mac you can purchase new.
2. Holds enough memory and disk to handle iPhone dev ...
3. Takes very little desk space ...

crontab
Apr 9, 2008, 03:20 PM
One dedicate as a home theater system (see sig). The other as my photo processing machine (Aperture and Photoshop CS3).

Cave Man - you rock! Nice setup for your home theater. Very cool indeed - thanks to you, now I want 2 Mini's!

Btw, I live in CO too - I'm living in Littleton/Highlands Ranch.

snberk103
Apr 9, 2008, 03:27 PM
I retired the mini from main desktop unit to juke box. I've copied every CD we own (over 4100 songes) into iTunes, plus a few that I've bought online. Now it sits on top of the stereo, plugged into it. My wife and I like to work on our laptops in various parts of the house, and we have access to the full library (we set up iTunes to "share" the library). Or, I use can use the laptop to control the mini through screen sharing, and play iTunes through the stereo. The advantage of using the stereo is that we can play the B-52's 'Rock Lobster' REAL LOUD! (yes - I meant to shout :) )(luckily we don't have any close by neighbours).

I'm sure that there may be easier ways to control iTunes, but this was free - and uses technology that was already here.

crontab
Apr 9, 2008, 03:49 PM
I retired the mini from main desktop unit to juke box. I've copied every CD we own (over 4100 songes) into iTunes, plus a few that I've bought online. Now it sits on top of the stereo, plugged into it. My wife and I like to work on our laptops in various parts of the house, and we have access to the full library (we set up iTunes to "share" the library). Or, I use can use the laptop to control the mini through screen sharing, and play iTunes through the stereo. The advantage of using the stereo is that we can play the B-52's 'Rock Lobster' REAL LOUD! (yes - I meant to shout :) )(luckily we don't have any close by neighbours).

I'm sure that there may be easier ways to control iTunes, but this was free - and uses technology that was already here.

Awesome! Screen sharing sounds intriguing - I hadn't heard of this before. I like the idea of a jukebox. My stereo is part of my home theater - so I could use one mini for both movies/dvds and for tunes. So using screen sharing for control would allow me to listen to music streams over the internet on my stereo as well right?

mags631
Apr 9, 2008, 04:03 PM
Hey all - I am still waiting for the upcoming updates to happen before I buy my first mac, probably the Mini.

I wanted to ask all you folks to tell me of all of the cool things I could be doing with a Mini if I had one. Aside from email, web, authoring - what are some of the other cool uses? Some things I have picked up on from reading various posts: some of you using it to stream (?), using it as part of home theater(?), server(?), hooking these up to hdtv(?), backups(?), dvr(?)....

Our Mini drives a Sony 40" LCD HDTV (1920x1080), which we use for FrontRow (DVD, iTunes browsing/playing), large photo frame (by way of the screensaver), email and web browsing in the living room.

It is also our private intranet (random documented stuff published as web pages), VPN and file server.

I have upgraded the original solo processor to a 1.6 C2D, 2GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, and it is running Leopard Server.

The Mini is a natural for the living room because it is pretty much inaudible, easy to hide, and has fairly low power consumption.

PNW
Apr 9, 2008, 06:48 PM
Our mini (1.83 CD) is the family computer on the counter separating the kitchen from the dining room. It replaced a mico ATX Linux box that was (according to my wife) taking up too much space beneath the counter. We use it for all the usual stuff including running XP with VM Fusion so my wife can log in to her office.

The afore mentioned Linux box is now our HTPC / home server, when it comes time to upgrade the mini I'll probably move it into that role. If iTunes were to come up with a movie subscription service that would persuade me to drop Netflix. I'd make the current mini the HTPC a lot sooner.

Cybix
Apr 9, 2008, 06:53 PM
I have a Mac Mini installed in my Subaru. Great for iTunes in the car :)

Genghis Khan
Apr 9, 2008, 06:57 PM
I'll be getting one when it's updated (rumors prevailing) for use with my HDTV.

The plan is to use it as a media hub with a wireless router to the macs in the other rooms, which will also come in handy when more than 2 people want to access the internet (or four counting iPhone and Touch).

Really looking forward to it:D

techlover828
Apr 9, 2008, 07:01 PM
I have a Mac Mini installed in my Subaru. Great for iTunes in the car :)

that's awesome! got any pics/videos/basic instruction (or at least what you did)

Tom Sawyer
Apr 10, 2008, 08:42 AM
Our Mini drives a Sony 40" LCD HDTV (1920x1080), which we use for FrontRow (DVD, iTunes browsing/playing), large photo frame (by way of the screensaver), email and web browsing in the living room.

It is also our private intranet (random documented stuff published as web pages), VPN and file server.

I have upgraded the original solo processor to a 1.6 C2D, 2GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, and it is running Leopard Server.

The Mini is a natural for the living room because it is pretty much inaudible, easy to hide, and has fairly low power consumption.

I'm curious as to how you connected it to your LCD HDTV, DVI to HDMI or? I've been an XBMC user for a long time and absolutely love the interface but the hardware is getting long in the tooth to say the least (Xbox). With HD media getting more accessable, I'd like to come up with a solution that will still let me stream from my NAS but also do it in HD... greatly appreciate anything you can share on your setup!

twynne
Apr 10, 2008, 08:57 AM
I'm curious as to how you connected it to your LCD HDTV, DVI to HDMI or? I've been an XBMC user for a long time and absolutely love the interface but the hardware is getting long in the tooth to say the least (Xbox). With HD media getting more accessable, I'd like to come up with a solution that will still let me stream from my NAS but also do it in HD... greatly appreciate anything you can share on your setup!

I've got a similar setup, and my Mini is connected DVI to VGA (my LCD has both, but supports higher resolution on VGA for some bizarre reason!)

Incidentally have you seen that XBMC is available for OS X now? And the latest version adds upscaling. It's in relatively early stages, but quite useable.

rolex54
Apr 10, 2008, 09:15 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/4A102 Safari/419.3)

I am about to buy a mini for my htpc
I plan to use dvi to hdmi
and displayconfigx to get it to fit just right

MikeDTyke
Apr 10, 2008, 09:23 AM
Our Mini drives a Sony 40" LCD HDTV (1920x1080), which we use for FrontRow (DVD, iTunes browsing/playing), large photo frame (by way of the screensaver), email and web browsing in the living room.

It is also our private intranet (random documented stuff published as web pages), VPN and file server.

I have upgraded the original solo processor to a 1.6 C2D, 2GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, and it is running Leopard Server.

The Mini is a natural for the living room because it is pretty much inaudible, easy to hide, and has fairly low power consumption.

I thought that you didn't get DVD and front row on leopard server, hence why i've kept my htpc mini on leopard client. Tell me its true and i'll be very happy.

M. :D

snberk103
Apr 10, 2008, 09:39 AM
Awesome! Screen sharing sounds intriguing - I hadn't heard of this before. I like the idea of a jukebox. My stereo is part of my home theater - so I could use one mini for both movies/dvds and for tunes. So using screen sharing for control would allow me to listen to music streams over the internet on my stereo as well right?

hello crontab

Screen sharing is built into Leopard. I'm just getting the hang of it - but its been useful so far. On the mini (running Leopard) go to System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Management. Turn this on. Perhaps you need File Sharing on too. (Read the Help - it helped me out a lot). You also need to set up the controlling system as an authorized user iirc - but its easy to do, just work through it.

On your other system open Finder. You should see in the sidebar a Shared heading, and the Mini under that. Click on it, and then when you are connected look for the "Share Screen" button in the top right. This will bring up the desktop of the Mini. You can now do virtually everything on the Mini remotely that you could do sitting at a keyboard - including looking for and updating software (probably not EFI updates though :D ). You can even put it to sleep or turn it off - but not turn it on.

I will sit at the dining room table and add smart playlists to iTunes to make finding music easier. I can purchase music on iTunes remotely so that the songs are added directly to the Mini.

The iTunes that are on the laptops can see and use the library on the Mini, including seeing and using the smart playlists - but they can't create or edit the playlists. Which is why I edit them remotely. I'm still exploring to see what else I can do this way. Movies are next, I think.

With screen sharing and a stereo remote, I may never need to get off the couch, eh?!

Good Luck

MikeDTyke
Apr 10, 2008, 09:45 AM
You can now do virtually everything on the Mini remotely that you could do sitting at a keyboard - including looking for and updating software (probably not EFI updates though :D ). You can even put it to sleep or turn it off - but not turn it on.


Hi snberk103. You can wake the mini up from sleep mode. Just go into power management section of preferences and tick the box, 'allow network wake from sleep' or words to that effect. Then download the wakeme applet, google to find. Enter the mini's details and now you can send the wakeup message. Works very well for me when i want to hop on with screen sharing.

Cheers M.

Tom Sawyer
Apr 10, 2008, 10:11 AM
I've got a similar setup, and my Mini is connected DVI to VGA (my LCD has both, but supports higher resolution on VGA for some bizarre reason!)

Incidentally have you seen that XBMC is available for OS X now? And the latest version adds upscaling. It's in relatively early stages, but quite useable.

That is strange on the VGA port... one would think.... :confused:

I did see that XBMC was being ported to OS X.... wasn't sure how far along that project was though. I'll pull it down this evening and play with it on my iMac... All I'm really needing from it at this point is the ability to mount an ISO of a DVD, play Mp4's (low and high def) and of course map to an SMB share.

twynne
Apr 10, 2008, 10:19 AM
XBMC is pretty good already, just lacking on support for the Apple remote... but he's actively working on that now. Definitely worth a look. I'm fairly certain it can do SMB now, now sure about mounting disk images though - haven't tried.

As for my VGA vs. DVI issue - I never did work it out. The display worked via DVI but the desktop extended beyond the physical border of the screen (I believe this is 'overscan' but may be wrong there!) :confused:

err404
Apr 10, 2008, 12:39 PM
The mini is one of my favorite devices in the apple lineup. With a pair of large USB/Firewire disks, it's the best 24/7 home server that I can think of. The price seems a little high for the specs until you realize it's only pulling 20watts at idle and can have an instant on sleep mode schedule at 2watts. Even at full load it pulls a mere 45watts. Basically if you leave it on all the time, you'll save a good chunk of change in your power bill.

I use mine for:
Time Machine backups of my media and two laptops
DVD ripping
batch transcoding
iTunes host for ATV
Media streamer for xbox360
usenet agent
torrent agent
file server
print server
scanner host
iPhone dock
G wifi router for my iPhone and guest use, since my AEBS is set for N only
desktop computer...

I may get a second one in the future to be a HTPC

Keebler
Apr 10, 2008, 12:48 PM
I have a Mac Mini installed in my Subaru. Great for iTunes in the car :)

i live vicariously through you cybix- is there anywhere you haven't yet installed a mac? ;)

(as i type on my mbp almost left exclusively in my kitchen...inspired by who else....

cybix :)

snberk103
Apr 10, 2008, 01:13 PM
Hi snberk103. You can wake the mini up from sleep mode. Just go into power management section of preferences and tick the box, 'allow network wake from sleep' or words to that effect. Then download the wakeme applet, google to find. Enter the mini's details and now you can send the wakeup message. Works very well for me when i want to hop on with screen sharing.

Cheers M.

Thanks for the tip. My understanding is that the Mini has to be connected by an ethernet cable for this to work. In 'Sleep' mode the Airport is, I have read, turned off - and therefore unable to receive the wake up message. Perhaps there is some way to set a different behaviour for the Airport? I don't know - and honestly, with the hard drive spun down - how much power could the wee little beastie being drawing?

Cheers

crontab
Apr 10, 2008, 01:28 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone for elaborating - I now stand enlightened. I REALLY want one (if not two) now. [prays for updates soon....]

What kind of resolution can I expect out of the mini when using DVI to my HDTV? Will it output 1080i/720p if the source is of that quality? I would also expect that there might be lags/skips occasionally (?). What would I have to do to the mini to get 5.1 Dolby Digital out of it? Is that even possible?

Is anyone using a mini to encode hdtv from terrestrial broadcasts (dvr) ?

Sorry if I'm asking too many questions, but I didn't know that the mini could be used to do so many cool things and now I'm thinking "skies the limit".

snberk103
Apr 10, 2008, 01:49 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone for elaborating - I now stand enlightened. I REALLY want one (if not two) now. [prays for updates soon....]

What kind of resolution can I expect out of the mini when using DVI to my HDTV? Will it output 1080i/720p if the source is of that quality? I would also expect that there might be lags/skips occasionally (?). What would I have to do to the mini to get 5.1 Dolby Digital out of it? Is that even possible?

Is anyone using a mini to encode hdtv from terrestrial broadcasts (dvr) ?

Sorry if I'm asking too many questions, but I didn't know that the mini could be used to do so many cool things and now I'm thinking "skies the limit".

Crontab

It is an amazing beast, indeed. My suggestion is to do a search on these forums. I know that there have been numerous discussions already. There is a very long (over 1000 posts) on whether the Mini would be discontinued... http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=369115

There was discussion there, or at least linked to it, about whether the Mini would do HDTV, etc. IIRC the consensus was the the specs on paper weren't good enough, but that basically anyone who had tried it were having no problems. Go figure, eh? The consensus, again IIRC was that the GPU (graphics chip) was underpowered for things like games, but that the CPU was powerful for encoding/ripping/etc. I could have misunderstood - so go search away. Check the refurb online store every morning. I've seen Minis there for as little as $479 (Canadian $), sometimes the top of the line models. They don't last long.

Good Luck

Cave Man
Apr 10, 2008, 01:52 PM
There was discussion there, or at least linked to it, about whether the Mini would do HDTV, etc. IIRC the consensus was the the specs on paper weren't good enough, but that basically anyone who had tried it were having no problems. Go figure, eh? The consensus, again IIRC was that the GPU (graphics chip) was underpowered for things like games, but that the CPU was powerful for encoding/ripping/etc.

MPEG-2 = Mini does very well, even 1080, since the GMA950 has acceleration for it.

H.264 = Mini can have issues with high bit-rate HD since the GMA950 has no support for it. Decoding is done by the cpu instead.

rshanahan
Apr 10, 2008, 01:53 PM
I'm using a Mini with a LG 42" 720p tv. I'm using DVI-HDMI cable (ebay). It is running 'through' a Denon 3808 receiver.

The resolution I use is 1388x(something), the actual numbers escape me now, but it's the native resolution of most 720p tv's (at least my LG 42" and my Sony projector).

I rip (using Handbrake) in x.264 (or whatever), 2500bps and AC3 soundtrack with my Mac Pro and view it (across ethernet) on the mini and never have any hiccupping. My mini is 1.83 DC w/2gb ram, stock 80gb hd.

Getting AC3 via Perian and an optical cable. DO NOT UPGRADE QUICK TIME TO 7.4.5!! IT WILL BREAK AC3 PASSTHROUGH!!

I am waiting to get a 2nd mini for my theater (http://www.rickshanahan.com/theater/piney/default.htm) to replace the Whinedoes pc.

That's how I use my mini(s).

Rick

err404
Apr 10, 2008, 04:12 PM
MPEG-2 = Mini does very well, even 1080, since the GMA950 has acceleration for it.

H.264 = Mini can have issues with high bit-rate HD since the GMA950 has no support for it. Decoding is done by the cpu instead.

In general 720p h.264 is no problem, but high bitrate 1080p may have some skipped frames. The good new is that the newer builds of ffmpeg are better optimized for dual cores and a 2.0ghz mini plays back flawless for all but the toughest 1080p files.