Start Afresh

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Santabean2000, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Santabean2000, Dec 31, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011

    Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    One of my good friends has had the devastating experience of losing EVERYTHING in a house fire. Although it's devastating, he's trying hard to keep positive and see it as a way to cleanse and start afresh.

    Fortunately he has insurance and has his most essential photos (wedding + baby) tucked away on MobileMe.

    So anyway, he has asked for my help in getting reestablished especially in regards to sorting out a streamlined digital system for his new house.

    I know there are separate threads for individual components, but I'm looking for advice for the whole shbang from the ground up (literally). Ease of use, simplicity, efficiency and redundancy are the end goals.

    The family consists of husband, wife and one year old son; they have cash to spare, so budget is unlimited - but no 'wasted' money desired. Husband a 'prosumer' photographer; wife casual user. Both need portable solutions for work (teachers) and both also shoot iPhone footage of their baby too.

    *Cat6 wired throughout house (with pull-through cavities for future fiber/other)
    *Airport Extreme x2 - wireless (excluding bedrooms)

    13" MBP (Apple installed SSD, OWC data doubler, OWC RAM 8GB)
    11" MBA 128GB, 4GB RAM

    *iPhone 4S 64GB Black
    *iPhone 4S 64GB White
    *iPad 2, 32GB (3g+WiFi)

    *Mac mini (base - upgraded with (reliable) Intel 320 - 80GB and OWC 8GB RAM)
    --> HTPC + file server + Time Machine destination
    *Promise Pegasus 6TB

    *iMac 27" 3.1 i5, 2TB + 256 SSD, 1GB GPU, 12 GB RAM (8GB OWC sourced)

    Photos will be backed up through Flickr, iTunes Match for music and documents synced with Dropbox.

    Additional Airport Extreme + 6TB WD MBS 2 external HDD to be clone destination for Pegasus, (located in locked shed separate from house, [by 30m+]).

    Thoughts and suggestions welcome, esp in regards to music playing and tv options.

  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Sorry to hear about the fire but that sort of thing is one reason we use cloud based backup solutions for stuff we simply can't do without.

    Your friend really only needs one AEBS. The other can be an Airport Express extending the wireless network. I agree with CAT6 wiring throughout. Wifi tends to be spotty for streaming video.

    Now when it comes to TV, I have found I really like LG LED TVs. The smart TV isn't bad and there is only one remote to fumble with. To support this, you need an NAS that supports DLNA. I recommend LaCie or the more robust Synology. We have one of each but are phasing out the LaCie. If your friend can afford it, go for the high end Synology that is Intel based and he can run Plex for Linux on the thing and any number of internet TVs and bluray players can stream from it.

    Another streaming alternative is iTunes and Airplay. If you leave iTunes running on that Mini, you can use any iOS device or an AppleTV to stream video and music. We have ripped all our frequently watched video so we don't have to fumble with disks or dive for remotes to skip previews that are often set at the same max volume as TV commercials.

    Another thing to consider for managing photos is to never leave your only copy sitting in one spot. In fact, for iPhoto we forbid iPhoto from importing photos. It merely manages metadata for our 200 GB+ photo collection that sits on a firewire drive on my Mac and is mirrored to both the Synology and LaCie network drives. I don't yet have a cloud photo solution worked out just yet. I have both Picasa and Flickr but haven't decided which I will pay for. With 200 gig of photos, I gotta pay wherever I choose to upload them. Well that's not entirely true. Snapfish is free but Snapfish is a tar pit. If you send a link to a friend to view one of your photos and it makes him sign up for an account just to view your photos. No thanks.

    Samsung has internet TVs but I was so unhappy with my 2 year old Samsung blu ray player I jumped to LG and I'm a lot happier. It's the little things. For instance, if I browse to my movie drive and start watching a film, from the LG remote I can activate my samsung home theater and even control the volume. No digging for multiple remotes. Comcast is a whole different matter. If your friend can avoid cable and their lame dvr setups and pitiful remotes he will be better off, not to mention richer by over $100 a month.

    It sounds like too many computers. Perhaps they need 3 but certainly not 4 computers. An iMac and a MBP or MBA should be enough.

    I also don't know if I like leaving the Mini as a HTPC. What if one person wants to work while the other wants to watch TV? Any internet TV has the potential to eliminate the need for a HTPC these days. Let them get the machines they want and need and either get an internet ready TV, boxee or other DTV box for around $99 to $199 or even an Apple TV box for $99.

    They can both share one iCloud account if they want their photostreams merged and don't mind sharing 1 5 gig quota. Our family all have separate icloud accounts and even separate itunes accounts.

    hope this helps...
  3. Santabean2000, Dec 31, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011

    Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    The second/additional Airport Extreme is for the 'outside' unit that will be the wireless clone destination. [Initial clone will be done via ethernet.]

    The mini will work as a NAS unit in one of it's rolls; more expensive, but more capable too. It will be running 24/7. 'Smart TVs are just not that smart, in my experience.

    I like Flickr and its integration with iPhoto; simple, ease of use. Relatively cheap too.

    Photos will be kept on iMac local drive, back up on Pegasus, clone on WD in outhouse and online with Flickr. Covered I feel.

    Four computers is not too many, I think, as they all fulfill different roles. The two notebooks are not negotiable, as they're used for work (only). The iMac is a place to do common tasks at home and edit photos/film. mini HTPC, file server, backup destination.

    What about AirPlay devices. Any good music speakers? iHome?
  4. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Sounds like you've thought this through. Using a Mini for NAS seems like a bit much but it's not any more expensive than drobo so it's actually a decent usage. I would use my oldest mini as NAS but alas it's only a G4. You might be able to run Plex media server. On my Macbook, if I leave Plex running the fans run day and night so I shut it off.

    Smart TVs not that smart? You can say that again! Gimpy menu structure, inconsistent or limited support for common sites like youtube. For instance, Samsung lets you log into youtube so you can bookmark videos or view videos you've bookmarked but LG leaves you with an anonymous youtube connection and you have to sit through dancing gumby or some guy telling a joke in russian while you fight through their search menu. Boxee looks pretty promising with their qwerty remote but the thing is $200.

    I haven't taken the "plunge" into airplay just yet. I suppose I should so I can see if it's really better than DLNA or PLEX. I suspect it is a lot better but I just don't know yet. In that case, perhaps my G4 will wind up being the machine I leave iTunes running. I have 3 of those smart tv devices. Two from LG and one from Samsung. Both new LGs work better than the 2 year old Samsung. I have an iOS DLNA player so I'm really all set with non-Apple streaming. I have Amazon, Netflix (account on hold right now), Youtube (relatively poor support), Pandora (only on 2 of 3 devices) and others that I haven't really messed with that much.

    I guess that's what's stopping me from going Airplay. If AppleTV supported more non-Apple stuff besides Netflix, it would be a lot easier decision for me. But the idea of channeling all my music and video through iTunes is something I'm balking at right now as is the idea of leaving iTunes running on my main computer.

    BTW, don't worry about the too many computers comment. We have 4 people with 7 Macs, with the 7th being a somewhat antique G4 mini. I just wanted to point out there are ways to accomplish what you are trying to do with less computers if you want to.

    I still don't clearly understand your need for 2 AEBS. If you are trying to bridge between wired networks all you need is 1 AEBS and 1 AE. In fact, I have a hard time imagining any network topology where 2 AEBS are required. I suppose you're already aware the AEBS can act as a NAS when you plug in a USB HDD. We have an AEBS, an AE and a Time Capsule. Since my TC has died once and had to be replaced by Apple, sans my data, I have now decided that the only stuff that goes on the internal 500 GB drive is stuff I can do without and all my backups go on an external 1.5TB USB drive. You must format USB drives as HFS+ before an AEBS or TC can recognize them.

    I really like flickr. I tried to renew flickr pro using paypal and the transaction failed to go through. Neither paypal nor yahoo (flickr) could straighten it out for a solid month. I've been looking more seriously at picasa ever since.
  5. Santabean2000, Jan 1, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012

    Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Not all the video will go through iTunes, in fact a lot of stuff will be streamed through other websites, so that it a big reason to go mini over NAS. [Impt to remember too that we're not located in the USA, so a lot of the Hulu etc don't apply.

    RE the AEBSs, the first will be located inside the lounge by the mini and TV. The additional ethernet ports will run to the iMac and mini; wireless to service iPhones etc. The second AEBS will be located outside the main house connecting wirelessly to the network and will have a WD external 6TB attached via USB to act as additional clone in separate location.

    If the mini is attached by Thunderbolt to the Pegasus and the mini and iMac are connected by ethernet, what sorts of speeds could one expect to get? [Pegasus 6TB in Raid 5).
  6. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Even gigabit ethernet is slow compared to SATA, FW800 or even some USB devices. Still, I'm relatively happy with the transfer speeds to my NAS drives over 802.11n from my Macbook (around 240MBPS). I have the DS211J which is one of the slower Synology drives but it is also the lowest power consumption requiring only 16 watts during full operation. I've thought a bit about dedicating an "old PC" as a NAS box but the darn things can waste 200-300 watts 24x7 which can add up to $200-300 a year! A rule of thumb is 100 watts left on 24x7x365 costs about $100 a year at 10 cents a kilowatt hour. This is why all our lights are either LED, CFL or dimmed incandescent. When I made the switch to CFL a few years ago, our light bill dropped by 20 percent... (We have kids who leave lights on). The next major lighting cost reduction at our house will be replacing all the T12 lamps in the basement for the more energy efficient T8s. I've also gotten rid of the 250W LCD TV in favor of a 60W LED model. This is the kind of thinking that allows me to choose the "J" version of Synology products despite the fact they are roughly half as fast as their intel based "+" version counterparts so I can get less power consumption.

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