Top Mini Uses

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by crontab, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. crontab macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2008
    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(?)....
  2. anglez macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2008
  3. crontab thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2008
    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
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    One dedicate as a home theater system (see sig). The other as my photo processing machine (Aperture and Photoshop CS3).
  5. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    Cheapest Apple development platform ...

    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 ...
  6. crontab thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2008
    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.
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Juke Box

    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.
  8. crontab thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2008
    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?
  9. mags631 Guest

    Mar 6, 2007
    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.
  10. PNW macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2007
    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.
  11. Cybix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    I have a Mac Mini installed in my Subaru. Great for iTunes in the car :)
  12. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    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
  13. techlover828 macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2007
    that's awesome! got any pics/videos/basic instruction (or at least what you did)
  14. Tom Sawyer macrumors 6502a

    Tom Sawyer

    Aug 29, 2007
    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!
  15. twynne macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2006
    London, UK
    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.
  16. rolex54 macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2007
    Houston, TX
    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
  17. MikeDTyke macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2005
    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
  18. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Screen Sharing

    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
  19. MikeDTyke macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2005
    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.
  20. Tom Sawyer macrumors 6502a

    Tom Sawyer

    Aug 29, 2007
    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.
  21. twynne macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2006
    London, UK
    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:
  22. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    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
  23. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    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 :)
  24. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    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?

  25. crontab thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2008
    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".

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