Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Mac...

Loving the Mac Mini as a media centre, I tell ya. It's perfect once it's setup properly. The whole "it just works" thing may be a bit of a stretch for any computer slogan, even the Mac. It does need some tweeking though.

As a Mac noob learning on the fly, I'll pass along what I'm finding. Here's a few things you might want to install and tweek:

1. Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC. These are essential programs on any computer for any platform, Windows, Mac, or Linux. Your main browser, mail client, and kick ass media player. VLC may not be fancy, but it does the job playing dang near anything you throw at it. It can also be setup to autorun when you insert a DVD, and it can go straight to the menu, so it makes a nice DVD player too.

2. Perian. It's the swiss army knife of Quicktime. It's a codec pack that makes Quicktime usable to play a lot of different file types, which is important when you use Front Row.

3. Flip4Mac. Let's you play WMV files in Quicktime. Again, needed for Front Row.

4. JustLooking 3. Just found out about this one. Its currently a free application that is a good picture viewer. Sure, OSX comes with Preview, but its a one image at a time viewer, and you may not want to import everything you come across into iPhoto. JustLooking does the trick. I was very used to ACDSee in Windows, and this comes close. You can set it up to be the default picture viewer, and once an image is loaded you can simply scroll through the rest of the pics in that folder and so on. Also does a quick slide show mode too. Took me a while to find JustLooking, but it's essential if you've got a lot of pics for quick viewing. (I'll tip my hat to Linux Ubuntu on this one - Eye of Gnome that comes on that platform is just about the best pic viewer. About the only thing that ran right out of the box on Linux).

5. Front Row understands alias (shortcuts). So you just setup a shortcut in your Movies folder pointing to where you keep all your movies (ie, an external hard drive) and away you go. You can then move through them (folders/subfolders etc) with the remote in Front Row. Should work great for ripping TV seasons from DVD and structuring it in folders. You can even setup an alias to a Volume, so you could even have a whole hard drive to roam through.

6. iSquint. A simple, basic, and free video converter to transfer into H.264. Not a detailed program, but perfect for those with iPods and AppleTV.

So there's what I've been finding so far. Obviously, I'm gearing my Mac towards media center compatibility rather than a usual computer setup, but I also found out that the Thunderbird file structure is the same on the Mac as Windows, so to bring your email over from you Windows Thunderbird, just copy your funky named profile folder (everything in it) and paste it over to your Mac, and away you go with email. How to get it into Mac Mail app I don't know yet.

One downside to the Mac is getting used to Finder. Coming from Windows, why is there not a setting to sort with Folders first, then your files, instead of lumping them altogether alphabetically? Even Linux gets that right.

Comments on "More Mac..."


Blogger Antonio said ... (December 03, 2007 11:50 AM) : 

I've found iusethis.com for a source of popular apps and such. Off the top of my list would be the Unsanity products HERE, of course, as you've listed it already, Flip4Mac, and a few other good ones, iBackup, info.xhead, and another one by the Flip4Mac people, Drive In.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (December 03, 2007 2:48 PM) : 

hey, thanks for dropping by and the tips and links. I'm going to check them out.


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