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Advise for a new mac owner

Old 09-13-11, 12:35 PM
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Advise for a new mac owner

So, I should be getting a mac mini today. It will be connected to my TV and serve as an htpc. It is my first Mac and I was wondering if any of you guys have any recomendations for good free or cheap software you use often. I have never had a mac, but have a few ipod touches and an ipad. I did get 8 GB of RAM to go with it.
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Old 09-13-11, 12:41 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

My advice: Switch to PC.
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Old 09-13-11, 12:56 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
My advice: Switch to PC.
Too late now. The only thing I think I may not like about the mini is the lack of disk drive. I got a decent price for it and am really looking to cut down on the cluter of my current set up (2 towers and 2 smaller moniters w/ fairly good size computer speakers). The new set up will be a sound bar w/ 3 hdmi input w/ the mini, 360 and ps3 on my tv. No more towers. It will create a lot of space. BTW - I had to get the computer through amazon, so my options were a bit limited.
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Old 09-13-11, 01:11 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

VLC Player
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Old 09-13-11, 01:16 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

what do you plan to do with it that an apple TV with and x-box and a PS3 can't do?

i never saw the point of HTPC's for normal people. just a geek niche
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Old 09-13-11, 01:25 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
what do you plan to do with it that an apple TV with and x-box and a PS3 can't do?

i never saw the point of HTPC's for normal people. just a geek niche
It is going to replace our primary pc, so in addition to watching shows and iTunes, I will use it for word processing, picture sorting, web surfing and pretty much everything I currently use my tower to do (less ripping my dvds).
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Old 09-13-11, 01:42 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

how are you going to use it if someone else wants to watch something else on TV?

one thing that's pissing me off is that the time warner cable ipad app won't stream live football games
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Old 09-13-11, 02:00 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Which Mac mini did you get? The base, the mid, or the server? Outside of the HTPC functionality, what would you like to do with it?

I second VLC. Depending on your preference on how you want to view your media files, Perian is a great plug-in for QuickTime if you prefer to view media content that way.

Download Steam and download Team Fortress 2 now that it's free-to-play!

And for the Mac haters:

My iMac using Windows and Geekbench: 10627
My iMac using Lion and Geekbench: 11610

Yeah, I'm sorry the Windows OS isn't as good as the Mac OS.

Last edited by Matthew Chmiel; 09-13-11 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 09-13-11, 02:09 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

My coworker recently got the new mini with the discrete gpu and he has been using Plex:

http://www.plexapp.com/

He's quite pleased with it. He was using XBMC on a Windows machine with airvideo for transcode/streaming. Plex is free, but I think you have to pay a few bucks for the ios/android client for the streaming.
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Old 09-13-11, 02:10 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
how are you going to use it if someone else wants to watch something else on TV?
Make them go upstairs We don't have cable, the kids only ever watch netflix streaming upstairs and when my wife is in the basement it is because we are both watching the same thing.
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Old 09-13-11, 02:18 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel View Post
Which Mac mini did you get? The base, the mid, or the server? Outside of the HTPC functionality, what would you like to do with it?

I second VLC. Depending on your preference on how you want to view your media files, Perian is a great plug-in for QuickTime if you prefer to view media content that way.

Download Steam and download Team Fortress 2 now that it's free-to-play!

And for the Mac haters:

My iMac using Windows and Geekbench: 10627
My iMac using Lion and Geekbench: 11610

Yeah, I'm sorry the Windows OS isn't as good as the Mac OS.
I got the base one. It was like $620 for it and the 8 Gigs of RAM. I would like a basic office suite, VLC for sure, maybe a little light video editing, photo editing, mp3 tagging and I can't think of the other windows programs I use off the top of my head. Does chrome work on mac?
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Old 09-13-11, 02:20 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel View Post
Which Mac mini did you get? The base, the mid, or the server? Outside of the HTPC functionality, what would you like to do with it?

I second VLC. Depending on your preference on how you want to view your media files, Perian is a great plug-in for QuickTime if you prefer to view media content that way.

Download Steam and download Team Fortress 2 now that it's free-to-play!

And for the Mac haters:

My iMac using Windows and Geekbench: 10627
My iMac using Lion and Geekbench: 11610

Yeah, I'm sorry the Windows OS isn't as good as the Mac OS.
apple makes good hardware and has an awesome experience, but these days OS X is constantly being hacked and the whole flash running like crap is annoying
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Old 09-13-11, 03:44 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel View Post
And for the Mac haters:

My iMac using Windows and Geekbench: 10627
My iMac using Lion and Geekbench: 11610

Yeah, I'm sorry the Windows OS isn't as good as the Mac OS.
Or maybe the Windows OS isn't as good on Mac hardware as the Mac OS. Theoretically, if the benchmark was just measuring CPU and Memory performance I would imagine there shouldn't be much of a difference on the same hardware right? It could be just driver optimization or the software itself that's the difference, since the Windows machine is actually higher on 3 of the 4 benchmarks, just not floating point.

Of course, searching for Geekbench returns mostly Mac results, so maybe there's the reason

Last edited by fumanstan; 09-13-11 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 09-13-11, 06:00 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by belboz View Post
My coworker recently got the new mini with the discrete gpu and he has been using Plex:

http://www.plexapp.com/

He's quite pleased with it. He was using XBMC on a Windows machine with airvideo for transcode/streaming. Plex is free, but I think you have to pay a few bucks for the ios/android client for the streaming.
Plex is awesome.
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Old 09-13-11, 06:14 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
I got the base one. It was like $620 for it and the 8 Gigs of RAM. I would like a basic office suite, VLC for sure, maybe a little light video editing, photo editing, mp3 tagging and I can't think of the other windows programs I use off the top of my head. Does chrome work on mac?
I am pretty sure Chrome works but I don't use it.

the light video editing should be covered by iMovie.
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Old 09-13-11, 06:35 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

You can get Office 2008 for $59.99 or Office 2011 for $115.99 from MegaMacs. I run the former at home and the latter at work, and aside from Outlook replacing Entourage as the mail client, there really isn't much difference between the two. I personally would save the money and stick with the previous version.

Of course, if you already have a TechNet subscription, you could always download and...uh...indefinitely test either version for free.
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Old 09-13-11, 09:49 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Yes, run Plex.
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Old 09-13-11, 10:03 PM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by orangecrush View Post
I got the base one. It was like $620 for it and the 8 Gigs of RAM. I would like a basic office suite, VLC for sure, maybe a little light video editing, photo editing, mp3 tagging and I can't think of the other windows programs I use off the top of my head. Does chrome work on mac?
I personally prefer iWork over Microsoft Office; especially if you're not putting together or editing Word or Excel files that use macros. I do a lot of presentations for work and Keynote blows Powerpoint right out of the water. If you're not doing any work and just need to view the files, Mac OS X has the capability to view the files right through Quick Look in the finder.

iMovie is great for light video editing and that already comes on your machine apart of iLife. Same goes for iPhoto. If you need more in-depth photo and video editing, but nothing professional, I would suggest Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. If you want something free, I'd recommend Gimp. However, I believe you can't install X11 on Lion unless you upgraded a machine where it was previously installed. Someone will need to correct me on that.

MP3 tagging can be done in iTunes by hitting Command+I.

Chrome, Firefox and Opera are all available on the Mac. Firefox is garbage and I don't use Opera, so I'd stick with either Safari or Chrome.

Personally, I would've paid the extra $200 for the (slightly) faster i5 just to get the dedicated AMD graphics card. Installing RAM inside a Mac is a piece of cake and it would've been cheaper to have gone a third-party route.

If you haven't done it yet, make sure to purchase the AppleCare within the year. Based upon the price you paid, I'm assuming you got the education discount (and gets you the AppleCare for cheaper)?

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
apple makes good hardware and has an awesome experience, but these days OS X is constantly being hacked and the whole flash running like crap is annoying
Being hacked how? If you're a schmuck and installed MacDefender?

Adobe Flash runs like crap on any machine, Mac or Windows. I wish more websites would go to the route of HTML5 just to get rid of Flash.
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Old 09-14-11, 10:33 AM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel View Post
I personally prefer iWork over Microsoft Office; especially if you're not putting together or editing Word or Excel files that use macros. I do a lot of presentations for work and Keynote blows Powerpoint right out of the water. If you're not doing any work and just need to view the files, Mac OS X has the capability to view the files right through Quick Look in the finder.

iMovie is great for light video editing and that already comes on your machine apart of iLife. Same goes for iPhoto. If you need more in-depth photo and video editing, but nothing professional, I would suggest Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. If you want something free, I'd recommend Gimp. However, I believe you can't install X11 on Lion unless you upgraded a machine where it was previously installed. Someone will need to correct me on that.

MP3 tagging can be done in iTunes by hitting Command+I.

Chrome, Firefox and Opera are all available on the Mac. Firefox is garbage and I don't use Opera, so I'd stick with either Safari or Chrome.

Personally, I would've paid the extra $200 for the (slightly) faster i5 just to get the dedicated AMD graphics card. Installing RAM inside a Mac is a piece of cake and it would've been cheaper to have gone a third-party route.

If you haven't done it yet, make sure to purchase the AppleCare within the year. Based upon the price you paid, I'm assuming you got the education discount (and gets you the AppleCare for cheaper)?


Being hacked how? If you're a schmuck and installed MacDefender?

Adobe Flash runs like crap on any machine, Mac or Windows. I wish more websites would go to the route of HTML5 just to get rid of Flash.
Thanks for the suggestions. I got this:

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MC815LL-...6014194&sr=8-1

plus the Corsair 8 GB DDR3 suggested w/ it for $49.

I had to use Amazon credit. The credit cost me very little (though a lot of time flipping used games from BBV to BB).

It came last night and seems very well built. I replaced the RAM last night and will hook it up tonight and fiddle around with it.
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Old 09-14-11, 10:50 AM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

It too me a long time to get used to the placement of the min/max/close window buttons, as well as the command+key combos (versus ctrl+key). I still don't like how the maximize works relative to a PC. Maybe there's a trick I'm missing.

Since you have the new OS you might find some free apps in the Mac store, but since I'm running and older system (10.5.8) I don't have access to that.

Chrome does work, but I think some things are not supported to well. I don't think the QuickTime plugin works and I don't think any future Silverlight plugins are supported.
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Old 09-14-11, 11:39 AM
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Re: Advise for a new mac owner

I have a MacMini (june 2010 model) that is my htpc. its hooked to the bedroom tv; the living room tv has an jailbroked AppleTV2.
the MacMini is only used for tv stuff. Plex is the main thing it runs, but there is also an app for Hulu that can be useful. I have a 2tb usb drive hooked to the macmini to keep video files on.
the ATV2 in the livingroom has Plex client and XBMC on it so it can play the videos that on stored on the MacMini. it works out great.
I do have a Boxee Box on the way (couldnt pass it up for 120 bucks from woot) that will replace the ATV2 since its 1080p vs the ATV's 720p
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