Solution Spheres

Using Apple technologies (and possibly others) to create a seamless digital lifestyle for home and business.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Choices, choices...

It's good to have choices. While I doubt Apple's operating system will be ported to Intel-based machines any time soon (prove me wrong Steve!), meaning we're stuck with more award-winning designs from Cupertino, I have discovered a wealth of software choices out there...

Case in point: X-10 controller software. I wrote about Indigo earlier, but one reader informed me that the old "classic" Mac OS X-10 controller software had been ported to OSX. You can find out more about XTension at www.shed.com. The very same reader also wrote software for XTension that provides web remote control! Imagine being able to turn your lights on in your house from any browser in the world... Check it out here, and thanks James.

It also seems that everyone is getting into the Mac mini HTPC/etc. usage website act! There's a pretty comprehensive, exhaustive, and clever site called BYOKDM.net. Of course this is in reference to Apple's explanation for the Mac mini's lack of a keyboard, display and mouse. So you "bring your own." My only complaint with the site is design-- lots of little text crammed on a page isn't easy to read. But I'm sure the site will mature over time. Perennial favorite Spymac.com has undergone a LOT of changes...

Speaking of Spymac, if you're looking for an alternative to Apple's .Mac service, they have one. What is .Mac? I use it and my wife loves it. Basically you pay Apple a cool Benjamin a year, and get access to a wealth of online-based services. Virus protection (pretty useless considering how few are out there for the Mac), lots of free software, sounds, and other goodies and discounts, an online hard drive (accessible ANYWHERE). Web-based email, accessing your bookmarks online, synchronizing all your data, backing up your data, and probably the most useful item: iLife integration. The reason my wife likes .Mac so much is that she can very easily manage her photos in iPhoto, and when she's done make a web page and put it online with NO coding necessary. You can do the same with movies as well.

However, not everyone wants to pay Apple for the service. What to do? I'll be tackling this in-depth later, but here's a few suggestions. First, I do suggest you try the service. It's very nice and actually pretty reasonable for what you get. I've added a link on the right of the page for you... Go ahead, click it!

OK, you really don't want to pay? Try Wheel from Spymac. It's cheaper, and does some of what .Mac. will do for you. The geeks at O'Reilly have put together a way to emulate some of the features of .Mac on your own. Caution: some nerd abilities required. Read the beginning here. Pretty good stuff.

Last nugget: I finally got my Mac mini!!! I'm ordering the El Gato EyeTV Wonder next week (not even shipping until mid-Feb) and of course I'll post all about it. I'm also posting up my impressions of the base unit I purchased... Look for it this weekend.

Please spread the word about my blog if you don't mind. There-- enough shilling for one night. Uh, one more thing: I've added an Atom feed so you can take the blog with you (like on your iPod)... For a cool Atom/RSS reader, check out Shrook.

Until next time, wait until midnight to run cron...

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