43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Links of favor for April 18

  • NEAT Receipts Scanner - Sharp-looking receipt scanner for the Mac, coming soon. I tend to avoid one-off gadgets that have any kind of permanent footprint on my desk, but this looks pretty handy if it works.
  • Footers In Modern Web Design: Creative Examples and Ideas | Design Showcase | Smashing Magazine - Inspiring collection of ways to use the space at the top and bottom of a web page. The first advocate for this approach that I can recall is Derek, who always uses his footers to such lovely and functional effect.
  • A Pattern Language for Productivity - Gah! I feared I'd waited too long. I've totally been meaning to start something like this on the 43f wiki for a couple years. (curses self). Nice start, here. Should be useful for folks.
  • The Fishbowl: Twitterpated - I get a surprising amount of flack for not following more people on Twitter. Which dumbfounds me. It's like being angry at someone because they aren't watching enough TV. Anyhow, some of these hyper-following people strike me as either nutjobs or cynics, e.g. "in one case, 34,000. If you were truly following all these people, and they updated only once per day on average, you would be reading a Twitter message every two seconds." Yeah. That sounds really fun and enriching. [via anarchaia]
  • Word Spy - speed mentoring - "Getting advice in a series of short conversations with experts and other mentors." I need me more of this.
  • BENTWOOD by contexture design workshop - My gosh, what a lovely idea; a wooden bangle that turns into a coffee cup sleeve. Smart. [via Erika]
  • Ten typographic mistakes everyone makes | Life, Tutorials - Guilty as charged on a number of these. I think the one I'm laziest about is straight quotation marks (""") where I really mean inches (""). I do love that people care this much about this stuff (most of the time).
  • Mac Mini Media Centre / journal / hicksdesign - Jon has been sharing how he's setting up his Mac Mini as a home entertainment juggernaut. This post outlines his basic setup, the apps he uses, etc. He also has a companion Flickr set. I'd love to hear more from folks on workflow. How -- hypothetically -- an AVI from out in the wild gets downloaded, encoded when necessary, and then dropped into the "~/Movies" folder. Maybe Automator? As a new Mini owner with the same goals, I'd love to hear your tips here in comments.
  • Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Event Video/Audio) | Berkman Center - Clay's book is justifiably hyped right now, because it's just so damned good. If you enjoyed seeing the Claymeister General on Colbert, you might want to catch this swell talk, where he gets a bit more room to say his piece on a world where things get organized without organizers.
  • Spark | CBC Radio | Disaster Preparedness Kit for your digital life - "...Nora and Merlin Mann (of 43Folders fame) are putting together a 'Disaster Preparedness Kit' for your digital life. Do you have a tip, trick, or tool that puts your mind at ease and keeps you from worrying about data loss?"
TOPICS: Daily Links
JDinBigD's picture

Mac mini media Centre


Let me first say thanks for all you do for the Mac community!!! I enjoy the weekly podcast you do with Leo and crew.

I posted the following on the TUAW with regard to using a Mac mini as a media center.

Keep up the great work JD

I recently migrated from a Windows based DVR to a Mac Mini system. I chose a refurbed 1.83GHz CD mini with 1G RAM, 80G disk, Superdrive. This was augmented with a firewire connected WD Studio 750G drive and an Elgato 250 Plus tuner with the QAM capability. My provider is Charter cable.

The W2K box was tucked away in a closet, with two Hauppauge PVR-150 (analog) tuners with a total of 850GB disk space. I've been running this PVR on the free GBPVR software since 2005. I had an Hauppauge MVP connected to the TV in the living room tied back to the PVR machine via ethernet cable. Overall, that solution worked fairly well. I had some issues ... but mainly I didn't like the fact that the machine (AMD 64 3000+) generated a fair amount of heat and was pretty loud.

Moving to the Mini provided several benefits. First - there is only one machine involved, and it is directly connected to the TV in the living room. My external FW drive is tucked away inside the media cabinet rendering the solution extremely quiet. Second - the 750G drive on the Mini acts as a TimeMachine storage solution for two other Macs. Third - the Mini pulls podcasts from iTunes daily and the media is directly viewable on the living room TV. Lastly, I can easily view media from other sources - like Hulu - on the big screen.

Unfortunately there are also some negatives about the solution. Tops of the list are the digital audio limitations where I can only get 5.1 to function properly when playing a DVD. AC3 encoded movies provide only ProLogic decoding on my Denon receiver even after trying every solution I've found on the net.

Another dissappointment is the Elgato hardware/software issues that require the Mini to run 24x7. The Elgato forums have several message threads about issues where their tuners fail to initialize afer waking from sleep, and recordings show up with zero bytes. Evidently, their offerings were more stable in the past. Forum users aren't sure if the problem is due to Leopard or just bugs in the Elgato solutions.

Elgato has contracted with TitanTV to provide a channel guide to users in the US. But that contact expires at the end of 2008. So its unclear what will happen with the Elgato offering and existing customers if that contract is not renewed.

Overall, this solution works really well. Beyond the EyeTV v3 software, I'm running PyeTV, Sofa Control, Handbrake, MacTheRipper, Perian, Flip4Mac, VLC.

Last note ... I tried a Seagate Pro 500G connected via USB, but that drive failed to remount after the disk went to sleep. It was extremely quiet, but unreliable in my setup. For the WD to function properly, a firmware update was required.




An Oblique Strategy:
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