Mini me

Anybody out there ever see the movie Josie and the Pussycats? The underlying story is that pop music actually contains powerful subliminal advertising aimed at youth culture, and this explains where trendy stuff comes from.

It seems this same technology is imbedded in my new iPod, because today I ordered a Mac Mini. I”ll have to wait about a month to get it, though. A lot of people”s iPods are giving them the same “must buy a mac mini” message.

Actually, this is a fairly well-thought-out purchase that meets some already-established needs (well, wants) in The Wisdom Household while adding a ton of extra value, too.

The needs/wants:

• An Apple machine. Right now, we have a PC laptop with integrated wireless that sits in the living room and a really old desktop PC upstairs that”s rarely used. We”ve been talking about replacing the desktop with either a Mac laptop or desktop, but the cost has been prohibitive. So for the price of a big-boy Mac, we can now potentially add a refurb Dell desktop to the Mini purchase, giving us two modern PCs and an Apple machine.

• A second living room Internet machine. Yes, the wife and I are big enough geeks that sometimes we both want to be online at the same time while kicking back in front of the fireplace. We were pondering another laptop for this reason.

• A “media” machine. One of the cool things I like about our LG DLP TV is that is has both DVI and PC/VGA inputs. That means it can be a 44″ hi-res computer monitor. But “media center” PCs are overblown, oversized, overpriced pieces of crap that would look junky sitting among our A/V components. Not so the Mini. And Macs have native DVI output, which means they”re perfect for my LG display. Apple”s thing about “bring your own display” with the Mini is perfect.

So the Mini will sit in between the audio components and the TiFaux / DVD burner stack, probably in one of these swell acrylic towers, and we”ll be able to hit the Web and do Mac things through a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Cool.

The new possibilities:

• An iTunes audio server. Considering that I”ve ripped more than 3,000 songs so far for my iPod, having the Mini tied in to the entertainment center means I can use iTunes as an integrated jukebox.

• Extending the iPod. Even though Apple supports Windows for the iPod, the really cool stuff is still exclusive to Macs. So it”s the ultimate iPod accessory, as they say.

• Potential HD DVR. Loyal readers of The Wisdom are aware of my internal struggles over how best to get HD to my TV. Paying either $549 or $999 for a box to deliver HD and an additional $10 – $15 a month for HD programming just doesn”t make sense. There are conflicting reports that the Mini may be able to work with Elgato”s EyeTV 500 to record and play back over-the-air HD (some say it”s not powerful enough; some say it works using DVI). So potentially it could be an HD server. But I see that as not a sure thing; more like a bonus.

• The center of a networked geek lovfest. I”ve been reading about how the superior wireless networking found in the Mini (or any Mac) lets you do cool things like use other “headless” machines as remote file servers, TV tuners and all sorts of things. We happen to have a heretofore unused used “headless” Mac (bought for $5 from an old employer”s fire sale) just waiting to be a slave to the Mini.

• A BitTorrent TV. For those of you not in the know, BitTorrent is to video as Napster was to audio. And some video BitTorrent can find isn”t even illegal! So the Mini can grab video from the Web and display it (perhaps at less than full screen) on the 44″ TV. Think of it as a post-event TiFaux. If I don”t record something, but find out later I want to watch it, I can get the Mini to grab it and watch it on the TV rather than just on a computer screen. Cool.

• A potential network bridge for the PlayStation 2. Yes, this scares me. I”ve not bought a wireless network adapter for the PS2 out of fear over what it might do to me. But potentially I could run the PS2 ethernet to the Mini and use the Mini”s AirPort as a wireless bridge for the PS2. This realization almost kept me from buying the Mini.

So getting a computer, and specifically a Mac, into the living room opens up a lot of possiblities. And at $800 including most upgrades, tax and shipping, I just couldn”t turn Mini down.

[editor"s note: Josie and the Pussycats is worth watching just to see Rachael Leigh Cook with the little cat ears on. And the soundtrack has catchy tunes sung by the very, very cool Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo fame.]

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