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Mac Media Makeover Masterpiece… OF DOOOOOOOM!!!

Day 2 - Ingredients

Today you’re going to be making a shopping list. Most of these things I’m assuming you already have or else you wouldn’t be reading this guide. For example if you’re planning on buying a Mac just because you saw this, then you probably have WAAAAY too much money. You should probably give me some. After all, I spent a lot of time on this guide. My hourly rate is usually $4,912 so at 52 hours, I’d say you should send me $255,424.

Ingredients for Your Media Server Recipe… OF DOOOOOOO… Ok, that’s gonna get really old.

This is what you’ll need to go through our entire guide. Parse as necessary.

Media Server Only

If you only want to use your media server while you’re at your house/dorm then everything you’ll need is included in this list.

  • A Mac

    We’ll be working with Snow Leopard but Leopard should work with only minor tweaks.

  • The Appropriate Cables and Adapters

    This assumes your television has an HDMI port. Adjust your needs accordingly.

I Got Your Display Port Right Here

Do you know how to tell what kind of a display port you have?

HDMI Cable Scams

Need to buy an HDMI cable? Read here for why expensive HDMI cables are a ripoff.

Add In External Access

If you want to access your media server from outside your home/dorm then you’ll need a few additional things.

  • A Domain

    Ours is through GoDaddy and that’s where the screenshots will be from. Don’t worry, this is a pretty good guide. Although it’s slightly out of date, it should be enough to get you through.

    GoDaddy’s website is horrible and they’ll try to spam you as well as try to convince you that you need “extras” which are NOT necessary. If you buy a .com domain name for 1 year and pay more than $8, it’s too much.

    And don‚Äôt forget - never pay full price for a GoDaddy domain name. A quick search for ‚ÄúGoDaddy Promo Codes‚Äù will give you a long list to try. Here’s one to get you going.

Total DNS Control

Any domain service that gives you control over your DNS records will work.

I Don’t “No” Squat About DNS

Think of a domain name like a pneumonic. A pneumonic helps you remember. “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nectarines” is a pneumonic to remember the planets: “Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune”. Sorry Pluto, you’re OUT!

A domain name is an easy way to remember an internet address. When you type a domain name, a service called DNS (Domain Name Service) turns it into an address that the machines on the internet can understand.

For example, when you type inwww.google.com, DNS turns it into 74.125.67.103. I think you’d agree “www.google.com” is easier to remember.

  • A Router

    • Must have the ability to do what’s called Network Address Translation or NAT for short. If it’s a recent router from Linksys, D-Link or 3COM, you should be fine.

    Network Address Translation (NAT)

    NAT was created around the early 90’s because people were realizing that the internet was becoming more popular than anticipated and all of the addresses were being used up too quickly.

    (What exactly is an internet address? That’s a discussion for another time. Just trust me that as you read this article right now, you have one.)

    Think about it like this: when you’re living in an apartment, there is only one address: “555 Ecalpon Drive”, but you append an extra little piece of information onto the address to tell people how to deliver mail to you: “555 Ecalpon Drive - Apartment 5”

    That is very similar to the way that NAT works. No matter how many computers you have in your house, there is only one public address, but your router can add a little extra piece of information that lets other computers know how to deliver information to a specific computer in your house.

    • Wireless-N

      If Wireless-N sounds like the name of that lead singer that knocked up your sister, just make sure the router box says something like “802.11n” or “802.11 g/n”. And if all else fails, ask one of the salespeople. Tell them you need a router that is “Dual Band Wireless-N”.

    Wireless-N Performance

    If you‚Äôre planning on streaming HD from your NAS, you‚Äôre going to need a router that has Wireless-N (preferably dual-band). You might also want to run a wireless network analyzer to make sure there’s not too high of a signal to noise ratio.

    • Dynamic DNS

      This is not necessary but EXTREMELY nice to have. We can work around it so don’t buy a new router if yours doesn’t do this.

    My Router

    For this guide I’ll be using an Airport Extreme. (Incidentally, the Airport Extreme does NOT do Dynamic DNS. You’d think for $180 Apple could have included it in the software. No such luck. *sigh*)

Optimus Prime Time

If you want to get the most out of your media center and if your budget allows, you should try to snag:

  • An HD Television

    If you’re currently not using an HD television, then you’re really missing out. You should try to beg, borrow or steal one.

  • A Network Attached Storage Solution

    One of the following will do you just fine. They all have their pluses and minuses so do your research and Google for some guides.

  • An Android or iPhone

    Remotes are an extra cost and a pain to set up. And, in the case of Apple’s remote, lacking in features (especially for the $30 price tag). A smartphone will give you infinitely more capabilities and the apps generally run between $0 and $1. Oh and did I mention that your smartphone can do things your regular remote never even thought about being able to do? Well just you wait. :)

Unbiased

The guide will include help setting up both an iPhone AND an Android phone.

And with that, let’s get on with the show. :)

Summary

Today you had the opportunity to pick and choose which parts of the guide you’d like to take part in and decide which pieces you would like to purchase.

Tomorrow we’ll get started with our media server experience by cleaning off our Mac and making it lean and mean.

(Source: jefffelchner)

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