Wireless to the world

Tony Williams
15 September, 2008
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So you have you brand new wireless ADSL router installed and connected to the ‘net. The iMac in the study and the MacBook Pro in the lounge are talking to each other and the internet. All is right with the world.

So what now? A number of possibilities await.

Let’s have a look at what I did on my home network. The first thing I did was turn on file sharing on the study machine so that the terabyte drive attached can be used by the laptop. Given the speeds of wireless I don’t want to be transferring gigabytes but it’s just the thing for making sure those vital documents are backed up.

Next, I’d like to be able to control the iMac from the lounge room. Go into System Preferences and you can turn on “Remote Management” in the sharing preferences on the iMac. Now any VNC client can take over your Mac. Don’t think you have a VNC client installed? Think again, there’s one hidden away in Leopard – just go to the Finder and select “Connect to Server…” in the Go menu. For the server address enter “vnc://nameofmac.local/” (replacing “nameofmac” with the name of your desktop Mac) and a hidden application called “Screen Sharing” will open up.

My local Harvey Norman store recently had a run out sale on the Apple TV so I was able to pick one up for half price. Leave iTunes running  on your Mac and not only can you stream music and video from the Mac to the Apple TV but there are a large number of great video podcasts that iTunes can grab and then sync to the ATV. The Apple TV also allows you to browse YouTube and show your photos. A useful little box for the price.

There are a number of ways of getting more out your Apple TV. Foremost is finding a way to play all those videos you get in DivX format.  The utility iSquint will convert them and add them to iTunes all in one step. Handbrake will rip your DVDs to the Mac. If you want  to go truly hardcore visit AwkwardTV for instructions on installing all sorts of extras.

Then I also have an Airport Express in the kitchen attached to a small stereo (I found one for less than $150 that has a radio, MP3 CD player and Audio In, shop around and you can find a good one for less than $100) so that’s music as I cook. An Airport Express will also act as a repeater so it pushes my wireless network all the way in to the backyard.

The final step in my home network is an iPhone. I found someone selling an 8Gb 1st generation one cheaply, now that there’s a new generation of iTouch you might get a bargain on a 1st generation one of those. Running Apple’s free app “Remote” means I can control iTunes on either my laptop or my iMac and also control the Apple TV.  You can even install Mocha VNC lite, a free app, and connect to your Mac via “Remote Management”. Since I’m a real geek  I paid $6 for iSSH and talk to my Mac via the command line as well.

Once you have all that set up then iTunes becomes a vital tool in your entertainment arsenal. To truly get the best out of iTunes on your Mac I recommend a visit to Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes where you can find hundreds of useful scripts.

So once you have the wireless network in place the possibilities are huge. Enjoy it all!

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