Starting to Connect the Dots (part 1)

Since there is no media center application or interface to speak of other than some very early pieces that can handle a task or two, I’ve begun my own work to get the mini working via remote control to launch as well as manage my media.

First Stop – Music

iTunes is the clear weapon of choice here and if you’ve used it, then you know how powerful it is at ripping and managing your collection making it easy to find, burn and play. The trick for me is how to use it without a keyboard or mouse whenever possible. I honestly cannot find a way to manage it all yet via simple remote. The frames are not easy to jump back and forth between and moving the cursor through the library is brutal without some contexual help.

Salling Clicker is simply the best. It does require the use of bluetooth and means you need it installed on your mini as well as some other device – either a phone or PDA. Currently there is support for Palm, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Sendo devices. I am using my Palm Tungsten T3 and am happy to have brought it out of semi-retirement for the task. The cheapest device might be a free cellular… Palm’s cheapest Bluetooth enabled unit is the Zire 72 at just under $300. I realize that does not fit the budget minded… just pointing it out as one way to go.

When running you can get access to your full library, queue tracks to a live playlist, search and view covers while they play — all while the Mac runs headless if you choose. My library (currently 1809 albums, 21,433 songs by 734 artists) quickly displays on six pages through the Palm UI. It’s simple to scroll to where you want to go, pick an artist, album and continue jamming.

Here are a few shots of Salling Clicker in action:

Salling Clicker can control many media oriented applications and even automatically start and stop playing based on proximity or whether your phone is in use. I’ve barely scratched the surface here… focusing purely on some of the capabilities for iTunes remote management.

The next installment will dive into video (DVD archive) management…

— Jonathan Greene

Have you ordered your Mac mini yet?

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