I have a Mac that I have pieced together from parts online. it is a Quicksilver Powermac G4 Dual 800 Mhz processor with maxed out (1.5 gigs, in case you didn't know) RAM, 3 hard drives (6, 80, and a 160) and a DVD burner, currently running OS X 10.4 and OS 9. It has a 5 USB/3 Firewire (1 of each are internal) card, an Alchemy TV/DVR Card (should be 2, but the cable part of one is busted, and it may not be much good anyways), the Airport card, and an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 Mg Graphics card. The motherboard recently got upgraded to the 2002 version, meaning it can now take full advantage of the 160 gig HD in it (although it will need a reformat to do so.) To top it off, I have a Griffin Radioshark AM/FM tuner and an external 500 Gig WD MyBook.
You could probably guess the functions I want to add: * Media (MP3, MP4, CD, DVD, etc) Playback * Easy Media Import (CD, DVD, and camera only) * DVR & TV functionality * Internet and transmitted radio * Web & Instant Messaging capabilities (with voice & webcam) * RSS Reader * Games - Emulation + standard Mac video game playing. * Multiple Monitor setups * The ability to launch via its own account at the Mac Log-in
The best solution I have to all of this so far is to get command line utilities to handle most of those functions and create a front end web browser with built-in IM capabilities and certain types of windows - for example, Windows specific to Game Emulation and TV Playback. To keep CPU Usage low during now-video conversion utlilities, I plan on minimizing what utlities load during account startup (for example, Printer Drivers and other stuff that won't be needed) and basing the browser off of WebKit. (This will also go well with a number of interface tweaks, and being able to easily create themes.) This would allow the software to also be modulized (for when I build the carputer later, for example.) If I get it running, I may release it Open-source so that other developers can add to and modernize it.
However, I have a number of questions to go with this:
#1.) Where can I find a detailed list about what OS X Base loads at startup? I'm not dumb enough to try to disable things that may be needed, and it's not worth having to trash and rebuild my OS for it.
#2.) Where can I find CD and DVD databases online? (Yes, I can just Google it; however, if there's more than one, maybe some of you will have suggestions on which one is the best to use!) I want it to be able to load the information for the disc inserted so that time is saved.
#3.) Is there a way to utilize the RAM, for example, as a RAM Disk during certain functions such as importing DVDs and certain files? What would be the best approach?
#4.) Would it be better to stay in OS X or to move to a PPC/IX86-based Linux? The idea is to be able to load everything rapidly and to give it its own space (hence the separate login.)
That's all I have time for right now - running late as it is. I'll throw more in the comments later. Thanks.
Edited by w2ed (11/23/0904:03 PM) Edit Reason: editted for grammatical errors.
Loc: San Francisco, CA
This is going to be complicated, for what you want to do, but that's not to discourage you, because this also sounds like a LOT of fun
Anyhow, Gracenote, formerly the online CDDB (Compact Disk Database) has been a standard for years. I'm not sure if it still uses it, but iTunes used to for looking up CD track info, as did its predecessor, SoundJam MP. I'm not certain what the DVD equivalent would be.
You might consider a solid state hard drive instead of using a RAM disk for your project, as well as for booting the OS. If you have the money, you could spring for a PCI-based RAM Disk which uses DDR RAM; something like this, but maybe a better model- this one is a bit lackluster compared to others on the market. Of course, you'd also need a SATA controller with which to connect it, but honestly, if you're doing all of this, a SATA card is probably in order, or better yet, you can always opt for a 3-in-one FireWire/USB 2.0/SATA card, and probably should, to be honest. It'll save you a PCI slot or two.
As for OS, this is a bit trickier. Then again, maybe it isn't. Hands-down, you're going to get better support for your graphics and audio hardware with OS X, and with its underpinnings and a bit of tech savvy, most open-source stuff you can build for Linux you can likely build for OS X, via the Terminal. If you're worried about bloat however, while Linux is leaner and more customizeable, there are technologies built into OS X which more than compensate for any added bloat. However, I will mention, a LOT of space can be saved simply by opting not to install the extra languages, in addition to not installing all those printer drivers.
You might look into hacking an open source product like VideoLan for media playback. For game emulation, there is a lot out there. A look around versiontracker reveals much. Might I, however, recommend sixtyforce? (I used to be addicted to Zelda: Ocarina of Time.)
BTW, that dualie ought to be able to handle 933mhz
_________________________ “Creative ability is best displayed with the most basic tools."
John, thanks for the encouragement and the suggestion. I have tried MetaX, and apart from the issues I have with it right now, I have two huge problems with using it. First, you have to manually either type in the info it needs to look up, or sort through various versions of the same movie, since it pulls from Amazon's website in the version compatible with 10.4 What I am looking for works very much like iTunes: You insert the disc, it looks into a database of some sort to find info on what the movie is and what track it is, and pulls up enough info and options to choose whether you want to pull it onto the computer or play the movie, all while being kept simple. Second, unfortunately, it's an external app - the idea with how I am doing things with this is to make one app that is, for all practical sakes and purposes, seamless - the reason it is a web browser is because I want the interface controls to be easy to change for the needs of the user, while keeping it cool and simplistic. Apps with their own interfaces would go against this - many of the apps I will be looking into will be command-line-only, where my program, if it has to access and output something from these programs, handles that aspect. Good suggestion, though, and I may look back into this app to see what it does at another time.
Anthony, love your thinking - thanks for the thoughts; a lot to address.
1.) Gracenote is still used by Apple - do an "About iTunes" next time you use it, it's still listed. (Thanks for the link, it saves me a big headache there.) I hope there is a DVD equivalent - will post something if I do find anything.
2.) The RAM Disk is for temporary storage - a place to write specific files, such as MP4s that take less than a gig, to before putting it onto the hard disk; and a place to load multiple files when using certain playlists (think photos and music - I'd need a fully-loaded G5 minimal to take advantage of it, due to the size needed.) As such, it's something used mainly for effect and, in the case of copying and encoding, speed. It also addresses a problem I have noticed with my machine.
My computer has 1.5 gigs of memory, yet the most I ever see when i don't use Photoshop is about a 3rd of the RAM I have, or 512 Mbs. 2 thirds of my available memory goes unused when I my computer process the most info, aka converting DVDs. The two most obvious solutions would be to buy a new machine and to replace the processors, but both cost money, and I want to minimize the costs as much as possible - a couple of hundred bucks is not the same as a couple of thousand. Buying a PCI-based RAM Disk, therefore, is not an option here.
If you read my other part, you'd see that SSDs (Solid State Drives, for those who don't know) are already asked about and being considered - but not for this purpose. From what I understand about how they work, which is similar to USB flash-based drives, the way they handle writing data can affect how useful they are, and could kill the hard drive unnecessarily early. This is why they're great for booting the OS and Apps, but not so good for the read/write operations the RAM Disk will utilize.
3.) Wish there were 3-in-1 UDB/FireWire/eSATA cards for the Mac, but even the ones I did find for the PC had the huge limitation of only having one internal SATA connection inside the card. (Hey Sonnet, got an idea for Tempo Trio 2.0!)
4.) The OS is a lot more important than you realized. On the one hand, you're right: Support for my hardware and software will be better supported by OS X. However, some of the more-important hardware is not: the TV card, for example, is supported up to 10.4, and last I checked, will not be supported for 10.5. (Obviously, due to the lack of PCI-based cards in Intel-based Macs, it will also not be supported in any os beyond 10.5, so we've probably seen the last update for it.) Because of this, I can't take advantage of many of the tech features in 10.5 of which prevents me from updating my VLC and Handbrake. (Since most of what I will be pulling to the hard drive are the very DVD's I buy for myself, I have to have libDVDCSS, which is found in VLC, to be able to convert these to MP4.) Combined with all of the excess I will be pulling in by running OS X (since it's using a web browser for its interface, there's no need for Aqua; plenty of other stuff normally need, such as windowing, would be unnecessary as well), and what OS X will and won't allow (I think Apple would prevent programs other than its own creating extra accounts on the computer for the purposes I described), OS X - or Windows, when you think about it, since both are copyrighted-and-company-owned OS's - would be a bad choice.
The flip side is also most obvious: I'm likely to get this project done in a quarter of the time it'd take me to do it in Linux or other forms of Unix. First, I have to find all of the components necessary, choose certain components to try out and make work, find all of the source code for all of the rest of the stuff, etc. Then, I have to make all of this work seamlessly. Yes, I could probably get a pre-made distro, but I would lack the support. And, even though Linux has a good track record of supporting older software, this is no guarantee with my Mac, due to its PowerPC architecture.
With all of the negatives, why the debate? The idea behind this project is to make a simple, unified, customizable entertainment center software that conforms to the needs of the user(s). I will use this for my main entertainment center software, probably a few smaller computers designed specifically for media playback, and for what might be my carputer, and as such, it has to be made either simplified in some instances (the smaller machines will probably be Atom-based and not even need an optical drive, probably pulling the files from the main entertainment center machine - perfect for setups in the bedroom, bathroom, garage and kitchen) or needing specific features (such as GPS reading and bluetooth interactivity for use with a cell phone in the carputer). Whereas running this on a new main computer would not need a complete OS install, This is being designed with the idea that I can take either an older or newer machine and make it work tailored to the needs of that machine. All of this while keeping the interface similar and simple enough to have anyone from a toddler to a grandparent use it without confusion.
Part of the solution, I am thinking may be to make this an open-source project, thus opening this up to other people who might share my idea and have some better ideas. that said, with the other open-source entertainment centers out there, mine might get lost in the crowd. And, I should point out, not many would appreciate that I am starting this in RealBasic as opposed to directly doing this in XCode. (This, though, has more to do with what I have to learn in the languages I want to use, the need to focus on the universal - web - stuff, and the familiarity I have with it - once I have that to a point where I know it could work, I will transfer it to an XCode project to make a leaner, slimmer, more polished and better managed product.)
5.) One of the things I will be doing is utilizing CLI-based programs for much of this - for example, Handbrake for importing DVD's and MAME for arcade gaming. What will be really cool, if this works, is how much the program core will need - probably 2-3 actual windows total, counting the fact they'd all be full-screen dialog boxes, one being a web browser, one being an output window and one being a hardware window. (To unconfuse, the output window would be specific to DVD/Blu-Ray Movies, should the latter become available, and screens for CLI-based emulators, while the hardware window would be for things like the Alchemy TV card, which would probably not be able to be output in a web browser window.) A few things, however, would be great to integrate, and either VideoLan or Mplayer is one of those things. Good suggestions so far.
A couple of undiscussed thoughts: First, once all of this is done, I'd like to be able to integrate an iPod Touch (or an iPhone, though I won't get an iPhone myself) as both a remote and playback device - with giving it the ability to possibly run as a media server. Any thoughts?
Sorry for making this so long and taking a lot more time than planned - I really had to put some more thought into this. Keep this discussion going.
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