November 6, 2017

You need a home server – from Stoneman Consultancy!

After reading the headline, maybe you are thinking “Nah, I don’t need yet another gadget in my living room”?
I hear you. But I think you really actually need one. Specifically the kind we at Stoneman Consultancy can offer you. And I think you will want one after reading this.

The sweet, shiny things

Let’s just jump straight to the awesomeness of this home server setup, in summarised form. Hopefully this will get you hooked enough to read the fuller explanation underneath.

In essence, with this Apple Mac Mini based home server setup, you will suddenly be able to:

– Run fully automatic Time Machine backups for your Mac(s) over your wifi network at home without fail
– Stream music and video from any Mac or iPhone/iPad to your TV and/or speakers connected to your TV media center
– Transfer all movies you have to be viewable in a slick media center view on your TV
– Control your TV, decoder, Mac Mini, and any other connected devices effortlessy with one remote.
– Stream all the movies you have put on the TV to any device (Mac/iPhone/iPad) in the house (and beyond, if your net connection can handle it)
– Wonder how on earth you lived before you installed this setup

Sold already? Then jump straight to the packages we offer

Why should you trust us?

At Stoneman Consultancy, we care enough to only push solutions we know and love ourselves, and this is no exception. We have in fact used this ourselves for years.
So to see for yourself how it all works, come visit us in Mwaleshi Road! We have a full setup going right inside the door, demonstrating everything we are discussing here. We will be more than happy to show and tell you all about it. If that does not convince you, nothing will.

Our setup: TV, receiver and speakers, DVD player, DSTV decoder, Mac Mini. And one remote to rule them all

The image above shows our current setup. You do not however need all of these components to enjoy. A flat screen TV is all you need to get going, and whatever you get thereafter can integrate into it.

The lowdown

The core of the setup is a Mac Mini, using your TV as its screen. We set up the Mac Mini in a few specific ways:

Small but potent – the mac Mini makes for a great home server
  • As a Time Machine backup server, so that all Macs on the local network can use it as a backup destination
  • With Plex media server software. This both organises all your digital movie files, presents them in a slick way with titles and posters, and enables streaming of the same movies over the network to all your devices (not only Apple devices, but any device than can run the Plex client software)
  • As a streaming server for sound and video from any Apple device, enabling you to stream videos to the TV and music to the Mac Mini and therefore speakers connected, one way or another, to the Mini. This can mean the TV speakers or your media center speakers

The other key piece of the setup is a Logitech Harmony Remote. Because the last thing you want, when you add a Mac Mini to your setup, is to add another remote to it. And anyway, how many remotes do you already use? For your TV, for your decoder, for your DVD Player…. No, no and no again!

Three dedicated activity buttons that do all the switching for you, a clear display, and the best remote interface possible – the Logitech Harmony remote is great

One remote is all you need, but not the “universal remote”s you can buy on the street, they are just a button nightmares. With a Harmony Remote, you simply press the button labeled “Watch a movie” and the remote switches on the TV and the Mac Mini, leaving the decoder and DVD player off, switches the TV to the right input and then acts as a remote for Plex on the Mac Mini. Want to watch TV thereafter? Just press the “Watch TV” button. Decoder switches on and TV switches to the right input and remote now controls channels… you get the idea. But you have to try it to really get the liberating feeling it gives you. Going back to old remotes will feel incredibly stone age, believe us!

The drawback of Harmony remotes is that they require quite a bit of setup, including connecting them to a setup application on a computer over USB. This is why we offer that setup as part of the whole package.

The packages

We have put together two variants of the the home server setup package for you. They are pretty similar, the main difference is really the amount of storage included. If you really get into acquiring movies and music to put on your home server, they can start taking up a lot of space. And the more Macs you have, the more space the backups will take. The two bundles we have prepared for you are otherwise identical, and simply represent the sweet spot of what we think you need(1)

We can of course discuss any modifications and customisations you want. The rest? That’s just details and setup. Which we all take care of, in your home. We will not leave until it is all running perfectly and you understand how to use it (it’s really simple). And there is 2 months free support included, just in case.

Please be in touch to discuss the details of the setup before we go ahead and order. We would like to have a look at your existing TV setup to make sure we can deliver everything we want, and we want to be on the same page as you in terms of what you expect out of the system.

  1. We do not think you need a brand new Mac Mini for this. You get much better value for money with the 2011/2012 models we source. The aluminium Mac Minis might be the sturdiest, most reliable Macs Apple has ever created, and these models have more than enough horse power to do the job.

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