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Shawn Blanc offers a tasty recipe for cooking up a Mac media and file server


Sometimes you may have a Mac that works well enough to escape being recycled at Gazelle, but has just enough wrong with it that it can't be used in day-to-day work. That was the situation with blogger and podcaster Shawn Blanc's wife's MacBook Pro, which has a bad video card that caused the display to flicker and show lines. With a little bit of love and a dusting of hackery, Blanc turned the aging MacBook into a Mac file and media server.

While the primary job of his media server is to host ripped video (via HandBrake) and audio files for viewing on a HDTV through an Apple TV, he also uses the server to host AirPrint for a non-AirPrint printer (using Printopia), runs 24/7 to sort and file incoming emails, and runs Dropbox and Hazel so he can upload audio to an Amazon S3 server from his iPhone among other tasks.

Blanc's article on his self-named website provides insight into how he set up the server and his video ripping workflow, but his discussion of how to upload and post audio files for the Shawn Today podcast was the most fascinating bit. He's now using DropVox to record podcasts and upload it to a Dropbox folder. Hazel watches for new audio files appearing in that folder, renames them and a Python script is used to upload the renamed file to S3, add its URL to a Simplenote document and then send Blanc notification that the file is ready.

To publish the latest podcast episode, he only needs to copy the URL from Simplenote, open the Poster WordPress editing app and paste the URL into a post before publishing. It's a fun look at how an older Mac can be repurposed into something useful for both work and pleasure.

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