Building a PowerMac Media Center Part 4: What Applications You Need

by Tanner Godarzi Jan 04, 2008

As we get towards the end of building our PowerMac Media Center, it’s time to gather the applications we need that will drive our downloading, converting, and tagging. Be advised that the final product is still being updated as time goes on and this is more of a work(ing) in progress example that will automate several things.

VisualHub/Quicktime Pro

Frontrow doesn’t play nice with different media types that don’t fall into Apple’s range of supported files. There are plugins that remove the hassle, but that doesn’t fill in the gap for syncing the same content to an iPhone or iPod. Knowing this, we’ll have to rely on a solid converter and for this, two choices are available: VisualHub and Quicktime. I am well aware that people like to dog on the latter, but the point is to offer a choice since both apps are not freeware. It doesn’t make much sense to buy another app when one can do the same, which is converting into an iTunes friendly format that goes beyond the default selection. A free app—iSquint—exists that is basically a lite version of VisualHub. It will be touched on later but won’t be the focus.


A very great and lightweight Bittorrent client, Transmission is an optimal choice for our configuration as it’ll always be running in the background. What I like about Transmission is the ability to automatically load up downloaded torrents, then move them when completed. Automated downloading makes it easier, plus it’s very simple to set up, prompting no further tinkering once running.

Automator/Apple Script

Ah, the pinnacle of running tasks without user interface, Apple Script and Automator will play a key role in doing much of what our Media Center will be doing on a daily basis. Although intuitive, Automator just doesn’t hold up to Apple Script, but for users wary of a foreign interface, Apple Script use will be at a minimum. In addition, the Workflows and Apple Scripts in this guide can be altered to fit individual needs.


Hazel is like a nanny for your Mac, running applications and scripts during a certain time or cleaning out a folder after a few days. It has a very clean interface and resides on your Mac as a System Preferences pane. New rules can be added to determine what happens to different files or individual folders.

TV Shows

TV Shows is a repository for torrents of television episodes. TV Shows relies on a subscription-like model to handle episode viewing. When new content is available it’s automatically downloaded and the torrent can be handled with your favorite client. Combining this with Transmission already automates half of our workflow in a few mouse clicks.


  • I just now caught your series today on MacSurfer.  I’ve been working on a media server utilizing and old G4 sawtooth PM.  I do have an Apple TV because we have a few Macs in the house.  We also have family visiting with their Macs who have access to the ATV. 

    I’m anxious to see how you “automate” things.

    I began upgrading my AGP/Gigabit G4 a number of years and this is how it sits today.
    1. 1GHz OWC processor (stock 400MHz)
    2. 2GB OWC memory
    3. Radeon 8500 AGP Mac 64MB vram
    4. Radeon 7000 PCI Mac 32MB (was dual monitor, not now)
    5. Pioneer DVR-109 Superdrive
    6. 4-port SATA PCI card
    7. Four 400 GB SATA Seagate Barracuda drives (raid using OSX)
    6. Airport Card 802.11b, now hooked directly into the Airport Base Station Extreme “n” using ethernet.
    7. Video/Audio Software: iTunes, Quicktime Pro, VisualHub, Handbrake, Fairmount, Drop2DV, Tivo DecodeManager, iMovie and Final Cut Express.

    lantzn had this to say on Jan 04, 2008 Posts: 1
  • @lantzn, I can the workflow will work like this:

    1) TV Shows downloads torrent for new episode
    2) Transmission takes the torrent and downloads it
    3) The finished file is passed off to Visual Hub or Quicktime Pro
    4) The converted file is passed off and tagged as a TV Show then given the proper tagging
    5) Imported into iTunes

    Tanner Godarzi had this to say on Jan 04, 2008 Posts: 70
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