Simultaneously Pushing Audio to External Speakers and Bluetooth from a Mac

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A couple of months ago I had the idea to see if there was a simple way to play iTunes music from the built-in iMac speakers while also playing it through a Bluetooth speaker (in this case a JBL speaker). My goal was to have the music playing from the computer in one room and also playing from a Bluetooth speaker in the dining room. Sure enough, OS X has a way to do this (I’m running 10.9 so I don’t know how widely this feature is supported across older versions of OS X).

Thanks to user Eric Ross in the Apple Support Communities I didn’t have to do much searching to find the answer. As detailed in his response, the solution is to open the Audio Midi Setup application located in the Utilities folder and then simply create a Multi-Output Device that has both speaker types selected. Note that in order for this to work the Bluetooth speaker needs to already be connected to the Mac.

MOD-Setup

At this point we’ve only created the multi-output device. One additional step is required – setting it as the current output device (System Preferences -> Sound -> Output) :

MOD-Select
I originally did this with my iMac but the screenshots in this post were created using my MacBook Air.

And that should work. The Bluetooth audio (at least with the settings I used) will have a slight delay in comparison to the system speakers. Bluetooth has a relatively short range so the practical applications of this method may be limited by obstructions within one’s home and the receiving capability of the Bluetooth device that is used.

 

Moving from mControl 3 (Windows) to Indigo 6 (OS X) for Home Automation

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Indigo-6

The Short Version: I moved VPN, home automation control, and video recording from an ASUS eeeBox PC (Windows) to my iMac (OS X Mountain Lion). VPN was changed from PPTP to L2TP using iVPN to control the server. Video recording is with the same program (Vitamin D Video Pro) using the same license. mControl was dropped and I’m now using Indigo 6 to control everything.

For home automation control I’ve been running mControl over the past few years. The development team rarely updated the software but rather than invest in a different package I went ahead and upgraded to version 3 when it was released. The software was running on an ASUS system I had setup at the house for managing home automation and security video recording.

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Apple Thunderbolt Cable (Using an iMac as an External Display for a MacBook Pro)

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I finally dropped the cash for an Apple Thunderbolt cable. It’s not every day that I decide to spend $50 for one cable but it does add some functionality that I will find useful. In my case I purchased it so I could use my iMac as an external display with my MacBook Pro.

From time to time I need to be able to do some work that is more efficient when using two displays. This occasional setup will also save me the trouble of needing to setup a spare monitor somewhere else in the house (such as the dining room table).

Note that I’m connecting from a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt to an iMac (also with Thunderbolt). If you’re trying to mix Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort connections it probably won’t work though I haven’t tested this extensively.

There isn’t much more to write about the cable. It costs $50 and seems to work with my gear. I didn’t notice any problems involving flickering, refresh oddities, or graphic artifacts.

To use the iMac as an external display just hit Command + F2 to set it to Target Display Mode.

One note, for those using gfxCardStatus you will need to make sure you’re MacBook Pro is using “Discrete” graphics. It will not work with the integrated graphics, just as the Mini DisplayPort adapters also won’t work in that mode.

Updated 07/18/2013: This setup works fine though I haven’t really used it, or the cable, since this post. I’ve been very disappointed with the implementation of Thunderbolt in general. Thunderbolt devices are still prohibitively expensive and I’m frustrated that there doesn’t appear to be any kind of USB 3.0 adapter available short of some very expensive docks (many of which have bad reviews).

Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition & iMac Standby Issues

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Several weeks ago I installed Sophos AntiVirus for Mac Home Edition on my iMac. I chose it because I was somewhat familiar with Sophos and I knew that I needed a working malware program (I was using an older version of McAfee Security on my previous iMac but that version wasn’t compatible with Lion).

Since I installed it I began to notice odd issues with bringing my Mac out of standby. It could have been a coincidence but the only other changes I’ve made to the system were some recent system updates.

Today, once again, the system didn’t wake. Previous issues also included the system partially waking but the mouse cursor would change to a spinning wheel and I couldn’t do anything except move the cursor.

After I restarted the iMac the system offered to send a crash report to Apple. I went ahead and let it but I viewed the details before sending. While I didn’t read the information closely it looked like it was possibly caused by the Sophos updater process.

To try to work around the problem I changed some Energy Saver settings. My iMac is on a UPS and I noticed the UPS configuration options were a little different from the standard power options. I disabled the option to allow the hard drive to sleep and then saved the changes.

With those changes in place it’s now just a matter of waiting to see if it happens again.

Moving from an iMac Intel Core 2 Duo to an iMac Intel Core i5

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It turns out that my quest to upgrade my iMac wasn’t as critical as I thought (though certainly not a waste of time). One of the gifts my wife bought me for Christmas was a new iMac! The system is considerably more faster than the older iMac.

I’ve managed to test out some of the differences. DVD conversions dropped from taking about an hour and thirty minutes down to about forty minutes. Blu-Ray conversions are much improved. Ripping from disc takes the same amount of time (mostly likely caused by the limitation of using a USB 2.0 drive) but conversions have dropped from 10-12 hours down to about 2 hours. That’s a very impressive difference.

Though I haven’t used Windows 7 via VM Ware Fusion very much I did up the number of cores that it’s using along with the RAM. According to Crucial.com I can max the system out at 16 GBs for about $100, which is much less than I expected it would cost.

In the immediate future I will probably expand the RAM above 4 GBs.

The previous iMac will probably move to my wife’s craft room where it may spend much of its time capturing VHS tapes to digital files.

Updated 12/27/2011: It looks like I’ll be buying my RAM upgrade from Crucial, as usual. I swung by Best Buy today and checked out the prices. It would cost me $40-$50 more to upgrade with RAM from Best Buy. The store only sells the 4GB modules for about $35. I can buy two 4 GB sticks from Crucial for a total cost of about $46. I’ll need four 4 GB sticks to max the system out with 16 GB.

I’m not surprised. It’s rare that I find anything at a good price at Best Buy that isn’t on clearance. I was shopping for some Apple earbuds with the microphone and saw that they charge $40. Walmart sells them for just under $30 and I think both Amazon and Apple sell them for about $30.

Upgrading My White 2006 iMac Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo and Installing OS X Lion

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Not very long ago I added a post explaining why I didn’t think it would be worth upgrading the processor in my Core Duo iMac and also why I wasn’t in a hurry to upgrade to Lion. Well, as often happens, I wasn’t satisfied with those conclusions and eventually decided that the benefits outweighed the effort involved.

This post won’t include step-by-step instructions – just some general information and maybe a few tips. However, I do think it was indeed worth upgrading my iMac to be able to run Lion.

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:( iMac Hard Drive Replacement (Part 1)

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Over the past week, since I last had Time Machine run on the iMac, I purchased a few items from iTunes and downloaded some new e-mails. I decided it was time to run another backup so after work I powered up the iMac.

And then I heard the hard drive click of death…

The only thing that appeared on my screen was a folder icon with a question mark in the middle of it. Unfortunately, it’s very clear that the system hard drive has failed.

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