Tech Tour: Anthony and Christina's Apple Abode

Tech Tour: Anthony and Christina's Apple Abode

Feb 27, 2008

Name: Anthony Sigalas and Christina Cholidou
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece
Years Lived In: 7 years
Size: 80 square meters (roughly 860 square feet)
What's your philosophy on how to integrate your technology into your living space?: If technology is your friend, then we have a house full of friends.

With five Macs in their tiny apartment in Greece, Anthony and Christina's friends often think they are crazy with computers. Anthony says "Most of our friends only have one computer, but after a while they "get it". They know we're regular macheads and invest more money in technology, than, say, furniture. Macs and Apple technology fit beautifully in a house and feel more like well made appliances rather than technology stuff or gadgets."

Anthony and Christina's home include a Mac Mini media center, "his and hers" MacBooks, an iMac TV in the bedroom, and a retired iBook fax server in the office. We were curious how they put all these machine to work, check out our interview below.

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How do you control the Macs when you are watching TV or a movie? Do you use the Apple remote or another solution? How satisfied are you with it?

I mainly use my Apple Remote Control and sporadically my iPod Touch and even a Wiimote! I have bought licenses for both Remote Buddy and Sofa Control, two excellent sharewares that allow me to control most of my Mac Mini's applications with the included Apple remote, my iPod Touch or a Wiimote. For those few times that I need a keyboard or mouse, Remote Buddy and Sofa Control include a virtual keyboard/mouse as well! Alternatively, I use Teleport, a freeware applicationthat allows me to use my laptops to wirelessly control my Mac Mini. I have also found Leopard's new screen sharing feature useful for controlling the rest of my macs. My iMac is an older model without a remote or IR port, and I've added a Keyspan RF Front Row control to bring it up to speed with the rest of the house.

Did buying the Mac Mini cause you to stop using your projector system?

Yes! As soon as I connected my Mac Mini, my projector was useless. Even though it supports DVI and widescreen resolutions, a projector is a major hassle. Why wait for 2-3 minutes to get the maximum brightness and lower all the drapes in the living room to watch a movie? The 32 inch LCD screen is big enough for us and the video quality is superior to the LCD projector. Bigger isn't always better.

When you buy a new Mac, do you already have an idea for a use for the older ones? Does getting a new machine cause you to dream up creative uses for the older ones?

I hate selling my old macs, they're like family to me. I switched from Windows four years ago, and since then I've bought seven machines, most of them laptops. The ones I don't use at all, I give to my parents. That way, they still get used and stay in the family. When it's time to buy a new mac (usually after an exciting Steve Jobs keynote), I try to think of creative uses for my old macs to rationalize my urge to buy new Apple gadgetry. I was very happy to find a good use for my 20'' iMac G5. It's such a beautiful machine and makes our bedroom look sexy and clean. Now I'm on the verge of buying a new MacBook Pro to use as my main computer and to replace my black MacBook. I haven't thought of any creative use for it yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. ;-)

How are the computers networked? Do you use Apple's airport extreme or a third party solution?

I use two Airport Extremes in the same network. I wanted a good 802.11n solution for my home to avoid cable madness everywhere and to be able to stream video and audio wirelessly and efficiently. My main Airport Extreme is in the living room, connected to the ADSL modem and to my Mac Mini via Ethernet (I disabled the Mac Mini's 802.11g antenna). The other Airport Extreme lives in the room we call "little office" and is connected via ethernet cables to the iBook and to the iMac (I have also disabled both their 802.11g antennas) and to an Epson Printer / Scanner. I use the cables so that most of my macs get to use the faster 802.11n network. Only my MacBook is using 802.11g for the moment and that's about to change.

Would you add a PC to your home?

Why would I? There is no need. In the off chance I need something from the Windows world, I can use Windows XP on 3/5 of my Macs via Parallels or Bootcamp. I used to work as an IT guy in a big company full of Windows boxes. Let's say I'm not to keen to relive the eXPerience.

Do you have a favorite?

I would have to say my Mac Mini. I bought it two years ago and it was the first Intel Mac in the house. It was super fast at the time, compared to my G4 and G5, and is extremely small, efficient and quiet. I bought it to set it up as a "media center" for the living room and it never sleeps. I also use it to download stuff off the internet and to digitize my big movie collection. It's the most useful mac of my house and I love it. I hope Steve Jobs doesn't kill it.

Our Style: Clean Tech
Favorite Feature: A completely networked home, we have access to our music, movies, pictures & web from any part of our apartment.
Dream Source/Inspiration: Anything that deserves a second look. From an IKEA catalog, to a blog post, to a flickr photo - anything that makes our eyes not move for a second or two is an inspiration.
Favorite Source: Apple & IKEA, obviously, and the internet.
Biggest Challenge: Making our apartment seem bigger and more comfortable. That, I think we managed. Adequate natural light is also an issue. Our next home will have lots of windows! We love natural light and Greece is full of it, so it's a shame that our apartment fails in that area.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our lack of adequate natural light. small bathroom and noisy neighborhood.
Proudest DIY: Our custom wall mounted projector that Anthony's father made, installed, and figured a way to hide all the cables. We think the biggest problem with tech-friendly homes is all those cables. Where do you put them, and how do you manage to hide them?
Another proud DIY is our custom made coffee table. We bought an IKEA coffee table, but instead of using its legs, we attached large wheels that we got from another store. The result is a super easy to move around table, plus it looks way cooler than it was originally.
Computers: Mac Mini, iMac, MacBooks, iBook, Airport Extreme
Nintendo Wii
Pioneer VSX-D2011 Amplifier
Bowers & Wilkins DM 602 Series Speakers
Sony VPL-HS10 Projector
Ikea Brada laptop supports
Sofa: Bo Concept
Media Tables: Neoset
Bedroom Furniture: Neoset

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