App of the Week: PS3 Media Server

Technology is quickly evolving, game consoles included.  Besides becoming more powerful devices, gaming consoles are increasingly becoming the media centers for many homes.  All three major consoles have YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu Plus access, and Xbox and PS3 are gaining more services every year.  The PlayStation 3 can easily access any servers on your home network, but it takes a little set up to get that media directly from your Mac.  PS3 Media Server helps bridge that connection.

First thing to note is that PS3 Media Server is not necessarily for the faint of heart.  While the actual connection part is very simple, the settings to optimize and customize the connection are many and aren’t so straight forward.  Most people will not end up using the majority of options.  Setup works like this: first enable “Media Server Connection” on your PS3 under Network Settings and make sure your PS3 is connected to your home network, ethernet or Wi-Fi will do just fine.  Then connect your Mac to the same network and launch the PS3 Media Server app.  You may need to take down your Mac’s firewall for the initial setup, as I did, but afterwards you should be able to run the app with the Firewall enabled.  Then select the media folders you want to allow your PS3 to connect to; I chose my Pictures, Movies, and Music folder, as well as my Dropbox folder.  The only other settings I messed with were telling the app not to let my Mac go into Sleep mode when streaming and to adjust the audio to only play stereo sound rather than 5.1 surround sound.  After you finish tweaking, hit Save, and then Restart Server

When you return to your PS3, you can now go to the Music, Video, and Pictures tab and view your media through there.  If for whatever reason you don’t see the Mac’s folders, hit “Search for Media Servers” in any one of the tabs, then select your Mac when it pops up. As the names suggest, you can only look at pictures in the Pictures tab, video in the Video tab, and music in the Music tab.  While you’re in these menus, you can create playlists, create slideshows, and even copy the media to your PS3’s hard drive.  I would recommend doing this all over an ethernet connection rather than Wi-Fi because it is a faster and more stable connection.

Music and pictures played smoothly and cleanly.  Videos did all right, though I noticed times when the video would have to stop and buffer, but this was usually a result of my Mac being in a weak Wi-Fi zone.  Quality was pretty good during streaming, as I noticed very little quality degradation.  Likewise, copying of my Mac’s 6-gig Music folder to the PS3’s hard drive took about 1-hour over my network connection.

Probably the biggest negative about this app is the fact that it is not the most straight forward to set up.  Its look is somewhat intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the developers who support this app are constantly helping people to make sure you get the best results.  The community has several plugins to make your Media Server better, such allowing you to browse and stream content from Mac Smart Folders.

One last thing about the app is that it is a Java app.  This means that you will need Java on your computer to run, which many of the latest Macs don’t have at the moment.  To update your Java, click the appropriate links at the bottom of the article for your system.  PS3 Media Server is a free app available for OS 10.5 and later (Leopard and later).  It also runs on Windows XP and later,  Fedora 11 and later, and Ubuntu 8.10 and later.  You can check download the app at

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Java for Leopard (10.5):

Java for Snow Leopard: (10.6):

Java for Lion (10.7):

Games4Mac: Diablo III Beta

This seems like a wonderful time to get back into Games4Mac, and why not start with the Diablo 3 Beta.  Free for this weekend from Blizzard, the guys that bring you Starcraft and World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 is the third title in the Diablo franchise.  You need a Mac running 10.6.8 or higher and a free account:

Download the game here:

Sign up for here:

Games4Mac: Minecraft

Minecraft Start Screen

If there was one game that has taken the world by storm in recent years, it would be Minecraft.  Just do a search on Youtube and you will find funny play-throughs, amazing creations, and an ever-growing community of builders and adventurers.  It has sold over 3 million units as of August 5th, 2011; pretty impressive for a game that is still in beta.

Minecraft is sandbox world with no real storyline.  The idea of the game is you’re a solitary person who has to survive in this world by building your home (or cave, hole, wherever) and create tools from wood, stone, iron, and other matter you find in the world.  By day, everything is happy and peaceful on the surface, but at night, hordes of monsters spawn in the darkness.  If they find you, they will kill you.  But you don’t just stay on the surface; you can, like the name suggest, mine through the caves.  As you go deeper into the bowels of the earth, you find stronger and better materials for tools, art, or over gameplay that allow to make things like mine cart systems (or trains), explosives, diamonds, and more.  But of course, in the darkness you will find more monsters, and their spawners.

This skeleton is riding a spider. It's fast and has range, but not something I've ever seen before.

Killing spawners allows you to access chests with special prizes and gear.  You can even create a portal to a realm called “The Nether” and explore that.

At first the game seems pretty graphically poor because everything is composed of blocks.  But that’s how the game is supposed to be designed, and it’s a cool deviation from the either hyper-realistic or cartoony graphics that the majority of video games have.  Even if you’re not much of a builder, you can’t help but think of how to improve your home, or getting better tools.  The other cool thing about the game is the fact that it is randomly generated.  As you move throughout the world, the game is randomly creating new territory, so no games or worlds will be exactly alike (which definitely appeals to my inner explorer).

But if you find that single player get boring after a while, then get online and play with your friends.  If you have a friend with a Minecraft server (or a public Minecraft server, like TechnoBuffalo’s), then you can go on their and play whatever game type they have, whether it’s just the standard game with friends, or a mod game.  That’s right, a modded game.  Minecraft’s creators encourage people to mod the game and make new game types out it, which is also why it’s common to see many player with custom skins, either downloaded or self-made.  But more than just skins, you will find downloadable packs from other players, ones that range from floating islands in the sky, to huge desert worlds, and many more.

For all the greatness of Minecraft, it’s not all a perfect, cube-centric world.  The game is still in beta, meaning that you will have occasional hangups and freezes; I actually had it as many as once every 5 minutes, with no apps running.  I respect that this game is still in beta, but this still seems like an unnecessary flaw.

A snowy day in my world

Fortunately, this generally didn’t happen when I was fighting monsters, but it made it all the more scary when it did happen then (and not the good kind of scary).

Another downside goes toward the game play.  Building is addictive, exploration is awesome, and fighting monsters can sometimes scare you silly, but it lacks a real adventure.  Yes, you need to survive hordes of monsters that spawn in the dark, and yeah you can download more adventure-themed mods, but I think this is something that should be in the game-play.  However, I think it is fair to note that the good people at Mojang have already announced that more features are coming out soon in the 1.8 beta update (called the Adventure Update), as well as future updates.  These include, but aren’t limited to sprinting, computer generated villages (which I have mixed feelings about), more monsters like Endermen, and even new environments like rivers, volcanoes, and more.  Hints seem to indicate that the game might be a little like an MMO (massive multiplayer online) game in the sense that it’s more of a free-roaming, sandbox style game with small quests and achievements you can get for certain things, maybe even boss battles.

One last downside, at least from a technical note, is the online login system.  After you make a free account with Minecraft, you can buy the game, and then log into the single player game and the many multiplayer servers.   However, when logging in, it requires the game to ping back to Minecraft’s server, which is annoying if you don’t have an online connection.  You can still play the single player game fine, but then you lose things like custom skins, and I also noticed in offline mode, I couldn’t get my wolves to stand up (though interestingly enough, they could still attack me sitting down if I accidentally hit them).

A sunset, with a strange Two-Towers style mountain range.

All things considered, Minecraft is a very open and innovative game.  It can be a little unstable at times, it uses a lot of memory and heats up your Mac like nobody’s business,

but it is a very fun game that has quickly made a name itself.  People who love creating, building, and exploring will find it exciting, while those who prefer adventure and action games have something more to look forward to in the months to come.  I hope in the time between beta and 1.0, Minecraft can be stabilized and cleaned up, but I look forward to its development.

You can buy Minecraft from for $21.95 while it is in beta and is available for Mac 10.5 and higher, as well as Windows XP and higher, and Linux.  iOS and Android versions are in development, with a beta Android version available for testing specifically on the Xperia Play.  There is also a Kinect-enabled version for Microsoft’s XBox 360 in the works.

If you have any suggestions for games to review, leave a comment or email me at  Also be sure to check out my Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube pages (see their respective buttons at the top of the screen).  Thanks!

Games4Mac: N.O.V.A. 2

Normally, I prefer to do Games4Mac posts as videos, primarily because you can see some real gameplay for yourself and get a better idea of what the graphics are like.  Unfortunately, after watching some of the footage I took of this game, it just seemed to laggy to make a decent video, so you’ll just have to take my word from writing and pictures.

One of my favorite first-person shooters (FPS) has to be Halo. I won’t deny it one bit, but I love playing Halo (at least the ones Bungie made, but I won’t judge any future versions of Halo until I see them).  That’s also why one of my first Games4Mac posts was the Halo CE demo.  The sad part about the demo, as I found out when getting ready for Lion, is that it is a PowerPC app.  This means that it won’t run on any Mac that runs OSX Lion or later.  I still love playing shooters though, and I had some money left over on my iTunes card after buying Lion, so I went searching through the Mac App Store.  Sure there was Call of Duty, and Bioshock, and a bunch of other big name games, and most of them are really great games.  But I wanted to try something different, so I bought a copy of N.O.V.A. 2 from the Mac App Store.

N.O.V.A 2 (which is short for Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance) is the sequel to the hit iOS game N.O.V.A., and takes place 6 years after the events of the original game.  For the record, I haven’t played the original, so I’m learning as I go along through the game.

N.O.V.A. 2 title screen (property of Gameloft)

You play as Kal Warden, a soldier of the Near Earth Orbital Vanguard, who has come back into the line of duty in order to fight the new Alliance, a Human-Volterite (the aliens) government that promises utopia via advanced technology.  SPOILER: They really don’t want that utopia.  Overall, a lot of the aspects of the game are a lot like Halo, which is reportedly their inspiration; you play a strong but snarky hero, you have a helpful female AI in you suit, you have to deal with a giant, ancient doomsday weapon.  Get the picture?

You have a wide variety of guns from pistols, to rocket launchers, lasers, and more, which you carry with you at all times.  This seems a little bit old hat now compared to the current 2 or 3 gun model most shooters have, requiring you to pick your weapons wisely.  It doesn’t detract from the game’s overall play value though.  The game also has a variety of terrains to play from including jungle, city streets, snowy mountains, and more.  You can go from running across a terrain, to falling from the sky, and riding a hoverbike through the city streets.  Vehicles rides are scripted and on the rails (meaning you don’t completely control where you drive), but all the vehicles are in first person, which I like if the game is trying to maintain some level of immersion.  The cutscenes, however, do seem a little over animated and detract somewhat from the immersion of the game.  They make up for it by helping push the story further and making it more interesting.

The game is pretty fun to play and plays fairly smooth on my 13 inch Macbook Pro (4 gigs of RAM, 2.26 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo).  I did notice a noticeable freeze when the game approaches a save point or before a cutscene, which is something I expect from older shooter.

On the rails vehicle riding, but there's nothing like running over the guy shooting at you. (Property of Gameloft, used from iTunes)

Furthermore, the graphics seem rather blocky for running on a modern system, especially comparing what we see in the title screen and animation.  To be fair though, this game was originally an iOS game, which means the expectations for graphics are a little lower compared to PC or console gaming.  While it isn’t hard to notice, I can’t say that it hurts the gameplay value.

And if you get tired of playing through the campaign, there’s always multiplayer.  You can play either locally with people on your network, or with other people online.  In order to play online, you have to create a free Gameloft account.  However, that means you get to play online for other Gameloft games, like Starfront: Collision, Modern Combat: Domination, and more.  The online community is rather small, and is very fast paced on relatively small levels.

Overall, it does seem a little dated in terms of features and graphics, but is nonetheless a fun shooter alternative at a relatively cheap price.  N.O.V.A. 2 is available in the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store for $6.99 and runs on iOS 3.1.3 or higher, or Mac OSX 10.6.6 or higher.  However, Mac users should take note that the game is currently not supported for Intel integrated graphics or ATI Radeon graphics.

Have a comment to make, or a game to review?  Comment below or send an email to  And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EasyOSX, and checkout the new Facebook Fan page.  Thanks!