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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




iDisk Problems & ".EXE" Files On Your Mac
April 14th, 2000

Greetings, folks. Today we talk about the nitty gritty behind iDisk, the best thing to do with Windows ".EXE" files, more advice on USB for older Macs, and some feedback regarding printing web pages! If you have a question of your own, feel free to ask me personally or ask everyone in the forums. For now... enjoy!

Bob Perdriau writes, "I have a G3 accelerated 7500 with an ADSL connection running OS 9. I also have a PowerBook bronze G3 running OS 9 using a dialup connection. I've installed Apples iTools on both. The iDisk mounts fine on the PB. It will not mount on the 7500. Installation appears to go OK and there are no error messages when I try to mount the iDisk. Its just that nothing happens."

Bob -- This is probably something Extensions-related. The best place to start here is to go off on a bit of a tangent by describing what iDisk is and how it has evolved into what we see today. As most of you know, Apple has had AppleShare servers running TCP/IP for quite some time. Then, with Mac OS 9, Apple included the ability to share files via TCP/IP from the Mac OS as well. The iDisk portion of iTools is related to all this. iDisk is nothing more than a specially configured TCP/IP-based AppleShare server out there. The browser plug-in that iTools installs just lets us start this connection from a web browser, but it's also possible to start it from the Chooser or Network Browser. Just enter "idisk.mac.com" in for the IP address of your AppleShare server, and you'll be able to mount your iDisk's that way. Going this route also allows you the added bonus of being able to add your iDisk username and password to your Keychain!

So, where am I going with all this? Well, to connect to ANY AppleShare server, your machine requires a few extensions to be loaded. Without them you can't connect to ANY AppleShare servers, iDisk's included. Specifically, you need the AppleShare extension along with all the Open Transport extensions related to Internet access (I'm assuming that if you're reading this column on that machine, you've got the Internet part covered!). A quick tour through the Extensions Manager should reveal that something, probably AppleShare, is disabled. Enable it and try again. If that still doesn't work, try connecting "manually" by going to the Chooser, selecting AppleShare, clicking on IP Address, typing in "idisk.mac.com" and seeing if it lets you mount the iDisk from there!

Alan J. Barsky writes, "How do I convert a Windows based .exe or EXE files to Macintosh Word files?"

You know, I've been hearing this question more and more of late. It must be all those Windows-folk who are sending around "Elf Bowling" to unsuspecting Mac users. Anyway, the answer here is simple: you can't. You see, the ".EXE" extension at the end of a Windows/DOS file stands for EXEcutable program. In other words, this is a Windows PROGRAM, not just a document or graphic file. To run it, you need an Intel-type processor (or an emulator thereof), and Windows as your operating system. To explain, it would be akin to someone asking you, "How do I get MacInTax to run on my Windows computer?" MacInTax is a Mac program, and it will only run on the Mac. Granted, there is similar software available for Windows, but MacInTax is a Macintosh-based executable program (otherwise called an "application").

So when you get those attachments ending in ".EXE" from your Windows-based friends, send 'em right to the circular file, as that's where they'll serve you best!

Shaun Hines writes, "I'll keep this brief as you've probably covered questions like this time and again. I have a Mac 8600 and would like to purchase one of the new Epson printers, however I understand they have excluded people like myself by supplying them with only USB and Parallel Port connectivity. I already have Nikon Super Coolscan and Jade 2 scanners in the SCSI chain -- How would I go about adding such a printer or any USB device efficiently? Any advice, no matter how basic, would be much appreciated."

Shaun, you're right -- I have answered questions like this time and time again, but it's worth mentioning every once in a while in case someone misses it. The answer here is to go and get a PCI USB card for your Mac. Don't mess around with the SCSI to USB converters (not that they work in this direction anyway). If you need a USB device, add USB ports -- it's the simplest solution here, and you have the added bonus of giving yourself access to all sorts of devices that you can use on a new Mac if and when you decide to upgrade. I reviewed the Keyspan card (see "Add USB To Your 'Older' Mac With Ease! "), and it works flawlessly. At the time of the review this card and others of its ilk were available in the US$50 range, and I bet you could find them even cheaper than that now.

Web Printing Revisited

Last week we talked a bit about printing from Netscape (see "Netscape Printing & 'Smart Browsing,' And More MP3 Quality"). I got quite a bit of feedback regarding this topic, and many people mentioned utilities out there that offer the ability to enhance web printing. Among the letters was one from Stephen Becker, author of WebPrint Plus. Stephen wrote:

"Just saw your article that included info on resolving printing problems with web browsers. I want to let you know that my utility, WebPrint Plus, eliminates most browser printing problems and provides users with many useful printing options."

A few readers also wrote in about this product and explained that they had good experiences working with it.

That's all for this week, folks. I'll catch you next time with another dose of friendly tech-tips and advice. If you find yourself in need, feel free to e-mail me at askdave@macobserver.com, or visit with everyone in the Ask Dave Forums!

P.S. Have a Nice Day.

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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