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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




A Hard Drive Specification Primer and Sanford & Son!
July 1st, 1999

Howdy! This time 'round we hope to dispel the illusions surrounding the many different ATA/IDE hard drive specifications, we talk more about memory, and we come up with a creative way to connect to both your Internet Service Provider and your internal TCP/IP network at the same time! Heck, we even get to mention Sanford & Son this week, so it's just GOT to be good! As always, if you have a question of your own, please ask... then read and enjoy!

Paul writes, "I'm at my wits end, as far as shopping locally goes . Best Buy no longer sells Macs (at least not in Tampa) . I was thinking of buying an IDE Drive (a Western Digital 10000RTL) but I don't know if I can configure it for mt Starmax 5000/225. What is the difference in E-IDE and the IDE used in the new iMacs and ATA 66 I'm lost. FWB wasn't much help. I DID NOT find this drive listed, or any Western Digital with a suffix of RTL."

Paul -- To answer your questions in order, yes, the drive should work just fine in your Starmax 5000, as long as it's the only drive on the chain (as mentioned in a previous column, that computer will support a maximum of 2 devices with the built-in circuitry -- two hard drives, or one hard drive and one CD-ROM.)

As far as EIDE vs. IDE (something MANY people have asked about), this is a point of contention in the industry. IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) was the first in this series of standards, and was also called ATA (short for IBM-AT Attachment interface). This worked for a while, and then as the demands of the user increased, an extension to the ATA standard was developed and called ATA-2. ATA-2 supports faster transfer rates (8 MB/s), block transfers, and improved the "Drive Identify" command. It was touted as a Good Thing, and that it was. Then, Western Digital confused the heck out of everything by calling their newer drives by yet ANOTHER name, but one that sounded familiar -- EIDE (Enhanced IDE). EIDE supports everything included in ATA-2, plus ATAPI (AT Attachment Packet Interface -- for non-hard-disk devices, such as CD-ROM drives), and Dual IDE/ATA Host Adapters (for configuring more than 2 drives on a computer). This would be fine, except that not everyone conforms to EIDE the same way, so support for it is inconsistent.

Apple's implementation is officially EIDE (8MB/s according to a TIL article), and supports ATA-2, ATAPI, with newer G3s supporting dual host adapters on the motherboard.

As far as ATA-66 is concerned, this is actually an update to ATA-33. ATA-33 supports a maximum transfer rate of 33.3 MB/s (yes, MegaBytes per second), and ATA-66 supports 66.6 MB/s.

And finally -- with Western Digital's product codes, RTL just denotes that it's a ReTaiL version of the drive. That drive should work just fine (except as stated above in regards to multiple devices in a Starmax).

Andries van der Leij writes, "I have an (old) G3 DT 233 and i have two of my DIMM expansion slots filled with 32MB DIMMs. This means that i have one slot left. I want to increase my memory as much as possible, so I want to buy a 128MB DIMM. What's the problem then? Well, according to the Apple tech info Library there is a problem.

They say that the standard 128MB DIMM is too tall for the Desktop case, but also that some third party vendors have redesigned their DIMMs to be shorter so they do fit the Desktop case. Do you know something about this problem? And if it is true what Apple says, who are those third party vendors? I really don't want to throw away one of my 32MB DIMMs and buy two of 64MB, especially because i bought the thing knowing that I could expand my memory up to 384MB."

Yes, Andries, this is true. The "Beige" G3 Desktop cases were too short to accommodate Apple's taller 128MB DIMMs. Fear not, both Trans International and Ramjet report that they have 128MB DIMMs that will fit into your case just fine. This has been something that has plagued many an Apple user over the years. With their "nonstandard" case designs, many of Apple's systems have had problems with taller "normal" RAM (and this goes all the way back to the original form factor Mac 128k!).

G. Loong writes, "You recently wrote an article about using a client for intranet e-mail access. My problem is that I run an AppleShare IP network using AppleShare's mail server(?). The staff access their local mail using Outlook Express. I also have a modem attached to my machine and I access the internet through it. My problem is that I have to change my TCP/IP address from my office's IP address to PPP server whenever I go onto the internet & change it back again when I access the local file server. Is there any way I can avoid this hassle of changing IP settings?"

Yes there is! Essentially what you need to do is set up your modem to use one set of TCP/IP settings, and your Ethernet interface to use another. But this isn't possible, right? Actually, it is... although there's no product out there that would specifically attest to this. Thankfully, with the growing popularity of high-speed Internet access solutions, there is an answer, even if it's not necessarily obvious. You see, software like Sustainable Softworks IPNetRouter and Vicomsoft's Internet Gateway and SoftRouter Plus products set your computer up to share your internet connection amongst your network. To do this, they must assign DIFFERENT IP ADDRESSES to each interface (modem, network card, cable connection, etc.) and then route between them. You don't necessarily need the routing capabilities, you just need the separate IP addresses running simultaneously. For this, I would recommend IPNetRouter. While it's not as "pretty" as the VicomSoft products, it is more customizable for this particular purpose.

Jennifer Grube writes, "Dear Dave -- A strange thing happened when I recently changed the 'view' of my hard drive. I selected view by name and it alphabetized itself backwards!! Why would this happen and how can I correct it?"

Ah! If you look in the window of your hard drive, you'll see that there's a little triangle in the upper-right hand corner. If that is aiming down, you'll be listing things in reverse order (Z to A if it's an alphabetical listing, like name or kind; largest to smallest if it's a numerical listing, like Size; and newest to oldest if it's a date listing, like Date Modified). To change the order of the sort, just click on the "triangle" and it will reverse directions, also reversing your sort order. I've attempted to highlight the "triangle" below for your viewing pleasure:

Kevin Wadley, "I desperately want to hear new sounds on my Power book G3 running MacOS 8.6. Isn't there an easy way to download a new sound set and drop it into the sound folder in appearances to hear something new?"

There sure is, Kevin. A few sites to visit include: The Appearance Archive, The OS 8.5 Theme Archive, MacOS Resources, and Apple-Donuts.

Once you've picked out one you like (I recommend the Sanford & Son set myself), you just have to drop the unstuffed file on top of your System Folder and answer affirmative when the MacOS asks you if you'd like to install this into your System Folder. Then, just go to the Appearance Control Panel and choose the new Sound Set! That's it! And there's PLENTY to choose from out there... :-)

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better... we're done! That's it for this issue... but stay tuned, 'cause next week's gonna be a real shocker! I promise! Of course, if you have a question of your own, send it to askdave@macobserver.com, and we'll get ya' fixed up!

P.S. Have a Nice Day

(The musical inspiration for today's column comes from CATS - The Complete Original Broadway Cast Recording)

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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