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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




Newer Macs On Old Networks And A Fix For The Dreaded Death Spiral
June 24th, 1999

Hello there folks. This week brings us yet *another* (and perhaps the last?) update to the Dreaded Death Spiral problems affecting modem users. We also explore the possibilities of setting up your own Internet mail server, and talk about bringing iMac's into an existing Mac network. There's more, of course, but instead of teasing you, I invite you to read on. Just remember to send your OWN questions to me at askdave@macobserver.com, and they'll appear here, too!

Dan Wascovich writes, "Ok, I see that the B/W G3 takes PC100 SDRAM. What is the difference between regular PC100 SDRAM and 'New B/W G3 Ram?' You see, many, if not all, vendors are charging a huge amount more for the Mac RAM. I have seen 256 MB PC100 SDRAM for $268.00 on chipmerchant.com, and they advertise the "New B/W G3 RAM" 256 MB for over $500!!! This is the same at other vendors as well. What is the real deal?"

Well, Dan, I once again referred to the knowledgeable RAM folks over at Trans International for their advice. According to Ken Zaidi (their resident RAM guru), any SDRAM DIMM that conforms to the PC100 standard will work in a G3 Mac (and any G3 Mac SDRAM PC100 DIMM will work in a PC). That said, he warned me that there are MANY PC RAM manufacturers out there that cut corners on adhering to the standard, and those chips will NOT work in the Blue and White G3's. Make sure you're getting what you need!

Dave Stolper writes, "Since upgrading from OS 7.6.1 to 8.5.1 I notice that I only have one monitor resolution (640x480) available in my Monitors and Sound control panel and my control strip module. Formerly, I had additional, higher resolutions. Now they are gone completely (not just grayed out). What, if anything, can I do to get them back? I am running a Umax SuperMac C500/200 connected to a PC monitor with a Mac adapter."

Dave -- I've seen this problem on Apple-branded machines as well, and it's often due to the signals that the Mac adapter is sending out. Many "off-brand" adapters aren't built to match Apple's specifications and therefore the MacOS doesn't recognize all the available resolutions. I've found the adapters from Griffin Technology to be some of the best available, and the tech. support folks over there are quite knowledgeable as well.

It could also be an issue with your PRAM, so I suggest "zapping" your PRAM with something like TechTool. That may just do the trick.

Kate Glaccum writes, "I have searched and searched the Apple support pages and archives, but still haven't been able to get a clear answer to my particular problem: my office is looking into buying an iMac to replace an aging Mac IIfx on our ethernet network. I already know that the iMac's built-in 10/100-T ethernet connection will be compatible with our 10-T ethernet hub, and that all we need is to hook it up and reconfigure the connection. However, we are concerned about the compatibility between the iMac's newer OS and our 6 older Macs' OS' (they are Performas, Power PCs). Most have OS 7.5.5 (one has 7.6). One computer functions as our Server and we especially need the iMac to be able to access it in order to use our printers, zip drives, and certain applications that are run from the Server itself. Any thoughts on multiple OS compatibility on an ethernet? Or will it just turn out to be a total fiasco? Even the merest hint of a suggestion would be extremely appreciated!"

This simple answer here is, yes Kate, everything should work just fine. The AppleTalk networking protocols haven't changed much since their inception, and certainly not since system 7.5.5 (running Open Transport). With that, networking between your MacOS 8.6 based iMac and older, 7.5-7.6 based machines should work just fine. Kudos to Apple for keeping this consistent to ensure smooth transitions in the workplace. This is *not* necessarily the case with two other operating systems out there that were released 3 years apart from each other...

Bruce Belton writes, "Is there any way to use an Internet e-mail program (e.g., Outlook Express) for "intra" office e-mail. Or is there a product that will do both?"

Actually, Bruce, there are many products that will let you do this. The trick is just adapting your internal network to "talk" the same protocols as the Internet. There are essentially 2 protocols that are used on the Internet for retrieving mail, and one for sending. In the former category we have POP, or Post Office Protocol, and IMAP, Internet Mail Access Protocol. POP is, by far, the most common of the two, and with it your e-mail client downloads all the messages from the server to your computer for your perusal. With IMAP, all the messages are left on the server, which could be quite a boon in an office environment where people might move from computer to computer and still want access to their e-mail. For sending mail, there's essentially one protocol that's been around forever (and probably will be) called SMTP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Now that we know what protocols to use, we need to talk about software. Client software is easy to come by -- Eudora, Outlook Express, and Musashi are all examples of popular e-mail client programs that support these standard protocols. As for servers, there are a few options. The *easiest* to use is Quickmail, since it comes in a package that's relatively simple to install and get running. It also comes with it's own client software, which limits the users choice, but makes management easier. As for server software to support multiple e-mail clients, Qualcomm now maintains EIMS, the Eudora Internet Mail Server. This runs on a Mac and is essentially your own little Internet mail hub. You can use this to run just your interoffice mail, or you can take the plunge and actually give it a dedicated Internet connection and manage ALL your e-mail in one place.

It can be quite advantageous to manage your own Internet e-mail domain. You can save a lot of money in ISP costs alone (since you don't have to pay them for *every* e-mail account you need), and you can update usernames and passwords at will. Need to set up a "billing@yourdomain.com" address real quick? Well, with EIMS, you're good to go! Otherwise you'd have to hassle your ISP and wait a few days until they get around to setting up (and charging you for) the new e-mail account.

Dreaded Death Spiral dies?

As yet another update to our series on the "Dreaded Death Spiral," Sean Finnegan writes to tell us that Global Village may, indeed have a fix. Says Sean:

GV has a toll free text based BBS (1-800-335-6003) that you can access with Zterm (404k to download). Sign on as Guest, no password. Go into the Mac Software section, then Scripts. There is a script called GV v90 Flex Preferred.

Since loading it, the Death Spiral has vanished, and I'm still connecting at 56kish speeds!

I looked on Global Village's website for this script, and found what appears to be the same thing at http://www.globalvillage.com/support/flex_preferred_script.html. Check it out and let me know how it works!

That's all for this week, folks. Thanks for all your support, as your questions keep us rolling along. Feel free to ask away, and I'll do my best to get you the best answer available! Until next week...

P.S. Have a Nice Day...

(This column written while enjoying Weather Report: 8:30. Unfortunately, the version I have here is a 2CD import set that contains ALL the songs from the original recording, whereas the single CD that you can get everywhere is missing "Scarlet Woman" -- a sin indeed)

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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