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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

File Synchronization, Digital Video Buying Advice, & Ethernet Cards
May 5th, 2000

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! That is, if you know of such things. Being a native Yankee, I'd never heard much of the holiday before I moved to Texas. Now that I'm here, however, there's no escaping the palpable excitement! Well, almost no escaping. The thing is, I *have* escaped, and as such can bring you today's column. This week we discuss file synchronization for e-mail data, options for video editing, and what it takes to make DSL work on an older Mac. If you have a question of your own, feel free to visit the Ask Dave Forums or you can e-mail me directly... but now I'm being pulled away for they have found me! Cinco de Mayo here I come!

Richard Smith writes, "I use a desktop and a laptop on a little LAN in my office. Generally, I use the desktop to get and send e-mail. Sometimes I wish I had copies of all my mail folders and their contents on the PowerBook. Is there a way to mail things to my PowerBook across my LAN? I'm using Outlook Express, by the way."

Richard, you're in luck. As part of the Mac OS since I-don't-know-when (but for a while!), Apple has included a little Control Panel called "File Synchronization." As the name implies, this little utility will let you synchronize the contents of two folders with one another. You connect the two computers via File Sharing, share the folder (or drive containing the proper folders), and tell it to sync 'em up! When you synchronize, it compares each file within the folders you specify and leaves both of them with the most recent version of every file within. New files are replicated into their respective places on the other machine, and it works quite well. However, you don't HAVE to Synchronize. You can also tell it to just copy one set of files/folders to another location on another machine. If you KNOW that one machine is "more current" than the other (as would be the case in your example), you can tell it to just copy the folder from the Desktop to the PowerBook, and then when you're done using the PowerBook, you can copy it back. This works quite well, and automates the process of this common task.

Steve McClanahan writes, "I am interested in video editing and was wanting to purchase a G4. I know there have been some questions about the processor speeds over the last several months. Is the 500 worth the money or would I be better with a 400 or 450."

Well, Steve, it depends on exactly what type of editing you're going to be doing. Assuming it's FireWire-based digital video, I would say that you're probably not missing a whole lot by going to the 450 as opposed to the 500. And, along those same lines, you really don't need to incur the extra expense of going with SCSI anymore. Since FireWire video transmits at ~3.5MB per second, you're ok with a good, high-speed, ATA drive. The one place where processor speed may help is in rendering your transitions. As you will want your final movie to do fades and such from clip-to-clip, you'll need to have your editing software render those transitions before you can "print" your final movie. No matter how fast your processor, your Mac is not going to do this in real time without extra help (like the recently announced RTMac from Matrox or the similar system due this summer from ProMax), so the faster your processor, the shorter the wait time for these renderings. So unless you see yourself doing a LOT of rendering, I don't think you need to go with the 500.

I don't mean to put a plug in here (and they certainly haven't paid me to do so!), but I would feel as if I were shortchanging you, the reader, if I didn't mention the availability of custom-built systems from ProMax. These folks know what they're doing, and can build (and test!) a system that's engineered for video editing from the ground up. Even the sales reps there know their stuff, and I've been very impressed with the systems they deliver. Just my 2 pesos.

Dave Checkman writes, "I'm in the process of switching from my direct dial ISP to the local telephone organization's DSL service. I've got a PowerMac 6500, OS 8.6, 604e processor, and Open Transport v.2.0.3. But, I'm a bit uneasy. The fellow who took my DSL order said I'd need an Ethernet card (at least I think he did). And I've no idea what that is, whether it's part of my computer's original equipment (and so, no need for further worry), something I'll have to buy before DSL installation day, or something I can just forget about. A second source of concern is that, in a recent "housecleaning" I decided to trash everything with "File Sharing" in its name since I don't share files. Are these files required for DSL, and if so what files (under what name) do I re-download to get File Sharing back?"

Well, the sales rep. who took the order is right, at least in your case -- you need an ethernet card. Most Macs (including every one that is shipping today, I believe) have built-in Ethernet, but the 6500 was built at a time when this was not the case. A 10Base-T card would be sufficient, but with prices where they are, you might as well add a 10/100 card. For advice on a good solution, I turned to none other than Dan Knight of Low End Mac fame. Dan's recommendation is to put an AsanteFast 10/100 card in one of your available PCI slots. He says these are reliable cards and are "less likely to 'fall off the network,'" than computers running with Apple's built-in Ethernet. These cards are available for US$49.00 direct from Asante, and should get you everything you need to be ready for your DSL installation.

As far as File Sharing goes, the answer is no -- you don't need File Sharing enabled to use DSL (or cable, or any other Internet access). TCP/IP is the only component you need in addition to the drivers for your network device (Modem, Ethernet Card, Airport card, and so on). File Sharing is only necessary if you want to share your files with people over the Internet (or locally, of course). Be aware, though, that enabling File Sharing over TCP/IP can open up some security holes on your system. If you don't need it, you're actually better off with those Extensions deleted/disabled.

Enjoy the high speed of DSL!

That's it for today, folks. E-mail your questions to [email protected], or visit the Ask Dave Forums and discuss your problems with everyone (computer problems, that is...). Until next week!

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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