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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

AirPort Troubles, Modem Tips, & Printers
January 19th, 2001

Oh yeah! MACWORLD Expo is behind us (for now), and there were lots of fun goodies released. Anyone getting their hands on one of those Titanium machines oughtta count their blessings. Something tells me they'll go fast. Anyway, the only way I'll ever get one is if I keep writing these columns here and save my shekels, so that's exactly what I set out to do today. We've got some great questions today, so we'll get right to them. As always, e-mail to me will work if you need a question answered. However, we've added a new feature here that will allow you to comment directly at the bottom of this article instead of using the forums (which, of course, you can still do). Decide what you like best, and we'll go with the flow! For now, enjoy!

Michael Kerschbaumer writes, "I have an iBook and an Airport Station connected to a DSL Modem. My provider is the Austrian Telekom and for our Internet connection we have to use LAN TUNNELBUILDER from Efficient Networks. That means we use the PPTP protocol. The setup was done fast and a successful connection was established. But it only lasts for about 3 minutes. Then the browser and mail program reported an error connecting, while the LAN TUNNELBUILDER still reported "Connected with..." and the counter runs. This happens every single time. In another forum concerning this problem some one said that we should "Map the Port", because then ISP Server needs something like a "heartbeat" from my iBook to know that I'm still online. But this "heartbeat" seems not to be transmitted from the Airport Base Station or from the Airport Card in the iBook. I don't know the port numbers that I should configure in the Base Station setup. Hope you can help me."

Well, Michael, this could be a tricky one. After reading the official RFC on the PPTP protocol, it would appear that PPTP uses port 1723 in its connections. However, my guess is that this is for outgoing connections from the client (your iBook) to the server. Incoming connections may or may not be on port 1723. But you could try using the Airport Admin utility to map port 1723 to the iBook and see if that helps.

Assuming it does not, there are other options. The Airport Base Station doesn't support any authentication protocols other than PPP for modem connections. Many DSL users are left in the lurch due to the fact that their providers either use PPTP (as yours does) or PPPoE (as mine does at home). Because of this, it's often necessary to add an additional piece of hardware to the mix. Thankfully there are a few companies out there making routers that supports both of these protocols. The LinkSys BEFSR41 - EtherFast 4-Port Cable/DSL Router is one such beast, and with a street price in the range of US$150.00, it is a cost-effective solution for anyone who is in the situation of wanting to connect their Airport networks to a DSL or Cable connection requiring some sort of authentication. You would connect your DSL Modem to the line just as you have now, then connect the LinkSys router to that. Configure the LinkSys router to do all your authentication for you (eliminating the need for the LAN TUNNELBUILDER application on your iBook), and then connect the Airport Base Station to the LinkSys router. Yes, it's a little convoluted, but it should work just fine and give you the access you so desire.

Tom Diola writes, "I'm trying to put together a Mac system for my Nephew that's in the USMC in North Carolina. So far I have a 6360 with 17" monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The machine has 40MB of RAM. I've installed the AT&T software for him to get to the web, and the Outlook Express software to get e-mail. Now for the sticky part: I have an old Mac Zoom 2845A modem and it connects at only 28,800 instead of 56K like it should. I can't find anywhere how to get the proper CCL script to get the modem to run at peak performance (i.e. 53,000 bps)."

Ok, Tom. There are a few things we can try here. However, keep in mind that it's entirely possible that your phone line just won't support the "56k" speeds, and that you're limited to 28.8 due to conditions outside of our control. Assuming that's NOT the case, though, here's what you need to do:

First, go to Zoom's 56K update web page and download the proper updater for your modem. That modem original shipped with "K56flex" software for 56K transmissions, and the standard that is in use today is V.90. There should be an update (second from the bottom of the page, last I checked) that will update your modem to V.90 compliance. Then you'll need to go to Zoom's Mac Technical Support page to download the proper CCL's for OT/PPP. That should do it (assuming, as we said, that your lines will support 56k speeds with this modem).

Tim Archdeacon writes, "Can you tell me how to remove printer names from the right side of the chooser window. When I select, say LaserWriter 8, I see the printer I want to use plus a whole bunch of old printer names we had on our network. Most of the help files I've been reading suggest going to the extensions folder and removing my printer description file. But the problem is that all of these printers, including the one I want to use, uses the same PPD file. I just want to remove the old names, you know what I mean?"

I do know what you mean, Tim, but I'm not certain its possible. When you click on the "LaserWriter 8" icon in the left hand side of the Chooser, the machine, in real-time, polls the network to see what devices currently match the "LaserWriter 8" profile. It displays these devices and updates the list every few seconds. From the way you've described things, it sounds to me like you have many different LaserWriter-style printers on your network, and your Mac is simple doing its job and showing them all to you. If that is indeed the case, then there's nothing you can do to limit what appears in that list. However, if you are *certain* that there are no other printers on the same network as your Mac, then it is possible that the Chooser has some corrupted preference or setting out there. In that case I would recommend deleting the "Printing Prefs" folder from your Preferences folder and restart. See if that helps. If anyone else has any recommendations, please post them in the comments below.

That's it for today folks! Feel free to send your questions to me at [email protected], or ask in the comments below. I'll see you in a few weeks!

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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