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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Wiring Your House, LaserWriter Problems, & Burning Audio CDs
February 6th, 2001

Greetings, everyone! Today's column is full of some great questions. We discuss wiring your home for a network, disabling the startup page from Apple LaserWriters, and making CDs from your Mac work in your CD player at home. If you have a question of your own, you can e-mail me, or ask in the comments below. Alternatively, the Ask Dave/Tech Support forums are there for everyone to take a crack at answering your question, so feel free to post it there, too! For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Howard writes, "I am building my home and want to 'wire it' to network EVERYTHING when the electrician puts in the wire. I want to take advantage of this opportunity so that I run faster than Airport networking for machine to machine and to only use Airport for hanging out in the backyard. Any suggestions in terms of what kind of line, where to put a hub, where to put the router, et cetera? My ideal would be to have DSL into the house, something like IP Net router for the additional machines, etc.?"

Thanks for writing, Howard. Your best bet is to use category 5 (CAT-5) cabling when wiring your house. This will allow you to use either 10 or 100 megabit per second Ethernet speeds reliably. This type of network configuration requires building what's commonly known as a "star" configuration. That is -- each network cable must originate from a common point where a hub can be used to interconnect them. The hub will allow each run of cable to "talk" to the other runs (and the computers connected to them). Choosing where to put this hub (and subsequently where to originate each cable run) is something you should consider carefully.

If you're going to use your Mac to route your connection, you'll probably want to have the hub within close proximity to your Mac, though this is not mandatory. It is possible to have your Mac be connected to a run of cable somewhere else in the house and have your hub be more centrally located. You'll need to make sure that your DSL line comes in close enough to your computer so that you won't have to lots of extra cable to get the signal to your Mac. If you go this route, you'll also want to make sure you can put two Ethernet cards in the Mac you want to use. One will connect to the Cable or DSL modem, and the other will connect to your hub.

Something else you may want to consider is using a hardware-based router of some sort instead of using your computer and IPNetRouter software. While this will cost you a few hundred dollars (more if you want one with Airport built-in), it can be more beneficial. If you use IPNetRouter, your main Mac would need to be powered on before any other computer could connect to the 'net, and if that machine crashes, it would need to be rebooted before house-wide access would be restored. It all depends on your setup, of course, but is definitely worth considering.

Setting up a home network can be a bit of work, but it can also be a LOT of fun. The benefits aren't just limited to sharing your Internet access, either. You can share files and printers, too, with all the other computers in your house (including those connected via Airport).

Glenn B. Hickman Jr. writes, "I recently picked up a LaserWriter IIf from a thrift shop and had a paper feed problem repaired, and it is working fine now. However I want to turn off the status sheet print out, which I get every time I turn on the printer. Where can I down load the utility disk to turn off the status sheet printout?"

Glenn, to do this you'll need the Apple Printer Utility. It may already be on your hard drive (it comes with various flavors of the LaserWriter software downloads), but if not, you can download it directly from Apple.

Scott Barnhart writes, "OK Dave, I followed all of your directions concerning the downloading, converting, and burning of my mp3 files and still can't get them running through my CD player. They're converted to WAV format. What am I doing wrong?"

Scott, chances are you are making a Mac format CD instead of an audio format CD. You didn't mention which software you're using, but my guess is that you're using Toast, as that's likely to be the most popular software on the market. Before "creating" the CD, go to the "Format" menu in Toast, and choose "Audio CD". Once that's been chosen, you can drag your WAV files (or MP3's directly, assuming they were saved in one of the Toast-supported formats) right into the Toast Window, burn the CD, and you're good to go!

If you have been doing this, then it's possible that your CD player won't read "burned" disks. While this isn't a problem with most CD players made in the last year or two, there are definitely some older ones that will have this problem. I have a CD player here from 1986 that just refuses to properly play any CD I burn, no matter what quality or color the medium is. If you think this is the cause of the problems, test your stuff on another CD player and see if it plays properly.

If you're not sure which format the CD is in, insert it into your Mac. It should come up as "Audio CD" on your desktop, and it should be playable with the Apple CD Audio Player. If it's not, then its not in the right format for your CD player, either.

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!

PS. 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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