Ethernet Fun, Word 6 Quandry, & DVD In Mac OS X 10.1
October 5th, 2001

Greetings, folks! Ask Dave has returned from hiatus, and boy howdy are we fixin' to deliver a lot of great stuff for you today (sorry, I spent some time in Texas during September, and some of the more familiar bits of that vernacular got stuck between my teeth). Today we'll talk about the nitty gritty of some Ethernet-based networks, a problem with MS Word, and help an iBook user make the switch to Mac OS X. And I have an announcement to make. Now that Mac OS X is "ready for prime-time" with the release of Mac OS X 10.1, I will be addressing more and more of that in upcoming columns. So please send me your Mac OS X-related questions, and we'll do our best to get 'em answered for you lickity split! For now, read on and enjoy!

Óscar Chávez writes, "My problem is that the ATT@Home guys used the Ethernet port to connect the cable modem, and unplugged my AsantéTalk adapter (to which an HP LaserJet 5000 is connected). I tried an USB to serial adapter, and it does not work (as you explained in a previous column discussing why LocalTalk only works on ports originally designed for such a function). So my question is: Do I need an Ethernet Hub, or could I use the USB port and Asanté's USB to Ethernet adapter (that seems to support only Windows USB-enabled computers)?"

Greetings, Óscar! You're right -- the USB to serial adapter won't work due to the fact that LocalTalk needs to be built into the serial port from the factory. I'm not sure which Asante product you speak of (the only one I can find is a USB to wireless adapter which is, in fact, Windows only), but that doesn't really matter. You wouldn't want to confuse matters by adding another translation to the mix. Your best bet is to get yourself a small Ethernet hub. You should be able to find a 4 port hub for less than US$50, and it will serve your needs perfectly, allowing the devices to both communicate with your computer at the same time.

Aaron writes, "I have 3 computers networked, all with different 10/100 Ethernet cards and a 10/100 hub. Does having different brands of cards affect performance?"

In theory, as long as the cards and hub have the same feature sets, then you won't notice a performance difference. There are those that feel as though SMC or 3COM cards will perform better than their less-popular brethren, but to be honest, I haven't experienced that in my long history with networks. However, it is worth keeping in mind that some cards and hubs don't support full-duplex transmission. The default behavior for both 10 and 100Base-T is "half-duplex" mode, meaning the devices can either send or receive data, but not at the same time. Full-duplex mode allows the devices to send AND receive data at the maximum rate at the same time, allowing for faster network performance in many cases. Make sure that your cards and your hub(s) support this, and that the feature is enabled on them (most cards will autosense when they connect to a hub, but there are some instances where you need to use the card's configuration utility to enable this feature).

Peter Vittrup-Christensen writes, "My MS Word version 6 has been working well but now there is an error message stating that the machine can not find 'microsoft_OLE2--StgIsStorageFileFSP'. I don't seem to be able to find the file - could you suggest anything?"

Peter -- with Word 6, this typically meant that your system didn't have enough RAM to run Word in its current configuration. Either you had too many other extensions or programs running, or you had too much memory allocated to the Word application itself. The way Word 6 worked was that it loaded the application into the chunk of memory reserved as such, and then it would load all of the necessary libraries into the System "heap" (the memory partition that the operating system uses). The System heap would then grow dynamically as needed to accommodate the additional libraries and resources. However, if there isn't enough room for the System heap to grow, then it reports back to Word that it can't load a particular library (whichever the first one is that it doesn't have enough room for). The developers at Microsoft programmed Word such that it would report that the library then couldn't be found, when in fact it typically means that it just didn't have enough RAM to load the library itself. Fun, huh?

But the real answer to your problem -- upgrade to Word 2001. MS Word 6 is a cheap port of a crummy Windows application, whereas Word 2001 is a beautifully written, Mac-specific program that takes full advantage of (and plays nice with) all the wonderful features of the Mac OS. Trust me -- upgrade and you won't be sorry.

Jamie Saunders writes, "Apple's Web site says if you want to use the new DVD player in Mac OS X 10.1 you need a G4, iMac, PowerBook or AGP iBook. Does that mean I can't see DVDs with my 466 iBook graphite?"

Well, Jamie -- Apple's new knowledgebase makes it difficult to find specs on older machines (unless you get lucky with your search terms), so this question would normally be tough to answer. Tough, that is, without the help of A quick search of their archives reveals the technical specs for your iBook and, sure enough, indicates that you have AGP video built-in. Your Apple System Profiler results should also confirm this, and I would imagine you would have no problem playing DVDs on your iBook.

That's it for this one, folks! If you have any comments about the items discussed here, please post them in the comments below. If you have a question of your own, please feel free it to me at [email protected], or ask in the Ask Dave/Mac Support Boards. I'll see you next week!

PS. Have a Nice Day.