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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Upgrading CD-ROMs, Networking, And My First Y2K Question!
December 3rd, 1999

Oh boy! This week we talk about replacing your CD-ROM with a newer, better, faster model, networking old computers with new ones, and we finally got a question in about Y2K, so we explore that, too! Feel free to ask me your own questions, or ask everyone in our Ask Dave! Forums. And now, as always, on to the questions...

Tom Byers writes, "I have a Performa 6400 with a 8x internal CD. I would like to upgrade to a 24x or faster internal CD. Plextor makes a 32x and 40x internal. Will they work in my 6400 and what kind of software is required? Will I be able to boot from a Plextor?"

Tom -- The Performa 6400 has an IDE-based CD-ROM drive in it, so in theory it can be replaced with another IDE CD-ROM. Your concerns about software are valid, though, since Apple's drivers built into the Mac OS will only run Apple-branded CD-ROM drives. For a non-Apple CD-ROM, you'll need to explore 3rd party offerings, such as CD-ROM Toolkit from FWB, or CD-ROM SpeedTools from Intech Software. Both of these products list Plextor among their supported drives, so you should be in good shape whichever one you choose.

As far as booting goes, yes, you should be able to boot just fine from any CD-ROM you put in there. It seems as though the Apple drivers included on bootable CDs work fine on any drive (which makes us all wonder why their Extension-based drivers wont!).

Ana Uribe writes, "I want to connect my Performa to my iBook, but in the Appletalk Control Panel there is only an ethernet option, and I need to choose the USB port, because it is where I have an Entrega USB to serial port converter. What do I have to do for connecting my iBook to my old Performa?

Ana -- A quick check of Entrega's web site reveals the following:

"The Entrega USB to serial converter allows a large number of regular serial devices to be connected to USB ports. We have tested a number of specific serial devices for compatibility, and they are listed below. It will not support variants of the serial port such as Appletalk and Geoport, nor will it support Midi devices."

So there's no support for Appletalk on your USB->serial converter, that's why it's not showing up in the Appletalk Control Panel (for the record, I don't think there's ANY USB->serial converters on the market that currently support Appletalk). That being said, we need to find something that WILL work in between your two computers.

The easiest way to do this (and the cheapest, too) is to put an Ethernet card in your Performa. According to Apple's specs, it's got two PCI slots, so a PCI-based Ethernet card is a definite solution. Asante's 10NIC PCI is a perfect solution (available from Bottom Line for US$ 42.95) and with a crossover cable, you can just plug in and go!

However, if your computer doesn't have a way to add an ethernet card (or have built-in ethernet) you may have to get a router -- a box that will let you connect your Localtalk-based Mac to an Ethernet network. For that I recommend Farallon's Etherwave devices. They're easy to use, and they work. They range between US$200 and US$350, depending on what you need. Certainly more expensive than adding an ethernet card, but it's a solution if you don't have that option.

E. Fisher writes, "I am a grandmother and computer dummy but love my Mac....even went out and bought a G3 Powerbook which I know is Y2K compliant. My desktop is a Macintosh Performa 6400/180.....Is it Y2K compliant or will I have a problem. Would appreciate hearing from you to know if I have to worry about it or not."

You know, I've been writing this column for almost all of 1999, and this is the FIRST Y2K-related question I've ever received! That said, it's probably because, as Apple so proudly states, Mac's have ALWAYS been Y2K compliant! On their hardware compliance page, they specifically list your computer as having passed all Y2K tests. And, while Apple states that their operating systems have always been compliant, they specifically say that they have tested versions 7.5.5 and upward and can ensure compatibility with those versions.

So, yes, your Performa and it's operating system are compliant, but that does NOT mean all your software is. Some Mac software is, in fact, NOT compliant. For that I recommend using one of the many Y2K "tester" utilities out there. Y2K App Checker from Blue Line Studios (Free) and Y2K Software Audit from Pedagoguery Software (US$38) each contain a database listing thousands of Mac programs and their specific Y2K compatibility issues -- they will scan your hard drives and report their findings in an easy to read form. Y2K Checker from Tre-Edre Systems (US$29) actually sets your date forward and runs all your applications, checking everything automatically. There are others, as well, but this should get you started!

That's all for this week folks. Visit the Ask Dave! Forums, or e-mail me here at [email protected].

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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