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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Ethernet to LocalTalk, USB, and Helping A Mac User Choose AppleShare
December 10th, 1999

What a week it's been. As many of you know, I'm now a dad, and things have been crazy! But, of course, that didn't stop the questions and feedback from coming in. This week we'll deal with more LocalTalk to Ethernet options, talk about USB cards, and we have a unique request for information from a reader comparing Windows NT and AppleShare networks!

Breaking from form this week, I'm going to start with some feedback about last week's mention of solutions for a LocalTalk to ethernet bridge. Many people wrote in to let me know that I, of course, overlooked a few cheaper options for that solution when I mentioned the Farallon Etherwave series.

Ed Wilmsen writes, "Dave, you mentioned to someone that wanted to connect an older Mac to a G3 to use a Farallon device. Asante also makes an excellent ethernet to Appletalk converter called the AsanteTalk. I have two of them and they are so far reliable and very easy to use."

Thanks, Ed! A quick search shows the AsanteTalk router to be available from BottomLine for only US$94.99. Still not as cheap as an Ethernet card, but certainly much better than the $200 you'd need to go with the alternative. And since we're talking about such animals, the following question is appropriate:

Chris Burke writes, "I am looking for a way to put my Epson Stylus Color 800 on a LAN. I would like to avoid buying the $350 Ethernet card for the printer. There are two other options I have found and I would like to know which you think is better. First, there is a LocalTalk to Ethernet bridge. I found one from Asante for $95 that will use the LocalTalk card I bought with the printer. The other option is to buy a print server that will plug into the parallel port. There seem to be a number of these in the $70-$80 range. I don't know much about the print servers. Will they work in a Mac environment? Are they as fast or faster than the LocalTalk to Ethernet Bridges? Is there something else I don't understand that I need to know?"

For reference, it appears as though Chris is referring to an adapter like Kingston's EtheRx Print Server. It appears as though this device does work with the Mac, but I'd be wary -- not every printer has network-savvy Mac drivers, and without those I would imagine there'd be problems. You'll notice when you go to your Chooser that, within each driver, there will be options for how you wish to connect to the device. If the driver offers you ports to choose from (i.e. Printer or Modem), then it's not networkable. But if it offers you a list of your printers, then it is. Some printers come with BOTH versions of drivers -- one that's network ready, and one that's not. Without network-ready drivers, I can't imagine a parallel port-based print server like this would work. However, with such drivers being available for your Epson Stylus Color 800, I bet it would work fine. The question, of course, is which is faster? Well, LocalTalk maxes out at about 230 K/second under ideal situations. Parallel tends to work much faster than this, so that would be the option I'd choose here, barring any driver incompatibilities.

Troy Jackson writes, "I have a Motorola Starmax 200 mhz 604e, and was wondering if it would support a USB PCI card. I'd like to be able to take advantage of some of the new stuff out there!"

Troy -- I don't see any reason why any PCI-based Mac running Mac OS 8.6 or later shouldn't be able to use a third-party USB card (such as the Keyspan USB Card that I had the chance to review). You will need to download and install Apple's USB Card Support to make it work, but other than that, you should be fine! It sure is nice to be able to open up your Mac to the endless possibilities of USB for less than US$50!

Observer Call!

And we'll round today out with a request from a reader:

Wayne L. Nelson writes, "I am in the midst of a Windows NT vs. AppleShare IP argument within my firm. Is there any quantitative information regarding operating costs of these two networks? Of course, I have all the anecdotes, but I need hard information. Do you have any leads for me?"

I don't have any specific leads, Wayne, but I bet our readers might! If anyone has anything, please head on over to the Ask Dave! Forums and let us know!

That's all for this week, folks -- Enjoy your weekend, and if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail [email protected] or head over to the Ask Dave! Forums for help from ALL our readers (and if you're so inclined to help people, head over there and feel free to try your hand at a question or two!).

P.S. Have a Nice Day.

(and for those of you who care enough to read this far, feel free to browse around and check out pictures of our new baby girl!)

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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