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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

Products That Can Solve Your Problems
September 2nd, 1999

This week we're here to talk about products that can solve your problems and make life easier for you. Each question that's featured in today's column deals with a different aspect of computing life, the problems that users have faced, and the products that have been created to solve those problems! If you have a question of your own, feel free to e-mail me. Otherwise, read on!

Patricia Walz writes, "I have a Power Mac 6100/66 and Power Mac G3/400 connected to each other via ethernet. If I am on the Internet using the G3 and my son wants to join me using the 6100/66 and we have only 1 phone line is there software available that will enable joint usage of the one line at the same time? I'll be looking for my answer in your column."

...and in my column you shall find it! Actually, you don't just want to use the line at the same time, you want to share the entire Internet Connection. Thankfully, there are a few pieces of software out there for doing just that! The two most popular would be IPNetRouter from Sustainable Softworks, and SurfDoubler Plus from Vicomsoft. Both products allow you to do just as you ask, and share your Modem-based Internet connection with your Ethernet-connected son! They're relatively easy to set up and maintain. And you can even set it so that if you're NOT connected to the Internet and your son wants on, all he has to do is fire up his web browser and your computer will dial and connect for him. Of course, it's possible to disable this feature, as well, just in case you want to monitor his usage.

Javier Rueda writes, "I have been looking (Sherlock assisted) for an answer to the DHCP renew-release lease using Open Transport 2.0.3. I wonder if you have had the need to 'force' DHCP to release the lease so that a new lease (on a different subnet) can be acquired from another DHCP scope? Rebooting is not an option or waiting 2 min. (default)"

Javier, you're in luck. Once again I refer to the fabulous folks over at Sustainable Softworks. Currently, they are the only ones I am aware of that provide a method for managing DHCP leases. Their IPNetMonitor software is a very handy tool (and was featured recently as a Monday's Mac Gadget). In addition to managing your DHCP lease, it also gives you the ability to do other nerdy Internet things like pings, traceroutes, whois, nslookups, and includes a connection monitor as well. All in all, it's a handy-dandy tool, and everyone that's connected to the Internet should have it!

Craig Kokesh writes, "I need to figure out how to connect two 100% Macintosh, Appletalk, Ethernet networks from Los Angeles to New York. Both offices have the same equipment G3's and 604e PPC's running 8.5.1 & 8.6 with SDSL Flowpoint 2200 routers supplying connections to the internet. Both routers have static WAN IP's and the networks are setup to use DHCP server IP allocation. In the past I have been connecting the two networks using Apple Remote Access but I can only connect at modem speeds because it only supports dialing in. Do I need to set up a server? If so would I install Appleshare IP or OS X Server? Is Mac OS 9 supposed to have this capability built in? What are the steps in setting this up?"

Being that today is software-solution recommendation day, I'm going to continue along that trend. As you've inferred, TCP/IP is definitely the best way to go here.

Both Appleshare IP and OS X Server will certainly perform the tasks for you, but they're often more costly and more trouble to work with than your current solution (which I assume is just peer-to-peer based). While OS 9 is rumored to have TCP/IP-based file sharing built-in, there is a product out on the market that will do this for you right now, sort of. Shareway IP from Open Door Networks, Inc. gives you the ability to share files via TCP/IP by turning your Mac into its own AppleTalk to TCP/IP gateway. The "Personal" flavor will sit right on top of Personal File Sharing in MacOS. It will give others access to your files via TCP/IP, all the while letting you maintain users and groups just as you have been with standard Personal File Sharing.

Fred Johnstone writes, "Hello Maybe you can help me. I have always owned a Mac. The first was an SE back in the 80's, to the G-3/233 I have now. I was transferred here to Texas in 93. I keep in touch with my friends in CA via the internet. From time to time I get e-mail from them with 'exe files'. For some reason I can't open these. I tried the PC exchange that's part of the 8.6 OS. Nothing seems to work. Is there a helper out there I can use to solve this problem? If so, can you put me into the right direction. My friends all let me to get rid of my Mac and get a PC. Fat chance that'll ever happen. I tried SoftWindows and that caused my mac a ton of problems."

If not SoftWindows, then how about Virtual PC, Fred? Unfortunately, ".exe" files are PC-specific "executable" files -- otherwise known as applications. They just won't run on the Mac without some sort of emulation software. It would be analogous to taking your Mac version of Microsoft Word and trying to run it on a Windows machine. It just won't go. Usually the ".exe" files that come across in friendly e-mails are little jokes or toys. Without some sort of emulator (like Virtual PC or SoftWindows), there's no way to experience these on the Mac.

Backup Update!

Duane Foster writes, "You were 'preaching to the choir' with your advice on backup discipline. Backup and restoring the backup is good advice. But to get that warm fuzzy feeling that all is well, I would like to do a file compare with original files. Do you have any suggestions on utilities that do this? I am a long time computer user, but new to Mac."

Yes, Duane -- the product I always use and recommend for backups, Retrospect, will do it all for you. You can set it to do a full verification at the end of each backup job for safety's sake!

...and that's it! I'll see you next week! Send me your questions to [email protected], and I'll get you straightened out!

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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