Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the best-selling Take Control ebooks.



Pick an apple! 
Improve Apple Services with AirPort Base Stations

You can make iChat file transfers, iDisk, and Back to My Mac work better by turning on a setting with Apple AirPort base stations released starting in 2003. Launch AirPort Utility, select your base station, click Manual Setup, choose the Internet view, and click the NAT tab. Check the Enable NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) box, and click Update. NAT-PMP lets your Mac OS X computer give Apple information to connect back into a network that's otherwise unreachable from the rest of the Internet. This speeds updates and makes connections work better for services run by Apple.


AccessPC Introduction

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Apple has always boasted of the SuperDrive's ability to read and write both Mac and MS-DOS disks. Apple's propagandizing statements fail to mention that you have to use Apple File Exchange, a relatively obnoxious, Font/DA Mover-like program, to access the MS-DOS files. In normal operation, the SuperDrive rejects all MS-DOS disks. I'm sure that some rabid Mac users have modified the standard message from the staid "This is not a Macintosh disk. Eject or Initialize?" to "This disk is unclean. Convert it to the holy format?"

Those of us who don't feel quite so chauvinistic about our computers and who actually talk to people who use MS-DOS machines can use a couple of different utilities to see MS-DOS disks on our desktops, just like any Mac disk. Dayna (the people who gave us the DaynaFile, which also has DOS-disk mounting capabilities) made the first of these utilities, DOS Mounter. DOS Mounter wasn't perfect, by any means, since it had to write a Desktop file to the floppy disk, which meant that you couldn't use locked DOS disks with it, or any copy protected disks, or any disks that had installation schemes that "know" which files are on the disk and become confused if any others show up. You get the idea, DOS Mounter was slow and irritating to use. Insignia Solutions, the people who came up with the elegant hack SoftPC, wrote AccessPC to compete with DOS Mounter. AccessPC circumvents most of DOS Mounter's limitations and adds a few features to boot. To be fair, Dayna just released DOS Mounter 2.0, which supposedly addresses all of version 1.0's limitations and provides better competition for AccessPC. We haven't compared DOS Mounter 2.0 yet, but hopefully we will at some future time.


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