It’s no secret that Leopard’s Back to My Mac feature doesn’t work for everyone (see “Punching a Hole for Back to My Mac,” 2007-11-17). The service that lets you securely connect to multiple machines that you register with your .Mac account for file and screen sharing is nifty, but can require more effort to configure than is possible for the average user. In email from dozens of users, I’m finding that even generic installations with non-firewalled broadband and AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express base stations don’t necessarily work properly.
Apple agrees, apparently. A reader sent me the email (with a link to Apple’s Knowledge Base article on the topic) he received from Apple’s technical support when he wrote in with some configuration questions about his setup:
"Thank you for asking about Back to My Mac. In the coming weeks, Apple will improve compatibility with home-based routers and various network environments. So if you find that you cannot access your remote Mac right away, please be patient as we work to improve the service.
"For instructions and troubleshooting information for Back to my Mac, please see: Back to My Mac: Frequently asked questions (Mac OS X 10.5)."
It’s extremely rare for Apple (or any firm) to admit that a feature doesn’t work as advertised. And it’s even more rare to request patience from users. But it’s nice to know that Apple knows there are problems and is working on it.
I expect that Back to My Mac can become much more resilient and consistent simply because Skype’s voice, video, and chat system can tunnel through all manner of networks, even those designed to prevent such tunneling. Skype plays a lot of games to make that happen behind the scenes, and Apple may have to learn more of Skype’s tricks.