Moving to a new house? Forget about where to put the sofa… get that Internet connection set up! In this issue, Adam learns through trial and error how to set up an unusual wireless network configuration. Also, Matt Neuburg organizes his hard disk with the help of DiskSurveyor, Microsoft avoids a breakup in its antitrust trial, and we note the releases of Sync Buddy 1.3, IPNetSentry 1.2 Style Master 2.0, and Retrospect drivers for use with internal CD-RW drives.
Government Drops Microsoft Breakup Effort
Government Drops Microsoft Breakup Effort — Last week, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it will not seek to break up Microsoft Corporation during the next phase of the long-running antitrust trial. Further, the Justice Department will not pursue charges that Microsoft illegally tied its Web browser to the Windows operating system. The announcement is a reversal of the previous Clinton administration’s legal strategy, and the Justice Department says the decision to drop key aspects of the Microsoft case is intended "to obtain prompt, effective and certain relief for consumers." Apparently, the new strategy will be to use the finding that Microsoft illegally maintained its monopoly in PC operating systems (a finding unanimously upheld by the Court of Appeals last July) to end Microsoft’s illegal conduct and open the operating system market to competition, though no details of possible remedies or settlements were revealed.
The announcement is widely seen as a victory for Microsoft, and vastly improves the likelihood of the company reaching a favorable settlement with the U.S. federal government (though at least 2 of 18 U.S. states – California and New York – that are also party to the antitrust lawsuit have expressed a more hard-line view). In the meantime, Microsoft is on the verge of releasing Windows XP, the latest version of its primary operating system, which integrates even more previously separate technologies into its operating system. Now that the government will no longer be pursuing the issue of whether Microsoft illegally tied its Web browser to its operating system, it seems less likely that legal ramifications will prevent Microsoft from usurping applications and markets by unilaterally declaring the technology to be part of Windows. [GD]
Retrospect 4.3 Adds Support for Apple CD-RW Drives
Retrospect 4.3 Adds Support for Apple CD-RW Drives — At long last, Apple and Dantz Development have released the necessary software for Dantz’s Retrospect 4.3 (all versions, including Retrospect Express) to be able to back up to most of the CD-RW drives included in Apple’s iMacs, iBooks, and Power Mac G4s back in January of 2001 (see "Retrospect and Retrospect Express 4.3 Released" in TidBITS-541). The problem turned out to be surprisingly complex, in part because these were the first ATAPI CD-RW drives Apple has shipped and thus required new drivers, but mostly because Apple’s Disc Burner software assumes that it has exclusive access to the CD-RW drive at all times, preventing other programs from using it. The solution was the Shared Device Access Protocol (SDAP), developed by Apple, Dantz, and Roxio (makers of the Toast CD burning software), and implemented in Apple’s SDAP Authoring Support extension, which enables SDAP-compliant control of Apple hardware starting with Mac OS 9.2.1 (see "Mac OS 9.2.1 Released" in TidBITS-594).
So, to use Retrospect 4.3 with supported internal CD-RW drives (including the Sony CRX140E and Matshita CW-7586 in the Power Mac G4, the Sony CRX700E and Toshiba SD-R2002 in the iBook, and the Matshita CW-7121 in the iMac – you can use Apple System Profiler to see which CD-RW drive you have), you need Mac OS 9.2.1, Retrospect Backup 4.3, Retrospect Driver Update 2.2, and Retrospect Extensions Updater. The latter two are free 650K and 150K downloads respectively; the Retrospect Driver Update 2.2 download requires your registration number. Dantz expects to announce support soon for the SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) and the CD-RW drives that shipped in the Macs announced at Macworld Expo NY in July of 2001 (see "Apple Speeds Up iMacs and Power Mac G4s" in TidBITS-589). [ACE]
IPNetSentry 1.2 Bans Code Red Traffic
IPNetSentry 1.2 Bans Code Red Traffic — Sustainable Softworks has updated IPNetSentry, their personal firewall and network security software (see "Macworld SF 2001 Trend: Personal Firewalls" in TidBITS-564 for more information on personal firewalls). New in IPNetSentry 1.2 is a feature that can detect in incoming packets patterns of data found in the Code Red-type worms that have caused such havoc for PCs running Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS). Although the Code Red worm can’t infect or otherwise harm Macs, whether or not they’re running a Web server, the traffic can impact the responsiveness of your Internet connection and fill up Web server log files. Once IPNetSentry 1.2 detects a Code Red intrusion, it blocks the originating IP address and the lack of a response causes the Code Red-infected machine to stop sending packets. As new Code Red-type worms appear, IPNetSentry users will be able to download new #set/payload_inspection commands from the Sustainable Softworks Web site and insert them in the IPNetSentry configuration file to block unwanted traffic. The IPNetSentry 1.2 update is free to registered users; otherwise IPNetSentry costs $35. It’s a 1.3 MB download. [ACE]
Sync Buddy 1.3 Released
Sync Buddy 1.3 Released — Florent Pillet has released Sync Buddy 1.3, an update (and name change) to Palm Buddy, his Macintosh file-management utility for Palm handhelds (see "A New Buddy for Mac PalmPilot Users" in TidBITS-436). Sync Buddy doesn’t replace the Palm Desktop software that comes with every new Palm OS-based device; instead, it enables you to make a live connection to your handheld and install, delete, or get information about a file. Sync Buddy’s strongest feature, however, is the capability to create snapshot backups of anything on your Palm device, including applications in ROM. This update also brings USB and infrared compatibility to Sync Buddy, support for Handspring Visor and Sony Clie devices (the latter when used with Mark/Space’s The Missing Sync software), and general bug fixes. In addition, the utility includes more plug-ins for converting file formats (such as HanDBase and JFile database files), and plug-ins for non-Roman languages. Sync Buddy costs $25 shareware; the upgrade is free for registered users of Palm Buddy, and is a 1.1 MB download. [JLC]
Western Civilisation Offers Style Master 2.0
Western Civilisation Offers Style Master 2.0 — For webmasters who write their own HTML, Western Civilisation has long been the source of the best instruction and information on the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) protocol, as well as the best utility for editing it, Style Master (see "Precision Web Pages with Style Master" in TidBITS-501). Now Style Master has been updated to 2.0. You can open a new style sheet from a template, and Western Civilisation supplies several sample templates. Color coding and find-and-replace have been added to the editor, and Western Civilisation also added support for external editors such as BBEdit, so you can alternate between an overall text-based view and Style Master’s own view of individual statements and properties. The browser support information has been updated to include Netscape 6 and Opera 5 (but not, alas, iCab or OmniWeb). There is improved support for comments, @media rules, relative linking, and even CSS3MP (the mobile wireless standard). Style Master 2.0 also claims to parse an existing document that uses the old deprecated "presentational" and "structural" HTML (such as FONT tags and attributes like ALIGN and BGCOLOR) and generate a CSS stylesheet from it; in my testing, though, this feature wasn’t robust enough to be useful. Style Master requires Mac OS 8 or higher and 5 MB of RAM on a PowerPC-based Mac. It costs $30, or $50 for the Pro version which includes CSS2 support. A 31-day trial version is available. [MAN]
Tools We Use: DiskSurveyor
When I’m organizing my hard disks or attempting to reclaim disk space, the Finder isn’t always the most efficient tool. Instead, I turn to Tom Luhrs’s DiskSurveyor to learn what’s occupying my volumes. Drag a volume icon onto DiskSurveyor and, after quickly scanning the volume, it puts up a window where colored rectangles are arranged in columns to represent graphically the sizes of the files and folders on the volume. The height of the window represents the entire occupied portion of the volume. The first column shows the proportional sizes of all the top-level files and folders, the second column shows the proportional sizes of the second-level files and folders, and so forth. On my monitor, I can see about six columns at once (scrolling horizontally displays more).
Where there’s room, an item’s name is shown, and you can hover the mouse over any item to learn more about it. For a closer look at a folder, just click on it: this zooms the view so that folder occupies the whole first column. You can also see simple bar-charts or pie-charts of all volumes simultaneously, showing how much of each is occupied. Finally, you can export a window’s contents as a text file, suitable for analysis with a spreadsheet or database program, or for searching with a text editor such as BBEdit, or for displaying graphically in DiskSurveyor at some later time.
When I first tried the program I thought it had a gorgeous, ingenious, and original interface, but I didn’t imagine I’d have much practical use for it. A week or two later, though, it showed me instantly that the invisible Temporary Items folder had accumulated a lot of junk that wasn’t being deleted, and a few days later it revealed that virtual memory had been turned on accidentally and was eating up the disk with its swap file. I instantly paid DiskSurveyor’s shareware fee! My usual strategy is now to fire up DiskSurveyor from time to time, looking for blocks of color that seem disproportionately large; but I also like to use it just to roam around, getting a sense of what’s where on my hard disks in the first place – DiskSurveyor is a great way to do this, because, unlike the Finder, it shows you several levels at once.
DiskSurveyor has almost no connection with the file system; Shift-clicking a folder’s representation opens it in the Finder, but that’s all (for example, from within DiskSurveyor you can’t delete a Finder item or turn an invisible item visible). But I never feel this is a detriment, since there are other ways to accomplish these things; to implement them would probably detract from DiskSurveyor’s purity, simplicity, and beauty.
DiskSurveyor 2.5 is $15 shareware; it requires System 7 or higher, and is a 450K download.
Fast and Loose with Wireless Networking
Whenever Tonya and I move, two of the early priorities are to create an internal network for file sharing and printing, and to bring up an Internet connection. Looking back on our last few moves offers a trip through networking technology.
When we moved to Seattle back in 1991, the network between my SE/30, her Macintosh Classic, and our QMS-PS 410 laser printer came up quickly via phone cables carrying LocalTalk. The Internet connection was trickier, requiring me to find a host that would give me a UUCP feed (Unix to Unix CoPy, an old form of transferring information around the Internet). When we bought our first house two years later, I didn’t have to change anything with the UUCP connection (though I later switched to TCP/IP-based Internet access via SLIP, then PPP, and then a dedicated 56 Kbps frame relay connection). But for the first time, we had offices in separate rooms, which meant that our interim LocalTalk network required patching several phone cables together with extra PhoneNet connectors to cover the distance (for some reason, our cats decided they liked to sleep right on top of the cables). The next move was to a much larger house, and for that I bought a 50-foot phone cable for the interim LocalTalk network until we got someone to pull Ethernet cable throughout the downstairs offices and to the kitchen upstairs. At least the network worked there – that was the house where we suffered with a single phone line for voice and dialup Internet access for six months, and waited another three months before US West (now Qwest) was able to provide a 56 Kbps frame relay connection.
The days of LocalTalk are long past, and the concept of living with only dialup Internet access for more than a very short while fills me with dread. So for the latest move to Ithaca, New York, I resolved to set up a proper network and Internet connection right away. But as they say, the best laid plans… We’ve been in the house for over two months, and although I managed to bring up networking and Internet connectivity quickly, the whole setup feels like it’s held together with spit and baling wire. Or at least it would be if there were any wires involved.
Go Wireless — Wiring a house can be difficult and expensive, and I hate drilling through walls and floors if I can avoid it. Since the four Macs that Tonya and I use regularly (my Power Mac G4 and iBook (Dual USB), her blueberry iBook, and the PowerBook G3 Series that serves as our kitchen Mac) are all capable of using the 802.11b wireless networking technology that’s at the heart of Apple’s AirPort, I figured I’d use our AirPort Base Station to make that connection and use wired Ethernet for our older machines. Bringing our LocalTalk-based LaserWriter Select 360 into the mix would be done via Apple’s unsupported LocalTalk Bridge running on one of our older machines that supports both Ethernet and LocalTalk. And indeed, that all works like a charm, though our cat Cubbins doesn’t get the pleasure of sitting on any networking cables.
Then came time to add in an Internet connection. I have two options, a cable modem and, more interestingly, a long-range 802.11b wireless connection. My master plan is to use both of these connections. They’re both inexpensive, so I’d be paying less for two megabit-plus connections than I was paying in Seattle for a single 56 Kbps frame relay connection (even without ISP fees). But neither guarantees reliability, and losing connectivity for even a short while at the wrong time can be maddening in my position.
I haven’t yet figured out how all this will happen, though I’m still investigating using Open Transport’s hidden single-link multihoming capability of answering to multiple IP numbers, running two separate AirPort networks, or doing some fancy routing. My tardiness in figuring all this out is due to needing to set up the long-range 802.11b wireless connection (I’m still learning about the necessary antennas, which can be used with normal 802.11b gear to extend range significantly). Of course, I also have to get my work done every day and finish moving in, so in the meantime I’m using just the cable modem connection, and therein lies the rub for my wireless network.
It turns out that this particular cable modem service memorizes the MAC address (the address of an Ethernet card) that connects to it and provides it with an IP address via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), which means it can’t be plugged into an Ethernet hub which lacks a MAC address. One seemingly obvious solution is to plug it directly into the AirPort Base Station’s Ethernet jack and serve just our wireless-capable computers temporarily. But that doesn’t work for reasons I don’t entirely understand yet, even after reading Apple’s somewhat confusing Knowledge Base documentation and trying all possible configurations.
Various Alternatives — Clearly I needed another approach, and since I knew I could get the cable modem working if it was plugged directly into one of my Macs, I immediately thought of running IPNetRouter from Sustainable Softworks on our Performa 6400 with a pair of Ethernet cards (which I happened to have lying around) in its two PCI slots. First came some fussing with how DHCP works (if you ever open your TCP/IP control panel and see an IP address starting with 169, that means your Mac hasn’t gotten a real IP address from the DHCP server – try switching the connection from Ethernet to PPP and back again to force a retry). Then I had to fiddle with the two elderly Ethernet cards, one from Farallon and one from Sonic Systems, since they conflicted with certain combinations of drivers and slot order. Eventually, though, I got it all set up and working with IPNetRouter (which was itself easy to configure once I had everything else working properly). I then plugged our other wired Macs into the Ethernet hub along with the AirPort Base Station, which I set so all it did was bridge between the wireless and wired networks (all the Macs used manual addressing with IP addresses in the private 192.168.0.x range). Plugging a PhoneNet connector into the Performa 6400’s Printer port and enabling LocalTalk Bridge brought the LaserWriter into the mix, and all was happy. Here’s what it looked like:
Cable modem — Card A | Card B — Hub — Wired Macs
PhoneNet cable | |
via LocalTalk Bridge | AirPort Base Station — Wireless Macs
LaserWriter Select 360
There was only one problem. I had managed to force the two Ethernet cards’ conflict into an uneasy truce, but skirmishes still broke out every few hours that took down the Internet connection. A restart fixed the problem, and since I was desperately trying to get other things done, I hacked around the problem by installing Maxum’s PageSentry, telling it to watch our main Web site, and if it lost contact to restart the machine via a one-line AppleScript. It wasn’t elegant, but it kept the connection up 99 percent of the time.
It worked for a while. After about three weeks, late on a Friday afternoon as I was pushing to finish an article, one of the Ethernet cards threw in the towel. At first the connection would go down after only a minute or two, then the Performa 6400 refused to boot at all until I removed one of the cards. Desperate to bring something back up, I realized that I actually had other Macs with multiple Ethernet cards, since AirPort cards speak Ethernet too. So I connected the cable modem’s Ethernet cable to Tonya’s iBook, turned on the Software Base Station feature of Apple’s AirPort software, reset my Power Mac G4 to use DHCP in the TCP/IP control panel, and managed to finish my work for the day. Though functional, this setup wasn’t ideal, since neither the wired Macs nor the laser printer could be on the network. Plus, when Tonya came home, she expressed a certain level of displeasure at her iBook being tethered to the cable modem (my iBook was off at Apple getting a new keyboard because of a partially broken keycap). But, here’s what that configuration looked like:
via Software Base Station
Cable modem — Ethernet AirPort — Wireless Macs
Our kitchen Mac PowerBook G3 was the only other dual-Ethernet Mac available, since although my Power Mac G4 had an AirPort card, on-board Ethernet, and a free PCI slot for an Ethernet card, moving its 20" monitors into the same room as the cable modem is not a job to be taken lightly. The unusual thing about the PowerBook G3 is that it uses an old Farallon SkyLINE 2Mbps card for access to the wireless network. I wasn’t sure if or how I’d be able to work that into the system, since Farallon’s software has no provision for acting like a base station.
In the end, though, it turned out to be easy. I set the SkyLINE software to create a computer-to-computer network (which it calls "ad-hoc"), configured IPNetRouter as I had on the Performa, and plugged a PhoneNet connector into the Modem/Printer port and installed LocalTalk Bridge so we could print (plus access the wired Macs slowly, since all of them can also use LocalTalk). I had to reset my Power Mac G4 back to a manual IP address, but everything worked, albeit a bit more slowly due to the SkyLINE card’s lower throughput and the increased reliance on LocalTalk. Here’s what this network looked like:
Cable modem — Ethernet | SkyLINE — Wireless Macs
PhoneNet cable |
via LocalTalk Bridge |
LaserWriter Wired Macs
Not all was perfect, though. Tonya’s iBook worked with the new setup, except that the SkyLINE card was powerful enough to reach only the door of her office, not the desk six feet further in (this is the farthest room from where the PowerBook had to sit next to the cable modem). Then, after a few days of this setup, my Power Mac G4, also on the opposite end of the house and up a story, stopped being able to receive the signal from the SkyLINE card. I have no idea why, but I was able to solve the problem by moving the PowerBook G3 a few feet closer.
The next wrench thrown into the works was my doing. During all of this, I’d ordered a 14 dB Yagi antenna and appropriate cabling to bring up the long-range 802.11b wireless Internet connection. To test the gear when it came, I got the bright idea of removing the Lucent WaveLAN PC Card that’s inside Apple’s AirPort Base Station and using it in the PowerBook G3 (the only PC Card-capable machine I have) with the AirPort software. The WaveLAN card was ideal for this test, since it has an antenna jack, unlike Farallon’s SkyLINE card, and it was external, unlike Apple’s AirPort cards. It was good I did the test, since although the antenna worked in many locations (I drove around the neighborhood with the PowerBook hooked to the antenna), it didn’t pick up a strong enough signal at our house. A different antenna I’ve ordered should work better.
With plans for the long-range wireless network temporarily quashed, I set up the PowerBook as it had been before. However, I ran into another vexing problem. I replicated the setup exactly, down to the placement on the counter, and it worked fine with the iBooks (mine had returned from Apple in the meantime). But my Power Mac G4 couldn’t pick up the signal reliably. I tried switching the PowerBook G3 to the Lucent WaveLAN card and using Software Base Station, but that didn’t help either. The only thing I found that worked was to set my iBook (Dual USB) up with Software Base Station (as in the Network #2 diagram). Since the iBooks actually have two antennas, one of which is always used for transmitting (either of the two may be used for receiving), my problem was solved. Of course, there was no way to include the wired Macs (which aren’t essential, as you may have realized) or the laser printer, but we worked around that problem temporarily with a USB-based Epson Stylus Photo 870 that we normally use only for color printing.
<http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/hardware/ Developer_Notes/Macintosh_CPUs-G3/ibook/ ibook-33.html>
After a few days, my Power Mac G4 once again stopped getting decent reception, and none of the small changes I could think of made any difference (Tonya’s iBook and the PowerBook G3 continued to work fine during all of this). Clearly, the only solution was to lessen the distance, so I took a deep breath and started drilling from the server room (where the cable modem must live) into the floor of my bedroom closet on the second floor. It was, as I anticipated, much harder than it should have been, thanks to a thick and well-insulated ceiling/floor, but eventually Tonya and I were able to snake Ethernet and phone cables up from the server into our bedroom. From that vantage point on the same floor as my office, the Power Mac G4 had no trouble picking up the signal from the iBook, and even when I switched back to the PowerBook G3 and SkyLINE card (as in the Network #3 diagram), the reception remained fine.
What’s He Smoking? At this point, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t thrown a little money at the problem and bought a broadband gateway like Proxim’s NetLINE Wireless Broadband Gateway, Linksys’s EtherFast Wireless AP + Cable/DSL Router w/4 Port Switch, or one of the others that Glenn Fleishman looked at in "Flying into Other AirPorts" in TidBITS-578.
I’m not just being cheap. For one, I learn best via repeated trial and error, and this effort has given me a greater appreciation of just what IPNetRouter and Software Base Station can do, not to mention the fuzziness of 802.11b wireless networking. Plus, I know that I’ll need additional hardware when I bring up the long-range 802.11b wireless Internet connection, and I’m trying to avoid buying hardware that will turn out to be unnecessary. A networking expert might be able to diagram everything and be relatively assured of having the final network look similar, but I’m not at that point yet when mixing wired and wireless networks and two separate Internet connections. I prefer to move slowly, using what I have on hand, until it becomes clear what additional pieces are necessary. I’ll be sure to pass on more about this network setup as I figure it out.