Matt's Macs

Expectations and Reality in Home Networking

- 2001.06.28 - Tip Jar

Upon reflection, it was easy. Networking extends the life of an old computer, but not without performance tradeoffs. Would I give up my old computer? Nope.

Setting up and using a network between computers at home will broaden your computer experience. Setting up a network is more than connecting a cable between two machines; it is opening up (perhaps for the first time) unfamiliar control panels or perhaps reinstalling control panels and extensions on the old computer because there had been no need for them.

Using the network is finding out what works and doesn't work (like a printer), learning new habits to save files over the home network, and learning how to share peripherals between computers. With some patience, experimentation, and tradeoffs, a home network can be fun and make the investment of time and money very worthwhile.

Below are the components of my home network:

  • iMac with internal modem, FireWire CD burner, USB digital camera
  • ethernet hub and cables (new)
  • Performa 635 (with new ethernet card), Color StyleWriter 2400 printer, QuickTake Camera, QuickCam (all connected through serial ports), Apple TV/video card, SCSI scanner, Zip drive.

Setting up and using the all my peripherals over the network has meant readjusting my expectations that everything on a Mac is merely plug and play. My iMac uses the StyleWriter over the network, but that required reinstallation of printer drivers on the iMac. The Apple TV software will work on the iMac, but only to view Video CDs - nothing more.

The iMac does not "see" a floppy or Zip disk on the Performa desktop, but files can be saved to a floppy or a Zip disk by dragging files from the iMac to the Zip and/or floppy disk. Conversely, files from a Zip disk can be burned on the FireWire drive by dragging them from the Performa to the drop file area on the Adaptec Toast window.

Overall, networking both my Apples at home has been a good experience and is helping realize the full potential of both computers.

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