Monday, January 16, 2006

Airport, Netgear, iTunes, and new iMac

I've ditched my Airport Express and am now using it solely for AirTunes. It still crashes and has to be power-cycled every few days. I've updated the software numerous times. This is the unit that was repaired or replaced once already. I wonder if the newer units have gotten it right? it is a great product concept, but our unit has been a virtual lemon.

To replace the Airport Express, we now have a new Netgear box, model FWG114P, now serving the Potts house as a wireless router. It is a discontinued model, but I wanted this one: it has a metal case and tested firmware. This box hasn't needed rebooting once over the past month, since I installed the latest software. It does MAC address spoofing, so I can make the cable modem think that it is talking to the same device it was talking too before. We don't have to call Comcast to inform them of the new MAC address. Very nice.

The separate wireless router enables a cool trick. I have iTunes running under Windows on my PC, attached to the wired side of the network router. My wife's battered old iBook will talk to the wireless side. The Airport Express is also detached. Using music sharing, we can sit in the kitchen with the iBook and play a song from the PC through the stereo in the living room. Prior to installing a software upgrade on the Netgear box, this didn't quite work; the audio would repeatedly drop out. I refused to believe that the bandwidth requirement was enough to actually tax the router or the iBook, and it turns out that after the Netgear update, this works quite smoothly.

The only downside: the print spooler does not support my HP Business Inkjet 1100D. The Airport Express did not work well with the printer either, at least not for photo printing, so it is no great loss, but a nice reliable print server would be most welcome at the Potts house. I'd like to be able to keep the PC booted into Linux, not Windows, but there goes iTunes. Always compromises. So, on my wish list: a laptop running Linux, preferably with wireless support, and a wired Mac of some type. Since I still have some tools that require Classic, I'd like it to be a G5 desktop machine, aka "very expensive giant cheese grater." That will have to wait, except that I had better not wait too long, if I want a G5-based rather than an Intel-based machine. It can go along with the 30" flat panel display I'd love to have. Actually, I'd be satisfied with the much more modest 23" display. They're getting cheaper every day, so eventually they will just give me one, right?

Breaking news: my mom is getting a G5 iMac, to replace her Bondi Blue iMac running MacOS 9. She is getting the current version, now obsolete, based on the G5 processor, even though the Intel version will shortly be available at the same price point; you don't get your mom a brand new, just-shipping computer design; you get her one that has been around for a while and seen several software updates; you get her AppleCare. The Intel will be faster by some increment, but speed is relative; she will already be going from a 233 MHz G3 to a 1.9 GHz G5. That's enough of a speed boost for this round. We're also going to see if we can get her set up with a cable modem or DSL to replace her dial-up; that will be a far more significant speed boost. I'm also going to see if we can get her set up with Apple's Pages application for her newsletter work, and replace her old inkjet with a low-end home laser printer. I'll be going out there to help get her up to speed. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

ajd said...

I'm eyeballing the Linksys WRT54G simply because it's sufficiently popular, good, and cheap. It's user-hackable, which is a plus I'll probably never exploit, since I'm more prone to open holes than close them. The household's current router is an 802.11b by SMC, and it still works fine (in fact, the admin interface is better than Linksys'), but we don't have any more 802.11b devices in the house since Apple finally agreed to replace my lemon of an iBook (five returns for identical logic board failures) with one that has built-in Airport Extreme. And since we have the bandwidth capability, we may as well use it; I've been doing enough work within the household intranet these past few months to consider 11mbps slow. 54mbps won't be much of an upgrade, but it'll do, for forty bucks.

I was disturbed on reading specs that the Linksys router has more CPU and base RAM than the desktop computer I was using for 3D graphics production up until four and a half years ago. I'm old, etc.