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ATPM 2.08
August 1996





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MacMan to the Rescue

by Mike Shields,

As I sit down to write this, The Dream Team has just won the Gold medal, and I find out that Speed Racer now prefers to drive the Volkswagen GTI. So, if I wander, you'll know why.

It's a Man's Life, in the Network Operations Center

Or, NOC, for those that know. The NOC exists to make my life miserable. And, at the same time, they make my job at Huge easier. Back in November when I started, I came in from an ultra-small company that was wired only with Local Talk. I hadn't even heard of routers, or Apple-Talk zones, until I read a book, of course. But that's a review I may never do. Anyway, back to what we were talking about. What were we talking about? Oh, yes. The NOC. Not to be confused with the LAN group, which deals with servers, and PO Boxes, and wiring. The NOC deals with routers, concentrators, IP addresses, and phone jacks. Did I mention IP addresses?

It seems that they neglected to mention when their job function changed. In the beginning, ok, November, whenever I needed to check an IP address, the NOC was more than willing to be just a phone call away. I'd call up, give the room number, the jack number if necessary, and about 30 seconds later, they'd provide me with a valid IP address for the computer I was working on. They'd even ping me, if I've needed it. And if you've ever been pinged, you know just how pleasurable that can be. But I digress. After about five minutes on the phone with these people, I would know whether or not the problem I was currently working on was their's or mine. Usually, it was their's, because I'd already checked that the MacTCP, or lately, the TCP/IP, control panel had been properly set up. So, when they couldn't ping me, I'd simply give them the trouble ticket number, and they'd take care of it, after I called the admin desk, and had it transferred to them.

The NOC must die

This all changed about a month or two ago, as of this reading. Now I wouldn't have minded as much, if we'd been notified in our morning daily bore 'em to death meeting, as opposed to the weekly afternoon bore 'em to death meeting. The morning meeting consists of the queue manager telling us how great we are, by reading off numbers that significantly beat our service level agreements, or SLAs. I believe I spoke about Huge being in love with acronyms in a previous column. Anyway, the last part of the meeting, which is remotely relevant to what I do, is for issues that may have come up, or any new procedures. No issues, no new procedures, I proceed as normal. The first clue I should've had was when I went on what I thought was a routine network down call, which translates to, the Huser somehow switched his Network control panel to Local Talk, when it should be on Ethernet. So, knowing this, I checked the network control panel, and it was set to Ethernet, yet it indicated no zones were available. So, I call the NOC, and they tell me that they're doing some work in the area, and I should talk to the repairman on site. I ask the Huser where the phone closet is. For those of you that have never had to deal with such things, a phone closet is basically a place full of wires and circuit boards, that directs your phone/network traffic. In this specific case, it's where the concentrators for the floor are. I found the technician, and he told me that there was a network card that was bad, and asked me the IP address of the offending computer. I hadn't looked it up yet, so we went back to the Huser's computer and called up the MacTCP control panel. It opened up right away, which was the first indication that something was really wrong, as normally it takes around 5 minutes to open. Why? I don't know. I've never had that process explained to me, I was just told that it does. The tech got the IP, and told the Huser that he was in the affected area, and probably the rest of the people in that quarter of the floor were having the same problem. The Huser confirmed this, to my surprise as this was the only trouble ticket we were dealing with on this floor at the moment. And the technician was no help, either. He said he had the part to fix it, even showed it to me. However, he was unable to make the repair, as the appropriate paper work had not made its way through a pile on someone's desk, awaiting a signature. All I can do at this point is reschedule the ticket, which I did. When I went back later, the Huser was cruising the network fine, he could see all his zones, and everything, so his problem at least, was solved. Mine were just beginning.


For those of you that don't know, MacX is a program that allows you to connect to various Unix machines. Another Huser was in need of accessing a program called PDM from her new office location that she was sharing, as she had just moved in. This ticket had been passed to me by another tech, who was unable to solve it. Now, MacX as you may or may not know, needs your TCP/IP connectivity running smoothly, therefore, I checked the appropriate control panel, which netted me the IP address, and I was able to ping, however, I was unable to run MacX. I made the mistake of calling the NOC. They were mildly helpful this time, or so I thought. This was to change later, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The end result of this conversation was, the concentrator was set to local, and the Huser needed to put in a TSR to resolve this problem. Now, TSR is not the company that brings you Dungeons and Dragons, in this case, it stands for Telephone Service Request. Also, the ticket was put into the NOC queue for observation purposes only. So, some free thinking individual at the NOC decided that they needed to send a tech out, and check the line for themselves. THEY decided that the Huser had the wrong IP address set, and I needed to go back out and resolve this problem. So, I went back, mildly annoyed at this point, because I don't like going back to the same machine twice for the same problem. I check the allegedly new IP address, and I can't ping. I call the NOC, and this is about the time their new attitude set in. The guy at the other end of the line tells me he doesn't have time to check the IP address, and I have to call another phone number, which he gives me, and then abruptly hangs up. Actually, I'd been given this number once before on a similar issue, and I called it and got the voice mail of the department I was calling, which didn't help too much. After all, the Huser wants to be helped now while I'm there, not 2 hours from now, when I'm not. Anyway, this time, a live person answered, and I was happy. For about 2 minutes. She gives me a list of the IP addresses that are in the office I'm working on, and one of them is the new one that NOC recommended, and another is the one that I'd been using from the first call. Thinking quickly, I asked her office mate if I could check his IP address. This was a big step for me, as it required touching a PC-compatible. Thankfully, I knew enough to check the NET.CFG file, to look up the IP. It turns out that the address the NOC had recommended for the Mac, was the one being used on the PC. No surprises here, the NOC had done yet another bang up job, when they were just told to do nothing until the TSR came down the pike.

The NOC Must Die, The Sequel

So, we fade the black and come up a coupla days ago, when I was afforded yet another opportunity to speak with my good friends at the NOC. I got a priority 2 call to check a printer that had dropped off the network. A Phaser 220 to be precise. They had just moved from another office, and had rewired for a cable to reach the printer. The bad news was, after they did this, the printer had gone away. So, I get there, and thinking quickly, I moved the cable to port 2, where the other printer was, and Bingo! the Phaser 220 shows up in the chooser like a good little printer. So, I call the NOC to get the IP address, and warn them that a ticket is being transferred to them. Or so I thought. I talk to Bill, whose name I've preserved to accuse the guilty. I give him the jack number, he gives me the IP address, after telling me that it's not his job, and I tell him that I'll be transferring the ticket to him, and he tells me that won't be necessary. I tersely replied, "That ain't gonna cut it!" Of course, it sounded like, "OK, whatever." I go back to base, after this character assassination, and let them know the humiliation I was just put through. I find out the next morning that we can't call the NOC anymore for IP addresses. They instead give me a number that's guaranteed to not have anyone at the other end with the information I want. And you thought you had problems...

MacMan to the Rescue

Well, it turns out, you do. A few questions this month I couldn't answer, to which I apologize, I'll try to do better next month. And I'm still working on the Open Transport issue, as another problem relating to that has come up here. Yes, Bill, I haven't forgotten about you. Some questions merely recapping what I'd talked about regarding Norton 3.2.3. It turns out, the masses don't have access to it yet. Yes, that's right, we've discovered my first perk here at Huge, I get software before some of you.

On To The Question

I have just seen my first copy of "About This Particular Macintosh" 2.06 and really enjoyed the articles .

I have just purchased a 7500/100 and use a Hewlett Packard Deskwriter (1st series/not AppleTalk). My last machine was a Quadra 660V, and with the same printer I was able to run QuickDraw GX just fine which gave a remarkable quality to all my printing.

Since changing machines I am now unable to run QuickDraw GX and have had to revert to "DW Series 6.0.3" which has lessened the quality of the printer dramaticly.

I have contacted H.P. Australia and the dont understand the problem quoting things like "Thats an old printer and we dont support it any more". The printer works a treat and I see it as a software problem but I don't know if it is Hewlett Packard's or Apples.

I have all the latest versions of software. (to my knowledge)

System 7.5.3 revision 2
DeskWriter GX 1.0f2 - Chooser extension
PrinterShare GX 1.1.1 - System extension
QuickDraw=81 GX 1.1.3 - System extension
QuickDraw=81 GX Helper - System extension

But when I print a job the Mac goes through its paces till it stalls with a message: "The document "XXXXX" (sub name) failed to print on the printer "DW GX" because the requested printer could not be found." The job is then stalled in the print queue of the desktop printer.

Any Ideas.........I miss the GX features . Brian Sprouster

Answer: Ok, it turns out that since 'speaking' to you via e–mail, I've discovered what I think might be a fix for this problem. It turns out that there is a new driver available from HP, the HP QuickDraw Printer Driver vs. 8.x, available from the usual places. (AOL, keyword HP; Compuserve, GO HP, and at HP's web site, Good luck, Brian.

Well, that's it for this month, as I've exceeded my allotted word count. So, for next month, maybe another all user question column, unless I get inspired, and talk about Open Transport. Back to you in the Booth, Pat.

Mike Shields is a perspiring Screen Writer who needs $575,000 to produce his recently finished screenplay. He can be reached at or Or, if you just have a Mac question, that's ok, too. [apple graphic]

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