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ATPM 9.09
September 2003





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Networks in Action

by Matthew Glidden,

Whatever happened to…


In 1995, I heard about computer networks for the first time. Not the flash and shadow of CIA “networks,” but a real Mac in my room talking to the Mac in my brother’s. We suffered and fed an addiction to Bungie’s excellent Marathon series, which drove my network needs and an ongoing battle with sleep deprivation. The first step, connecting our Macs with a printer cable, soon led to drilling holes in my closet wall. Snow and ice couldn’t stop me—I had to get those Ethernet cables through!

Somewhere along the way, I started keeping a diary of my network hackery. My normally stolid nature aside, I feared making a mistake that would render my computer inoperable. (Or even knock out power grids in nearby states.) The diary held a record of the network setup process, should a “back to step one” disaster occur.

Over five years and multiple incarnations, my network diary became, a network guide for various levels of Mac user. Initially hosted at my college and later on my own dime, it’s now under ATPM’s charge. The site persists to this day, outliving Super Bowl luminaries like and

But What Does It Mean?

Ah yes. What now? lies largely fallow, with no substantial updates since it moved to the ATPM servers a couple years ago. In the Threemacs world, Mac OS 9 is still nouveau. In reality, Apple has since churned out Mac OS X and Rendezvous, which feature significantly enhanced network functions. Windows file sharing, FTP access, and printer sharing all went from expensive add-ons to standard features. If you use these features, the $100 you spent for Jaguar paid for itself twice over.

A primary reason for no updates? Stuff is easier to use than it used to be. Generally speaking, more features haven’t caused more trouble. Mac OS X keeps it all tidy in the Network and Sharing preferences panes. Back in OS 8 and 9, network functions bounced among control panels and the large number of Mac models made it difficult to troubleshoot problems. As a wise bear once said, “Oh, bother!”

Despite its out-to-pasture nature, Threemacs remains somewhat popular. I haven’t checked visitor stats recently, but last year, a public poll of top Mac sites placed it in the top 50. The average Mac’s long lifespan surely contributes. I picture veteran Mac users wondering how to get newer Macs to play nice with Mac OS 7 and 8. “Share to the network, printer! I command thee!”

But What Happens to Your Site Feedback?

Hmm, good question. Threemacs used to receive a couple dozen questions a day, everything from simple clarifications to requests to “please hook up this configuration in your testing lab.” A good-natured chuckle to that one—I’ve never owned more than two computers, but appreciate the implied vote of confidence.

Truthfully, I haven’t answered much feedback since ATPM took over. My fellow staffers are a great resource, following up comments on my columns promptly and in detail. There’s not much day-to-day stuff left to write about. I’ve just my faithful Cube and the corporate-issue Dell laptop; even calling it a network is a stretch.

One-Trick Pony?

There will be an update to replace old sections of Threemacs with pointers to newer ATPM columns, but that’s it. So is there more you’d like to see? The short story to this column is that while there’s always something under the sun to write about, the network options seem slim. Disagree? Let me know. Otherwise, I plan to move to other fields of interest, Mac-happy but focused on the present. “For great justice!”

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (4)

Jan McClintock · September 4, 2003 - 00:07 EST #1
I have used the site a lot and appreciate the time and effort it took to create and maintain. There was nothing else like it and it was definitely helpful! Keep up the good columns.
Judy · September 5, 2003 - 11:18 EST #2
I loved because that is how many we had when my son left for college and I was the one who took over IT.

We now have 5 Macs (3 with OS X and 2 with OS 9), 2 printers, and an AirPort network. You may think we don't need your help any more, but I think we do. OS X keeps changing and I'm not sure I'm using it to its fullest. Yes, it's easier, but I'm sure you have better ideas than I do. It would be nice to read an article and say "Cool, I never thought of that."

I would also like to have a place where I could send PC people for information. You always explain things better than I do. Try explaining iSync, Rendezvous, .Mac, and AirPort to a newbee or PC person. I can't.
Henry · September 5, 2003 - 12:57 EST #3
Don't go!

I still need this information for our school (System 6.08 - Mac OS X 10.2.6) because the IT dept. has said for 6 years that "Macs can't be on the network..." oh, what about the File Sharing on floppies between the lab and my classroom? They said it was a fluke! I said, with your help and similar desire, that Macs are great!

Thank you for the work you have done and continue to put into this resource :-)

Best regards,

Robert Eye · September 11, 2003 - 08:59 EST #4
I've appreciated since 1998 when I had to network my Centris 650 to my new iMac to transfer files. I refer people to it often.

While adding info on OS X would be beneficial, PLEASE don't remove the Classic Mac OS information. You have no idea how useful it is and will be for a number of years to come.

Thank you!


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