Mac 911

May. It's the time of year for morris dancing; for maypole prancing; and for the proletariat to rise up, throw off its shackles, and cause the blood of the imperialist oppressors to run in the-er, uh, no, strike that. In the context of this column, May is more appropriately the month for addressing questions of remote access, printer adapters, and alternate keyboard commands.

Remote Access Alternative

Debbie Wilson writes that she'd like to gain admittance via modem to her work Mac from her home Mac, using something other than Apple's Remote Access. While I celebrate Comrade Wilson's desire-as I celebrate the desires of all my working brothers and sisters-to skirt the software built into an operating system devised and deployed by capitalist jackals, I have to pause and wonder which aspects of Remote Access do not meet Ms. Wilson's needs.

After all, with the release of OS 9, Apple generously included a feature in Remote Access that the working classes at one time had to pay for: the ability to access files on another Mac remotely via modem or the Internet. To activate this feature on her work Mac, Debbie need only open the File Sharing control panel, start file sharing, click on the Users & Groups tab, double-click on the name she uses to access the Mac across the network, select Remote Access from the Show pop-up menu, and select the Allow User To Dial In To This Computer option. On her Mac at home she would select Remote Only in the AppleTalk control panel's Connect Via pop-up menu; choose PPP in the TCP/IP Connect Via pop-up menu; open the Remote Access control panel; enter her user name, her password, and the phone number of the modem attached to the work Mac; and initiate a connection. Once she's made a connection, all that remains is to select the work Mac from within the Chooser.

Of course, if your work Mac-like nearly every office Mac-reaches the Web through a network rather than a modem, you have to connect via TCP. Because you may encounter changing IP addresses if the network accesses the Web via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol-an Internet protocol that can automate the assignment of IP addresses), it's time for the IT folks at your place of work to earn their keep: give them a call and ask how to access the network remotely.

But I can understand why Debbie might be frustrated by Remote Access's limitations: it doesn't allow you to remotely control the actions of your work Mac. No, for that kind of control you need Netopia's Timbuktu Pro (510/814-5000, ). For $80, the Timbuktu Pro 5.X for Mac OS twin pack allows you to copy files to and from the remote Mac, actually see that Mac's screen on your monitor, and control its actions (see "Total Control"). That's right; although you'll experience glacial performance, you're welcome to remotely play a game of Cro-Mag Rally on your work computer (or, better yet, see if someone else is playing Cro-Mag Rally on it while you're away from the office). With the latest version of Timbuktu Pro you can even send your voice over the Internet.

New Mac to Old Printer

Like a rosy-cheeked child circling a maypole, reader Jim Stephens has gone round and round with his iMac DV and Personal LaserWriter LS. Jim purchased a Xircom USB to Serial Converter (805/376-9300, ), connected his iMac and printer via the connector, and when attempting to print, received an error message that contained this phrase: "Please check the Peripheral 8 cable connections, then try printing again."

Although this error message hints at the problem, one more to the point might read, "Jim, it's unfortunate that the system requirements for the Xircom device aren't posted in a more obvious place or that you didn't read Christopher Breen's 'Bridge the Gap' feature in the June 2000 issue of Macworld. For if you had, this ugly little episode could have been avoided." Avoided how? In the first place, digging through the Xircom site reveals that this adapter is not compatible with Apple LaserWriter printers. The packaging might not have stated this as clearly as the Web site does, but it's worth noting that USB-to-serial adapters can be tricky in this regard. Always check hardware compatibility before purchasing such an adapter.

You would be better served by the solution I mentioned in "Bridge the Gap": an Ethernet-to-LocalTalk adapter. Both Asanté (408/435-8388, ) and Farallon (510/346-8001, ) offer such devices. Asanté's AsantéTalk and Farallon's EtherMac iPrint LT adapters allow you to connect an Ethernet-enabled Mac to a LocalTalk printer for about a hundred bucks. Farallon also offers a serial-only version-the EtherMac iPrint SL, which works with Apple StyleWriter printers-for just over $80.

Working in a Different Key

Mac 911 Forum visitor Richard Troxel, like many who have progressed through the Microsoft Office opus, is disappointed that many familiar keyboard commands have changed in Office 2001. For example, in older versions of Excel, pressing the enter key moved the cursor down within the current cell, and pressing the return key moved the cursor down to the next cell. Now pressing either key moves the cursor down to the next cell.

Richard, while I could suggest that you learn to press control-enter when you want to keep your cursor in the current Excel cell, I do sympathize-Microsoft should make Excel keyboard commands customizable. But until it does, I suggest that you look into a macro utility such as CE Software's QuicKeys 5.0 ($90; 515/221-1801, ). With QuicKeys, you can easily create a keyboard-alias macro that moves the cursor down within a cell when you press the enter key. And you can extend this keyboard-alias capability to any application on your Mac. (Because I'm occasionally clumsy, I've created a keyboard alias that substitutes the F14 key-assigned to absolutely nothing-for the help key, which I routinely hit by accident when reaching for the delete key.)

Contributing Editor CHRISTOPHER BREEN is not now-and has never been-a member of the Communist Party.

Share tips and discuss Mac problems with other Mac users in the Mac 911 Forum ( ). Also send tips by e-mail to . We pay $50 for tips selected for publication in Macworld. All published submissions become the sole property of Macworld.

Shareware and freeware mentioned in Mac 911 are available from ZDNet's ( ).

Total Control: Timbuktu Pro is your window to the world of a remotely controlled Mac, and that's handy for troubleshooting.
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