The more I use Mac OS X, the better I like it. Setting the operating system up to access the AirPort network in our home was no problem at all.
Though it’s a little awkward, you’ll need to (according to the Mac Help instructions) start up in Mac OS 9.1 and use the AirPort Setup Assistant or AirPort Admin Utility to configure an AirPort Base Station. Then you’ll need to restart in OS X and connect to the AirPort network you created.
However, if there’s another AirPort-enabled Mac nearby (as in my case), you can join an existing network without leaving OS X. You just open Internet Connect and select AirPort from the Configuration pop-up menu. Then you can choose a network from the Network pop-up menu. If you need to join a closed network, select Other and type the network’s name). Or you can use the Signal Strength utility (accessible via the Dock) to join an AirPort network. After you take these steps, you won’t have to choose the AirPort network the next time you start up or wake your Mac.
If, for some reason, you can’t see AirPort in the Internet Connect utility, open your System Preferences (home of goodies that once would have been classified as Control Panels in the traditional Mac OS), and select Advanced from the Configuration pop-up menu. Click the AirPort checkbox and restart Internet Connect.
Using AirPort was a breeze for me, as it was for Don Rainwater, the technology manager at the UCit Educational Services of the University of Cincinnati, when he tried it at home. However, it took a little work for him to access the school’s wireless network. But he did it.
“Our campus wireless network requires a password for access,” Rainwater told MacCentral. “When I select one of the wireless hubs in Airport, it asks for the password. Using OS 9.1, I can just type the password ‘as is,’ but this wouldn’t work on OS X. I could see the hub, but the password wouldn’t work. As it turns out, I had to type the password in hexadecimal with a leading dollar sign ($aabbcc0011) to gain access with Airport on OS X. (The wireless hubs on campus are all non-Apple).”
If you’re using AirPort on OS X, you’ll want to download the ”
AirPort Networks with Mac OS X ” file. It’s an Adobe Acrobat PDF document that includes information on extending the capabilities of the AirPort Base Station. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 or greater to download this file (207k in size) from Apple’s download site.
On a related note, Mac OS X introduces consumers to something called multihoming, which offers multiple simultaneous network connections. This means that, when you’re on the road, you don’t have to change any settings to tell your PowerBook or iBook to use its dial-up modem instead of your home cable modem. OS X makes the change automatically.