Day #4 – Print sharing and file sharing represented the low end of the fun scale, but needed to be tackled none the less. Although my long term goal is to purchase a wireless printer, and park it out of the way somewhere, for now I will have to make due with sharing a Canon MP780 that is shared from a Windows PC in my office.
Finding the shared printer on the wireless network was the easy part. Selecting other printers from the printer control panel, followed by selection of Network Neighborhood yielded the MP780, right there in the mshome workgroup. By default, Macs show up in the workgroup named “workgroup” . After selecting my target printer, I came to the model selection list, and low and behold, the MP780 was not on the list. My first stop was to Canon's website for a Mac driver download. Little did I know at the the time that the driver I was downloading would only work with directly connected USB. After many rounds of searching for the magic drop down box that would list my printer model, I turned to my trusted young friend Google. 20,000 plus entries informed me that I would need to use trial and error to find another Canon selection that would work. I tried several, with the best result being print jobs that only used a third of the page.
A return trip to Google brought me to a merciful soul who had already scraped some knuckles on this problem, and proceeded to direct me to a site called PrintFab.net. I was able to download a driver package that included network shared drivers for the MP780. You have never seen a man so committed to developing a paperless office, so happy to see paper pouring out of an ink jet printer.
File sharing has added another dimension to my already geeky resume. Thinking I knew pretty much all there was to know about this subject, I sat down to complete what I was convinced was a ten (10) minute job, at most. Having enabled every file sharing feature I could find, and probably opening myself up to high risk in the process, I proceeded to map drives, create aliases, configure mounts and test my new found network of files and resources. There was but one thing missing in my utopia of egalitarian file sharing. I could not share files between the two partitions on the hard drive of the MacBook which is at the center of this discourse. I learned a few important facts while trying to figure out this last challenge.
1.Macs and Windows PCs may share the same chip sets, but they do not share the same file system.
2.Windows Vista, unlike Windows XP, does not give you the option of NTFS or FAT32. NTFS is the required format.
3.Macs can read and write to FAT32, but can only read NTFS
4.Windows cannot read Macs data format without software like MacDrive, which is not yet available for Vista.
Three Advil, and I was on my way back to my young friend Google. Having decided that I could live with only being able to read Vista files from Mac, and vice versa, the hunt was on for some enterprising young geek who had developed a solution for the Vista side of this equation. Turns out that such a product does exist. The product is called HFSExplorer. It has this name due to the fact that HFS+ is the nomenclature for the Mac OS Extended file system. The software is written mainly in Java, with some C thrown in to work with some of the Windows quirks. Turns out that the guy who came up with the software (Erik Larsson – Catacombae Software) needed a solution for seeing his Mac files from a Vista partition running on his Mac. Go figure! Having installed and tested HFSExplorer, my work on this part of the project is complete.
My last step was to Map Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives on each of the systems in my network. This was accomplished using a Linksys NSLU2 Network Storage Link, with a 150 GB external USB drive plugged into one of its two available ports. After all that trouble creating the fragile file sharing network, I wanted to make sure there was a central place to store data that all systems could access, from inside or outside the network.
To test this experiment in high tech mayhem, I started today's entry using NeoOffice in the Mac OS. Half way through I saved my work and reopened the document in Word 2000 via CrossOver. After completing spell check, I saved again and rebooted into Vista. Once logged into Vista, I opened HFSExplorer and opened the file using NeoOffice (Vista version). I completed the days entry in NeoOffice, saving the final draft to NAS. I then proceeded to browse to my blog and edit, using Mozilla Firefox, and there you have it. As these few steps bring me to the end of my initial objectives list, post some comments on what to do next. Lets try and keep it to the technology in hand so far, as my budget for high tech toys is shot at the moment. Questions are always welcome.