Mac and Me – Networking

For the first time in awhile, I have two computers at home: my new iMac, and my HP Mini 1000.  In addition to being my “on the road” computer, the Mini comes in handy for when I want to do something PC-ish but don’t feel like waiting for the iMac to boot into Vista.  I have been using a 1GB SD card to transfer files from one to the other, which works okay, but I’d like to think I can improvise something better than the old “sneaker-net.”

Prior to obtaining the iMac, I made an observation to one of my Apple-loving friends that Apple had a tendency to “make the easy things easier, but the hard things harder.”  I had yet to experience this in my thus far, but it came out bright and clear when trying to get my PC and Mac to talk to each other over the network.

The Mini had been set up for sharing with the Gateway prior to its demise, and so I figured the Mac should be able to see it.  Of course, I had to be able to find the option to connect to another computer first.  This took much longer than it should have.  Going by my not-quite-eliminated Windows instincts, I went to System Preferences and selected “Network.”  I was then greeted with general network setttings, none of which I thought needed to poke at in order to get this to work.  I then figured I should use the Help facility to find out where the option was hiding.

My Google-fu is strong (or at least I like to think so), but  my Apple-fu is not.  After typing in quite a few search terms into Spotlight, I couldn’t get a satisfactory answer, so I found it on the tubes.  Curiously enough, the option was in the Finder, I guess I haven’t quite picked up on Apple’s moon-logic quite yet.

Once I typed in my PCs address, I could see its files.  It turns out that it was pretty simple after all, once I found the right option.

Getting the PC to see the Mac was another matter entirely.  I doubted that I would actually use it, but I was feeling good after getting the Mac side to work.

That small victory appeared to be a fluke as I tried to get Windows XP to see the Mac.  Everything LOOKED okay, but it just wasn’t working.  I Googled and Googled to no avail.  Apparently there used to be an “Allow Windows user to login from Windows” option that was removed somewhere down the way.  Yeah, thanks, Apple.

I was all but ready to throw in the towel and then I realized that XP was probably looking for a domain name and I had not set one up on the iMac.  Given Apple’s tendency to do everything for you, I figured it had been already set and thus I had to find it.  The “Network” option under System Preferences turned out to be what I was looking for, and after giving it my current domain name, my stubborn PC finally acknowledged the Mac’s presence.

While I was eventually able to get everything to work, it was certainly more trouble than I had anticipated.  Apple’s help (both local and online) proved to be pretty useless because I was not on the same frequency as they are.  Perhaps with time the Apple way of thinking will permeate my Windows-hardened skull, but for now I have to stumble along.

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