The Computer Blog

Monday, November 17, 2003

Full Circle

There’s no inexpensive way to convert videos edited on the Mac and exported in QuickTime format into Windows Media or Real Media formats. (The only product I’ve been able to find to do that is Cleaner, and it’s $500.) I’ve also been wanting to fly a bit more on Flight Simulator 2004 and the other flight simulators. All of that means I’m using my Windows XP-powered PC more than in the recent past. As you may or may not know, that PC was in another bedroom. I started looking last week at how I might move the PC back into my office, known around my place as “The Studio”. This past weekend, I finally hit on a furniture arrangement that would work.

I spent the whole weekend working to get the PC in the room and hooked up to the network. I now have 3 Macs and 1 PC crammed into my small office, linked together by both Ethernet and USB. Every machine has some access to every printer (an HP Laserjet 2100, an HP Deskjet 940C, and a HP Photosmart 7150) and the Epson Perfection 1660 Photo scanner in the room. I say “some” because…ONCE AGAIN…the PC proved to be the least cooperative neighbor. In fact, if not for the Windows computer, I would have finished Saturday night instead of late on Sunday afternoon. The hilarious thing is the Macs worked perfectly with equipment designed for Windows , and the PC the stuff was designed for didn’t seem to want to work with it at all.

One would think that moving the PC so it’s right next to my wireless router might have improved its ability to sign on automatically. That didn’t prove to be the case. Screwing around with a wireless network sign-on became irritating in short order. After playing with it for several hours and trying various software tricks, I broke down and drove to Best Buy and bought a PCI-based Linksys 10/100 Lan card, substituting it for its wireless Belkin brother. But the PC’s really troublesome behavior came when I tried to hook it up to my burgeoning USB network.

On Saturday, I had bought a Belkin USB switch and some USB 2.0 cables to add to a Belkin 4 port mini-USB 2.0 hub. I wanted to use them build a switchable USB network that would allow any Mac or PC in the room to print to any USB inkjet or scan using my Epson scanner. When I hooked everything up, I found the Macs worked as expected but the Windows machine was unable to see the scanner or printers if they were hooked up through the switch. A direct connection worked fine as did a connection through the 4 port hub alone. But not through the switch, even though it was purely mechanical.

On the off chance that my troubles might have to do with the VIA USB chip controller on my motherboard, I mounted a 5 port SIIG USB 2.0 PCI card in the Windows PC and tried again. This time, the PC saw the scanner; but when I tried to actually scan an image, I got an error message saying that the scanner did not send the image and could see the scanner light flashing, telling me it was hung up. However, mounting the same card in my Dual 1.25 Ghz MDD PowerMac (running OS 10.3) resulted in flawless operation. Once again, I can only use the Windows PC via a workaround!

A PC is like an ex-wife. You think you’d like to go back to it until you spend a few moments with it, and then you realize once again why you left.

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