Getting back up to Speed (some after-effects of the burglary)

By Graham K. Rogers

When my PowerBook was stolen recently, apart from the data which was not backed up fully, I needed to change the ways I was used to working. While I had been carrying the notebook computer back and forth to work, all I had now was a notebook: paper.

I could have asked for a PC to be put into my office, but I did not relish the idea of working that way. Instead I pulled rank. I asked the Engineering Faculty Computer Club, CTEC, for a temporary loan of one of the Mac minis that I had given them. That would give me a reasonably fast Mac in my office and I could work on that.

The students were quick and the Mac mini arrived within 15 minutes. I plugged it in and started to work. I had not used this particular machine for months, so had to find passwords. As I like secure passwords, I write these down in a book that is locked in my office, following the suggestions of Dr. Smoke. Also in the notebook, is a full history of what has been done: updates, installations, maintenance.

I logged on and tried to connect to the Internet. No go. When I tried again, it was clear that the wifi connection was not working. The machine had never been used in my office with wifi, so had not been linked to the router we use. I had earlier connected with the Ethernet cable which I could have used, but if the wifi is there I want it all to work.

A quick word with the technician found me the password I needed and we were online. As the students' network also links to the university system, I had already entered the proxy settings.

My mail account details were correct, but to be on the safe side, at home I had created a new mail account, "rogers AT extensions.in.th", directed all mail to that new account then also changed the passwords on the website. I need to make sure that, if the thief does manage to break into my PowerBook (and I know this has not yet happened), any damage is limited.

Another problem I had found in the first couple of days of making the eMac my main machine again, was that neither the Address Book nor iCal (calendars) were up to date. As the information was on my mobile phone, I was relying on that as a short-time solution, but the eMac does not have Bluetooth.

The Mac mini has this as standard. I paired the phone and synchronised. As it was the first time of this phone/computer combination, I elected to "merge data" and all my contacts and calendars were now on the Mac mini. As it is useful to have a copy or two, I used the File menu "Backup" items in both applications. With these, I could either send them home by email or take them home on a flash drive. I did both.

Once they were on the eMac, I again used the file menu and the item, "Revert to . . . backup." It is a variation on the old "Nike Net" but as a quick and dirty solution, it provides some of the data I need, where I need it.

In a reverse of this, I sent myself email containing spreadsheets of student marks and then opened these files with NeoOffice, an Open Source application which I use to avoid the Microsoft equivalent: both legal and inexpensive. This duplication will be be necessary for the while, until either I can acquire a new notebook computer or my PowerBook is retrieved.

When it came to printing some of the exams which I had prepared at home, I had a problem. The correct HP laser printer was shown, and data was sent, but when I stood in front of the machine nothing happened. I remembered that the printer had been offline for a few weeks while it was repaired. On the wall was the IP number which was different from the data entered in the Mac mini.

System Preferences

In the Printer Preferences panel, I deleted the old settings and entered the new IP number, then selected the HP Jet Direct option. The system found the printer and entered the name and other details correctly. I printed the exam.

Printer panel

Apart from the need to have some data on two computers, there was a minor niggle as the mini only has 2 USB ports. I relieved the situation a bit with the keyboard from the G4 PowerMac in my office and that has extra ports built in. The mouse went into one of the keyboard ports and that left one USB port spare. If I were using this permanently, I would buy a USB hub, like I have at home for the eMac and which has proved invaluable.

Made on Mac

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