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Jan 00 Bookshelf2

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: Programmer's Bookshelf

Programmer's Bookshelf

by Paul E. Sevinc, Switzerland

Preliminary Remarks

This month's book is not about cross-platform development. As a matter of fact, it isn't about programming at all. Nevertheless, we think that MacTech readers are interested in reviews of general-purpose computer books as well. Please let us know if we're wrong.

Something else: While I read a book in its entirety when reviewing it, there's no way I can actually test every tip or configuration. I neither have the time nor the necessary software or hardware resources to do so. Instead, I focus on how the information is presented and assume that, in general, it is technically correct.

The Book

Macintosh Windows Integration: Integrating your Macintosh with Windows 95/98 and Windows NT Environments [Rizzo 1999] was written by John Rizzo. The book has been published by Morgan Kaufmann/Academic Press and is based on the author's MacWindows.com web site (see http://www.MacWindows.com/). As its title suggests, Macintosh Windows Integration is about using Mac OS 8.x and Windows 95/98/NT side by side. It also deals with third-party software for this purpose, and there is some information about Mac OS X Server, UNIX, Linux and Windows 2000.

Macintosh Windows Integration consists of five parts, namely Integration Basics (about 50 pages), Exchanging Files (100), Cross-Platform Networking Infrastructure (100), Macintosh and Windows NT and Other Servers (200), and Using Foreign Operating Systems (100). Furthermore, it contains an appendix and a CD. The appendix is a compilation of BackPanel, a column Rizzo used to write for MacWeek/eMediaweekly. The CD contains book-related freeware, shareware, etc.

Part One

The first part comprises three chapters and is mostly non-technical. Those who don't know yet whether they want to integrate their Macs and PCs (or whether to use both platforms in the first place) may find it useful. A couple of arguments both in favor of and against mixed-platform environments are given, some issues to be considered during the planning phase are mentioned, etc. But overall, part one remains rather superficial.

Part Two

Chapter 4, the first chapter in the second part, deals with disks and drives. Rizzo first briefly explains the differences between Mac OS and Windows device drivers and formatting. He then introduces PC Exchange and shows how it allows to use (i.e., read, write, format) PC-formatted floppy, ZIP, compact, and other disks on a Mac. Nothing new, right? But did you know that the Mac OS can mount Windows harddisks, even when they are partitioned? How to make this happen is also described. However, Windows users who want to know how to use HFS disks and drives get a list of third-party tools only.

Chapter 5 starts off with a short background section, too, namely about the differences between Mac OS and Windows files. Opening and saving Windows files using Mac OS Easy Open/File Translation, QuickTime and MacLink Plus is the main topic of this chapter. Special emphasis is put on font-related problems and how to alleviate them.

Chapter 6 explains how (i.e., what tools to use) to encode and compress files on one platform such that they can be attached to an e-mail message and decoded on the other platform. While I appreciated to learn a little about the different MacBinary and SIT (StuffIt) schemes, I missed some more information about the ZIP and HQX (BinHex) formats. By the way, in this chapter, Windows users get as much relevant information as Mac users.

Part Three

Chapter 7, which is about local-network technologies, is somewhat disappointing. Without overemphasizing the shortcomings, I have to say that readers with a computer-networks background won't learn anything new, and readers without this background might get a wrong idea - if they get an idea at all. This mainly applies to the Ethernet and token ring sections. The sections on LocalTalk, wireless networking and network-card installation are OK.

Chapters 8 and 9 are Mac OS and Windows specific, respectively. They cover the base for chapter 10. And together, these three chapters provide an introduction to TCP/IP networking on Macs and PCs. With regard to sharing printers and files, they also describe how TCP/IP can coexist with other network protocols (e.g., AppleTalk).

Part Four

The subject of the fourth part is the provision and use of services in (heterogeneous) networks, including remote access. The focus is on Windows NT Server based servers and Mac OS based clients. One chapter deals with other server software (e.g., Novell NetWare), and Windows based clients are discussed as well. Even though most sections are addressed to network administrators, readers wishing to connect their Macs and PCs at home get their money's worth.

By reading part four's five chapters, it becomes apparent that Rizzo is very experienced in setting up mixed-platform networks. He covers different combinations of software, discusses cable issues, and even explains what bugs to expect and how to circumvent them.

Part Five

The content of chapter 16 is similar to what one would expect in an article about running Windows on Macs. First, there is a comparison of emulators and coprocessor cards in general. Then, different products are presented (among others SoftWindows, Virtual PC, and OrangePC), including installation and configuration tips. Finally, a few pages in this rather big chapter also present products that allow to run the Mac OS on Windows, Windows on UNIX, etc. Readers interested in benchmarks won't find any, only hints at which product performs better under what conditions.

I'm afraid that chapter 17, despite its interesting title Network Application Sharing & Thin Clients, isn't much more than a product overview in which Timbuktu Pro gets the biggest share. (Don't get me wrong, the last sentence is not directed against Netopia.)

In the very last chapter, the reader learns about using Mac mice, keyboards and monitors with PCs and vice versa. Both pre-USB and USB devices are covered.

Conclusion

Macintosh Windows Integration is a book from which Mac users will gain more than Windows users. Rizzo is quite good at explaining software features, at giving installation & configuration instructions, and at providing practical tips in general. But when it comes to theory, his choices of what to include, what to leave out, and how to organize the text leave a little to be desired. Fortunately (for both the author and the reader), Macintosh Windows Integration is practice oriented.

Most chapters have a corresponding web page (within MacWindows.com) for information updates. So you might find the answer to a question without consulting the book. However, people who often have to deal with both OSes should seriously consider getting a copy. Also those who decide to get rid of one OS in favor of the other, but want to keep their files and peripherals.

Acknowledgments

Dani Seelhofer and Neso Atanasoski helped me to get rid of Germanisms. If some are left, it's not their fault.

References

[Rizzo 1999] RIZZO, John. - Macintosh Windows Integration: Integrating your Macintosh with Windows 95/98 and Windows NT Environments, Morgan Kaufmann/Academic Press, 1999.

Paul is an EE student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and a student member of the IEEE. He spent his summer preparing his exams, doing lots of sports, writing for MacTech, and saving money for a PowerBook. If you want to tell him about your summer, write to psevinc@stud.ee.ethz.ch.

 
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