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-- by Joel T. Patz
In a Windows world, an Apple Macintosh no longer has to stick out like a sore thumb. PC MacLAN makes your Mac appear as another node on your Windows network.
The product's beauty is in its simplicity. The Windows 95 software integrates a 32-bit AppleShare client/server interface into Windows 95's network environment, and lets you share files, printers (including non-PostScript printers), hard disks and CD-ROMs bidirectionally.
I tested the program using a 3Com Network PC Card in an AST Ascentia J30 notebook, connecting it to an Apple PowerBook with a Farallon EtherMac PC card and crossover cable. After the Windows 95 setup program added the network protocol, I ran the server software on the Windows side to finish installation.
The program uses Win95's Network Neighborhood to show shared resources. Its documentation guides you in making minimal configuration changes to the Mac using already existing utilities so that no installation software is required on the Mac side.
There are some caveats to using PC MacLAN. Although you can see the Mac files in Explorer, you can't simply drag and drop them from Mac to PC. That's because Mac files come with embedded information about the application that created them. To overcome this problem, PC MacLAN uses specially created shared directories defined through its server software.
When you drag a Mac file to this special shared directory, PC MacLAN splits the Mac file into two parts: the application file and the resource file. Using a customizable File Extensions table, PC MacLAN magically handles files created on the PC and retrieved by the Mac so that the Mac understands the source application. It's all very slick and completely transparent.
Windows 95 maintains the Mac's long filenames. PC MacLAN substitutes forbidden characters with the ASCII equivalent to ensure compatibility: The Mac file x/y, for example, is copied as xy. For file security, you can define users and groups, and set read/write access at the PC's folder and file level, as well as at the Mac's folder level.
The program extends the Mac's printer intelligence by providing information about a print job. Setting up Mac printer drivers in Windows 95 is no different from adding a network printer. Best of all, there's minimal memory required-no more than 50KB.
I have only one suggestion for improvement. Miramar needs to restructure the amply illustrated documentation so the installation and user directions follow a more logical order. Fortunately, the company's technical support staff is very knowledgeable.
If you want to integrate your Mac into your Windows 95 domain, you can depend on PC MacLAN to do it simply and at a reasonable price.
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.