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ATPM 14.06
June 2008



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by Mark Tennent,

Mac to My Back

When the temperature outside starts with a 3 you know you have problems. A single digit, Fahrenheit, or preceded by a minus means it is what is technically known as bloody freezing. A single digit after the 3, as in the southern half of the UK this weekend, the correct term is bloody hot. Unless you are measuring in the Rømer scale in which case you will be dead.

With that in mind, after finding the coolest part of the garden and settling in to watch Lewis Hamilton beat the cheating Spaniard, a problem arose needing a quick and effortless solution since any exertion produced buckets of perspiration. The Mac transmitting the TV signal to the receiver laptop was having a little hissy fit every few minutes and needed a good seeing to.

Stuck in the Office

It was, after all, compressing video, uploading a gigabyte of data, and signing on to get e-mail every five minutes or so. As well as capturing live TV and transmitting to us in the garden. Being an original G5, it too was complaining about the heat, huffing and puffing its fans to keep cool. This seemed an ideal time to try Apple’s Back to My Mac because it meant staying in the garden while solving the hissy fit.


If you have never used Back to My Mac, it arrived in Mac OS X 10.5, and with it you can edit and transfer files between Macs as well as control one Mac from the other. Neither are new or unique services, but as usual, Apple has made it a no-brainer. Simply turn on Screen Sharing using the Sharing and .Mac Preference panes, and turn on UPNP or NAT-PMP in your router. They probably are already on.

.Mac Upgrade on the Way

The .Mac account is the only other requirement because, as Wikipedia states:

Back to My Mac uses wide-area Bonjour to discover services across the Internet and automatically configure ad hoc, on-demand, point to point encrypted connections between computers using IPSec. It requires users to have a .Mac subscription for the Dynamic DNS service portion of Wide-Area Bonjour.

Rumour has it that in June Apple will announce a big upgrade to the .Mac service—which already isn’t to be sneezed at. Back to My Mac is just one further feature that makes the annual fee even more reasonable.

Back to My Bacchus

Getting back to our Macs, all we did was turn it on and immediately we could control one Mac from the other. Meaning we could retire to the coolest part of the garden, wipe the condensation from the glasses of chilled Bacchus wine, and watch Lewis. At the same time keeping an eye on the other Mac which was still busily working away in the office. Just to add to its woes, we fired up QuarkXPress and made a series of PDFs, which were uploaded via Transmit. All controlled with our backs to the Mac, from the garden via a laptop.


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Reader Comments (3)

Robert Leitao (ATPM Staff) · May 31, 2008 - 22:38 EST #1
Thanks for the reminder about this important component of the .mac service. When needed for troubleshooting or accessing remote files, it sure is a handy feature.

I'm looking forward to the anticipated enhancements in .mac as Apple further integrates the functionality of its different digital devices through this annual subscription service.

Last week one of my associates used Back to My Mac to access a Mac at a remote location to troubleshoot its wireless network. It saved travel time and the need to try and walk someone through the fixes over the phone.

That one incident made the year's subscription cost of .mac more than worthwhile.
Mark Tennent · June 4, 2008 - 07:22 EST #2
Although I run an ftp server in-house (with the excellent CrushFTP4) I still need the Public Folder in my iDisk. My ADSL line can send at a maximum 90kps (860kbps) so downloading from me is a slow experience.

It's easier for me to upload to iDisk for people to collect from there. But I wish Apple would let us use FTP rather than WebDAV which slows to a trickle if you aren't careful.
Gerald · June 4, 2008 - 14:40 EST #3
It's amazing how Apple takes things that only uber-geeks can do and makes it to where ANYONE can do it. Truly stealing fire from the gods.

No wonder geeks hate Apple products!

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