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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Monday, June 07, 2010
Wirelessly connecting your Macbook to an external HDD that is connected to your iMac or Mac Mini.
How's that for a title?

I picked up a new 13" Macbook Pro on Friday. As a Homeschooler, I qualified for educational pricing, and again, for the free 8GB iPod Touch back to school promotion. Instead of costing the standard $1249 [CDN], the price was reduced to $1149 [CDN], and with a $219 [CDN] iPod Touch thrown in to sweeten the deal I ended up paying $1286.88 [CDN] after taxes instead of $1398.88 [CDN], and I can still sell the brand new iPod for $150 - $200 [CDN] which would bring down my expenditure to as much as $1086.88 (after taxes, which works out to $970.43 [CDN] before taxes, a net savings of almost $300). That brought the price down low enough to compete with comparable some mid level PC systems. I had been saving up for a little more than a year for this particular purchase, so it was quite satisfying when it finally went down.

The point of the post however is not to congratulate myself on my patience, and the wonderful way in which it finally paid off. Rather, I wanted to discuss something that ended up being something of a configuration problem.

Prior to the purchase of the MBP, my system at home consisted of two wirelessly networked computers, the main one being a mac mini, and the other a PC desktop (Sony Vaio). I had had trouble in the past connecting my iPhone wirelessly to the Mac Mini using the Mac Mini's built in airport, so I had purchased an airport express, and created a network through it, in order for my PC to print, and again access an external HDD that was connected to my mac mini.

I am an IT professional, but I began my career in hardware first as a computer repairman, then as a government network administrator, and eventually as a computer systems analyst/programmer. Which is to say I have some facility as a technician, and am not afraid to try things that others might cringe away from, and again, which is to say that I am not inclined to call apple for help, but prefer to figure out configuration problems on my own.

So when I connected my new MBP to my wireless network, I could see my mac mini fine, but for some reason the external HDD that was connected to the mac mini was invisible. This was rather annoying, given that my PC was wirelessly connected on the same network, and it could see the external HDD just fine (which is to say that there was clearly nothing wrong with the wireless network, or the external HDD).

So, I began to scour various technical forums looking for a solution. After much searching, I found one particular, oft repeated pronouncement - the problem was that the external HDD was formatted to FAT32. Apparently because my MBP was connecting to the Mac Mini, it was expecting to find a Mac specific file allocation system, in fact, by default, my MBP would not recognize any drive connected to my Mac Mini that wasn't formatted using a Mac specific file allocation system.

Well, there was no way I was going to reformat the external drive since that would be a big, big hassle, and again, because I had no intention of making it so that the PC could not read the external HDD. So I was in a bit of a pickle.

You see, the Apple file Protocol (AFP) is the default file apple protocol, and it doesn't acknowledge/see FAT32 file systems. When you set up a PC to see an external HDD connected to a Mac, you must use the Server Message Block (SMB)protocol to do so, that is, when you connect to the network, you specify SMB as the protocol (i.e. SMB://yourserver.local). Just as we use hyper text transport protocol (HTTP) for accessing text files on Internet, so also Apple uses the "SMB" protocol for accessing files on a FAT32 drive.

The problem then is that my MBP was attempting to connect to the external drive using Apple's default "AFP" protocol (i.e. AFP://myserver.local).

Here, therefore, I found a loud chorus of self-appointed, Apple experts singing the reformat your drive song, but rather than join this chorus I explicitly told the MBP to connect to the external HDD using the SMB protocol - and viola! It suddenly saw the drive and could connect without incident.

So if you have a wireless network set up at home on your Apple computer, and you connect an external HDD to it, that remains formatted using the FAT32 allocation system, and you thereafter connect another apple to the network (wireless or otherwise), if you want the second Apple computer to see the external HDD, you will have to make sure that you connect using the SMB protocol, and you will have to explicitly say so.

If you aren't sure where to do that, from the finder menu, select the "Go" menu item, and from the "Go", select the "Connect To Server" item. There you will be able to set up the network connection using the SMB protocol as the pre-fix when you name the server (smb://TheServerYouWant.local), and butta-bing! All should work.

Note: AFP is arguably a much better protocol, and certain faster, but if you are running a mixed network and want your PCs to see connected external drives, then keeping them FAT32 makes sense - it is only in that narrow scenario that you would want to use SMB as your protocol.

Thought I would share that, in case it eventually helps someone.

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posted by Daniel @ 8:38 AM  
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