Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow day

It is snowing...

so maybe today we'll talk more simple, happy tech stuff.

I live in a small house, and I don't really want to have a "computer room". So we use a Powerbook on a wireless network for computing.

The wireless router and cable modem are tucked under the stairs, in the back of a closet. My old Sony VAIO desktop used to be connected to the wireless network with a Linksys USB 802.11b/g adapter, but I could never get it to work that well. The Linksys drivers were constantly fighting with the Windows XP "Wireless Zero" -- great name -- stuff.

So when I got the Powerbook, I put the VAIO in the closet with the router and connected it via Ethernet for use as a file server for backups, and to provide access to my old PC data. This is great, except when it's time to administer the server. If the VAIO had Windows XP Pro, then I could administer it remotely from the Powerbook using Apple's Remote Desktop Client. But it has XP home, and it's a crippled OEM version from Sony with no CD-ROM media supplied, so I was dubious about whether an XP Pro upgrade license would actually work, and besides that's like $150.

Enter the wonderful world of free open-source VNC software. I used the RealVNC server on the XP box and Chicken of the VNC on the Macintosh. I installed this software from the web using all the default settings and it just worked! Amazing.

Wouldn't it be nice if Google would provide Picasa for the Mac...

Finally, a word of praise for AVG's free anti-virus software for Windows. I've been using this for years on the VAIO. Free, automatic updates, unobtrusive operation. Who could ask for more?

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