Timbuktu: Mi Mac es Su Mac!
Author: Larry Kuhn
Date: November, 1993
Keywords: Farallon Computing utility software program review remote access sharing
Text: System 7 users who are familiar with the Mac's networking capabilities know that you can share hard drives among networked Mac's running system 7 or higher. But what do you do when the cable isn't long enough, or you need to access your computer at work from home? Timbuktu from Farallon Computing addresses these high-tech needs with software that let's two Mac's running Timbuktu access each other. Timbuktu even allows you to run the other Mac from your machine and see what you'd see on the screen at the remote computer. This is great technology for those who do a lot of computing at home, but need to be linked to a machine elsewhere, like an office. Other uses could be for people who do sales calls with a PowerBook, but need to access a company computer at a home office site. Like so many other nifty techie things, you have to have some hardware and software for Timbuktu to work with. Here's what you need.
Hardware: Mac Plus or higher (color Mac if you want to control a color Mac at the remote site); a serial cable, and modems for each Mac; a 2400 bps modem is the minimum, and to see the screen on the other Mac as if you were there, a 9600 bps modem or faster is highly recommended.
Software: System software; latest version of Finder, but Timbuktu will work with system 4.1 or higher and Finder 5.5 or higher; for color uses, Timbuktu needs system 6.0.5 or higher and 32 bit QuickDraw 1.2; one copy of Timbuktu on each machine (each package comes with two copies of the software) RAM requirements are meager, as Timbuktu needs only 125K when loaded at start-up and another 30K when dialing. If you want to share screens between Macs, it gets a little tricky. On the host machine, Timbuktu needs 1165K for a temporary screen buffer (maximum). On a guest computer, Timbuktu needs 160K for the desk accessory, and another 1165K to do color screen sharing. Requirements are less for black and white sharing and range from 385 to 487K. Installation of Timbuktu went easily and without any problems on my Mac II, and on a Mac IIsi that I linked to for this testing. I did not experience any INIT conflicts, but I have a slimmed down set of INITS that I use for telecommunications. The less things to conflict, the less chance they will, is my motto! Although Timbuktu operates essentially as a desk accessory from the Apple Menu, it is a sophisticated telecommunications program, and users should be familiar with using a modem, and what their modem setting are. Once you have both computers running with Timbuktu and modems on, you can get the guest computer to dial up the host computer with no problem. Timbuktu lets you save frequently used numbers, and assists you in managing them. It is easy to add, change and delete a number with the press of a button on the screen. You may use passwords on the host Mac, and there is a field to enter a password before you dial. This is a nice security feature for those with confidential data. Once you have your number set, you just click ''dial'' and your modem chirps away. When the communication link has been established between the two Macs running Timbuktu, a window appears with a message box that lets you do on screen chatting (if there is an operator on the other Mac). The bottom of the screen is devoted to buttons that let you control, observe, send files, exchange files, send an 'attention' message, or hang up. This covers 99% of what you normally need to do, and it is nice to see all the controls at the bottom right where you can get to them. Sending files back and forth between Macs was easy, and the dialog boxes that appear are straightforward. A nice feature is that it is easy to create a new folder for files from within the dialog box. This comes in handy when you transfer lots of files in different categories. Controlling another Mac really does work best with a high speed modem. I borrowed a 14.4 modem to use after my 2400 bps modem's performance was very sluggish on this task. The response is by no means 'instant' but it is certainly very acceptable. If you plan on using Timbuktu to control a remote Mac, get the fastest modem you can afford. Although Timbuktu has the facility to manage a File Server of a network remotely, (pretty cool!) it is a feature that I could not test, but for those needing to do system administration tasks in a 'tele-presence' mode, it is worth looking into. The manual is very well written and is aimed at the general user, but Timbuktu is so feature laden that it might be overkill for some users. For other users with specific needs that Timbuktu addresses, it is one of the few programs that will let you do these kinds of remote control screen sharing. I would say that this is a good package but certainly aimed at a special class of user. I will continue to use Timbuktu, (even though I can't use all it's features at this point,) but it's nice to know they are there waiting for me when I'm ready to control a Quadra 2000 File Server from afar! Timbuktu Remote 3.0 is available for $199 from: Farallon Computing Inc. 2000 Powell Street, Suite 600 Emeryville, CA 94608 510-596-9020
Copyright © november, 1993 by Larry Kuhn