Replacing Airport Extreme

One of the “problems” I have with Apple products is that they last way too long. This was the case with my 2nd generation Airport Extreme which after many years of duty started to require reboots every couple of weeks. I remember the process I went through when it replaced my old AirPort (the one that looks like a space ship) but that’s of little use now. So before I went out an picked up a 6th generation Airport Extreme, I looked around the internet to see what I would have to do to swap out the routers. Didn’t find too much so I figured either the supporting documentation for replacing the equipment under Yosemite hadn’t been published or that the AirPort Utility would make it dead easy. The answer was mostly that the AirPort Utility took care of the heavy lifting but not quite all of it. Here’s my recommendation:


  1. Make sure you remember/write down all existing networks and passwords you’ve configured. You’ll need this in case you decide to manually configure the AE and want the least disruption to the clients you’ve set up on the existing networks.
  2. Take all the wired connections out of the old Airport Extreme (AE) and plug them into the corresponding ports on the new AE. Leave the old Airport Extreme plugged in. This isn’t documented anywhere but trust me on this. There’s no need to export your current AE configuration via the AirPort Utility.
  3. Plug the new Airport Extreme in.
  4. Open the AirPort Utility on any Mac/iPhone/iPad with wifi on.
  5. Find the new Airport Extreme and follow the prompts.
  6. When you get to the prompt asking you if you are replacing an Airport Extreme, click ‘Yes’. The Utility will find your old Airport Extreme (which you intelligently left plugged in) and ask you if you want to copy your configuration over. Click ‘Yes’ or ‘Ok’ and wait for the new AE to boot up. Your existing network and router configurations will be copied over to the new AE by the AirPort Utility.

This “easy” approach will do nicely in most cases. However, if you are in an apartment or area where there are a lot of wifi networks, I recommend manually selecting a channel for each frequency in your network. In Yosemite (and Mavericks) it’s very easy to do. Option-click the WiFi icon and pull down to ‘Open Wireless Diagnostics’. Ignore the dialog box that opens and go to Window->Scan. You’ll see all the wifi networks around as well as their channels. The Scanner will give you a recommended channel for all frequencies supported by your router. Go into the AirPort Utility and change the channel via pulldown from the default ‘automatic’ to the recommended channel. Save and your AE will reboot with the new configuration.

If everything is set up properly, go ahead and export the new AE configurations and save it in case you need to do a hard reset and want to restore existing conditions quickly.

Unfortunately for me, a couple of corrupted tables were ported over from my old AE. Client IP addresses were being double assigned by NAT and local server names were being numerically incremented. I did a factory settings (hard) reset (via AirPort Utility) and manual configuration for the new AE to eliminate this issue.

Cablevision (Optimum) and Not Getting Along

Something happened server side yesterday and Apple’s is no longer able to pass authentication with the outgoing SMTP server. What’s strange is that it only affects Sparrow and other mac email clients are unaffected by this.

The other odd part of this is that tech support at Cablevision admitted something went wonky on their end when they did some kind of server upgrade. Normally I’d expect, “change your password” or “reboot your modem” or other canned responses but tech support was forthcoming about the issue. No telling when it will be resolved though. Better be soon since Verizon FioS just came to terms with BeInSport.

If you’re having this problem, see the comment below. Forcing port 587 for outgoing mail does the trick.

Quicken Essentials for Mac; Worse than Advertised

I bought Quicken Essentials with my 50% off discount that came with Turbo Tax and finally downloaded it tonight. I had read all about the limited feature set but I figured for $30 or so, give it a whirl. I had over 5000 checking transactions going back to 1998. No less than 58 duplicates after importing my old Quicken 07 file. Took about an hour to get my checking balance to reconcile working through all the duplicates. I knew Essentials didn’t track individual Buy and Sells like Quicken 07 but I figured I could live with that considering my brokerage statement is pretty complete. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to import into Turbo Tax but I always double and triple check the imports anyway so maybe that’s not a big deal. However, the deal breaker for me was you can’t set up a loan amortization schedule in Essentials. Seriously?

I wanted to like Essentials but it took about an hour before I realized the lack of basic features can’t be worked around.

How to Connect a wifi HP Printer with Snow Leopard

The other day I bought a new all in one wifi HP printer/scanner/fax with my new iMac. I have a closed wireless wifi network at home and run Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard on the clients. “Closed” meaning it doesn’t broadcast its SSID. So you have to know the network SSID as well as the password to connect.

Now all HP drivers are included (and updated) with Snow Leopard system updates from Apple. Everything’s built in so you don’t have to load HP’s drivers separately. I have an older HP printer with wifi and remembered that you have to configure the wireless via a hard network connection and the printer’s built in wireless configuration web page. However the new HP printer didn’t have a wired ethernet connection. Just a USB port which ain’t a network connection. Hmm.

So how does one configure the device’s wireless capability to a closed network? It’s not really well documented anywhere. Turns out, the printer default settings (once you turn the wireless on on the printer touch screen) sets up an open network called ‘hpsetup’. So I connected my iMac to this new network, went to the Print and Fax in my system preferences and clicked on Add a Printer via Bonjour. Sure enough, it found the new printer and made a connection. Open the Print Utility which will allow you to open the printer’s built in web page to configure the wireless. I clicked on Advanced, changed the SSID and password to match my home network settings and hit ‘apply’. Be careful here to get everything correctly typed because when you hit ‘apply’ it changes the printer’s wireless settings immediately. The page will not reload in your web browser because you’re no longer connected to the printer wirelessly. Don’t worry.

Disconnect from the wireless ‘hpsetup’ network and reconnect to your home network. The printer/fax/scanner will show up in your Print and Fax panel of the System Preferences.

When the Hard Drive Crashes

I’m all set to put a new monitor on my Mac Mini and it’s looking great. I futz with the screen resolution and get a blue screen of death. A quick check of the apple support forums and a safe boot should do the trick. So I do a safe boot and everything comes back to normal. Restart the Mini and it begins the boot sequence. Tries again and shuts down. Uh oh. Never seen that before. Dust off the old Snow Leopard CD, boot from it and hit the Disk Utility. Starts sequencing through but can’t repair the disk. Not good. Off to the Apple Store for a copy of Disk Warrior. My version of it was on a floppy so you know how old that is. Booted into the Disk Warrior startup and it went to work. It created the mirror directory just fine but couldn’t write to the poor old Mini disk. The write head must have crashed.

So I turned on the trusty external firewire disk and told Disk Warrior to start backing up. Life would have been less stressful if I used Time Machine but that’s a discussion for another day. Anyway, My Mini (Intel late 2006) was struggling on 1Gb of RAM so I had planned to replace it on my terms.

Back to the Apple Store, this time with my eye on a new iMac (23″ with 1 Tb of storage and the ATI Radeon graphics card). Came home, hooked it up, connected the external firewire drive (FW 800!!) and was back in business with no data loss in a couple of hours. That’s what I call making the best of a bad situation.

Tiger to Snow Leopard

I spent an extremely uneventful couple of hours going from Tiger to Snow Leopard yesterday on my second generation Intel mini. No problems except I had to go through the trouble of selecting my Bounjour printer again. All my preferences were carried over except my wireless network. Which took a second or two to log into. I made sure to install Rosetta and the Office 2004 and Quicken 2006 apps still run just fine. Now I’ve got to transition to the iWork apps.

I was a bit disappointed to see that Snow Leopard’s Airport Admin Utility doesn’t work with my trusty Airport Snow. Sure I could use a new wireless router but with only one Mac active on the wireless network, it’s more than adequate right now. So now I can’t configure my Airport Snow. And I can’t sync my Palm Centro until I by Missing Sync. Not bad.