Airport ExpressNOTE: since this blog post has been written Apple has updated Time Machine and its Airport Extreme Firmware. Please see this post for details of how to create the ultimate home network.

Computer in one room, sound system in the other, and more than 15 metres of wall and a door in between. How do you get the music to the sound system? The answer is with a รขโ€šยฌ100 Airport Express with Airtunes. Yet the real joy of it is the ease of setup – it took less than 2 minutes for me to add the Express to the network from my Airport Extreme in the office (using AirPort Utility), then a new option pops up in iTunes, and you can start to play the music wirelessly straight away. Even as a seasoned Apple user I was surprised by how easily it worked – if you want a wireless musical household then get one. Simple as that.

Time MachineOn the other hand, Apple’s new and supposedly revolutionary technology Time Machine has been giving me a number of troubles. I started out with my 500Gb iomega MiniMax external hard disk but I could not make the backups work – backups would just ‘hang’ for no comprehensible reason. I’ve subsequently substituted this for a LaCie 500Gb external drive (USB 2.0) and backups are now fine when the disk is connected directly to my Powerbook. So it seems the iomega disk was faulty (indeed I can’t even re-format it now, so I think it’s dead – I’ve sent it back to iomega as it’s still under guarantee) and I’m then just waiting for Apple to deliver Airdisk Time Machine support

[Update 16.1.2008]
At MWSF Apple released Time Capsule – essentially an Airport Extreme router with either a 500Gb or 1Tb hard disk inside it. While this looks like a decent device, I’m a bit frustrated – I have Airport Extreme at home, and a couple of external hard disks, and only the web page for Time Capsule mentions Time Machine backups – there’s no mention of these on the Airport Extreme page currently. However there are some glimmers of hope – AppleInsider reckons Apple is still working on proper wireless Time Machine backups, and Time Capsule is only ready for release in February. There’s no revolutionary hardware in Time Capsule, so I’m sure they could release the hardware straight away (MacBook Air is available in a fortnight, and that needs serious engineering) but maybe the February release date is to give Apple time to sort out the many bugs with AirDisk utility and release Leopard 10.5.2 at the same time as the Time Capsules?


  1. Your first Mac had a 2.1Gb drive? You’re very modern… I started out in 1994 with a LCII that had a 80mb disk and 4mb of RAM! But I agree you can’t have too many… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Since then I bought an iMac on the first day iMacs were ever released, and have subsequently had another CRT iMac, an iBook, and now a PowerBook G4 with lots of extra bits and pieces. Eventually there will be a new iMac – once January’s tax bill is out of the way.

    I’ve spent รขโ€šยฌ100 on an external backup disk today – LaCie, the same make as my 5 year old (and still very reliable) Firewire disk, and it’s backing up with Time Machine as I write – no problems so far…

  2. Well, you can never have too many Macs! I have a Mac Pro and (at present) three internal drives: two 250 and one 500 GB. Doing print work, I tend to find that space fills up very swiftly…

    How did I ever cope with my first Mac’s 2.1 GB drive, eh?


  3. Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve already tried that one, and it seems to make no difference – the backup just fails after about 3Gb.

    With re-formatting of the drive (a variation of this problem) I’ve now managed to get it to backup 20Gb but then when it tries the second backup it hangs again… ๐Ÿ™

    Really annoying.

    I can’t try another disk for the backup as the internal hard disk on my Powerbook and the 120Gb Firewire external I have are both full… Strikes me there are basically 2 options: get a cheap 500Gb external in the January sales, or save a bit more money and invest in a smart new iMac…

  4. Time Machine works fine for me, but I’m backing up to a 500GB internal hard-drive. Have you tried excluding the System and Application folders? That might make a difference (and makes backups considerably smaller in any case).

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