Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do Not Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror You Have Created...

Go to Google. Type in "mac and windows on the same LAN?" and see just how many hits you get. For me, it was about 133,000,000. And of course, the first umpteen pages are all about the pain of failure, or about complicated work-arounds, and shit like that. Cut it short: there's a history of trouble in making Macs and Windows machine sing in harmony.

Now, let's look at something else. Technology and me. Mr Barnes will be happy to put you in the picture if you aren't already: I'm notorious for producing... peculiar effects in high-tech gear. It's not that I do anything deliberately off-kilter. Just that if something is going to go wrong, and do it in an obscure fashion, it's likely to happen when I'm playing with it. There are people I know who still won't let me near their computers. Just in case.

I don't really mind. It's made me a fairly self-reliant computer user. Why do I know how to do absurd things in the name of making Windows work? Because I had to know, that's why. And it could be worse. My father can't even wear a wristwatch for more than a day or two before it just goes batshit. And recently, when he was hospitalised with Scrub Typhus, the complicated monitor machine kept telling the nurses at random intervals that he was either dead, or in massive tachycardia. (He wasn't.)

So I've been running a LAN here at home for... uhhh... six or seven years, I guess. Just as a way of sharing our (fucking piss-poor, thanks) Internet access. I've gone through three different routers, three different base-station computers, and patched in something like three peripheral desktops and eight peripheral laptops at various intervals.

Never had any trouble sharing Internet access, either by network cable or by wifi. Never had much trouble sharing drives, swapping files, accessing printers, etc. But you know what I could never get to work?

LAN gaming.

Oh, once. Just once. One afternoon, I got a single instance of a very simple, very old, artillery-duel game running. But then it stopped.

I've had tech-freaks in. I've had professional programmers in. I've had people tell me I set it up wrong, and spend three hours setting it up right only to give up in rage and frustration. And in the long run, I just said: fuck it, I don't really have time for LAN gaming anyway.

So. The boys like Minecraft. There's a copy on their desk machine, and another copy on Genghis' little school laptop, and because we've got a visitor today, they even stuck a copy on Nat's MacBook Air, or whatever it's called.

This morning, they got the bright idea of going multiplayer over the LAN. And they spent hours trying to get it to work. Jake finally came up to me and announced that despite his best efforts, and doing everything he could think of, it just wouldn't work, and he couldn't figure out why.

I thanked him -- rather dryly -- for validating six years of effort on the part of myself and a number of professionals in the tech industry. He didn't seem to detect the irony.

And then, our visitor hit "multiplayer" on the MacBook.

And all of a sudden, all three of those computers are in a LAN-based Minecraft game. The boys are happier than pigs following a herd of elephants with diarrhoea.

Yep. Sounds about right to me. Adding Macs to Windows is supposed to be tricky? Oh, well then: that must be precisely the necessary cure for my LAN gaming dilemma.

Sometimes, I admit, I get tired of this shit.