Installation and Setup
Installing the adapters wasn't difficult, but it still wasn't as easy as I expected. From the PassPort Plug-In Network brochure: "Simply connect the parallel cables from your PC or printer to your PassPort Plug-In adapter, plug into any electrical outlet in your home or office, load the software, and you're done. It's that simple."
It sounds easy enough, but if you're anything like me, you probably have all sorts devices plugged into all the AC outlets near your computer. The adapter has to plug directly into the wall outlet. Some surge protectors interfere with data transmission due to RFI filtering. The installation manual also encourages you to plug your computer into an included line conditioner/surge protector to reduce "noise." After spending a couple minutes rearranging the power layout under my desk, I managed to free up a spot in my wall outlet for the PC Plug-In adapter. Other than a few reset clocks, the power relocation initiative was a success.
I then connected my PC to the adapter with the parallel cable. Note that the adapters don't have a pass-through or dongle, so you'll have to disconnect yourself from the network if you need to use other parallel port devices such as zip drives, scanners, or USB-impaired mp3 players. I had to move the printer to yet another room, because all my other power outlets were blocked by various pieces of furniture and you can't plug adapters into surge protectors. The second PC adapter installation in the living room went through easily thanks to a nearby open power outlet.
After booting up, Windows detects the new hardware, but the installation manual instructs you to cancel the hardware wizard and use the installation utility on the PassPort setup CD. You'll probably need your Windows system CD, or have the files somewhere on your computer for the installation. The installation on my Win98 SE system went fine, but the installation utility would hang on my other Win95 OSR2 system and I had to manually install the PassPort driver files.
The actual PassPort network setup went smoothly. It wasn't complicated at all -I didn't need to enter a single IP address. Once the network is established, you can use the "Network Neighborhood" to share files just like with normal Windows networking. The PassPort network software also offers you the option to make your network secure to keep out those nosy people next door.
I installed the network printer through the PassPort Administrator software, and I successfully printed a couple test pages.
Inari provides Avirt internet sharing software with the PassPort kit. The Avirt software allows client machines to access the internet over the network through the computer on the LAN with the internet connection. Installing the Avirt software was also very easy. The bulk of the installation goes on the machine with the internet connection. After the proxy server is set up on the internet computer, you have to set up the client machines. The installation program for client computers only needs to configure the system's programs to work with the proxy server. The software works with all kinds of internet connections including analog modems, cable modems, and DSL.