MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. This week we have questions on extending wireless networks with AirPort Express devices, new Macs not booting to a retail upgrade DVD for Snow Leopard, QuickTime not able to play some media files, and changing from the less secure WEP wireless security scheme to WPA or WPA2.
Question: Extending wireless networks with an AirPort express
MacFixIt reader "Mark" asks:
How can I get my Airport Express to act as a bridge (extend my Wi-Fi signal)? I only have a 2Wire (WEP password) router, and no other Apple Airport devices. I know it says that I can't extend my Wi-Fi range without any other Apple Airport products, but there has to be a way around it! Please help!
The Airport Express can only extend the range of a current AirPort-based network, so you will have to have either an AirPort Extreme or a Time Capsule to be able to extend the range. This feature will not work with the 2Wire router; however, you can get a long Ethernet cable and plug the airport express into the 2Wire router that way. It somewhat defeats the purpose of having a completely wireless setup, but it will allow you to extend the range for your computing devices. The other option is to get an AirPort Extreme base station, connect it via Ethernet to the 2Wire router, and use it to create the wireless network. You will then be able to use the "Express" to extend the network as you'd like.
Question: New Mac not booting to retail installation DVD
MacFixIt reader "Alex" asks:
So I recently picked up a few of the newest 15-inch Macbook Pros and was going to do a fresh install of Snow Leopard with an upgrade DVD. I also ended up trying a Snow Leopard full-install DVD. Try as I might I just could not get them to boot from that DVD. I had to use the restore discs that came with them. What gives? Do the newest Macbook Pros have different startup files?
Assuming the Upgrade DVD is recognized and loads in the Finder, the problem is likely that the Mac requires a more updated version of OS X to run (modern ones will ship with the latest version and may have problems with prior versions). If the version of OS X that shipped with your system is above version on the retail disc then the disc will not work, and you will need to get another. You might be able to take it to an Apple store and have them swap it for you, but I have not heard of too many success stories from people trying this.
Question: QuickTime not able to open some media files
MacFixIt reader "Kathy" asks:
I have not been able to use QuickTime for about 4 months now. I've been using VLC since the problem started, but would prefer to use QuickTime. I did download a new version to see if that would solve the problem but no luck. Would like to know what I need to do to fix this. [When I double-click a file] I get a box that says pick an application, if I select quicktime it says that it cannot open that document.
QuickTime is sometimes temperamental about what files it can open. If you have problems in the future you can try some alternative players such as VLC, or MPlayer OS X Extended, both of which are robust alternatives; however, you can also try installing the QuickTime codec pack called "Perian" that will enable quicktime to view many other unsupported video formats and may allow you to view the documents that are giving you problems.
Question: Changing from WEP to WPA
MacFixIt reader "H. Leon" asks:
How do I change from WEP to WPA security, which I have been told is better. I'm sure it is simple but i cant find it.
These settings are in your wireless router, so you will have to consult the manual for how to access the administration page and change the wireless security settings. Once you have WPA or WPA2 enabled, you will need to reauthenticate your computer with the wireless network since you will have a new password. If you have problems with persistent password requests popping up, you will need to open the "Keychain Access" utility and remove all keychain entries associated with your wireless network and password.