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I’m not a tech review kind of guy.  I just use the stuff, and don’t usually talk about it.

However, since I seem to be one of the first to receive an Airport Express, I thought I’d describe setting it up, because I ran into a few things that you ought to know.

First of all, it’s amazingly small for what it does.  A wireless hub that support ten users at 54 Mbps in a space the size of two cigarette packs.  Stunning.

I took it out of the package, removed the plastic wrap on both the main unit and the detachable plug, and stuck it into the wall.  You can put it behind furniture, as long as there’s at least 12 centimeters of space—it sticks straight out of the socket.

It looks like you could use a plug extender like the one on a PowerBook brick, if you wants to plug it in to a crowded outlet, or if you wanted to loft the Express a bit to get better signal.

Please note: as far as I could tell, you need to have an existing computer with a wireless card to set up the device.  My existing network is a G4, a router, and an Airport Extreme base station.  This is not enough not allow you to set up your new Airport Express wirelessly.  Once the Express was set up correctly, I could stream tunes from my G4 to it via the Extreme station, but setup was impossible!

So how did I get around it? I also have a laptop that has a wireless card.  If you’re in the same situation, try borrowing a friend’s laptop.  Or invest in an airport card for your computer and skip the Airport Extreme.

I did not try plugging the express directly into the router via an Ethernet cable; the instructions didn’t say anything about whether this would work and say explicitly that you need a computer with an Airport card to set up the Express, so I wouldn’t count on this method.

Airport Express comes with a CD with Airport software version 4.0 (and iTunes 4.6).  You can’t get the 4.0 Airport tools via software update (yet), and you must install the software on the CD to set up your Express.  if you think, hey, I’ve got the latest software, I should just be able to plug the thing in and start configuring, you’ll be scratching your head.

When I installed it on my G4 desktop, things went smoothly.  I already had iTunes 4.6, so it skipped over that.  On my laptop, though, I experienced a hard freeze: the computer completely locked up during the installation process and had to be hard rebooted.  Luckily, it started up fine, and when I retried the installation, it went off without a second freeze.  I was even being good and had all the other software shut down and wasn’t messing with the laptop while the installation was taking place like I sometimes do.  So, do remember the other golden rule: back up and be careful when installing new software!

The streaming of tunes (AirTunes) to the Express works flawlessly no matter what I have my main computer doing; it keeps up the flow during even heavy processor usage.  It will sometimes cut out when several friends pick up and handle the Express—I think their bodies block the signal, or the Express is just shy.  There is a delay of about two or three seconds form the time I tell iTunes to play to the time Express starts; there’s a buffer in there somewhere, I suppose in the Express to handle occasional wireless glitches.

The sound is just fine; I think I’m a little more aware of the sound quality because it’s my stereo and not my computer speakers, but I’m no audiophile so I can’t even really say that it sounds that different from a CD.

Oh, and it’s been running for several hours of every day since it arrived last week.  I can’t believe how much easier and more fun it makes listening to music.

It has also made my whole house a wireless paradise; I can go just about anywhere and get fast speeds and no weak signals.  For $129, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I could not imagine buying a Mac without buying one of these from now on.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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