THE Apple Macintosh computer, by virtue of its graphical user interface (GUI), its ability to handle byte-cumbersome languages, and its ease-of-use, has brought together more diverse people and specialised applications than any other platform. With the new generation of low-cost and portable units, the Macintosh has attracted a broader base of end-users. Becoming a mainstream product has highlighted the necessity of connecting and operating efficiently within diverse environments, but this has always been part of the Macintosh advantage. Connections allow businesses and individuals to acquire information. The better your connections, the better informed you become, the more options you have, the faster you work and the more successful you become. Whether Mac users like it or not, they have to connect with diverse environments in order to be more effective. To be computer literate in the Mac world is quite distinct from being literate within the somewhat convoluted world of networking. Luckily, these connections are becoming easier. AppleTalk is the networking communications protocol which allows Macintosh computers to share information. AppleTalk capabilities are built into every Macintosh computer and Apple LaserWriter printer. Both hardware and software; ready to ''plug and play''. Each Macintosh has a LocalTalk port that handles network communication at 230.4 kilobits per second and a serial port that provides a 19.2 kbps per second connection to modems and other serial devices. High-end Macintosh Quadra systems and the LaserWriter IIg printer also include an Ethernet port that transfers data at 10 megabits per second. The AppleTalk protocol architecture is consistent with the ISO (International Standards Organisation) reference model OSI (Open Systems Interconnect). As a result of its open architecture, AppleTalk is media independent. It is thus able to support a wide range of media including shielded and unshielded twisted-pair, thick and thin coaxial, infra-red and fibre-optic cables. The AppleTalk system supports all network topologies, including trunk, ring, star and daisy chain topologies. As a result, it can operate over LocalTalk, EtherNet,TokenRing and WAN's (wide area networks). Major vendors such as IBM, Digital, Microsoft, Banyan and Novell provide AppleTalk protocols on their systems. On the software side, every Mac comes with AppleShare client software, which allows any Mac to connect to an AppleShare server, regardless of what computer and/or operating system is using the AppleShare server software. This means that a Macintosh can just as easily become a client to a Digital VAX, a UNIX system, or a Novell Netware server operating AppleShare. With System 7 features such as file sharing, aliases and publish and subscribe, the Macintosh brings us closer than any other platform to transparent networking. Built-in file sharing allows users to share files without a dedicated file server. A simple peer to peer connection allows any other hard disk icon to appear on the user's desktop. Files can be copied to your hard disk from a colleague's hard disk simply by dragging a file from one hard disk window to another. Aliases are representations of a file that can be placed within the Apple Menu, on the desktop, in numerous folders and even on another volume. When a user clicks on an alias, the alias points to and activates both the actual file and application wherever they reside. This makes networking even more transparent. For example if you frequently want to access a file that resides on a network server, it is more expedient to create an alias of the file on your desktop rather than searching for the file on the server every time it is needed. The publish and subscribe feature allows users to integrate documents both on a single Mac, or over a network. Because it deals only with data, it is application independent. For example, a manager working with a report in a word processor can subscribe over a network to a chart in a spreadsheet document from the accounts department. When the chart changes, the information in the manager's word processing document is also updated. With AppleTalk Remote Access, network connections can even be made over standard telephone lines. giving convenient and direct access to information and resources wherever you are.