blind_html Re: Fw: [computer-chatter], Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed

  • From: "Sarah Alawami" <marrie12@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 8 May 2009 21:41:09 -0700

So do I.


From: blind_html-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:blind_html-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Nimer Jaber
Sent: Friday, May 08, 2009 8:56 PM
To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: blind_html Re: Fw: [computer-chatter], Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed

Wow, this is cool!! I want one!

Nimer J

On 05/08/2009 07:28 PM, Jeffrey Shockley, Windows Desktop Edition wrote: 

Jeffrey Shockley
Google Talk:
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jeffry Miller <mailto:jeffrymiller@xxxxxxxxxxx>  
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:; 
Sent: Friday, May 08, 2009 7:54 PM
Subject: [computer-chatter], Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed

Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed 
Someday, we'll tell our grandchildren how we had to drive around town
looking for a coffee shop when we needed to get online, and they'll laugh
their heads off. Every building in America has running water, electricity
and ventilation; what's the holdup on universal wireless Internet? 
Getting online isn't impossible, but today's options are deeply flawed. Most
of them involve sitting rooted in one spot -- in the coffee shop or library,
for example. (Sadly, the days when cities were blanketed by free Wi-Fi
signals leaking from people's apartments are over; they all require
passwords these days.) 
If you want to get online while you're on the move, in fact, you've had only
one option: buy one of those $60-a-month cellular modems from [9]Verizon,
[10]Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T. The speed isn't exactly cable-modem speed, but
it's close enough. You can get a card-slot version, which has a nasty little
antenna protuberance, or a U.S.B.-stick version, which cries out to be
snapped off by a passing flight attendant's beverage cart. 
A few laptops have this cellular modem built in, which is less awkward but
still drains the battery with gusto. 
But imagine if you could get online anywhere you liked -- in a taxi, on the
beach, in a hotel with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi -- without messing
around with cellular modems. What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a
private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go? 
Incredibly, there is such a thing. It's the Novatel MiFi 2200, available
from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after
rebate). It's a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It
has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks
like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds,
it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot
The MiFi gets its Internet signal the same way those cellular modems do --
in this case, from Verizon's excellent 3G (high-speed) cellular data
network. If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for
the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above
that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60
plan (5 gigabytes). And if you don't travel incessantly, the best deal may
be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it. In that case,
the MiFi itself costs $270. 
In essence, the MiFi converts that cellular Internet signal into an umbrella
of Wi-Fi coverage that up to five people can share. (The speed suffers if
all five are doing heavy downloads at once, but that's a rarity.) 
Cellular wireless routers, as they're called, have been available for years.
The average person hasn't even heard of this product category, but these
routers are popular on, for example, Hollywood movie shoots. On-location
cast and crew can kill their downtime online, sharing the signal from a
single cellular card that's broadcast via Wi-Fi. 
Those machines, however, get no cell signal on their own; you have to supply
your own cellular modem. They're also big and metal and ugly. But the real
deal-killer is that they have to be plugged into a power outlet. You can't
use one at the beach or in the woods unless you have a really, really long
extension cord. 
The MiFi is remarkable for its tiny size, its sleek good looks, its 
30-foot range (it easily filled a large airport gate area with four-bar
signal) -- and the fact that it's cordless and rechargeable. 
How is this amazing? Let us count the ways. 
First, you're spared the plug-and-unplug ritual of cellular modems. You can
leave the MiFi in your pocket, purse or laptop bag; whenever you fire up
your laptop, netbook, Wi-Fi camera or game gadget, or wake up your
[11]iPhone or [12]iPod Touch, you're online. 
Last week, I was stuck on a runway for two hours. As I merrily worked away
online, complete with [13]YouTube videos and file downloads, I became aware
that my seatmate was sneaking glances. As I snuck counter-glances at him, I
realized that he had no interest in what I was doing, but rather in the
signal-strength icon on my laptop -- on an airplane where there wasn't
otherwise any Wi-Fi signal. "I'm sorry," he finally said, completely
baffled, "but how are you getting a wireless signal?" He was floored when I
pulled the MiFi from my pocket, its power light glowing evilly. 
If he'd had a laptop, I would have happily shared my Wi-Fi cloud with him.
The network password is printed right there on the bottom of the MiFi
itself. That's a clever idea, actually. Since the MiFi is in your
possession, it's impossible for anyone to get into your cloud unless you
show it to them. Call it "security through proximity." 
The second huge advantage of the MiFi is that, as with any wireless router,
you can share its signal with other people; up to five road warriors can
enjoy the same connection. Your youngsters with their iPod Touches in the
back of the van could hop online, for example, or you and your colleagues
could connect and collaborate on a corporate retreat. 
Verizon points out how useful the MiFi could be for college students working
off-campus, insurance adjusters at a disaster site and trade show booth
teams. (Incredibly, Verizon even suggests that you could use the MiFi at
home as your primary family Internet service. Sharing a cellular-modem
account was something it strenuously discouraged only two years ago.) 
Some footnotes: First, the MiFi goes into sleep mode after 30 minutes of
inactivity, to prolong its battery life. 
Yes, it means that a single charge can get you through a full day of
on-and-off Internet noodling, even though the battery is supposed to run for
only four hours a charge (it's rated at 40 hours of standby). But once the
MiFi is asleep, your Wi-Fi bubble is gone until you tap the power button. 
It's probably the height of ingratitude to complain about having to press a
single button to get yourself online. But if the MiFi is flopping around
somewhere in the bottom of your bag, just finding it can be a minor hassle. 
Fortunately, you can turn off that sleep feature, or even change the
inactivity interval before it kicks in. This gizmo is a full-blown wireless
router with full-blown configuration controls. If you type into your Web browser's address bar -- a trick well known to
network gurus -- the MiFi's settings pages magically appear. Now you can do
geeky, tweaky tasks like changing the password or the wireless network name,
limiting access to specific computers, turning on port forwarding (don't
ask) . 
A final note: If your laptop has a traditional cellular modem, you can turn
on a Mac OS X or Windows feature called Internet Sharing, which rebroadcasts
the signal via Wi-Fi, just like the MiFi. 
But the MiFi is infinitely easier to use and start up, doesn't lock you into
carrying around your laptop all the time, has better range and works even
when your laptop battery is dead. (The MiFi recharges from a wall outlet; it
still works as a hot spot while it's plugged in.

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