Entries categorized "Wireless" Feed

All Mifi Are Not Created Equal

Three ConnectedBernie Goldbach in Cashel | Photo of my Huawei E586 Mifi  

FOR THE PAST TWO years, Mifi has impressed me with its versatility. However, I've also learned to appreciate the limitations of the little portable wifi dongles.

When I attend industry events throughout Ireland, people with devices set to snoop for open wifi nodes often know I'm in the vicinity because I have two E586 Mifi dongles offering free internet access to anyone within 20 square metres of my Bihn bag where the dongle rests. One E586 has the SSID Topgold running with a Three Ireland SIM and the other shows up as Bern-ie powered by O2-Ireland. I get appreciative glances because my devices are often more resilient than venue wifi. However, I also know they misbehave and need to be reset occasionally, just as I expect to reboot my normal wireless router.

In my experience, my fastest Mifi service (using 3Ireland) also returns the most errors in DNS look-up. That means the Mifi cannot find the name server so the web page I need to use returns blank with the DNS error message. I cannot get a result by refreshing the web page--I have to disconnect my laptop from the Mifi dongle and reconnect it.

In other cases, both my O2 and 3Ireland Mifi dongles cause errors when connected to apps on my handsets. I can often work around those errors by selecting a different Mifi option.

In all cases, I've been able to correct data problems by resetting the individual E586 dongles by turning them off and then back on.

Continue reading "All Mifi Are Not Created Equal" »


Celebrating Eight Years of Mobile Wifi

9500 IdeasBernie Goldbach in Dublin | Photo snapped in London 

I REMEMBER GETTING A LOT of slagging for carrying a brick for a phone because most of the critics didn't understand the phone's wifi and keyboard let it replace my laptop.

Today, it's hard to get a smartphone without a wifi antenna inside. I use my Lumia's wifi to make Skype calls to mobile phones in other countries for as little as two euro cents a minute. I use Viber on iOS to ring people for free. And yet I still pay nearly 80 year a month for my mobile phone service so the wifi hasn't actually reduced my phone bills.

When I first started carrying a Wifi phone (the Nokia 9500), I wondered about the viability of 3G in the age of inexpensive Wi-Fi connectivity. Why use the over-the-air network if you could do everything for free via Wifi? Then I saw the issues.

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Huawei E585 Three Mifi Speed

E585 Three Mifi SpeedBernie Goldbach in Cashel | Speedtest in a bunker  

I HAVE JUMPED over to Three.ie for my main Over The Air data connectivity for two reasons: faster data and cheaper data.

I snapped the accompanying Speedtest while in a granite bunker near the Rock of Cashel. The location (in an old abbey surrounded by very thick granite walls) is one of the worst places I can find to test high speed over the air service. In this case, my two-year-old (very unrealiable) Hauwei E585 dongle delivered 3G service fast enough to run 10 browser tabs while downloading 35 MB of audio. When using my O2 SIM in the same location, I lost 3G service.

I've a lot of respect now for how Three.ie has used the service fee it received under the National Broadband Scheme. It appears a lot of the Exchequer's money went towards the erection of mobile data masts in farmland where people living in rurual areas can get broadband over the air. That's a good thing.

And even better, it's serving me 60 GB of data for EUR 30 a month.


Bernie Goldbach curates links about wifi.


Extending Wifi Around Immersion Barriers

TL-WN722NBernie Goldbach in Cashel | My photo of the adapter 

OUR TP-LINK TL-WN722N wireless high gain USB adapter allows me to connect my Dell M2400 laptop to an O2 Hotshot two floors away. And the adapter's 4dBi antenna swivels so I can point it directly at the Hotshot's location.

Our tall house has a tall immersion heater three metres away from the O2 Huawei E586 Hotshot. With just the on-board laptop antenna, our concrete floors and copper heater interfered with wifi connectivity. The TP-Link solved all those issues.

The size of this USB component may surprise some readers, as will its cost ($11) and value for money. It uses Align 1-stream technology based on the 802.11n standard. The TL-WN722N provides a better wireless signal than existing wireless 802.11g technology. And its  detachable antenna can remarkably boost your signal range and speed. The TP-Link TL-WN722N gives me remarkably good Google Hangouts with one-bar HSDPA signal strength.

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Fried SIM in a Dongle

When My Hotshot StoppedBernie Goldbach in Cashel | Photo of my Hotshot 

AFTER GIVING TOP MARKS to my O2 Hotshot, the thing died on me today. Actually, the helpful O2 people suggested me its SIM failed.

But after calling around, I discovered that since I signed a new contract with O2-Ireland, I relinquished legacy data services that were permitting me to use up to 50 GB a month over-the-air without being capped. Now I'm capped at 15 GB a month--meaning I can sneak 25 GB monthly across the O2 network every month without being throttled.

The Hotshot looks like the midnight shot I snapped in this blog post. I need a PAYG data SIM or a data plan on another network to meet my monthly needs. I really don't want to pay more than EUR 30 for 50 GB of over-the-air data connectivity.


Bernie Goldbach curates links about mobile.


Avoiding Tethering Surprises with OTA Wifi

My Mobile WifiAFTER 17 MONTHS of using my Huawei 585 on two continents, I can wholeheartedly endorse the use of portable wifi service.

Using a device like the Huawei 585 (at left) or the O2 Hotshot eliminates the need to tether from your mobile phone and that means you won't face any sort of bill shock after tethering for 10 minutes. I bought the little black Hauwei 585 from eBay for EUR 60 but if I'd renewed my data contract with O2 I could have received it for free. 

I can feed my over the air data habit with a Pay As You Go SIM for less than 20 EUR a month. That's the price point of the contract I'd have to maintain with O2-Ireland for the same peace of mind. Both the PAYG and the standard contract for O2 data worked elegantly in Ireland, England and the States for me. I've powered creative multimedia classrooms with this Hauwei hotspot, lit up entire carriages on Irish Rail with it and its the high speed connection for the iPad while we're underway in Ireland.

If you haven't worked out a plan to tether before you need to tether, you might be in for a surprise about the cost of running your phone in tethering mode.


Some of Bernie Goldbach's curated mobile links:

John Rutledge -- Lessons from a Road Warrior: How I fell off a horse, earned 15 million air miles, got sand in my shoes and learned how to invest. Get it on Kindle.

Speeding Along with O2-Ireland's Dongle (insideview.ie)

Should you tether your tablet to your phone, or just get a 3G tablet? (liliputing.com)

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Another Voda Modem Success

Best in BlueMY TRUSTY VODAFONE USB modem surprised me with service that I've never enjoyed from a mobile device before. It uploaded an entire DVD in the background.

I never intended to use Vodafone's mobile broadband service to shift big chunks of content because I think it's a little rude to monopolise cellular masts with big clumps of data. However, based on a fat-finger error, I inadvertently dropped the entire contents of a two-hour DVD from my laptop to Libsyn, a trustworthy rich media data archive. This was a mistake because I don't like using most of my monthly Libsyn allocation with the uploading of a single file. I'm still trying to figure out what I did to upstream an archive when I meant to upload a single 30-second feature film extract for the Media Writing module I teach in LIT-Clonmel.

Anyway, the upload is complete and I'll probably keep the big file on Libsyn since I can now stream one of my favourite J.J. Abrams films through my Nokia E7 and onto our TV set via an HDMI cable. It's unexpected elegance and encourages me to put all of our four year old's favourite DVDs up into the cloud so we can serve up Peppa Pig and friends no matter where we are in the world.


Photo of late night Vodafone service connected to my Dell M2400 laptop.

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Clever NokiaWorld Offerings

Amazing EverydayI HAVE SEEN THE future of Nokia's product line and I want some of it in my hands mainly because the Nokia Lumia's touch, feel and function totally relegates my iPod Touch.

Some terrific hardware inside the Nokia Lumia 800 makes this phone a Hero Product for me. Products I use every day work better on the Lumia. Nokia Drive takes my maps to a new level. Mix Radio helps me escape from the overweight iTunes, Lumia 800's intelligent icons don't require me to tap and see because everything automagically pushes fresh content directly into view on the screen. This intelligent presentation makes the iOS 5 notification flow look irksome.

A lot of visual purity appeared on screen at Nokia World 2011 and it would have made Jony Ive envious. Nokia has a strong legacy of functionally beautiful phones. The products Nokia announced and shipped today symbolise a new dawn for Nokia and they restore my faith in the company's understanding of how people want to connect.

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My First Look at Vodafone Mobile Broadband

3G ConnectedTHE VODAFONE MOBILE BROADBAND USB stick modem gives me a solid first impression--it delivers 3G performance in the creative multimedia wing of LIT.

This means a lot for new students who are not registered on the course but who need to see Google Documents, email and cloud storage. Simply snapping the €40 red and white Vodafone stick modem into their laptops gives them high speed personal internet access to cloud services without having to log into the campus network. Of course, they could also use the white-hot free and open campus wifi if they wanted but having Vodafone Mobile means they can take their work outside onto the picnic tables, work downtown from my favourite coffee shop, or hide in a corner in the student union building. With dependable, high speed and nearly symmetrical Vodafone Mobile Broadband, the real challenge becomes staying focused on to-do lists and not sinking into the distracting void of Facebook during the normal academic day.


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