Bring Your Own Bandwidth

Tethered Android Phone

While in Washington State last week I didn’t have good Internet access. Laura’s mom still uses AOL dial-up. Neighbor Duff offered access to his WiFi, but we were just out of range. So this was the perfect chance to try tethering my laptop to my HTC Android phone. It worked brilliantly!

I had explored several options for phone tethering. The current crop of broadband modems just seemed like an additional expense for something with limited capabilities. I had almost bought the Palm Pre, which can set itself as a WiFi hub, before settling on my HTC Incredible.

I knew I didn’t want to do anything crazy that involved root access to the phone. I needed something fairly simple, so I first tried PDANet. I’d had some success using the free version connecting to my netbook. However, it was very buggy and kept wanting to crash when I tried connecting it to my larger laptop.

I finally settled on EasyTether, and it worked like a charm. The phone connected to the laptop with no problem, and I was even able to access the drive space on the phone over the USB cable – something that I couldn’t do with PDANet. I wound up purchasing the full version of the program for under $10, which gave me access to https and secure sites. With that I was able to check GMail and remotely log into my district’s network to do some simple maintenance.

I’ve read that 3G speeds are nowhere near as fast as cable or DSL speeds. However, the speeds I got over my phone were pretty darn fast. I didn’t try watching lots of video, but I did see a couple of clips, and they played just fine. I also uploaded lots of high resolution images to Flickr, and those went without a hitch fairly quickly. As far as I could see, there was nothing I couldn’t access that I would normally access from my home Internet connection. Continue reading “Bring Your Own Bandwidth”

Kayak Comparison – Dirigo vs Pungo

New Kayaks

I’ll admit it – I have a yard full of kayaks. I’ve got three Perception Torrent sit-on-top whitewater boats that I’ve had for over ten years now. In the past year I’ve bought two decked recreational kayaks, and have been storing my nephew, Chip’s boats, as well. I’ve been paddling the Old Town Dirigo 120 and the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 for about a year now, and have come to some conclusions about them. Ultimately, I think I like the Dirigo better, and here’s why… Continue reading “Kayak Comparison – Dirigo vs Pungo”

That’s Incredible

HTC Incredible

I’m no stranger to smart phones. I’ve had a Blackberry for several years now for work. Not being tied to a computer just to get e-mail seems normal now, and as it should be. However, it has it’s good and bad points. I’ve started referring to the device as my “leash” since it keeps me tied to the office where ever I go. Even though it would be useful while I’m out and about exploring, I’ve to where I leave it at home when I’m not on duty. To me, it represents work, and occasionally I’d like to escape. Laura had wanted to get me a new smart phone of my own at Christmas, but that didn’t work out. I recently got a bit of cash from a singing gig, and decided that now might be the time before we start some summer traveling.

After some debate and research, I decided upon the HTC Incredible. Since we are on Verizon the iPhone wasn’t an option. At first I was intrigued by the Palm Pre. I liked its ability to act as a WiFi hub for multiple devices. However, I wasn’t as sure about the availability of apps for Palm. That narrowed it to either the Motorola Droid or the brand new HTC Incredible. While I really liked the Droid’s physical keyboard, the speed and overall specs of the Incredible won out, especially since they were the same price.

I won’t go into a detailed review of the Incredible. Others have done a much better job. However, these are my impressions so far, and my impressions about smart phones in general. Continue reading “That’s Incredible”

The Tech Guru

I’ve been accused of having too many gadgets. I confess, I have quite a few. However, I’m not one to rush out and buy the latest just because it’s new. I need to have a purpose for the gadgets that I get – not just so I can have something shiny. Yesterday, however, I met … Continue reading The Tech Guru

Test-Driving the Eye-Fi Explore

Eye-Fi

I’ve been interested in these little gizmos for some time now. The Eye-Fi Explore is an SD card that will automagically upload your photos to your online photo service of choice whenever it comes within range of an open wireless network. Not only that, it uses some strange alchemy to geotag your photos each time you click the shutter. It sounded like the perfect photographic tool, but also the promises seemed too good to be true. I was hesitant to make the investment until I saw that Woot.com had one for a dirt-cheap price. I decided to give it a shot. I found it both to be about as amazing as I expected, and about as frustrating as I imagined.

Eye-FiThe Eye-Fi comes with the SD card (2 GB in my case, but available up to 8 GB) and a USB card reader, as shown above. The management software comes on the card itself, and automatically launches when the device is first plugged into the computer. The first thing I discovered is that you must have wireless access to configure the device. Just being connected to a computer with Internet access isn’t enough.

There are lots of parameters that can be set with the device. You can choose your photo hosting service (Flickr, in my case) and even set up separate routing for videos, so your photos may go to Flickr, but your videos to YouTube. You can set the device to connect and upload automatically to any wifi hotspot, or only when it comes within range of specified hotspots. I always like to edit my photos before they go public, so I set the privacy settings so that I would be the only one to see them on Flickr. You can also enable/disable geotagging.

Eye-Fi-Screen-Two

The most amazing thing is that this device actually works. I tried it in both my Fuji WP33 and my Nikon S70. It took photos, and when I turned the camera on in the presence of a wireless network, it uploaded the photos to my Flickr account without any interaction from me.

Continue reading “Test-Driving the Eye-Fi Explore”

The Battle of the Minis

Wednesday Ginger walked into my office with a small box with a Dell logo on it and promptly asked, “Well, what did you win this time?” I wasn’t quite sure. The box had my name on it, but I hadn’t ordered anything from Dell. It had to be a part for something, because it wasn’t big enough to hold a computer. Boy, was I wrong. The box had the new Dell Inspiron Mini inside, one of the tiniest notebook computers I’ve ever seen.

At the SC EdTech conference last week the Dell rep had mentioned these things and said I should really take a look. I’m guessing he was serious and sent me one to try out, so I decided to put it through its paces.

As mentioned, this thing is tiny. Here’s a shot of the unit sitting on top of my HP full-sized laptop, with my hand thrown in for good measure…

Dell Inspiron Mini Size Comparison

Continue reading “The Battle of the Minis”

Test Drive with the HP 2133 Subcompact


Several weeks ago one of my principals inquired about creating a mobile computer lab using something other than full-sized laptops. At the time, the only thing available was one of the AlphaSmart labs. However, those tend to have very limited capabilities. I knew that there would be a whole bunch of OLPC imitators hitting the market soon that would have full-computer capabilities for a similar price point to the AlphaSmart solution.

So, we waited and watched as new laptops were released into the wild for around $500 that might fit the bill. Asus has some units in its EEPC line, but the one that really caught my eye was the new HP 2133 subcompact unit. It was this one that I decided to test drive. It arrived Monday, and I’ve been putting it through its paces.

The unit I got has 2 GB RAM and 120 GB hard disk space. It sports a VIA C7-M processor running at 1.6 GHz. I wouldn’t try to do Photoshop or any heavy graphics processing, but for general web surfing and most everything else it should be fine. It has WiFi, Bluetooth, as well as two USB ports and SVGA out. It doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive, but it does have an SD slot. It has a built-in webcam. Mine came with Vista Basic, but the unit is available with LInux.

Usually, the size of the computer is inversely proportional to its cost. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, especially with this new crop of laptops. As configured, this unit sells for about $750 – more expensive than the Asus products, but still cheaper than a full laptop.

Those are the official specs – now for the hands-on…

Continue reading “Test Drive with the HP 2133 Subcompact”