Mobile networking in a pinch

Any geek worth their salt nowadays seems to have a mobile device such as a blackberry, sidekick, smartphone, or data card for a laptop oh their person when out and about.

I am no exception.

I have actually converted several trend-setting alpha nerds over to the Powerbook/Macbook Pro + Nokia E61 combination over the last couple of years. Along this line, I should mention that there are a couple of things you need to do to assure your data tether will be happy.

How do you purchase an E61, you ask? AT&T (and perhaps others) offer a bluetooth and wifi crippled version with miniusb branded the E62 for comparable prices to what the retailers charge for hardware. They are available on ebay from reputable firms and also findable on google products and other places.

There are a couple of good instructional guides to getting things configured, but not all are created equal.

With my newer laptop, I’ve used this guy’s modem script (found here). Also worth knowing, since the telcos bury this information (so that you have to be a nerd supreme to be able to find it) are the dial codes, passwords, and configuration details to use to tether with your phone. This is a good step by step which includes the following important obfuscated details:

For Cingular customers :
Password: CINGULAR1
Phone: *99#

For Tmobile customers:
Account Name: *
Password: *
Phone: *99#
(Tmobile customers need not put anything specific in these fields, but something has to go here, try “*”

This may violate your terms of service, but if you get busted, you can usually plead ignorance, or so I have been told. Also, the difference between ISP, CDMA, and WAP in the cingular login information is not interchangeable. Using the wrong one may give you lame performance, a $500 cell phone bill, and other hijinks. If you are a “legacy AT&T customer,” (meaning you have had the same account for a very long time) or have a “PDA data plan” you should be provisioned for native IP access on your phone and not have to go through the slow WAP proxy server. I stick with the WAP plan because it is less than half the price and about as fast most of the time.

Also worth looking into is upgrading your phones firmware to patch against the seemingly ever present bluetooth vulnerabilities (among other things).

Shockingly enough, unlike many cellular providers who deal with the telecommunication providers here in the United States, you can upgrade the firmware on Nokia phones yourself by following the instructions here. No need to go into a service provider shop where they might erase all of your phones data, take a copy of your data for themselves, or otherwise screw things up.

So if you don’t have a higher speed alternative, you may be able to use phones and technology you already own instead of having to buy a separate widget and data plan. Hopefully this has spared you some time and expense.

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