Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Share Your EVDO Wireless Broadband Connection

Here is the quick setup: (Read the entire post for why this is useful and how it could be profitable ;) )
1) Buy a Mac Laptop (sorry the MacBook Pro is the laptop I have and its OS X and Airport make this super easy)
2) Select system preferences from the Apple Menu
3) Click on Sharing from the Internet & Network subsection
4) Select the Internet tab from near the top of the screen
5) Under Share Connection From: Select your EVDO Broadband card (mine is listed as: Novatel Wireless EXP CDMA)
6) Select the AirPort checkbox under the To computers using: list
7) Configure the AirPort Options as your situation necetates (read the rest of the post for more info)
8) Click Start

Read on for my story, why this is cool, and warnings ...

Prologue: Wireless Broadband EVDO
I have had Verizon Wireless' EVDO wiereless broadband service since August of 2006 and have been very happy with the service's speed and coverage area. I have been able to get signals everywhere from in the Cascades of Oregon to Philly and nearly everywhere in between. If I have cell coverage I can pick up the EVDO wireless broadband signal. Check out a previous post for a full review of Verizon's EVDO service and my detailed setup. Cingular/AT&T and Sprint also offer EVDO mobile broadband services and this technique will work if you have service through Verizon, Sprint, Cingular/AT&T, or whomever is the provider where you reside.

Chapter 1: Jealousy and a Heart for the Un-Plugged-In
The only problem with the service is it kind of pricey and it invokes jealousy from other laptop users wherever you go. I have gotten numerous comments about how I am online [insert location here]. Recently I attended a conference at the Sheraton in Philadelphia where the card really came in handy. It seems they Sheraton folks felt it necessary to block out WIFI inside of the conference room, so if you purchased WIFI from the hotel so you could surf in your room (yep no free WIFI) you were maddened to find that WIFI would not work in the conference room and you had to sign up for additional WIFI at another cost! Then, to make things worse, that conference room only WIFI kept falling off. So here I am with a room full of web designers half with laptops checking my email etc while none of them can get online. Yes yes I felt like an internet magician but I quickly had pity on those around me and I knew I must jump into action to save the masses!

Chapter 2: Give the People their Internets
I said to my self
"Bob (not my name but what I call myself), I wonder if its possible to share your bounty of EVDO goodness with all these poor conference people. This way you will be a hero to all and Robin Hood those evil Sheraton WIFI evil dooers."
Well it took a few clicks but I found the solution and gave those people their tubes to clog.

After checking around in System Preferences Internet & Network section I stumbled up on the Sharing menu. By simply selecting my EVDO card and clicking to share it on my Mac's internal AirPort card I had done it! The crowd erupted in moderate indifference and all updated their MySpace pages in celebration.

Chapter 3: Coolness
Why would you want to share your EVDO wireless broadband connection?
  • You are traveling with a group of coworkers, family, or the circus who refuse to pay $9.95 to check their gMail or update their MySpace while waiting at the airport, bus stop, or space port. Instead they insist on bugging you to borrow your laptop and make small talk about hair products. The quicker they get online the quicker you return to the peace that is mindless surfing to pass the time.

  • Your work or school does not allow you to access say Digg or GMail and since you don't agree, are a rebel, dont' care about getting in trouble, and wish to share your good fortune you help them stick it to the man.

  • You are at a Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else that limits its WIFI access to TMobile and you want to prove a point about why WIFI should be free or should be bought from you not them.
    "Simply" share you EVDO connection, configure the Airport correctly, set up a required proxy page, and either collect donations or charge a reasonable buck or two for the pleasure of using your provided WIFI connection instead of TMobile's.
    Granted this could and probably get you arrested or sued as a proof of concept it could be pretty brilliant if you can pull off the technology necessary.

Remember if you are running at full EVDO speeds you can hit well over 5MBps which is plenty fast to share the wealth a bit.

Chapter 4: Bubble Bursting
All is not roses in EVDO sharing land, though. There are a couple of issues you should be aware of, though (some of which I can think of and others I am sure I am missing).
  • By doing this you set up your laptop up as a router and thus straddling it with all of the CPU, network, and management load that goes along with that not to mention the security headaches. Translation: You go slow and could get screwed.

  • Verizon and probably Sprint and Cingular closely monitors your use and if they feel you are not being reasonable with your bandwidth they shut you down. I know, I know, it says unlimited but the small print says its not so.

  • If you set up your Airport to share without a required WEP key you have NO idea who will access your connection and thus your laptop. I sure don't want to be responsible for what other people download and set myself up for some lame RIAA lawsuit ;) or worse so I suggest setting up WEP using the Airport Options button when you share your EVDO connection.

  • Security. Security. Security. I have no idea how this opens you up but I am assuming it is probably enough to make your sphincter pucker. I would never recommend this on a PC (hello Windows viruses et. al.) but even on my Mac it does worry me.

The End: Suggestions
For lawyer types from Verizon etc., hackers, and others who would chap my hide: I would never recommend anyone doing this and have and never will do this myself.

For EVDO users and normal Mac users: Just be careful that group 1 doesn't catch you since I am not totally sure if they could have a valid point. Have fun showing your Mac and EVDO goodness even if it is just to wow the throngs of lame PC'ers in your office. PS. let me know if you have any cool uses for this I didn't think of.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

TMobile HotSpot Vista Free Trial on a Mac

TMobile is currently offering a free trial of their HotSpot WIFI service for Windows Vista customers until April 30th. What! you say. Where is the Mac OSX love? Well it tourns out TMobile really doesn't mean their trial is for Microsoft Vista users only...

Here is how to take advantage of the TMobile Vista Free Trial on your Mac running Firefox.

First we need to make TMobile think we are on a Vista PC running IE 7 instead of on a Mac running Firefox :) Here are the steps to go incognito.

1. Download the Firefox User Agent Switcher extension.
2. Restart firefox
3. Select: Tools > User Agent Switcher > Options > Options...
3. Click "User Agents" and then "Add"
4. Fill out the window with following info:
Description: Internet Explorer 7 (Windows Vista)
User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)
App Name: Microsoft Internet Explorer
App Version: 4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)
Platform: Win32
5. Click OK to save this new User Agent

Second lets put on our disguise and sign up for that trial.

1. Select Tools > User Agent Switcher > Internet Explorer 7 (Windows Vista)
2. Browse to
3. Sign-up at the page and enjoy your free WiFi until April while sipping a cappucino at Starbucks or browsing your favorite periodical at Barnes & Noble.

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