Tag Archives: wireless

How to use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard with an Apple TV

The Apple TV

With the latest Apple TV software update, Apple added the capability to use a Bluetooth keyboard with the Apple TV. Why would you want to use a keyboard with the Apple TV? Well, it makes it a lot faster and easier to type in search fields when using the YouTube app and the few others that require typing when compared to stumbling through with the Apple Remote. You can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate through the Apple TV.

How to add a Bluetooth keyboard to your Apple TV

Setting up the keyboard is really easy to do.

  1. Make sure the keyboard is turned on and in pairing mode
  2. Navigate to Settings on your Apple TV
  3. Choose “General”, then choose “Bluetooth”, then the Apple TV will automatically search for your keyboard
  4. Choose the keyboard and the Apple TV will give you a code to type into the keyboard
  5. Enter the code, then the keyboard will be paired with the Apple TV and you are ready to go

Any Bluetooth keyboard should work with your Apple TV. I discovered that a keyboard made for the iPad, like one that might come with an iPad keyboard case combination, is a great solution. These keyboards usually have extra keys for iPad functionality. One of these keys might be a Home button to exit apps on the iPad. Well, that same button will navigate you backwards through the Apple TV like the “Menu” button on the Apple TV remote. This is a very handy feature. These keyboards are also smaller and harder to type on, but it is not like you are typing a full thesis on the Apple TV (unless Apple decides to allow apps one day, but that is wishful thinking for now).

The only downside to using the keyboard with the Apple TV is that you have to make sure it is constantly charged. If your keyboard using regular batteries you’ll probably get more life out of it than a rechargeable model. You also need a place to keep the keyboard. On the plus side the keyboard is a lot easier to keep track of then that little “silver stick”, as we call the remote in my house.

Overall, a keyboard with the Apple TV is a great combination. It may not be something you want to run out and spend a bunch of money on, but if you have an extra Bluetooth keyboard or can find a cheap one someplace it might be worth your while to try it out.

How to stay secure on public Wi-Fi

CoffeeShopWifi

Credit card numbers? Check. Website logins? Check. “Private” chats between cheating spouses? Double check.

Spend ten minutes in a coffee shop snooping on the “Free Public Wi-Fi!” and you’ll see all these things and more. Airports, libraries, parks? Same situation. Hotels are a little different, though. All the bandwidth is being taken up by people streaming porn, so there’s not much else going on.

Granted, this is the same type of traffic you’d see on a private, secure network, but in that setting you’re probably going to have a little better idea of who you’re sharing the network with and there are controls to keep potential criminals out.

Public Wi-Fi is exactly that, public. You are sharing it with everyone else in the local area, just like Jenny, that nice girl you went to highschool with who just wanted to feel pretty. For someone who’s interested in stealing financial information or identities, it’s an appealing target, mostly because it’s so easy to exploit. I wouldn’t even call it hacking, it’s more “collecting” – monitoring the network for unencrypted information and capturing the info that looks interesting.

Protect your neck

That being said, public Wi-Fi can be relatively safe to use if you take the appropriate steps to secure yourself and use a little common sense.

    • Starbucks is not a good place to balance your checkbook. Context is everything and there are certain places for doing certain things. Doing your online banking on public Wi-Fi is just a bad idea. Even if you’re taking steps to protect your laptop, there are too many factors that are out of your control to justify the risk. Restrict financial and other “sensitive” activities to networks you trust (like the one at your house).
    • Use a VPN service. A VPN (virtual private network) service will protect your internet traffic inside a secure tunnel out to the internet so that someone snooping locally won’t be able to see anything other than you connecting to the VPN service. Good VPNs aren’t free, but if you’re a heavy public Wi-Fi user, the cost is definitely worth the security you gain. I personally use a service called Cloak that works on Mac and iOS devices. If you’re not a super-awesome-Apple-user like me, I’ve also heard good things about StrongVPN.
    • Know what you’re connecting to. Although they can easily be spoofed to match the name of a real Wi-Fi network, it’s important to pay attention to the names of the wireless networks you use. Much in the same way that an e-mail titled “Free Money Waiting For YOU!” is probably spam, a wireless network named “Free Public Wi-Fi” is likely a scam.
    • Look at the physical signage wherever you are visiting. Starbucks uses AT&T to provide their Wi-Fi (It says so on the front door.), so the network there is called “attwifi”, not “starbuks” (The laziness that’s paired to Wi-Fi snooping is often paired with stupid.). Just being on the right public Wi-Fi for the location will keep you more secure. If you’re reading this thinking “Well, Mr. Smartypants, what if someone has exactly mimicked the name and setup of a real network and is performing a man-in-the-middle attack?” – see points 1 & 2.

When in doubt, bail out

Ultimately, if you doubt the safety or validity of a Wi-Fi network, don’t use it. It may come as a surprise to some people, but there are other things to do in public than surf the internet. If you’re presented with obviously unsafe options for wireless, maybe it’s a good time to strike up a conversation with one of the people around you. Read a book. Or maybe you should just sit quietly and contemplate your existence and how to become a better person.

Image Credit: Ed Yourdon

DD-WRT: Password Protect Your Status Page To Increase Network Security

DD-WRT is an excellent firmware alternative for your network router, whether your router is used at home for at your business.  One of my favorite features of DD-WRT is the router status page, shown below.  The DD-WRT status page is very useful for looking at real-time information.

This status page is shown by default when you enter your router’s IP address into your web browser.  Information included on this page is the WAN IP address of your router, the MAC addresses of your LAN, WAN, and Wireless connections, router memory usage, and partial MAC addresses of client users (which have been hidden by default.)

If you are looking to add some extra security to your DD-WRT enabled network, consider password protecting the status page.

How to Password Protect The DD-WRT Status Page

Step 1: Log-in to your DD-WRT enabled router by entering it’s IP address in your web browser (usually http://192.168.1.1).

Step 2: Click on the Administration tab.

Step 3:  Scroll down to the Web Access section.

Step 4: Check the Info Site Password Protect box, as shown below.

Step 5: Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Apply Settings.

Once the settings have been saved, close your web browser, re-open it, and return to your router’s IP address.  You are now presented with a box to enter your router’s username and password.  Entering this information will allow you to login and see your router’s status page.

Do you use the DD-WRT firmware on your router and have any tips for securing your network?  If so, share them in the comments below!

Review: Sonos Play:3, the Wireless Hi-Fi Stereo System

The term high fidelity (or hi-fi) can be traced back to the dawn of music recording, and in general defined a system that could reproduce music with the sharpest and most fulfilling audio quality.  And as the generations moved from turntables to boomboxes to walkmans to portable music players, so too did the continual desire to purchase high-end, hi-fi systems to blast the tunes.  Although today one can still get bulky hi-fi stereo systems with 400W of power, a CD tray, an iPod dock, and a remote control, it just doesn’t seem to be as trendy and up-to-date as it did in 1996.  Fortunately, that’s where Sonos comes in.

Sonos is taking back the term “hi-fi” and giving it some flair.  It is a compact, modular, wireless stereo system that can be set up in any (or every) room in the house with just two components:  A speaker and a local area network with internet connectivity.  And because it is wireless, it can stream just about everything you can think of.

The Sonos Hi-Fi Stereo System

For this article, two Play:3 network speakers (the smaller of the two speaker offerings at $299 each) and a Sonos network bridge ($49) were used.  The Bridge is the extra add-on that makes the Sonos system go wireless, and if one is going to deck their rooms with speakers it is a must.

Besides speakers and network hubs, a Sonos stereo system can also be paired with an amplifier ($499), an iPod docking station ($119), or a connection hub ($349) that converts an existing home stereo system for music streaming (all of which are available on the Sonos website or Amazon).  As one can deduce by the prices, though, these components can add up quickly so be mindful that one does not need absolutely everything to get a Sonos stereo system set up in their home.

Included in each box with the speakers/Bridge is a power cable, a network cable, an install CD, and a manual.  Once all the packaging has been set aside, it is time to set the system up.

Physical Setup

If the Bridge wireless gateway was purchased, that should be set up first.

The Bridge (which is the box that makes the whole system wireless) plugs directly into your router/wireless modem via Ethernet and automatically connects to your local network.  Because it is a wired connection, no passwords or other setup configurations are necessary.

Once the Bridge is in place, one can set the Play Speakers in any room of the house (within wireless distance) and supply them power.  If the Bridge was not purchased, then simply add an Ethernet cable to the Play speakers and connect them to your router to get them integrated into your network.

Controller Software Setup

The Sonos Controller Software (Personal Computer Edition)

The software comes included in the box as an install CD, but it also can be found here if needed. The controller software is available for Windows (XPSP3 and up), Mac OS X (10.6 or 10.7), Android (which is evaluated in the next section) and iPhone/iPad.  For this installation, a networked Windows 7 machine was used.  The first step is to run through the Sonos Controller installer on the machine and grant it firewall access.

Once installed, the “Sonos Setup Assistant” kicks in so that all the speakers can be networked and connected to the controller software.

When connecting, the software will ask you to physically push a few buttons on the Bridge or Play speaker to get it to sync with your local network.  If communication goes well, the software will give you a confirmation and ask if you want to connect other Sonos devices.  This is the time to add the speakers as well.

What the heck is a Foyer?

When the Play speakers are connected, the Assistant software prompts for a location so that if more than one exists on the network, they can be differentiated by the room they are in.  The drop down menu is filled with various homely (and unique) options to segregate which speakers are where and should be used appropriately if one wants the full Sonos experience in their house (which will be explained later).

Finally, after all the Sonos components have been linked the main Controller program opens and asks for you to register and update your new stereo system.

As long as the speakers and Bridge have been configured to the network properly, they will update automatically.

The Sonos Controller Software (Mobile Platform Edition)

If your networked computer is not portable enough, than maybe the mobile software is the right option instead.  As mentioned before, it is available for Android, iPhone, and iPad from their respective app marketplaces (or again at the Sonos website).  Note that the phone/pad/mobile device must be connected to the same wireless local area network or else the Bridge and Play:3 speakers will not be controllable.  For this article, a standard Android phone was used to demonstrate the mobile controller interface.

Mobile setup, mobile Bridge connect, mobile Play speakers

Like the Windows PC setup, the Android app asks for you to manually push the button on the Bridge wi-fi controller to connect to your sound system.  If the Play speakers have been set up already with the Bridge, no further connections are necessary and the mobile app is ready to be in control.

The Controller Interface

After all the installing, connecting, and updating has been successfully maneuvered, your Sonos system should look like the picture above.  On the left should be every Play speaker that has been connected (grouped by their room), on the far right is all the options Sonos has for streaming and music listening (and it is a lot of options).  For now, let’s focus on the right side and all the streaming options Sonos has to offer.

Playing Radio

If one is interested in listening to a radio station, all Sonos needs is a ZIP code or a major city and it automatically finds a plethora of channels for one to select and play.  As one can see, once a radio station is selected, the highlighted Play speaker on the left will automatically start playing and the “Now Playing” section in the middle will be updated to show artist/song title and radio show information.

Playing from a Streaming Site

If one wants to enable some tunes from their own personal online streaming account (or create a new one), Sonos is more than ready for the task.  As seen in the picture above, Sonos allows for numerous popular streaming options and services that can be accessed and played on the system.  Just log in or register, pick a playlist or song, and Sonos does the rest.

Playing from your Music Library

Besides channeling other sources and streams, Sonos also allows one to channel personal music libraries as well.  To get music onto Sonos, one must first allow the folder to be shared on the network (For Windows 7, this is done by right clicking on the folder and selecting “Share With” and then a “Homegroup” option).  If this step is not done, much confusion can arise as the music will not be available for Sonos to access.

Once the sharing is enabled, return to Sonos and go to “Manage” -> “Music Library Settings” -> “Add” to browse for the folder in question.  [Note: Besides adding media, this settings menu also serves to update the media library, add/remove speakers, manage the streaming accounts that were added, and mess with music equalizers for each speaker.]

The system will then add all the music in the library and display them on the right side.  From there one can create playlists, add songs to the queue in the middle, and push music to any speaker on the left

Again, it is important to note that for this music to be accessed, the location of the files needs to be active and on the network (i.e. the device in question storing the music files must be on and networked).

Playing from the Mobile App

Mobile main options, mobile radio, mobile playing radio
Mobile streaming, mobile media, mobile playing music library

Like the other sections mentioned above, the mobile controller also allows for streaming, radio, and access to your local media library as well.  As long as the bridge is connected to the same network as the mobile app, the devices will talk to each other and push changes in music selections.

Having Fun with your Play Speakers

Now that a majority of the streaming or listening options have been surveyed, let’s return to the far left of the Controller interface and display the full potential of the Sonos wireless hi-fi system.  Up until now, the music options presented have been shown playing on just one speaker.

But in reality, one can play something different on each speaker, hence why it was important to label the Play speakers based on where they are going to be situated.  So essentially, every room with a Sonos speaker in it could be playing something different, meaning that there should be no contention between siblings/roommates/significant others as to what the audio system should be set to.

Mobile grouping is just as easy

Furthermore, not only can one use the speakers individually for music but as a group as well.  Just click the “Group” button, select the speakers to group, and listen for the sound of acoustic harmony.  Now the beauty of Sonos has been revealed: because it is wireless and easy to manipulate in the Controller interface, it is completely and utterly configurable to suit any room, event, personality, or venue.  Just pick a tune, pick a speaker configuration, and let the jams flow.

Conclusion

Sonos is definitely not your stereotypical hi-fi stereo system.  It is modular, fully networked, completely configurable, and open enough to access just about every genre, single, album, or artist that exists out there to stream. After a solid month of usage, even the two Play:3 speaker with a wireless Bridge system used for this article proved its usefulness in every situation it was presented: house parties with a dozen conversations filling the air, quiet nights on the couch with a book, and even those underwear air guitar jam sessions at 3:00 in the morning.

To be honest, the main limiting factor to the full Sonos experience is the prices on the components themselves; the system is worth the cost, but if those prices were reduced a bit or tiered it is certain that Sonos would be in every household in no time at all.  For now, though, the system should have no problem satisfying audio enthusiasts and home theater experts alike.

The age-old glory of hi-fi stereo has returned, and Sonos is leading the charge.

Review: Eye-Fi Mobile X2 wireless memory card

If you’ve ever wanted your photos from your digital camera to be automatically uploaded to your computer right after you’ve taken them, Eye-Fi’s line of products aim to do just that. I was able to get a hold of the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 model, which advertises the ability to not only upload photos directly to your computer, but also directly to your mobile devices.

Let’s take a look!

The installation process (at least on a Mac) was pretty time consuming. From the time I plugged in the reader until the time I could actually use it was about ten minutes. That’s borderline unacceptable for such a simple piece of hardware.

On top of that, the interface was a little sluggish. After I took a photo, it took about 10 seconds for it to notify me on my computer that it was uploading. Then it took another 10 or so seconds for it to show up in the Eye-Fi software. A 20-second lag time is pretty disappointing, especially if you’re using an Eye-Fi for time-sensitive purposes.

Overall, the user interface isn’t as intuitive as it should be. I know that Eye-Fi wants its users to use their software to manage the photos that you take with it, but honestly, it would make the entire process a lot easier if you could just simply take a photo and the folder just pops up on your desktop with your photo in it. They could even create a setting where the photo pops up full screen on the monitor right after the photo is taken. This would be great for photographers working in a studio (although, they would most likely be working with way better equipment and software anyway).

The Mobile X2 model comes standard with a feature called Direct Mode, which allows you to automatically upload photos from your camera to your mobile devices. I found this to be a lot better than the computer software as far as simplicity and intuitiveness, and photos upload a lot quicker. You’ll have to download the free Eye-Fi app, but from there it’s pretty much smooth sailing. Direct Mode is perfect for when you want to share a photo over Facebook or Twitter while you’re out and about, but are wanting a little more quality out of your photos than what your smartphone’s camera offers.

There’s a small caveat you should know, though: Your camera’s battery life takes a hit when you use the Eye-Fi card. It isn’t terrible, but I definitely noticed the battery draining faster than it would normally. Also, the card reader’s physical size is really wide and won’t fit into a USB port that has something plugged in next to it.

The concept of the Eye-Fi series is a great one and I think after a little bit of improvement to the software, they’ll nail it. However, at $80, one will have to think long and hard about whether automatically uploading photos to your computer is worth the extra money, even if the functionality was solid.

Super Bowl XLVI: The Year of Connectivity

Super Bowl XLVI is almost here, folks. The New York Giants will face off against the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, Indiana for the title of NFL champion. However, if American football isn’t your thing, there’s still a reason to be interested in the single largest American sporting event  of all time. This year’s Super Bowl is all about staying connected over the web. Here are some fun facts that will surely tickle the whiskers of any technology geek.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLVI, will house around 85,000 spectators during the big game. There will be even more people in the surrounding area. To handle the inevitable high demand of cellular data traffic, Verizon will be setting up three cell-on-wheels (COWs), as they’re called, in extremely high-demand areas around the stadium. There will also be 400 3G and 4G LTE antennas spread out throughout the inside of the stadium, as well as 600 free WiFi hotspots that can handle 28,000 simultaneous connections. All of this is expected to handle 2.5 times the traffic of a normal NFL game.

Cell-on-Wheels (COW)

This is the first Super Bowl that will have 4G LTE connectivity in the area, so Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as 30 other downtown venues will be packing the latest 4G LTE antennas and technology.

The cost of all this? A cool $69 million.

The best part is, all of the upgrades made to the stadium and downtown will be left in place (except the COWs). So, the next time you’re in Indy, expect to get crazy fast speeds.

There’s no estimate as to exactly how fast the 4G LTE will be for spectators during the Super Bowl, but GottaBeMobile.com was able to sneak inside the stadium before gameday and run a few speed tests. They ended up hitting 46 Mb/s download speeds. Not too shabby, but they were one of the only ones using it at the time, so don’t expect to get that kind of speed come Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl XLVI will include the first ever social media command center used at a Super Bowl. A team of reps will be on hand to help you out via social media if you need it. They’ll be constantly looking for certain words or phrases that pertain to the Super Bowl. For example, if you tweet that the parking garage by the stadium is full, they’ll tweet back to you saying where more parking can be found based on other tweets. The social media command center will also be used to send out alerts if there would be any kind of emergency.

Lucas Oil Stadium image credit: Shawna Pierson

Create a WiFi signal strength map with NetSpot for Mac

Finding the best spot for wifi access in your home or in a public place is pretty much trial and error. Turn on your laptop, and see what happens. NetSpot is a free wireless survey tool that makes it more of a treasure hunt. Once you install it on your Mac (OSX only), your laptop becomes a wifi sniffer.

Before you start up the app, you’re going to need a floor plan with measurements. NetSpot includes some decent drawing tools so you can map out your area in a way that won’t gain you admittance to architecture schools. But you’re going to need to draw the floor plan to scale, which means taking measurements (or making the best educated guesses of your life).

I’m lucky; my stepson is a CAD enthusiast who already created a map of the first floor of our house which I loaded into NetSpot. I then walked around the house with my laptop – stopping at strategic locations on the floor plan and clicking on them. Then waited a few seconds while the app scanned my wifi networks. In my mind, a strategic location was at a corner or doorway (which was detailed precisely on my floor plan). It required no guesswork or estimation on my part.

Each click colored the area on the floor plan green. When I covered the entire floor, I stopped the scan to see what I got.

NetSport Wireless Survey App
The NetSpot app creates a heat map showing the signal strength of my wireless network at home.

The dim yellow shading in the “Second Living Room” shows the strongest signal on the first floor, which is right below the wireless router upstairs. The worst spots are on the kitchen counter and in the bathroom (although these are still decent strength levels).

The app also will create heat maps showing interference and signal noise.

It’s a fun app that can be useful if you’re trying to figure out where to place your routers and work stations, but if I didn’t have a floor plan already, I would haven’t even tried the app. The work involved wouldn’t have been worth it. Your mileage may vary.

One last note: I wish this was a mobile app. Sure, creating a floor plan could be ugly on a small screen. But walking around the house holding a laptop still is not easy on the arms.

Google Wallet: Changing the Way You Pay for Things… If You Can Keep Your Phone Charged

I’m pretty jazzed about Google Wallet. For those that have never heard of it, Google Wallet is an app being rolled out by the Big G, beginning with the Sprint Network, that intends to change the way we pay for things by storing your credit cards on your smart phone. It makes use of a nifty near-field communication (NFC) chip that can communicate securely (and wirelessly) with MasterCard PayPass terminals by simply waving or tapping your smart phone on it. Cool.Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive as early adopters are impressed by how quickly and seamlessly you can pay for goods and services. MasterCard states that there are currently “hundreds of thousands” of PayPass terminals across the United States that support Google Wallet with more to come in 2012.

While NFC is a new technology to US phones, the idea is far from original as Korean and Japanese commuters have been able to pay for public transit fares by waving their phones for years. Still, Google plans to make Wallet a unique and widely used application that will allow you to abandon your leather pocket destroyer forever. Google doesn’t want to stop at credit cards, wanting to eventually allow you to store your passport, driver’s license, and plane tickets in Wallet.

As cool as the Wallet concept is, I think the obvious limitation is the battery life of current smart phones. I can’t seem to keep my Nexus S charged for more than 10 hours at a time, so there is no way I would depend on Google Wallet as my primary means of paying for things. I think the problem is compounded by traveling, where a dead phone could leave you stranded with no way of paying for things or even proving your identity.

Google Wallet is an elegant and interesting solution to storing sensitive materials in easy-to-lose wallets. If you lose your smart phone, your stuff should remain safe so long as you have it password protected. Still, it’s not a practical idea for everyday use and certainly not for traveling. I hope Google continues to develop this idea, but until the hardware can accommodate the app, I’ll probably limit my use to novelty purposes (i.e. impressing girls) only.

How To Use A Router as a Wireless Adapter Without NAT

In a previous article I showed you how it is possible to use a wireless router and 3rd party firmware as a wireless adapter.  While the information in that guide is still relevant to most users, the steps provided create a limitation for more advanced users.

In the previous guide, any devices connected as clients to the wireless router adapter would use Network Address Translation (NAT). (If you’re not up-to-speed on networking terminology, HowStuffWorks has a great explanation of NAT.) While the NAT adds an extra layer of security, it also adds an extra layer of complexity if you need to do any port forwarding to the clients of the wireless router adapter.

In this guide I’ll show you how to use an old wireless router and the same DD-WRT firmware as before to create a wireless bridge between two wireless routers and remove the NAT layer created by the DD-WRT Client Mode.

Configure the Router and Wireless Bridge

Step 1: Start by checking if you router supports a 3rd party firmware. (For this guide, I am using the free DD-WRT firmware).

Step 2: Download and install the firmware according to the instructions for your router model.

Step 3: Once you have the DD-WRT firmware installed on your router, connect an ethernet cable from your computer to a LAN port on the router.

Step 4: Enter the local address of your router, typically http://192.168.1.1, into your browser and log in using the default credentials. The default credentials are usually root for the username and admin for the password.

Step 5: When you are logged into the router, navigate to the Wireless tab and select Wireless Security. Select your current wireless security settings and enter your wireless encryption key that you use to access your wireless network.  Click Apply Settings.

Step 6: Navigate to the Wireless tab and select Basic Settings.  Select Client Bridge from the Wireless Mode drop down.

Step 7: Enter the name of your wireless network into the Wireless Network Name (SSID) box.  Note: This is case-sensitive! Click Apply Settings.

Step 8: Select the Setup tab, select Advanced Routing.  Change the Operating Mode to Router and click Apply Settings.

Step 9: Navigate to the Security tab and select Firewall.  Disable the SPI Firewall by checking the Disable button and clicking Apply Settings at the bottom of the page.

Step 10: Navigate to the Setup tab and select Basic Settings.   Here is where you give your wireless bridge router its new local IP address other than the default.  My main router has an IP address of 192.168.1.1, so I set my wireless bridge router to have an IP address of 192.168.1.2.  Basically make this anything other than your main router IP address or anything that falls within your DHCP pool.

Enter the Gateway and Subnet Mask of your wireless network next. You can find this information under Default Gateway and Subnet Mask by entering ipconfig in the command prompt on a computer already connected to your wireless network.  Click Apply Settings when the settings have been entered.

Step 11: At this point you will lose the connection to the web interface of the wireless bridge router since the IP address has now changed.  If you need to reconnect to the wireless bridge, simply enter the new IP address from Step 10  into your web browser.

Step 12: (optional) Click the Setup tab and select Basic Setup. Under WAN Port, check the box to Assign WAN Port to Switch. This will add the WAN port to the 4 port switch, giving you 5 ports to share the wireless connection.

Once the above steps have been completed, your router with DD-WRT firmware will connect to your wireless network as a client bridge just as if you connected to the same wireless network with a laptop.  Any devices that are connected to the 4/5 port switch has network connectivity and IP information that is handled by your main router, removing the NAT.

EasyTether Lets You Access the Internet Anywhere with an Android Phone

I swear, the rain and traffic simultaneously cleared up just when I was going to take this picture.

As I write this article, rain falls from the sky, the earth rotates around the sun, and I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a Jeep making its way out of city traffic.  Using my Android phone and the free-with-limitations EasyTether application, I can browse the internet on my netbook anywhere that I have a data connection with my phone.

Sure, Android 2.2 has built-in tethering, but you’ll often have to pay your carrier for this service and some phones simply will never support it.  If you’re like me and are using a phone that still hasn’t received the newest Android update, EasyTether is a great way to give yourself internet access on the go.

The “lite” version of EasyTether is completely free but only allows you to access non-https (secured) websites, so if you’re looking to do this on the cheap you won’t be visiting your secure webmail or doing any online banking (probably for the best, anyway).  If you need to do some more serious usage, you can pay a fairly reasonable $9.99 to unlock full functionality.

Using EasyTether

EasyTether can be found in the Android Market by searching for its name.  Install and open the app to get started.

Step 1) After opening the EasyTether app, select your computer’s operating system.

Step 2) You will then be prompted to download the client application that must be installed on your computer.  Since you most likely don’t have internet access on your computer at this point, you can download the client through your phone, mount your phone as a USB drive on your computer, then run the installer.

If you do have internet access on your computer, you can visit this site to install the client software.

Step 3) Install the desktop software and accept the default settings.  You may receive some driver security warnings during installation, which you need to accept.  Make sure to run EasyTether on your computer after installation.

Step 4) After you’ve installed the desktop client, head back to your phone and check the box that says you’ve installed the desktop software.  With your phone connected to your computer with a USB cable, you can now right click the EasyTether icon in your computer’s system tray and select Connect via Android.

That’s it!  You can now use your phone’s data connection on your computer.  Please note that all of your carrier’s data usage policies still apply, so make sure to figure out what those are before sharing the connection.  Also note that even if your carrier offers “Unlimited” data use, there is probably a limit of about 2GB – exceeding this will give you some huge fees.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our ever-growing list of articles about Android.