I mentioned a few weeks ago that I want some sort of mobile internet access for San Diego Comic-Con so that I can post at least some stuff from the convention itself, instead of waiting until I get back to the hotel. Since the con has never offered wi-fi (except, IIRC, in the press room — which I just realized I could have used last year, since I got a press badge for CBR/Comics Should Be Good), I was looking into phone-based solutions.
Phoning it In
I experimented with post-by-email (not sufficient), with post-through-Flickr (slightly better, but only really suitable for image posts and still missing things like, oh, titles), and with using WPhone to provide a stripped-down admin interface in the hopes that my phone’s built-in browser could handle it (no such luck). No, I was clearly going to need a better web browser — one way or another.
Yesterday I went into a T-Mobile store, partly to look at the smartphones they had, and partly to ask about what data plan would allow me to use Opera Mini on my current phone. The guy tried to sell me a Blackberry, but I have to admit the Wing looked really nice, if expensive.
I asked about getting the Internet plan, and while the sales clerk was familiar with Opera Mini (he uses it on his own Blackberry), he was convinced it wouldn’t run on my RAZR V3t. I’d used an early version of it during a brief window in which T-Mobile allowed access even for phones with the T-Zones plan. But he seemed convinced there would be no point, so I walked out without having changed anything. 30 seconds of Internet searching reveals that yes, Opera Mini is in fact known to work on the RAZR V3t.
Today, the news started making the rounds that the con will have free wi-fi everywhere except the exhibit hall itself, sponsored by the film, Eagle Eye. (Which, now that I think about it, is oddly appropriate and somewhat disturbing.) This is a huge relief, and makes the phone access much less critical. Though it would still be nice…
Sure, it’s going to be a very busy network. But I figure I’ll type things up in TextWrangler and load up the web just long enough to post. Gears will cut down on the amount of bandwidth needed for the admin interface. And I’ll save any serious emailing or forum visits for the hotel room. Actually, I’ll probably stay off the forums during most of the con, unless I have the opportunity to post “Hey, look what I just found out!”
Fedora Core 5 was released today. I started downloading it this morning, and it should be done this afternoon. I’ll probably start updating the Fedora boxes at work later this week, though for my home system I may wait until RPMForge catches up.
There are new experimental drivers that provide support for the widely-used Broadcom 43xx wireless chipsets (http://bcm43xx.berlios.de/).
Apparently wardrivers (people who cruise neighborhoods with a laptop looking for open wireless networks) have been submitting their findings to WiGLE—a searchable database and interactive map of wireless access points.
Already checked—our home network isn’t in there. (As much as I’ve locked it down, it had better not be!) But they do list several in our neighborhood.
As always, the power of the Internet can be used for either good or evil.
One of the reasons our Powerbook stays in Mac OS most of the time (aside from the fact that It Just Works™) is that Yellow Dog Linux 3.0 didn’t have drivers for Airport Extreme, so it can’t connect to the wireless network. I had hoped that YDL 4 (just released) would resolve this — perhaps the driver was only available for the 2.6 kernel, or something.
I finally started looking, and that’s not the case. It seems that the Airport Extreme chipset manufacturer, Broadcom, refuses to release Linux drivers or to release specs to allow anyone else to write Linux drivers.
I don’t expect it to do any good, but I signed my first online petition.
Ah, well, I can do almost everything under Mac OS, and for those occasions that I actually need Linux, I can always go solo or plug in a cable, though it does limit where I can hook it up.