Wednesday, January 28, 2009

your move

I used to be bad at chess. I'd get in this habit of making a move before understanding, well as I should have, all of the implications.

Later in life I watched the Bourne movies. I began to learn the importance of Forethought. Consideration. Preparation.

It seems that time invested into thinking ahead always reduces the time to the end goal, anyway. So why not?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

circumventing the cricket um100c software on mac

This article describes using the UTStarcom UM100C modem with Cricket's wireless broadband service on the Mac, without using the very flawed software that comes with the device. Well, sort of.

I wasn't the first person to notice that using the software resulted in the computer fans spinning up and sounding like it was clearing for take-off. My girlfriend actually complained about it before I knew myself. Some flaw in the software causes it to use most of the available CPU cycles even when doing nothing. That means your computer gets really slow and hot. Oops.

After I installed it, the Cricket card worked fine, but my Sprint card refused to work at all after that! Thank you, incompatible mess.

Also the interface is ugly. Who knows what else is wrong with it.

Enough already. Here's how to get this done on OS X Leopard. These instructions won't be the same for older versions of the operating system.

DISCLAIMER I can't guarantee that these will work for you or that nothing will go wrong. Performing unofficial hacks on your computer, like this one, can be risky. That said, if there is a problem with any of these instructions, I'd like to know about them so I can fix them. Please let me know if you do not have success.

1. Install the QuickLink software. What?! you say. Don't worry, you'll be removing most of it, but there are a couple pieces that you do need from the package. I recommend that you download this version which I have reposted from the Smith Micro site so that we're all on the same page.

2. Let the installer restart your computer.

3. Use the software to connect up at least once to Cricket's network. Doing this downloads a modem script that is necessary later in the process. Browse to a couple of websites and then verify that it is working. Then disconnect and continue on.

4. Open your System Preferences, select Accounts, choose your account on the left hand side and select the "Login Items" tab. Select "qlmwirelessd" and hit the minus button below the list to remove it. This will keep the software from running automatically.

5. Restart your computer again.

6. Open your System Preferences, and select Network. It should have added two new devices on the left-hand side called "UTStarcom" or the like. I'm not sure why it adds two of them, but it appears that one of them works and one does not. You'll need to identify which one is the working one. Pick one and punch in the following:

Telephone Number: #777
Account Name: [your phone number] (example:
Password: cricket

7. Click the "Advanced..." button and apply the following specifications:

Vendor: Other
Model: Cricket 1xEVDO Modem Script
Enable error correction and compression in modem: Yes

8. Click the PPP tab. For "Settings", select "Session" and note the options. Most of these are up to your personal preferences.

9. Now go back to the "Settings" drop down menu and select "Configuration". Uncheck "Send PPP echo packets" and click "OK".

10. Try connecting by clicking "Connect". If it works, yay! You are in business. If it does not work, try configuring the other "UTStarcom" device using the same instructions.

If still you have no luck, you might also try this hint, which I discovered after toiling with this nonsense myself. The idea listed is similar to what I devised.

If the Cricket card is not your only aircard, simply reinstalling your other aircard's software after all of this ought to get it working again.

cricket wireless broadband in portland & um100c on mac

Cricket Wireless is the king of cheap-o mobile services. They now offer a wireless broadband service for only $40/month (or $35/month if you already have a Cricket phone), which is $20 less than the major players in the industry.

Just in case you aren't familiar with Cricket, it's a cellular service provider that doesn't require you to sign into a contract, as any other (non-prepaid) wireless provider does. Instead, you pay full price for your equipment up-front and then pay for the service on a month-to-month basis as you like.

Cricket currently offers only one equipment choice, the UTStarcom um100c, pictured below. It costs about $135, with activation, but right now there is a mail-in rebate of $50. The first month of service is included in that price. From then on it is $40/month. It's wider than my Sprint wireless broadband card, but it's still a very portable device. An extension cable is included but it's pretty bulky.

utstarcom um100c

In Portland I can download at about 70KB/sec, or about the speed of an old home (A)DSL connection, and less than a half the speed of my Sprint card. The upload speed is pretty low.

That said, it is completely useable for general Internet surfing and email checking. The bandwidth is high enough that most online radio stations and video sites will work without issue, though load times might be slightly higher than they would through a wired broadband connection. Add the fact that you now have an Internet connection that you can take with you on the go, and that $40 begins to look like a pretty good bargain.

Cricket's network is definitely not national. You can see their coverage maps here. Major markets are completely dark; for example, I can't use the card in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago at all, but I can in Modesto?? It's a long story regarding their expansion strategy, which cities they choose to set up shop in and which they don't. The short story is that, if you travel at all, you will probably want a card from Sprint or some other major wireless player.

The software included for the Mac is terrible. Once I installed it, my Sprint card refused to work. See my post on circumventing the software. I haven't tried the card at all on the PC, nor do I have any desire to do so.

sprint wireless broadband in portland & novatel u727 on mac

What is bad about either of these things? Really nothing that I can tell. For about the last year, I've been using the Sprint service and the Novatel U727 aircard on my Mac, both with OS X and Windows Vista, and it's been basically flawless. And thanks to a steady stream of software updates, it just continues to get better. For example, with the new Sprint SmartView download, you can now use the GPS features and see signal strength with OS X Leopard.

novatel u727

(I'm assuming) there are plenty of good reviews out there by Googling the Novatel card, so I won't waste my time.

Sprint has a really solid wireless network. Service is fast here in Portland, where I can download at about 200KB/sec. It's been the same where I've tested it in Seattle, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, Akron or Chicago. I even got connectivity last summer in rural western Montana, and the speed was just fine!

Lucky me... as an older customer I'm grandfathered in under the old "unlimited" plan, under which I'm not monetarily penalized for going over 5 GB of transfer in one month... but they could theoretically cancel my account or slow my access down to keep me at bay. I have never approached 5 GB in one month, and I use it pretty heavily, so I'm not worried.

Friday, January 9, 2009

the tape wall

Webster has no definition for my word of the day so I will coin it here.

Cloudy about the goals ahead and disappointed with present self.

Is the importance of the outcome of my (hard) work equal to God as to me? Where is this not true? I ask myself. What changes need to be made so this is always true?

I considered a life as an empty wall, and its goals and projects as notes taped on it. The adhesive on the tape as strong as the heart's true desire to see the outcome of one or another. Some things are completed. A few things stay until the wall itself is broken.

'love' is still on the wall

And yet some, over time, fall off.
But do they fall in rhythm with the stripping of my layers from a God
who seemingly is willing to grant me peace if I only listen and obey?
Or do they fall to my own song of self-defeat?

The principals behind leading a real life, for God, are so strikingly simple. Is it complex to learn them (and therefore live them), or complex to learn to avoid everything else?

Sidenote: Check out John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design; amazing.
FLYP article
TED talks