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HOWTO: Tether an iPhone to a netbook running Jolicloud

Introduction

I mentioned in an earlier blog post my favourable early impressions of the ‘cool new operating system’ Jolicloud on my Acer Aspire One. One thing that I wanted to be able to do with it is to ‘tether’ my iPhone to it for 3G internet access. This was easily done under almost any operating system when I’d ‘jailbroken’ my iPhone (through PDAnet) However, it’s not so easy with an iPhone running the standard firmware and a netbook running Jolicloud. This is for two reasons:

  • An unjailbroken iPhone can only tether by USB or Bluetooth, not wi-fi.
  • Jolicloud does not come with access to Synaptic Package Manager, trading this for ease-of-use.

Tethering an unjailbroken iPhone to Jolicloud is still possible, however, if you’re prepared to copy-and-paste some lines into the Terminal. Here’s what to do…

How to tether your iPhone under Jolicloud

1. Activate tethering on your iPhone. You should really go through your contract provider for this, but if you’re naughty – or feel overcharged as it is – then try emailing to your iPhone and then running the relevant .mobileconfig file found at http://www.benm.at/help/tethering.php

2. Install ‘jolicloud-netbook-config’. To be honest, I’m not actually certain this step is necessary. But it can’t hurt! On your netbook, open up the Terminal (found under the ‘Accessories’ menu in Jolicloud). Copy-and-paste this: sudo apt-get update (then press ‘Enter’) followed by sudo apt-get install jolicloud-netbook-config (Enter). You may get errors. Ignore them. 😉

3. Install Blueman. Whilst still in the Terminal, copy-and-paste this: sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/blueman/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main' >/etc/apt/sources.list.d/blueman.list" and then hit Enter. Follow this typing sudo apt-get update (Enter) and then sudo apt-get install blueman (Enter). You’ll get errors, but don’t worry!

4. Configure Bluetooth Manager. Make sure you have Bluetooth turned on your netbook and both Bluetooth and Tethering on your iPhone. The ‘tethering’ option is found withing Settings / General / Network on your iPhone. On your netbook, go to the Preferences menu and then click on Bluetooth Manager:


4. Connect to your iPhone. Click on Search within Bluetooth Manager. Your iPhone should be listed. Click on it, then Bond. You’ll have to do the usual thing of setting a passcode to be entered on both devices, etc.


5. Set up your iPhone for ‘tethering’. Within Bluetooth Manager click on the Trust button to save time in future. Then click on Setup and keep pressing Forward until your iPhone is ‘tethered’ (i.e. set up for 3G internet access with your netbook).


Your iPhone should now have a blue bar at the top that says Internet tethering (see image at top of this post). Open up a browser and surf away! 😀

Finally…

To reconnect on subsequent occasions, make sure that Bluetooth and Tethering is active on your iPhone. Then go back into Bluetooth Manager on your netbook, right-click on your iPhone and select the option to re-establish a Bluetooth connection. An icon should pop-up indicating you’re connected and, of course, the blue ‘Internet Tethering’ ribbon should appear to the top of your iPhone! 🙂

Many thanks to the author of this blog post (which has some additional steps you may want to try which forces Ubuntu Netbook Remix – on which Jolicloud is based – to configure the connection as an ‘official’ Mobile Broadband connection)

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I’ve sold my Asus Eee 4G. What now?

I’m a bit of a sucker for gadgets. I keep telling myself that I should hold out for the second generation of things, but I just get carried away again and again. That’s not to say that I don’t buy quality stuff; quite the opposite in fact. Yesterday I sold my Asus Eee 4G to @moodlehotpotato (Mary Cooch) after a brief Twitter chat, Skype chat and Paypal payment. It wasn’t because it didn’t serve a need – it was because there was so much potential there I wanted something that could fulfil that need to the max! 😀

There’s many sites and blogs that have waxed lyrical about the Asus Eee 4G. From a teacher’s point of view, this is what I liked about mine:

  • The size and weight mean I can carry it one-handed from one classroom to another. As I teach History in my classroom and ICT in various other classrooms, this is great.
  • Internet connectivity is great: wi-fi is painless to set up
  • I could take it to meetings instead of a pen and paper.
  • My use of it makes staff and students alike want one. It makes the school purchasing a set more likely.
  • It runs a version of Linux customised for that particular device. Anyone who’s used OSX on an Apple computer knows the difference this makes… 🙂

So if it’s so great, why have I sold it? Well, three reasons:

  1. The screen, whilst useable, is a bit small. Newer models have 8.9″ screens instead of 7″ which enables them to utilise a 1024 pixel-width resolution. This makes all the difference when web browsing. Who designs sites for 800×600 in this day and age? (my web stats show that less than 2% of visitors to this site, for example)
  2. It hasn’t got Bluetooth built in – I purchased a micro-USB dongle, but it was a hassle to setup. I want things to be straightforward. Newer models have Bluetooth built-in.
  3. Battery life, whilst acceptable at a shade under 2 hours in normal use, could be better. Newer models, based on Intel’s Atom processor, promise to drastically improve on that.

So what am I going to buy? Well, a post about 4P Computing over at OLPC News (Price, Performance, Portability and Price) showed that only three met the criteria for a true Netbook:

4PC Name Power Perform Portability Price
Asus Eee PC No Yes Yes Yes
Classmate/2Go PC No Yes No Yes
Elonex One Yes Yes Yes Yes
Everex Cloudbook Yes Yes No Yes
HP Mini-Note PC No Yes No No
Norhtec Gecko Yes Yes Yes Yes
OLPC XO-1 Yes Yes Yes Yes

Of those, the Elonex One only actually has a 300mhz (must have been a mistake), the OLPC XO-1 is garish and not easy to come by in the UK, and the Norhtec Gecko only has a 7″ screen. It was obvious that I was going to have to cast my net wider, which is where the Low-Cost Laptop Cheat Sheet over at Laptop Magazine proved helpful. I’ve taken off the column about US availability as well as removed any that aren’t available in the UK (at least not according to Google Product Search). Finally, I took off any that had 7″ screens, changed the price to GBP, added the Asus Eee 900 and HP Mini-Note, and reproduced what’s left of the table below:

Laptop Name Price Operating System Processor Storage Display Size Webcam
Asus EeePC 900 £329.99 Linux/Windows XP 900 MHz Intel Celeron-M ULV 353 12GB SSD (WinXP) 20GB SSD (Linux) 8.9″ 1.3 megapixels
HP 2133 Mini-Note £349.99 Linux/Windows Vista Via C7-M 1.2Ghz 120GB HDD 8.9″ 0.3 megapixels
Asus EeePC 901 £499.99 (pre-order price, likely to be c.£400) Linux/Windows XP Intel Atom 8GB SSD (WinXP) 12GB or 20GB SSD (Linux) 8.9″ 1.3 megapixels
MSI Wind £334.95 Linux/Windows XP Intel 945GMS Atom 80GB HDD 10″ 1.3 megapixels

I paid £219 for my Asus Eee 701, so as you can see my next purchase is going to cost me at least 50% more. But which one shall I choose? Here’s the main positive/negative points about each one as far as I can see:

Asus EeePC 900

Advantages: Available now, multi-touch trackpad, lightweight, same size as 701.
Disadvantages: No Bluetooth, 901 coming out shortly.
Reviews:

HP 2133 Mini-Note

Advantages: Sleek metal body, WXGA screen, huge hard disk, optional Bluetooth, available now.
Disadvantages: Some users complain of fan noise, processor quite slow.

Reviews:

Asus EeePC 901

Advantages: Bluetooth, Intel Atom processor (improved battery life).
Disadvantages: Potentially expensive, not available now (early June).
Pre-release specs: I4U (unconfirmed)

MSI Wind

Advantages: Bluetooth, 4-in-1 card reader, 10″ screen, Intel Atom processor (improved battery life).
Disadvantages: Not available now (early June), likely to be significantly bigger than Asus Eee.

Pre-release specs: PC Advisor

The Verdict

It looks like if I’m going to buy now, it’s the HP 2133 Mini-Note or the Asus EeePC 900. If I can wait until mid-June, I’ve got the option of Netbooks with the new Intel Atom processors – namely the MSI Wind and Asus EeePC 901.

I’ll probably wait. But if I don’t, then here’s the HP and Eee 900 head-to-head:

Feature HP 2133 Mini-Note Asus EeePC 900
Dimensions (WxDxH) 25.5 x 16.5 x 3.3cm 22.5 x 17 x 3.4cm
Weight 2.63lbs (1.27kg) 2.2lbs (1kg)
Screen size 8.9″ WXGA 8.9″
Processor Via C7-M 1.2Ghz Intel Celeron M ULV 900Mhz
Memory 1GB 1GB
Operating System Linux or Windows Vista Linux or Windows XP
Battery Life c.2 hours c.3.5 hours
Storage 120GB HDD 12GB or 20GB
Bluetooth Yes No
WLAN 802.11a/b/g 802.11b/g
Keyboard size 92% 80%
Multitouch trackpad No (scroll zone) Yes
Webcam 0.3 megapixel 1.3 megapixel
ExpressCard/54 slot Yes No
SD card reader Yes No
Case Anodised aluminium Plastic

I reserve the right to make a carefully-considered, well-researched impulse purchase… 😉

Creating an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo WiiMote

Before I begin, let me just say that this IS actually easy. To put things into perspective, I didn’t opt for GCSE Electronics 13 years ago because my soldering skills were so bad. I hadn’t touched another soldering iron again – until last night. Anyone with an ounce of hand-eye coordination will be fine… 😉

I was fairly gobsmacked when I came across Johnny Chung Lee’s video of how to create an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo WiiMote and infra-red light pen. It came courtesy of a blog post by Mr Platts (inexplicably down at the time of writing – cached version here). The video by Johnny, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, is here:

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