Anne is going away to a conference soon. I remembered how easy things were when we were in Australia last year. I had bought a Telstra Mobile HotSpot device and it was a neat little device that connected to the cell phone network and acted as a Wireless Access Point, so the iPhone and iPads could connect out. I started inquiring to see if there was any such device here for not much money.
Turns out my boss has a Verizon MiFi 2200 and he used it extensively for a year and did not renew the contract. I can use it if I want. I went to Verizon to see what it would cost to connect it up for a short time. After working through a lot of options, the easiest way was to just add it to my existing wireless account, activate it, get the activation fee waived, and pay month-by-month $50 a month for 5 gig access. That will see Anne through her conference and beyond. When it's done, I can cancel service. So basically, $50 for Internet access for Anne's iPad for the month. I would have preferred $10 a month for that, but it is what it is.
I activated it last night at Verizon, then took the device home and tried to make it work.
It turns on, and I can connect to it with my iPad. I can get to the online controls and change the settings and password. I can see it in action. So connection to the device is working fine, but the device is not connecting back to up the cellular pipe to Verizon.
I downloaded the MiFi 200 manual and actually read it. It appears that there is one more activation step I have to take. I have to connect it to a Windows PC or a Mac, install the software stored on the device, and activate it. Okay, I can do that.
I connected it to my MacBook, and the device showed up. I installed the software and that worked. I ran the VZAccess Manager program and it saw the device and then wanted to set up a Network Profile. That failed. No reason given. It will not go past this step. I suspect the software was written for an earlier version of Mac OS X, and it doesn't like the version I am running.
I took the device to work, took it to one of our IT staff who is heavily Windows oriented (they are shrinking in numbers), and she connected it to her PC, installed the software and we activated it. It worked. Now I can connect my iPad to the MiFi, and it will connect out as expected. Great. It's ready for Anne. I'll get it set up for her iPad tonight, and she can start working with it now so if there are any problems we can get them solved before she goes away, and she gets plenty of experience with it before she has to rely on it. I suspect she might even want to keep it activated when she comes back. That sure would be useful.
I don't have a charger for the device, but I don't really need one. It takes a mini-USB cable and I have a spare one that came with an external hard disk. I have spare iPad chargers so the USB cable will plug into one of them.
Having a connection like this is very useful for Anne. She can Skype me and everyone she knows. She can do her email, her browsing, compete in Skywords tournaments, look up maps of her tours, and all the other wonderful conveniences available through Internet access. And especially use the travel tools for the iPad like FlightTrack Pro and FlightBoard. Those two tools are invaluable tools.
So another success. Things have been going well lately, and going right.