TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Sharing Jaring
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

In this geeky, techie, lengthy post, we look at the setting up of a mobile bluetooth network with Internet and curry sharing. Before we get our hands greasy, let's get some of the 'what if's' out of the way first...

What if you are at a non-WiFi place and require an Internet connection?
You could use GSM, GPRS or EDGE through a mobile phone, PDA or notebook. Or find an Internet cafe with Internet, not just games.

What if you need a wireless connection faster than EDGE?
There is now Jaring Wireless in selected areas and IF the signals behave, it is can be so fast it leaves even 3G in the dust.

What if you need to have Dreamweaver, Premiere, Photoshop, FTP, Trillian, Skype, Kaaza and 25 Firefox tabs opened at the same time?
You still need a good old notebook on the road. Even a canggih PDA costing RM 4000 can't help you here.

What if your buddies want to surf together at your favourite mamak stall?
Ask them to buy you Tandoori chicken and themselves a bluetooth dongle.

What if Uncle Mydeen from the stall insists you download Pramugara for him?
Ask him to buy the VCD lah.

What if you get funny stares because of the strange looking SOMAport?
Put it in your car and read the the following paragraph.

Tosai, roti and an apple. Rian's Power Mac G4 has bluetooth and attitude built-in.  Pummkin's plight, a 3am fight. Pam surfs and battles mozzies at the same time.
Mobile server. SOMAport, MSI Bluetooth Dongle beaming the Internet to a mamak stall or pasar malam near you.

As you may have figured from Going Wireless Part 1 & 2, the SOMAport can be mobile. I can connect it with a custom external battery pack or power it from a specially self-modified UPS that connects to the car's cigarette lighter socket for charging. The UPS's internal battery acts a buffer and absorbs reckless car voltage. I've also soldered in a diode to prevent reverse current flow when the car is starting or when the engine is switched off.

Alternatively one can use a inverter or connect directly via a DC cable from the cigarette lighter socket. While the input of the SOMA is rated at 12V, the car's voltage may be anything between 13.5 to 15 volts and the surges or disruption when you start your car may damage the unit. Also be sure to check the polarity of the connector before plugging in. Don't say I didn't warn you if you choose to connect this way. If the mamak stall has an available power point, just take out the SOMAport and stop violating Jaring's warranty. Some mamak shops may charge you for power usage though.

What if you damaged the wireless modem and have already terminated your Streamyx or Webbit account?
Go home and back to dial-up hell.

What if you go along with the plan? What else do you need?
A set of jumper cables for your car battery (just in case) and mosquitoe coils if you plan to surf under the stars till way past midnight.

What if TV Smith stops the 'what ifs' and cut to the chase?
OK. So, I have safe and precisely regulated 240 volt AC and SOMA is humming away. A notebook sitting in my car acts as a server tethered to the SOMAport by Ethernet cable. It then provides network access to the remote notebook(s) wirelessly by bluetooth. The bluetooth method of Internet access sharing is quick and dirty. Here I use a MSI dongle connected to the main notebook. The thumbnail sized unit cost about RM 80 at Low Yat. Some newer notebooks may have bluetooth already built in.

While one can also hard wire a wireless AP (wi-fi style) to the SOMAport in the car, I opted for bluetooth because of its extremely tiny footprint on both transmitting and receiving sides. Set up is also quick and the least messy. It is also relatively more secure as allowed devices require authorisation and password pairing. File sharing and remote printing is also possible but I use that only at home.

So if my car is park nearby (up to 50 feet) and the server-side notebook is up and running, me and several users can surf with a bluetooth enabled client-side notebook out in the open, anywhere as long as there is coverage from Jaring.

What if you cannot find a parking bay nearby?
If the car is not within sight and Internet access from the table is suddenly lost, it means some drug addicts are already on the way to Pasar Karat.

Jaring's bandwidth tester sometimes returns an implausible speed as it takes a shortcut home. Get a 2nd opinion. McAfee's speedometer does a reality check with a few hops across the oceans.

SOMA Chalking:

Brickfields - I tested the service from friend Rian Maelzer's 26th floor penthouse at Villa Scott, a stone's throw from KL Sentral. Fastest we achieved was 681 Kbps (by McAfee Speedometer). The speed seemed to fluctuate and appeared considerably lower on subsequent tests.

Sentul Perdana - 171 kbps in the car by USB measured with Firefox bandwidth tester.

Frasers Towers, PJ - At Daniel Tang's 9th floor apartment, we managed around 381 kbps via USB. The SOMAport sat on a window sill facing Gasing Hill. Wired Streamyx 1 MB package came in around 470 kbps in the area.


© 2005 TV SMITH
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