3G USB modems on Android: now easier than ever with PPP Widget!

Hello Visitor!

Rejoice!  Joshua Dietze of draisberghof.de, that famed creator of usb_modeswitch, has written a fine widget for running USB 3G / EVDO modems on the tablets of ye!  It takes all the effort out of the challenge!

Get it here!

The instructions are all on that page.  All you need is a tablet with a fully powered USB port, and root access.  Of course, the kernel also needs Option driver and PPP support.  Download the widget installer and run it for installation.  Go to your home screen and insert the widget anywhere (4×1 size) by long-pressing and selecting from the pop-up menu.

The widget works best with Android 3.1 and above, but works alright with Froyo too.  Once you insert your modem, usb_modeswitch should run and switch it to modem mode.  Press the icon on the widget (the one that says PPP and shows a modem) to get the list of detected modems.  Select your modem.

Press the configure button, enter the vital parameters such as the ID and Password associated with your device, the APN if you’re on 3G (EVDO does not usually require an APN), and the correct number to be dialed (#77& for EVDO).

Click Connect, and you have internet access!

Of course, there is still a constraint to connecting to the internet through a USB modem on Android: the Android framework does not recognise the method, although the underlying subsystem works fine with it.  This means that some applications (most of Google Apps and Market downloads) that check a connection state variable of Android will not realise that a connection actually exists, and will return an error of no network access.  However, many email clients (not the inbuilt ones) and other apps just work fine.

So just go ahead, install the widget and test it!  Also thank the community-minded Free Software developers that make all this goodness available to us.

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We live in this country and know so little of this land of breathtaking beauty!

Ladakh now goes on my list of places I want to visit (but will I ever?).

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ND:

I love macro photography. I believe real beauty lies in the details, and find that magnification opens up previously unknown worlds to us.

One of my favourite pastimes used to be to pick up the tiniest flowers and insects and watch them under that magnifying lens diamond sorters use. I discovered that on a moss-covered wall lived really tiny insects with multi-coloured hues.

One of my most cherished macro shots (of my own) is of this little white flower, inside which sits an even tinier red insect with bulging black eyes. What a surprise!

Originally posted on Neely Wang | Photography + Design:

macro photography image of daisy
 
macro photography image of daisy
 
macro photography image of daisy
 
macro photography image of daisy
 
macro photography image of daisy

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ND:

I have seen this strategy among pro-software patent, pro-proprietary software journos-for-sale as well as pro-fossil fuel industry ‘think tanks’.

Very nicely written letter to the NYT. I wonder why people did not realise this of their own, sooner.

Originally posted on Leaves caution behind:

A letter sent to the public editor of the New York Times:

Dear Mr Brisbane,

You are no doubt deluged by complaints about the NY Times’ climate change coverage, and so I am sorry to add to the volume of your correspondence on the subject.

I refer you to “Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.”, Justin Gillis, March 13, 2012.

The article makes a point of quoting Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for a contrary view on warming.

Why? If there was an earthquake, the Times would not seek out a denier of earthquakes. If this was an article on medicine, the Times would not automatically seek out the views of a homeopath or acupuncturist. If this was an article on astronomy, you (the Times) would

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National Shame

Today is a black mark in the history of modern India.  The nation has lost all moral right to call itself progressive and a democracy.  How can the government of this country sit as a meek, silent and supportive spectator to Muslim fundamentalists clamping down on our freedom of expression?

I think the it is high time for the people of this country to ask the Congress party if we are already an Islamic sultanate.

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By the way, we have VLC for Android

Everybody loves the VLC media player, which is now distributed under the LGPL for various Operating Systems.  You will see Android listed, but actually there is no official distribution yet.  So where do you go if you’re looking for a capable, Free (as in speech) multimedia player for your Android device, and all you can find is a streaming package called VLC Direct masquerading on the Android Market?

Fear not, intrepid developers have been compiling VLC for Android since some time.  The excellent group of developers on TabletROMs too has compiled VLC for Tegra 2 devices (Thank you, Dima_TR).  Here’s a mediafire download link to vlc.apk.

The build works, and many formats play fine on it.  It is not perfect, but if we get more interest, more developers could be interested to work on it.  Read the forum posts before you try it.

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Does it matter any longer?

In December 2009, Notion Ink was the new kid on the block, with the promise of a fresh start at conceptualising and delivering a product that would be a ground-breaker in terms of versatility and openness.

Two years later, it is a has-been, having enjoyed its fifteen minutes of fame and fifteen months of infamy after numerous delays, confusing communication, a sub-standard product, and broken promises. Worse, it has been accused of blatantly lying about the state of affairs both within the firm and related to the product.

I have a Pixel Qi, wifi only Adam. I use it regularly to play some simple games and to browse Cheezburger sites. My kids play some games on it too, but after nine months of ownership, the magic of a powerful tablet has evaporated in the harsh light of reality.

Why? Partially because we had too high expectations of a device of this class coming from a start-up, and partially because Notion Ink never really delivered on the promise of its novel ideas. Eden and Genesis are the prime examples of this let-down, but I will not dwell on that today.

High expectations from the device related to many things: Pixel Qi, which was a letdown in terms of its colour fidelity, contrasts, viewing angles etc. and made sense only for a very small number of its users in temperate climes; maturity of the hardware and software to enable serious use as a laptop alternative; and the hope that all the components would work as advertised. Sadly, actual performance fell very short of the expectations, and many of us ignored and even counter-attacked the skeptics.

The let-downs from Notion Ink have been very effectively captured by J K Saur on his blog http://jksaur.wordpress.com and I do no want to repeat them.

However, the biggest failures of the device’s designer were first of all the delay in its launch and shipment, the inability or unwillingness to clearly communicate that it was a test device, and the inability to predict the emergence of other competing tablets with better specifications, better support, and better quality. Add to that the reliance on nVIDIA, a company that is infamous for its lack of commitment to openness.

Notion Ink lost the chance of being the first real tablet and a competitor to the first iPad. Notion Ink never gave us a good idea about their manufacturing capacity and tie-ups. They ended up hurting their early supporters with the delays, deception and quality problems, followed by virtually non-existent post-sales support. All in all, the whole operation started to smell like a bait-and-switch.

They still could have had a small chance of a comeback, had they better anticipated the customer mindset and capabilities of the competition. The Adam was a good competitor to the first iPad, as it provided much better connectivity options and faster performance. However, it utterly fails in face of the slim, responsive and lightweight iPad2 and the other Android tablets that have emerged as Apple’s bugbears.

I routinely travel within India and abroad to meet people, and in these meetings I see them using their iPad 2s for taking down notes, referring to documents etc., and that too without having to resort to a wall-charger frequently. On flights, I see them reading magazines, watching a movie or reading documents on the same tablets. Increasingly, I am also seeing the second generation Galaxy Tab being taken up by them, so it is not about the iPad.

It seems that the consumers strongly favour a tablet that is light and slim, easy to carry around, with a great screen, and one which offers a good amount of responsiveness. As of now, it is only Apple and Samsung that are able to deliver this, and probably Lenovo could be a good competitor. Acer, Asus etc. have tried, but their products are more bulky and tied down due to nVIDIA. It is possible that the Tegra 3 may still see good adoption, but the advantage will be with large manufacturers that have a better leverage with nVIDIA and Google. Notion Ink does not have that capability, and has shown a complete lack of foresight to boot.

Now Notion Ink is talking about the OMAP5 platform, and that is a good idea in itself. However, given that they frittered away their headstart in tablet design, they are nowhere close to developing an iPad 2 competitor by the time the iPad 3 would be launched and OMAP5 / Tegra 3 would be common among the others.

Worst of all, they have lost their most important resource – a set of loyal and trusting customers. Why? Because Notion Ink has been untrustworthy and betrayed the faith and support put up by us, and not merely with our money, but with our reputation as well.

To sum it all up, Notion Ink is destined to fade into irrelevance because of its betrayal, lack of credibility and lack of foresight. This is probably the last time I will speak of them, although I will continue to blog about the Adam for sake of providing some knowledge base for support.

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