(Originally written for publication on FoxPop in December 2003)
Having described how to get WiFi up and running on your machine, I'd like to go on to describe a) some of the cool things you can do with it, and b) some of the programs and utilities that'll help you get there.
Stuff you can do:-
Sounds completely obvious, right? Well, yes, it is... And it's probably the first thing you'll do with your WiFi connection. But there's something extremely liberating about using your totally wireless netBook (ahh, that long battery life...!) to download your email for the 1st time. Once you've managed to wipe the silly grin off your face, you'll want to swank in front of your friends, downloading as you go (although I take no responsibility for their actions if you actually choose to do this!).
As well as being able to do this in private (!), you can of course now avail yourself of the various public hot-spots that are springing up all over the place. Most of these are commercial (i.e. you have a pay to get access) but if you're lucky, you'll ocassioanlly find one that's either free or is commercial but running a free 'trial period'. Normally you'll have to use your browser to go through a few pages (and maybe to pay) before the access is opened such that you can use your email (or surf, etc.). By way of example, below is a screenshot of Copenhagen's airport WiFi access site viewed in Opera earlier this year:-
An increasingly useful utility for EPOC email users these days (not WiFi specific - but very useful nonetheless) is called SMTPAuth by Marcus von Cube (http://www.mvcsys.de/doc/smtpauth.html). Increasingly, some ISPs are requiring special SMTP authorisation in order to download your email. Most Windows email clients handle this in their stride but you need this program in order to do it on your Psion...
The next most obvious thing after email is of course browsing the web. Opera v5.14 (as supplied in the netBook's ROM - well RAM actually but anyway...) is generally a reasonable browser for most sites. There are ocassions however when you might prefer to use Psion's own home-grown browser - 'Web'. This should be on the CD that came with your netBook but if for any reason it's not (say you bought your machine 2nd-hand, etc.) then Mike McConnell very kindly keeps a copy on his website for people to download: http://www.mikemcc.org.uk/
In recent weeks, people have been reporting increasing incidents of Opera locking up when surfing. This has nothing to do with WiFi per se but it turns out that it's caused by automatic port scanners trying to probe your browser and causing it to crash. Fortunately, Hans Lub has written a program called Sink (http://utopia.knoware.nl/~hlub/uck/rlwrap/) which blocks the appropriate port addresses and lets everything work. I believe that Marcus von Cube has also added this functionality to his SMTPAuth program but I can't confirm it.
If you'd like to use your netBook to be able to transfer files over WiFi (and much, much faster than using PsiWin!) then you can use FTP (stands for File Transfer Protocol). You need to set up an FTP server on your PC. Fortunately, there are quite a few freeware versions around (Google for 'FTP server freeware' or something similar). Personally, I use CesarFTP (http://www.aclogic.com/) but I'm sure that many others will work too.
Next you need to use an FTP client on your netBook to access the FTP server over your WiFi link. Again, the latest build of the netBook ROM comes with nFTP by Neuon (http://www.neuon.com/) built in. Alternatively you might like to try RMRFTP (http://www.rmrsoft.com/epoc/index.htm).
If however you'd like to use your PC to browse the files on your Psion (i.e. the other way around) then you need a standard FTP client on your PC (again, there are many freeware version around) and an FTP server for your Psion. Fortunately, Victor Kviat has written just such a program called (sensibly enough) FTP-Server - and it's freeware: http://itnat.kbsunet.ru/~vkv/index.htm
Another thing that's ocassionally nice to do is to be able to 'remote control' your Windows desktop from your netBook (yes, you read that right!). Perhaps you'd like to be able to switch your PC off from your Psion, look up some data that you can't otherwise access, etc. Whatever. It's possible using a program called VNC (http://www.realvnc.com/). You'll also need a VNC client for your Psion. I'm aware of two (free) versions that work on the netBook - both written in Java - available at http://www.imhotek.com/version1/ and http://www.geocities.com/giulopresti/handhelds/vnc-epoc.html
Other Useful Utilities:
A couple of other useful utilities also deserve a mention:-
- NetStatRF is also built into your netBook's ROM. It only works with Lucent chipset-based WiFi cards but it's extremely useful - giving you connection info., signal strength, etc.
- NetUtils is another free program by Victor Kviat (http://itnat.kbsunet.ru/~vkv/index.htm). It helps make connections (and disconnect afterwards) and has a host of useful network-type utilities built into it.
Part 4 - Upgrading to broadband
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Friday, 5 May 2006