Mobile Internet woes on the eeePC

A trip to ExCel in London for the Outsource World show demonstrated a problem I faced with Wi-Fi and the eeePC.

Wi-Fi does exist at ExCel but as I didn’t have an OpenZone account I was unable to access the Internet. This meant that the article I had written about the show was stuck on the eeePC with no way of getting it off.

Maybe I could simply copy the document onto a USB memory stick and then upload it from an Internet Cafe. Well the PCs in the business centre at ExCel are charged out at £1 for five minutes, the USB ports are disabled and it would take more that five minutes for me to rekey.

So how about use the GPRS modem on my mobile phone…?

In previous incarnations of my mobile office I used to be able to use the infrared port on the phone as a serial-port and modem. All I needed to do was to set the mobile device to use its IRDA port as a serial communications port and the dialup modem would would phone my ISP (I used to use BT Click Free). This was reliable but since the connection was over GSM, it was horrrendously slow. Still, it would have been ideal for me, there at ExCel. I would have been able to send the article as a small text file over by email back to the office. Sadly IRDA isn’t usually on phones and laptops these days. And the eeePC doesn’t have an IRDA port.

On the eeePC it is possible to use GPRS on a Windows Mobile 6.0 phone if you have a USB cable for the phone and you follow the instructions on running wvdial.

I haven’t tried this yet. Another option is Buetooth. This should be really simple if you have a Bluetooth dongle. It should be simple but Bluetooth is not directly available on the eeePC.

Nevertherless I followed the Bluetooth on eeePC instructions, which basically hardwire the MAC address and mobile provider details into setup files. It should have worked, but Windows Mobile 6.0 no longer supports the Bluetooth dial-up networking (DUN) protocol the eeePC needs (Microsoft offers Bluetooth personal area networking instead), so I had to look elsewhere.

I did try downloading and installing a Windows Registry patch for my O2 XDA Orbit Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone to provide Bluetoon DUN, but somehow, although Bluetooth is detected, I can’t seem to create a pairing between it and the eeePC.

Another option, although not ideal, is to use produce the document on the eeePC and use the Windows Mobile 6.0 device to send it. This does work using Card Export II from Softick, a shareware product that costs $14.95 and turns the memory in your Windows Mobile 6.0 device into USB storage..It requires a USB cable but you can indeed see the phone’s memory in File Manager on the eeePC. Mobile Outlook on the phone can then be used to send the document. I guess applications like FTP can also be used to upload documents, although I haven’t done this yet. You can also download email and download from FTP sites but the downloaded messages and files will need to be saved on the storage card if you want to access them on the eeePC using a USB cable connected to the phone.

As I was writing this blog I cam across another possibility: use the Windows Mobile 6.0 phone as a Wi-Fi router. It’s too late to try this now, but hopefully I’ll get this going in the next few days.

Well, back at ExCel none of the above was available to me. Instead I phoned Georgina in the office and dictated the article down the phone to her. Well, it did arrive eventually…