Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Connectify and the Kindle

There's been a stunning amount of feedback from the Slashdot audience on the original post.  Seems we need to go test some things.  Clearly, metal is getting exposed, and making contact inside the Kindle.  Which circuit is being closed is less clear.  More testing is needed.  We'll get back to you... Thanks.  Meanwhile enjoy what the post was going to say in the first place:

Now that I’ve had a couple months with my Kindle 3 (sorry “Current Generation”), I thought that I should post a follow-up to explain some things that I’ve learned:

1) Hotel Wi-Fi Sign-in Pages: Many hotels and coffee shops have Wi-Fi networks that have sign-in pages. Now that the Kindle has a web browser, it is possible to make your way through them, but if you use Connectify, you can agree to the terms on your laptop, and voila, the Kindle (that’s connected to your PC’s Connectify hotspot) is on the network as well.

2) Downloading Books with Calibre: A free program that I really like to use with my Kindle is Calibre. Calibre is an iTunesesque desktop app for managing your ebook collection. It works by putting books on your Kindle either while it’s tethered over USB, or via a web server (in Calbre, under “Connect/Share”, there’s a “Content Server”).

If you run Connectify and Calibre’s Content Server on your PC, then you can launch the Kindle web browser and go to “http://me:8080” and browse your entire library online. It has a web page that is formatted for viewing on the Kindle, and any books you click are downloaded right into your Kindle’s book collection. Smooth.

3) Keyboard Shortcuts: Finally, unrelated to Connectify, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts that make a big difference to using the Kindle.

4) International Shopping: A nice man from the government told me how he uses Connectify and it sort of blew my mind. There are commercial VPN services that you can use to dial in to other countries over the Internet. This is important because Amazon sells different books in different colors for very different prices in each different territory. Apparently Australia has 10% as many ebooks on sale as the US, but then textbooks cost a fraction in the UK of what they cost in the US.

So, if you decide that you want to shop for ebooks in another country, you install one of those VPN services, and dial in to their server in the country that you wish to shop in. Then, you use Connectify (ahem!) to create a Wi-Fi network on your PC, where you set the VPN as your Internet connection. Have the Kindle join the Connectify Wi-Fi network, and voila, apparently both Amazon and the Kindle think they’re in the country of the VPN server.

I’ve never tried it, but I’m told it works great.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Connectify Saves the Day!

“The Internet’s down, eh? Productivity oughta skyrocket today.”

That’s what Alex quipped, half-jokingly, as he walked into our offices early last week. The truth is, beyond being a company formed around cutting-edge networking solutions, everyone here is pretty technology-obsessed, and so much of our day happens in “the cloud.” Suffice it to say, there was some acrobatic thumb-twiddling happening that morning.

It’s not that we were really blind-sided by the situation, either. We’re in the process of moving into our shiny new office, and even the contractors warned us that our ISP is notorious for mucking up change-of-service requests. To their credit, our DSL provider did get the day right… they just scheduled us a month early!

Never taking things laying down, the Connectify team leapt into action.

While I sat at my desk, cluelessly alternating between Steve Winwood hold-music, and speaking with yet another “manager” on our ISP’s tech-support line, the brilliant folks here at Connectify managed to use our own product to transform one employee’s Cricket wireless broadband modem, into a secure wi-fi hotspot. For two days, our entire staff [across two lofted floors and 3+ rooms, mind you] successfully connected to a single 3G broadband card!

Crisis averted.

Posted by Raj