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April 20, 2010

Aluratek USB Cellular Router review

It's the end of the day and I thought it would be nice to work on the picnic table outside of our office.  It's just far enough away that our Wifi doesn't quite get there, so I'm using a neat little device that arrived in the mail last month.  A PR person had (I guess) seen my blog posts about the FJ Car Computer project and the wireless access point I had in the back and offered to send me a new device to play with.  (Disclaimer - it was a freebe but if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be mentioning it here.)  The device I'm using is a CDM530AM and it sells for $100.


The device is a 3G Portable Wireless USB Cellular Router from Aluratek.  To use it you need a USB wireless modem from Verizon or other carrier.


Aluratek USB Wireless Router


As you can see in the picture, it really is wireless.  It has a rechargeable battery in it which is enough to power the device and the Verizon modem for a couple of hours.  You can also plug in the power cord and run indefinitely. 


There are a couple of things that are nice about this device.  One is that it looks like a Wifi hotspot, and more than one person can use it at a time so you can share your wireless modem.  The bottleneck will be with the wireless modem, so you won't be able to put lots of users on it, but it is a nice feature.


It also bypasses the need to start up the modem software, dial up and connect.  I just turn it on and 30 seconds later my laptop and mobile phone has a wifi connection.  Because they both think they are on the same network, I can transfer files and sync between the two devices which I couldn't do as easily otherwise.


Setup was pretty easy, and it is a one-time thing involving hooking up the device to the laptop with an included network cable and running a setup wizard.  I had a glitch in setup (it was pre-release firmware) but tech support figured it out quickly and the new firmware release worked just fine.


One thing to be aware - it's only going to be as good as your cellular modem connection.  If it isn't reliable, then you may experience drops in the connection.  If that happens though, the device handles reconnecting without you doing anything.  I've been able to write this, while keeping up with email and having a couple of IM sessions with no trouble at all, and no drops.


This device is a lot cheaper and easier to set up than the Kyocera that I wrote about here.  And not everybody has 120v AC in their car, which this device doesn't need if you're only going to be on line for a couple of hours.   It doesn't have the Ethernet ports that the Kyocera has, but I found most people riding in the FJ were content to connect to my hotspot wirelessly, so I won't miss the Ethernet connections.  :-)


I was just about to wrap this post up when it occured to me to do another test.  We're now live on Microsoft Communications Server 2010 at Gold Systems.  The product won't be available until later this year, but it's been announced and some partners are using it.  I just IM'd someone inside the building and it all worked as expected.  What was unexpected was that we were able to elevate to voice and we had a 20 minute conversation with perfect voice quality and NO glitches.  Let's let that sink in a bit - Voip from my laptop, to the Aluratek wireless router, out the Verizon USB modem, onto the internet, back across our SIP trunks in the public phone network, to a desktop computer with a USB phone connected to it.  It. Just. Worked.  We decided to get a little crazy and did a whiteboard share - it worked.  We transfered some files back and forth.  It worked.  We even went to video and - it worked as designed.  We were able to do video but the connection just wasn't fast enough so we saw frames being dropped but the picture quality was great and the voice quality was rock solid throughout.


Next I did an internet speedtest, while still talking over OCS.  Here's what I got:



Next I dropped the voice call and did the test again.




We were talking during the first test, but it doesn't show any difference.  It's also interesting that I'm here in Boulder, Colorado and Speedtest thinks Denver is 1,000 miles away.  Who knows how that call actually routed, which makes it all the more amazing that it worked so well.


I first played with VoIP in 1997.  I'm stunned at how well this worked, and how far the technology has advanced.  Wow.  Over a slower wireless connection no less.


One last photo - while we were talking and playing with the whiteboard feature, Ned drew this picture of the mountains.  Notice how some of the trees even have some beatle kill damage.


Whiteboard from ned

Ned could actually hear the birds around me and the airplane that flew over.  Cool!  

April 20, 2010 in Car Computer, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack

April 09, 2010

Entrepreneur Ship Quotes

Boat tile copy
I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and he emailed me today and asked for the "Ship Navigation Quotes" that I have on my desk.

I've always loved the water and I enjoy being on it, in it and under it.  My first memory in life, I think, is of my first swimming lesson.  Mr. Epling said he would give a penny to the person who could duck their head under the water the longest.  My memory is of him lifting me out of the water by my bathing suit because I wasn't ready to come up.  I won the penny.

So - the quotes are really about life and entrepreneurship and they relate so well to what I've experienced since Jim and I started Gold Systems.

The picture that I started this post off with is of a ceramic tile that my wife brought home from the Netherlands for me years ago.  It says "De beste Stuurlui staan aan wal" which translates to english as "The best steersmen are ashore."  It's really easy to stand on the dock and tell the sailor what they are doing wrong, but it gives you a whole different perspective to sail into the storm and to be responsible for the ship.  If people are shouting advice from the dock, they might have good advice, but remember their perspective and that ultimately you and the other people on the boat are responsible for bringing it home safe.

The next one reminds me that good times are easy.

Anyone can hold the helm

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."  According to the fortune cookie, Publilius Syrus said this in the first century B.C.  The next quote gets to that idea from another angle.  "A ship is safe in harbor - but that is not what ships are for."  by John Shedd.  The dates don't quite match the John Shedd from Chicago, but I'll bet it's him.

A ship is safe in the harbor

Too many boats (and people) spend their life in harbor because it is safe.

I am not afraid of storms

I've looked to that last quote a lot, especially in 2001 and again this past year.  "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship." by Louisa May Alcott. I'm not suggesting we should sail into storms just to become better sailors, but if you find yourself in a storm, try to learn from the experience and you'll be better prepared for the next storm.  You may still not like storms but after enough of them, you at least gain some confidence that you'll get through them. 

Before quiting my nice safe job (HA!) I thought that if I was in charge, things would be different.  Some are, some aren't. When things get tough I remind myself that THIS is what I wished for and I'm right where I wanted to be all those years ago.  If I ever cross an ocean in my own boat, and I find myself in a storm, I'll try to remember then that "I'm living the dream!"

(When typing in the tags for this post, I noticed the word EntrepreneurShip.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.)

April 9, 2010 in Entrepreneurship, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack