Going Wireless

It all started because I had to get a "hands-free" accessory for my cel phone for driving (stupid law, I can still eat a hamburger while driving, which is way more distracting than holding a phone. But anyway . . .). It turned out my phone was so old (4 years) they don't make a hands free attachment for it.

This didn't surprise me, so I had gone into the store prepared to buy a new one. As long as I was there, I found myself looking at the "wireless web" display. Hummmm. $60 for that, which also would not work with my old phone. But here's a nice little Motorola that comes with the Web kit and can handle a hands free attachment for $200. Or there's the one for $140 without out the web piece.

I liked the Motorola better -- seemed a little more durable, so I sprung for it and the separate hands-free attachment. But not with a "boom" mike. I refuse to look like I'm an operator. The mike is on the earpiece cord.

Okay, so, on the wireless web display they had kits for Windows and for Macintosh. By the time I was buying the phone, I didn't really think about this. I scanned the box and didn't see either a Windows or Mac logo, so I figured it must have a universal kit -- surely the put all the software on a single CD anyway, so it just comes down to the phyiscal connection.

Got it here to SIAC and stuck the cd (which said Windows all over it) into the Powerbook. It whirred and hummed rather loudly, then ejected. I stuck it in to the PC and it mounted and displayed the installer. I cancelled and went to the desktop to click on the cd icon. It booted the installer. Explorer was unable to display a directory of the CD. So it's absolutely a PC CD with no Mac files.

Grrrr.

Went to the Sprint web site and found a Mac modem script. Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Looked in the documentation that came with the phone and found instructions for installing the Mac modem script (which I, a Mac user since 1984, did not need). But I was perturbed that they would tell me how to install it, but neither provide it nor tell me where to get it. Then they told me to go to the Modem control panel and select USB as my modem location. No such choice. For that matter, the phone came with a lovely serial cable and a male/female adapter, but no USB adapter. But I have one at home, so I decided to be patient.

I found my adapter and tried again. Ah hah! The Mac recognized that it had something attached to the USB port, but it didn't know what. So it was definitely not going to add the USB port to the Modem choices.

Grrrr.

Back to the Sprint web site to find a USB driver. Not there. I composed an explanation of my problem in their "contact us" form and sent it fluttering off in to the corporate support black hole. To my amazement, I received a reply the next day, suggesting that my problem was "of a technical nature" (duh) and I should call the tech support department (and gave me the number). So I called, and the second guy I talked to was able to explain that I needed either a Belkin or a Keyspan USB to serial adapter, and to "look in the PDA department at any computer store."

Okay, good, I can do that. I can buy more stuff. Good thing he mentioned the PDA connection, because what I really needed is called a USB PDA adapter. When I searched under adapters at the various online stores it didn't pop up. I finally found it on the Belkin and Keyspan sites, got part numbers, and was able to find the Keyspan one in stock under PDA accessories at MacZones.

It arrived Saturday morning (at no extra charge for Saturday delivery). So right away I put down my ironing and hooked it all up. I installed the adapter driver, rebooted (although the install instructions didn't say too, I figured I had to since I still got the "there's something connected to my USB port that I can't identify" message from the Mac), and went to the Modem control panel. Like magic, the USB option was listed. I selected it, remembered to change the phone number to match the cel phone requirements, and, at long last, got connected to Earthlink. At 14.4.

I knew all along it would be a slow connection, but you forget just what that means when you use a T1 or DSL all the time. But that isn't the point. The point is, I overcame all the obstacles that Sprint threw in the path of us Mac users. Now I'm going to compose a note to them demanding, on behalf of the Mac user community, that they at least put the compatible adapter information on their web site -- it would save them at least a couple phone calls form the two or three other Mac users who try to use their service.

And, of course, now I have to carry around the phone to USB connector. But what's another wire?