[nSLUG] Cellular dongles
frank.geitzler at ns.sympatico.ca
Tue Apr 23 17:04:17 ADT 2019
To add to the confusion, some of us have limited budgets for our
hobbies, and either can't afford (or can't justify) spending a great
deal to buy new tools (or toys), or limited time, ability, or resources
to learn how to use the devices we have. I have a old Canon Canon
PowerShot A480 camera, which takes reasonable pictures 'as is', and a
number of features I have never gotten around to learning how to use -it
has a cable which can be attached to my laptop, to download pictures, or
I can simply pull the chip and plug that into the side of my laptop, and
treat it as a USB device; I have a Hipstreet (Google?) Phoenix tablet
which has an Android Jellybean o/s (although I gather there are a number
of releases of Jellybean, not all being equal) which takes adequate
pictures as well, and can be cable connected to my laptop -or I can
transfer files and pictures via email to or from the tablet; the tablet
also has bluetooth (as does my newest laptop) and a free-standing,
bluetooth-connected keyboard, and the laptop has bluetooth as well. I
don't know enough about bluetooth to know its capabilities and make
better use of its facilities.
I also have a LG F4NR 'Flip-Phone' cell-phone, which again has an
Android Jellybean o/s, but I have not been satisfied with the few
pictures I have taken with it; it too has bluetooth, and I use the phone
only to stay in touch with home; I have a payment plan where I must pay
a minimum amount each month, and if my useage is less than the
time-charges, the balance accumulates -I seldom exceed the minimum, but
I keep receiving text messages from Bell-Aliant at the same time every
month, within an hour of turning the phone on, wanting me to switch to a
more expensive plan -which would give me additional features I don't
want or can't use. Several days ago I received seven such text messages
-and I don't use it for texting -the keys are too small for my old
fingers, so I haven't bothered to learn how to reply -even to say 'stop
I would find it interesting to have one or more pre-arranged sessions
where we could discuss and learn how to use cellular dongles -to find
out their abilities and limitations, their connection details ('normal'
USB, mini-, micro-, firewire-, or other USB, SIM -and what type and
size, etc.), where they can be obtained and their approximate cost.
Perhaps one or more people locally might be interested in participating
in such a session either at a regular Halifax Computer Club meeting (our
next meeting is tomorrow evening, by the way).
On 2019-04-22 9:26 a.m., Dave Flogeras wrote:
> I'll fork a new discussion here for anyone who's interested to
> follow/chime in, and not to railroad the existing conversation.
> > I didn't know that if you have a non-smart "plain" cell phone, that
> > the service attached to the SIM would automagically support data.
> Well, you'd still need to subscribe to a plan that supported data.
> Depending on your needs, and/or provider affiliation you can usually
> get reasonable plans that are preferential to either calls/data. For
> instance you can get a Virgin plan which has unlimited minutes in
> Canada, but pay as you go data. Or, vice versa (well probably not
> unlimited data, but a load of it). It all depends on how much you
> expect to use either. The important takeaway though is that with
> newer equipment, your account is not tied to the phone hardware, but
> the SIM card which you are free to move from device to device.
> > Does the "stick modem" to which you refer just allow you to do dialup
> > over the cellular link? Or does it behave like a wifi hotspot,
> > getting you an IP address via DHCP?
> Typically the modems will just connect to the carrier's network
> (digitally) as a client in a similar fashion that a smart phone does.
> NB. I'm certainly no expert here, the one I purchased was used solely
> to test sending text messages from a remote place. Also, not all of
> these dongles work the same way, and not all are supremely easy to
> configure in anything but Windose environments (so I've read). The
> first couple paragraphs of this page outlines some of the differences
> and possible pitfalls:
> Now, that being said, I have also seen a device that is completely
> stand-alone that you put your SIM card into, and it just becomes a
> WiFi hotspot (as you asked). Those are probably a bit more cash, but
> may be easier to deal with if you don't feel like going down a
> potential rabbit hole of kernel modules and/or network management
> I'll see my uncle this week, who usually carries a work provided
> dongle around (he works in remote places). I may be able to play
> around with it under Linux, or at least grab the model number and give
> you a specific starting point. I can also find my old one and test it
> out as a network client. However mine might not help you much, that
> model is probably no longer made (it was for older 3G networks I think).
> > I need a sit-down (or maybe a series of them) with somebody that knows
> > all this stuff and, additionally, can explain the varieties of
> > functionality without lapsing into Deep Jargon. (One person who
> If you're going to be near HRM at any point, I'd gladly meet up for a
> coffee and transfer whatever limited knowledge I have. I have pretty
> flexible work hours, so even if you were day tripping, I could
> probably find time.
> > Didn't know that. Do you mean lots of preloaded "apps", like the
> > teaser software packages that (allegedly) come with Windoes? That you
> > have to tediously extirpate? Huh. I believe the term is "blivet". ;-)
> > Not keen on managing a digital blivet.
> Not only, but also even the standard apps are heavy it seems to me.
> For instance, I have an ageing Nexus phone. This was a fast, flagship,
> higher end phone produced by Google. The selling point was that it
> was a "pure" android experience with no extra manufacturer crap. But
> even still, after ageing out the hardware, I keep getting bigger and
> more bloated software updates. This means that even the default
> "phone" app (yes it's an app), or the text messaging app now feel much
> heavier than they did when the hardware was brand new.
> All that tracking does take some MHz! (Maybe this still does belong
> in the other thread :) It never ceases to amaze (disappoint) me that
> my phone now struggles to handle the basics, and has multiple
> processors and more RAM than one of my 10+ year old laptops which is
> still useful for real work.
> Finally, the amount of data that google services "sips" just sitting
> idle is fairly appalling. Even after turning off every possible
> useless "feature" or "service" I could that might be doing things
> behind the scenes (without crippling the phone completely). By my
> estimates, it is upwards of 2MB/day without me even using it. I have
> a plan that more than covers my needs plus this overhead, so I don't
> care that much. But if you were thinking of getting a smartphone with
> pay-as-you-go data, you'd have to manage it by remembering to always
> keep the phone's data in airplane mode when not in use.
> My $0.02
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> nSLUG at nslug.ns.ca
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