Apple, General, OSX

Idea to make your presenter life easier on the road

A little while ago, Apple introduced their new operating system: OS X Mavericks. It seems like they ran out big cats to name the different versions of their operating system.

While there are a lot of new features in there, as well as an upgrade of some features to bring the OS up to par when compared to for example Windows 8, one of the best additions in my opinion is the “multiple displays” feature. You can get the Apple overview here. Basically, you can hook up monitors to your mac, and they are now able to work just like your main display. That’s great if you have a dual or multi monitor setup (which I don’t have), but for me what is really cool, is that this also works with an Apple TV.

I was playing with this feature today, and I created a quick video that I wanted to share for anyone that might not be familiar with what you can do, and show a very simple demo:

I’ll admit that the clip isn’t that spectacular, but after playing a bit more, I figured that this scenario could make my life on the road a lot easier. I present at a fair share of conventions and events, and while there usually is a TV or monitor hanging around, usually your controls would be far far away, and you’d have to dig out your laptop to get to anything to do with the system settings or the likes. You would have to run cables from your laptop to the display, and if you forgot a display adapter for you MacBook, usually you were just plain and simply screwed.

Someone else wanted to present from their Mac? Sure, copy the presentation over via AirDrop, USB stick, or you would have to switch the cable to a different laptop.

I’ve decided that I’ll try something different in the future. I’ll just bring along an Apple TV and hook that up to the TV or display. One HDMI and power cable, and I’m set. I’ll be able to just monitor my screen, and if one of my colleagues wants to present, he can just as easily use it without copying presentations or swapping cables. And since this also works with iPads, anyone that has their presentation in Keynote format on their iPad should also be good.

I’ll admit this isn’t a solution for a mixed environment (PC and Mac, not to mention monitors or TVs that only have VGA or DVI), but I’m seriously considering just giving this a try to see how far it takes me. I’m fully aware that the video dongles are lighter than the Apple TV, but hey, I’m a geek and I want to play with technology. 😉

Apple, General, OSX

Shorts: How to set up your BlackBerry as a UMTS/GPRS modem on Snow Leopard with T-Mobile in Germany

After being on the road in a high speed train without any WLAN connection, I decided to do some searching on how to set up my BlackBerry as modem. Since the current firmware on my BlackBerry 9700 seems to have a somewhat flaky Bluetooth stack (currently I’m running on firmware v5.0.0.545) I wanted to do this via USB, but most of the settings should be the same for a device connected via Bluetooth.

One note should be made, and that is that I set this up for a connection on T-Mobile Germany, so the settings are most likely different for your provider, but this might give you a rough idea on how to set up everything. So let’s get started:

  • Start by downloading the BlackBerry Desktop Software for Mac. Right now you should be able to get a copy of it right here.
  • Install the software and connect your BlackBerry to it. The steps here should be pretty self explanatory.
  • Now, open your network preferences. To do so, go to “System Preferences” and click on “Network”, which can be found in the row with the header “Internet & Wireless”.
  • You should find a new device there called “RIM Composite Device”. If it’s not there, click on the plus sign at the lower left, and select the “RIM Composite Device” from the “Interface” drop down list. You can give it any name, for example “BlackBerry USB Internet Connection” might be a name that gives you a better idea of what this is. Then click on the “create” button.
  • Now, for the telephone number you will enter “*99#” (without the quotes). If you were setting up dial-in info on your BlackBerry, you would also use this as the dial-in number, and you would need to alter the number to tell your smartphone about the APN it should use. You could enter “*99*1#” or “*99***1#,” to force it to use the first APN, or you could use “*99*4#” or “*99***4#,” to make it use the fourth entry. But in my case I just went with the first one and used the short form of “*99#”.
  • You can enter anything you want as a user name and password, but the fields can not be left blank. I used “tm” in my setup.
  • Once you have done that, you can click on the “Advanced” button and go to the tab “Modem”. There, change the “Vendor” to “Research in Motion”, and select “Blackberry IP Modem (CDMA)” as the model.
  • Leave the CID as it is (it should be “1”), and enter “internet.t-mobile” or “dynamic” as the APN.
  • Click on the tab “DNS” and enter “” as the DNS server.
  • Go to the tab “PPP” and deselect all of the checks.
  • Now, click on “OK” and after that select “Save”.

Now, you should be able to connect to the internet using your phone. You can check the “Show modem in status in menu bar” to have a small phone symbol at the top menu bar to make it easier to track the status of your connection, and make it slightly easier to connect and disconnect your connection.

Two small notes to finish up this short. One, these are the settings that worked for me. If you are not in Germany, it’s likely that you would need to change the APN, DNS server and username/password to correspond with the carrier you are using. Also, it is possible that some of the settings made under “PPP” could be different and the connections still works. These are just my settings that I wanted to share.

Second, check your data plan!. Surfing via your phone is no problem once you get the connection up and running, but your data usage may accumulate quicker than you initially thought, and exceeding the amount of data in your plan could get expensive really quickly.

Last but not least: Let me know if this works for you, or if it doesn’t and you managed to get it working in a different way, let me know about it and I’ll make sure that I update the post.