Page 1 of 1 [ 11 posts ] 

Dear_one
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Feb 2008
Age: 70
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,802
Location: Where the Great Plains meet the Northern Pines

30 Mar 2018, 10:32 pm

I've been almost a hermit for a decade, with a decent ISP on cable, but nothing wireless at all. I run Linux now. I have desktops and laptops, but no tablet or cell phone. Now, I want to equip my car with a low-power, fanless computer that can run dual displays for word processing primarily - no gaming, and limited browsing is OK.
Computers that I look at say they have wi-fi. Does this mean that I can park by a hot spot and catch up on my mail? Do I need an external antenna? Any big security issues? I might want to pay my bills if I'm away for a while.
Could I get a cell phone to use as a hot spot to get better coverage without a huge monthly bill and loss of privacy?



MisterSpock
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Jan 2012
Gender: Male
Posts: 572
Location: Manchester, UK

31 Mar 2018, 8:26 am

If something claims to have WiFi, you can go to any hotspot and use it. Most of them will have passwords or some other logging device (in the UK Sky and BT and a few others make you have an account to log in). Public WiFi, especially "unlocked" or "open" networks can be used by thieves and hackers. I don't have any stats on the prevalence of that. To be safe on these nwletworks, it might be advisable to buy/subscribe to a VPN - software that creates a safe tunnel to the internet (but you still need an actual connection).

Some mobile/cell providers ban or charge for making your own hotspot, others let you do it for free. Alternatively, you can buy something like a mobile socket - a USB stick that has a phone-like co tract to give you internet anywhere (anywhere they have coverage). These are less likely to need a VPN, and I think you'd need to be a little paranoid (like me) to use one.

In terms of hardware,aybe a netbook or stream book? But you're never going to get dual monitors on an off-the-shelf product.



Dear_one
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Feb 2008
Age: 70
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,802
Location: Where the Great Plains meet the Northern Pines

01 Apr 2018, 7:42 pm

Thanks. Can you suggest some other names for a "mobile socket" that might turn up some products on a search?
One box I've looked at is the Jetway Computer Thin mITX Fanless Barebone Mobile Ivy Bridge Intel Celeron 1047UE Some of the units intended for running animated billboards look good, too.

I expect to be off-line much of the time, so my guess is that a netbook would not work, but what's a stream book? I don't like my laptops, because they have noisy fans. Would a tablet with a keyboard get around that?



elbowgrease
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 Aug 2017
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,039
Location: Arcata,CA

01 Apr 2018, 8:10 pm

WiFi dongle, or USB dongle.
If it says the machine has WiFi, you should be able to connect to open WiFi if you're within range.
Smartphones are handy, quiet, amazing technology, but I find them really frustrating.
Maybe a tablet would be better, but I think I'd much rather have a netbook with Linux than a smart thing.

That being said, I have a moto e. First generation, I think. I found it on the beach about two years ago (2 1/2, maybe) and couldn't find it's owner, then my last laptop broke. It's proven to be sturdy and reliable. Some of the proprietary technological quirks can be a nuisance. Good to do some research. I'd like it if it was a little easier to change the battery, as mine is starting to go. Possible, but a pain. It's also got a mini, or micro SD card, so I don't have to worry so much about memory.
Nightmare for word processing.

Edit: you may really appreciate some of the sensors available in some of the smart things.



Dear_one
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Feb 2008
Age: 70
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,802
Location: Where the Great Plains meet the Northern Pines

02 Apr 2018, 1:24 am

Thanks. Everything seems to have WiFi built in; I was wondering about something to connect to the cell network.
To me, the most interesting thing about a cell phone is the accelerometer and other possible sensors, but I'm no good at hacking through modern software, and have not actually needed lab sensors for years.
Would a netbook run Linux software off-line?
Should I think about something dedicated to the dual monitors, and maybe a separate unit for mobile note-taking, visiting Ethernets, hosting sensors and seeking cell signals?
Should I extend the WiFi antenna outside of the car, or try to keep it up in the glass?



MisterSpock
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Jan 2012
Gender: Male
Posts: 572
Location: Manchester, UK

02 Apr 2018, 3:17 am

For connecting to cell networks, something like this should be fine:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00R8697 ... ref=plSrch
As you can see, there is no traditional antenna. I imagine such a thing would only be needed in areas with near no coverage.

I have to admit, accessing the phone sensors is not something I've done. There are definitely free apps available to show you the data, but if they don't do what you want, you will have to learn java (for Android) or C (for iPhone) and programming your own. The only sensors I have played with were connected to a Raspberry Pi microcontroller. The RPi, by the way, runs Linux, so you could run it as a computer and as a sensor reader (with a bit of work).

Linux is like the other operating systems; you can install programs, edit documents, and browse the internet (among many other things). It does not need an internet connection to work, like the netbooks or streambooks I mentioned. Streambook might be a trademark, but it's the same thing - all your programs and data is stored on the cloud, and your "laptop" is like a remote access terminal. You wouldn't be able to get the big name programs like Microsoft Word to run on Linux without a lot of work. Trust me, I've tried that. But there are lots of free alternatives, LibreOffice being the most popular.

When it come to getting 2 dedicated devices, that's up to you. All laptops should let you take a cable out to a second screen. Tablets are generally lighter and easier to take with you, but lack those features.



ToughDiamond
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Sep 2008
Age: 66
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,395

06 Apr 2018, 1:38 pm

Dear_one wrote:
Computers that I look at say they have wi-fi. Does this mean that I can park by a hot spot and catch up on my mail?

That ought to work I think. I've not tried many wi-fi services on the go with my laptop, but when I did, they usually worked. With one or two they've made it look like it's free wi-fi when it turns out only to be free for their company's website, they want money for letting you go anywhere else. And the library wi-fi isn't compatible with my laptop, they've tried to fix that but failed, and they say it's unusual, probably just the age of my laptop.
Quote:
Do I need an external antenna?

I don't think so.
Quote:
Any big security issues? I might want to pay my bills if I'm away for a while.

A wireless connection is always more of a security risk than a wired one, and I've seen warnings while using hotspots, saying that it's not secure. When I go on a long vacation I first set up future payments and standing orders to cover the bills until I get home. When I don't know what the bill will be, I pay a fairly safe excess or just hope that I can get to a secure connection in time while I'm away. And I get a good friend to check my paper mail and tell me if there's anything unexpected that needs action. If I were going to use a less secure method of paying bills, I'd only use it with an account that had limited funds in it, so my life savings couldn't be stolen. It might also be worth checking the bank's fraud policy - I have a feeling they often underwrite fraud, at least in the UK, in the hope of encouraging the market for on-the-go banking.



SabbraCadabra
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,913
Location: Michigan

06 Apr 2018, 4:26 pm

Dear_one wrote:
I expect to be off-line much of the time, so my guess is that a netbook would not work...

Netbooks don't require Internet, you can disable the wireless on it just like any other notebook computer. I have an old Asus Eee PC, and by default the fan is off and the CPU is underclocked, but the tiny keyboard might be a little cramped if you're a touch-typer and intend to do a lot of word processing.


_________________
he had a lot to say, he had a lot of nothing to say
we'll miss him


elbowgrease
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 Aug 2017
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,039
Location: Arcata,CA

06 Apr 2018, 5:48 pm

I had a Toshiba nb205 for a while. I used it with Ubuntu to get through a few semesters in college. My only complaint was with Ubuntu, I wish I'd known about Linux mint then. The computer itself was great. Had WiFi, pretty good memory, small enough to be convenient without being cramped or limited because of it.
My only other laptop wasn't as good. Still did the job but didn't seem as durable.
I think I vastly prefer the smallish notebook with Linux to a smartphone. Probably a tablet as well. I don't really like Android too much. All of the proprietary aspects of it, programs that constantly update themselves. I couldn't even move a lot of files on my phone to the external storage for quite a while because I had to hunt down a totally free working file manager.



Dear_one
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Feb 2008
Age: 70
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,802
Location: Where the Great Plains meet the Northern Pines

06 Apr 2018, 6:55 pm

Thanks, folks. Too often, I've had to buy a new product twice, after finding out what I actually needed the first time. I only found out that "Chat" is more like email than telephony last summer. I had always assumed that a Netbook would not have much on-board software. Agreed about the smooth taste of Linux Mint - I'm on 17 now, and it is running better than ever. I had been having fits trying to get back to PCs from a Mac interlude, and Linux started working faster than a Win Restore disk could arrive.
I have a friend with a Toshiba tablet, and we have never managed to transfer a file to it, but some must have USB? Maybe we should be thinking wireless for his?
Also, I need a recommendation for a VOIP service that will emulate normal telephone service. I just had a MagicJack die out of warranty, unabused.
TIA,



SabbraCadabra
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,913
Location: Michigan

07 Apr 2018, 12:40 am

Dear_one wrote:
I had always assumed that a Netbook would not have much on-board software.

My Asus came with Linux on it. I wiped it and installed XP, which took up a good chunk of the 4gig SSHDD, but I keep most of my extras on an SD card. I'm sure the newer models have larger drives, I don't know what kind of software they came with, but I think the whole line supported both Linux and Windows.


_________________
he had a lot to say, he had a lot of nothing to say
we'll miss him