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cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17
Hotspots to get an old Powerbook online?

I've been looking at cellular hotspot deals so I can go online anywhere: long outings, small trips, and so on w/out feeling completely disconnected. It's also been on my mind since I'm trying to land a WFH gig.

But no WiFi setup's complete w/out having my Powerbooks online, imo Smile so how do/would you guys jimmy your Powerbooks? For example, my Pismo uses Airport, but I'm not sure if it can do anything besides WEP under OS 9 (I think OS X can use stronger encryption?). WEP's the only encryption available for PCMCIA WiFi cards, but I think most hotspots no longer do WEP (then there's WEP security issues)

Here's where I am atm: my current carrier gives me 15 GBs of hotspot per month (okay for light, general use), but a Verizon-owned carrier's offering a 5mbps 'unlimited' hotspot (and everything else really) for $40 a month total, period.

So can/should I tether something to such a phone device+service to allow my old Macs to connect? Or should I just leave my PBs at home/not connect them online when I go out or travel somewhere? At home, I sometimes open a router or hotspot w/no encryption to surf the net on my Powerbooks, but I'd love to hear your ideas/suggestions on safe(r) Powerbook WiFi (I'm also looking to travel to Central America sometime after it's safe to travel again, but that's a conversation for another time) Wink

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adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Personally, I'd think twice before using WEP in an untrusted location in Central America. You'd have to assume that anything transmitted over that, including passwords, is being captured by someone.

Those old PBs also have Ethernet, right? You may want to bring along some cables and physically connect them to a device that's connected to your cellular hotspot.

For me, that solution is a phone that provides access, a modern laptop that connects to it, and other devices physically plug in to a wireless router that has the laptop as its upstream provider. It could probably work directly to the phone, but this way I know that when I sleep the laptop, all the connections go down. I could probably do that with the phone and airplane mode, but I've just never bothered.

You can even pick up a wireless hub device that has a few network ports, WiFi router and a SIM slot for plugging in a cellular SIM card, if you want something slightly simpler to set up.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

A sim-able hub would work, actually Smile did even know they had those Laughing out loud

I always wondered if the WiFi, while cool to play with old Powerbooks, posed a security risk, and unfortunately, the world's become a much harsher place than it used to be. But with what's transpired this year, I did open free access at home for a while in case my neighbors needed it. I figured the gesture would be appreciated rather than exploited.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Yeah; I figure open WiFi generally gets used by those who need it; WEP WiFi only gets used by those who are intentionally breaking in.

But remember only to use open WiFi on a guest network, as anyone connected can see all the traffic, just like with WEP.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

These Iogear Universal adapters are probably the best and most compact for any legacy system:
https://www.amazon.com/IOGEAR-Universal-Ethernet-Adapter-GWU627/dp/B004U...

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Great suggestion Smile I like this solution! It ties up loose 'WiFi security' ends quite easily, one device at a time of course.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

Is pretty compact. I think you could get a Cat5 short cable like this one https://www.ebay.com/itm/Cat6-Shielded-SSTP-Ethernet-Booted-Patch-Cable-... (They have a .5 ft / 6" model) and then add a short USB and be rocking. THE ONLY ISSUE with these is attaching to new networks. You have to modify your network properties to talk to the unit and select a new source (in practice isn't bad, but requires a few steps).

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

If you want to connect multiple devices, just get a small Ethernet hub and you can plug them all in at once Smile

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Yeah, then we'll all look like ethernet-octopi, lol! Laughing out loud but it's not a bad idea otherwise Wink

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

Yeah, I wouldn't dare using WEP anything nowadays, it is too unsecure. (if privacy is an issue for you)

This solution comes close to OpenSourceMac's idea - someone just used white-tack to put this TP Link Wi-Fi adapter to his PowerBook G4. It just connects with whatever method (e.g. WPA2) to the router and then feeds the PowerBook via RJ45 in the ethernet port. Does get its power from the USB port. (Photo courtesy of LA Hegarty)

I guess this is what I'll do when I have my TiBook. I happen to already have one of these adapters (and they work reliably)