How to get Wi-Fi access anywhere at any time

It doesn’t happen very often, but there are times when you can’t access the Internet at home. Maybe it’s because service is out, or perhaps you moved to a new place and are waiting for the ISP to get around to installing the new service. In these instances, it’s always good to have a backup plan in mind so that you’ll still have Internet access, even when your main home connection is MIA. However, if you’re currently looking for a backup plan, we have several suggestions to keep in mind the next time you’re stuck without Internet at your main digs.

If driving/commuting is an option…

If you’re able and willing to leave the house in order to get Internet access, there are a bevy of options that you can take advantage of, including some of the obvious ones:
  • Coffee shops
  • Libraries and bookstores
  • Fast food joints
  • Hotel lobbies
  • Your local university campus
  • Gym/fitness center
Keep in mind that using public Wi-Fi at an establishment requires a certain give-and-take. It’s customary and a common courtesy to always purchase something when you take up space at a coffee shop or fast food joint. Better yet, if you tip well and get to know the baristas, no one will give you the stink eye when you plug your surge protector into the wall and pull out your day’s work.
Furthermore, some places that offer public Wi-Fi limit it to members only. You might have to show proof of a library card in order to use your library’s Wi-Fi, or you may have to be a member of the gym if you want to take advantage of the Internet there. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and see what their policies are before you make a solid plan.

If driving/commuting isn’t an option…

If you’re stuck in a situation where you don’t have Internet at home and your car is out of commission (it’s in the shop or your spouse has it), things get a bit trickier. There are still some options that you can consider, some of which require planning ahead and can’t be used at the last minute.
  • Places within walking distance: This one’s pretty easy, but if there’s a coffee shop or library within a reasonable walking distance, feel free to make the trek in order to use the Wi-Fi. It’s certainly not a convenience, but you’ll be getting some healthy exercise in while you’re at it. You can also try your apartment complex’s lobby, clubhouse, or leasing office (if you live in an apartment, that is). Most of these places offer free Wi-Fi in their common areas that’s free for residents, so be sure to check and see if that’s an option. 
  • City Wi-Fi: Some cities also offer their own Wi-Fi within city limits that’s open and free to locals and tourists alike. Your location is also a factor in this situation, so if you don’t live within city limits, you most likely won’t get a signal.
  • Tethering: If you have a smartphone, you can tether your data connection to your computer, giving you full-blown Internet access through 3G/4G data. This is entirely dependent on your phone’s reception, so if you don’t get a particularly good connection in your house, then tethering probably isn’t going to do much for you. However, if it is an option, there are a few ways to go about it.
The official way to get tethering on your phone and computer is to activate the Wi-Fi hotspot feature in your phone’s settings menu. Each carrier is different when it comes to tethering, so monthly charges may vary, but the average cost is around $20 per month for a couple gigabytes of tethering bandwidth, with bigger plans available for a few dollars more, incrementally.
You can also get a dedicated mobile hotspot from the carrier of your choice. Many of the hotspot devices offered are free after signing a two-year contract, so you only have to pay for the monthly plan. Then again, if you don’t already have a daily use for a mobile hotspot, it’s probably a waste of money, since you’ll only use it if your home Internet is out. This is why just activating it on yoursmartphone when you need it is the best option in this case.
  • Freedompop: However, mobile hotspots can still be good for this if you go through a service like Freedompop. It offers a free mobile hotspot (with a deposit), and a free allotment of data. Usually it’s a small amount (starting at around 200MB), but you can earn more by referring friends and such. There are no monthly fees, unless you opt for the rollover option, which costs a few dollars per month and rolls over any data left over from the previous month. Freedompop even offers mobile hotspots specifically for home use. These devices allow for multiple users and the opportunity to earn more data by participating in “partner promotions.” Though it is a good deal, there is some fine print, so make sure to read our explanation of the terms and conditions
  • Hotspot alternatives: If you’re looking for a mobile hotspot, but don’t like what the major carriers offer, Clear and Karma are two companies that offer good deals on mobile hotspots. Clear has unlimited 4G plans starting at $34 per month, while Karma offers something similar to Freedompop, but it’s a pay-as-you-go platform that costs $14 per 1GB, with no monthly costs.
  • Third-party apps: The less ethical way you can tether is using a third-party app through your smartphone, allowing you to bypass the carrier’s monthly charge and tether for free. There are tons of these apps out there, most of which require that you jailbreak or root your iPhone or Android device, but a few apps don’t require any of that. However, apps that don’t require a jailbreak/root usually cost a few dollars, so be aware of that if you plan on taking this route.
  • Asking neighbors: If you’re stuck at home with no free Wi-Fi anywhere nearby and you can’t tether, then you’re only option is to suck up to your neighbor and see if you can use their Internet temporarily. If you’ve never met your neighbor, be prepared for them to be a little cautious, but if you explain your situation, they’ll most likely be sympathetic and let you on, depending on how nice they are (and depending on how good the cookies are that you made to bribe them with).

Don’t sweat it too much

Depending on your situation and desperation, it might just be a good idea to embrace the fact that you temporarily don’t have Internet at your house and go do something outside. Of course, some of us need Internet for work or school, but if you’re just looking for an excuse to keep up with your Facebook and Twitter feeds, it might be a good time to re-evaluate your Internet needs and simply take time to smell the roses when the Internet goes down. Go read a book, cook something, or even finish building that model rocket that you’ve been putting off for months.
In the end, there are plenty of options that you can take advantage of if you’re waiting to get Internet hooked up at your house. Depending on how persistent you are, you can get Wi-Fi access if you need to, but there’s no harm in just waiting it out and doing something else in the meantime.
If you do use public Wi-Fi, make sure it’s legitimate and not a fake Wi-Fi network that’s made to steal your personal information. Even if you are on a legitimate public Wi-Fi network, it’s always a good idea to use a VPN to keep your browsing activity safe from lurking eyes

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Apple’s iOS 6 Vs Android’s 4.0: Who Comes Out On Top?

For mobile and tablet lovers, the big news from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2012 conference was the official unveiling of their new mobile operating system, iOS 6. Stacked with over 200 new features, we thought why not pitch Apple’s latest operating system against Android’s most recent, just to see which one really is the best. Here are some of the highlights:

Apple has finally ditched Google Maps with iOS 6, and their new map feature may finally come close to the might of the ever-popular Google Maps found on Android 4.0. Having teamed up with TomTom and C3, Apple’s new map feature boasts 3D imaging and turn-by-turn navigation which allows you to arrive at your destination thanks to spoken directions. However, Google Maps have been ruling the roost for years with 3D views, Street View, as well as their own turn-by-turn navigation.

Apple has also added enhanced functionality for Siri with iOS 6. You can launch apps, as well as ask for latest sports scores and fixtures. In addition, you can find out the latest movie listings and book a table at a restaurant. All very innovative and cool. In comparison, Samsung’s S-Voice, only exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S3, is also innovative, but more basic than Siri.

Androids 4.0 introduced some fascinating developments on the camera front. Users can enjoy comprehensive editing functionality, as well as live video effects. There’s also a nifty feature allowing you to use the camera whilst in lock mode. On iOS 6 users can benefit from an added photo stream feature which allows the sharing of photos and photo streams across all devices. Both Android 4.0 and iOS 6 allow users to now chat over 3G and WiFi connections.

There’s a great deal more to consider when comparing the two, user interface, video calling, browsing and security too. Overall though, the inclusion of Apple Maps and a smarter Siri just gives iOS 6 the edge. The downside is that we have to wait until autumn 2012 to find out for ourselves.

Google’s Loss is Yahoo’s Gain. Will Marissa Mayer Make Yahoo Reputable Again?

Shock. Stunned. Amazed. Surprised. This is how users on the Web have been reacting to the news of Marissa Mayer being appointed as the new CEO of Yahoo. And the reason to be surprised is due to the fact that Marissa Mayer was previously working for Google for nearly 13 years, since she first joined the search engine giant (as employee number 20) in 1999.

Kudos to Yahoo, and indeed this is a great move for the company, which has been desperately hunting for the right leader in the last few years with having switched over to three not-so-good CEOs in less than a year and a total of five in the last four years. Yahoo has terrifically failed to shine in the industry, as its competitors grew stronger with innovative services, while Yahoo was left behind with barely anything to offer.

During the era of Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s worst nightmare, the company lost some of the popular services like Yahoo Buzz, Delicious, and Yahoo Geocities, which were either shut down, or were sold away. Yahoo not only lost most of its services during that time, but also it was this point of time where it lost many users to its competitors.

Yahoo has had a rough history. Today, Mayer takes over the CEO’s post, and I’m sure she has that potential to do great things for Yahoo, using her experience from her previous company and having the quality of a perfectionist executive. Sure Marissa is a challenging person who has always strived to take up challenging tasks, however, with Yahoo’s huge drawbacks and poor history, will she be successful enough to rightfully make Yahoo reputable again? Well, I see a very thin chance of that happening.
Marissa at Google

Speaking of Marissa Mayer, let’s look at some of her contributions she has supervised and managed at Google. Mayer has been an engineer, designer, product manager, and executive in her last 13 years at Google, and has also launched over 100 well-known features and products. She was in charge of services like Local Maps and Location Services, and has also supervised products which included Google Maps, Google Earth, Street View and Zagat for desktop and mobile.

Back in 2001, Mayer was a part of the 15 member team who created — recognized to be the most famous motto — “Don’t Be Evil.” She masterminded the layout of Google’s famous, blank, simple search homepage.

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, a book authored by Steven Levy states that, Mayer was one among the three member team who actually brought out the idea and invented Google AdWords. Today, Google AdWords is one of the main reasons why Google is a billion dollar company. For the record, Google’s total advertising revenues were USD$10.6 billion in the first quarter last year, which is over 90 percent of its revenue.

Mayer was also in charge for the following Google products that are currently used by almost hundreds of millions of users on the Internet: The Gmail Inbox, Google News, and Google Images.

According to Wikipedia, Mayer graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in a symbolic systems and an M.S. in Computer Science. She specifically liked artificial intelligence, which she specialized in both the degrees. She also has a honoris causa doctorate degree in recognition of her work in the field of search from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Fortunately, Yahoo doesn’t have to worry about Marissa’s résumé or education background, since they are all for real, unlike the previous CEO Scott Thompson who faked his résumé.

She was promoted as the Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, after which she was appointed as the Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services in 2010.
Google’s Loss is Yahoo’s Gain

The only way Yahoo can make a comeback is by hiring talented and skilled teams, and the first move by appointing Mayer as the CEO seems to be great. However, Yahoo also needs to offer some innovative services and improvise its existing tools. Flickr could have been Instagram today, only if Yahoo had taken it up seriously.

Mayer has the potential and understands the weakness of the troubled company, and if she plays her skills and strengths in a right way — getting Yahoo to sell advertisements — Yahoo could see a positive change in its growth.

According to The New York Times, “As she hashes out Yahoo’s strategy, Ms. Mayer said she is intent on leveraging the Internet company’s strong franchises including email, finance and sports. She also hopes to do more with its video broadband and its mobile businesses.”
Win or Fail? We Don’t Know Yet

Mobile is THE future, and Marissa seems to be going in a right direction on this. However, she could equally fail big time amidst the competition between Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Yahoo has a lot of drawbacks and there is very less scope for improvement; a highly staked job that Marissa has taken up. Will Mayer be successful and bring about a change? I hope so. Yahoo’s co-founder has a lot of appreciation for new CEO, who in a statement said, “She is a visionary leader in user experience and product design.”

Once again, kudos to Yahoo for having appointed Marissa Myer as its CEO. Hopefully, we should see improvements and some great contributions made by the new CEO for Yahoo and help regain its lost reputation.