Connecting on the Move

The Internet, with all its tutorials and other information, has rendered using a computer much easier. However, there were times when connecting to the Internet was in itself quite an undertaking, as was downloading software from the Web, a process most of us take for granted today. The following short article describes in great detail the instructions given to users some years ago, it is interesting to see how much has changed. So for a little bit of history, read on…

Connecting On the Move

There are various ways to get online if you are out with your Mac.

Wireless: There are many public wireless hotspots, which have become a common feature in cafes, hotels, airports and practically everywhere else. You just click the fan icon to see if any hotspot is in range. Many hotspots are free, but you must pay for others directly, via on-line sign-up process or acquiring other services (such as ordering a cafe and burrito…). In the available networks list, those that require a password to log in will display a padlock icon, so when browsing the airways to see what’s available, try those with no padlocks first.

iPhone 3G and 3GS running OS 3.0 or higher could be connected through iPhone tethering. Macs could be connected to the iPhone via either USB or Bluetooth to use its 3G Internet connection. To get the connection going with Bluetooth, the user had to click on Bluetooth in System Preferences, then hit Set up new device and follow the prompt. On the iPhone, the user had to tap Settings – General – Network – Internet Tethering, then slide the Internet Tethering switch to the On position.

Via a mobile phone: Users can connect their Mac laptop via other cell-phone models. The basic requirements are a data-compatible phone – ideally one with a fast connection, and a way to connect it to the computer. The best solution is to use Bluetooth wireless technology, which is built into modern phones and all recent Macs (if you have an older Mac without Bluetooth, you can add it with an inexpensive USB adapter).

Via a USB dongle or card phone: Many today’s Mac Pros and other models have the necessary slots for the owner to opt for a high-speed PCMCIA card phone. The alternative is a network account that uses a USB dongle (they look like USB flash drives). That way you can get a fast Internet connection anywhere where users can get phone reception. Such cards and dongles are usually not expensive to buy, but you will be hit with usage fees. Ask in any phone shop or on the Internet for more details.

Via another computer: If you are at a friend’s house and you want to share their connection but they do not have a router, run an Ethernet cable between the two machines and set up Connection Sharing.

Phone sockets: If you have a dial-up modem and ISP account (in fact, till today many ISPs provide a dial-up backup number), you may be able to get online wherever you can find a phone socket.

How to Download Software

Though some data-heavy-packages are only available on CD or DVD, most software these days can be downloaded from the Web. Simply go to a download site or the homepage of whoever produces the application you want, and look there for a download link.

Usually, the download will start immediately, though in some cases you’ll first be asked to choose a mirror site. These are simply various locations on the Internet, where the file is stored. Software developers use mirrors because having too many people download large files from their websites can slow things down – and cost them money.

When the download is complete, you will usually end up with a compressed file on your desktop. This might be a ZIP or a DMG file, or even a DMG file within a ZIP file. Also known as Disk images, DMGs act like virtual disk drives : when double-clicked, the drive will be mounted on your desktop and Finder window Sidebars – just as if you would have plugged it in an external hard drive.

Once opened up, the downloaded file will usually contain the application itself and possibly also a “readme” file. This is worth scanning as it not only provides general information about the software, but also typically gives some installation advice – such as which files will be installed where and when you launch the app (useful feature if you later want to uninstall it).

Once the software is safely installed in your Application folder, you can delete or back up the original download, file – and the uncompressed version of it, if there is one, if you installed from a DMG file. However, you will need to eject the virtual drive – by dragging it to the Trash or pressing the icon next to its name in a Finder window Sidebar.

Apps in OS X usually come in single discrete files. In fact, each app is a package of files, cunningly wrapped up in a single icon to make everything tidier and less confusing, If you want to see inside an application package, right-click its icon and hit Show Package Contents. But do not delete or move any of the files you find in there.

Links

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