Get away wireless

Get away wireless
Mac Tip #335, 23 April 2008

I’m writing this Tip while sitting on a motel couch in Hamilton, New Zealand, where I’ve presented a Keynote speech and a workshop at a conference. Soon I’ll be on a plane back to Wellington.

The motel I stayed in has broadband Internet, but you have to plug an ethernet cable in to the data port on the wall beside the bed.

I prefer to use my laptop or my iPod touch anywhere within the motel rooms, so I converted the wired connection to wireless. Here’s how.

Invest in an Apple Airport Express. It costs NZ$149 (US$99)

Airport Utility settings for using my Airport Express in a motel room.

Airport Utility settings for using my Airport Express in a motel room.

When you’re at home you can plug it in to your Internet connection and also a printer and / or stereo to print or play music wirelessly. But when you travel with a wireless capable laptop you do this:

  1. Plug an ethernet cable into the data port in the hotel and into the Airport Express.
  2. Plug the Airport Express into a power socket.
  3. Use the Airport Utility application in the Utilities folder to set up the device. The screenshot in the archive shows that I had clicked on the Wireless tab and chose ‘Create a wireless network’ for the Wireless mode. I called my network ‘hamilton’.
  4. When you’ve finished the setup click the Update button. The Airport Express will restart and you should now be able to use a laptop or other wireless device to connect to the Internet.

I didn’t bother setting any security on my small motel room network, but if you’re in a populous area and don’t want people hijacking your connection then security is a good idea.

Find more instructions in this PDF — download it before you travel: AirPort_Express_Early2008_SetupGuide.pdf (870Kb PDF) .

Remember: if you have problems you can still plug your computer directly into the data port, and check the Support website.

Note: I had some problems, because I’d already set up my Airport express to be part of my home network. read about the problem, and its solution in my blog post Going wireless in a wired motel.

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