Expo survival tips: Connectivity

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As a mostly stay-at-home guy, it seems that every year, as I hit the Macworld Expo road, I need to reacquaint myself with issues of connectivity. This year, as I vainly curse my PowerBook because it won’t send e-mail through the hotel’s network, is no different. With that, a couple of things to keep in mind for those who compute on the run.

You, your hotel, and SMTP

Lodgings, swanky or not, routinely offer broadband connections. Yet while you’re able to download your e-mail and browse the Web, you’re unable to send e-mail because the lodging’s system refuses to relay messages through your regular e-mail account. The fly in the ointment is port 25—the port normally used for sending mail over SMTP. This port is often blocked by public and semi-public Internet services to prevent abuse of the spammish variety.

Thankfully, those in charge of these things have designated port 587 as the avenue of last resort. If your hotel/motel/hostel/coffee shop/next-door-neighbor prevents you from relaying e-mail through its service, access your e-mail client’s SMTP settings (look in your account’s Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP) area and change the server port to 587.

And, of course, there’s a wide variety of Web mail available to you.

You, your hotel, and leeching access

When I checked into my hotel last night I inquired as to whether the establishment had added wireless Internet access since I last stayed there.

“No,” the helpful desk clerk replied, “but many of our guests use the wired connection and then share it out from their rooms. Maybe someone near you will have an option network that you can use for free.”

Seeing my jaw drop, she quickly followed with, “Oh, but I probably shouldn’t say that.”

But she did. And because she did I’ll simply suggest you let your conscience and your Mac’s Internet Sharing preference be your guide in an exciting karmic experiment.

You, your hotel, and your 5G iPod

Most hotels have upgraded their televisions to models that feature AV inputs on the front—you know, the yellow, red, and white RCA plugs on the front. Apple would like you to believe that you need to drop $19 on an iPod AV Cable to plug a video-capable iPod into a TV. Not so. Grab the standard camcorder AV cable you shoved into a drawer somewhere and toss it into your laptop bag.

When you get to your hotel, locate those inputs on the TV and connect the cable’s red RCA plug into the TV’s yellow jack, the yellow plug into the white jack, and the white plug into the red jack. Muck with the iPod’s Video Settings, turn TV Out to On or Ask, and leave the widescreen option on. (You can always turn it off, but the iPod will cut off either side of the picture to make it fill your TV’s screen.)

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