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the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

Novamedia Launch2Net

in Mac , Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mac OS X is a pretty wonderful creation, compared with the competition. Most of it really does "just work". Things like, say, plugging in a USB stick require one step: plug it in - whilst the immediate competition insists on telling you all about the new hardware it has found, then telling you you're not allowed to add hardware, actually, and then mounting it anyway... and then insists on you telling it exactly want you want to do with it. You get the picture. However,there are exceptions. Some things don't "just work" in OS X, and using a bluetooth phone as a modem is one of them. To do this, first you need to pair the phone with the Mac. This part is painless. But then, you need to use a complex combination of the Network preferences and Internet Connect to try to set up a modem connection. Along the way, you need to identify your phone from a list which doesn't appear to have been updated since OS X10.1, so you need to be aware that, for example, there is a chance that the settings for an Ericsson T39 (2002 vintage) will work with a 2006 v600i. You then need to set up ISP settings, and finally somehow work out how to get it all working. Good luck. Well, there is a better way, and it is called Launch2Net, from Germany's Novamedia. Let's get one thing clear first: priced at 99 Euros, Launch2Net is bloody expensive. At that price, it needs to be absolutely flawless. Well, it is. Beyond bluetooth pairing, Launch2Net takes care of everything, and in an elegant way. A one time setup process sorts out the background details, and then it is simply a matter of launching the application. On launch, you need to wait a few seconds whilst it activates the bluetooth connection, and then checks the available network connection type (e.g. GPRS, UMTS) and reports on the signal strength and available uplink and downlink bandwidth - something that Internet Connect does not do. You then simply click on "connect", enjoy the snazzy way the window flips to show connect mode, and hey presto, off you roll down the information super-highway (or crawl, depending on your mobile connection). Launch2Net keeps you informed of exactly how many bits you are sending and receiving, and of your connection time, inobtrusively but clearly. When you've had enough, simply click on "disconnect". Roaming is handled seamlessly, which avoids hours of trying to set up connections when travelling. Launch2net supports just about every phone on the market, over 100 devices, and over 300 connections. Since launching is manual, you don't run into the potential situation of the OS doing one of gazillion background tasks it appears to need network access for, and running up mobile session fees without you noticing. Being a German company, Novamedia understands mobile networks in a way that most US companies, including Apple, just don't get. I used to use Novamedia's similar product for PalmOS, but Palm, being a little more switched than Apple in this regard, made it redundant, for me at least. There is no getting around the fact that Launch2Net is extremely expensive, but this is the only qualification I would make to a high recommendation. If you regularly need to connect your Mac laptop over mobile, and you think that 99 Euros is a good tradeoff for saving you a lot of time and stress, then buy it. You can make your own mind up by trying out the connection-limited but otherwise fully functional demo.