You may remember me writing about the Virgin Mobile MiFi I picked up last year, and if not, that’s fine, but I’ve got an update, so you can just read this post…
For the most part, the MiFi has worked well as a 3G modem. Connection is hit & miss. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s crap, but it mostly works. I ended up taking it on a recent trip which involved minimal airport waiting time and things went bad. I fully charged it up the night before using the AC charger, and all appeared well. So in the morning at the airport I turned it on, got a few minutes of use, and it died. I wasn’t too concerned since I was just wasting time at the airport.
When we got to our destination I plugged it into the AC charger and charged it up, except it didn’t charge up. The charger got warm, so I assumed it was working and decided the battery had died. Ugh. Annoying. Still, not a big deal, as I got free WiFi from our host.
So when I got back from my trip I ordered a replacement battery from Amazon, which was less than $5.00. When it arrived I determined that it was not the damn battery, but the damn charger! I confirmed this by charging it up using a USB cable. Also, the charger doesn’t get warm anymore, so I assume it’s dead.
Besides that whole adventure, I learned something new. See, I got the MiFi partly as a backup to my home Internet connection, figuring that if it went offline, I could use the MiFi. The only issue was that you connect to it via WiFi, which my Mac Pro does not have. I never charged the MiFi with USB before because USB charging is typically slower than AC charging, but now that I’m doing it all the time, I’ve found the secret to using it via USB instead of WiFi. (I say secret because I kept seeing questions as to whether it was possible, and people saying it was not.)
Disclaimer: I use a Mac… I’ve not done this under Linux or Windows.
Plugin the MiFi, and you will see it mounted in the Finder. Now, for many USB devices if you just want to charge them, you unmount (eject) them, and they keep charging.
Here’s the trick with the MiFi… Eject it! Once you do, it’ll show up as a new network connection and you can see it in the Network Control Panel, and you can click the “Connect” button.
Hey, we are now connected! You can see the send/receive data, and if you click the “Show in menubar” checkbox, you get a handy little menu. (I didn’t need to fill in any values like the account name or password. It seems to load them all properly from the MiFi somehow.)
I’m still not 100% sure it charges up while using it in this fashion, so a bit more testing is needed, but hey, it’s progress…
Update: I’ve got an addition to what is posted above.
I tried the above on another Mac Pro I have and it did not see the MiFi until I ran the installer you see when you first mount it. After that, it showed up fine in the Network Control Panel, but the magic values were not filled in. (I also did not reboot, like the installer asked me to.) I ended up getting the Account Name from connecting to the MiFi (using WiFi) and finding it under the WWAN -> Diagnostics menu (listed as NAI) and the password was my 6 digit account pin. A bit more hassle, but now you know where to look.