Don’t Forget Airport
Apple’s wireless networking system, Airport, is a terrific on-the-road companion. Consider the ways that it can help you deal with problems such as inconveniently located phone jacks. When your iBook has an Airport card installed, all you have to do is attach the Airport Base Station to the nearest phone plug, and you can connect to your Internet service (or AOL) from a distance of up to 150 feet.
The networking protocol for Airport, called 802.11b or Wi-Fi, is an international standard. That means that both Mac and Windows PCs support them. You can, for example, hook up a Book with Airport to a wireless network run by other wireless base stations, such as the ones from Asante and Farallon. If there’s a wireless network in range, you’ll see it displayed in the same fashion as an Airport network. You cannot, however, network with a Windows PC, unless it’s a server (meaning it hosts the network hookup) or you use special software.
With Airport installed, you don’t have to worry about hanging phone wires around a room, and (although I wouldn’t suggest it as a place to get work done) you can even surf the Internet right from the beach, as you sit back and enjoy the sun.
Common Sense Laptop Travel Advice
Whether it’s a hotel, another home, or an office, you’ll want to check out some things before you travel to make sure that you can have your iBook working correctly at a new location.
Here are some things to consider (use them in any order you want):
See if the hotel can support a modem hookup: Most modem hotels have special modems or jacks (sometimes labeled data port) that can be used to get your iBook online. If the hotel doesn’t have such a connection, check with them and see if you can use the regular phone jack in the room as an option (if the phone service uses one of those complex multiple-choice digital phones, this may not be possible). Some hotels even offer a high-speed Internet hookup (or even a Wi-Fi connection) as an extra cost option.
• Don’t forget your iBook’s accessories: Be sure to pack the AC adapter plug and your Airport Base Station, if you need it. The bottom of the first-generation iBook has connections that can work with a special charging station for fast recharging of the battery, if you need to get the battery up to full-speed quickly. Check with your Apple dealer for such products.
• Take extra drives or a small printer with you: Your iBook’s USB port can handle up to 127 daisy-chained devices (don’t even think how that will look). The FireWire port (on models equipped with Firewire) handles up to 63 devices. If you want to make your iBook the hub of a miniature office when you travel, you’ll want to consider taking extra drives for backup and files that don’t fit on your iBook’s drive. Small inkjet printers are also available, and you can plug a digital camera into your iBook, so you can see if your travel photos turned out all right. I cover the subject of add-on for your iBook and iMac in Hour 20, “Adding More Goodies to Your iMac and iBook.” Your favorite dealer can show you hundreds of choices.
• Consider an extra battery: Unlike some recent Apple PowerBooks, you cannot slide in and slide out the iBook’s battery. But you can remove it and replace it with another. If you plan on an extended visit away from an available AC line, an extra battery might be essential.