Right now, I'm aboard the Acela Express train from Boston's South Station to Penn Station in New York City and I've had connectivity to the Net pretty much the whole way thanks to my Motorola Q and an awesome little app that I've written about before called PDANet from JuneFabrics. PDANet takes the Motorola Q (and other smartphones) and turns them into wireless broadband modems that can be used by your PC. So, for the entire trip to Boston, here's how I've been getting my work done (including that last post about Apple):
First, I picked one of the desk seats on the Acela and underneath them are standard electrical outlets to keep your notebook powered up for virtually the entire trip. If you ride a train with a setup like this, make sure you test the outlets before "finalizing" your seat. There are some ladies sitting across from me whose outlets aren't working.
PDANet supports connecting from the notebook (an IBM Thinkpad T42 in my case) to a smartphone via Bluetooth. But I picked the USB hardwired connection since that means that the smartphone is receiving (over the USB connection) power the entire time. Battery life is simply not an issue.
PDANet support two modes of modem connection. One is over the RNDIS connection that ActiveSync defaults to (essentially turning the USB connection into a TCP/IP network connection). However, I found this not to work as well as the non-RNDIS connection because at one point, I lost signal while my notebook was connected to the corporate Virtual Private Network (VPN). For some reason, the notebook thought it was still on the VPN (an SSL-based VPN), and, as a result of that "tunnel," could not see any "local" network connections (namely, the RNDIS connection to the Q). So, I shut down the SSL-based VPN, reconnected PDANet over the non-RDNIS connection, seleted "Boost EVDO speed" from PDANet's menu (my Q is connected to Verizon Wireless' EVDO network), and so far, things have been quite peachy the entire ride down to New York City.
I've been browsing the Web. Doing e-mails. Working on blog posts. Checking eBay auctions. Monitoring my RSS feeds. Even cooler? The entire time, I've been using my Q as an MP3 player that connects wirelessly to my Motorola HT820 Bluetooth stereo headphones.
Even if they had WiFi on planes, this is the way to do the Boston/NYC trip if you have work to get done and you're not in a big hurry. It's entirely uncramped in terms of space and you're legs can be fully stretched out (look Ma, no seat belts!). I have this huge desk to work on (compared to a seatback tray). You can get up and walk around anytime you want (including going to the snack car). The bathrooms are spacious. And, using wireless technologies (Bluetooth devices, cell phones, etc.) is 100 percent legal (well, cell phones cannot be used for voice calls in the "Quiet Car").