You can even find hotspots in Interstate highway rest areas and truck stops.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Finding hotspots and dealing with big videos

July 15, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, The Post-Standard

   It's time to catch up with the mail again. Let's start with a question about wireless networks.
   How easy is it these days to find public Internet access while traveling across the country? I can imagine it's probably pretty sparse once you get into the countryside. -- T.J.A., via cnywireless.com.

   Finding hotspots (wireless access points) while you are away from home can be difficult. There is no reliable way of knowing where they are. But you'll probably find hot spots in major hotels and motels, in public libraries and in businesses such as Starbucks coffee houses and even MacDonalds restaurants.
   Increasingly, you can find hotspots in Interstate highway rest areas and truck stops. This can be a handy way to check your e-mail while traveling.
   But if you can afford the service, a much better option is a high-speed wireless adaptor for Windows and Mac laptops. They work in most areas, even out in the countryside, and even can be used in a moving vehicle. The cost is steep: $60 to $80 a month. They're offered by some of the major cellphone service providers.
   My sister took videos of a snowstorm. They're huge. One is 34 megabytes and the other is 75 megabytes -- much too big to send in an e-mail. Any way I can do this? -- M.T., via Road Runner.

   I wrote about Windows and Mac software that can convert videos to a different (and smaller) format recently. Go to www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec052707.html (Windows) or www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec052707B.html (Mac). But no software can work enough magic on a 75 megabyte file to turn it into something that can be mailed. ISPs usually limit everyone to attachments of no more than a few megabytes. I also doubt that the 34 MB file can be shrunk enough, either.
   To share a long video recording, you could make it into a video DVD and send it via standard postal mail. Or you could upload it to YouTube (at www.youtube.com) and e-mail a link to your friends. (YouTube rejects videos larger than 100 megabytes or longer than 10 minutes, however.)
   I want to have my own Web site. I am a writer who wants to publish on the Internet. I do not enjoy interacting with computers. All I want to do is send in a manuscript and have it published in the same format I submitted it. Is this possible? -- D.A.W., via adelphia.net.

   Yes, it's not only possible; it's easy -- as long as you're willing to interact with the computer a little. If you're able to use a word processor or do e-mail, you won't have a problem putting your own writings onto a personal Web site. Such sites are called Web logs, or blogs.
   There are many blog providers. The one I prefer is Blogger. I wrote two articles about using Blogger: www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec031107.html and www.technofileonline.com/texts/tec031807.html.
   I just changed from a Gateway PC to an iMac and am confused because they sent me a mouse that has no right click on it and my grandson is trying to play a game and needs to right click for the game. Can I get a mouse with a right click on it? -- J.H., via Road Runner.

   All desktop Macs come with Apple's Mighty Mouse, which has two-button functionality. You can't actually see two buttons, however; the mouse senses which part of the mouse your finger is pressing and signals a left click or right click that way. But if you have an older, single-button Apple mouse, you can plug any two-button USB mouse into your Mac instead.