The CES 2010 show hasn’t officially kicked off yet, but I have a full day of show-related activities under my belt already. The endless walking, shaking hands and jostling for position to get a better look at a particular gadget got started from the moment I […]

Computer crash

The CES 2010 show hasn’t officially kicked off yet, but I have a full day of show-related activities under my belt already. The endless walking, shaking hands and jostling for position to get a better look at a particular gadget got started from the moment I hit the tarmac in Las Vegas, and it will continue at a frantic pace the whole week.

It may seem early in the trip to be ranting about something that is giving me trouble, but to a blogger connectivity is vital and when it fails, things get miserable in a hurry. That’s my big trouble so far, the hotel network is abysmal to say the least. It never fails to surprise me why big, expensive hotels always seem to have the worst network connectivity than that in other hotels.

Even hole-in-the-wall cheapo motels have good network connectivity these days. It can’t be that expensive or difficult to do as you can find good connectivity in almost any hotel, except gigantic, big buck palaces like these in Las Vegas. Most hotels on the Strip offer wireless connectivity for a big daily charge, and it’s a fee many of us are willing to pay if it allows us to get our work done. What is a total killer to us is when the hotel includes the connectivity in a special mandatory daily “resort fee”, and the connectivity turns out to be problematic at best.

That is my exact situation in the Venetian Hotel. Wonderful place, but they insist on charging a $15 mandatory daily resort fee to the room. This fee allows you access, not necessarily free access, to different amenities the hotel offers; that includes the in-room network connectivity. It is offered with both wired and wireless access, so things should be fine. The problem is the connectivity is difficult to tap into, and once connected it is spotty as can be.

The wired connection doesn’t work at all, and the wireless is an exercise in futility. Some times I can connect fine, others not at all. The real frustrating part is how connections are totally inconsistent when made. The bandwidth is nice and fast for a few minutes, then either slows to a crawl or drops me off the network altogether. This is fatal for blogging, as I have already lost posts in progress a couple of times due to the network failing when the post is being saved.

I have been using the Verizon MiFi in the hotel room, and it is working as wonderfully as it always does. The bandwidth is good in the hotel, and the connections are solid. So why even bother with the hotel Wi-Fi? Other than the fact I am paying a mandatory fee for room Wi-Fi, using the MiFi drains the battery. I like to have it fully charged when I leave the room for the show events, and that doesn’t happen when I am using it in the room too. For some reason connecting the MiFi to the Thinkpad via USB, something I have done many times, is not working. The access software will not see the MiFi no matter what I do. This forces me to use it on battery over Wi-Fi. The MiFi works well; I just need the battery to be full when I leave for the day.

These network problems have pointed out a glaring problem with the Google Chrome browser. I have been using Chrome as my default browser on the ThinkPad as it is faster than Firefox under Windows 7, and is a solid performer all around. What I have discovered to force me to change back to Firefox is that when the connection gets very spotty, Chrome has a tendency to hang up. It can even hang up the entire system, and once the browser hangs it doesn’t always resume when the connection heals. Firefox does a good job at resuming the session when the network reappears, so I have switched back to using it by default. Having seen this side of the Chrome browser, it makes me wonder how well the Chrome OS will handle spotty connections, given its “always connected” nature.

So come on big hotels — get your act together and get your networks up to par. It is 2010, we expect (and need) good connectivity when we stay in your house.

UPDATE: This post took me well over an hour to complete due to the connectivity issues. I got fed up, and reinstalled the Verizon Access Manager in an attempt to resolve my MiFi USB issue. That worked, and I am now able to connect seamlessly, and more importantly stay connected, vit the MiFi over USB. It’s not the best solution for uploading videos, but for everything else it will work like a champ. I am much happier than I was when I began this post.

  1. Apologies if this is a silly question but why can’t you just charge the MiFi while you use it in the hotel room?

    Also, what happened to all your HP connections James? I came here expecting some useful info on the new laptops and tablets that HP announced today but there’s nothing. Have you got anything up your sleeve?

    BTW, I feel for you regarding hotel network connections. I just returned from a holiday in the south of Italy and, incredibly, I didn’t have wifi in any of my hotels. There’s nothing worse than being tied to a desk in a hotel room with a single network point. I blame the silly Italian internet access laws.

    1. The MiFi was being used on battery. You cannot use it as a Wi-Fi connection while charging it, unfortunately. That issue has been overcome with the USB connection now working.

      We’ll have tons of HP news coming up. I have all of the info on the new HP models, just haven’t had time to write them up yet. The refreshed netbooks are outstanding. I’m hoping to catch hands-on time with them this week.

      1. Great news although that’s a fairly glaring limitation of the MiFi.

        Have a great time in Vegas.

      2. WRONG! I have a mifi and it works fine as a wifi unit when charging! what r u guys smoking??

        Get the latest firmware and you can toggle wifi ON or OFF when charging!

        I HATE IT WHEN writers don’t know what they are talking about when they write tech articles…

  2. JK,
    When are the video blogs coming?

  3. Agree with the Chrome comments! My network is often problematic due to interference, and that issue is in fact glaring.

    I no longer have a separate card or network connection for data, but did maintain one for many years. Wireless is always an exercise in futility and paying for it isn’t even worth the time it takes to walk to a place with free access. And, coffee is generally a necessity!

    These businesses cannot make much if any money off of these services, why are they not free? Municipal wireless would be the ultimate solution, but we have apparently relegated these capabilities to the efficiencies of the private market. Cough.

  4. The only way to be able to use and charge the Mi-Fi is if you have the travel charger. I set up a couple of the Mi-Fi’s at our works job sites and we just keep them on the A/C adapter. Like James situation with it connected to USB it won’t charge, unless you do the cable hack. James post some video of the new slate tablet HP is going to announce. I wonder if it will look like the TC 1100, but lighter and thinner. Have fun. ;)

  5. I did a convention in Dallas, and the hotel Wi-Fi was awful, but the cheaper hotel next door had better coverage, much faster, and available from my room in the more expensive place.

    And my hotel changed extra.

  6. James;

    The connectivity problem is one faced by many corporate business travelers, connectivity is a revenue stream for manor of the chains catering to business travelers since it is a necessity. Unfortunately their connectivity to the ISP tends to be inappropriately sized to support the needs of their clientele. I have spent many an evening continually reconnecting to the corporate VPN (a multi password login experience) in order to answer critical e-mails or deal with just published documents. On the other hand the motels catering more to transient (one night) travelers which offer wi-fi as a free perk tend to have great bandwidth.

    For your problem with the mi-fi try this using an iGO charging tip to charge from USB while using wifi. I got this “tip”from a gottabemobile post (http://www.gottabemobile.com/2009/10/22/tip-for-mifi-users-get-an-igo-usb-adapter) by Xavier.

  7. Try out this tip (pun not intended) It works well with the Sprint version of the MiFi card and I use it all the time to charge while using it the MiFi card as a hotspot.


    1. the verizon MiFI ALSO does wifi when it’s charging. see my note above, to James.

  8. You absolutely can use the MiFi while it is charging. I bring the Mifi’s AC adapter along, plug it in when I get to the room and then have no worries about draining the battery.

  9. FWIW… if you sit down by the poker room in the Venetian you can get very good (and free) WiFi connectivity. Of course you already paid for it, but in the past I’ve found that sitting in the couch in the poker room (it’s non-smoking) is an excellent location to get some work done :-)

  10. Any more rumors on the upcoming HP Slate Mr Ballmer may be revealing?



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