Working With a Professional Local SEO Company Vs DIY SEO

Some business owners are squeamish when it comes to working with a local search engine optimization (SEO) company. This is mostly due to the unfortunate truth that many local SEO firms are scams or use unaccepted SEO techniques. However, not all SEO companies are out to get you and although many SEO tactics and tools are free to use, getting to the top of the search engine rankings takes extensive time and knowledge. Here are the pros and cons of both utilizing the services of a top local SEO provider or taking a DIY approach.

DIY SEO:

Pros:

Most tools used for SEO are free and there’s plenty of free information about improving SEO on the Web. So to do local SEO for your company, it would essentially cost for your website and time.

It’s a great learning experience. Teaching yourself this valuable skill is advantageous and will continue to be as your business grows.

Cons:

DIY SEO is extremely time consuming. Achieving top rankings on Google and other search engines can be tedious and a lot of hard work.

There’s a lot of misinformation available on the Web and if you aren’t sure which sources are reliable, you could end up hurting your rankings or wasting your time and effort on an SEO campaign that doesn’t work.

Carrying out an SEO strategy is a full-time job. SEO is a long-term growth strategy and a huge commitment. It requires a lot of research, repetition and as time passes it only gets more complex.

Building an effective website or landing page can be expensive. You must pay for web hosting, copy writing, optimization and design.

Professional Local SEO:

Pros:

Let the professionals do all the heavy lifting. The hard, time consuming work can be passed off to a professional or company that has the time, tools and knowledge to get the job done efficiently. You can throw some money at the situation and leave the worries and stress to someone else.

Results come faster. Since an SEO company’s sole purpose is to perform Internet marketing and search engine optimization for companies like yours, they already have systems and tools in place to get started right away. They don’t need to teach themselves SEO first like you would have to do. Since they’re experts, they know all the best techniques and have the necessary connections to get you ranking as quick as possible.

Internet marketing is constantly changing. It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing world of SEO. Search engines are always changing their algorithms and as a business owner, it would be hard to keep up with your employees, business location, customers and the ever-changing Internet marketing industry. Chances are, you don’t have the time. A professional can put full attention on the search engine optimization of your business so you get maximum results.

Cons:

It can be hard to find a legitimate company to work with. There are many unreliable black hat SEO companies out there, you must be tough when deciding who to work with in order to avoid the Google black list or losing money on less than desirable results. Check out the company’s credentials before deciding to work with them.

It costs money. Help from a professional costs money. However if your SEO company is doing its job and getting your business found on the first page of the search engines, you will be getting more leads and it will be well worth the money.

When you weigh the pros and cons it’s easy to see that if you have the funds, leaving the local SEO to the professionals is your best option. Although SEO can be done on your own, if you’re inexperienced it can be easy to make a mistake and hurt your rankings or waste your efforts on techniques that don’t really work. When choosing a local SEO provider, be aware of possible black hat SEOs and be sure to gather as much information about the company as possible before agreeing to work with them.

ABOUT LOCAL SPLASH: Local Splash is part of Relevant Ads, Inc., and is headquartered in Santa Ana, California. Its proprietary technology and process secure high local search engine placement for single-location businesses and national chains with a local presence. To learn more about Local Splash and its local SEO services, visit http://www.localsplash.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Sarah_A_Carter/1068012

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6476300

Intergalactic Dioxin Poisoning?

We are all familiar with the disfiguring effects that dioxin poisoning had on Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko:

Yushchenko not poisonedYushchenko poisoned

But in watching Return of the Jedi last night, it occurred to me that dioxin poisoning might be to blame for the disfigurement of another prominent politician:

palpatine not poisonedpalpatine poisoned

Unlike Palpatine, Yushchenko apparently can’t use the Force to mask his true appearance.

ps. After I began writing this post, I discovered a couple of other people had suggested the same thing, but I already made the screen shots, so I figured I’d just go ahead and provide the visual reference.

How to Make Google Your Default Search Provider in Internet Explorer 7, Beta 2

Google is complaining to the Department of Justice and the EU that Microsoft’s forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 improperly encourages users to use MSN Search instead of a search engine of the user’s choice. Google claims “research it has sponsored shows that it’s difficult to change the settings in the new browser to a rival search engine.”

I decided to do a little research of my own to see how “difficult” it is. Please watch this video:

ie7 search

[Sorry about using WMV. I hate it too.]

As you can see, it is a very simple 10-second process that most people could figure out without much effort.

I dislike IE and never use it, I think that the Google Homepage is a work of art and that it is a great search engine, but it seems to me they are reaching a bit on this one. If it were me, I guess what I would ask is that Microsoft document how to create whatever kind of file it is that lets the toolbar’s search feature use a given provider. They may have already done this — I’m not sure.Update: Not only have they already done that, but the little plug-in or whatever you call it uses A9’s OpenSearch format.

Parse Tivo’s “Now Playing” list with 2 lines of PHP [+]

This is probably the first of several posts that will deal with this topic.

The new Tivo system software upgrade brings many interesting features to Tivo, the most well-known of which is TivoToGo, which lets you copy the video files to your PC.

However, the software upgrade also includes a web server. This means you can interact with your Tivo via any web browser on any PC. I won’t discuss all the ramifications of this right now, but one notable one is that Tivo can now produce your “Now Playing” list (a list of everything on your Tivo) as either an HTML or XML file.

The XML file is particularly exciting, because XML is very, very easy to parse nowadays. People have already parsed this XML into RSS, and I expect to be doing the same over the next couple of days.

To access your Tivo’s Now Playing list as an XML file, use this URL:
https://192.168.1.103/TiVoConnect?Command=QueryContainer&Container=%2FNowPlaying
Just change the IP to the address of your Tivo, then login using the username tivo and your Media Access Key as your password.

Some of the scripts other people have released to parse this file are quite elaborate (and cool), but I wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to parse the Now Playing list into a simple HTML stream that could be easily included on any website. This took me about 10 mins to write, and it isn’t very elegant.

Here you go:

<?php
function converttivodate($format, $input){
        //borrowed from A. Cassidy Napoli's Tivo_XML script
        return date($format, hexdec($input));}

$file = "nowplaying.xml";
$sxe = simplexml_load_file($file);
foreach($sxe->Item as $item) {
        $details = $item->Details;
        echo "$details->Title: $details->EpisodeTitle<br/> 
	$details->Description (" .
	converttivodate('n/d/y G:i',$details->CaptureDate) . 
	", $details->SourceStation, $details->SourceChannel)</p>\n"; } 
?>

That’s about 6 lines of PHP, and it’s easy to see the same (or even more) could probably be accomplished in about 2 lines. (See the update below.)

Just use include() or the Curl extensions to include the file on your site, and you’re all set. This code snippet requires PHP5’s SimpleXML support.

It produces something like this:

Law & Order: Merger
A scandal involving two wealthy families threatens McCoy and Carmichael’s chances of a conviction in the murder of a drug-addicted girl of 15. (1/26/05 15:59, TNT, 3-0)

Seinfeld: The Doorman
A doorman (Larry Miller) tries to cause trouble for Jerry; Kramer develops a male undergarment. (1/26/05 15:29, TBS, 22-0)

Malcolm in the Middle: Reese’s Apartment
Francis is determined to show his parents why they should not have kicked Reese out; Malcolm helps a football player writer a college essay. (1/26/05 14:59, WWOR, 9-0)

Using A9 to photoblog the Kennedy Fried Chicken chain

A9, Amazon’s search engine, added photos to their new Yellow Pages service today. They drove around in trucks and took millions of GPS-tagged images, and then correlated them with addresses in their listings. Amazing.

Last month, Mike at the NYC photoblog Satan’s Laundromat posted a bunch of photos of various Kennedy Fried Chicken stores around the city.

The Kennedy Fried Chicken phenomenon has interested me for quite a while, so I thought it would be funny to combine A9 with Mike’s idea: use A9 to assemble a photo catalog of Kennedy Fried Chicken storefronts. Unfortunately, A9’s photo survey didn’t cover a lot of the neighborhoods where the stores are. Of the 20 “KFC” stores, only 3 (almost 4) are pictured.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

kennedy fried chicken store

kennedy fried chicken store

kennedy fried chicken store

kennedy fried chicken store

A9 says there is another one at 536 E. 14th in Manhattan, but the photos of that area show only a palm reader and a Chinese take-out place. (You have to “walk left” to find the proper address.) Update:Thanks to Lia, who tracked it down on A9, it’s now pictured above.

Use PHP5’s DOM support to create a valid RSS 2.0 feed

I was interested in using PHP5’s DOM extension to create RSS feeds, but I couldn’t find a decent tutorial on the web about how to do that. Most of the things out there involve PHP4’s DOM-XML, which is different in some key ways. Even PHP.net lacks basic examples of how to use even the most fundamental DOM methods.

So I puzzled my way through it, using the sparse examples at PHP.net and the old DOM-XML samples for creating generic XML docs, trying to find the matching methods in the current DOM reference.

Once you’ve figured out how to create and append one node, the rest is pretty easy. So here is a sample feed generated by PHP and DOM, and here is the heavily commented source code that produces it.

This script demonstrates how to use DOM to create an RSS feed from items that are manually entered into an array. It’s pretty easy to adapt the code to use a database to automatically enter those items into an array: all you’d have to do is query the database, add your items to an array, and substitute that array for the one manually generated in my script. (For the sake of completeness, I will post a script that does this when I get a few minutes.) Update: You can see an example of this fully automatic technique in this Ning app I created.

Parse iTunes XML with a couple lines of PHP

You may recall I half-wrote a script to do this a couple years ago, but I was mostly cribbing from some guy at Apple and really had no idea what i was doing.

Anyway, I’m taking another shot at parsing the iTunes library XML using PHP5’s new “SimpleXML” library, which is a terrific feature that I never get tired of working with.

I cooked up this little script in about 10 minutes. The format of Apple’s XML files makes it sort of a pain to process in the usual ways, but you can still get reasonable output with just a few lines of code. And most of that code is concerned with formatting, not the actual XML processing.

  • the code
  • the output
  • the sample source file

To use this script:

  1. Make sure you are using PHP5 with SimpleXML support. At Dreamhost, you can turn this on by clicking the “edit” link on the main domain management page. If you’re hosting a site on your Mac, you can get an easy-to-install version of PHP5.
  2. In iTunes, select a Playlist or Library, choose “File:Export…” and export it as XML. Name it itunes.xml. (If your site is hosted on your Mac, you can just create a symlink called “itunes.xml” that points to your “iTunes Music Library.xml” file or the playlist file you just exported. Place this link in your website directory.)
  3. Upload itunes.phps and itunes.xml to your webserver.
  4. Rename itunes.phps to itunes.php.
  5. Open your browser and navigate to itunes.php.

Obviously there are lots of ways to enhance the functionality of this script, but this will get you started.

A conversation with a Tivo product manager

I attended the Digital Life expo in NYC this weekend, and spent some time talking to some people from Tivo. One of the people I spoke to was a product manager there, and he told me some interesting stuff, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Most of my questions and concerns were related to Tivo support for Mac, and the various forms of DRM on the Tivo that have been annoying everyone so much lately. I was excited by the opportunity to speak directly to some Tivo reps, because I have been getting increasingly frustrated with the closed nature of the Tivo platform, so much so that the other day I picked up a TV tuner/MPEG4-based encoder to use with my Mac as an alternative to the Tivo.

My first conversation was with a woman from Tivo’s marketing department. I told her I was concerned that Tivo was favoring the media companies over its own customers. I told her I just wanted a way to watch my Tivo content, whether it was on the Tivo, my Mac, my Windows machine, or my Linux box. I said something like “I’m not looking to distribute these files to the world or do something unethical, I just want to have control over my own files.” She said she understood how I felt, and that Tivo’s lawyers were working all the time to give me as many features as possible. She painted Tivo as “the little guy” battling all these gigantic media companies. It was a little surprising to me that Tivo still saw itself this way, since they are the leader in the PVR market, and I would think that at this point, had they played their cards right, they would have had more sway with the media companies than they are claiming to. She also spoke generally about various Tivo initiatives — she didn’t describe any specific features, but just said that they were working on a bunch of stuff — in anticipation of “next year.” It’s hard to replicate here, but the gist of what she was saying was that they are working on some kind of next-gen Tivo that will get everyone excited about them again. Based on what someone else told me later (see below), I’m guessing this is the HD Tivo with some other stuff thrown in.

I had some specific questions about Mac support for TivoToGo, the function that allows you to transfer Tivo content to your computer or portable media player. She didn’t know much about that, so she referred me to a product manager (who I don’t want to identify by name here because I didn’t explicitly tell him I was going to make our conversation public). But this guy was busy, so she grabbed another guy named Gary, who I will name because he was such an unhelpful jerk.

She introduced me to Gary and told him I had a question about Mac support for TivoToGo. He said, “Ok, what’s the question?” I said, “There’s no Mac support for TivoToGo.” And he says, all smart-alecky and dismissively, “Ok…That’s a statement.” (As in, that’s a “statement,” not a “question.”) Way to go, guy. Insult your customer and quibble over semantics while the customer is looking for one last reason to keep using (and paying for) your service. I don’t have any patience for this sort of bullshit, so I gave him a “Give me a break” look and walked off without saying a word, pretty much planning to cancel my Tivo service when I got home.

After walking around a bit and talking to the rep from Plextor who was showing off their ConvertX tuner/encoder, I decided to see if I could catch that Tivo product manager who I was unable to speak to earlier, just to give old Tivo one last chance at winning back my $13/month or whatever it is.

I’m not sure he did that, but he was very polite and very informative. This is what he told me:

Mac support for TivoToGo. They are working on it right now, and are hoping to ship something in the first quarter of 2006. He was reluctant to give me even that vague date, because the ship date could slip and he didn’t want to be held to that prediction yet. Fair enough.

I asked him what the specific problem was that needed to be solved for Mac support. He said that Apple’s implementation of MPEG2 in Quicktime is incompatible with Tivo’s implementation of MPEG2. He’s said he’s put in a ton of calls to Apple in the last year asking them to “fix” it, but he was told they “don’t have time” and so have never gotten around to it. He said that his engineers thought they knew how to fix the issue, but Apple wasn’t interested in committing the resources to it. Apple also told him they are re-engineering Quicktime and are planning to release a new version next year, and that Tivo should just wait for that. He seemed genuinely frustrated by the whole thing. I don’t know much about video codecs, but later I was wondering whether Tivo couldn’t just offer some other MPEG2 codec with Tivo Desktop that would enable TivoToGo. Would that be possible? Sorry if that’s a stupid question.

Despite the obstacle of the MPEG2 incompatibilities, he said I would be very happy with the Mac version of Tivo Desktop/TivoToGo that they are working on.

Tivo Desktop on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger). Officially speaking, Tivo Desktop does not run on Tiger. The website clearly states this. But I told him the latest update to the Mac OS, 10.4.2, will work with Tivo Desktop and allow you to serve music and photos to your Tivo from your Mac. The Tivo Desktop installer will give you an error at the end of the installation process, but it will actually work. Apparently, this was not the case with 10.4 and 10.4.1, due to what he said was a problem with Rendezvous/Bonjour. He seemed dimly aware of the 10.4.2 situation, like I was reminding him of something he had learned in passing. I suggested to him that maybe Tivo’s website could be updated to reflect that it works in 10.4.2. He emailed himself from his Treo(?) to remind him to get the website changed. It seems likely that the fact that the installer gives you an error despite a successful installation might ultimately dissuade him from doing this, but hopefully they will find a way to clearly communicate the reality of the situation to their users who (like me) kept checking the site to see whether they have released a Tiger-compatible version yet.

TivoToGo support for DRM. We discussed the notorious incident in which an episode of The Simpsons was flagged as “protected” on some Tivos. You could tell just talking about the matter was giving heartburn to him and the PR rep who was eating her salad right next to us during this part of the conversation. She started laughing when I brought it up, and I wasn’t sure why, until the guy explained that she was the one who had to take all the flack over this issue. He described it as a “bug,” but she preferred the term that I offered: “defect.” More semantics, but whatever. According to these guys, Tivo is sticking with the party line that this “defect” in a certain chip in a certain subset of Tivos had misinterpreted noise in the signal as a setting of the flag. They were both very careful in their word choice as they explained this to me. Since this defect is so rare, they said, it never came up in testing. She also said that had it been a lesser-watched program, probably no one would have caught it. I’m not evaluating the veracity of what they’re saying. I’m just telling you what they told me.

So this naturally led me to ask whether Tivo would prevent users from using TivoToGo for certain non-premium programming. He didn’t answer my question directly, really, but said that “any program that is protected by Macrovision” would be blocked from TivoToGo’s functionality (and presumably would also place other limitations on the file, such as controlling the “Keep until…” setting). Terrific. As a friend of mine once said when this whole Macrovision thing came up, I can’t wait to record something on a Saturday, go on vacation, and come back 8 days later only to find out that Tivo has deleted my show before I ever got a chance to watch it. “Keep Until…Media company’s needs trump yours.”

Tivo support for HD and cable card. Right before I talked to this guy, he was talking to some potential customers about Tivo’s HD support. I hope this is already public knowledge, because I don’t want him to get in trouble: he said that next year Tivo will be introducing an HD-capable DVR that is not tied to DirecTV or any other programming service. He mentioned in passing that it will support cable card. Cool.

But. What I want to do is watch my shows on my Mac, PC, or Linux box, and archive these to DVD without having to deal with DRM or corporate-approved burning software and so on. It doesn’t seem like Tivo is moving in this direction. So as much as I appreciate the Tivo folks sharing all this stuff with me, I think I am going to wean myself off of Tivo and see how things go with the more open PVR solutions.

How to control one Mac with another Mac, via a secure internet connection, for free

This is fairly basic stuff and has probably been explained elsewhere, but I thought I’d quickly summarize for anyone who might be wondering how to do this. I was inspired by DiveIntoMark’s tutorial on using a Windows PC to control a Mac. This process is pretty similar, but I’m going to show how to do it Mac-to-Mac using slightly different software and techniques. This is great if you’re like me, and you gave your mom a Mac and occasionally need to help her troubleshoot something. It’s also good if you want to control your home computer from work.

Background

Using technology semi-generically called VNC (Virtual Network Computing), you can control one computer from another, even if you’re on a Mac and want to control a Windows pc or a Linux box, or vice versa. This is sometimes called using “Remote Desktop.” With VNC, you have a “VNC server”, i.e., the computer you are connecting to and controlling (your mom’s) , and the “VNC client,” the computer you are sitting in front of and doing the controlling with (yours).

Recommended Software

You can accomplish this using a variety of software packages, but for ease of use, I recommend:

  • Apple Remote Desktop Client. A bit of a misnomer as far as I can tell. This package actually contains the VNC server software you need. This should be installed on the computer you want to control. It is installed by default on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), but if you don’t have it, you can download it for free.
  • Chicken of the VNC. A great VNC client. This should be on the computer you want to use to control the other computer.
  • That’s it.

Steps

On the VNC server

  1. Configure the router at the location of the VNC server to forward all traffic on port 22 (SSH) to the VNC server. The methods for each router vary. If you don’t know how to do it, just search Google or your router’s documentation for “port forwarding.”
  2. In the System Preferences panel of the VNC server (the computer you want to control), click Sharing. In the Services panel, check “Remote Login” (aka SSH) and “Apple Remote Desktop”.
  3. Click “Start” to start each service if they aren’t already running.
  4. For “Apple Remote Desktop,” click “Configure” and make sure “Observe” and “Control” are checked. Also, it’s smart to check “Guests may request permission to control screen” and enter a password for this function.
  5. Determine the external IP address of the VNC server. The easiest way to do this is probably to go to the always useful whatismyip.com. Or just check your router settings.

On the VNC client

  1. On the VNC client, make sure any VNC server software is turned off. (In other words, go into the Sharing control panel on your machine and make sure Apple Remote Desktop is not checked.) This is because if the client machine is running a VNC server, it will clog up port 5900 and you won’t be able to connect to the desired VNC server. (I learned this the hard way.)
  2. To set up a secure connection between your computer (the VNC client) and the other computer, open the Terminal application on your Mac (Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and type

    ssh [email protected] -L 5900:127.0.0.1:5900

    where yourusernameontheserver is a valid username on the VNC server, and the vnc.server.ip.address is the external IP address of the VNC server. For example, to connect to the machine 100.100.100.1 on which you had the username trobots, you would type: ssh [email protected] -L 5900:127.0.0.1:5900. This command will connect you to the VNC server and redirect all traffic on the VNC client port to the server’s VNC port, through the secure (encrypted) tunnel that SSH establishes.

  3. Open Chicken Of The VNC on the client computer.
  4. In the “Host” textbox, type localhost:5900 and click “Connect.” Your VNC client will try to connect to “localhost” (your computer) on port 5900 but all that traffic will just get sent right out through the SSH tunnel, which goes straight to the VNC server. Pretty cool.
  5. After some delays related to encrypting all that traffic going back and forth between your computer and the VNC server, you should see an image of the other computer’s screen on your screen. Moving your cursor will move the cursor on the VNC server’s screen. It will respond slowly, but you can now control the other computer. Anyone on the other end will be able to see everything happening on the VNC server’s screen.
  6. When you are ready to logout, close Chicken of the VNC, and go back into Terminal and end your SSH session by typing “exit”.

Note: When you are done, I recommend stopping the Remote Login service on the VNC server. It’s just one checkbox in the Sharing preferences panel, and it will secure the computer. Teach your mom or whoever to turn that service on and off so that it’s only activated when you need it to be. If want to leave the Remote Login service turned on all the time, you should come up with some strong passwords, or use a more secure technique that relies on public and private keys rather than passwords. (See “Resources” below.)

Resources

How to make a mobile wifi hotspot using your Bluetooth-enabled Sprint PCS phone and your Mac

Let’s say Sprint happened to to send you a free phone with a free service plan as part of their Ambassador program. Wouldn’t you want to share the benefit of that service with as many people as possible? Especially if the plan included free data service? After all, Mr. Ambassador, you certainly want everyone to enjoy Sprint’s quality service as much as you do, right?

Or let’s say you’re so rich you can afford to pay Sprint’s (probably high) fees for unlimited data service. Since there’s no additional cost to you, shouldn’t you share some of that bandwidth with some of us poor saps who can’t afford such luxuries?

This post describes how to use your Bluetooth- and Airport-enabled Mac with your Bluetooth-enabled Sprint PCS phone to set up a mobile wifi access point. Meaning, you can put your iBook in your car or backpack, put your phone in your pocket, and give free wifi internet access to anyone who happens to be in the area. (Of course, you will also be able to access the internet yourself all the while.)

These instructions assume you are using Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), and a Samsung A920, the official phone of Sprint Ambassadors everywhere. But they should apply to any Sprint phone with Bluetooth that is capable of being a data modem and/or using their Power Vision service. Non-ambassadors will have to navigate the labyrinth of Sprint customer service and get “phone-as-modem” service added to their plan. Once you’ve gotten that taken care of, please continue…

Summary for experienced people

Details are below, but if you know what you’re doing and just want to do it quickly:

  1. Turn on Bluetooth on your phone.
  2. Pair your phone with your Mac.
  3. In the PPP configuration for Bluetooth in Network preferences, leave the username and password blank and use this phone number: #777
  4. In Sharing preferences, go to the Internet pane and turn on Internet Connection Sharing for Bluetooth, allowing AirPort devices to connect.
  5. Back in PPP, click “Dial Now…”. You should be all set. By default, your SSID will be your computer’s name.
  6. If you need a detailed step-by-step, continue reading…

First, set up the phone

  1. Press “Menu/OK”.
  2. Select “Settings”.
  3. Scroll down and select “Bluetooth” and press OK.
  4. If Bluetooth is disabled, click OK on to enable it.
  5. Set “Visibility” to “Always visible”. (This is optional and not very secure, but it might make things easier later.)
  6. Select “Device Name” and enter a nice name for your phone. This is the name other Bluetooth devices (like your Mac) will display when connecting to your phone. (I have found in other contexts that choosing a one-word name can reduce errors.)

Connect your Mac to your phone via Bluetooth

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. In the Hardware section, click Bluetooth.
  3. In the Settings pane, make sure it says Bluetooth is on. Other than that, it doesn’t matter much what is selected. [screenshot]
  4. In the Devices pane [screenshot], click “Setup New Device”.
  5. The Bluetooth Setup Assistant wizard will start. Click “Continue” and select “Mobile phone” from the list of device types.
  6. The wizard will scan the airwaves looking for Bluetooth devices. When you see the name of your phone, select it and click “Continue”.
  7. After a few seconds of “gathering information,” the wizard will prompt you to click “Continue” to continue. Do so.
  8. Your computer will display a “passkey”, a number you have to type into your phone to “pair” the phone with your Mac. [screenshot]
  9. Your phone will prompt you to accept the pair. Press “Accept”.
  10. Enter the passkey into your phone and press OK. If you wait too long, the connection will time out, and you’ll probably have to go back in the wizard and get a new passkey.
  11. Once the pairing has taken place, click “Continue” to continue.
  12. Make sure “Access the internet with your phone’s data connection” is checked.
  13. Click “Continue”.
  14. Here’s the important part: You will be prompted to enter connection settings. Leave “Username” and “Password” blank. In “Phone Number”, enter #777. For “Modem Script”, select “Sprint PCS Vision”. [screenshot]
  15. Optionally, select the checkboxes to show Bluetooth and Modem status in the menu bar.
  16. Click “Continue”.
  17. Click “Quit”.

Connect to the Internet

At this point, you might want to turn off Airport and/or unplug your network cable, so that when you connect to the internet via the phone, you’ll be sure you are connected via the phone. (After it’s all set up, you can turn Airport back on.) In the meantime, here’s how to get connected:

  1. Open System Preferences. (Or click “Show All” if your Bluetooth panel is still active.)
  2. In the Network & Internet section, choose “Network”.
  3. In the dropdown labeled “Show”, select “Bluetooth”.
  4. In the “PPP” pane, make sure “Account Name” and “Password” are blank, and that “Telephone Number” is #777.
  5. In the “Bluetooth Modem” pane, make sure the Modem dropdown says “Sprint PCS Vision”, and (optionally) check all checkboxes. Now you’re ready to connect to the internet.
  6. Go back to the “PPP” pane, and click “Dial Now…” An “Internet Connect” dialog box will appear. Make sure the Bluetooth pane is showing. [screenshot]
  7. Click “Connect”. The modem status in the menu bar will read “Connecting…” and your phone will say “Connected as data modem to [your computer name]”. You are connected! A timer on the phone will show the duration of your connection.
  8. Open a web browser on your computer to confirm that you are connected.

Share your internet connection via AirPort

Now you are ready to share your connection to the internet with other users. To do so:

  1. Turn AirPort back on if you turned it off earlier.
  2. Return to System Preferences. (Click “Show All” if you are still on your Network settings.)
  3. In “Internet & Network”, click “Sharing”.
  4. Go to “Internet” pane. [screenshot]
  5. In the dropdown labeled “Share your connection from”, select “Bluetooth”.
  6. In the “To computers using” area, select “AirPort”.
  7. Click “AirPort options” to make sure encryption is not turned on and/or to change the name of the access point (SSID) that your Mac will broadcast .
  8. Click “Start” to start sharing your internet connection via wifi.
  9. You may get a message saying this conflicts with your firewall setting, as Personal Web Sharing must be turned on (for some reason) to share your internet connection. If there’s a dialog, click “Show Services” or directly open the “Services” pane in Sharing (which partially controls your firewall), and activate “Personal Web Sharing” service. Note that this will make the “Sites” folder in your home directory available via your network connection. (If someone can explain to me why Personal Web Sharing has to be turned on in order to share your internet connection, I’d love to hear it. If it’s just to open the port, couldn’t they do that without firing up your web server?)
  10. That’s it! You’re connected and you’re sharing your connection. You might want to test it with another wifi device to make sure it can connect. (By default, your Mac will broadcast its name as the the name of the access point (SSID)).

Potentially sad note: Some devices may not be able to obtain an IP address from your Mac, in which case they won’t be able to use your connection to the internet. However, if you can talk to whoever is attempting to share your connection (e.g., you’re over at your friends’ house and want to get them online), you can configure their network connection manually. To do so, follow these instructions. I’d recommend keeping the IP addresses of some public DNS servers handy, so you can just type those in instead of trying to determine them from the dig utility or similar. I really don’t know anything about Internet Connection Sharing on the Mac, so I have no idea which devices can automatically obtain an IP from it and which can’t.

Added bonus: Note that if you look at the Personal Web Sharing preferences, you’ll see your external IP has been resolved to an actual domain name like http://h460c83c6.area2.spcsdns.net. Anyone accessing that address in their browser will see whatever website your Mac is serving from its web server folders.

Keep in mind:

  • Sprint PCS may or may not like the idea of you sharing your bandwidth. (Especially if you’re not an Ambassador and don’t have diplomatic immunity.)
  • If you are at work or school, your network administrator may or may not like (1) your computer’s new-found role as a DHCP server, and (2) your computer giving indirect access to his/her LAN.

Even so, at least you can go to bed knowing you are the Robin Hood of wireless bandwidth!