Using SMART BRO (USB Internet) Plug-it in Linux

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This guide is created to show how to use the SmartBro USB Internet dongle in Ubuntu Linux. The dongle comes with the Windows installer that enables the SmartBro application to be installed in most computers. From within that application the user is able to send and reeive SMS, and connect/disconnect their Internet subscription. It allows more operations like access to the Smart portal but for the duration of this guide only the SMS send/receive and Internet configuration is covered. The instructions should be portable to the plug-it kits of the other telcos.

From my experience, Ubuntu has easily supported the USB dongles and tethering devices as early as Karmic Koala. I no longer have my Sony Ericsson K618i that I just connect via a USB cable to my MSI Wind U100 Netbook so this is what I will use for the guide. My netbook is sporting Natty Narwhal during the time the screenshots are taken.

sm00

Lets get cracking. Caveat though that I had to recreate some activities in two different locations so don’t mind the clock too much.

Configuring data connectivity

  • Boot into Ubuntu and connect the dongle. Wait for a few second while the system recognizes the device.
  • From the system tray, click on the network-manager applet and enable the “Enable Mobile Broadband” option. Select the “Edit Connections…” entry, and add a new entry under the “Mobile Broadband” tab.
  • As can be seen below, Ubuntu has already detected the chipset of the USB dongle. Click on the Forward button.
  • Select the provider (which in this case is Smart). Click on the Forward button.
  • On the billing plan dialog, accept the default selection and click on the Forward button.
  • Confirm the summary of the selected settings by clicking the Apply button.
  • Visit back the settings of the created connection and ensure that there is no username and password in the Mobile Broadband settings page. Save any changes made and dismiss the wizard to go back to the desktop.
  • Click on the network-manager applet and click on the mobile internet entry created above.
  • If everything goes well and the signal is strong enough the user should be greeted with an established connection message.
  • Click on the network-manager to validate the type of connection.

Configuring SMS capability

The setup above can fail if the SIM card used is of the prepaid type and there is no credit loaded on the account. SMART imposes a Php10/30mins rate but there are promos that can be activated by sending some keywords via the SIM account. This implies that the SMS send and received facility should be accessed. Fortunately the wammu project provides this capability.

  • Install the wammu application by invoking the command below:
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install wammu -y

  • Start the wammu application. If the wammu application doesn’t find its configuration files then it will trigger a wizard for first time-configuration.
  • wammu-first

  • Click on the Next button to start the Wizard and select the following options in the succeeding windows:
  • – Configuration Style: Guided Configuration
    – Configuration type: USB Cable (as the unit is plugged in a USB port)
    – Phone Type: None of the above (unless future versions provide an option for the chipset)

    – Connection Type: AT based
    – Driver to use: Generic AT over serial line or it’s emulation
    – Phone device: /dev/ttyUSB0

    The above part is trial and error. If the test doesn’t succeed select the next option. If it succeeds then information about the model of the dongle will be shown. In my experience it is almost always /dev/ttyUSB0 but then I do have another device that emulates a serial connection via USB.

    – Complete the remainder of the next dialog windows using the default option.

  • Once the wammu phone configuration is done, start accessing the USB dongle by invoking the Phone->Connect menu item.
  • Once the dongle is active, test the connectivity by receiving existing messages.
  • After the operation succesfully completes, select the Messages item in the left treebox to view all retrieved messages.
  • Next is to try the SMS sending capability under the Create menu. The editor is dated compared to the built-in provider interface but it would suffice. In the screenshot below, the bucket promo of Always On is being triggered.
  • Check the Sent folder if the message was successfully sent.
  • After a few seconds/minutes, retrieve the messages again to check the result of the promo registration.

And that is basically it. The instruction in this guide, with minor tweaks, should be applicable to any of the USB dongle. Enjoy your USB Internet dongle in Linux. 🙂

ciao!

A world of free text books and the money-making academe

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Chin Wong has a blog post about a site offering and campaigning for free text books. The idea is really a novel one (pun intended ;P ) wherein it spouts a utopian scenario that teachers and knowledgeable scribes contribute in evolving the textbook contents. I am however skeptical if it would be applicable here in the Philippines.

Face it, all schools offering academic teaching below the collegiate level makes a killing out of book and supplies sales. What else can explain the sudden surge for workbooks wherein it requires the students to rip out pages for submission?

A decade or so ago ripping books is considered a sacrilegious activity. Anybody doing it is labeled as an ignorant vandal who doesn’t understand the value of the knowledge printed in the pages they are destroying. Books are something that is cared for and passed on to a younger sibling or to the child of the neighbor who would be using them again in their quest of enlightenment (or that elusive diploma). As a self-professed voracious reader and book lover, I almost cried when I opened my niece’s workbook from a previously concluded school year. It looked like a middle-aged person raped violently by a ward of death-row convicts.

Then there is the sudden upsurge in the practice of selling school supplies with official schools seals. The problem is that these cost double than what it would normally sell in the free market. School officials argue that the latter promotes equality among its students because nobody uses luxurious items like high-end ballpoint pens and notebooks with high-substance paper. If that is the case then why the high price point? If printing the official seal doubles the price then why not just pick a standard supplier for the materials and enforce that, or subsidize the materials themselves. Why can’t those materials be considered as the norm but still allow students to use the cost-effective Panda ballpen?

I think it is the older man in me talking but the academe circles has degraded to the point that we now have schools being ran as businesses first and learning institutions second.

ciao!

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