Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dell Latitude E6510 Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 AGN intermittently disconnects from wifi

I ran across a problem with this model laptop not connecting to our corporate wireless network or it would connect but disconnect intermittently. The laptop would, however, connect to our guest network which had no security. In a nutshell, the wifi driver for this adapter needs to be updated. Microsoft Update and the online checks indicate that the laptop has the latest version which was v13xxx. By visiting the Intel site directly at an updated wifi driver is needed and can be installed (v15xxx). After this upgrade the wifi connection works as expected.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Re-purpose Older Smart Phones

Have you ever wondered what you can do with your old smart phone after you upgrade to the newest model? You can turn it back into the store for a small credit (about $30) or sell it or leave it in a drawer OR you can turn it into a fully functional wifi device with text and call capabilities for FREE (well, except for the voip plan but it's very cheap) for your tween/teen who is itching for a smart phone but you don't want to pay for a data plan. Below are a few basic steps to get you on your least with an Android device. iPhones aren't worth my time. :)

  • Upgrade your existing smart phone and transfer everything you need from the old one such as pictures and contacts. Move over your SD card, if necessary.
  • Restore your old phone to factory defaults so everything is erased and put back to good working order.
  • Go through the boot process and setup a Google account as well.
  • Install and configure Pinger for free texting. You'll also be issued a phone number so others can text you. Calling may be possible through Pinger as well but I prefer the app below.
  • Purchase a few dollars ($10 is plenty) of VoIP Phone time from a provider online. I used It costs less than 2 cent per minute and can be shared among multiple devices.
  • Install and configure Sipdroid for calling. has turorials to configure your specific device with their service.
That's really all you need to do to give your tween/teen a fully functional smart phone with phone and text capabilities. They can use all the apps such as Netflix, Angry Birds, Facebook, etc. as usual. The only catch is they have to be around a wifi connection. Since wifi is so prevalent these days it's a small trade-off and worth the savings of not buying a $60+/month data plan per person.

When your tween/teen is traveling with camp or sports sometimes it's important for them to be able to text or call when away from wifi. In that case, we have just added a basic phone to our plan for $10 per month without the data plan that they can share. Whichever one needs that capability takes that phone with them on the trip. It may be a little inconvenient at times but most of the time they're happy with their wifi smart phones and we're happy not having to pay for two additional data plans each month.

If anyone has other ideas to share on this topic I'd love to hear them. If someone can provide information from the iPhone world that would be helpful, too.