Thursday, January 23, 2003

Blauwtand (Have The Radiowaves Made Me Sterile Yet?)

As part of testing the phone -- not even my real job, just something I signed up for inside Nokia -- my lab manager handed me a Bluetooth PC Card. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless protocol for devices like phones and printers and computers, kinda meant to replace the USB cable, in concept. It doesn't work with my work notebook since its ports are so fucked, but I have inserted it into the picturebook and installed the software. Then I wanted to use it for IP over the phone, but the only dial-up I have is AOL.

So I fired up AOL and told it to discover new modems. Now, the Bluetooth software on the computer sets up virtual COM ports, modem/serial/fax ports that are fake but look like real ports to other software. Every time the COM ports on my computer are probed by software, the Bluetooth manager goes "Eeep! Where's the phone on the other end that has to send these packets!" and when that hits the phone, the phone goes "Eeep! This thing wants to talk to me! Should I let it?"

So with all the boxes and beeps I get to see exactly how that idiot-proof software of AOL probes the computer to find a modem, and hide all the details from the user. It is very through, it probed the fake serial port, the fake fax port, the fake modem port, and then tried to dial the number '5' just to make sure it exists.

It works. My computer is on the Internet through AOL, dialing through the phone, and the two are connected wirelessly. No line-of-sight necessary. And with the way AOL shares IP, browsers and mailers now work too. It is extremely slow, but very reliable, the packets and connections do not get dropped.