As Apple’s programmers slogged away for months on the massive OS X project, there were areas where they must have felt like they were happily gliding on ice: networking and the Internet. For the most part, the Internet already runs on Unix, and hundreds of extremely polished tools and software chunks were already available.
There are all kinds of ways to get your Mac onto the Internet these days:
WiFi. Wireless hotspots, known as WiFi (or, as Apple used to call it, AirPort), are glorious conveniences, especially if you have a laptop. Without stirring from your hotel bed, you’re online at high speed. Sometimes for free.
Cable modems, DSL. Over half of the U.S. Internet population connects over higher-speed wires, using broadband connections that are always on: cable modems, DSL, or corporate networks. (These, of course, are often what’s at the other end of an Internet hotspot.)
Cellular modems. A few well-heeled individuals enjoy the go-anywhere bliss of USB cellular modems, which get them online just about anywhere they can make a phone call. These modems are offered by Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and so on, and usually cost around $50 a month.
A MiFi is sort of a cellular modem, too. It’s a pocketable, battery-operated, portable hotspot. It converts the cellular signal into a WiFi signal, so up to five people can be online at once, while the MiFi itself sits happily in your pocket or laptop bag.
Tethering. Tethering is letting your cellphone act as ...