Tag Archives: travel

Securing a T-Mobile Z915 Hotspot

I picked up a T-Mobile Z915 hotspot for international travel. Within the US, I’m sticking with Verizon for their coverage, but the difficulty and cost of international roaming is a bit much.

General Thoughts

The Z915 is made by ZTE. The default configuration is pretty secure as follows:

  • Wi-Fi Security: WAP2 Personal
  • Password: 8 digits (last 8 digits of the IMEI)
  • Network Name (SSID): T-Mobile Broadband<last 2 digits of the IMEI>
  • Admin Interface: http://mobile.hotspot
  • Admin password: admin

While the admin password is weak and the admin interface is unencrypted, it should only be available to users that have already authenticated to the Wi-Fi.

Increasing Security

Fortunately all of the settings are configurable (except encryption of the admin interface) by following these steps:

  1. Connect your computer/tablet/phone to the Wi-Fi network created by the hotspot.
  2. Point your browser to http://mobile.hotspot or
    On many devices, you will need to enter "http://" to prevent them from performing a search.
    You will need to enter the IP address if your device does not get its DNS settings from DHCP.
  3. Login by by entering the password.
  4. Click Settings
  5. Change Wi-Fi SSID to your own custom network name.
  6. (optinal) Disable SSID broadcast. I see this as a courtesy at hotels and airports, not to increase security.
  7. Change Wi-Fi Password. Click Apply.
    I set mine to a 32 character alpha-numeric password.
    You will be disconnected from the network when you apply these settings.
  8. Reconnect to Wi-Fi with the new settings.
  9. Login again.
  10. Click Settings and then click Device Settings.
  11. Change Admin Password. Click Apply.
  12. Set Wi-Fi Performance Settings to Economy mode. Click Apply.
    This should help increase battery life, and I was able to maintain a connection 60 feet away and 2 interior walls between.
  13. (optional) Disable SSID/WEB Password Display.
    By default the hotspot displays its passwords on its screen. Since you should have physical control of the hotspot, this shouldn’t matter either way.


Internationally, T-Mobile includes free roaming on their postpaid plans. This is limited to 2G/3G speeds, but it’s enough to check email and get directions.

So far, I’ve observed the following speeds:

  • Brussels Airport: 50 kbps
  • London Heathrow Airport: 70 kbps
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor: 12.3 mbps


Overall, my complaints are very minor.

I wish the hotspot had a more mobile friendly UI. As it is, it requires a lot of zooming and scrolling to get to the different links.

I also wish the hotspot supported https for the UI. I don’t think most people will allow untrusted clients to connect, so this is a minor security concern.

Affordable Noise Canceling Earbuds

I’ve started traveling more for business recently so I started looking for some reasonably priced noise canceling headphones. I only looked at earbuds, because I like to travel light. I’m not an audiophile, but I like pretty good music. I wasn’t about to pay $300 for the Bose QuiteComfort 20i, so I decided to try the Audio-Technica QuitePoint Earbuds ATH-ANC33iS with it’s 4 star average review rather than the older and 3.5 star ATH-ANC23 model.

After 2 hours on a commuter plane and 10 hours on big jets, I’m satisfied with my purchase. The headphones canceled about 50% of the prop noise from an Embraer EMB 120 and 90% of the jet noise from an Airbus A-320 and Boeing 757. They blocked 100% of refrigerator and computer fan noise (sitting next to my gaming tower). Unfortunately, the noise canceling circuitry also adds a subtle hiss. It’s barely noticeable when there is ambient noise, but becomes apparent in quite situations. Fortunately, the simple solution is to turn off the noise canceling when it’s quite.

For audio quality I listened to a selection of my music that has a pretty good audio range. The bass was fairly boomy, but the audio wasn’t the crispest. It sounded similar to the Apple EarPods that come with new iDevices.

I haven’t had these long enough to comment on battery life. The one AAA battery that came with the earbuds has been going strong for 12 hours.

Overall I give the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS QuitePoint Earbuds a 4 out of 5 on value but 3 out of 5 for sound quality.

Hotel Rice Cooking

Growing up in an Japanese household, I love my sticky white rice. Many times, going on a trip means leaving sticky white rice behind, but I received a Tupperware Microwave Rice Cooker. I was skeptical at first, but after experimenting with it on a long business trip, I can make passable rice in the microwave.

The hotel I was staying in had a 1200W Microwave. For this microwave, I found 1 cup of rice, 1.5 cups of water, and 15 minutes on 50% power seemed to be just about right. For smaller, less powerful microwaves, you’ll need to increase the cooking time or power level.

My initial try was 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, and 5 minutes at 100% power. There was still a lot of water sloshing around, so I poured some out and put it back in for 2 more minutes. The remaining water boiled over and ended up leaving my rice dry.