Five Things to Do On a Wireless Mac When Wi-Fi Is Not Available

Laptops with Wi-Fi capability have made our lives much easier and have made our digital lives much more portable. We can check our email, surf the web, purchase and download music or video content, play online games, that is, IF a Wi-Fi connection is available. That is the proverbial clincher. There are many businesses which provide free Wi-Fi (such as Starbucks and even Krystal!), but public Wi-Fi connectivity can not yet boast ubiquity. So what do you do when you are stuck waiting in a doctor’s office, a restaurant, a barber shop, a mall, etc. with your Macbook, Macbook Pro, iBook or Powerbook with no Wi-Fi to speak of?

Thankfully you are not left without some source of entertainment. Some of these options you may have to plan ahead for but others come right on your Mac.


A new Mac comes with many a time waster but in the way of games, there is only one stock game on the Mac, Chess. However this is a very well done chess game. It shows a 3D board and you may play against the computer or a friend. The rules are the same as classic chess and you can choose difficulty levels. Also Chess can teach you to play the game and can, at your request, help you if you are having trouble deciding on your next move. With each of its moves, the computer announces the move it is making which really does not serve a purpose but it adds a unique touch.

Playing against a friend is basically the same except moves are not announced and the board rotates so that on each players’ turn his side of the board is closest to him. This gives the effect of playing on a real board and being able to look across the board at your opponent’s pieces.

Magic Garageband (part of iLife ’08)

Finally, an application for everyone: musicians, aspiring musicians, and folks who do not have a musical bone in their body. Magic Garageband is a new feature to Apple’s music-making application. From the opening menu you will choose the style of music you would like your masterpiece to fall within. You can choose style such as Roots Rock, or country, or Funk, or Reggae. Once you have chosen the style you are presented with a user interface that looks much like the stage of a small club and pictures of the default instruments are shown. By default the instruments are drums, piano/organ, melody, rhythm, and bass. For each part you can keep the default instrument, change it to a different type of instrument (e.g. drums can be changed to studio drums, a small kit, or a percussion set), or remove the instrument altogether. Different instrument types are available for the different musical styles and depending on which instruments are used within a selected style, the tune can change so that there are numerous permutations available. Once you have decided on the style and have your instruments in place you can listen to the song and even export it to iTunes and share it with others. Or ditch it, select another style, and start over again. No musical knowledge required.

iPhoto Slideshow

If you already have your iPhoto library populated with photos you can make a slideshow to pass the time without the need of access to the internet. Simply go to the File pull-down menu and select New Slideshow. Then from your Library select, drag, and drop the photos you want into your new slideshow (now shown in the left-hand side source list). Select the slideshow in the source list and from here you can change the order in which the photos are show, the speed of the show and different transitional effects. You can also add a soundtrack from your iTunes library or use some of the stock music that is included with iPhoto. You can export it as a movie for posting to the web or burn it to a disc.

Apple.com Games (free Games to download)

This suggestion (as well as #5) will require some planning ahead on your part. If you know that later in the day (or just sometime down the road) you will be without Wi-Fi and will want to pass the time, you can download a game from Apple’s website. Along with all kinds of free tools and enhancements for the Mac, Apple’s site is host to a number of free (and low cost) games. There are games that are reminiscent of classic arcade games, there is a block stacking game that Tetris fans would enjoy and there are various card games. There are literally too many to name here. Many of them are freeware and there are some shareware that require a small donation to the developer. So plan ahead and download some games to play later when you are bored and can not access the internet.

Watch video content from iTunes

We all know that iTunes is a great jukebox application for listening to any music you have on your Mac, but the iTunes store is also a great place to purchase video content. So if you know that later you will need some entertainment that does not require the internet then you can purchase or rent video content ahead of time to watch later when you are at the doctor or waiting for a friend at a restaurant. And if want content on the cheap there are hundreds of video podcasts covering a myriad of topics that you can download for free from the iTunes store.

Josh H.



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