When you're a tech journalist, you learn some tricks for getting the news out of meatspace and onto the Internet as fast as humanly possible. Pictures in particular have always been a challenge, and although technological advances have made uploading them easier over the years, it's still impossible to have pictures you take with your DSLR transmitted immediately and automatically to the internet. Or is it?
In this article, we'll share out top secret industry secret method, which lets you use two cool gadgets together to automatically upload your photos as you take them, no matter where you are.
In order to pull this off, you’re going to need the following items:
Seeing all this stuff laid out may seem a little daunting, but the basic idea is simple: the Eye-Fi is a special SD card that has a Wi-Fi antenna and a processor inside that allows it to automatically upload pictures, over a Wi-Fi network, to an online service. The mobile hotspot generates a Wi-Fi network anywhere, using a 3G signal.
To begin, you're going to want to configure your wireless hotspot to work in conjunction with your mobile PC. To set up your mobile hotspot, simply plug the device into the USB port in your computer, and follow the on-screen prompts for a quick installation of your mobile hotspot Access Manager.
Configuring your mobile hotspot isn't that hard hard, but you will need to enter a few pieces of basic information including an SSID and Network Key to allow access from any mobile device. Once you've configured your settings and are given an IP address, simply punch that into the URL bar of your favorite browser to gain access to your mobile hotspot's settings menu.
Luckily, the default formatted settings should work just fine for what you're looking to do, though keep this window open somewhere on your desktop in-case you're having trouble--some minor hiccups could affect your data transfer, but we'll touch more on this a little later. Now that your laptop/netbook is configured to run from your mobile hotspot, it's time to configure your Eye-Fi card, which is a strikingly similar process to configuring your Mi-Fi.
Pop your SD card into your computer (if it's a laptop, there's a good chance you've got a built in slot, if not, you'll need an external SD card reader). If it's the very first time you're using your Eye-Fi card, your computer should default you to the Eye-Fi Manager Software download screen. If your card has been used before or previously configured, check out the download page here.
Your Eye-Fi Manager is a web based interface that will allow you to customize your available network connections and map other potential cloud based pages to 'forward' your photos to. Configure your Eye-Fi card to work with your mobile hotspot by clicking on Wireless Networks in your Settings tab, and selecting your mi-fi.
The Photo Destination tab will allow you to choose from one (or multiple) of many social networking sites like Flickr, Facebook and Picassa to function as a repository for any and all images you take while your Eye-Fi card is in the camera.
Once you've chosen which website you'd like to send your photos out to, you're ready to pop your Eye-Fi card into your camera, and begin shooting. Keep in mind, your camera must be on for the images to transfer (so don't turn it off immediately after snapping a shot and expect to find it online), and we recommend keeping your mobile hot spot in your pocket for if you plan on moving around a lot. Upload speed is good, as long as you're in an area with good 3G coverage.
The service we used, Flickr, took a bit longer to receive the images (five minutes or so), though that's still a lot better than the amount of time it would take to find a Wi-Fi access point, transfer the pictures to your computer, and upload them.
Some Quick Tips For First Time Users:
Keep your camera on while using Eye-Fi: Turning your camera off between taking pictures will disrupt the data flow. Most cameras (especially point and shoots) will automatically turn themselves off after a set period of time, though this can often be disabled in the settings menu. This helps segue into our next point...
Bring extra batteries: If you plan on importing all of the pictures you take from an event, and your camera has to remain on the whole time, chances are you're going to need a spare battery or two. Pack accordingly.
WEP/WPA Security Settings: By default the MiFi runs WPA security which the Eye-Fi should work fine with. Our Mi-Fi was tweaked to run WEP which is compatible with more devices. In the interest of full disclosure, if you want to also run WEP on your Eye-Fi and MiFi, you'll need to access the MiFi's hidden configuration page. To do this, connect a notebook to the MiFi using a wireless connection. Fire up a browser and go to http://192.168.1.1/adv802.html. From there, you can tweak several hidden features in the MiFi.