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Vodafone Mobile Connect – inept and unnecessary problems with Mac OSX Leopard… solved.

Update: 2010-06-16

Vodafone has released New_Vodafone_Mobile_Broadband_4.01.03.00.dmg available from here:

This rather nicely installs without having to be root (huzzah) and magically recognises more modems (I got plug n play with a Novatel 2352, not just the Huawei 220) and is an informative, useful piece of software. I’ll leave the rest here for those not running the latest version of OSX.

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I’ve been a user of the Vodafone 3G USB thingy for over a year – £45, all you can eat, high-speed internet that’s worked largely without trouble across the UK, France and further afield.

The recent purchase of a new MacBook Pro meant that I needed to reinitialise the modem: normally a really simple activity with the Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC) application. It seems not to do much – just sets the modem scripts and access codes for the USB thingy (a rebaged HUAWEI 220).

Anyways – every time I launched the VMC it just hung. So – no 3G, no nothing.

16 minutes into my call with the new-but-very-helpful trainee and we do the uninstall-reinstall-restart shuffle (I’d done all of this in anticipation) so after that he ‘escalates’ and tells me that my call’s been logged but that they only have one Mac specialist and so the estimated time to a diagnosis/call-back is 2-3 weeks. Yes, that’s right. Weeks.

I suggested that it’d be easier to just cancel my account since I’m out of contract and start again with non-flakey software and after some rummaging and an offer of a rebate after 2 weeks of non-functioning (!) I asked if I couldn’t just get the access details directly and not bother with VMC. In checking that he accidentally ends up chatting to the Mac guy to whom I’m instantly transferred. Excellent. I can only suggest that a more seasoned operative would have ‘accidentally’ hung up on me by now…

Anyway, in practised and weary tones the Mac guy talks me through…

  • Applications > Utilities > Directory Utility. Launch this
  • From the Edit menu, “Enable Root User”, creating a root account with uname/pword as the ever-popular combo of “root/root”
  • apple-shift-q to log out, the click “other” on the login screen and enter, yes, root/root
  • while running as root, plug in the usb modem and wait until the green light flickers (logging on) and turns blue (3g acquired)
  • launch VMC – it’ll see the modem, log onto Vodafone and then click “OK” to save the settings.
  • apple-shift-q to leave root-dom, then log in again as yourself
  • deactivate the root account (see steps 1&2 – do in reverse)

If like me you have your modem status in the menu bar, just click and connect.

That’s it. A cruddy, thoughtless, inept piece of software that insists that the initial settings are run as root.

So Vodafone have the unique position of being the only app I’ve ever had to install under OSX as root; then a special prize for telling no-one!

I asked the engineer why this wasn’t on the web and he said it’s because they didn’t want to be responsible for telling people to enable root and maybe break things. Hmmm – preferable to let people wait 2-3 weeks without access… Much better idea!

For fellow sufferers: versions are:
OSX: 10.5.2

YMMV and of course be careful while root.