How to Save on Your Data Plan When Tethering the iPhone and Using as a Modem

On a recent trip to see Mom, I didn’t have fast Internet access. The first two days, I used NetZero dial-up and wanted to cry. To maintain my sanity and good nature, I called AT&T customer service (611 on my iPhone) and added tethering to my plan (using my iPhone as a modem over Bluetooth, WiFi, or via a USB cable).

Tethering will cost me another $20.00 a month…total rip-off! I have a 2GB data plan, and the tethering capability is a built-in feature in my iPhone. It shouldn’t matter how I use my data, tethering or not (according to, the FCC is examining this issue).

To activate this Personal Hotspot on my iPhone, I went into Settings, General, Network, Personal Hotspot). I was immediately cruising at a very decent speed. I didn’t want to go over my monthly data limit before heading back home three weeks later (another 1GB of additional data would cost me another $10.00!). Here’s what I did to make sure I didn’t.

  • Downloaded  free Onavo app. Named a “money-saving, must-have app for EVERY iPhone data user” by TechCrunch, Onavo for iPhone/iPad is free and simple to use. It runs in the background, reporting data usage and compressing downloaded traffic. Once installed, you can continue to use your iPhone/iPad just as before.

    UPDATE: For some reason, the Onavo app has recently caused my Personal Hotspot option to disappear. I had to delete the app in iTunes and restore the iPhone. I’d never done this before so I called Apple to walk me through it. Note: On some phones, you may be able to just delete the app and restart to get the Hotspot back.

  • Checked in with AT&T. Although AT&T sent me text updates on my data usage, I also dialed *3282# to see with my own eyes in a text message where I stood.
  • Avoided downloading anything. I waited until I was in a café on my laptop with WiFi before downloading anything (most of the time).
  • Monitored number of streaming videos. I love YouTube, and anytime I need to learn how to do something, I go there first. I also use Netflix a lot, especially when I’m somewhere waiting. I watched a few videos, but kept track of my data usage to make sure I wasn’t hogging all of it.
  • Unplugged iPhone from laptop when not using. The hotspot feature goes to sleep when nothing’s connected (you can leave the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot command turned on).
  • Blocked automatic download of large messages in Outlook. If a message is over a certain size, you can block it. You’ll see just enough of the message to determine if you want to finish downloading it or not. I always waited until I was back on regular WiFi and off my Personal Hotspot before a complete download. (To set this up in Outlook 2007: Ctrl+Alt+S and Edit, All Accounts. Under Folder Options, tick the Download only headers for items larger than box, and choose the size you want. I’m doing 50 KB.)

I’m back home now, and I was able to maintain my connection to the world, enjoy as many videos as I wanted (almost), and stay on top of email with data to spare.

IMPORTANT: When I travel outside the US, I’ll purchase some type of temporary service and gadget in whatever country I’m visiting.

If you’ve found other ways to save on your data plan, please leave a comment.


Create Your Own Video Website for Free with Vidcaster and YouTube. Perfect for Vodcasts.

I’m becoming obsessed with creating how-to videos about productivity and technology tips and gadgets. I’d decided earlier in the year that my project during this holiday season (as business slows down) would be to learn even more video editing software and to get more serious about vodcasting (Internet TV with my own videos). My brain cells are in overdrive, and that keeps me motivated (I’ll talk more about the software and gadgets I’m using in another post).

I have a YouTube channel and have been posting how-to videos for several years, but I also wanted to have a separate Website for my videos and my vodcast, Suite Minute with Peggy Duncan. I didn’t want to host the videos on a site that I’d have to create and then maintain. – Create Your Own Video Website has a lot of features I wanted. However, I’m using the free version and have some limitations such as not being able to add social tools to each video. For this reason, I’ll promote my YouTube channel most of the time.

  • Easy to use. I clicked around the site because I wanted to know everything I’d be able to do. I’ve created new pages, added my own background, chosen a template, etc. Everything was straightforward.
  • Connects with YouTube. This is key because I didn’t want to have to upload all of my videos to the site.
  • Has customizable background. I wanted this site to resemble the design of my YouTube channel. I created a background in PowerPoint, and uploaded it. After tweaking the design, I was able to make everything fit the template I chose on Vidcaster.
  • Offers a free version. I’m going to stick with the free version for now. When I get advertisers interested in my channel, I’ll upgrade to the paid version so I can include commercials in my shows.
  • Can customize the domain name. For $20 a year, I’m using my own domain for more professional branding (I didn’t want .vidcaster in the name). This was tricky because this called for creating an A Record where I registered the domain (I’d never done this before and still don’t know what the heck it is). You’ll see info on this on Vidcaster’s site when you attempt to add the custom domain, but you’ll have to figure out how to create the A Record on your own.

    I found the instructions for doing it on (that’s where I registered the domain), inserted the IP address I got from Vidcaster, and waited a few hours for all this to propagate throughout the Internet. After that, I clicked to verify it on, and it worked! (See below for instructions I used on GoDaddy).

So, here it is. Introducing


How to Create an A Record,

Here are the instructions I found for creating an A Record on You’ll have to do a similar search for instructions with your registrar (or call them).

GoDaddy: To Access the Zone File Editor

Log in to your Account Manager.

In the My Products section, click Domain Manager.

Do one of the following:

From the Tools menu, select DNS Manager, and then click Edit Zone for the domain name you want to update.

Click the domain name you want to update, and, in the DNS Manager section, click Launch.


GoDaddy: To Add an A Record

Go to the Zone File Editor for the domain name you want to update.

Click Add New Record. The Add DNS Record window displays.

From the Record type list, select A (Host).

Complete the following fields:

Host Name: Enter the host name the A record links to. Type @ to point the record directly to your domain name, including the www.

Points to IP Address: Enter the IP address your domain name uses for this host record (I got this from Vidcaster).

TTL: Select how long the server should cache the information (I changed to a week…don’t ask me why).

Click OK.

Click Save Zone File, and then click OK. The new A record displays in the A (Host) section.

Back on Vidcaster

Go to your Vidcaster page and change the domain to Custom (on the Dashboard, click Site, Domain).

Only thing left to do on the Vidcaster site is to set up analytics…I’ll update the post when I get it done.

Hope this helps. Let me know what you think about all this.





WordPress Video No Longer Disappears During Edits When Using YouTube's Embed Code

I wrote a recent article and recorded a how-to video (below) on how to use a special plugin when inserting a YouTube video into a blog post. The plugin was necessary because of an unexplained bug when using the Upload/Insert video command in native WordPress. If you used it along with YouTube’s embed code, the video would disappear if you made a change to the blog post later from the Visual tab as opposed to the HTML tab.

With the newest update to WordPress (3.3), here’s what happens.

  • If you use YouTube’s video embed code and insert it into your post using the native WordPress Upload/Insert video command, the video will no longer disappear later if you make a change to the blog post on the Visual tab.
  • Over on YouTube, if you right-click on the YouTube video and click Copy video URL, then use that URL with the native WordPress Upload/Insert command, your video will disappear later if you make a change to the post from the Visual tab. In that case, you’ll need to use the method in my video below.


How to Design Your Facebook Timeline Cover Image Using PowerPoint (with video)

In a previous post and my YouTube video series (below), I demonstrated how to use PowerPoint to design a Twitter and YouTube channel background (the skin). You can use the same techniques to design a cover graphic for Facebook’s new Timeline (a Cover is the large graphic at the top of the Timeline. Everyone will be switched to this new Facebook layout on December 21, 2011).

In the video below, instructions are for PowerPoint 2007 and 2003. For the Facebook results, your finished image should be 850px wide by 315px high. In PowerPoint, I changed the slide size to 8.85 inches wide and 3.28 inches height, landscape view.

You should save your PowerPoint cover page image in high resolution if the one you upload is pixelated. I used high res images, and when I saved the image in PowerPoint, it was fine. If you use a single photo, you’ll definitely need a high res image.

When you get ready to upload your image to the Facebook Timeline, go to your Facebook Profile page, and click Add a Cover (later, you’ll change this image by hovering your mouse over to display the Add/Change Cover command). Either choose from your Facebook photos or click Upload Photo to find one on your computer.

(The video below is part one of the series. The videos are organized in a YouTube playlist so the next video automatically plays when the previous one finishes.)


NOTE: You can promote your stuff, but don’t do a paid commercial/ad for some other company.


How to Add a Video to Your LinkedIn Profile (with video demo)

Have you added a video that showcases your talents to your LinkedIn profile? Here’s how.

You’ll need a Gmail account and a video on YouTube. You’ll also have to add Google Docs to your LinkedIn profile. You’ll create a Google presentation (a poor man’s version of PowerPoint) and insert your video. Then you’ll add the new video to your profile.

Here is a quality video by Amy Porterfield that shows you how.