Omnigraffle and UML?


Some coworkers recently recommended Omnigraffle to me as a UML diagramming tool. After installing a copy, I discovered that although UML “stencils” are available, the tool is not in fact a dedicated UML tool at all. Ahem…obviously I should have read the description a little better.

Now that I have Omnigraffle, however, I will need to use it at least until I find something better for UML diagrams. I have found a few stencils — stencils are pre-made template objects that can be used in your diagrams. So far I’ve found these:

  • Bantik UML — not really full featured but certainly nice looking. It’s not a reasonable choice because it just doesn’t have a full set of UML diagram types.
  • UML 2 — again, just not nearly a full set of diagram types.
  • UML 2.1 Collection — has practically everything I need for now. Best set of diagrams I’ve found. The only trouble I had was that the unzipped stencil wasn’t properly named. When I finally added the .gstencil extension to the unzipped file, Omnigraffle recognized it.

If you know of a better set than the UML 2.1 Collection above, let me know. Until I find something better, that’s what I’m using. I feel a bit silly for using OmniGraffle in the first place. It isn’t exactly a UML tool, but it can be forced into it as needed.

Since I started using NetBeans again recently, maybe I’ll check out the plugins available for it. Surely someone has created a UML plugin. I’ll check that out tomorrow and let you know what I find.

Using the Virgin Mobile 2200 as a USB modem


I recently purchased the Virgin Mobile 2200 MiFi device. You can read about the device all over the ‘net, and reviews are generally favorable.


The device is primarily advertised as a wifi hotspot for up to 5 devices, but I’ve discovered that I can also tether it to my laptop. Why do that? Well, the device doesn’t have the best battery life. Connecting it to you pc or mac os x laptop will disable the wifi functionality, but it does charge the device. Sometimes you need to be online and charge the device simultaneously, and if you’re the only user, you may not really care if the hotspot wifi is disabled. In this situation, you can tether the device to your laptop, using it as a USB modem.

I used the short ~13-15″ black USB cable to connect the device to my Mac OS X laptop. When I first connected it, my laptop recognized the device and installed drivers. Once the drivers were installed, I rebooted the laptop. The installation added a Novatel Wireless Modem device in my Network settings

NewModemEntry.jpgThe “default” configuration installed the modem as an “Other” vendor, and selected the EVDO support for me.

Using the default settings, I simply clicked on the “connect” button, and I was connected to the internet. I’m typing and posting this blog using the modem functionality not the wifi connection. In fact, you can see that my settings (to the left) show that my only connectivity is my Novatel Modem.

Of course, all this functionality assumes you’ve gone through all the first steps to activate and enable your device. Don’t skip that. Instructions for initial setup are included in your purchase, so I won’t cover those instructions here.

The part that I find interesting is that NOTHING in the included documentation or online documentation will tell you about this USB modem functionality. The only thing said is that your wifi connectivity is disabled when you connect the USB cable to your laptop, which I did find out is true.

I’m generally pleased with the device so far. And it came in particularly useful for me this weekend, when my DSL service was disrupted. The $150 price tag is a bit steep, but the $40/mo unlimited data without a contract is very attractive.

In case I’ve diluted the point of my post, here’s the gist:

  1. Attaching the USB cable to your laptop will disable the wifi hotspot feature of the device, but does recharge the device’s battery.
  2. Although you can’t connect to the device wirelessly, you can use it as a USB tethered modem.
  3. My laptop (and probably yours too) recognized the device and installed appropriate Novatel Wireless Modem drivers.
  4. Nothing in the docs tells you that you now have a USB modem, but it does work and allows simultaneous recharging of its batteries while using it.