T-Mobile USB Broadband for Mac: Worst Mac App Evar

I’m in the UK for a couple weeks, so I got a T-Mobile GSM Broadband adapter. (This is the one from ZTE, by the way, apparently they offer several). Rather than hook into the OS in a nice, neat way, they include their own crapware that you have to install. Danger: If you install the software on Snow Leopard, it will ruin your OS and make your system unable to boot. Read on.

Thanks to

David Glover’s blog post on the issue, I was able to recover. But, damn, what a pain! The ZTE driver uses libcurl. Fine. But it decides that, rather than put libcurl in its own application resources, it will replace the one in /usr/lib. That is wrong on so many levels. Not only was /usr/lib/libcurl already there, but when you do that on Snow Leopard, you break the OS. Nothing works. There is no excuse for application software to clobber a system library file during installation, and there’s no way to know—as the user—that that’s what it did or will do.

It may be possible to make a copy of the /usr/lib/libcurl.4.dylib library, do their software install, and then copy it back. It’s dangerous. I ended up finding a friend with a Mac and booting into Target Disk mode, and then I could replace the file. People who don’t know what that means will have to find a Mac service center, Apple store, or a tech-savvy friend. But that’s not what this blog post is about.

Suckiest App Evar

The crappy app that you get with the USB stick is clearly slapped together using a template, demo app that came with XCode or something.


  • The menu has a “Preferences” item that is greyed out (but there is a settings button in the window. Why isn’t that hooked up to the Preferences menu?).
  • The File menu has a bunch of options: New, Open, Open Recent, Save As, Print. etc. None of these make sense. Perhaps they didn’t realize they had a menu? Perhaps they didn’t realize they could eliminate the entire menu?
  • The Edit menu does what you’d expect. Lucky them.
  • The Window menu has a Hide/Show toolbar (also grayed out) and a Customize Toolbar (also grayed out).
  • And my favorite: The “Help” menu has one item: “MyApp Help.” They forgot to do a search and replace on “MyApp” throughout their project. Though it does bring up the right PDF file for documentation.


And then there’s the SMS feature. I’m not sure I understand why I want my mobile broadband adapter to send and receive SMS. but it’s there.

CPU Usage

There’s the fact that I have this dumb program running the whole time that I am using teh interwebs. It uses a visible amount of CPU, ranging from 0.6% to 1% when just sitting idle. Since it is adding zero value to my Internet experience, this just takes up space in my dock, desktop, and RAM. And it’s burning a little CPU as well.


Lastly, there’s Engrish. If you don’t know what Engrish is, go take a look at Engrish.com. They have error messages in the software (from reading /Applications/T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Manager.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/LanguageTokenList_TMO.txt) that look like this:

  • The request has been time out!\nTry to terminate the communication!
  • If disable, you will not be able to install the SW of T-Mobile Internet Manager to other computer until enable it again.
  • SIM card capacity is not enough!

In fact, of the 232 strings in that file (which correspond to messages you might see in a dialog box or error), 75 (about one third) have an exclamation point in them. One error message even has 3 exclamation points in it.


It turns out that the device works. But what a pain. I lost half a day to trying to recover without a second mac. When I got the second Mac to fix my own Mac, all was well in about 5 minutes. After that, it works flawlessly.