Monday, April 06, 2009

I don't know what that "Free Public WiFi" server is.

Traveling as much as I do, and working wherever I go, I'm always looking for Internet connections (for my computer, not for me, thanks anyway).

Sometimes, in public places, I see a server called "Free Public WiFi," but it never seems to work. I can connect to it, and see a signal; I can't reach any websites through it.

Anyone know what this is? I'll research when I have some time, but I'd like to believe it's a placeholder for some future time when Internet access will be like highways, free and available to all.

Not that every highway is free, or available to all. Yesterday I took Dizzy out to Purcellville, to have the first step of this procedure at Blue Ridge Veterinary Hospital. This morning I'm headed back out to pick him up. (He'll have the second step on Wednesday night; so far, so good.) Anyway, the route to Purcellville takes me on not one but two toll roads, and one of those roads costs $3.90 each way at off-peak hours. Glad I don't commute from there.


Karen Olson said...

When I was doing a bit of traveling for my job as a travel editor, I started to take note of Internet access at hotels. I found the more expensive a hotel, there was a charge for Internet, usually $10 a day. But at the La Quinta Inn or others like it, it was free. No rhyme or reason for that.

Anonymous said...

Let me know if you find out.

I had that yesterday when I tried to connect at H City Hall. I was connected, but the websites told me they were working offline, and changing the offline toggle didn't do anything. It must be a connection setting I haven't found yet.

MS Vista help screens are no help, written by arrogant people who likely feel you should never need help screen but that is a rant for another day.


mierla said...

It's the most benign viral non-virus computer thing ever.

Here's the executive summary:

"When Windows connects to a network, it retains that network's name, or SSID, then broadcasts its as an ad hoc network, essentially inviting a connection.

What's the thing almost everyone wants to find when they open a WiFi-enabled notebook and search for a connection? Why, free public WiFi! If you see that -- and you don't know any better -- you connect to it.

Your notebook then retains that SSID, broadcasting it as an ad hoc network. Others see you, connect to you, pick up the name, and later pass it on. And on and on it goes. Since people travel with their notebooks, it's easy for this to have moved quickly, across the country -- like a cold spreading in the closed confines of an airplane cabin."

..and here's the full writeup if you're extra-interested:

AnswerGirl said...

Wow, Lauren, thanks -- you're a genius!

Anonymous said...

I have run into things like that from time to time, and even used one of my test laptops that I carried around with me to see what would happen if I linked up to one.

I did have access, albeit very slow. More interestingly I noted that there appeared to be a lot of inexplicable traffic on the card.

I can only assume that these are parts of a scam or attempt to highjack systems. So I advise all my remotes to stay away from anything that says free when you are talking about WiFi.

larry said...


Free Public WiFi is nothing more that the wireless service you may have at home, except it is secure and requires each user to log in.

In order to activate a free Wi-Fi site such as you will find at Starbuck's, etc. it is necessary to launch a new web page on your browser. I know you use a MAC, so if you are using the Safari, Foxfire or any other browser and the program is already open simply press the "APPLE" button along with the "N" button. A new web page will open and should connect to the WiFi server. In most cases, it will be necessary to enter some information like name, address, etc.

Once you do that and click that you accept the 9 ages of legal BS, you are connect.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the traveling wifi since I don't take my computer with me. I just spent almost a month in the Islands with no radio, TV, telephone, internet or newspapers. I couldn't even find a place to mail the post cards I bought on most of the islands. I loved it but you have to come back to reality sometime.

I really hope Dizzy comes out alright and friskier than ever. As for me, I just got a cortizone shot and it is like a miracle. I can walk again.

I have noted that the more expensive the hotel the more they charge for incidental services that are free or almost free at Days Inn etc. Also the staff is almost rude requesting tips. At some small hotels, the staff seems almost surprised when offered a tip.

Love, DAD

Larry said...

Your poor father. What a tragic life... :-)