#1
Old 05-13-2015, 12:47 AM
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Fast Food Wifi: how?

I'm not very technical...

Say I'm in Carl's Jr., where they have a banner that says Free Wifi. How do I connect? Do I need to ask them the login name and password? Or is it the same in all Carl's Jr. restaurants? I looked online, both Googling and at Carl's home page, and can't find it. It's gotta be easy, 'cause lots of people do it.

Just... How?

ETA: Motorola smart phone with Android.

Last edited by Trinopus; 05-13-2015 at 12:48 AM.
#2
Old 05-13-2015, 12:54 AM
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On my iPhone, it automatically asks me if I want to connect to an available network, or I can do it manually in settings. Typically these networks aren't password protected but you'll be forced to click a disclaimer popup from the corporate website to connect.
#3
Old 05-13-2015, 01:04 AM
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You just... connect to the wifi. You have used wifi in the past right? Just open up the wifi list on your phone, and select the one called Carl's Jr.
#4
Old 05-13-2015, 01:26 AM
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My laptop will detect any available wifi connections. I'd just look for a connection with a name like carljr. I'm assuming there's no password protection so anyone can sign on if they're within range. I know in my town, for example, anyone can sign on from the Burger King parking lot.
#5
Old 05-13-2015, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyebrows 0f Doom View Post
You just... connect to the wifi. You have used wifi in the past right? Just open up the wifi list on your phone, and select the one called Carl's Jr.
Actually, no... I've never used Wifi before. (I'm one of those "trailing edge" users. I was one of the last of my circle to move from a typewriter to word processing.)

But if it's automatic (other than accepting a disclaimer) I'll probably be okay.

Thanks, all, for advice. I'll come back if I get stuck. Cheers!
#6
Old 05-13-2015, 02:09 AM
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As others have said, most of these wifi hotspots don't have passwords. Just go to the connection manager and click on the name of the hotspot and you will be connected.

But that has another implication: The data stream between your computer and the wifi hotspot is not encrypted. That means anyone can read it easily (with the proper software). This is probably not a big deal if you are just reading SDMB or the news, but if you are doing something more private, you need to encrypt the data on your own computer before sending it out over wifi. For example, if a web page begins with "https" rather than "http," then the data is encrypted end-to-end or if you use a VPN, then the data will be encrypted between your computer and the VPN server.
#7
Old 05-13-2015, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
But if it's automatic (other than accepting a disclaimer) I'll probably be okay.
You could be more okay if you took a moment to figure out how your particular phone manages wi-fi, in case you're ever in a situation where the automatic functioning doesn't kick in.

It couldn't be much more complicated than the Carl's Jr combo menu.
#8
Old 05-13-2015, 10:09 AM
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Sometimes you have to click "yes I agree" on their wifi agreement page before you're connected. Panera is like this. So you choose the network then open your browser and click "yes I agree."

If you choose your network and go right to an app (that is not a browser), you'll be pissed that the app can't connect.
#9
Old 05-13-2015, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ZipperJJ View Post
Sometimes you have to click "yes I agree" on their wifi agreement page before you're connected. Panera is like this. So you choose the network then open your browser and click "yes I agree."

If you choose your network and go right to an app (that is not a browser), you'll be pissed that the app can't connect.
A lot of devices will automatically open the signon page for you if you connect to a wifi network that doesn't immediately give you full web access.
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#10
Old 05-13-2015, 12:24 PM
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1) It won't always be called "CarlsJr" or "McDonalds" or whatever. Most of the McDonald's wifi spots I've used were called "ATTwifi" or something like that. My phone does not automatically connect to open wifi hotspots, but it does notify me if one is available. If yours doesn't do either, open the settings and click "wifi" to see a list of available hotspots.

2) You won't need a password to connect, but you will have to agree to their terms of service, which are basically about McDonald's disclaiming all liability if you hack the Pentagon, look at child porn or worse, download a copyrighted song. These terms can be viewed in a browser by visiting any site -- the wifi will redirect you to their sign on page. You can't do this in the facebook app or any other apps that require a network connection -- use the browser to agree to the terms of service first, then the wifi will allow other apps to use the network.
#11
Old 05-13-2015, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCDiver View Post
On my iPhone, it automatically asks me if I want to connect to an available network, or I can do it manually in settings. Typically these networks aren't password protected but you'll be forced to click a disclaimer popup from the corporate website to connect.
Yeah, typically once you connect and then fire up a browser, it'll make you agree to a disclaimer before you're fully connected to the internet. Until then, you're just connected to the Wi-Fi, and their local LAN/DMZ without being able to go further. That's how a lot of hospital wi-fi networks work, and some retail places as well.

Some phones let you auto-connect to your carrier's vetted wi-fi spots. My AT&T phone can (if I let it) automatically connect to AT&T hotspots in lieu of using 4G LTE. I think this uses your phone's carrier credentials for login and verification. (i.e. they know you're an AT&T subscriber when you connect, so they check that vs. your phone).
#12
Old 05-13-2015, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
. . . The data stream between your computer and the wifi hotspot is not encrypted. That means anyone can read it easily . . .
Definitely a good point. Doing online banking would not be wise.

In my case, it's just a really big download, and I'm on the very minimum data plan, so if I can avoid having the data transfer counted against my limit...good. It isn't sensitive data. Anybody who wants to read it...shrug. Feel free.
#13
Old 05-13-2015, 05:12 PM
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As with all things related to cell phones, just ask the nearest teenager. There should be one working at the counter.
#14
Old 05-13-2015, 05:45 PM
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Huh. I'm computer savvy, but the first time I used public Wifi, other than at a hotel, was yesterday when I was having tests done at the hospital. My phone was not connecting via its network. Anyway, when I went into my phone's connection settings, I clicked on the one that had the hospital name. It pulled up a intranet page with a disclaimer to click on.

At hotels, there's usually a card on the desk that tells you the password.
#15
Old 05-13-2015, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Definitely a good point. Doing online banking would not be wise.
Your banking app probably does encryption. I hope anyhow. But people will be able to see what you post to the Dope.
#16
Old 05-13-2015, 10:20 PM
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Um, if it's a really big download (how big is your file?), then there's a chance it might not work or it will be slow. I don't know if restaurant Wi-Fi throttles bandwidth and number of bytes. Even if they don't, the wireless connection tends to be shared by multiple customers, so each user gets only a slice of the pie (so to speak), not the whole pie. For this reason, I tend to use restaurant Wi-Fi for general browsing and home/school/work connection for big downloads.

All the best.
#17
Old 05-14-2015, 01:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teach-me-not View Post
Um, if it's a really big download (how big is your file?), then there's a chance it might not work or it will be slow. . . .
I didn't want to go into unnecessary detail. Basically, my smart phone needs a LOT of apps updated. I've got 31 updates pending. I never bother with them, because the thing works well enough as it is. But my nice phone salesman recommended I perform the updates, and he said to do it at a Wifi spot, instead of having the downloads on my data plan.

I am not a techie... (Despite the fact that, yes, I am a techie! Life is weird that way.)

The idea of asking the nearest teenager sounds more and more attractive each day!
#18
Old 05-14-2015, 04:25 AM
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If you see a lock symbol next to the wifi name, then just ask the cashier for the password, at some places it will also be printed on the receipt. In general, I try to do just general email checking, Facebook, or basic web surfing. You'll notice it will probably take forever to update apps.

If I'm not near home and need a speedier connection or have a lot to do online, I'll find a hotel bar. They usually have decent wifi.
#19
Old 05-14-2015, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
I didn't want to go into unnecessary detail. Basically, my smart phone needs a LOT of apps updated. I've got 31 updates pending. I never bother with them, because the thing works well enough as it is. But my nice phone salesman recommended I perform the updates, and he said to do it at a Wifi spot, instead of having the downloads on my data plan.

I am not a techie... (Despite the fact that, yes, I am a techie! Life is weird that way.)

The idea of asking the nearest teenager sounds more and more attractive each day!
Sorry if I sounded too negative. I just wanted to give you a heads up. App updates shouldn't be a problem. But if you are downloading a movie, for example, then that's a different issue. That was the scenario I imagined. (Not that anyone would want to download a huge file like a movie on a phone.)

It will be great if you can provide more details on where you are stuck. The following steps are on my Android phone - it might differ slightly on yours, but hopefully not that different.

1- Locate the wireless symbol. To do this, swipe the top bar down (I have to swipe it twice on my phone). One of the icons should be the wireless ones. It typically is a downward facing triangular (or circular) wedge, like a pizza slice. My phone gives a description under each icon, in case you aren't sure what a particular icon does.

2- Click on the wireless icon. It should open a list of wireless networks that are within the range of the phone. Some of them will have a little lock symbol - these networks are password protected. No lock means no password, yay!

3- Typically your phone will list quite a few networks that are in the vicinity, but not all of them will work, or the one you are looking for. They could belong to Joe O'Neighbour who lives on the adjacent building, for example.

4- Look for a network with a name similar to the restaurant name. "carljr" or the like. If not, sorry, you might want to ask the counter for the name of the wireless network. In many places, the coffee shop or café would display the network name and password somewhere -- on a little card on the counter, or on the menu, etc.

5- Say you found your network. Is it password protected? If not, then click it. It should automatically connect to the Wi-Fi.

If it is password protected, then also you just click it. Except that, now it will prompt you for a password, which you would have to ask.

Sorry, it all sounds very long and complicated when I write it this way, but it's pretty simple really. Hope this was helpful.

(Do you have a wireless connection at home? If yes, you could practice connecting and disconnecting from it, so that steps 1-3 are clear.)

Last edited by Teach-me-not; 05-14-2015 at 07:21 AM.
#20
Old 05-14-2015, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teach-me-not View Post
3- Typically your phone will list quite a few networks that are in the vicinity, but not all of them will work, or the one you are looking for. They could belong to Joe O'Neighbour who lives on the adjacent building, for example.
And they could belong to Seymour O'Crook at the next table, who makes a handsome living creating web pages and hotspots that look like the Carl's Jr. hotspots and fool people into giving up their passwords.
#21
Old 05-14-2015, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Teach-me-not View Post
Sorry if I sounded too negative. . . .
Not at all, I assure you! I just didn't know what details to include, and didn't want to bog it all down with TMI. Thank you for step-by-step notes! I haven't had a chance to go out and do all of this yet. I'm halfway waiting for a good window of time, and halfway scared to try something new.

I *love* the information age! But I don't so much like the smart-phone environment. For instance, my music player sometimes shows all of my songs...and sometimes doesn't. (Google Music Player.) The menu "Show All Songs" isn't always there, and when it isn't, I'm hanged if I can make it appear, or find my music list.

Windows apps seem to be much more consistently intuitive. But...it's the future, and we'll all be spending the rest of our lives there!

One thing I do resent is that the phone never came with an instruction book. I like instruction books! I actually read 'em!
#22
Old 05-14-2015, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
and halfway scared to try something new.
Nothing to be scared about. The worst that will happen is you won't connect and you just have to get more information. The people behind the counter will most likely before able to help you out or if they're not busy might set it up for you.

Also the teenager thing. If you see one on their phone they are probably using the free wifi as well and you can politely ask them for help.

Quote:
One thing I do resent is that the phone never came with an instruction book. I like instruction books! I actually read 'em!
You might be able to find a manual online if you search for your specific phone.
#23
Old 05-15-2015, 01:12 AM
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One thing I've found with regard to public wifi is that it is almost never any good, at least when used with my smart phone. The connection drops constantly and is slower than the mobile data network, and that even if I only have a couple of bars.

What makes this all the stranger is that up until a few years ago, before the smart phone era, I used to bring along my notebook to coffee shops, etc., and back then public wifi set-ups seemed to work fine. I only stopped bringing my computer initially because I realized I was almost never spending enough time over my coffee that it was worth firing up the computer, particularly if I needed a power outlet. So I don't know if the wifi connectivity has degraded over the past few years, or if it's being hammered by more people with mobile devices, or if in some crazy way it works better with notebooks than smart phones. Certainly I've never noticed anything like that on my home WLANs.
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#24
Old 05-15-2015, 01:51 AM
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Spectre of Pithecanthropus: Odd that public Wifi would be deteriorating in quality. I'd have thought it would be getting better and better, like nearly everything else in the digital age. It seems like such an obvious public boon.

BTW, I love your sig quote! I've always thought Gandalf was wrong in his condemnation of Saruman's "Newtonian" researches. Breaking light into the colors of the spectrum is the very height of wisdom, not of folly! It's also fun and pretty! But spilling the coffee, now that's just un-Hobbitish!
#25
Old 05-16-2015, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Spectre of Pithecanthropus: Odd that public Wifi would be deteriorating in quality. I'd have thought it would be getting better and better, like nearly everything else in the digital age. It seems like such an obvious public boon.

BTW, I love your sig quote! I've always thought Gandalf was wrong in his condemnation of Saruman's "Newtonian" researches. Breaking light into the colors of the spectrum is the very height of wisdom, not of folly! It's also fun and pretty! But spilling the coffee, now that's just un-Hobbitish!
More devices using Wi-Fi will cause it to deteriorate if they don't upgrade their connection. And since it's free, the upgrades tend to lag behind.

And Saruman was definitely the smartest one of the Wizards in The Last Ringbearer, where The Lord of the Rings is a history myth written by the (then) victors. (Note that there's a link to a free English translation at the bottom of the linked article.)

Last edited by BigT; 05-16-2015 at 04:07 AM.
#26
Old 05-16-2015, 04:03 PM
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I read "The Last Ringbearer." Wow! It's almost a "serious parody" if that oxymoron is permissible. Very clever writing (although the lengthy Umbar "spy novel" sequence was a bit draggish.) I got a huge grin out of all of the topsy-turvy moral inversions. Galadriel's totalitarian system of government was horrifying...and quite logical. The "real" Galadriel very likely had something that centralized and top-down: the "benevolent despot" theory of political science.

Oops, sorry for highjacking.
#27
Old 05-16-2015, 09:11 PM
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You can also try your local library. The librarians will be glad to help you if you have trouble signing on.
#28
Old 05-17-2015, 12:14 AM
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Oh! I hadn't thought of the library! Thank you; I was tunnel-visioned on a fast food place.

(Also, at a library, I'll have stuff to read while I'm waiting. Of course, at a fast food joint, I'll have stuff to eat... Decisions decisions!)
#29
Old 05-17-2015, 01:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
I didn't want to go into unnecessary detail. Basically, my smart phone needs a LOT of apps updated. I've got 31 updates pending. I never bother with them, because the thing works well enough as it is. But my nice phone salesman recommended I perform the updates, and he said to do it at a Wifi spot, instead of having the downloads on my data plan.

I am not a techie... (Despite the fact that, yes, I am a techie! Life is weird that way.)

The idea of asking the nearest teenager sounds more and more attractive each day!
Am I missing something, or don't you have wifi for your computer at home? Just set up your phone to automatically synch up so you can get online with your home wifi whenever you're there so you're not using the more expensive phone data plan, and do any big downloads and updates that way. That's what most people do.
#30
Old 05-17-2015, 05:37 PM
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Penfeather: nope, no Wifi at home. My PC is plugged right into a cable-modem from the wall-plug, leading out to the carrier's fiber drop.

(Maybe? I just looked, and the cable-modem has a blinking green light for Ethernet, but also labels for Wireless, HomePNA, and Phone 1 and Phone 2. ETA: none of these has any lights showing, but they have indicators that could turn on to solid or blinking green. So the thing might be configurable to do Wifi.)

(Just for curiosity, I turned on the Wifi on my phone, and seven different services show on the list. Names like Netgear 27 and 2WIRE341. One of them just might possibly be a secondary feature on my cable-modem. I haven't any idea which one.)

I'm figuring, now, to spend some time at the library. (I apologize for being kind of a dunce here. This is something most pre-teens can figure out, but a gentleman of advancing years finds it challenging!)

Last edited by Trinopus; 05-17-2015 at 05:38 PM.
#31
Old 05-18-2015, 12:04 AM
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OK, does your modem have a little antenna sticking out the top? Your phone won't pick up wifi anyway until you configure a wireless network for it: go to your Control Panel, click on Network and Internet and then Network and Sharing Centre, and it will show you the type of modem and connection you have currently; below that is an option for setting up a wireless network.
#32
Old 05-18-2015, 12:16 AM
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Go to your ISP's website. They should have instructions for accessing the wifi feature for your particular cable modem.
#33
Old 05-18-2015, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Penfeather View Post
OK, does your modem have a little antenna sticking out the top? . . .
No... So I guess that's out.

Baby steps: I went to a fast food restaurant and was able to connect to their Wifi. I didn't start my upgrades this time, just established that I can make the connection.

So, to that degree, my actual OP has been answered. Thank you, all, for helping me combat...or at least circumscribe...my ignorance!
#34
Old 05-18-2015, 09:11 PM
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Congrats! Just curious: did they have a password set?

(Sorry, I couldn't respond earlier, though I was checking the thread now and then.)
#35
Old 05-18-2015, 09:22 PM
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It was a Carl's Jr., and there wasn't a password. (But their Jalapeno Burger is da bomb!)

I still haven't got my butt to the library...
#36
Old 05-19-2015, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
One thing I do resent is that the phone never came with an instruction book. I like instruction books! I actually read 'em!
I just bought an iPod (I know, welcome to the 21st century -- I am ripping my CDs to the iPod as we speak ) and it's remarkable how little information comes with it. Just a tiny slip of paper with URLs.
#37
Old 05-19-2015, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
No... So I guess that's out.

Baby steps: I went to a fast food restaurant and was able to connect to their Wifi. I didn't start my upgrades this time, just established that I can make the connection.

So, to that degree, my actual OP has been answered. Thank you, all, for helping me combat...or at least circumscribe...my ignorance!
Not all wifi devices have antennas, so I'd still check with your ISP. Not that connecting your secured Wi-Fi at home is quite the same as using it abroad. Doing it abroad is much easier.
#38
Old 05-19-2015, 07:05 AM
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Indeed, most modern cable modems don't have an external antenna. You just need to learn what the signal's name is, like "HOME-F7546" or something. I think the number corresponds to your modem's serial number or something. There'll be a temporary password, and it might be written down on whatever paperwork they gave you when you had them install it. If not just call your cable provider and get someone to help. Perhaps they have records or can reset it for you from your end, then you're in.

It's likely it has wifi. Why not take advantage of that at home?
#39
Old 05-19-2015, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cmyk View Post
It's likely it has wifi. Why not take advantage of that at home?
It can definitely save you some money.
#40
Old 05-19-2015, 04:12 PM
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Money? (The duck drops down from the ceiling, and Groucho laughs, "You just said the secret woid!")

How would home Wifi save me money?

(I am careful never to use all the data in my phone data plan, and, to be honest, don't have any desire to. I'm not a power user.)
#41
Old 05-19-2015, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Money? (The duck drops down from the ceiling, and Groucho laughs, "You just said the secret woid!")

How would home Wifi save me money?

(I am careful never to use all the data in my phone data plan, and, to be honest, don't have any desire to. I'm not a power user.)
Well, it's like this:

You ISP, aka, Comcast or what have you, had leased you a modem. In the last 5 or so years, these modems have Wifi capability; that is, not only can you jack into the internet via Ethernet, like the good ol' days, these modems offer a local wifi broadcast you can use as part of subscribing to your ISP's plan.

So, in all likelihood, and despite any lack of external antenna, you probably have a wifi capable modem, provided to you by your ISP. It would then, just be a matter of letting whatever device you wish to use to tap into it. There'll be a Wifi name associated to your specific modem, and a temp password your ISP provides you. Depending on who your ISP is, this differs.

If you could tell us your ISP (e.g Comcast) and the model of your cable modem, we could perhaps help you further into accessing the wifi that most likely came with your modem (and you're not taking advantage of).
#42
Old 05-19-2015, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
But spilling the coffee, now that's just un-Hobbitish!
But highly feline-ish, you must admit.
#43
Old 05-19-2015, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Penfeather: nope, no Wifi at home. My PC is plugged right into a cable-modem from the wall-plug, leading out to the carrier's fiber drop.

(Maybe? I just looked, and the cable-modem has a blinking green light for Ethernet, but also labels for Wireless, HomePNA, and Phone 1 and Phone 2. ETA: none of these has any lights showing, but they have indicators that could turn on to solid or blinking green. So the thing might be configurable to do Wifi.)
You might want to try logging into the admin screen of your modem, which will usually have the URL 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.0, or similar, and the default userid and password are frequently provided by a sticker on the bottom of the device. If they aren't, you can usually find this information by googling the manufacturer and model, as well as instructions for resetting the password if necessary.

Once you are logged into the admin screen, the next options/steps will be broadly similar although the screen layout will vary with the manufacturer. Look first for "Wireless" or "WLAN" and click on it; there you should be able to confirm whether the wifi capability exists, and if so, to enable it if needed. Before enabling it you will want to set up some kind of security; otherwise your wifi will be the same as that in a public place; anybody who happens to be nearby will be able to hitchhike to the internet on your modem. Typically, while still in the WLAN or wireless area of the management tool, you'll find a submenu for security or access control that pertains just to wifi. I won't attempt to provide detailed steps here, but there are standard security protocols which you can find online.

Finally, before exiting the admin page, look for an option to "enable remote configuration", which will allow you to administer your modem while on a WLAN connection. (Once you have enabled wifi, you'll find it less and less aceptable to be tied down to an Ethernet cable. On mine this is found from the top of the menu at "Advanced=>Options", but as always YMMV depending on the hardware you have.
#44
Old 05-19-2015, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
What makes this all the stranger is that up until a few years ago, before the smart phone era, I used to bring along my notebook to coffee shops, etc., and back then public wifi set-ups seemed to work fine.
ETA: I wanted to test this out with a notebook today, but gave up after trying two Starbucks locations and failing to find an available seat or table at either of them. Although I could have gone to an independent cafe, I think it's better to run the test at SBs because I'm assuming their ATT Wifi setup should perform more or less similarly at all their locations.
#45
Old 05-20-2015, 10:39 PM
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Tested at a coffee shop chain

This level of connectivity, from a test I ran this afternoon, is clearly abysmal.

Link

Clearly there's no difference between my notebook on their wifi versus my smart phone. I can't even check my email on this.

Today the mobile data networks were almost as bad, but they do have the advantage of being more stable.
#46
Old 05-20-2015, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Spectre of Pithecanthropus: Odd that public Wifi would be deteriorating in quality. I'd have thought it would be getting better and better, like nearly everything else in the digital age. It seems like such an obvious public boon.
It would be, but more and more I come to the conclusion that typical standards of service and quality will seek the lowest level that the Walmart culture will put up with. Public wifi did use to be a lot better, I'm convinced, particularly at coffee chains like Starbucks.

Online banking bill payment systems have also taken a major nosedive. When they first became widespread, they were set up so that when you made a payment, your money would go into some kind of holding account to be processed, and that could take a few days. But you didn't have to watch for the payment to clear; you were done with that aspect of it. That was how it worked at the one or two banks I was using over that period. By contrast, my bank now takes days to process even electronic remittances; when paper checks are necessary they are drawn directly on my account just as they would be if I mailed them myself. We're about to go back to paying our bills by mail because it's quicker than waiting for the bank to do it. Online bill pay saves us nothing more than writer's cramp and postage, where it used to be a powerful tool for managing routine obligations.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 05-20-2015 at 11:03 PM.
#47
Old 05-21-2015, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
It would be, but more and more I come to the conclusion that typical standards of service and quality will seek the lowest level that the Walmart culture will put up with. Public wifi did use to be a lot better, I'm convinced, particularly at coffee chains like Starbucks.
There's more people using it, and more of it.

More people using it is pretty obvious--when usage outstrips capacity you get slowdowns. Increasing capacity can run into limitations that are technical (what's the state of the art for access points), logistical (how long does it take to upgrade every Starbucks in the country), financial (how much money am I willing to sink into free WiFi), and probably several others.

"More of it" may be less obvious. WiFi is unlicensed spectrum, which means that everything using WiFi is all in the same spectrum band, all talking over one another.

Imagine if you had a situation where radio only had three valid frequencies, say 88.1, 88.3 and 88.5, but all of the radio stations in the area still operated, they just all broadcast on the same frequencies at the same time. It'd be a mess to try and listen to.

Much the same here--it's designed so that when you connect to a certain SSID, that's all you're listening for, but all the other stuff around you is still interfering and making your connection worse.

Back ~10 years ago, when my company had the contract for Starbucks WiFi (not us anymore), chances are you only saw our signal when you were in a store. Nowadays, every damn store in the shopping center has their own WiFi access point running, some for customer/guest access, some so salespeople can take orders or whatever on their iPads, etc.
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