iBook, Cafes and other WiFi spots

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by sotied, Nov 3, 2004.

  1. sotied macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2003
    Location:
    Boston
    #1
    Hi. Just got (well, it's on its way) a 14-inch, 1.2GHz iBook with Airport Extreme installed, 1.2Gb of RAM, 60GB HD and a Combo drive.

    I intend to use this as my writing machine and my on-the-road surfing machine. Will I have any trouble strolling into a cafe and jumping onto their WiFi connection?

    Is the set-up self-explanatory pretty much or will I have to call AppleCare before my first foray to decipher this process? I guess I could also read the book.

    I WILL be setting up a wireless network in the house with a wireless router. Will this likely be the same process?

    I'm just a little nervous and excited all at the same time and I don't want to get frustrated if I blindly rush to the nearest Starbucks only to be locked out of their network.

    And I definitely don't want to lurk in my car next to apartment buildings and not be able to pick up a wireless signal to hijack. Not that anyone would ever do that!

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    Jeff
     
  2. zyuzin4 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    #2
    It should be really easy. Just turning my airport on (i have the airport status display in the menu bar) leads it to finding any available networks. I have my WEP password entered in so I don't need to type it in everytime
     
  3. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #3
    Should be quite straightforward - turn on airport from the menu at the top right of the screen, select the network you want to join from those listed in the airport menu, then in starbucks you just open up Safari (the browser) and try to connect to a page - the wireless network automatically redirects you to a login page where you type in a credit card number for access. Same process for hijacking your neighbours unsecured wireless network only without the credit card bit.

    As for your own wireless network, get an airport express - should take you about 5 mins to set up using the install disk.
     
  4. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #4
    cheap home wireless network

    Gee's suggestion of buying an Airport Express is a good one because it'll be really easy to set up and that device also serves a couple more functions.

    However, if all you want to spend is $30-60 and not $130, you could just buy any wireless access point (D.Link, Netgear, Linksys, etc). They will all work with your new iBook. There are many threads in here relating to particular brands / models of wireless access points / routers, so just do a search in the forums. For example, the one I use at home is a Linksys WRT54G.
     
  5. stevietheb macrumors 6502a

    stevietheb

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2004
    Location:
    Houston
    #5
    Be aware that many public places with WiFi require you to have some kind of account. For example, I believe at Starbucks you have to have some sort of T-Mobile wifi acct. This, last I checked, costs money.

    In my experience, a lot of the small coffee shops (indies, not national chains) have free wifi access.

    Just a heads up...
     
  6. stevietheb macrumors 6502a

    stevietheb

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2004
    Location:
    Houston
    #6
    Also, while I personally use AirPort Express, I only spent the money for portability and AirTunes. In fact, my AirPort Express really only serves as a bridge, since my connection comes into my Linksys router sent to me by Vonage.

    SO, you can probably get a wireless router (I remember buy.com having some good deals) for less than $50.
     
  7. noel4r macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #7
  8. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #8
    Panera Bread has free wireless internet, and it's a national chain. I haven't used it there yet, even though there's one close to my house.
     
  9. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    #9
    Hi sotied, congrats on your new iBook.

    I have a PB, and I also like to work on the road. Like some have mentioned, most cafes require you to sign up for a paid plan to use their wifi network. I know that Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and some others offer wifi in many of their stores. Unfortunately, different places may use different wifi providers, so if you want to go to all sorts of coffeeshops, you may need to open multiple accounts.

    There are some good free wifi hotspots, though. Panera Bread offers free wifi at most, if not all of their cafes.

    http://www.wififreespot.com/ is a good source to look at for other free wifi service in your area.

    -----

    EDIT: Doh, beaten to the punch about Panera Bread! FWIW, I've used their free internet service a few times. The first few times were okay, but then I started getting DOG SLOW speeds. I haven't been back since. If you need high speeds, though, T-Mobile's wifi service at Starbucks / Borders / etc. is extremely good. I'm not sure what the connection was (T1?) but it was faster than both the DSL at my house and the wifi at my university.
     
  10. kakapo macrumors member

    kakapo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Boston Metro
    #10
    has anyone successfully used the panera network w/ a *book? i just tried last night, and while i could see the network w/ macstumbler and connect to it using the airport/internet connect gui, no webpage would ever load. i tried safari and ie, and both of them would time out after a minute. i could hold my ibook up to the window and catch the barnes & noble signal and load their intro/pay-me-lots-of-money page fine. i have also connected on other random wireless networks fine... i tried calling the panera tech support and got a very friendly person but eventually got to "i don't know anything about macs..."

    thanks for any insight...
     
  11. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #11
    it seems like dotnina has. it's possible you need to go into System Preferences > Network > Airport and configure it for DHCP. that's just a guess but it might work.

    another approach would be to call AppleCare. you just got your 1.33GHz iBook, so you're within your 90 days of phone support and you might as well use it. they'll walk you through the whole configuration.
     
  12. lasuther macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    #12
    I've used Panera Bread many times. One time, I had a problem with safari. I had to open Internet Explorer to work. But, every other time safari has worked for me.

    lasuther
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #13
    Try loading the same page again, or another page. I've often encountered the "not found" message when hooking into a new network either with wifi or hardwire. I believe this is a DNS lookup issue.

    I understand some McDonald's restaurants in major urban areas are offering wifi with a minimum purchase.

    Poaching on somebody's home or office network is much harder than I'd been led to believe. A year ago I wandered around midtown Manhattan with my Powerbook looking for an open wireless hotspot and didn't find a single one.
     
  14. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    #14
    Yep, I've used the Panera Bread wifi with my PB, but for some reason Safari never loads the page for me. I have to use Firefox or IE. It might take a few refreshes, too.

    Come to think of it, Safari doesn't seem to like loading wifi intro pages. Safari will do it when I'm at Starbucks and on T-Mobile, but it has completely choked on the Panera Bread wifi and another free wifi service I used.
     
  15. Savage Henry macrumors 65816

    Savage Henry

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Location:
    in a one horse, two house, three pub town.
    #15
    For those folks in the UK....

    I know this isn't entirely answering the exact question, but if users are in the UK want to make similar enquiries .... http://www.zdnet.co.uk/specials/wifimap/

    For non-UK it also has much info to fill in other questions about wi-fi and all it's glory.

    Just thought it might be useful.
     
  16. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #16
    Try different pages before giving up on Safari. I don't pretend to understand why, but some pages don't want to be the first to load when you tap into one of these hotspots for the first time. Often I try one and it won't work, then load another that will. Then I can load the first page successfully. Odd. Still, I haven't found a wifi network yet that simply won't work with Safari though sometimes it takes this little bit of tricking around.
     
  17. rogerw macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Location:
    west sussex UK
    #17
    I am a dullard at these things but ,found no trouble connecting to the wifi at stanstead airport(1st time ever tried this). Quite sad really, I had a 6.00 am flight after arriving at airport at midnight (dont ask why) and was in depature lounge at 0430 and managed to log on with ibook even after no sleep since the previous night. Safari, .mac email etc worked no probs. Girlfriend went mental though!
     
  18. hikeNM macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Location:
    Somewhere close to a dairy in East Texas
    #18
    This may be off the subject, but I'll say it anyway. My wife and I own a Powerbook and decided this passed summer to drive from Texas to Alaska. The trip took 28 days.

    In order to keep in touch we decided to get an airport card and keep a travel diary, day by day. I had absolutely no knowledge about wireless networks at the time. Bought the card and literally within 10 minutes had it set up. Our first night was in New Mexico(yes it was a round-about route) and we stopped at a cafe. I did nothing more than click on the signal bar to join the network and I was good to go.

    Throughout the 28 days we were able to post everyday except for a two day stretch in the Yukon. I never had to do anything more than type in a password in a cafe on mainstreet in Banff, BC.

    I was truly amazed at the ease I was able to connect wirelessly and how many places have sprung up to accomidate computing travelers.

    You shouldn't have any problems figuring it all out. As with other things, Apple makes it very intuitive.

    BTW, if anybody would like to see our trip page, here it is.
    http://homepage.mac.com/spanishgirl
     
  19. sotied thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2003
    Location:
    Boston
    #19
    WiFi Poaching - an update

    Hi. Since I started this thread I hadn't been back because my iBook is THE ABSOLUTE BEST purchase of November 2004 for me. I bought a Scion xA in July, so the iBook can't be the best purchase of the year YET.

    OK, enough digressing.

    I was wandering around downtown Boston this Monday around in one spot I was able to get NO FEWER than nine networks AND SIX OF THEM had no protection. Granted, this was after hours in the financial district, but the speed was lightning fast and access was "one-click" easy.

    I have since the original post: set up wireless at my house - slower than wired, but still great; found it simple to plug into the work network just by grabbing an ethernet cable from a computer in the next cube; went to a Dr.'s appointment and while waiting for the Dr. was able to unplug the ethernet from their computer (one in each examination room) and plug in and surf; and jump on my girlfriend's network (that's NOT a euphemism) at her apartment easily - but that one had a password protected wireless connection.

    In all, it seems like the iBook WILL win out for 2004 unless the lottery ticket I bought yesterday comes up milhouse.

    Thanks for your help. I'll continue to read the comments.

    Jeff
     
  20. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #20
    sotied, the reason you're finding so many wireless networks with decent signals and IJReilly isn't is you have an iBook and IJReilly has a PowerBook.

    that's the best thing about iBooks -- the wireless network reception.

    maybe I'll sell my PowerBook and get an iBook.
     
  21. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    sitting on your shoulder
    #21
    The intro pages at MIT, and two at South Station work just fine for me in Safari.


    Okay, well, they did when I was last there a few months ago ;)
     
  22. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Location:
    A geographical oddity
    #22
    panera bread

    I've seen one work - it was a pb12. I was there with my pb15, and couldn't get the page to load. I saw that the lady was using safari, but had to take off and meet my fiance for dinner before i could think of a polite way to say "I was looking over your shoulder at safari and ichat, and noticed you could connect to the panera server. how'd you do it?" so, I don't know how she did it. (and yes, i do usually buy a soda or something before trying to ride on a free wifi network - we just decided to have burgers at home that night).
     
  23. kaimuse macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    #23
    iBook G4 1GHz OS 10.3.6:

    I'm on at Panera in Princeton, NJ where I'm visiting for the turkey feast (at the folks', not Panera ;-), and I had the same initial problem of no pages loading, etc.

    I tried a couple of things, first launching IPNetMonitor in Classic and successfully pinging a number of sites (Apple, my ISP, etc.) by typing in names - not IP numbers - which tells me that some sort of name resolution was occuring; but Safari was still no go. Odd.

    Then I tried typing in my ISP's DNS server addresses into Airport's TCP/IP settings. Still no go.

    Then, trying Firefox (the new 1.0) broke the logjam: it brought me to a Panera "Using Panera Wi-Fi..." page which then redirected me to a shameless marketing ploy ("Sign up for our bread newsletter...") After this, Safari worked/works fine. (Not necessary to continue using Firefox.)

    So it seems that Panera's gatekeeping uses some kind of browser detection and (apparently) wants to see the mozilla type of browser (which is odd because, as I understand it, Safari automatically "poses" as various user agents to get around such things), since as someone else pointed out here, IE (at least Mac IE) doesn't work either.

    I'm still left with another access problem: I can't get or send mail (via OS X Mail) - had to use my ISP's Webmail interface, which, like most, sucks big time. I have experienced problems sending (but not receiving) mail at other wi-fi cafes, so this remains a puzzle to be solved.

    Hope this is of some help.
     
  24. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #24
    I would think it's more likely to be some sort of proxy-ish issue.
     
  25. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #25
    Nevermind, glad it all worked for you. iBooks and Powerbooks are such great road-warrior machines.
     

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