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WiFi newbies

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WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:14 am

We got a new laptop which has built-in WiFi capability, and are hoping to use it on the road soon. However, when I read about using WiFi at campgrounds, boosting signals, etc., I am completely lost - I have NO idea what people are talking about!! (Dongles?? :?: Bridges?? :?: :!: ) Can we just sit with the computer at our campground picnic table and start using WiFi? If not, what do we need to get started? Can anyone provide a brief "WiFi for Dummies" version of what to do?
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby wintek on Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:40 am

1st - Be sure the wireless is turned on. It could either be a hardware switch or via software.
2nd - Connect to a known wireless network. You may have to run a network wizard if you have never connected before.
3rd - Be sure file & print sharing is turned OFF (would be part of wizard).

That's it!. The other stuff you see posted are people wanting to extend their wireless connection or trying to create a LAN (local area network) or access point inside of the TT.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Thanks! I'm copying any replies we get & will print them out so we can refer to them on the road. I know I'll never remember all that! :)
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:19 pm

I think Wintek pretty much covered it - and be SURE to turn all sharing off. You'd be surprised at how many people at campgrounds leave it all turned on (usually through ignorance) and leave their systems wide open to abuse as a result - at one campground (Mt Rushmore KOA) I found about 100 systems wide open for my (if I had desired) prying eyes.

That aside, most campground WiFi is pretty slow (depending on setup, number of people using it, etc) and signals can be weak depending on how much money (or lack thereof) the campground has spent setting up their system. Some (many) CG's simply have one hotspot in the office which may or may (frequently) not cover the main camping areas, so you may need to trek up to the office area with your laptop in order to surf.

All in all, it's handy though, and it's nice to get up in the morning with a coffee and catch up with your surfing. :)
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby skipnchar on Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:58 pm

We started using WIFI ourselves just on the last trip (since AT&T now believes their "laptop connect" should be a full time option instead of using it when needed then turning it off again). We paid $10.00 extra for the premium WIFI service but really don't see much of an advantage over the free WIFI AT&T offers. The only difference is a few more locations but never had any problem finding free locations. It's available at most MacDonalds, Starbucks, UPS stores and many Roadside parks in various states. Just sign on with my AT&T user name. Can't say I like it as WELL as the old Laptop Connect system using the phone as modem but it is faster. Kind of hard to beat having Internet anywhere you happen to be where there's phone service though.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:46 pm

Sounds like you're on cellular broadband. Are you saying that having some kind of cellphone hookup that you pay for isn't much better than the free connection? (I'm a little confused here - remember, I'm not only a newbie, I'm definitely a computer dummy! :? )
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby skipnchar on Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:43 am

Sorry for the confusion. AT&T has free WIFI as about 5,000 sites across the country for anyone using them as their Internet service provider (through Yahoo). If you pay an extra $10.00 per month for their PREMIUM service with higher speed, it also includes their PREMIUM locations which adds another couple of thousand locations where you can connect. As part of the free network MOST McDonalds restaurants, UPS stores, Starbucks plus many other locations such as libraries and civic buildings are part of the network.

Previously we just subscribed to their "lap top connect" service for an extra $60.00 per month. This allowed us to use their cellular broad band to connect out computer anywhere we had cell service. I prefer that type of connection because it's available most anywhere across the country. Problem is they stopped the practice of allowing customers to use the service on a part time basis. We used to add the service only when we traveled and turn it off again when we got home. Current policy is that to turn it on requires a commitment of two years and there's just no way I'll pay for a slow speed network while sitting at home right next to my high speed system. We decided to give WIFI a try but since we almost never stay at RV Parks, we seldom have Internet when camping. Makes it difficult to use the Internet for entertainment purposes (like the forum) but DOES allow us to do our banking etc. when necessary. Still looking for a better solution though.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:46 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Skip. It makes me wonder - you don't have to sign up with AT&T in order to use WiFi at McDonalds or Starbucks or an RV park, do you? I know you often pay extra at RV parks to use it, of course.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby skipnchar on Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:34 pm

Most RV parks provide the necessary sign on information as part of your camping fees. At McDonalds they usually subscribe to several different networks and I BELIEVE you would need to be a network member of one of them to sign on. You might ASK at McDonalds if you need a password but I've always just signed on with my SBC Yahoo information.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:22 pm

Well, it works at this campground (we're at Tom Sawyer's Miss. River RV Park in West Memphis.) Their Wifi is free, but since they're so isolated, the gal in the office said, people can't just drive by and use it. Guess we'll see - but sharing is turned off. :) Works pretty well here! Rather fun. :)

Thanks for all the tips!
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby thetwoofus on Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:05 pm

Last year when we decided to do this go south for the winter thing, we bought a Dell laptop and got the Verizon wireless connection that uses a USB connection. We can use it anywhere we can get the wireless connection. It's handy to be able to be driving down the highway and having my wife on the PC contacting a RV park a couple hundred miles away to get a reservation for that night, or just IM-ing a family member or reading email, we also do all our banking on line and watch our accounts daily. It's really slick because we can use it anywhere. In fact we are at my Sons home staying with the 4 grandkids for the weekend while my Son and wife are away. I'm sitting at his kitchen table on my laptop using my Verizon wireless connection. This way I don't have to get on his PC to do my thing. I don't trust the WiFi to do my banking or other personal things.
We pay 60.00 a month for this Verizon wireless connection and for running around the country it's handy to have. I think it's even faster than my Wild Blue Satellite connection at the house.
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Re: WiFi newbies

Unread postby catmom on Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:40 pm

$60/month seems to be the going rate; AT&T seems to have something similar. As we have a Verizon cellphone, we'd probably stick with them. Currently we're not away from home enough to make the extra cost worthwhile, as we have cable modem at home (which is really fast!!) Given our home location & situation, cable makes sense for us to keep for a while.

I wouldn't do any banking while here on the free WiFi either. I agree that if we were going to do that kind of thing, or purchase anything online using a credit card, etc., we'd probably want to be using our own service.

Anyway, this is fun for just emailing & doing the RV forums. It works great this morning, as we're almost the only ones in the whole CG (Monday AM). BTW, this is a great CG. It gets good ratings on rvparkreviews and word of mouth on the "other forum", which is why we chose it, and we're glad we did. Lots of fun to sit in our camper (or in its shade this afternoon) and watch barges going up & down the river, perhaps 50 yards away, or closer)! Delightful!
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