Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Free wi-fi" or not

So here's a pot-hole on the information highway -- restaurants and fast-food joints that advertise free wi-fi, but you can't do what you need to do. Herewith a very short list of my experiences locally.
  • Peet's: GOOD
    Buy a cup at Peet's Redwood City (on Broadway near the railroad tracks) and you get a coupon with a passcode good for an hour's usage on their wifi. Their firewall allows me out to ssh and VPN to the office. An hour is all I need, since the next train arrives within an hour.
  • Denny's: SPOTTY
    They want you to register, and it used to work fine. But lately in Redwood City (Broadway at Woodside) there's signal but no connection outside the building. I mean, I get an IP address on en1 (and it's not a 169.254 address either), but there's no address resolution. I asked our waitress about this (not about resolv.conf, just about "internet") but no joy.

    UPDATE 29-June-2010: Working now!

  • McDonald's: BAD
    At least in Menlo Park (El Camino at Santa Cruz) I can resolve addresses, but the only addresses that work seem to be * I can't read or, and when I try to ssh to my ISP, another website, the office (etc) the connections show SYN_SENT but that's it. According to their wifi page these things are all supposed to work. But not here and not now.
  • City of Mountain View (Google wi-fi) GOOD if you can get it.
    This isn't a fast-food joint or a restaurant, but here's my experience. Reception isn't so good on this 15" powerbook (aluminum), so I can't always connect. When I can, it lets me talk to my ISP and to the office (ssh tunnel). But most of the time I can't.

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