Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Where's The Wifi?

A while back I was trying to find free wireless hot spots in San Francisco hoping to find a few in places I frequent while there. While searching, I found this news item claiming San Francisco is one of the top wireless hot spots in the country.

Well, maybe so, but it didn't seem to work that way for me when I was in The City the last three days.

I actually lugged the laptop around with me all day Monday trying to see if I could find an open network. Two places were of particular interest: UCSF Medical Center on Parnassus Avenue and the UCSF Annex at China Basin.

I tried it before with no luck on Parnassus but decided to give it one more shot. There were probably nine networks that I could pick up with three or four that showed as non- secured. I tried to get into all of those. Seems to me I actually connected to one or two out of those but they wouldn't let me do anything. The wireless program said I was connected but my browser kept saying "Server not found" or some such.

Gave up on that and tried China Basin after taking the UCSF shuttle there. Same thing.

Maybe ten or so networks there with four or five unsecured. Some I connected to, but that was all I could do. Finally got a strong connection to one, opened my browser and, lo and behold, a web page came up. It was the log in page for University of Arizona. That's as far as I could get without a password.

Nope. No free surfing in Frisco at those places.

Why so difficult? Maybe I'm doing something wrong?


At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever though you should PAY for the services you use? But you believe thats only for the liberals, not hypocritical pseudo libertarians.

Using subterfuge to steal undefended property is exactly what you and your fellow neoCons are all about.

I suggest you become an expatriate in Baghdad's Green Zone where you can take anything you want for free. Just be careful of the native's backlash.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I do pay for services I use. I pay for DSL at home and I pay for wireless at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco.

I used to pay $10 a day at the hotel but found out a couple months ago I could just pay $2 a month extra on my AT&T DSL account and access their wireless services wherever they have them, Cathedral Hill Hotel being one of them.

But there are a number of places that provide free wireless, for whatever reason, and I was hoping I could find a free signal in the areas I need to be at, like UCSF.

When we stay at the Native Daughters of the Golden West Home we can access the free wireless from the Green Chile Cafe across the street.

When the wife was staying in San Francisco, before we got the password to the wireless the landlord provided, I found I could go out to my truck and pick up a free signal to download e-mail.

Not the safest way to access the internet, but any port in a storm.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Heraldo Riviera said...

You would be lucky to find a coffee shop that isn't wifi capable in San Francisco. But you better watch out because the Chronicle recently reported that some places are just fronts offering wifi so they can steal your info. Wifi is not secure and is increasingly targeted, even in your home according to the Chron.

At 4:46 PM, Blogger thom said...

UCSF has wifi at its various campus locations, including Parnassus, but it's a secured network limited to UCSF employees and students. If you have that kind of affliation with UCSF, you can register for access on the wireless network: see

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should get a better wireless card you old cheap bastard...

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Rob Christensen said...

Hey Fred,
Did you mean the University of Phoenix?

At 7:27 PM, Anonymous mresquan said...

hmm, I'd think that most of the hotels in that area would have wifi.I stayed at a Best Western near Tuscon a few months back when visiting the grandfolks and noticed that people were able to sit in the cars in the parking lot and pick up the service.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Maybe it was University of Phoenix, although I remember it as U of AZ.

Seems to me I recall U of AZ being one of those internet/ mail order outfits. I don't know.

Next time I go down there, I'll try and get it right.

Thom wrote, "UCSF has wifi at its various campus locations, including Parnassus,".

Thanks for the tip, Thom. I kinda figured that and actually went to the transplant coordinators office on Monday and asked if there was some way patients could log in to the wireless network.

They didn't know of any way, but I was told I might be able to go to the Library- not too far away- and log in there.

I didn't bother.

Maybe what I need to do is rattle some cages to get someone to set up a system for UCSF medical patients to be added to the student list?

Oh, I've also been told the patients in the Moffitt- Long Hospital have some sort of internet access. I don't know how it works but I've also been told there's a computer in every hall of the bone marrow transplant ward that allows patients to access the internet.

I'll need to check that out further. The wife is currently up in the Transplant Ward (again) and I left my laptop with her. She's is VERY un- internet savvy, but it would be nice to get her up to speed on being able to send e- mail and such.

I left the laptop with her because she likes to play some games on the computer, mostly cards and Dynomite. I don't think she's played them yet, but I downloaded her card program and tried to show her my e- mail address book so she could e- mail her family.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Esquan wrote "I'd think that most of the hotels in that area would have wifi.".

More and more hotels do, but Cathedral Hill uses ATT wireless and you have to pay for it big time, unless you're an ATT customer.

I'm wondering just how much it costs to set up a wireless network?

Not for home use. I'd prefer hard line DSL nearly all the time. But if you're traveling around, and the computer is set up for wireless, it's nice to find a hot spot.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Carol said...

I wish your wife all the best, Fred. You are a supportive husband, too.

At 9:33 PM, Anonymous mresquan said...

But then again,Fred's wife has had to put up with him for all these years,so maybe it can't get much worse!!JUST KIDDING Fred.

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Rose said...

I'll second that, Carol. Prayers for you guys, Fred.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Jim Liebgott-Osinga said...

Heraldo Riviera said...

You would be lucky to find a coffee shop that isn't wifi capable in San Francisco.

I think you should amend that to "local coffee shops" -- Starbuck's offers wireless for a fee (T/Mobile service, IIRC). Local cafes do often provide free wireless, as long as you have the courtesy to buy a coffee/snack to secure yourself a table.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't call San Francisco "Frisco"

Thank you

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Oh that's right. I've heard people from The City dislike people calling it "Frisco".

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Hayduke said...

I am surprised no one except Heraldo has commented on the problem of security. The great majority of free WiFi networks do not provide for any security at all, and when you are sitting in a coffee shop surfing the ‘Net or checking e-mail your entire computer is open to access from anyone, anyplace, and not just someone at the next table (though it is easier for them). So unless you are sophisticated enough to know how to protect access to your files you might want to pay attention to what is on your hard drive. Also you might leave with some unwanted software on your computer that later a hacker can exploit. I am not suggesting that these services not be used as they are very handy, only that you need to be aware and very cautious.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Hayduke said...

Fred: The answer your question about that cost of a wireless network is it costs about $40 at the low end (suitable for a residence). If you have DSL it is possible your modem already has it built in if you have one of the newer models. A small business like a coffee shop might spend up to $200 for excellent service to its customers. If you expand to a larger environment (multiple rooms separated by concrete walls or floors such as in an office building) and want good performance than the price can go up dramatically. There is a possible cost for the machines accessing the network depending on whether or not the notebook computer has WifI access already built in (newer ones tend to already have it) that could add another $40. But all in all it is remarkably inexpensive.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Hayduke wrote, "I am surprised no one except Heraldo has commented on the problem of security.".

That's what I was referring to when I said earlier it's not the safest way to access the internet but "any port in a storm".

I don't think I'd ever want wifi for a home system, but I LOVE this wireless keyboard/ mouse combo. About the only problem is the mouse eats up batteries. Too bad they don't make the mouse (mice?) with an onn/ off switch so the batteries aren't always being used.

Hayduke also wrote, "The answer your question about that cost of a wireless network is it costs about $40 at the low end (suitable for a residence)....".

I knew it wasn't too expensive for a home system. Actually, I asked Chris Crawford the same sort of question on the Times- Standard blogs. I guess the airport wifi was relatively cheap the way they did it, but it was still more expensive than I would of thought.

I was curious about it, as I mentioned today on his blog, because I wondered why some of the smaller motels haven't gotten wifi to keep pace with the bigger ones.

Looking at the cost, I guess that it might not be worth it for a smaller motel? I was thinking of some of those mom and pop type motels in Laytonville and Willits.

If they had wifi I'd like to try some of them, of only for a cheaper stay, but none of them have it advertised on their signs.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Hayduke said...

For the mouse, an investment in rechargable Nickel Metal Hydride (NI-MH) batteries is cost effective. My wireless mouse used to go through two AA batteries every three weeks. Now I just pop them out, swap them with two from the charger, and away we go. I use them in my keyboard also (these last longer). They work just fine.


Post a Comment

<< Home