Windows Vista and Wi-Fi

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May 22, 2008

Does it ever seem like you and your computer are locked in a battle of wits?

And the computer is winning.

As computers, and operating systems, get more and more sophisticated; they do more things automatically. In trying to make it easy for us, the computer programmers make assumptions about what we want. And, you know what happens when you *ASSUME* right? (you make an ASS of U and ME.)

One of the things that happens automatically these days is that your computer will automatically connect to a Wi-Fi network to which it has connected in the past. I say, “Just because I may have connected to a similarly-named network in the past does *not* necessarily mean I want to automatically connect to it now.” The video below shows you how to prevent your computer from connecting to an unwanted network. The video shows Windows Vista. If you have Windows XP, the same principal applies but the menus are a little different. Right-click on the wireless network icon and choose ‘View Available Wireless Networks.’ On that screen click on the menu at left that reads ‘Change the order of preferred networks.’ Now you can select a network and remove it just like in the Vista video below.

Chris Guld

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  1. To further elaborate on this issue for Mac users, OS X also keeps a list of preferred wireless networks similar to the list illustrated in Chris’ video. For frequent travelers, this list should be purged regularly, so that your preferred networks will be at the top for the auto connect feature. To see and purge the list, open the Network preferences (at the bottom of Airport fan drop down on the menu). Click on the “advanced” button to see list of wireless networks that have been used since the last purge. Just like with Vista, these can be deleted or ordered based on the users preferences. If you want to connect as a new user each time a wireless network is used, then the check box about remembering wireless networks can be unchecked.

  2. A good article overall, but with the many complaints by users and technicians about Windows Vista, many people are moving over to the ‘other’ computer system, Apple Macintosh and OS X.

    What you will find if you use a Mac with OS X, is that locating a Wi-Fi hotspot and logging in is extremely simple. Since almost all Apple computers have a built-in Airport card, the machine can automatically locate any Wi-Fi within range. If none of these are on your Favorites list, clicking the Airport icon on the Menu Bar brings up a list of all available Wi-Fi routers and even tell you if they are secured. All you have to do is choose the one you want to connect to and log in (the site operator will give you login information if it’s a free hot spot.)

    Keep in mind, no matter what computer you use, that just because a hotspot ‘sounds’ right, doesn’t mean that it is. Make sure you are connecting to the one hosted by your campground or wherever you are by asking the management if you aren’t sure. Protect yourself and protect others by making sure of your connections.