Sunday, November 11, 2012

HOW TO: Connect to FREE Hotspots from any WiFi-enabled device

It seems nearly every business and many cities offer free hotspots these days. Connecting to them is not always as straightforward as it might seem, however. We spent many a minute trying to troubleshoot connections before realizing what was going on. Once we figured that out, we came up with the following steps, which we always follow when using someone else's internet connection.

- First, make sure you are connected to the correct hotspot. It doesn't hurt to ask someone for the correct name of the hotspot you wish to use. If it's password protected, make sure you spell it exactly the way it is given to you. Passwords are ALWAYS case-sensitive.

- Next, open a browser to your favorite website. The actual site doesn't matter. It will likely be hijacked by your host. Don't panic. This is normal. Most free hotspots require you to agree to their Terms of Use, and some even require a valid email address, before they will allow you to use their internet connection. Some make you figure out the two-word code before allowing you to proceed. Usually, the host simply wants to make sure you're not a robot and you're not doing something illegal. Some government hosts have more stringent terms, like restricting your use to a specific purpose.  We recommend you read the entire user agreement before you click the 'OK' button.

- When the host site does give you the green light, usually a new page welcoming you to their free hotspot site, you are free to move about the cabin. At this point, the host will grant access to your applications. Now's the time to launch the app(s) you want to run.

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