wifi

WiFi for a Small Tech Conference/Meetup

WiFi Routers - AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express

WiFi is awesome for homes and small businesses. Stick a router in a closet somewhere near where you have a cable modem or DSL router, and—boom!—easy Internet and Network access for all 5-10 people/devices within the building.

But, try bringing this setup to a small conference or a meeting of 25+ (or 200+) computer-using people, and you're in for a world of hurt. Some people will get slower-than-dialup access, some people won't be able to connect at all, and others will have strange issues that never happen when you're just using the network by yourself.

The problem(s)

There are many problems that cause WiFi to fail in any setting with more than a few people/devices:

Mac OS X Lion/Mountain Lion - Could not join network/timeout

I was migrating all the data from a friend's old MacBook (which was running Mac OS X Tiger) to her new MacBook Air (running Mac OS X Mountain Lion), and besides a WiFi hiccup, everything went smoothly (I had to clone the old MacBook's drive to a USB disk, then use Setup Assistant to migrate the data from that disk to the new MacBook Air).

During the Setup Assistant, I could easily connect to my WiFi network, but after the migration was complete, I couldn't connect anymore. I kept getting a pesky error: "Could not join [network]. A connection timeout has occurred." (see picture of error dialog here). Looking through Apple's forums and elsewhere was not much help, because this message seems to be a very generic 'something weird happened' error, happening in many different circumstances.

However, knowing that the keychain and old WiFi connection data from the old Mac had transferred over to the new Mac, and knowing that something might've gone screwy with the network information, I decided to do the following:

AirPort Express - Flashing Yellow Light, Not Getting DHCP Address from Cable Modem

I spent the greater part of this afternoon trying to get my AirPort Express to connect to the Internet and share an IP address using a Motorola SB5101 Cable modem (with Charter Internet)... and since the solution was so simple and annoyingly stupid, I thought I'd post it here, for my reference and for anyone else spending an afternoon thinking his AirPort Express is dead.

As it turns out, the cable modem (this one, and likely many others) will only remember the MAC address of the first device it recognized when you last power cycled the modem.

When the Internet went down at my condo yesterday, I turned off my cable modem, plugged my Mac straight into it, turned the modem on, and use the internet via this direct connection for a while. When I plugged the AirPort Express back into the SB5101, I just got a flashing yellow (amber) light, and in the Airport Utility, a notice that the 'Internet Connection wasn't working'.

How to Get Free or Cheaper WiFi Access at AT&T and Boingo Hotspots

WiFi LogoI was recently in Chicago, lamenting the fact that, to use the Boingo WiFi at the airport for a mere half hour, I'd need to pay $6.95; rather than pay this outrageous amount (since I already have an iPhone with Internet access, and the WiFi would be a convenience, I looked to Google for some help.

It is well documented that you can simply change your browser's "User-Agent" to use the 'Mobile Safari - iPhone' profile, and trick certain hotspot locations into giving you free access (this will work for any AT&T Wireless location, such as Starbucks, as long as you also have a valid iPhone number).

Get Cheaper Access on Boingo

To get an almost half-off discount on Boingo WiFi hotspots, you simply need to do three things: