Finding good WiFi connections can sometimes be a headache for both new and veteran users of mobile communications. I don't have Internet on my phone, but on my netbook I found the IP Operator to be a bit of a pain to use, and the "connect to the Internet" on the 'Start' menu is okay, but - well, all that clicking around wasn't terribly convenient. Also my Windows XP often forgot to save my preferences. If you're nodding your head at this, then I can help because I found a lovely little program you can download for free, which will make all this much easier for you. This program is called WeFi and I can assure you, you after you've read this, you'll want to download it for yourself.
I actually found this program through a random Google search when looking for tips and instructions to make connecting easier. But then I found this, and figured I had nothing to lose. Yes, I'm sure there are other applications like this around, but I'm so happy with this, I see no reason why I should even bother looking for anything else. In fact, I'm actually a bit surprised that it seems hardly anyone knows about it, and ever since I started using it, I've been recommending it to everyone I know.
First of all, you can download this at www.wefi.com, which was extremely fast, even on my little LG netbook, using a tenuous connection to my home WiFi (which kept crashing on me). Installing it was even easier, so much so that I don't even remember how long it took to get set up - it was that fast and simple, and this was less than six months ago. Plus, it works so well, I never found any reason to fiddle with any of the preferences, and I've left everything with the default settings it came with.
The program puts a pretty little blue and green splotch of an icon in you quick launch toolbar and as soon as it detects WiFi, it simply connects up to it, automatically. With my home WiFi I had a verification code I had to enter, which the program remembers for the next time. In fact, as soon as you successfully connect and use any WiFi spot that the program can verify, WeFi saves that information and adds that spot into your favourites. You can also map your spot, by giving the program the address of where you are, or by pointing to it on a map (by Google). Also, when you look on their maps, you'll see the spots nearby and special ones have icons for things like cafes, restaurants or universities.
There are actually six different levels of WiFi that the program looks for. These are public, public with fee, requires sign-in, verified, not verified and locked. The program will always attempt to connect first to verified spots that you have personally unlocked, like your home connection. After that, it looks for verified public spots that are free. It will also look for free spots that only require you sign in on the Internet (which opens a browser page). If you're somewhere and you see that the spot is listed but says it needs a verification code, all you have to do is ask if they'll give you the code and if so, well... Bob's your uncle! For instance, a few weeks ago we were staying at a little B&B and noticed a modem in our room. So we called the reception and asked for the code and after that had free Internet the whole weekend. Remember, I live in Israel so that means this is available for anywhere in the world - not just the USA or larger European countries. Finally, if the connection gets lost, it will automatically start looking for another one to hook up to. You'll know when this happens when the icon in the quick launch bar starts to flash at you.
Now, remember what I said about verifying the spots? I'm not completely sure what this means, but I think it means that it looks for spots that are safe to connect to, and not just open connections. I'm hoping that this means I'll not get any viruses when I connect to any new spots. So far, so good - I haven't had any viruses attack my netbook in all the time I've been using it. One other thing, you can get a WeFi toolbar for your browser, but I haven't tried that because my netbook has such a small screen, I don't think I can handle any more toolbars than I already have. Anyway, the icon on the bottom of the screen works perfectly, and why mess with perfection?
In short, if you're finding that connecting to WiFi sometimes takes more time and effort than it should, this is the program you'll want. It searches out and hooks up to the best spots around automatically, and remembers vital connection information when you're successfully hooked up. The program is extremely easy to download, install and use, and it is 100% free - no trial use periods, or partial programs because you didn't pay for it. How could I give it less than five starts out of five, and highly recommend it!
Davida Chazan © July 2010
From their page: "The system requirements are: laptop equipped with a wireless card supporting 802.11 b/g standard with Windows XP and Windows Vista (all editions supported)." The Mac version is in beta testing, and it works on mobile phones as well.
As for other technical information about the program, they have this page http://www.wefi.com/download/compare.php which will help you see why using WeFi is better than the built-in systems you already have.
If you get this, do have some fun with the maps and looking around. They even have a thing that will show you all the newest connections that are being mapped around the world, LIVE!