Tag Archives: wifi

The price of free Wi-Fi, and is it a fair deal?

Here we are in a pub trying to get on the Wi-Fi. The good news: it is free:

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But the provider wants my mobile number. I am a little wary. I hate being called on my mobile, other than by people I want to hear from. Let’s have a look at the T&C. Luckily, this really is free:

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But everything has a cost, right? Let’s have a look at that “privacy” policy. I put privacy in quotes because in reality such policies are often bad news for your privacy:

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Now we get to the heart of it. And I don’t like it. Here we go:

“You also agree to information about you and your use of the Service including, but not limited to, how you conduct your account being used, analysed and assessed by us and the other parties identified in the paragraph above and selected third parties for marketing purposes”

[You give permission to us and to everyone else in the world that we choose to use your data for marketing]

“…including, amongst other things, to identify and offer you by phone, post, our mobile network, your mobile phone, email, text (SMS), media messaging, automated dialling equipment or other means, any further products, services and offers which we think might interest you.”

[You give permission for us to spam you with phone calls, texts, emails, automated dialling and any other means we can think of]

“…If you do not wish your details to be used for marketing purposes, please write to The Data Controller, Telefönica UK Limited, 260 Bath Road, Slough, SLI 4DX stating your full name, address, account number and mobile phone number.”

[You can only escape by writing to us with old-fashioned pen and paper and a stamp and note you have to include your account number for the account that you likely have no clue you even have; and even then, who is to say whether those selected third parties will treat your personal details with equal care and concern?]

A fair deal?

You get free Wi-Fi, O2 gets the right to spam you forever. A fair deal? It could be OK. Maybe there won’t in fact be much spam. And since you only give your mobile number, you probably won’t get email spam (unless some heartless organisation has a database linking the two, or you are persuaded to divulge it).

In the end it is not the deal itself I object to; that is my (and your) decision to make. What I dislike is that the terms are hidden. Note that the thing you are likely to care about is clause 26 and you have to not only view the terms but scroll right down in order to find it.

Any why the opt-out by post only? There is only one reason I can think of. To make it difficult.

Fixing failed wifi on Surface Pro

I experienced an odd problem on a Surface Pro (first edition). This happened shortly after upgrading to Windows 8.1 Update though not immediately after.

Symptom: I could connect to wifi but although I had five bars of signal strength, according to the notification area icon, I had no connection; and ipconfig reported “Media disconnected” for the wifi adapter. Tried a different wifi point, same problem. Rebooted (of course), same problem.

My next thought was another old favourite: reset tcp/ip with netsh int ip reset. Restarted, no change.

The fix I found was to go into device manager (which was not reporting any issues) and to remove the Marvell wireless network controller. Scan for hardware changes to reinstate same, and I was up and running.

The incident reminds me of how fragile Windows seems to be at times. One of the reasons I like Windows RT (the ARM version) is that its locked-down operating system should be more resilient though it is not immune (you can still scramble the registry if you feel so inclined).

Update: I may not yet be in the clear. Later in the day, wifi failed again, and this time the Marvell adapter showed in device manager with a fault icon. Enabling and disabling the device restored connectivity. A driver issue with the latest Windows update? Or failing hardware?

Fixing slow network or wi-fi in Windows 8 with Hyper-V

I had an annoying problem with my Samsung Slate running Windows 8. I use it while traveling, and every time I connected to a different wi-fi network, or even woke it from sleep while on the same network, I would get several minutes pause while Windows tried access the network. During this time, applications like Internet Explorer and Outlook might freeze and show “not responding” messages. Patience was rewarded though, and eventually the network kicked into life and everything worked normally. Until next time.

This is annoying so what is the reason and the fix? The high level view is this:

  1. When you enable Hyper-V in Windows 8 it makes changes to your networking, including creating virtual Ethernet adapters, and unbinding TCP/IP from the physical adapter. If you install the Windows Phone emulator you also get a virtual Ethernet adapter. If you have wi-fi you also get a Network Bridge.
  2. The consequence of (1) is that networking might not work so reliably after Hyper-V is enabled.

The high-level answer then is to remove Hyper-V. That works, but you might want to use Hyper-V, so better still is to fix the problem.

The answer seems to be in a hidden dialog. To get to it, open Control Panel and search for Network , click View network connections. This will show all the stuff Hyper-V has created. Now press the Alt key on the keyboard to show the Advanced menu, and select Advanced settings.

NOTE: if you have a slate without a physical keyboard, this menu is doubly difficult to find. The Windows 8 touch keyboard has no Alt key. Microsoft decided it was more important to have a Smiley key, and could not fit in both. The fix is to go into Change PC Settings – General and enable “Make the standard keyboard available”. It is still not that easy to display the Advanced menu in Network Connections, but it can be done.

Here is the dialog:

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Now, if you have the problem with slow networking, you will probably find (as I did) that there is an Internal virtual Ethernet adapter, bound to TCP/IP, listed above the external virtual Ethernet adapter. The internal network cannot connect to the internet:

The Internal type is not bound to a physical network adapter. It is typically used to build a test environment where you want to connect to the virtual machines from the host operating system, but do not want to allow virtual machines on the host to communicate with external networks.

It is plausible that if the internal network has priority over the external network, Windows will struggle to connect to the Internet.

I changed this so that the external virtual Ethernet adapter, bound to TCP/IP, comes at the top.

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This has helped with my problem, though there is still a bit of uncertainty about how to optimise the settings in this dialog. What about the Provider Order, what is the correct setting? Should the Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host Server Network Protocol really come first in the list, as per the default?

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Someone asked on the official forum and did not get an answer. I suggest you leave well alone unless you know better, but would be interested in someone has informed guidance.

Finally, note that if you create a new virtual adapter in Hyper-V settings, you may need to revisit the binding order.

I have never come across this issue on Windows Server, though in principle it might be the same. Odd.

Updated with instructions for enabling the standard keyboard layout.