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Visalia Hot Spots

Visalia Hot Spots
 Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.

 

There is more happening in Visalia than you might think when it comes to technology. Wireless “Hot Spots” are here, and there are more to come. Here are some hot tips on the hot spots in Visalia.

With the new wireless features in Windows XP, particularly with Service Pack 2 applied, it is easy to tell when you are in range of a wireless network. Your computer shows you all the wireless “access points”, and offers to connect you to them.  Some of these are intended for public use, and are called “Hot Spots”, meaning that you can get wireless Internet access while you are in that spot.

You may already have wireless at home, and be enjoying the freedom to surf the net without a wire connected to your laptop. It’s great to be able to relax by the fire and go shopping online for those Christmas bargains.  Many people use wireless at work to connect laptops in conference rooms and meetings. Business people who travel use wireless in airports, restaurants and hotels to check messages and connect back to their company network.

When you are in range of an access point, your computer displays the “SSID” (Service Set Identifier). This is a friendly name for the connection, and often identifies the source of the wireless signal.  Some wireless access points also require a security key. This is a string of numbers and letters which you put in to your computer, and which matches the key in the access point. Without the key or similar security, anyone can connect to the access point, and use any of the resources on the network that they are connecting to.

Tazzaria Café 208 W. Main St. offers free high speed wireless access. Their location used to be the Java Jungle cafe. They are open 6AM-6PM 7 days / week The SSID is ‘tazzaria’. 

The Holiday Inn now has a “Business Center”, an area in their front lobby with 2 public computers which are Internet enabled. They also provide free wireless access to guests of the hotel.  The Holiday Inn Internet service is using Leap Networks – they provide a packaged Internet access system for hotels. I’m told Arrival Communications is the actual Internet provider. You access the network by setting your SSID to ‘LeapNetworks.net’.

The Lamplighter Inn is also planning to provide wireless Internet to their customers, both in the conference center and the rooms.  Torian Group, Inc. is setting up the wireless network, and service will be provided through SBC DSL.

Borders, Starbucks, and Kinkos have been offering wireless access through T-Mobile for some time. To connect you set your SSID to ‘t-mobile’. You can then use your web browser to connect to the t-mobile logon page, which grants you access to the Internet. To get a logon id and password (which is required to connect to anything else), you pay a fee of about $6/Hr, $10/Day or $30/Month. ( http://selfcare.hotspot.t-mobile.com/services_about.do )

The UPS stores and the Mail Boxes Etc. on Mooney offer SBC freedom link – another Wireless Internet service which you subscribe to, and then can use at any participating location.  Cost is about $20 per month with an annual contract, or $25 for 3 “sessions”. The SSID is ‘freedomlink’.  ( www.sbc.com/gen/general?pid=5949 )

The Visalia Radisson, which is owned by Heritage, offers wireless Internet in their public spaces for about $10 per day, and wired Internet access in the rooms. The wireless service will be expanding to cover the entire building.  You are provided with a logon account when you pay for the service. The Internet connection is provided by SBC DSL.

The Fairfield Inn on Akers and Mineral King is also a Heritage owned hotel. They offer free wireless service to their guests. The Internet service is an installation by Goldentree Communications, who specialize in Hotel Internet access systems. The logon requires a room number and a code which you are provided when you register.

( www.gtc4me.com )

The Ben Maddox House bed and breakfast on Encina offers free wireless access to its customers. ( www.benmaddoxhouse.com ).

Wireless Internet services are planning to “light up” Main Street. They will be providing free limited speed Internet access (64K) in the downtown area. If you want higher speed, you can subscribe for a monthly fee. The plan is to get it running by the time it gets warm enough to sit outside again this spring. Look for an SSID of “wirelesstcp”. Greg Pierro, the owner, has been in the wireless business for some time. Their office in the top floor of the Sierra Bank building at 113 W. Main Street. The plan is to point an antenna from the roof to cover the downtown area.  They are also working with the Farm Show to set up a wireless network to provide Internet access for vendors. ( www.wirelesstcp.net )

As you drive down the freeway with your laptop, you may notice a “wi-fi-eye” SSID near the Road 80 turnoff.   This is a wireless Internet camera – there are several around town.

Driving around with a laptop can reveal some interesting secrets.  When you purchase a wireless access point and plug it in, it starts out by allowing a connection to any wireless device within range.  As a result, most areas around Visalia have open access points every few blocks – as many as 1 out of 4.  Securing them is simple and important– enter an encryption key in the access point and a matching key in your laptop.  Also, keep in mind that when you are connected to a public access point, you are on the public network. You need to have a personal firewall and antivirus software on your computer.

Wireless access can save you time and increase your productivity. Once you get a taste of freedom, there is no going back.

 

 

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Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com

     
 

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