Graphic Arts’ IT Guy – March 2009

Q. Using Safari, I am having trouble entering my address on websites because it enters the information incorrectly. I must have entered the postal code by mistake in the past, and I cannot enter the correct information.

A. You are having trouble because of the auto fill feature in your Web browser. You can usually correct the incorrect information in a couple of places. In Safari, you can choose Preferences in the Safari menu. You should see an “Auto Fill” tab and a checkbox that says “Using Info From My Address Book Card.” Press “Edit” to update or correct the info. You can also choose which websites use the auto fill information by clicking “Edit” next to “Other Forms.”

If you’re on a PC using Internet Explorer, you can only delete the information in “Auto Complete.” You will find that section under the Tools menu by choosing “Internet Options.”

Q. I want to take my MacBook to my local coffee shop to use their free wireless access. I can only see my wireless network, so how do I setup the connection? How do I disconnect it when I am done?

Macbook WiFi issuesA. One of the nice things about using Macs is that they easily go to sleep when the lid is closed (thanks to a hidden magnetic sensor) and they will also automatically discover nearby WiFi networks. You don’t need to setup the wireless (WiFi) settings until you are at the coffee shop, so close the lid on your MacBook and put it to sleep.

When you arrive at the coffee shop, or are in range of a new wireless network and your Airport is turned on, your Mac will announce that it has found a network to join. Normally, your Mac or your smart phone will join the nearest “preferred” network. If you are near a new network, your Mac will open a dialog box showing you the name of the nearest network aka “SSID.” If the network is unencrypted or “open,” you can connect without entering a password. Open networks are rare these days, so you will most likely have to enter a password – you can ask your host what the required password is.

While you are travelling with a laptop or WiFi smart phone, such as an iPhone or Blackberry, you may come across a WiFi network that you can pay to use for a short term. Usually, at hotels, restaurants and coffee shops you simply have to open your Internet browser and choose any website address. The host network will direct you to a special webpage where you can choose your payment options. They provide you with the settings that your laptop needs to connect – but they block your access until you agree to terms and pay for use.

Some pay as you go options let you join a network service that allows you to buy a block of time and that operates at several locations, or a service that you simply pay for a few contiguous hours. Normally, you enter your payment with a credit card. Once you are validated, you will be able to surf the Internet and/or use your own email client to get your mail.

When you are finished and are ready to leave you merely shutdown or put you Mac back to sleep. Your Mac will remember this network as a “preferred” network – and it will automatically disconnect when your devices are out of range. The next time you go back to the coffee shop your Mac or phone will remember the settings and you will be able to access the Internet – depending on the payment and usage settings.