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Going Wireless When Aboard

If you are travelling to cities which do not offer free wireless access, like Paris or Orlando, do not despair. Wireless broadband access might be the answer. It is not cheap but at least it offers some savings if you maximise usage fully. In most instances, just set your laptop computer to the default setting, and you are ready to use these hot spots without hassle. So, max that business trip wirelessly and have fun.

Optimise Your Connectivity Setting

Before your next trip, make sure that you do not waste connection time (and money) by disabling the default auto update settings of Windows XP, antivirus and firewall programs, just to name a few. I also use an ultra lightweight freeware mail reader called PopCorn to quickly and efficiently retrieve and send my e-mails in the event that the connection speed is exceedingly slow. Popcorn has another benefit.

I worry when I. use a PC to check my e-mail at Internet cafes. An unscrupulous operator could easily plant a key logger to record all my key strokes, passwords included. As it is less than 250KB, I keep a copy of the installed program in my flash drive and run it directly from there. Nothing is saved in the computer so nothing is compromised. Download it at: www.321download. com/LastFree ware/download321/pop

Keep Up To Date

Yahoo! Messenger ( has been my companion for years. The latest version even has VoIP functions much like Skype, and more. You can program it to bring to you news updates, weather report, even stock and share prices, all in one easy-to-use interface.

Get Your Bearings

Get to know your surrounding through Google Earth ( Install the software to your PC or Mac laptop. It uses maps taken from satellites and lets you zoom right down to street level so you can better plan your walking tour of a city. I could not understand why I ended at the same place having made two left or two right turns from a hotel in Paris until I consulted the Google Earth map. It turned out that the city's roads radiate from a central location. The Parisians say all roads end at the Arc de Triomphe!

Find Places To Eat

Fodors ( is a great website to find out about local dining etiquette, prices and gourmet tips. The site's recommendation for Florence, Italy, was creamy fegatini, but my travel mates and I chickened out after realising that it was made from liver! When we were looking for a table wine as a gift to dinner host - a business acquaintance in Venice we promptly consulted Fodors and got him a nice bottle of Chianti from Tuscany.

Reach Home

Skype ( or other VoIP software is a great on savings. There are no expensive hotel or mobile phone bills - just the cost of the Internet connection. I make sure that my kids' PCs are up and running on Skype before I go on a trip. So, I can immediately tell when they are online and start chatting with them. It is as if I never left home!

Three-point Checklist

Before signing up for a wireless Internet facility in a foreign city, you need to:

Check The Signal Strengths For All Available Service Providers

This will let you identify and select a service provider with a fast and reliable connection. Some plans may look cheaper, but you might end up paying more because of a weaker, slower connection.

Check With The Concierge For Advice

On a recent trip to Paris, I had the option to sign up with T-Mobile or a local service provider called Meteor. Upon the advice of the hotel staff, I chose the latter. Meteor offered 24-hour access time valid for three months. Unlike the T-Mobile plan which gave full 24-hour access regardless of whether I was online or not, the Meteor plan let me log off and on as and when I needed to, and gave me a full week's access for the same price.

Check Around For An Internet Cafe

Some Internet cafes located within the vicinity of the hotel can provide Internet services at reasonable rates.

How To Configure Your Laptop For Wireless Internet Access

For Windows 98/SE/ME/2000/XP Users

  1. Click on the Start button on the lower left corner of the taskbar
  2. Select Settings, Control Panel
  3. Double click on the Network Connections icon, then select Wireless Network Connection.
  4. In a new window, click on the Properties button.
  5. Scroll down till you see Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), double click.
  6. In the General tab, select Obtain an IP automatically as well as the Obtain DNS server address automatically.
  7. Click on the OK button twice and you are ready to test.
  8. Power up your browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla FireFox. You will see a login registration screen of the service provider.
  9. Follow the instructions and keep you credit card number handy as you will be asked to provide one if you do not already have a prepaid access card.
  10. Once you key in the card number, you are ready to surf.

For Mac Users

With Wi-Fi built into PowerBooks, iBooks and the new Intel-powered MacBooks, Apple laptops can connect easily to wireless hot spots as well.

  • Click on the AirPort icon on the screen and ensure that wireless is turned on.
  • From the drop down list of available networks, select the one you have to log on to, for example, SFR, one of the operators in France.
  • Fire up the Web broswer and hit any Web address, for example, You may be asked to log on to the local service provider with a password or get one by paying online with a credit card.
  • Once online, you can get connected with any Net applications such as Skype.

Note: When accessing e-mail from an unfamiliar Internet cafe in a foreign land, know that by planting a key logger, a dishonest cafe proprietor can record your key strokes - including passwords.


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