Monday, November 13, 2006

WiFi at the Waterloo Public Library

For about a year now, patrons of the Waterloo Public Library have been using their WiFi capable devices to connect to the Internet. The library uses a surplus Dell workstation, a complementary broadband connection from MediaCom, an inexpensive Linksys WiFi AP, and the free management service of PublicIP to provide free WiFi Internet access.

Settings for WiFi connections are fairly simple. The operating mode should be "infrastructure," not "ad hoc." The SSID should be "linksys." The network setting for "Internet Protocol" should be "Obtain an IP address automatically." If you're near an access point (e.g., Reference Department or the meeting rooms) your device should acquire a connection within a minute or two.

When you open your web browser you'll be prompted to login. You may either create a username and password or click the "skip" button to proceed. If you use a login instead of the bypass we are in a better position to provide technical support if you have a problem. In either case, access is controlled by the MAC address of your device.

Within five seconds of logging in your browser should automatically go to the library's home page. You'll also see a Public IP connection window that you may minimize (don't close it, or you'll have to start over.)

Once connected you'll have 4 hours of access per day to as much bandwidth as our MediaCom broadband connection can provide. Access is not filtered for content, but the library does limit port access to 80 (Web Surfing) 443 (SSL, e.g. credit cards), 110 (smtp email downloads) 3389 (mstsc e.g., remote desktop) and 5000-5001 (Yahoo Chat).

Access is not encrypted--WiFi users should take care to use their own firewall solutions. Total daily downloads are limited to 300 MB; service starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m., seven days a week. Staff members have been advised to not reconfigure patron WiFi devices (we don't want to break anything). If you have difficulty connecting, please ask a librarian to page a member of the IT staff for assistance.

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