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Posts Tagged ‘wireless@sg

Wireless@SG started changing the way laptop users logged in to the service about six months ago. Back then I shared a few teething problems I faced with the changes.

  1. The seamless* experience is not guaranteed.
  2. There is no automated login method for Chromebooks.
  3. The automated connections for laptops is to SG, not the more secure SGx.

*The seamless process is how laptops might log in to the wireless service automatically like on your phone.

Complaints 1 and 3 are mostly not true today. As long as you have installed a profile on your Mac or PC, your system should automatically log in to the nearest Wireless@SGx access point.

However, I have noticed over the last six months of using the same laptop at different spots that the experience varies. A few times I got the pop-up log in option, most other times it was like being on my home wireless network.

However, the Chromebook option is worse now. Whereas I could log in manually before, now I cannot even access Wireless@SG.

On my Chromebook, I get this error message: “Error requesting OTP. Please try again in a moment.”

Wireless@SG error message on Chromebook.

The One-Time-Password (OTP) is sent to my phone, but I cannot get to the next screen where I enter the OTP. (Note: The screen shot above shows the error message. The Verification Code field is not for the OTP; it is for the captcha code).

To be clear, the error message is wrong because the OTP gets to my phone. It is the log in screen that gets stuck on the first page. The OTP needs to be entered on the second page and this prevents access to Wireless@SG.

This is ironic given how Wireless@SG is meant to help users connect to the Web and Chromebooks are essentially thin clients that rely on Web services.

In my previous reflection, I also shared three updates later that same month.

My first update was a complaint that my iPad did not join Wireless@SGx consistently. This no longer seems to be a problem.

My second update was about my MacBook Pro not auto-joining despite having a Wireless@SG profile in the system. As I described earlier, this is no longer the case. Sadly I cannot say the same for my Chromebook.

My third update was that some Wireless@SG hotspots seem to reject VPN connections. This still seems to be the case. The default connection now is to Wireless@SGx, which is supposed to be more secure.


Video source

With the news about the KRACK wifi exploit, I would like to use a VPN service for my own peace of mind. I do not see why Wireless@SGx seems to block it.

To the IMDA I say: One size does not fit all. The exceptions are the rules.

If you work remotely as often as I do, public networks like Wireless@SG are a basic utility.

I recently discovered some changes that the authorities, the IMDA, are making to this service.

The first is that by the end of 2017, the old login method of username and password will no longer exist.

This method was useful for anyone toting a laptop, but phone SIM-linked logins on phones are more convenient.

The IMDA has created apps on major mobile and desktop operating systems that authenticate devices so users have a phone-like login experience.

In theory, at least. Something that looks good and works well on paper does not always follow the plan in real life. I have three main bugbears with the revised Wireless@SG login system:

  1. The seamless experience is not guaranteed.
  2. There is no automated login method for Chromebooks.
  3. The automated connections for laptops is to SG, not the more secure SGx.

The new app should give me seamless connection on my laptop like I already experience on my phone. However, I have to resort to different login methods on different floors of the same library I frequent.

One the third floor, my phone and laptop connect to the network on their own. One the first floor, I have to connect my laptop manually, i.e., choose the network, type in personal information, and wait for SMS authentication.

So why not stick to the third floor? Seating is not always available there and the thermostat on that floor seems stuck at the tundra setting.

I like travelling with my Chromebook because it is lighter than my MacBook Pro. However, the IMDA does not offer an app or automated method for Chromebooks.

There used to be a manual or alternative setup for Chromebooks based on one’s username and password. I wrote about this method here, but this will not work soon.

I have also discovered that while my phone connects to the more secure SGx variant of the network, my laptop connects by default to the less secure SG one. I resort to using a VPN service as a result.

You might point out that Wireless@SG is free and that I should be grateful because it is a fairly extensive network. I am grateful, but I point out that the service is one way we see our tax dollars at work. Or not work as it could in this case.

Update 1 (17 May 2017): I have added my iPad to the auto-join fray and my experiences are mixed. It connects to Wireless@SGx as it should in some places, but not in others. Libraries seem to be the most problematic auto-join hotspots.

Update 2 (17 May 2017): My MacBook Pro does not auto-join despite adding a Wireless@SG profile to my system. It still prompts for my phone number, verification code, and one-time password by SMS.

Update 3 (26 May 2017): I have noticed that some Wireless@SG hotspots seem to reject VPN connections. I just noticed how Google Drive on my toolbar is greyed out and reports “unable to connect” when I am on Wireless@SG. This does not happen when I am using my home network.

My first major note about Chromebooks was over two years ago. Back when they were new, I wondered if Chromebooks were the new netbooks.

While Chromebooks evolved, I waited. And watched. And waited some more.

I added the Toshiba Chromebook 2 to my Amazon wishlist last year after reading how it topped many reviews. I had also tried one out when I visited a Google Store in London.

Then I bought it. It arrived at doorstep two days ago.
 
Toshiba Chromebook 2
 
I have a new Chromebook baby. I am a Chromebook baby. Here are some things I have learnt about it.

Freebies

Chromebook owners are eligible for “freebies” and this is the official place to check. There were three on my list.

  • I was expecting an additional 100GB of Google Drive space for two years and I got it.
  • Google Music is not available in Singapore so I do not benefit from the deal.
  • I am not in the US so 12 GoGo in-air Internet passes on domestic flights there are useless.

Hardware

I have been spoilt by the trackpad and keyboard of MacBooks. The Chromebook’s trackpad in tap mode is good, but to click it requires too much depth and force.

I paired the Chromebook up with a Logitech bluetooth mouse. While I could change the trackpad scrolling to “Australian” mode (Apple calls this natural mode, where up means up), there was no option to change the mouse scroll direction.

The keyboard is too sensitive with some apps (e.g., typing in Google Docs can rrrrresult in repeeeeeated letttttterrrrs.) and not enough with others (e.g., the ported Android version of Evernote). The keyboard also picks up and shows off fingerprints too easily.

The Chromebook has an HDMI video out port which I tested with an HDMI cable and an HDMI-to-VGA adapter (important as VGA projectors are still more common).

I discovered that some HDMI heads are a very tight fit for the port. Once connected, both HDMI and VGA video outputs default to extended screen. I had to manually switch to mirror mode.

Wireless@SGx

Yesterday I decided to test the Chromebook at a library and use Singapore’s Wireless@SG and Wireless@SGx wifi networks. Wireless@SG requires manual logins and is older. Wireless@SGx requires a one-time set up, typically with phones, and it connects automatically.

Wireless@SGx is more convenient and I wondered if anyone here had tried this on a Chromebook before. I was not disappointed. Here is a detailed guide by Geek Bryan.

I found out that I could only set up the connection on-site and not in advance. I also had to use a “long form” version of my user ID instead of the simple one illustrated in the guide.

I only realised this option would work because my normal user ID — the one I use to manually log in to Wireless@SG — did not work when I tried. I had generated the long version of my user ID for my iPad several months ago using this SingNet/SingTel site and choosing the Type 2 option.

The longer version of my user ID coupled with the instructions by Geek Bryan helped me connect to Wireless@SGx.

Battery life

I spent about two hours at the library getting some work done. The battery gauge let me know that the Chromebook could go on for another 6.5 hours. Only my MacBook Pro could offer that sort of run time, but it is a heavier beast.

The Chromebook does not gulp. It sips.

Coming up next

It is unwise to spend any amount of time on a public wifi connection. So tomorrow I share how I set up my Toshiba Chromebook 2 for a virtual private network (VPN).


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