Wi-Fi and the restaurants

The computer corner

By Charles Miller

Recently all the major news networks repeated the story of an anonymous New York City restaurant owner whining about how wireless internet access was causing food to get cold and waiters to perform their jobs less efficiently, leading to more customer complaints and costing the restaurant owner money. To read more than I have room to quote here, just point your browser to any internet search engine and search for “Restaurant Figures Out Surprising Reason for Customer Complaints.”

This “anonymous” restauranteur claims to have compared surveillance tapes from 2004 and 2014 to determine that in 2004 his patrons spent an average of eight minutes deciding what to order and in 2014 they spend 21 minutes playing with their smart phones before ordering; and that nine out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat after it got cold because they were preoccupied fooling around on the internet. While I have my doubts about the veracity of “anonymous’s” exact figures, I have no doubt whatsoever about him/her being spot-on in nailing the problem. Everyone who has been held up in line at the coffee shop or kept waiting for service in a restaurant while the establishment’s employees are tied up helping some clueless patron get a smartphone connected to the Wi-Fi knows this problem is real.

Those who choose to connect their smartphone or laptop to a public Wi-Fi can help fix this problem by learning a few very basic skills and do so while connected to the internet before leaving home:

Learn how to identify available wireless access points and to log onto them. Go to www.google.com, type in the name of your Operating System (Windows, iOS, Android, OS-X) followed by “log onto Wi-Fi” to find a tutorial. Read and study the procedure, and practice it on your own Wi-Fi before you leave home.

Learn how to renew the IP address on your device. Search google.com for the name of your Operating System followed by “forget Wi-Fi” or “renew IP address” to find a tutorial, then practice doing this a few times.

Learn how to clear your browser cache. Use google.com again to search for the name of your OS followed by “clear browser cache” to find a tutorial. Youtube.com has some good ones.

Learn how to verify whether or not your device is actually connected to the internet. Create a desktop shortcut to a web site with a valid non-caching test. My web page at smaguru.com has such a test in the form of a Time & Temperature graphic that verifies the current internet connection every 60 seconds.

Now you may go out in public. Connect your device to the public Wi-Fi and open your valid test site. If you choose to use my test site smaguru.com and everything appears as normal except that the Time & Temperature graphic is missing or not updating, then you are NOT connected. Your device may be displaying a copy of the test page from cache. Log off the Wi-Fi access point and log on again. Clear your browser cache. Try your valid test site shortcut again.

After clearing your browser cache and attempting to go to your valid test site, you now may be diverted to an “intercept page.” This page may say “Welcome to The Coffee Shop, enter your password.” Many public Wi-Fi, will block all your access to the internet until you visit this page, and for that reason trying to go first to Facebook or check your email is a waste of time. Use a valid test site to determine if you are connected!

Finally, I will add to the list above with one rule of my own: If you go to a restaurant and cannot get your device connected to the Wi-Fi, and if you were too lazy to learn and practice the simple troubleshooting steps listed above, then please do not ask my waiter to help you.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.


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