Roaming San Francisco

Crepe House (Post)I spent Thursday roaming around downtown San Francisco going from one wireless hotspot to the next testing some new features that we’re adding to Devicescape‘s hotspot login service.

I got off the ferry from Alameda just after 8:40am at the ferry building and walked up Market Street (in the rain). First stop was a Starbucks to get my email and do a quick test of a new, faster way to connect to T-Mobile hotspots.

Further up Market Street I stopped at McDonalds to check AT&T WiFi and Wayport. Not the best place for Wi-Fi users, though just minutes after I sat down I was joined by another person who pulled out a laptop and started working.

After that, I walked a little further up the street to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf [photo]. Here there is another AT&T WiFi network, but they have much better coffee and pastries (small latte and a fruit bar for breakfast).

Then basically next door for the Wayport network in the Four Seasons Hotel [photo], where I spent a little time investigating some problems (they had comfortable seats adjacent to power outlets).

Union Square, San FranciscoBy the time I left the Four Seasons, it was bright and sunny again. So, next stop Union Square to verify that the free WiFi provided there (SSID: UnionSquareWireless) was working with Devicescape. Once I’d found a corner with sufficient shade to allow me to see the laptop’s screen, both it and Feeva Free WiFi connected first time. I even connected to the UnionSquareWireless network using the SDA and made a quick Skype call.

Next stop was just down the hill again at the Hotel Union Square (actually a couple of blocks away from Union Square on Powell Street. This has an Airpath hotspot available in the (small) lobby area which is supposed to accept roaming credentials for AT&T WiFi among others. I couldn’t get it to take my credentials through the web interface though (it kept telling me that there were no roaming relationships). This was my first and only failed connection.

Back up to O’Farrell Street and the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. This one was meant to have a hotspot on the SSID public. While I did see that SSID (as well as PUBLIC), neither would give me an IP address. The network with the SSID NIKKO did however, and it also accepted my iPass credentials.

Already well past lunch time, I headed up to 599 Post Street (cross Taylor) to get some food at the Crepe House. This is also a hotspot, operated by Surf and Sip. Here I was able to get on using both my iPass credentials and my Boingo ones. I also had a really good mozarella cheese and basil sandwich, and managed to avoid another rain shower.

Back down Post Street to the JW Marriott [photo]. This is another Wayport hotel, so connecting here using my iPass credentials was simple – Devicescape just logged me in and I was able to check email straight away without even opening the browser window.

A few doors down is the Kensington Park Hotel (a San Francisco Personality Hotel, whatever that means). This is another Airpath location, so I wanted to see if it matched my earlier experience at the Hotel Union Square. This one though is an open network without any need to authenticate. Another small lobby, but equipped with a sofa, some chairs and a coffee table if you’re in need of a quiet place to check email for free 🙂

From there, back to the ferry building and home, stopping at a few places to take the photos that you see here. It occurred to me the other day that it would be useful to have a place where people could store the hotspots that they’ve managed to connect to, and what better way to do that than with a Flickr group. So, if you’re using Devicescape, snap some photos of the hotspots you connect to, upload them to Flickr and send them to the Devicescape_Hotspots group pool. If you’re not using Devicescape yet, download it and give it a try.

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