Quick and painless wi-fi connections with The Go Button
|Published:||Apr 17, 2008|
|Related OS:||XP / Vista|
The other day I was searching for wi-fi hotspots in my area when I stumbled upon a tool called The Go Button. Its premise is simple: When you're in an unfamiliar place and need to get online, just press The Go Button and it will hunt through the available wireless networks and connect automatically to the most viable candidate, going down the list until it's found a reliable wi-fi connection to get you online. Contrast this with the usual trial-and-error method and it's enough to save a road warrior a few minutes a day. Here's how to get started.
The Go Button is a free, fast download, so it should take you no time to get it installed. Using it is often as simple as just starting it up. If you're not connected to a network, the Go Button will automatically get to work. Most of the time it lives in your system tray--the area on your taskbar next to the clock--and you can see its status just by observing its color. Here's how to interpret them:
- Red: Not connected to a wireless network.
- Yellow: Trying to connect.
- Green: Connected to a network.
- Grey: Disabled.
Like I said, usually the Go Button does its work automatically, but it can also give you more information about the available wireless networks. In order to bring up its main window, just double-click on its icon. You'll see something like this:
The first thing you'll probably notice is the big ad, which is of course what keeps The Go Button free for your use. But peel your eyes off of the ad and above it you'll see the main information area. Along with your current connection status, here the Go Button lists all of the hotspots within range, along with their signal strength, security status, and whether it thinks they're "connectable." If you want to connect to a specific network wireless, select it in the list and click on Connect (you may have to disconnect first if you're already connected to a network).
That's pretty much all there is to the main interface. To hide it back in the system tray, click on the "X" close button in the title bar. The only other option you'll find in the Go Button is the Disable option, which you'll find by right-clicking on the tray icon. This, as you've probably guessed, just shuts off its functionality until you Enable it again. Since the Go Button will automatically attempt to establish another connection if you're disconnected from a wireless network, you may want to disable it in the even you want to stay disconnected.
One option missing from The Go Button is to have it start automatically with Windows, but that's easy enough to remedy. As with any program, you can make it start when Windows does simply by creating (or copying) a shortcut to it in the Startup menu, which you'll find on the Start menu under Programs in Windows XP or All Programs in Windows Vista.
Finally, the Go Button web site offers this bit of excellent advice that applies to public wi-fi hotspots in general:
When you use an open wireless network you need to know that your surfing may not be secure. Anything you do can be monitored by someone nearby. Simple discretion is good policy. If you engage in web-based stock trading or banking for example, make sure you are connected with a secure connection. Examples of this are a URL that begins with https:// instead of http://, indicated by a small padlock on the bottom bar of the browser.
Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.