Can't connect to WiFi on Via Rail - ehMac.ca
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Old Jan 31st, 2017, 07:31 AM   #1
krs
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Can't connect to WiFi on Via Rail

Lately I often have difficulty connecting to WiFi on Via Rail in the train.

Well - more than difficulty - I just can't connect.
Signal strength is OK, I see the Via Rail ntwork, it's selected but the Mac just won't connect although I see others in the car using WiFi.

Anyone else have this issue?
Any suggestions what to do or check?

I came across this on the net - don't know if that would work but my Mac users don't have enough technical knowledge to remove all the DNS entries and then put them back again.
Seems odd to me as well that this is the issue.

Quote:
You may find that your Mac or PC has trouble connecting to the Via Rail wifi network. The free service requires that you login and accept the terms of use on an internal web page. However you may not be able to load this web page – if you have your DNS servers hard coded (entered by hand) to something like Google’s DNS servers.

The preferred way to connect on these “guest” networks is to leave the DNS entry blank. When you connect to the service the internal network server will supply the DNS that allows your computer to find the web page, where you can accept the terms.

This DNS snafu may also apply on a guest network at a hotel or coffee shop. On My Mac, I made a new location called “ViaRail WiFi” and left the DNS empty. When I get back to my home/office network, I will switch it back to my own preferred settings.
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Old Jan 31st, 2017, 08:40 AM   #2
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It does make sense..
If you are connecting to a WiFi hotspot and the hotspot redirects you to an internal page that you can't resolve then you probably won't get a login page... Safari might not even load if it can't resolve.

Most people don't set their DNS entries... they just take whatever DNS is provided from the DHCP server, which in cases like this is fine, because it's would provide an internal DNS which would have the entries for the local hosts.

The poster in that quote you provided gave a good idea, just make another location called ViaRai WiFi, or better yet Public WiFI, leave the DNS servers blank and they will just pick up whatever is provided at the location. Then you just have to flip locations.

Do you have an iOS Device? Try connecting on that and see if it works. When you connect to the WiFi on iOS it should by default take the DNS servers issued by the DHCP server.


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Old Feb 3rd, 2017, 12:48 PM   #3
krs
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Just came back from a train trip.

Removing the DNS entries worked perfectly.

BReligion, thanks for confirming and explaining this.

I had the google DNS servers listed since in the past that provided better/faster loading of sites I don't visit that often.
Didn't realize it could cause an issue in certain situations....like Via Rail.
Now the Mac is set up to switch between that and a "no DNS entries" setting
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Old Feb 3rd, 2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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Awesome to hear that it worked!

Sometimes those settings are so buried away and set so long ago, you never think of it when troubleshooting

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:: iMac 20" 2.0 Core 2 Duo
:: Macbook 13.3" 2.0 Core 2 Duo (the wife's)
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:: iPad Air WiFi (32GB)
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Old Feb 3rd, 2017, 04:56 PM   #5
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Another DNS "tool" that still works is namebench

https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/32784/namebench
or
https://code.google.com/archive/p/namebench/

And yes it can be a bit geeky, but it gives a simple suggested DNS 1,2,3 speed order summary, and it can take a while to run to completion.

It's interesting and nice to read that BReligion's suggestion works so well, especially when used when on a moving train.
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