Tag Archives: WiFi

How to Forget Out-of-Range WiFi Networks on a Samsung Galaxy Phone

Samsung’s Android skin won’t let you tell it to forget a saved WiFi network unless it can see it right now. If it’s present, sure. If it’s out of range, it won’t let you tell it that no, you really don’t want it to automatically connect the next time you’re in range.

This is both annoying (your Galaxy S7 or Note 5 is going to keep looking for those networks all. the. time.) and a security risk (imagine someone sets up a rogue hotspot called “Starbucks WiFi” and you happen to park your car* or sit on a bench within range of it).

Note that the stock Android settings do allow you to fix this, with a Saved Networks section in the WiFi config. Samsung deliberately removed the feature** for some reason.

Apparently it used to be possible to remove saved networks using a third-party app, but new security protections in Marshmallow prevent that. (Ironic, that.)

Workaround (source):

  1. List all saved networks by going to Settings → Data Usage → More → Restrict networks. (This doesn’t let you remove them, just limit background transfers on them.) Take a screenshot if you have to.
  2. Remove the ones you don’t want anymore by tediously renaming your own WiFi hotspot to match each in turn [edit: you also need to match the security type (open vs WPA2)], removing them one by one in the regular WiFi settings, then renaming your hotspot back to its normal SSID.

It’s a pain, but at least it’s possible.

Update May 2017: The Android 7 update finally restores this capability directly in the Settings app, at least on the Galaxy Tab S2. You can now go to

Settings → Connections → Wi-Fi → Advanced → Manage networks

to remove saved networks of just turn off auto-reconnect on a case-by-case basis (so you can keep saved passwords). But for older Android versions, we’re still stuck doing it the long way.

*I once stopped at a Coffee Bean and left my tablet in the car. I don’t remember why I pulled it out when I got back in the car, but it had connected to the WiFi while I was grabbing my coffee. It couldn’t actually load anything but the login page because it was the real hotspot…but if it had been a fake hotspot, they could have intercepted or modified any non-encrypted traffic going on in the background.

**At best, Samsung forgot to include it when they wrote their own settings app years ago.

WiFi is the new Color TV

When I was a kid, motels still advertised “COLOR TV!” on their signs to entice weary drivers to choose their facilities over the next one down the road. I’m pretty sure color TV was standard by then, but the signs remained.

These says, every motel I drive past has “Wi-Fi” on the sign, for the same reason.

Except it’s not quite the same. I mean…can you imagine if color TV was included with every room at the Motel 6, but you had to pay extra for it at a business class or nicer hotel?

That would be kind of silly, wouldn’t it?

Wi-Fi Sprouter (The Seeds Are All Right)

You’ve probably seen the story about how a group of teenagers showed that plants won’t grow next to a WiFi router. We did our own experiment, but first some things to consider about the story making the rounds:

  • They tested whether cress seeds would germinate near a wi-fi router.
  • The seeds by the router DID grow, just not as well as the control group.
  • The photos accompanying the news articles I saw don’t match the photos that appear in the report. They actually look like a before and after set.
  • It was done a year ago, in spring 2013.
  • It was a school science project. That’s not a knock, they did some good things like sending traffic through the router to make sure it was actually transmitting, and mixing seeds from multiple packets together to eliminate differences between batches.
  • As with all science, the results need to be repeated in more experiments with rigorous controls to be sure they accounted for all variables.
  • I couldn’t find a followup study in all the blind repostings of the original OMGWIFI claims, though I did find a discussion at JREF. If you can read past the annoyingly dismissive comments, you’ll also find some insightful remarks and links to the actual presentation (in Danish, so it’s tricky to read, but they have charts and photos)…and a few anecdotal stories by people who use the heat from their wireless routers to HELP germinate seeds!

After we read up on this, Katie decided to do a simple experiment herself. She put seeds next to our router, on top of our refrigerator, next to the TV, and for a control, outside. She found that the seeds placed next to our router did just fine — considerably better than those left outside, and slightly better than those placed elsewhere around the house.

Each bag contained one kidney bean, one black-eyed pea, and one seed from the red bell pepper I cut up for dinner. I put a section of select-a-size paper towel, folded twice, in each and set the seeds inside the second fold. Each bag got 15 mL of Brita filtered water and the air was squeezed out before sealing. Then I left them around the apartment for several days to see if they’d sprout. This is a picture of what resulted.

I wonder if the seeds in the school experiment just dried out. Katie sealed her seeds in plastic bags, which allowed radiation to pass through, but trapped moisture. As I understand it, the students watered their seeds throughout the experiment, but it’s possible the trays dried out overnight. Comparing moisture content/retention would be an interesting follow-up.

Obviously, this isn’t any more rigorous than the original experiment. But it shows that the results they found are the beginning of the process, not the last word. More importantly, it’s something you can easily test yourself if you’re so inclined. Next time you see a startling claim that’s something you can test without too much trouble, try checking it out for yourself.

Incidentally: We planted the seeds in our patio yesterday. With any luck, they’ll do as well as our tomatoes (and better than our poor carrots) this year!

Vizio E422VA: Connecting that Internet-Connected TV to Wi-Fi

If anyone’s having trouble connecting a Vizio E422VA or similar television to a wireless router to run Netflix, etc., here are some gotchas I ran into hooking it up to our FIOS-provided router:

  1. Update the firmware on the TV. You can do this by connecting to the router with an ethernet cable, verifying that it’s on the network, then turning the TV off and waiting a while. When you turn it on again, it should tell you it’s installing a firmware update. Repeat until it doesn’t offer any more, then you can disconnect the cable.
  2. Don’t use spaces in your WPA password. The device can’t handle it.
  3. Yes, it can connect to a WPA2-protected network even though it only says WPA.
  4. It can’t connect to a network running 802.11n or newer, even with the updated firmware. It needs the older (and slower) b/g compatibility mode.

This has been bugging me forever – it worked just fine until we moved from a U-Verse area to a FIOS area and had to get a new router for the new service. It wasn’t critical, since we had other sources of TV and other devices we could use for Netflix (though with a much less useful interface), but every few months I would give it another shot. Finally I tracked down how to update the firmware in the manual, and found the recommendation on spaces. Put the two together, and BAM! Connected.

Setting up a Wireless Network on Linux: Ralink 3062 and Network Manager

Ah, memories! These days, setting up hardware on Linux is often easier than it is in Windows. Lots of drivers are built-in and auto-detected, and many are provided through a distribution channel that makes it almost as easy.

Wireless networking, however, is a bit of a throwback to the old days. Half the hardware doesn’t have Linux drivers, and half of the devices that do require you to hunt for the driver — based on the chipset, of course, not on the name or model number on the box — and compile it yourself. (At least these days, you can sometimes run a tool to adapt the Windows drivers if there’s no native Linux option.)

The steps I actually needed to take to set up wifi on my Fedora 13 desktop probably only amounted to about 10 minutes. Unfortunately it took a lot of false starts to get there. I had installed a Zonet ZEW1642 PCI card, which my initial research suggested would be supported by the built-in rt2860 drivers. As it turned out, it wasn’t that simple. Continue reading