When you open the wireless network box in Windows it shows you a list of routers and access points. If you see a lock that means that they have encryption enabled on the router and you must have "authority" i.e. work for the company that will provide you with the information to connect to that network.
If WEP encrption is not enabled, then you should be able to access that internet connection without a problem. Usually, when you connect to hotels, for instance, you have a direct connection to the Internet. However, if you connect to some commercial place such as McDonalds you will get a welcome screen where you typically have to use your credit card to purchase access.
In regards going back to the same location later and not getting access, it is possible that the business you are trying to connect to may have two or more routers, one secure for some reason and one without WEP enabled and you may be trying to connect to the WEB enabled router instead of the public router.
I have a Compaq Presario v2000 runing Windows XP and I am generally very happy with it. However I have two problems that I can not seem to find the answers to.
I travel a lot and use public access wifi to check my email. Some places I can not access the internet. I will connect to the wifi router, but there is a lock going from the router to the internet as if it is ecripted and needs a password, but it never asks for one. Sometimes I get a firewall message, and turn off my windows firewall. Usually this does not fix my problem, but it does sometimes.
The next trip I may not have a problem at the same location. (Right now I remember JFK Airport as one place). I had Norton on this machine, but I went to their site and un-installed it. I use Windows firewall and AVG free antivirus. Is it possible Norton left some sort of firewall in place? It may have started when I changed to AVG?
My second problem may not be wifi, but I'll ask it. I used Sony Location Free TV (remote access to my cable box over the internet)for some time. Then the program stopped loading. I get the error message "failed to initialize Direct X - error code 0200101636024." Sony Tech suport said "not me" but did show me how to troubleshoot Direct X. I even reinstalled an updated Direct X. No help. All other programs run fine.
I hope someone can help me - I will greatly appreciate any info you can give me. I am semi-computer illiterate, so please keep it simple!