Thursday, July 28, 2005

How do some people do it?

My daughter Joy moved from Florida to Texas two years ago, found an apartment and settled in. Her computer, an old hand-me-down, was suffering from apparent terminal obsolescence, so Carol and I bought her a brand new laptop.

It came with a wi-fi card for wireless internet access, but Joy couldn’t afford broadband so planned to use a dial-up service. Ah! But when we turned on the computer a “Wireless Signal Available” window popped up.

It turned out a neighbor in her building had broadband and a wireless router, and had never bothered with security settings to prevent outside access. So for over a year Joy enjoyed free high speed internet with no telephone interruption. Serendipity!

Now she has moved back to Florida and lives in one half of a duplex. When she first turned on the computer two weeks ago, her hopes were dashed: no wireless signal was detected.

Today she called to tell me she now is seeing a “Wireless Signal Available” window again. It says, “Signal Strength: Excellent.”

Her husband (who, by the way, is an entertainer who works under the stage name of Johnny Conch) said he noticed a local cable TV truck parked in front of the duplex across the street a day or two ago. They now assume that their neighbor has connected with cable broadband and has a wireless router.

Oh, important point: Whoever it is has thus far neglected to set up any security or encryption, so any neighbors within a hundred yards or so can use the signal. For free.

For most people the odds of living in range of someone with broadband, a wireless router, and no security would be very high. For that same thing to happen at two different locations in a row is approaching unbelievable!

Some people just seem to have a knack.

RELATED TOPIC: Wi-fi is becoming more and more available across the country. Carol and I just bought for ourselves a laptop with built-in wi-fi.

I knew that there were “hot spots” in various places like Starbucks, many McDonalds, many airports and a fast-growing number of hotels and motels. Most of those require a user to sign on with a credit card, and be charged from $2.95 to almost $7 per hour for connection. Or you can set up a permanent account and pay a flat rate per month for unlimited usage.

But now there are more and more FREE hot spots appearing. Examples are lesser known cafes and restaurants, and many public libraries.

Since we’re planning a driving trip in September through parts of 17 states, I did some research to find where we might run across some of these free hot spots. If you’re interested, check out this web site. Or this one.

Or you can Google “Free wifi” or something similar and find lots of info.

UNRELATED TOPIC — OSHA UPDATE: Our VPP audit was completed today. Yes, some items needing “remediation” were found, and we have 90 days to “fix” them.

But the bottom line is: we will retain our “STAR” status (the highest rating) for another 2-3 years until the next review.



Karyn Lyndon said...

Congrats on your star status and your daughter's good fortune!

the many Bs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the many Bs said...

Good for you on the OSHA visit. I didn't expect anything less than a gold star from you!

Anonymous said...

so far so good - I am still getting free wireless broadband! still not sure where it's coming from though.

Jodi said...

Good and bad. Good (actually great) for your daughter to be enjoying perks like that.

Bad for her neighbors who still are clueless and vulnerable to online security.

But still great for your daughter :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow - that Johnny Conch has quite a repertoire. Very impressive list.