17
Mar
08

Give Us Free.

Internet access.

I suppose it was bound to happen. I just never thought I’d fold so easily, so comfortably. I also figure that it’s because I live in Richmond, a quiet town where you can scoop up WiFi access almost as easily as finding a patch of green earth to sit on, that the desert of free WiFi that seems to be England was so alien.

On the one hand, there are plenty of hotspot providers, some with funny names, others that I knew already. As long as one has the batteries and the coin of the realm, he can dip his cup into almost anyone’s stream. I chose T-Mobile, principally because I knew I could use whatever time I had left over at a Starbucks at home.

But it’s the fact that I had to pay at all that shocked me. I can connect almost everywhere I want when I’m home. At school, the University’s WiFi is there. At home, if mine’s out, I can kinda piggyback on my neighbors. Heck, I even was sifting back through the logs in my router to find that at least one of my neighbos – probably a student – was using my internet connection. It just didn’t seem all that bad to me.

I was reading an article at Wired a few months ago in their ThreatLevel blog in which the author talked about how his wireless network at his home was not encrypted. I understood. Certainly, access to the web oughtta be free.

Ever since wireless internet became a possibility at my house, our system was open. I figured since I was paying for it even when I wasn’t using it, someone may as well have the option. When my wife became a victim of identity theft (not through our network, I’ll have you know), she insisted that I update the system so that it required a WEP key. Thankfully, all of this kinda stuff is made readily available in the software for the router we use, or else I’d be in really big trouble.

But that’s my point. If it’s easy enough for someone like me to set up, how hard is it for someone like one of my students (the honest-to-goodness Power Users) to break into? Am I just making it harder for people who know nothing to break in or am I really keeping the whole world out?

But back to my original concern: Has wireless connectivity become so ubiquitous that we all just pay for it? Is it really true that nothing comes for free anymore? Suxor.

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