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Old 01-28-2005, 08:11 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Free Internet while "On-the-Road"

If your travel computer is WiFi equipped (an inexpensive addition to most laptops) you will be interested in my experience.

Traveling 16,800 miles this last Spring & Summer, I found absolutely invaluable a WiFi Signal Detector.

You could try: http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/smarti...tor-review.html To begin your search.

I bought the one from ThinkGeek.com , the WFS-1 which still works flawlessly. (the one pictured in the gadgeteer link above)

Absolutely great ... hold in hand - point at buildings while driving past courthouses, offices, banks, and best of all - libraries - see the signal ... stop, boot the laptop & search or email away!

I stayed about one week at Flathead Lake in Montana ... go into town (Paulson)to shop, park in front of the library for 5 minutes, download my email and on my way.

Most hotels, marinas and even motels now have wireless links that are not password protected and the price is right. Sometimes the transmission antennas require you to be just in the right place.
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Old 01-28-2005, 09:15 PM   #2
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That's great advice! For my Apple lap top I downloaded "Macstumbler" for free and was amazed to find more than 50 wireless networks just from driving around town for 10 minutes, and it generates a log that you can reference later. I think that it will even tie into a GPS if you are that high tech. I haven't traveled with the computer yet but now I know where to look for free internet


Steve
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Old 01-28-2005, 09:31 PM   #3
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Its called wardriving,

For some good tips about being ethical and doing it right, see
http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6536_7-726610-2.html

Jeff Duntman also has some good advice
http://faq.wardrive.net/

here's a mapping site
http://www.wifimaps.com/
(not quality checked)

Do keep in mind that you are using someone else's access and equipment. While the education about security has grown in the last couple of years, there are still people who get surprised and angry when they find their network invaded by strangers. So make sure you are welcome (the CNET article has some advice on this)

Oh, and BTW, it appears that CA state parks are being wifi'd so SBC customers have free use and non-SBC pay a small fee ($7.50/day?) - look for a recent news story on this one
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Old 01-28-2005, 10:09 PM   #4
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I'm kind of mixed. I mean, if it's not a free service as some places offer, technically you are stealing, plain and simple. However, I gotta tell you, from a network admin's perspective, I'd be kind of upset if I had folks using my private networks, but really, I'd only have to be upset at myself if I wasn't careful enough to secure the access points properly. Some folks just need to learn the hard way I suppose.
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Old 01-28-2005, 10:42 PM   #5
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Texas rest stops

All Texas rest stops will have Wi-fi in the near future. The pilot project was some stops in west Texas and it proved to be very popular. Some rest stops around the state are being closed, especially in areas once rural but now urban, but those remaining will all have the free Wi-fi. This does not include "picnic areas", just rest stops with facilities.

We lost a nearby rest stop because the area had become urbanized. It was one fairly close to home where I frequently stopped for a tire and bearing check.
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Old 01-29-2005, 08:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I'm kind of mixed. I mean, if it's not a free service as some places offer, technically you are stealing, plain and simple. However, I gotta tell you, from a network admin's perspective, I'd be kind of upset if I had folks using my private networks, but really, I'd only have to be upset at myself if I wasn't careful enough to secure the access points properly. Some folks just need to learn the hard way I suppose.
Twink,
I agree with you to a point. My take is if I can access it from a public right of way, and I am not intent on any malicious harm I am going to use it. It is the owners; responsiblity to secure it. I have two wireless networks here at my house/property one is secured the other not for ease of acess. However, I live 3/4 mile off the paved road so if I see somebody sitting in my driveway...they be tresspassing

FWIW I have found that most Panera Bread Company locations have free WiFi and leave it on all the time. I can usually hit it from the second row out in the parking lot. They have some 600 WiFi locations scattered across the US. And there are others, a bicycle shop I frequent as well as one of my favorite RV dealers also provide free WiFi.

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Old 01-29-2005, 09:06 AM   #7
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I can see your point and I totally agree, it's the owner's responsibility to secure it. I too manage over a dozen access points with one at home. Panera and others that offer free WiFi is totally legal and without question fair game....it's the ones that don't where it gets kind fo grey.

I suppose if one was foolish enough, it's their own fault, malicious or not. However it can be and is considered theft of service that can and is prosecuted (if they can catch you)....but even if they don't catch you, who's to say you just didn't access a pool of worms and viruses. If the average access point owner doesn't know how to configure their base station securely, it's also within reason that they also don't protect their PCs on their network correctly either, so who knows what might be lurking out there when you roll the dice and surf on someone's private network knowing you just got onto some unsecure network that everyone that passes by has given a turn....kind of like going to the Chicken Ranch in Las Vegas...better make sure your PC has protection.
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Old 01-29-2005, 09:13 AM   #8
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...similarly, if you go onto free networks like Panera's and others, it's very important that you have your computers secured as well. As with any "public untrusted" network, you should be using every tool that is availible to proect yourself and your info both on your machine and in transit. I am ALWAYS TOTALLY AMAZED at how little folks seem to notice as they transmitt credit card info, social security numbers, etc over public untrusted networks without even a hint of encryption, firewall protection (correctly configured of course), etc.

It can be a fools paradise out there folks.....to take a clip from Hill Street Blues..."Let's be careful out there."
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Old 01-29-2005, 09:48 AM   #9
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About Panera and others, of course a gesture of thanks would be to leave the lot with a sack full of bagels or bread loaves for the road ahead This thread is all very interesting with next summer's trips in mind.
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:04 AM   #10
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Eric -- the 'original' chicken ranch was in LaGrange, Texas... Just what did you think ZZ Top was singing about?

It was shut down long before WiFi was even a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye...
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
Eric -- the 'original' chicken ranch was in LaGrange, Texas... It was shut down long before WiFi was even a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye...
LOL!
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:28 AM   #12
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It's just a matter of time...

I suspect soon that wireless will be available just about everywhere. Dunn Bros. coffee shops in Minnesota have free access yet Caribou Coffee is trying to charge. Guess where I will go? The Hennepin County (greater Minneapolis), MN Libraries (I think 16 of them) are going to be free wireless by April. Whole towns are going wireless. It won't be long before campgrounds and trailer parks will have to go wireless to be attractive. It seems to be a fairly inexpensive bennie to offer for promotional gain.

The free wireless genie seems to be out of the bottle. Will they lock it down in the future?
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Old 01-29-2005, 10:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxandgeorgia
About Panera and others, of course a gesture of thanks would be to leave the lot with a sack full of bagels or bread loaves for the road ahead This thread is all very interesting with next summer's trips in mind.
I do buy the occasional sandwich or cinamon sticky bun at Panerera, but the ones I was frequenting are only open from around 8am-7 pm, and my work schedule is from 630am to 630pm...so I took advantage of the fact there was one on my way back to the campground from the jobsite BTW just for some extra info. The Virgina Beach KOA will be getting campground wide wireless sometime in the very near future. The plans appear to be to make it available for all campers as part of the nightly fee. The Holiday Travel Park across the road uses the Linkspot system and charges for it Needless to say I know where I plan to stay if I go back to that area.

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Old 01-29-2005, 12:19 PM   #14
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Great timing on this as we are loading the trailer today for our departure early Sunday morning to get away from this cold weather and spend the next two months in Texas. Just got my new Dell laptop with wireless card and set up a wireless router at home. Am looking forward to finding wireless spots on the way and while in Harlingen and Kerrville. I have SBC dsl so have free access to SBC wireless on the road. Most UPS stores are SBC wireless so look forward to using there access points while away.
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