Finding WiFi on the Road


When you’re out traveling, and aren’t able to find too many places to leach some wifi from, it can be a huge pain. Not only because we’re addicted to the Internet, but some of us actually pretend that we’re working when we’re connected. We’re not just surfing myspace, and sending sweet-nothings on email to anonymous craigslisters.

So the frustration comes in when you can’t find a good connection. Sure, an Internet cafe is the natural choice. What happens when they close at 4pm, and you have to be online from 9pm to midnight to collaborate with coworkers in Europe? Or when they open at 9am, and you need to be online at 6am?

This happened to me 2 nights ago. I resorted to first driving around with my laptop on to find a friendly network after trying for about 30 minutes in every corner of the house where I’m staying. Then, after I got the majority of my stuff done, I went back and suffered through the cellular dial-up connection speed.

Today I tried to opt for a more ethical solution, showing up at the Internet Cafe, and then trying to use a local hotel’s business lounge. Turns out, their business lounge is one computer in the lobby. But, they have wifi for registered guests. I offered to pay so I could use the wifi for a couple hours, but was shot down.

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The excuse offered was that it was a legal issue. If “something happened” they would be responsible for my actions. Thus, they could only offer it to registered guests. But, considering their network is unsecured and wireless, it requires no authentication based on room number, etc, it makes no sense.

What to do? I went into the hotel restaurant/lounge and booted up. The friendly staff even let me plug in the power adapter. Can’t say that much for the front desk staff. If you’re in Seaside, Oregon give some grief to the front desk people at Shilo Inn Oceanfront. And then go into the bar and tip the staff well.

So this leads me to wonder what’s a better way to do this? I spent countless time wasted with my laptop when I could have used a wireless network detector. I’ve previously thought these were stupid and dorky, but it sure would have been handy.

I’ll review the Canary Wireless Network Detector soon and let you know how well it works. It’s supposed to be one of the best.