Monday, November 01, 2010

Getting Renewable WiFi

As Juned Sonido once told me, while electronic connectivity is available to a vast majority of the planet Earth's sentient denizens, only those with the cash can get access anywhere and everywhere! So it is still "money talks" and money connects!

But in ecology (and I believe is manifest of the infinite wisdom of the Creator!), we have creatures that sponge off the detritus and here we belong, the creatures that always look for renewable WiFi!

I found out how essential this was to survival when I was attending an environment conference in Washington DC two years ago. I and a lot of other delegates were booked into a hotel now famously called the "Hillary Clinton Hotel" (a block away from the White House) for it was here that Hillary first planned her unsuccessful ascent to the White House , As history has it, the thought of a Woman (or This Woman) occupying the Oval Office was too much for the American electorate to consider. And so we have the Obama (who happens to be a man) occupying it.

But I was in DC at a time when the financial bubble burst and the banks came toppling down. The hotel it seems lost much of its high paying clientle (except Hillary and her strategists) so we delegates got to occupy some of the suite rooms. The Pinay chambermaid joked that I was staying in the room where Russel Crowe once slept in. I told her that I really wanted to stay in the room where Angelina Jolie once laid her head on a pillow in! (Another Pinoy delegate got that room!)

But needless to say, while we could sleep in celebrity suites at budget rates, the WiFi rates were atrocious. So I noticed after breakfast, that all these delegates had their laptops on and they were sprawled on the carpet under a copy of a Picasso. Now I wondered  what Picasso had to do with this unusual aggregation. It was that the delegates were sponging off free WiFi from the hotel next door! The hotel next door was more upscale and was broadcasting its free WiFi signals everywhere!

So that's a way to get renewable WiFi! At airports, one may be able to get free WiFi but one must be warned, the free hotspots are a light year from the boarding gates. And since for cost cutting reasons, airports no longer announce a boarding call, one is at risk from missing the flight. In the age of unrebookable budget air travel, this can be likened to a descent into hell!

In some places, restos may broadcast their free WiFi over and beyond their doors. You can buy a burger and eat it on a bench nearby and get to connect.

Or your next door neighbour may have set a home WiFi but failed to put access security. I know a close friend in Quezon City who has stopped subscribing for internet access since all the homes nearby had WiFi and THEY FAILED to put access security! Now he is enjoying all the renewable WiFi he can get!

Universities used to be places where you can get free WiFi. But given security concerns, plagiarism, copyright, and wise a_s students trying to crack the registrar's records of grades, universities have now one of the tightest access security in the wireless world. You have to be enrolled, be a member of the staff or faculty to get access. Nonetheless, there is a hierarchy of access rights. Students are entitled to a set of rights, staff another and faculty another set. All of them cannot access everything since sites that contravene "the university's mission, goals, and image" are blocked. I was teaching at a southern US university when a recording company sued the university for students downloading mp3s from their dorms using the university's network. The university lawyers argued their case on "academic freedom" grounds. Nonetheless, the university blocked all music sites!

It is possible to get free WiFi from a church. In the US I was elated to get free WiFi from the St Holier-than-thou Catholic Church only to find out that you can only get to sites like 1) The Vatican, 2) The Pope, 3) EWTN, 4) The US Catholic Conference, 5) the local diocese, and 6) A list of religious congregations (which for some reason, excluded the Jesuits!)

The usher told me to ask the rectory for the network password. Here I declined for I thought I had to make a confession for all my sins to Father! (I had not the time to make a sincere examination of conscience then!)

So boys and girls, these are some ways to get free WiFi. Maybe it is a good idea to confess your sins!

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