Kirt's Cogitations™ #210
Domiciliary Hot Spots
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Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted thought or
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
Domiciliary Hot Spots
I just realized that my home is a wireless hotspot. It has been over a year since installing an 802.11g
wireless router (Belkin) in the house, where Melanie and our two college-attending (commuting) kids each have a
notebook computer that connects to the router. Philip’s Toshiba notebook computer has a built-in 802.11b/g
transceiver, as does Melanie’s Dell. Sally’s Compaq uses a Belkin plug-in card. Thanks to very good engineering on
the parts of the manufacturers represented, all three computers automatically configured themselves to communicate
with the router, and everything has worked flawlessly from day one. With just a little extra work on my part, all
of the notebook computers are also able to communicate fully with the main desktop computer (a 3-year-old Compaq
running at 1.8 GHz) and can even print to the desktop’s printer via the connection. That such a system has been
installed and configured by me is as expected by my family as is the maintenance I do on the cars and the house.
To borrow a slogan from Microsoft, "It just works."
"How does this qualify my house as a hotspot?" you
might ask. Here’s how. Occasionally, my kids will have friends come to the house and they sometimes bring their
notebook computers with them. I never thought much about it before until this weekend when Sally had a friend from
Liberty University stop by on her way home for Thanksgiving break. I walked into Sally’s bedroom and noticed her
friend Instant Messaging on her own computer that she brought with her. Neither she nor I had done anything to get
the notebook computer to talk to our wireless router. Since I do not have any type of password requirement for
connecting, her computer took the liberty (no pun intended) of configuring itself and communicating. Sally’s
friend never even thought about the fact that all she had to do was turn on her computer and, just like at school,
she would have a broadband Internet connection. It was simply expected. The only thing that might have even made
her consider it was if she had fired up her computer and there was NO connection.
Samuel Morse’s famous words, "What
hath God wrought?" applies here, today, as aptly as when he sent that telegraphic message on May 24, 1844,
from his key in Washington, D.C., to the loudspeaker in Baltimore, MD.
Governments and private businesses all over the world have been working tirelessly to provide ubiquitous Internet
connectivity. The grand plan is to be able to go virtually anywhere in any city and be able connect in a seamless
flow from hotspot to hotspot. Some of the connectivity is offered at no charge to the user (not free, since
somebody is paying for it), and other connectivity is provided at a nominal fee. Amazing progress has been made in
spite of the infamous tech bubble bursting in 2000 and the subsequent setback of September 11, 2001, in the U.S.
There is a big push to also implement seamless connectivity along the nation’s major interstate highways. Other
countries, particularly in Europe, are mounting all-out efforts to make Internet connections available throughout
their cities. Sadly, one of the biggest obstacles has been security issues, where scumbag evildoers attempt to
exploit the goodwill of others to their own advantage, but I digress.
As with just about every subject, there is a plethora of information presented on the Internet regarding
setting up and connecting to hotspots, as well as numerous websites that have extensive listings of local
Wi-Fi-FreeSpot Directory lists hotspots by state and by country. There are 22 hotspots listed in my local area
of Winston-Salem and Greensboro (North Carolina). As is also typical of websites, a lot of the hyperlinks you will
find are dead; however, there are still thousands of useful links given.
Wi-FiHotSpotList returns five within 10 miles of my
house, which is actually between and north of W-S and Greensboro.
claims to have the largest collection on the entire Internet. Traveling in Canada? Try
Wi-FiHotSpotsDirectory is another resource; it
shows about 140 hotspots in Ireland and 4 in Costa Rica, but alas, no hotspots in Azerbaijan. Here is a website
for our German friends -
Wireless LAN und Hotspot Link Index. The list goes on and on.
A Google search on "wireless hotspots" returns over 4.5 million hits. My house isn’t listed in any of the hotspot
guides yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.