If hotel rooms are supposed to become my home away from home then there is one thing that I absolutely hate: the unfriendly wifi.
- I dislike paying extra for wifi
- I dislike having to log on with superlong codes each time I need to use wifi
- I dislike having to buy wifi for each of my devices separately!
The first two are unfortunately not going to go away until hotels come to their senses but the third can be resolved by without relying on the hotels.
This is a guide to creating your own wifi in a room where the only Internet connection is wifi (i.e. no Ethernet). You will need laptop, wireless router, Ethernet cable. I have done this with my Apple equipment. I am sure you can do this in other connections but I have not tried it. I have not done this all too often and remembering these settings are the reason I wrote this guide.
Begin by Logging into the wifi with your laptop.
Go to sharing (Settings->sharing->Internet Sharing) Select from wifi share via Ethernet and turn it on. When troubleshooting turning sharing on/off again has sometimes resolved the problem.
Connect your Wireless router to the computer. I use the new small Airport Express its lightweight for travel. Connect you Ethernet cable from the laptop to the Ethernet WAN port.
Then its time to set up the Wifi
Go to the Airport Utility (Applications -> Utilities -> Airport Utility)
Base Station: pick a name and password for the base station. This is not the wifi net or password but the way to log into the base station to make changes if need be.
Network: You are creating a wireless network. Pick name for that wifi and password. Chose Bridge mode.
Note some situations may not like you doing all this so picking a wifi name that screams out whom you are may be unwise. Obviously be wise about passwords as well.
Internet Connection: This is the hotel wifi that you logged into in the beginning of this guide.
The update and you are away. You should now log all your devices onto the wifi you have created and they are all sharing the internet connection that you are paying for.
Sorry about the shouting but I need to get it out of my system. While I am attending the most interesting conference for a long time (Personal Democracy Forum) it is located in a sub-standard technical environment. While this is sad it can be explained by the inability of the venue to deliver what they promised to the organizers.
But this is not what is really pissing me off. This is the second (or maybe third?) time I am at the University of Barcelona and staring at the wonderful Eduroam network. Eduroam is
eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.
eduroam allows students, researchers and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop.
The system works everywhere I have come across it and I have been able to rely on it in several places in Sweden, Austria & UK. It is an amazing initiative and a fantastic idea. But my irritation is aggravated by the fact that Eduroam NEVER works when I visit the University of Barcelona. Why is this? What have they got against visitors? Why do they even have Eduroam if they don’t what to use it to its full potential?
There is nothing worse than implementing technology badly. Unless of course the point is to cause the users suffering and frustration…
In 1995 the term daily me began to be bandied about by some writers and thinkers, Nicholas Negroponte for example discussed the concept in his book Being Digital. The term’s democratic and social implications was developed in Cass Sunstein‘s book Republic.com (2001). In this book (and followed up with Republic 2.0 in 2007) he argued that …the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs… (Wikipedia). This process is sometimes known as cyberbalkanization but I feel the latter is a badly chosen term since it implies the need for cyber, which is not necessary.
No matter what term you prefer it is obvious that the daily-me phenomenon can be easily achieved with digital technology. Yesterday I took another step in my personal balkanization.
Already in my work the main part of my reading and writing is based on mainly non-Swedish sources and publications. The blogs I track track across the Internet are mainly non-local, defined by subject rather than geography. For lesuire I mainly read foreign magazines and books. I rarely read newspapers (not even online), seldom watch television (but plenty of DVDs) and since I travel around Sweden a great deal I tend to miss local events.
Together this leads to a negative (or positive – depends on your perspective) spiral and increased disinterest in local affairs.
Yesterday I took another step in my own personal balkanization by buying an Argon Internet radio. I was actually very skeptical to this but after I quick and easy install I now can listen to live radio from anywhere in the world (within the confines of language). My presets include English, American, Spanish, Maltese and Australian stations.
The little radio is perfect in my kitchen and connects easily to my wifi. In addition to this it actually does work as a “normal, old-fashioned” radio, which was a large factor in convincing me to chose this model but I have not felt the need to use it.
The argon even connects nicely to the music on my computer and to my personal selection of radio stations I chose on the radio website. My only gripe so far is that I have not managed to get the podcasts working but I guess I will have to read the manual.
So now it is even easier for me to ignore what is going on around me and focus on the stuff I like. This is becoming more than a daily me or a balkanization but it is definitaly a step in the fragmentization of a society. But at this stage I would like to quote Margaret Thatcher (I never thought that would happen) “Society does not exist“. Thatcher used this provocative statement to promote extreme individualism. But I would like to use this to remind us that “society” is a social construct which has no meaning outside that which we consciously and unconsciously agree to fill it with. But the short sharp Thatcherite version sounds better.
Stealing wifi is an old subject but it remains an interesting one. That some people have been prosecuted for stealing wifi in different parts of the world is also old news.* Still most of us have no problem checking for open networks when we need to access. I have also known users to be on their neighbours wifi without knowing or meaning to – they just don’t understand the difference. But this may be a minorty.
The availablity of open networks is either intentional, unintentional or even accidental. Accidental occurs when people don’t know about wifi and unintentional happens when people don’t know what they are doing. Then there is the group who intentionally shares their wifi.**
Some would prefer to share because sharing is good. Bruce Schneier has written about the added good of openness.
Similarly, I appreciate an open network when I am otherwise without bandwidth. If someone were using my network to the point that it affected my own traffic or if some neighbor kid was dinking around, I might want to do something about it; but as long as we’re all polite, why should this concern me? Pay it forward, I say.
The attitudes about freeloading and sharing vary. Some are scared of intrusion, some support the openness and others could not care less. Unfortunately the latter group is growing. I say unfortunately since the default settings on more wireless routers, especially those provided by ISPs, are closed.
This is the equivalent of the house advantage in roulette. Slowly and surely their will be no openness left other than those few activists who strive to ensure open networks. This means that the struggle for openness will go from the commonplace to the realm of the activists.
* Arstechnica reports that an Illinois man was arrested and fined $250 in 2006 & in Michigan man who parked his car in front of a café and snarfed its free WiFi was charged this past May  with “Fraudulent access to computers, computer systems, and computer networks.” In a similar case from Singapore (Engadget) a 17-year old recieved 18 months of probation under the Computer Misuse Act for stealing his neighbours wifi. In the UK one man was been arrested and two people have been cautioned for WiFi theft or “dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment.”
** Sharing wifi will in most cases violate the contract terms for most internet service providers.