Why WiFi Hotspots Are Just for Geeks

I’m at a Caribou Coffee location in a suburb of Minneapolis this morning and just spent 20 minutes with customer support (the Caribou network is managed by WanderingWifi) trying to get the damn network to operate by having the shop staff perform reboots and setting changes on the router.

Since I build and deploy WiFi networks for myself, friends and family, I’m at least competent in getting the things to work. I’ve even installed VPN’s and SSH setups for people so they can get online securely while in these otherwise insecure open locations.

At a Dunn Bros coffee in Eden Prairie, I worked with the manager to THROW OUT their cordless, 2.4ghz phone since every time it rang and was answered….it knocked everyone off the network requiring a reboot of the router. I ended up hammering on the chief operating officer at Dunn in order to get them to take some action (since this location is one of my favorites and I frequent it).

At the Web 2.0 Summit last week, the WiFi connection (sponsored by AOL) was so unusable that I ended up frustrated and not using it much. Excuses notwithstanding (bad cable, etc.), one would think that a thought leading, important summit like this would’ve ensured that the Internet — which was the whole point of the conference — worked. (Was I the only one that saw the acute irony in this?).

I think about Joe SixPack (and, frankly, most other non or modestly technical people I know) who struggle, whine and are befuddled that getting online isn’t simple. Encrypting their connection? They don’t even THINK about something like this requiring more knowledge since just getting online is tough enough.

I’ve had this same kind of experience over-n-over again all over the US and abroad (it’s worse in Europe and expensive in Japan) so I’ve come to believe that WiFi is mainly for geeks.

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1 Comment

  1. Pascal Venier on November 15, 2006 at 11:26 am

    A fee of up to $3,295 and the wifi does not work! ;^)

    You should ask for a refund! 😉



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