I made an interesting discovery today. Went for a short walk with my netbook this morning, just to see if by chance I could pick up on any WI-FI networks away from my home. This is the first time I've ever done this outside, because my old laptop was too heavy to lug around. The netbook only weighs about two pounds without the power pack, and the battery lasts over eight hours, so it's the perfect travel companion.
I walked about a block away from the house. Found a nice place to sit in the shade. Immediately picked up about six different WI-FI networks, a few from a nearby hotel, and the rest from residential homes, but they were all password protected. Walked another block, and found another nice place to sit down underneath the cooling shade of a mesquite tree, picked up about a dozen more WI-FI networks, and about three that were unprotected. Was able to log on and connect to the internet right away, no problem. It was pretty awesome to know that I can walk a few blocks away, sit outside in the shade, and still be able to connect to the internet.
So if by chance my internet get's turned off and can't make it to the library, I'm living in a plentiful sea of WI-FI connections. There must be hundreds of them within a mile of where I live.
Is it unethical? Is it illegal? Maybe. Do I feel bad about it? No, not in the least. It was actually pretty fun. I'm not a hacker. I don't have any criminal intentions. I don't plan on using massive amounts of bandwidth. It's not something I plan on doing frequently. Was really just an experiment to see what was out there. And is only something that I would use occasionally for short periods of time, for accessing simple low bandwidth primarily text based websites. I also wouldn't mind sharing my own connection periodically, so long as it doesn't significantly slow it down, and as long as there are adequate security controls in place to protect from loss of data, piracy, sabotage, or other malicious use.
All I know is it was pretty cool. I felt like a kid going on an adventure. And yes I do realize that this type of behavior is probably more befitting of a 13 year old, then a 33 year old, but I don't care, it was a lot of fun, and I will most likely do it again. I may even put together a Google map for my own personal collection, labeling all the free WI-FI sites I find around town. Thinking I may do the same for the location of citrus trees, which is another one of my youthful adventures, scouting out publicly accessible fruit bearing trees to harvest.
Not really something you want to publicly advertise though, or all the good spots will be picked clean or shut down. You have to be in the secret club, to have access to this information. And as far as I know, I have no local readers, so I guess it'll be my own private secret.