As tends to happen to me these days, the BBC appears to have watching over my shoulder and anticipating my next move. I just returned from a lovely fortnight in the Dordogne (notwithstanding the 8 hours caught up in ‘Operation Stack‘ at the channel tunnel terminal at Felixstowe), to find that I need to spend most of the week at my parent’s house down the road, amidst rather traumatic circumstances.
This is no problem, as they have a home office with broadband access, so I can take my Ferrari and clamber onto conference calls and collabsites whenever I can, to remain as productive as possible between pills, bowls, and ambulances. The first problem I encounter, however, is that there does not appear to be a broadband modem in sight. This might not be a bad thing, but I suspect it is. I turn on the ancient Time PC in the corner and it springs into life, after about 10 minutes, but hey presto, full internet access. Follow the cables. There on the wall is the ethernet port. Not a telephone point, but an ethernet port. Oh. Its cable.
First logical next step, I’m guessing, is to just stick an ethernet cable between the Ferrari and the wall. There, look, its trying to get me an IP address. Try again. Hmm. I ponder the probabilty of installing ntl: broadband software and drivers just to get the network up and running, obviously screwing up any other configuration I already have, and decide against it. I just won’t do any work this week. I’ll write a huge presentation offline or something. No. Not going to happen.
I try wireless. I don’t use wireless at home anymore because we’re linking it to headaches and we’ve turned off all transmitters in our house, but you never know, there might be an access point around here somewhere. Enabled. Hmm. 2wire675, secured. Nope. numer4_essex, secured. Nope. Hang on, HotelDownTheRoad, wide open. Bingo. Its about 100 metres down the road, so I have about .1 of a bar on the strength meter (which is true in real life, coincidentally), but its available and seems to be plenty fast enough for downloading adverts from pixmania and apple in my email. I’ll even be able to squeeze in a design update or 2.
And here is where the BBC come in. No sooner do I piggyback on the generosity of the local (private) hotel’s open wifi access, than they paste up an article proposing that I might indeed be arrested for trying to get some work done. Actually, they present all the arguements for and against freeloading on open wireless access points, but the hook of the article is about a man being arrested for deliberately freeloading in the street, like those people who sit in their car in your driveway downloading dvds onto 17 laptops in the boot, using your unsecured broadband hub. I’m pretty sure the hotel doesn’t even know that its wifi access is so accessible, or they’ve just found that handing out WEP keys to guests is more trouble than its worth (more likely). Either way, I’m not taking any significant bandwidth away from them and they probably wouldn’t even care. Still, I’ve closed the curtains and if the blue lights come round the corner I’m diving into the cellar and grabbing my laptop, 90’s hacker film style (think Johnny Lee Miller), just in case.