The Hunt for the Elusive Free Wifi Hotspot

Those of you who haven’t caught the second season of the Doctor Who revival, yet, should tune in to the CBC tonight at 8:00 p.m. The current episode, The Girl in the Fireplace is perhaps the season’s best, and also one of its most accessible. It will make you a fan!

I run into a fair amount of optimism out there when it comes to wireless Internet, and occasionally I’m infected by it. It’s a persuasive vision, of cruising through our cities, stopping into a coffee shop somewhere and grabbing a cup and a little time online to do our work, answer e-mails, and so on. But the reality is far short of the dream, at least so far.

I’m currently trying out One Zone Wifi, the wireless Internet grid that Toronto Hydro opened up to all users within an area of the downtown bounded by Queen, Church, Front and Spadina. It was touted as a sign that hip Toronto had joined the twenty-first century. We were treated with photos of mayor Miller checking his e-mail from the sidewalk in Toronto’s Financial District.

The problem is, either this service is more popular than people expected, or it’s short on bandwidth. Either way, load-up times are sloooooooow. I’m talking about several minutes to get onto their login page. And they expect to change users for this service (albeit at heavily discounted rates) in six months?

I could switch to Bell’s wifi hotspot, but that works out to anything from about $10/day to $0.15 per minute. At that rate, I might as well stay home.

I realize I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, here. Toronto Hydro is only offering this as a side-benefit of a new internal communications network they’re establishing. I’ll give them credit for letting the public in on this service, but I have to tell you that I’m spoiled. Slow internet service gets very frustrating very quickly.

And that dream of WiFi everywhere was so darn persuasive. Don’t blame me if I’m disappointed that the reality doesn’t live up to the dream I was offered.

Continuing Webhosting Problems

Looks like we had another outage from 8:00 to 8:49 a.m. this morning. 1&1 Internet finally returned my e-mail, but seem not to have realized that there was a problem. This is most frustrating, but I am pursuing this.

What is with all of these webhosting problems all of a sudden? Steve Munro tells me he’s offline due to server troubles, and he’s not on 1&1; neither is Andrew, but it seems like the whole Internet is just getting flakier. Are we getting a sudden spike of traffic? What?

This is frustrating and weird.

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