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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling iOS devices
This one seems obvious to me, but it's important enough to share. I am happy that my iPhone provides internet access anywhere in my city (San Diego), but of course, it's slow compared to my cable modem at home. Traveling around town and in other cities, I yearn for a faster connection.

So, let's say that I'm in a neighborhood that I'm not familiar with. I ask somebody nearby what the local zip code is (let's say, 92116), and then I go to the Maps widget on my iPhone. I type in wifi 92116 and then hit Search. Up will pop up a whole array of (usually) free wireless networks -- coffee shops, libraries, book stores. Alternatively, I can just search for a Starbucks in the area, and then walk across the street to the coffee shop that Starbucks is trying to drive out of business. The competitor will always have free wireless, while Starbucks never does. :-).

If I'm really stranded, far away from any obvious wireless access, I can just look around for a large condo complex and park in Visitor's Parking. There are usually at least a dozen wireless networks within range, and several won't be locked.

[robg adds: The Maps widget is definitely one of the iPhone's "why didn't anyone else think of this?" features; it's the one I've probably used most since getting the iPhone a week ago. No more fumbling to find some place's name or phone number while driving; pull over, tap a few letters into Maps, and you get not just a map but full contact information for most any place.]
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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling | 19 comments | Create New Account
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Using "unlocked" Access Points may be a Felony
Authored by: Tummy on Jul 12, '07 08:01:44AM
Under some states I believe using an open access point without permissions could be a felony and land you in prision. I wouldn't advise people to do it.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070522-michigan-man-arrested-for-using-cafes-free-wifi-from-his-car.html

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Slightly alarmist reaction, given the hint?
Authored by: BadgerUMD on Jul 12, '07 08:13:57AM

I believe your comment is slightly off topic. If "wifi" comes up in a search on Google maps, and they have an open wifi network to connect to, then you're not accessing someone else's network without permission. On the searches I've done, it's almost always a coffee shop trying to get people to come in and stay for a while. Of course, people should use common sense when connecting to networks they don't own, but in general I think your point, while valid, is a little alarmist and knee-jerk.

Just my $0.02



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Using "unlocked" Access Points may be a Felony
Authored by: rameeti on Jul 12, '07 09:16:37AM

Using the internet to find news articles will most always allow us to find somewhere that something is supposedly illegal. With this out of control policeman looking for something to do, perhaps he found someone that he could cause trouble for. But before the foil hats get all worked up, just ask your local policeman if he thinks it is illegal. He probably doesn't think so because it is probably not. Use common sense and we'll all be ok. Let's not get all paranoid over this stuff.



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Not so alarmist, but prison unlikely
Authored by: wheeles on Jul 12, '07 09:27:01AM
In the UK a man was fined for repeatedly hijacking other people's wireless networks.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm


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Still think it's alarmist (given context of hint)
Authored by: BadgerUMD on Jul 12, '07 10:56:49AM

But the hint implies that you're using a businesses public wifi network the way it's supposed to be used. So, by commenting that it may be a felony, I could see scaring people off from a legitimate use of a business' wifi network.

I'm not saying it's something to be ignored. Just something that most consumers need not be overly concerned about. Especially if you're explicitly searching for a business from which to access a wifi network from your iPhone, as this hint suggests.



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Using "unlocked" Access Points may be a Felony
Authored by: kevans on Jul 12, '07 11:20:48AM

Some people seem to have misunderstood. Of course it is all right to use a free, public wifi. However, the additional hint that if you can't find one, you can probably park near a large condo and find several PRIVATE wifi ports that are not locked down does raise questions. Using one of them raises both ethical and legal questions. It is unethical because it represents the use of someone else's bandwidth without permission (and possibly at some cost to them, depending on their ISP contract). Although the risk of being charged is slim, in many jurisdictions trespassing on someone elses wifi is a telecommunications crime.



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Using "unlocked" Access Points may be a Felony
Authored by: jimhoyt on Jul 12, '07 01:34:56PM

Seems to me that using open wifi access can't really be a crime. One doesn't steal the IP address. Your iPhone requests an IP address and the open system gives one away. You asked first.

Heh, heh, heh...

And no, I'm not advocating this.



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Using "unlocked" Access Points may be a Felony
Authored by: nicka on Jul 14, '07 08:13:54AM
Perhaps it shouldn't be a crime, but it is, at least in some countries. As long as that information is made clear, then everyone can make his own choice, as usual.

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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: rhowell on Jul 12, '07 08:10:43AM

"The competitor will always have free wireless, while Starbucks never does. :-). "

Please consider buying a cup of coffee from them if you want this to remain true. :-)



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: keylargodave on Jul 12, '07 08:25:15AM

I live in Texas so we didn't have none of them fancy coffee shops until Starbucks showed up.



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: Roquentin on Jul 12, '07 09:22:04AM
Also, for what it's worth:

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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: OS11 on Jul 12, '07 12:05:28PM

Tommy - Don't be a mindless droid, "in some states" means in states that have headquarters of CELL companies. They HATE WiFi, since it spells the eventual end of their businesses.

ALL access points should be fully open, it should be a LAW... (or at least 5 of the 255 ip's should be) that way communication could be free and the death to cell companies would come quickly instead of "s l o w l y". Free phone calls via the iPhone is how all this is going to work. Can you say VOIP iChat or "iTalk", yes you can.......

So don't put up dumb comments that "someone got arrested", which are simply scared Cell Companies doing the crime, not people that want freedom on the internet.

-



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: tyip on Jul 12, '07 12:31:36PM

Using wi-fi that is intended to be free for public use is one thing and is what this hint is all about. But using wi-fi that is private is another thing, and is the problem when this hint talks about parking near a condo complex and using people's private unlocked wi-fi. I would be pretty annoyed if someone parked his car outside my house and use my wireless network, and I'm sure most people would be too.

Call it knee jerk, paranoid, or alarmist if you want. It's not the posters here that are paranoid or alarmist, it's the lawmakers who made this law. This law should clearly differentiate between the above two scenarios.



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: toor on Jul 12, '07 07:28:41PM

Tyip:

"I would be pretty annoyed if someone parked his car outside my house and use my wireless network..."

And right you would be, but in that case you would probably LOCK IT DOWN.



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: tyip on Jul 13, '07 03:47:28PM

My router has an encrypted password; but you'll be surprised to find how many networks are wide open. Within range of my house, there are 2 unprotected networks out of about 7. So you can still park in front of my house and use someone else's unprotected network - and still annoy me.

With my previous Linksys router, its UI was so bad that I had a hard time finding how to set the password. So your average computer user would simply not know or bother to set up a password.

Along the same line, if a thief steals from an unlocked car, is it the thief's fault or the car owner's fault for not locking his car?



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: nicka on Jul 14, '07 08:20:41AM

I don't think the best comparison is with stealing. I think it's more like walking into an unlocked house and making use of the amenities without actually taking something -- perhaps watching the TV a bit, or just keeping out of the rain.

In some countries that would be a civil offence, not a criminal one, and that's how I think logging on to an open network without permission should be treated. But the legal situation in some countries appears to be that it is a form of hacking, a criminal offence. So be careful!



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: rgspb on Jul 12, '07 08:35:42PM

Why not just open the W-Fi control panel and browse the available signals there? It even shows you if they're locked or not!



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: Felix on Jul 13, '07 07:04:03AM

Ref "Why not just open the W-Fi control panel and browse the available signals there? It even shows you if they're locked or not!"

Did you ever consider it might be helpful to know the WiFi locations IN ADVANCE?

I don't drive/walk around in a strange location just hoping to find a HotSpot; rather, I find out where they are in advance and go to them!



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Use the iPhone to find free wireless while traveling
Authored by: qbanaso888 on Jul 14, '07 06:47:08AM

I will tell you abut a new service that AT&T has which is free wifi at any hotspot of theirs. So any mcdonalds, barnes & nobles or pretty
much any airport if you have 3.0 or 6.0 service with them already for your broadband DSL service. This awesome because you can use your iPhone or your laptop all you have to do is login like normally would at home.



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