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Horrible Hotspots

Posted on Sunday 11th November 2007 at 00:00
As I write to you, I am sat in Starbucks once again, but this time with my laptop. As regular readers of this blog will know, I often like to take advantage of the built in keyboard on my mobile phone by sitting here and typing out blog posts whilst sipping my coffee.

Today though, I have a lot to type, as there are several posts I've been meaning to write for a while now, so rather than killing my thumbs on my mobile, I've decided to lug my laptop along with me, so that I can enjoy a more comfortable typing experience. The plan had been to connect my laptop to the wireless hotspot in Starbucks so that I can upload posts as I write them, but here my plans have rather fallen apart.

Wi-Fi is a fantastic idea. As a concept I absolutely love it, and in theory it is one of the greatest inventions of recent years. Unfortunately it has one minor flaw. It doesn't work. The technology has been made too complex, with encryption, IP addresses, DHCP servers and Default Gateways, and now it's broke.

Sure, sometimes it works. If you have a home Wi-Fi network that's been set up correctly, it probably works most of the time. But at home, resetting the router by yanking the plug out whenever it breaks isn't really a problem. In public it is. I can't even see the router in here, and I certainly wouldn't switch it off and on again even if I could find it.

Which sucks really, because it isn't working properly. My phone connected ok, perhaps a symptom of it having been connected before, but the laptop, which is a new visitor to Starbucks cannot establish a connection. I've spent an hour or two trying to get it to connect now, to no avail.

Given that I'm pretty good with such things, a veteran you might say, it's probably not me. I connect these things every day and I'm pretty good at troubleshooting. If it were anything at this end, I'd have found it by now. But I've found nothing, because there is nothing to find. Windows Vista is getting quite good at self diagnosis, and even it says the problem is with the hotspot router.

If I had GPRS set up on my phone, I could use that to connect the laptop to the internet, but I don't because it costs too much to use. Unfortunately the makers of the phone never thought of a scenario in which I'd want to connect a laptop through the phone's Wi-Fi connection, as if the phone has Wi-Fi, the laptop should as well, right?

I'm beginning to wonder if it would be rude to tell the staff that their router needs restarting. I'm not sure they'd believe me at any rate. From their perspective, it's far more likely that the problem is at my end. Sunday staff are notorious for being useless and this lot don't seem to be an exception. The mug of coffee I finished over an hour ago has still not been collected from my table. It's entirely possible that they don't know what a router is, or how to restart it. Do you, dear reader?

I have a few more ideas I want to try, but failing that I'll just have to post this when I get home. Til then, I remain yours disconnectedly, Ignorminious.

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