Regular readers of this blog will know that I think Wi-Fi is a great thing. Cities like New York and San Francisco are thick with free Wi-Fi hotspots, and people in those cities have a keener sense of the revolutionary potential of ubiquitous free wireless access to the Internet.
New Orleans is behind the curve, but the past year has seen a steady growth in Wi-Fi hotspots, mostly at coffeeshops. I’ve been keeping track of the hotspots that I find out about and if you want to see how many I’ve found just click here. Finding these hotspots has been mostly a matter of luck, or of people emailing me to tell me about a New Orleans hotspot that they found and thought I should know about. So an obvious question at this point is: why do I bother to keep track of these hotspots?
Well, I have learned that Google will figure out what to do with the information if I just publicize it to the Web. For example, I’ve received many thankful emails from people who have come to New Orleans to visit and who have Googled the phrase ‘New Orleans Wi-Fi’ and found my list of hotspots. So now I feel like it’s sort of my civic duty to keep the list updated. But, like I said, the process of finding out about new Wi-Fi hotspots is slow. But that’s about to change a little bit.
I recently bought a little $29 device called the Wi-Fi Spy. It sits on my keychain so I can access it at anytime. For example, the other day I was driving past this Kinko’s and I pushed the button on the little blue Wi-Fi detector and it registered major Wi-Fi activity, which I’m assuming was coming from the Kinko’s. The bottom line is that this little device really works well for detecting Wi-Fi hotspots, and it’s small enough that you can actually carry it on your keychain and have it with you at all times. It’s actually kind of interesting to see where the Wi-Fi signals are. When you get a hit it’s a subtle, but significant, sign that someone nearby is using a cutting edge and revolutionary technology. I like to know where those people are.