Sunday, August 03, 2008

A New Low in Adventures in Wi-Fi

Turnpike traffic was crawling on Friday night.

When I hit bumper-to-bumper congestion, I pulled off and parked in the Woodrow Wilson Rest Area. Or maybe it was Joyce Kilmer. They all start to look alike when your eyes are glazed over from driving.

I bought some juice in the convenience store, pulled out my laptop, and sat on a bench. If I wasn't going to be moving anyway, I thought, I might as well be going through my e-mails. I'd read, answer, and store in my out-box to send later when I got home.

Then, suddenly, a red dot popped up in my Dock, announcing incoming mail. My stored mail sent. New mail arrived. I checked the Airport icon, which showed a four-bar strong signal.

Then the bars went down—three, two, one. I looked up and saw a passing BoltBus pulling away. I clicked on my Airport icon and sure enough, the signal said BoltBus.

This was almost as good as pulling up into the parking lot of a roadside motel and piggybacking on its free wi-fi. Once, I even booked a discount room using Best Western's signal before going into Reception and checking in (thereby avoiding racking rate).

As the BoltBus signal faded, I shot off a few proud e-mails to friends.

"I just swiped wi-fi off a bus. Excellent."

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