Forced to tighten the reins ...

It's a sad thing when ideals are crushed by reality.

Last night, after only 2 months in our new house, I finally had to take my wireless network down and restrict access to only our laptops.

It was a significant moment for me. I've had a wireless network in my dwellings since 2001, and I have never password protected it, nor restricted access to it in any way. In Austin, WiFi was ubiquitous (thank largely to the Austin Wireless City Project): we could find a signal driving around town at nearly every stop light. In our first home in Dallas, we were rather isolated. Sure I knew our neighbor sometimes logged on, but I have always viewed access as a resource to be shared.

But in our new house, one block from the university, our network has been constantly used by others. And last night when my wife irritably pushed her laptop away after getting slow performance, I decided to take a peek at the router logs. EIGHT other people were logged on, and a quick survey of my surroundings showed an iTunes download in progress and a Limewire library growing on a neighbor's computer.

It was simply too much. I firmly believe that wireless access should be shared. Yes, i read the New York Times article earlier this year about piggybacking. But with six other wireless routers within range of our house, there would seem to be plenty of signal for everyone. Ours being the only open network, it just took a couple of months to join the ranks of the "stingy WiFi brigade."

To be sure, there are a lot of questions about the legality of sharing Wifi connections. But that's not what deterred us: it's simply the abuse and its effect on our own own accessibility.

One more thing I dislike about Dallas ...


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