Posts Tagged ‘Wireless’

Stranded in a Wireless World

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Tonight I had a chance to experience a total electronic communication failure.  You know, the kind we talk about as we become so dependent on wireless technology that would be detrimental to life as we know it.

The drive home from work today started out fairly normal.  I had charged my phone a bit during the day so I figured I would have more than enough battery to use my phone if needed.  As it happens, I was stopping by the grocery store on the way home.  I get to the store and realize my phone is completely dead.  No battery.  Not sure how it happened, but I didn’t know what I was picking up so I needed to call my wife.  I was glad I brought home my USB charging cable.  I plugged it in to the cigarette lighter adapter, and….nothing.  No charge.

I then thought I could try charging the phone on my netbook, or at least connecting to a Wi-Fi hot spot that popped up in the brief moment I was on my phone.  Netbook was dead too.  I hadn’t used it in a long time, so the battery was done.

I had one last ace in the hole.  Surely the iPad can connect to a Wi-Fi network and save the day.  Nope.  It was dead too.  I charged it in the last week, and hadn’t used it much, but sure enough there was no battery.

Three strikes, and I am out of luck at this point.  I look around for a payphone, but realize that without any cash or coins I was stuck with collect.  I’ve never tried calling collect to a cell phone, but figured tonight would not be the night I tried.  I accepted defeat and drove home.

I had been thinking about getting a landline for emergency use.  Tonight’s experience improved the likelihood that I will go ahead and get one.

Being completely stranded in a society that is becoming increasingly wired (or wireless in this case) created an awkward feeling.  Knowing that I had no choice but to drive home to find out what I was supposed to get at the store was not as annoying as I thought it would be. It did say a lot about the addictive qualities of an internet-supplemented lifestyle though.  As much as I try to disconnect from time to time, the fact is I spend a good portion of my day online.  Whether blogging or building websites, I am online a lot.  I earn a living online.  Getting disconnected is the last thing someone like me wants.  Perhaps it is what I needed.  It is good to remember the way things were, if only for a moment.

How about you?  Have you ever been completely disconnected inadvertently?  How did it feel?  Let me know in the comments.

Wi-Fi In the Sky

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

When I boarded my Southwest flight tonight, I saw something curious. “Southwest Wi-Fi Hotspot”. I had heard of airlines experimenting with wi-fi, but hadn’t flown since they started. Apparently Southwest is one of the airlines testing the service out.

When I sat down there was another advertisement on the tray in front of me. I fished around for more authentication and was rewarded with an instruction list. It mentioned when we could connect, stated the experimental price range, and gave basice advice on how to connect and what to do if connection failed. Interestingly enough, the flight attendant kept saying that cell phones are now no longer allowed at all, even in airplane mode. The instruction sheet didn’t say that. It said that devices without wi-fi were stuck playing games in airplane mode. I wonder if the guy read the sheet. Anyway, I was planning to get online with my netbook, so I didn’t need to worry about whether or not he was wrong.

At this point I was pretty stoked. I thought it would be fun to blog from the air. Alas, it was not to be. I decided to get one last confirmation that I was allowed to connect when the flight attendant came by for my drink order. He noticed the instruction sheet and kindly informed me that the network hadn’t worked on the flight in, and he didn’t expect it to work for me. He asked me to let him know if I got it to work. I couldn’t.

There are two basic reasons I imagine it didn’t work. The first has to do with the little note on the instruction sheet stating that once the devices are supposed to be turned off again, the wi-fi would shut down. This makes me wonder if it is stuck on shutdown mode…that or there is some related problem. The second thing I thought of had to do with basic wireless router setup. When setting up a typical router, one has a choice to hide the SSID. I wonder if this setting was activated, whether on purpose or accident. This would explain my inability to find any networks available.

Since I couldn’t actually blog from the air, I decided to do the next best thing. I am typing the blog from the air. I don’t know when I will be flying again, maybe not until Christmas. Hopefully that airline has wi-fi so I can test this feature again. Until then, I will keep blogging from the ground.