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Not dead, just unwired

The hotel booking info that promised broadband internet access actually meant "we'll rent you a PCMCIA card with Windows XP drivers that lets you talk to a cellphone network, at vast expense" — which is a fat lot of use to a Mac user. Potential guests at the otherwise-excellent Southern Cross Suites on Darling Harbour take note. Meanwhile, Sydney seems to be very deficient in free wifi hotspots by British standards (where loads of pubs and cafes have found that offering free wifi makes folks sit around eating and drinking more), and even the commercial hotspots are a bit shy.

Just sayin'.

(Goes back to doing touristy things, minus the internet.)

12 Comments

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1:

If you need access for the duration of your stay, I can loan you a broadband wireless modem with prepaid access that works in the Metro areas and does not need any drivers to connect, plus a pocket Wifi AP - can drop it off to your place, or at Infinitas on Saturday.

2:

Yeah, I was trying to help an Australian acquaintance find free or at least cheap WiFi in Sydney and was astonished at how few there were. I think there was one coffee shop with free access an hour from her house.

Plenty of *pay* internet cafes. I think they've picked up the Asian model of internet access rather than the US or European model.

3:

Charlie,

Sorry you haven't had better weather but winter has to happen sometime and you're init I'm afraid. Sadly Sydney WiFi is a problem, but like the weather it will probably improve as soon as you leave ;-) Looking forward to seeing you in meatspace tonight at Galaxy.

4:

David S, compared to the heat wave I've dodged, Sydney is heaven. (Had you forgotten that I moved to Scotland because London summers were too hot for me? :)

5:

I drove from Los Angeles to Edmonton, Alberta Canada recently and almost every single cheap roadside motel I drove by and stayed at had free wireless internet access. You can always just drive around and fish for an unguarded connection. High rise condos would be a good bet...not that I would know from experience.

6:

Charlie, oh dear no, I didn't know that's why you lived in Scotland. I thought it was Scotland's cultural superiority (and the men wearing skirts thing of course). Man, you are gonna *love* Melbourne...

It was great to get Accelerando written upon by your goodself tonight. You must feel good about Galaxy selling out of Glasshouse, but as I missed out on a copy I am simply depressed (do'h, do'h, slap forehead. Repeat.)

7:

Driving around the Algarve recently I was struck by adverts proclaiming Wi-Fi communities never mind hotspots. Not entirely - or at all - sure what it entailed, but it had my daughter excited - she wants this 24/7 internet access by a device built into her left arm. I guess she's been reading too much SF.

The heatwave appears to be abating spectacularly - but not here.

8:

I think it's partly that Sydney got wired internet cafes in huge numbers before WiFi was invented (for students and backpackers). You can get very cheap wired access at the southern end of the downtown area, and in quite a few of these places you can plug a laptop into their ethernet.

9:

Net cafes don't seem to have ever caught on in the US. I remember in the late 90s there was one that tried to open near my house, but apart from a few kids playing FPS over LAN, no one used it. They soon went out of business.

Too many people with home computers and too much competition between the ISPs for that model to work here. Plus, most universities had free computer centers for their students, and were among the first to adopt large WiFi networks. Without the student or teenager business, there just wasn't a market.

10:

Of all the places, Starbucks is the go for WiFi in Sydney. Sadly it means you have to stick around there, but everything has its price.

11:

Wikipedia on "cybercafe" links to someone else's page that begins:

"Internet cafe history started with the opening of the first cybercafe, Cafe Cyberia, in London (UK) on September 1st, 1994."

"The founder of the first Internet cafe, Eva Pascoe, was working on her PhD at the time."

"She got the idea to mixing sipping coffee to surfing the web while sitting at one of coffee shops near the City University of London."

"Cafe Cyberia started with half a dozen HP computers, connected to the Internet through dial-up modems that were able to transfer data at 9.6 kilobits per second."

"As the first Internet cafe, Cafe Cyberia got tremendous publicity, and additional investments into the business from likes of Mick Jagger and Maurice Saatchi."

"With the success of Cafe Cyberia, the Internet Cafe business got into a flying start, and there were over 60 similar cafes over the world by the Summer of 1995."

Yet I recall an arguably earlier cybercafe in Santa Monica, implemented by John Sokol, the first person to send video through the internet, who invented the term "webcam" and later sold his URL webcam.com to a p0rn company. Sokol himself was funded for implemting, a mile or so away, the first live sex video internet company, which caused car crashes in its first hours of operations before they installed the drapes blocking view through the picture windows at street level. One of those historical eras such as, "okay, we've printed that bible, Mr. Gutenberg, now what else do we have that people will pay to see?"

12:

I think there's still a cybercafe in Market Rasen, which is entangled with a local training centre. Since their idea of installing an Ethernet switch, from what I saw, involved taping it to the underside of a desk, I can see why people have adopted WiFi.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 26, 2006 9:10 AM.

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