Monday, 25 August 2003

Blogging about wireless

Virginia Postrel is apparently going all Wi-Fi.

I’m not sure I have too many thoughts to add on the issue. My Wi-Fi (wireless Ethernet) travels have been somewhat crippled by a laptop that currently refuses to recognize any PCMCIA card that requires an interrupt when running under Linux (and is generally becoming downright hostile to Linux in its old, semi-broken age—but that’s a story for another day). More to the point, short of war-driving, to my knowledge there isn’t much of a way to know where you can go and grab something to munch on while you take care of business via Wi-Fi. A few coffee shops in Ann Arbor advertised free Wi-Fi in the window, and the downtown Borders advertised T-Mobile’s service, but I only know that because I was walking around on foot and saw the signs. Not to mention that the one day I tried to use Wi-Fi in one of these establishments, the Internet access was out due to the after-effects of the Northeast power failure (the hot chocolate was good, but I wouldn’t have paid three bucks for it if I wasn’t getting some Wi-Fi too).

I do like the idea of malls installing wireless access, although I suspect the operators of most declining malls are so generally clueless that they won’t take advantage of it. And perhaps there is something to having Wi-Fi in the “fast casual” restaurant sector—restaurants like Fazoli’s and Steak ‘n Shake. But for now, here in the technological boonies such innovations seem very remote.

Steven at PoliBlog mentioned the wireless order-taking technology this morning too; that seems like the most promising direct business use of Wi-Fi at the moment, although similar (but less advanced) technology is already in widespread use by big retailers for inventory management, and has been for some time.