At 11:52 PM 4/14/2009, Richard Wiggins wrote:
>Last week I gave a couple of lectures at the University of
>Michigan. I tried to connect to their wireless network, but I was
>challenged for a U-M ID. I was told that all I needed to do was
>plug the Ethernet cable on the tech cart into my computer. Wired
>connections in classrooms at U-M get a DHCP address without challenge.
>So this is actually pretty funny: at MSU we give out free guest
>access over wireless, but not if wired. At U-M it's the opposite.
>This has consequences. A few years ago at the Usability and
>Accessibility conference, one speaker went to give his talk based on
>live reviews of Web sites. His laptop for whatever reason wouldn't
>connect via Wi-Fi. He was saved only when someone in the audience
>offerred up his own laptop.
>This person was only 10 feet away from an Ethernet outlet, but he
>didn't plug in because Kellogg Center employees didn't like the
>hassle of having to cough up their own MSUnet ID and password.
>I think MSUnet Wireless Guest is not only a great idea -- it may be
>unique at major universities. The world did not fall apart when it
>was opened. So now imagine if we combine MSUnet Wireless Guest with
>open access if you plug into an Ethernet jack in a classroom or
>conference room. Ann Arbor didn't fall apart when I plugged my laptop in.
Speaking of funny...
Over the past dozen years I've probably made use of 40-50 libraries
and archives in the midwest. It's for local and regional history
research, i.e. not what I get paid to do. You could say I'm looking
for historical destinations for bike rides. Many of these
libraries are small county libraries, but some are university libraries.
In the past few years I've learned to call ahead to ask about
wireless access. Facilities and policies vary greatly. Among other
things, it helps to know if I'm going to have access to the MSU
library's electronic resources while I'm doing my work at these
sites. It can make things much more efficient and it will make a
difference in how I prepare.
One time I didn't call ahead was when I went to WMU's library last
fall. So it was annoying to go there and learn that I didn't have
wireless access without an ID. It had been a few years since I last
used that library, and it was the first time I had gone there with my
own wireless-equipped computer. It was funny, because back when we
first dabbled in wireless at KBS some of our faculty members wanted
me to install a wide-open system, "like Western's." (I didn't want
to do that, but we had a few APs in our main building that had no
security -- mostly because I wasn't sure at that point just how we
were going to do it -- and I did learn of a couple of cases where
people in cars parked on the driveway outside the building were
getting some free internet. We ended up replacing it all with a
MSUnet Wireless installation, and will probably be able to implement
the MSUnet Guest access later this year.)
But I found it ironic that some people had been pressing for a wide
open system "like Western's" and now Western's is far less open than
MSU's. I haven't gotten around to asking when the change took place