Originally posted on June 11, 2007 @ 1:07 am
Ever since the first days of wireless networking, mobile computing, sharing someone’s wireless internet connection has been popular. Wardriving has been a popular sport and I know many IT freaks who have their wireless connection activated where ever they go, trying to capture a signal.
In our days, most networks still are unsecured and open to anyone who wants to connect.
But with the rise in social networks we also see a new kind of networking : social wireless networking. People who knowingly share their wireless internet access with other users, members of communities.
What networks are there. What communities to join as laptop user and do they really help?
Fon was one of the first social wireless networks. Wifi for everyone, everyone ready to buy a new modem configured by Fon. La Fonera, Fon’s wireless router provides free and safe access to anyone, but also offers the network provider safety.
Fon maintains worldwide maps of every available Fonera, hot spot for its members. Although the idea and level of control under Fon interesting is, I suppose having to buy a new router, just to offer everyone access could turn off most people in a long run.
Whisher is another free social wireless network. Participation to Whisher is free and no acquisition of any hardware is needed. To participate to Whisher, a software application needs to be installed. The Whisher suite offers network owners an advanced level of sharing configuration and allows the owners to restrict their access to only friends within the network. Just as Fon, Whisher also maps the location of the hot spots worldwide.
Last, and probably most interesting, social wireless network is Wefi. Wefi is free and software based. Contrary to both other networks, the main focus of Wefi is mainly the application itself.
Strength of Wefi is that they created a network scanner allowing very easy connection to the user, a much needed tool even in Windows Vista days. Even if users don’t want to participate to the social features of Wefi, such as mapping the whole world wide wireless world for future users, they can always just the software application as a network discovery tool. Wefi will find all available open networks and allow you to connect to them (hopefully there’s no MAC filter protection enabled, as is on my routers), basically offering you the basic discovery mode of NetStumbler, every wardriver’s best friend.
If you travel regularly or are always on the road with your laptop, those tools, especially Wefi, can be a required addition to your software collection. Unless you’re a real nerd, like me , and prefer to stick to good ole Netstumbler.