I never thought that I’d be enjoying it but here I am, using Twitter regularly for the past week. Twitter is a micro-blogging service that has become all the rage among tech-savvy folk and many connectivity addicts since last year.
With the service, you can write short (140 characters) updates about yourself and have these published in your Twitter account or your website and blog. These updates can also be sent as text message or instant message (IM) notifications to your friends and anyone “following” you.
I signed up for a Twitter account last year but never got around to using it regularly. I sent a few messages to the account as a demonstration on the use of various media during a seminar for Salesian priests.
The main reason I wasn’t using it regularly was the price for each message you send via SMS. To use Twitter via SMS, you send your update as a text message to an international phone number. For each Twitter update, you are billed one international SMS charge.
I spent a day in Argao recently and was pleasantly surprised to find several dependable and free Wi-Fi hotspots. I was surprised because in Cebu City, free Wi-Fi access isn’t as widespread as they say it is in places such as Davao City.
Many shops, at least the last time I went warbiking or going around on a motorcycle to check for free Wi-Fi hotspots, just depend on the services of Globe and Airborne Access for their customers’ wireless Internet access.
But not Argao.
The municipal government has turned it’s beautiful plaza into a free Wi-Fi zone. There you are—surrounded by Spanish-era buildings, three cannons once used to fight pirates, beautiful masonry, and music that comes from cleverly-hidden speakers—and you have free high-speed wireless Internet access.
While setting up a Wi-Fi network for the PLDT myDSL connection at home earlier this week, I got a timely warning from a press release. Anti-virus company Sophos said many people now use someone else’s wireless Internet connection without their permission.
Sophos said 54 percent of 560 respondents who took their online survey admitted to using other people’s Wi-Fi connection without their permission. The survey is not scientific and I don’t see how you can see a “widespread” trend from it. But it does provide a timely warning to home users who have gone wireless.
Sophos said “many Internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbors to steal Internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) for their own.”
I don’t know how common Wi-Fi piggybacking is in Cebu or in the Philippines, save for anecdotal feedback from geeks I know. I’ve heard of maybe three persons who said they were able to use an unsecured wireless network.
Still, the absence of reports should not be a reason to be complacent and just leave your home Wi-Fi network unsecured. This absence of reports may be because none have been caught.
And with more mobile devices like phones having the capability to use Wi-Fi, the risk will only get higher.
With my wife and I now using laptops as primary workstations at home, we decided to use a Wi-Fi router to share our PLDT myDSL connection. The snaking network cables were threatening to trip us and our kids.
I bought a Linksys WRT54G after reading about its storied history. Mark Stephens, writing as Rober X. Cringely, calls the WRT54G and its Linux system “The Little Engine That Could.”
LINKSYS WRT54G. I used this Wi-Fi router to set up a wireless broadband connection at home. Click to enlarge image.
In my case, it was “the sleep-deprived blogger who couldn’t with the little engine that could.” I did eventually set it up—and I’m now using it to publish this post while downloading tons of files—but only after I went Internet-deprived cold turkey, at home at least.
In the run-up to Sinulog, the biggest festival in Cebu, I was invited to a demonstration of Globe Visibility, Globe’s HSDPA or High Speed Downlink Packet Access mobile Internet service.
The service, marketed by Globe with buzz phrases such as “3G plus,” “better than 3G,” and “mobile broadband,” promises download speeds of up to 1.4mbps. In the limited time that I observed the demo, Globe Visibility was browsing at breakneck speeds. Heck, it was even faster than the faltering and intermittent Globelines Broadband connection I had at home.