She’s No Latte She’s My WiFi

Okay, bad title. But I’m out of creative juice for today.

Anyway, I’ve just heard about a great resource for those who are trying to get more mobile. JiWire is a free service for finding wireless internet hotspots — mostly at coffee joints — and it is pretty darn comprehensive. Just type in your location to the web-based system and it’ll spit out the addresses of WiFi hotspots in your area. The spots are searchable by provider (i.e. T-Mobile, Boingo, etc) and give a breakdown of the daily access cost. They also have articles describing various aspects of wirelessness, including how-tos and gadget news.

While the site is a great resource, it’s still working out some kinks and could use a few more wireless-friendly features. First, the easiest way to find a WiFi hotspot is if you’re standing in one, since JiWire is web-based. An obvious catch-22, JiWire addresses this by allowing access from WAP browsers on cell phones, so you don’t need to be online to get online. It would be even more helpful though if the service could respond to SMS or email inquiries, since these are easier to use and more pervasive than WAP. Secondly while the service does allow filtering of hotspots by some criteria, it doesn’t allow filtering by “open” hotspots in its main search engine, and the free spot locator seems to be broken. This means that you have to go through a few hoops to find the nearest free access point. Finally, the service is best only in major metro areas. There are 11,000+ hotspots cataloged in the US, which is an impressive number, but looking for spots in Biloxi turned up nothing. Well, yet another reason not to go to Biloxi, I guess…