Now in Paper-Vision: Stealing Wi-Fi

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This week in Time I wrote a column (which started out as a blog post) about stealing Wi-Fi. It’s here.

The main thing that I don’t think I properly conveyed in the piece is the incredible, psychotic obsessiveness that you develop when chasing a distant Wi-Fi signal. It always begins so well — whenever you join a network on a Mac, it always flashes you all the bars at once, as if you’ve stumbled on some massively robust quasar-level Wi-Fi emitter. Of course it’s just a tease, and then it immediately shrinks down to one measly bar, which vanishes just as you’re about to send a mission-critical e-mail. Then you’re left clicking and clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the hope that the signal will resurface, and then even when it does you try to rejoin and it won’t let you on…

Obviously I’ve been hurt too many times to write about this objectively.

At the end of the piece I triumphantly announced that I’ve given up Wi-Fi mooching and gone straight. Of course the minute I turned in the piece Earthlink went down, and they can’t get anybody out to my apartment till next Thursday. So I’m back to stealing Wi-Fi for a week. This post is brought to you by my unsuspecting neighbor, ‘mkmeeh’. Thanks, whoever you are.