The perfect road warrior carries information he might need with him. For example, as you probably know if you've been on the road a great deal, it can be a lifesaver to have toll-free numbers for hotels and airlines handy.
In a similar spirit, when you travel with a Wi-Fi enabled computer or PDA, you should certainly obtain information about Wi-Fi hotspots before you leave.
The problem with the online Wi-Fi directories, discussed in detail in Chapter 11, "Where Can You Wi-Fi?" is that you need to be online to use them. This doesn't do you much good when you are wandering the streets of some strange city looking for a place to connect.
WHICH CITY HAS THE MOST WI-FI HOTSPOTS?
Which city has the most Wi-Fi hotspots? If you are like me, you'd suspect New York or San Francisco.
Actually, as of this writing, the city with the most Wi-Fi hotspots is Vienna, Austria with about 165. San Francisco and New York are in second and third place, respectively.
Within the United States, Portland, Oregon is considered the most "unwired" city on a per-capita basis.
In determining the most "unwired" American city the study considered: the number of hotspots, or commercial Wi-Fi access points; the number of nodes, or public access points; the degree of Internet access available via cell phone companies' networks; and finally, how many people in the city actually use the Internet regularly.
Portland came out on top on a per-capita basis, with 130 active public access nodes, or 7.4 per 100,000 people. This gave Portland nearly five times the number of the next highest place Austin, Texas, with 1.5 nodes per 100,000 of population.
Interestingly, the Portland Wi-Fi hotspots include 140 nodes put up by the all-volunteer Personal Telco Project, which does not charge for access. These free hotspots put Portland, Oregon off the charts for public Wi-Fi access.
Because it is so obvious that every road warrior needs an up-to-date hotspot directory that they can load on their mobile computing device, it seems odd that no one provides one. With no portable hotspot directory available, you need to make inquiries in advance of the hotels that you'll be staying at to make sure that they have Wi-Fi access. You can also use the directory services described in Chapter 11 to scope likely locations near where you'll be staying, or along your route. Finally, if you belong to one of the national Wi-Fi networks described in Chapter 12, "Working with National Wi-Fi Networks," you can use the search services provided by the network to locate convenient hotspots.
If you are looking for help finding resources on the road, a book with good ideas is Que's Business Travel Almanac by Donna Williams (ISBN 0-7897-2934-2), which is intended to help road warriors on the go.
WI-FI HOTSPOTS VIA CELL PHONE
True, there's no way to download a portable Wi-Fi hotspot directory onto your laptop or PDA. But if you have a WAP (Wireless Protocol Application) cell phone, you can use your cell phone to browse a directory of Wi-Fi hotspots. You can find one such directory by pointing the browser in your WAP cell phone to http://wap.wi-fizone.org.