So, while traveling recently, I grabbed the iBook to wardrive from Arlington, Virginia (effectively a part of downtown D.C., but outside the district proper) to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. It’s a sixteen mile drive, and runs from dense urban core to suburban Virginia.
I had no idea what I was going to see. From our hotel I was able to see a wireless network called ‘rubberchicken’ but it was password protected. I didn’t have any heavy-duty hacktools and didn’t propose to crack others’ security anyway.
Here in Seattle, if I take the iBook outside, I can see up to five unsecured wireless access points, just standing on my back porch. I figured that in the D.C. region, people would be likely to be somewhat more security conscious and that the overall density of the coverage would be less.
In the event, both assumptions were borne out, although the density was not really that much lower.
The first place I located a different wireless node than ‘rubberchicken’ was as we passed the Iwo Jima memorial, about a block beyond the densely constructed neighborhood of high-rises where our hotel was located. It was a default name – ‘linksys,’ I think – and I believe it was an open node, although we drove by it quickly enough that I was unable to verify that I had good access.
From then on, the nodes came so thick and fast, and we traveled by them so rapidly, that I was unable to either enumerate or test them all. The whole distance to Mount Vernon, with the exception of a mile or two stretch along a river and at the historic site itself, we were never out of coverage. The one time we hit a stop light – in a small community just outside the site, possibly the town of Mount Vernon – I was immediately able to connect to the web and this web site.
Sadly, there was no coverage at Mount Vernon proppah – I was quite hoping I could in fact see the web from George’s very door. I must admit that I did not carry the laptop about the premises, and so my remarks can truly only apply to the parking lot.
Additionally, it allows me to cherish my illusions. As I stood before the tomb, I found the idea that the bones of George and Martha vibrate to the wash of 802.11b radio waves somehow satisfying.