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So, what's up with all those "Free Public WiFi" networks?

This weekend, NPR had a story about the these pervasive (though for the most part, benign) networks that one sees nearly everywhere they go. Basically, it's all because of a bug in how Windows XP handles ad hoc networks.

Link to the story on NPR here: www.npr.org­/templates­/story­/story.php­?storyId­=1304...

More on how this works from the NPR piece:
"When a computer running an older version of XP can't find any of its "favorite" wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to -– in this case, 'Free Public WiFi.' Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect. And who can resist the word 'free?'

Not a lot of people, judging from the spread of Free Public WiFi. Computers with the XP bug that try to connect to the Internet will remember the name, create their own ad hoc networks and entice other users wherever they go."

Pretty interesting! Not that it's entirely new though. A few years ago, I seem to remember reading a story about the "Free Public WiFi" networks that seem to be so pervasive, no matter where you go (found a Slashdot link from 2007: hardware.slashdot.org­/article.pl­?sid­=07­/01­/26­/1420... ).

Anyway, I've always cringed when I hear people at some cafe or airport trying to connect to a "Free Public WiFi" network. That said, it's nice to see some awareness about interesting phenomenon spread!

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