I'm headed to North Dakota tomorrow for a family reunion. I haven't been anywhere between the right and left coasts for many years and I must say I'm getting a little edgy. I know that just because places are in the middle of the map they aren't utter backwater podunks. I live in a fairly rural community myself and actually like it a lot. I spent the day in Manhattan yesterday and was glad to get back to clean air, trees, and the little mini frogs that hang on my door this time of year. However, even here in the middle of Massachusetts, I'm never far from wireless, high-speed Internet access. My house, my friends' and neighbors' houses, my school, the local coffeeshop, McDonalds, the library, and countless other locations all have free WiFi.
The question is, will this level of ubiquity exist in Devil's Lake, North Dakota? The website of the hotel where my mom booked me a room doesn't say anything about wireless Internet. Jiwire doesn't even list North Dakota in its dropdown list of states when searching for hotspots. HotSpot Haven? No dice. MSN WiFi finder? Not one result in North Dakota. I feel like I'm about to drop off the face of the earth.
I hadn't previously considered purchasing a wireless WAN card for my laptop and paying the hefty access fees with Verizon since I've always been able to find a wireless signal near wherever I might be working. A road warrior I am not, so this has never been an issue. However, I now have nightmarish fantasies about dressing in black, slipping on a ski mask, and dropping Mission Impossible-style behind the front desk at the hotel in search of an Ethernet port so I can post my blogs. I envision myself cursing my 17" luggable as I hang suspended from the ceiling, balancing my laptop in one hand, typing with another, and tethered to the wall with a little blue cable, just so I can get into Gmail.
Maybe it won't be that bad, but if my next few posts have some typos, remember that typing is really hard while you're hanging from a ceiling.
The moral of this story, of course, is to give your users wireless access. Make it happen. As we become increasingly mobile in our computing, wireless access is a tool on which it is very easy to become dependent. Teachers especially move all over the place, even from desk to desk in a classroom helping students. Don't tie them to the wall. If you don't already have wireless access for students and staff, you won't regret installing and securing the right hardware.