Longform

Geeks Gone Wild!

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Such generosity is rare among home wireless users, not to mention the profit-minded "hot spot" access providers whose services are offered at such high-traffic stops as Starbucks, Circle K and, soon, McDonald's. "I have come across some networks you can tell are deliberately open," says Holt. "The most obvious one was when a network name came up as Wardrivers Welcome,'" he says, laughing.

But most wireless network users are fiercely guarded when it comes to their precious high-speed Internet access.

"For one thing, a lot of people feel they're paying for it, and you're just freeloading," says Dan Gentleman. "But mostly, they're just worried about people rummaging through their stuff."

Gentleman says he schools younger wardrivers on the endangered hacker ethic by comparing connecting on a network to a parent searching a teen's room while he's out of the house.

"I mean, think about it. That's your stuff!" he says, focusing on the 13-year-olds at Java Fusion -- one who's already sporting a "Wardriver" tee shirt when his only vehicle is a Razor scooter.

"Do you really want somebody else looking through it, just because they can?" he adds, before hitting on the ultimate uncool comparison. "I mean, who wants to act like a nosy parent?"

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Jimmy Magahern
Contact: Jimmy Magahern