wireless connection
November 2, 2006 11:13 PM   Subscribe

how to connect to a wireless network or contact the owner of the wireless network?

I'm moving to a new place and will stay there for 4 months only. I need the Internet at home. Cable DSL is not an option at this time (a long story). SBC Yahoo DSL is not gonna work for me either. It requires a one-year contract. What are my other options to get Internet? I have a laptop, which is wireless ready. I'm able to connect to someone's unsecured network today. I'm not a heavy user; however, I'm not comfortable using someone else's service without letting the person know. So here is a thought - what if I let the person know and chip in for using the Internet? I'm staying at a huge apartment complex, and can always find 6-7 wireless networks (though most of them are secured). Regardless it's secured or open, just by looking at the network name, how can I find out who is the owner of the network? Is there some kind of ID or email that I can use to contact the owners? [Not sure if this is doable, but I'm always interested in getting inputs and comments from others. Thanks. ]
posted by dy to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)

Unless their SSID is their apt # or some identifiable name, you probably won't be able to contact them.

You could try to scan for one of their computers with an open share and toss a text file with a message in, but I think most people wouldn't like that.
posted by mphuie at 12:47 AM on November 3, 2006

How about a friendly message on the bulletin board? You know, the old style bulletin boards in real live lobbies? I'd keep it anonymous, in case it upsets someone (I can't understand why I would, but I almost guarantee in a large enough complex, it would bother someone). $20 a month or whatever to share internet would entice me. List an anonymous e-mail address for interested parties to inquire.
posted by bluejayk at 1:38 AM on November 3, 2006

The anonymous (paper) message is what I've done in the past. It will be hard to find people who trust a stranger enough to do this, but I've done it occasionally and it's definitely worth a shot in your case.
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:09 AM on November 3, 2006

posted by bhance at 6:52 AM on November 3, 2006

If you have a laptop running Windows, you could download Netstumbler and roam the halls, watching the signal strength (signal to noise ratio) and pinpoint the area where it is the strongest. Depending on how dense your apartment complex is, this might enable you to figure out which apartment the signal is coming from, or at least narrow it down to a couple apartments that you could query.

A more devious version of mphuie's suggestion is to scan their networked folders for documents that would contain their name, but I'm 100% sure that most people wouldn't like that. Going this route almost guarantees that the person rejects your offer and then quickly secures their network.
posted by jtfowl0 at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2006

If you have a certain disdain for legal niceties, and are running OS X, kismac works well.
posted by roofus at 2:33 PM on November 3, 2006

Seconding the paper message in the hall, or near the mailboxes, leaving an email for contact rather than phone, explaining you only need it for a short time and you'd pay a fee (don't say how much, you'll work it out later, they may even do it for free). That's exactly how I just got my wireless connection.

And what jetwfow10 said - even if you were able to identify and contact someone through the network, I don't think they would like that very much.
posted by pleeker at 1:20 AM on November 8, 2006

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