New Wi-Fi Tools Improve Life for Road Warriors

Opinion: AirDefense offers software to make surfing more secure, while Hertz and Wayport make it easier to find hot spots when traveling.

Theres something about Wi-Fi hot-spots that brings out the best and worst in road warriors. Call it that love-hate relationship that I talked about in my previous column. Other denizens of hot spots e-mailed me with their own interesting tales and tips.

Our friend D. Kent Pingle, the "Wi-Fi Guy" whose running blog of hot-spot experiences makes for interesting and often amusing reading, reported that hes noted the use of "curfews" at some retail hot spots. He visited a Panera Bread in Kansas City, Mo., that invokes a mid-day curfew, shutting down Wi-Fi access during those hours to ensure that users such as myself do not hog tables from the lunch-goers.

That could explain the intermittent service I got at a Panera hot spot in Cincinnati. But wouldnt it be nice if the establishment told us about these things and educated the counter help to offer a better response than "Huh?" when a user asks what happened to the Wi-Fi service? Or better, how about a splash page that intercepts the signal to tells us the rules?

Several correspondents clued us in to hot-spot finders to include in our hot-spot directory.

/zimages/5/28571.gifLooking for a Wi-Fi hot spot? Click here to use eWEEK.coms hot-spot finder.

In the good news department, AirDefense plans to make a personal edition of its new AirDefense 6.0 available to individuals as a free download at the end of November.

"These are two products, but they are complementary to each other," said Anil Khatod, AirDefense president and CEO.

AirDefense Personal, with connectivity back to version 6.0, will be offered at $1495 for every 100 PCs that are protected. "Our charge is for central management," Khatod said. "We will make this product available to consumers in a short period of time, unsupported and downloadable. We have focused on working with our enterprise customers, but we have felt we should make it available to end users as well."

AirDefense Personal, he said, expands the anytime monitoring solutions in version 6.0 to individual laptops and mobile computers at remote sites. As a software agent that can run on laptops or PCs, it checks for common threats—such as phishing and hijacked connections—that can occur at remote sites.

"If someone connects to your laptop," Khatod said, "AirDefense Personal will give you an alarm and tell you and AirDefense Enterprise that someone is connected to your notebook or network. There are 57 different alerts for different conditions. This is not just a notification mechanism—it is a proactive protection mechanism. If you are attacked at an airport, for instance, it can push a policy to turn off your wireless connection remotely."

And in the why-didnt-they-think-of-this-before department, Wayport last week announced a deal with Hertz to feature Wayport hot spots at more than 50 airport rental car locations. If youre like me and phone ahead to have the car waiting on your arrival, this wont seem like a huge step forward.

But another angle delivers real utility to road warriors: Hertz plans to add Wayport hot-spot locations to its NeverLost GPS system. Now, when youre traveling around a city in a desperate search for a Wi-Fi connection, you can call up a map on the GPS and find the closest one to you. No more disappointment when you stop for a Big Mac and connection at a McDonalds, only to find that the location youre visiting doesnt have Wi-Fi on the menu. Mobile & Wireless Center Editor Carol Ellison can be reached at

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