Wireless Hotspot Open Now at Jeff. Mad. Library

silkyzephyr writes: I write from the Jefferson Madison Regional Library (Main Branch on Market Street) using WiFi to connect to CvilleNews. As of this week, the basement reading room just became a wireless hotspot. Waldo had championed wireless access when he was on the JMRL Board and I am glad to report they finally got around to it. Unlike U. Va., or commercial hotspots like the Mudhouse on the Downtown Mall, you need no password or ISP account. In fact you don’t even need a library card. All you need is 802.11b or 802.11g wireless and a willingness to sit in an open library room where anybody can see what you’re browsing. BYOC (bring your own computer). Jeff. Mad. does not have laptops available to lend. U.Va. libraries do, but the students have dibs and they are usually all lent out. Connection on my Apple laptop was instantaneous, trouble free, and the connection is super-fast. Makes me want to hug a librarian (though that is discouraged.)

Woo-hoo! Gotta love the library. No, seriously. I insist that you love JMRL.

8 thoughts on “Wireless Hotspot Open Now at Jeff. Mad. Library”

  1. I was wondering when that 3 million computer upgrade in the city will take effect.

    BTW, are you sure it is the library’s hot spot, you could just be picking up some moron fool’s unprotected wireless setup. Hell, at my townhome division, I pick up 4 wireless ISP connections.

  2. I was wondering when that 3 million computer upgrade in the city will take effect.

    I should point out a couple of things. First, JMRL and the city are wholly separate entities. The extent of the city’s involvement in JMRL, for the most part, is providing a chunk of the funding (based on a formula involving the percentage of use of the JMRL system by Charlottesville residents) and naming the trustees who will represent Charlottesville’s interest on the board.

    Second, this is extremely low-cost. That bajillion-dollar computer dealie sounds like a boondoggle to me (not that I’ve been able to look into it very closely; I haven’t seen any documents providing any details, which I gather is part of what makes this so sneaky), but this? A 10′ piece of Ethernet, an $80 wireless router, and Bob’s your uncle. In fact, a benefactor provided JMRL with a donation, I believe $100, a year ago, explicitly for this purpose. That ought to cover the router and cable, with $18 left over for ~20GB of data transfer. :)

  3. Waldo,

    I have heard, over the years, that Blacksburg is away and over the top better than C`ville as far computer driven efficency in government services is concerned. I think it is a joint venture tech/city thing. Do you find that to be still the case? Not that it would take a lot to be better in that respect.

  4. Yes. Just tried it. A good strong signal throughout both the upper and lower reading rooms and well outside onto the library’s front porch. It begins to weaken as you walk down the steps.

    A problem Jeff. Mad. is likely to encounter though, is not enough electrical outlets. My Apple iBook manages battery recharge badly (did Apple ever fix that?) so I cannot afford to live dangerously on battery power for very long. I foresee table-turf land wars over the very few convenient wall outlets.

    U. Va. handled this by re-wiring to add outlets, and I expect Jeff. Mad. eventually will do the same.

    This is a pilot program which if succesful will spread to other libraries in their system. I tell a librarian how much I appreciate WiFi access every time I use it, to encourage the view that it is a success.

  5. I totally thought that was the case, too…right up until I moved there. :) For example, about a month before I moved there, I started trying to arrange DSL. So I called the town of Blacksburg, figuring that, under the Blacksburg Electronic Village program (the arch-nemesis of those of us who set up the Monticello Avenue Virtual Village in the mid-90s), broadband would be metered like, say, electrical service. Nope. So I shopped around for private providers, assuming that the bandwidth flowed to them like water and it was resold from there. Nope. I found three companies providing broadband there: some local folks, Ntelos, and Adelphia. The local folks never returned my e-mails or phone calls. Ntelos, I love, and I got a DSL from them, working with the same great folks that I work with here.

    OK, I figured, so not so much with the broadband. But surely WiFi is present like oxygen? No. I found a few open networks while wardriving around town, churches and apartments and the like, but that was it. A precious few buildings at VT had 802.11b, requiring registration by student ID and MAC address. (That was expanded this semester — web-based registration for access basically anywhere on campus, 802.11g, and I love it.)

    As best I can tell, the most prominent tech-savvy-ness of Blacksburg is that the town has free mailing lists and webspace available…kind of like, say, Monticello Avenue Virtual Village. Oh, and to be fair, the town is really, really good about making resources available on-line. They don’t have the Content Manager of Death(tm) like Charlottesville, but, instead, a proper site hierarchy with up-to-date information, lots of high-quality source material formatted for Internet transfer, and the ability to engage in all sorts of town business through their website, like monitoring my water consumption and paying my water bill and the like. Not stuff that’s hard to do, but at least they do it.

    Anyhow, the Blacksburg as tech mecca is a myth. By providing a single WAP at JMRL, C’ville just leapt over B’burg in tech-savvyness.

  6. Only tangentially related to the topic, but are you one of those who drive around with a wired up Pringles potato chip can connected to your laptop, snooping for open hotspots?

    In another state a federal court actually just sentenced three wardrivers to nine years in prison. Though that was for parking day after day in a chain store’s parking lot, attempting to loot credit card info from their mainframe.

    Anyway I ask because I have been unable to hitch up a directional "cantenna" to my iBook. I don’t want to run a wire to the Airport card under the keyboard, which would risk stray static electricity frying the innards. I could use a simple parabolic reflector (like a metal wok) and aim the sweet spot at the underside of the iBook. But that would be awkward. What do you use?

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