I know, I know. I really should write more. Too often, Charity is the only one updating this blog. Let it be known that I’m not a complete slacker– just a little bit after I’m pau (finished) with work. So on that subject…
As many of you know, I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to work remotely. For the last couple of years, this has not been an issue as we had stable domiciles with high speed broadband internet access. We had a couple of minor roadbumps in Hawai`i but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some elbow grease and/or creativity. We’ve chosen our accomodations in Europe very carefully, always booking hotels that promised broadband internet, preferably WiFi (or W-LAN, as they call it here). Amsterdam was no problem– we stayed in a hotel located in the heart of the business district, so WiFi was fast and easy. Of course, my alias at work was disabled during that time, so I couldn’t access work, but that is a separate story not worth retelling here. Since Amsterdam, we have had… challenges… in the area of consistent and accessible internet.
In Berlin, the hotel’s promised internet access was non-existent, so we hung out at a lot of cafes with free WiFi access. Sweet.
In Prague, the first hotel had internet in the room… but only the wired kind which didn’t help with the itinerary-planning Charity needed to do while I was working. So we hung out in the lobby for WiFi. We moved to another hotel that promised in-room WiFi, but the signal was so weak, work was reeeeaaaaaally slooooooooow. Ah well, at least I was getting things done. One morning, I woke up super-motivated and got a bunch done before sightseeing (normally, I waited to work in the afternoon/evening) which turned out to be a good thing since the tool I use at work was taken down for “a day” for updates. Yeah. Think two-and-a-half days. Good times.
When we got to Vienna, we were surprised to find that the budget hotel we were in actually had good WiFi we both could use. Wow, great. When the tool updates were finally done, I found I could access work quickly and efficiently. But oh wait. Now I have to update some other software (SQL Server Management Express… 2005 -> 2008… yeah, good times) to work with the updates the tool team made. Holy moly. Ok, updated my software… oh crud, now what?? Oh, the tool updates also crashed some of the networks at work. Fun. Oh, and the internet isn’t working right again. Oh, there it is. Working again. Oh, no, my bad, it’s not…
By this time, you should appreciate how much time and research Charity invests in each and every hotel we book. She has spent (literally) hours researching. That said, there is only so much research that can be done beforehand– we really don’t know what to expect until we get there. As you can imagine, it has been a source of some stress.
So when we booked the Snooze Hotel in Salzburg, we were sure we had a clear winner. Opened last year, the Snooze is a budget, modern designer hotel. In-room wireless internet is a key feature prominently advertised everywhere on the website with rave reviews from former guests on hotels.com and tripadvisor. When we checked-in, it was everything we thought it would be. Quiet, modern– really cool. AND it had wireless internet in the room. Sweet!! So I login to work. Oh crud. Can’t login. Try again. Nope. I recognize that error. It means the router at the hotel does not support VPN Passthrough. Translation: I can’t login to work even though I have a killer quick signal. *sigh*
We spent a good deal of time Monday afternoon wandering around Salzburg (including a long bus ride into the ‘burbs) looking for WiFi. We went everywhere with our WiFi finder (read: IPod Touch) scanning the streets and alleys for open signals. Even tried McDonalds which actually had free WiFi but again, no VPN Passthrough. Finally, we had to give up for the day and headed back to the hotel out in the non-touristy part of Salzburg. Wandered around the neighborhood just for kicks, and whaddaya know?? There was a tiny, weak signal named “NETGEAR” near the bus stop. Immediately, I tried my work computer, and holy moly, the dang thing worked! I then proceeded to hang out on the corner near the bus stop, working until my computer died, ignoring stares and nodding at the car full of teen boys who honked and waved at me. Got back to the room after dark and finished up e-mails which don’t require VPN.
After sightseeing today, Charity decided to accompany me while I worked the corner again (haha), but I just couldn’t let her be subjected to that. I tried finding more discreet spots that still had WiFi, but it just wasn’t happening. Finally, I decided to just try to find the source of the signal, and lo and behold– it was near a quiet pedestrian/bike bridge over a really neat stream. We still got stares but not nearly as many as from the busy street. And we got to watch a family of ducks swim up and down the stream. We watched an older lady feed the ducks, Charity finished her book while I worked, and we enjoyed watching the sun light the tops of the trees down the stream. Yeah, it was pretty low stress.
Instead of focusing on the negatives here, I’d like to thank whoever’s signal I’ve been borrowing for the last two days, the same signal I’ll need to borrow again tomorrow and possibly the day after. As Geggy Tah sang, whoever you are, I want to thank you. Thank you. Danke. Domo. Mahalo. Thank you for opening your signal to complete strangers. Thank you for not locking down your VPN Passthrough so schmucks like me can hang out on that bridge behind you all evening, working. I really, truly appreciate it. You’re making me re-think my attitude towards locking down my own signal at home…
And so, here is Geggy Tah, singing my one line. Yeah, he’s talking about traffic, but essentially, the sentiment is the same. Danke.