Data Stops

Tornado Alley WiFi hotspot directory?

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Has anyone compiled a list of their favorite WiFi hotspots in 'the alley'?

I'd think this would be a great resource for those getting started or expanding their chase territories.

73,

N5ACN
 
I have a list of WiFi's here in Kansas, it's located at http://www.kschaser.com/wifi.html

I need to try and update it. I used WiFi alot last year. Most McDonald's have wifi now which cost like $2 or so for 3 hours or something to that effect, I used that quite a bit last year
 
I voted waste of time because you can get a lot of that information at:
http://www.wigle.net

It also has a web map based system. You can type in street addresses, zip codes, etc. No guarantees that they're wide open networks though.
 
I voted “waste of timeâ€￾ wifi is everywhere! Last year I connected to wifi in Wakita, OK. It is almost impossible to get off an interstate or highway at any exit that has more that two gas stations and a motel and not find wifi. I was able to connect to wifi spots in all but the very smallest towns (less than 400 population). The availability of wifi and legally free wifi will only continue to expand.
 
Ditto with the "wifi is everywhere" thing. I just drive around town until I hear Netstumbler chirp at me, then I do a U-turn and watch the signal meter until I figure out where it's coming from. Hotels are usually pretty good bets, if they don't have their connections locked down. I once was on a chase in central Kansas with Darren Addy and we were both pulling data down from a Days Inn with our laptops. Apparently, I'd parked right in front of the manager's office, as the hotspot went away in mid-connection just moments after he peeked out his window. :)

I once was using a connection out in front of someone's house in SE Nebraska when my chase partner said "Uh... I think maybe we should go now." When I looked over at what he was pointing at, I saw more or less the whole family in their back yard (which was like seven people), standing perfectly still and unabashedly gawking at us. All the men in the family were wearing cut-off jeans and no shirts. It was like something out of "Deliverance".
 
I've only been turned down once when asking a hotspot owner if I could use their WIFI connection for a couple of minutes for weather data. Hotels are normally very chaser-friendly if you're honest about it - most of the ones that are password-protected will give you the password if you ask for it. So far only one has told me no.
 
I've only been turned down once when asking a hotspot owner if I could use their WIFI connection for a couple of minutes for weather data. Hotels are normally very chaser-friendly if you're honest about it - most of the ones that are password-protected will give you the password if you ask for it. So far only one has told me no.

Thanks for the info. There's been a few times when I run into the password wi-fi stuff, and wondered if it was worth my time to ask.
 
I voted "waste of time", only because the number of hotspots and their availability is too dynamic.

Having said that, a resource that highlights major changes (ie a major hotel chain deciding to offer "free" wifi) would be a welcome resource. Requires somebody to update on a VERY frequent basis though... stale data is useless. I've found that the stormtrack equipment forum has been a great resource for this and other topics.
 
If I am looking for WIFI I almost always look for a hotel/motel first. I have no issues about using their connection. I have spent enough money on motels while chasing over the years I am sure I funded quite a few of those hotspots and probably will fund a few more in the future.

Here's a nice little piece of gold for you. Childress, Texas, the perennial chaser convergence spot, the Kettle restaurant there has wifi and it's free!
 
Here's a nice little piece of gold for you. Childress, Texas, the perennial chaser convergence spot, the Kettle restaurant there has wifi and it's free!

That is a great WIFI spot! We were searching the buildings in that area when we saw the "Kettle" SSID. It was a bit suprising, but it's a very good connection.
 
Originally posted by Justin Teague
Here's a nice little piece of gold for you. Childress, Texas, the perennial chaser convergence spot, the Kettle restaurant there has wifi and it's free!

That is a great WIFI spot! We were searching the buildings in that area when we saw the "Kettle" SSID. It was a bit suprising, but it's a very good connection.

A couple of the newer motels there have it too, but stay away from the Best Western (I think it was a BW), the foreign guy running it will call the cops on you. The cops told me he does that all the time, that he's real paranoid about it.
 
Originally posted by David Drummond
...stay away from the Best Western (I think it was a BW), the foreign guy running it will call the cops on you. The cops told me he does that all the time, that he's real paranoid about it.

LMAO A little group of four of us just stayed there, in two rooms, last year, too.

I have a BW Gold Crown Club membership. Don't you think we should petition BW for some sort of "WiFi privileges" thing so we would automatically be granted permission to log onto their system, for 30 minutes, say, at any motel, if we have that membership, and use it? I mean, if they can see, from our membership, that we're staying at BW's at least 5 times a year? (Joining is free.) Those are franchises, and yes, having been a franchisee, I know that the franchisees can be required to do stuff like that.

Bob
 
Have you found a lot of the BW locked down Bob? I haven't seen any yet. Coming back from Rita, Jay and I checked in to a BW in Waco, and they gave me a user/pw for the wireless, but I found out it was wide open anyway.

Days Inn and Holiday Inn Express are usually wide open, at least all the one's I have seen so far. I honestly don't think we are going to see a widespread lockdown on the motel ones, just because the average person isn't all the bright about how to setup the password to get in to a locked one.

Lots of State Farm offices have open wifi as well, even in small towns
 
Originally posted by David Drummond
I honestly don't think we are going to see a widespread lockdown on the motel ones, just because the average person isn't all the bright about how to setup the password to get in to a locked one.

Lots of State Farm offices have open wifi as well, even in small towns

Dave, interesting.Im on the not so bright side.. maybe you could PM me with the techniques used to crack these?
 
I use Best Westerns everywhere I go for Wifi. Never once had a problem with any of the employees, they usually just come out to see what you are doing. If they ask what I'm doing, I say, "No comprende." Iowa rest stops are free I found out on July 25th. You can usually connect ot Amerisuites also.
 
I have had pretty good luck with Holiday Inns and Hampton Inns. The Hampton is locked usually (although there is definitely a pattern in their WEP keys, involving the state abbreviation and a 3-letter code for the city you are in), but most locations are willing to give you the password if you ask and will let you sit in the lobby on the couch. As long as you are being polite, they seem to have no problem. In the southern plains, people are more weather-savvy and it seems like they are more tolerant of chasers using their systems (like everything, though, there are notable exceptions).
 
Most hotels that use passwords change them every week.

IMO asking a hotel for permission is going to go better for chasers in the long run. A bunch of chase vehicles pulling up to the front of the hotel and flipping open laptops for 30 minutes without asking might not bode well for their cooperation with us in the future. I would even go so far as to offer them a couple of dollars in exchange for the service if they didn't seem receptive at first. Having that data without having to drive around looking for it is much easier, and is, to me, worth a few bucks a day during a chase vacation.

Between hotels and libraries, you've got a pretty decent and *legit* pre-chase data aquisition system across the Plains. If you go to the front desk and explain what you are doing and why you are in need of their internet connection, they are usually excited to be a part of your possible chase success.

In fact, one idea I might try this year is having a bunch of 8x10s of tornadoes printed up just to give to the places that help me out with WIFI on a chase day.
 
I voted that I would use it and contribute to it.

While I agree you can pull off just about anywhere and find access via a commerical location, or even in residential areas, I think that a list in a delorme overlay, or MS Streets and Trips file would be very useful. I usually take a few hours and input all of the addresses into delorme as a flag or dot, and then I always know where I can go... and let's face it, there are times when you are pinced for time, and knowing exactly where you are and where the next data stop is (if you're using gps with above mapping programs) can really help out in a tight situation.
 
Originally posted by fplowman+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(fplowman)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-David Drummond
I honestly don't think we are going to see a widespread lockdown on the motel ones, just because the average person isn't all the bright about how to setup the password to get in to a locked one.

Lots of State Farm offices have open wifi as well, even in small towns

Dave, interesting.Im on the not so bright side.. maybe you could PM me with the techniques used to crack these?[/b]

You don't crack them. Leave the locked ones alone unless they give you the "keys". All the one's I am talking about are wide open.
 
Originally posted by Dan Robinson
Having that data without having to drive around looking for it is much easier, and is, to me, worth a few bucks a day during a chase vacation.

Reminds me of a time not all that long ago when I used to talk the Allsups clerks into letting me use their telephone line to dial up a quick connection.
 
I've honestly never had anyone ask me any questions or even give me a quizical look when I've used a connection.. but then again I generally don't need to park up close to any buildings due to the high-power card and antenna that I use. I can usually park "next door" or on the street and get a great signal.

I don't have a problem using these services, after all if they wanted to restict their usage they would lock them down.

I do use the following guidelines though:

-no residential systems - these folks may not realize that they are "sharing"
-if it's a truck stop or similar location, I'll be sure to either buy gas, food or other items.
-I only use what I need - if there's no action I would only use the connection for sending an e-mail or similar activity.
-If nothing free is available, use the above suggestions and simply ask or pay for one of the closed systems if there is any.
 
Originally posted by David Drummond
Have you found a lot of the BW locked down Bob?

I don't even have WiFi yet. I've never owned a card. I've used my satellite phone, cellphone, libraries, and nowcasters for all my data acquisition since 2001. I am currently sitting here with an ear pointed to the front door for UPS to arrive today with my first WiFi card, a used Orinoco with external antenna (from Rokland).

I decided on a semi-overhaul of my data acquisition regimen for this year due to no longer being able to use my sat phone in cell phone mode (long story) and the abundance of hotspots that now exists.

Off-topic, but want to let ya'll know that I got "the phone call" from the Red Cross Monday. Floss and I are (probably) going back to the NOLA area to distribute food from March 5 to March 19!! I can't wait!! Might miss a storm or two, but that's OK.

Bob
 
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