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Some LA Coffee Shops Are Taking Wi-Fi Off the Menu

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the cup-of-bits-to-go dept.

Wireless Networking 312

As New York is putting Wi-Fi on wheels, reader Hugh Pickens notes a counter trend in Los Angeles coffee shops. (We remarked on a similar backlash in Seattle in 2005.) "Coffee shops were the retail pioneers of Wi-Fi, but Jessica Guynn reports in the LA Times that now some owners are pulling the plug after finding that Wi-Fi freeloaders who camp out all day nursing a single cup of coffee are a drain on the bottom line. Other owners strive to preserve a friendly vibe and keep their establishments from turning into 'Matrix'-like zombie shacks where people type and don't talk. 'There is now a market niche for not having Wi-Fi,' says Bryant Simon. After Dan and Nathalie Drozdenko turned off the Wi-Fi at their Los Angeles cafe, the complaints poured in, but so did the compliments: Lots of customers appreciated a wireless cup of joe at the Downbeat Cafe, a popular lunch spot in Echo Park. 'People come here because we don't offer it. They know they can get their work done and not get distracted.'"

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312 comments

Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187266)

Nursing a single cup of coffee for hours of free Wi-Fi?

That bitch is going to pay for saying something like that... I'm not buying a 2nd cup, and will be sniping from across the street while eating from a Pringles can.

WAT now?

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187286)

Less of a problem. Bandwidth is cheap. Non-paying customers take up valuable table-space.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (2, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187350)

I wonder why they just don't put some custom software in the router to block a specific MAC after X amount of time? Give people their cake and eat it too so to speak...

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187402)

I imagine that that would be too blunt to distinguish between "scammy freeloader with his small coffee, it has been two hours" and "friend and regular, snackin' and hackin', for two hours". Plus, any "mysterious" failure is going to get the poor counter guy a torrent of whiny demands for tech support.

You could go with some sort of captive-portal system, which just starts redirecting all your traffic to a login page, which you could escape by typing in a code printed on your order printout, good for X time after the order was logged. Not frictionless; but would prevent freeloading.

"Atmosphere" is another matter; but that probably has to be solved socially, not technologically.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187418)

If you're sniping from across the street with a Pringles can, you probably know how to spoof your MAC.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187482)

I would imagine that most folks drinking coffee don't know how to spoof their MAC. No system is 100% secure. I could see the above working, or possibly a portal like you see at the airport.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (2, Insightful)

lollacopter (1758854) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187572)

...but our cantennared friends are also not taking up valuable seating in the cafe and as has been stated previously, bandwidth is cheap

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (5, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187784)

Look - security is a pyramid. At the peak of the pyramid are like national spying organizations, and at the bottom are literally animals. You usually only need to stop part of the problem to be effective. A doorknob stops feral cats or raccoons from getting in, but not criminals. A padlock stops hooligans, but actual criminals can break it. A deadbolt is better, but can still be picked by higher-end criminals. Vault doors and lasers stop all but the most professional of criminals or spies in their tracks.

But I don't need to worry about "what if Michael Westen or James Bond wants to raid my cash register?" because the odds of that are so low, I'm just not a target as a coffee shop. So if all I've got is some expresso machines and a few bucks in the register, I get a normal lock and some insurance, not armed guards.

This is the technology equivalent. I'm not worried about "what if he spoofs his MAC" or "what if he's war-driving from a remote controlled helicopter". I can solve 95% of my problem (people mooching off me) for 10% of the cost/effort, so I'll probably stop there.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187450)

We're talking about coffee shops here . . . how many starbucks employees caneven setup a physical secure network?

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187558)

If you are talking "basic WPA2, with an easily human-rememberable password that we hand out to customers on request and change from time to time" probably at least one per location, possibly more. Average employee age is relatively low, setting up an ordinary wifi router isn't exactly an uncommon task in that demographic.

If you are talking "radius authenticated captive portal integrated with unique one-time-codes generated and printed by the POS system, complete with analytics and so forth", obviously virtually none, unless they just happen to have an unemployed software engineer on staff. Which is why, being a huge chain and all, they'd just contract out the integration project and have the routers shipped to the franchises in "plug in, press 'on'" condition.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (1)

GAB_cyclist (1274556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187780)

When I'm visiting the seaside I always go to the same café to check my emails. At the bottom of the bill there's a code which gives me about half an hour of free wifi (depending on how fast they bring me the drinks)

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187354)

Bandwidth is cheap

For now... :)

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187406)

This is why places like starbucks charge for there internet because if people have to pay they will think twice before sitting there for hours especially if the internet is being charged at and hourly rate. I personally love free wifi while I am enjoying my coffee but a lot of people do take advantage of this service at coffee shops. Table space is money considering free wifi is something the coffee shop is giving away for nothing and has to pay for out of there profit.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (3, Insightful)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187536)

..except that wi-fi at Starbucks is now free.

Re:Fee Wi-Fi are a drain on the bottom line? (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187652)

Safe to say she will be happier with your $1.50 in business taken across the street, freeing up a table.

"Get their work done and not get distracted" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187270)

Yeah, like that "novel" they've been "working on."

Re:"Get their work done and not get distracted" (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187336)

http://www.heraldscotland.com/how-jk-rowling-has-us-spellbound-1.852126

"The setting where Rowling penned the last of the Harry Potter series is a far cry from the Edinburgh cafes - The Elephant House and Nicholson's coffee shop - where she famously began the first of them 10 years ago as a single mother living on benefits. Then, she struggled to find an agent and was turned down by eight publishers. A decade later, she has been credited with transforming the publishing world and changing our definition of what a children's novel can be."

Many people may not think much of her work, but since she's a billionaire I guess there must be people who like her stuff :).

Re:"Get their work done and not get distracted" (2, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187560)

Yes, children are pretty much the world's biggest market.

Re:"Get their work done and not get distracted" (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187710)

Yes, children are pretty much the world's biggest market.

Only because there's such a supply.

right over their heads (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187272)

'People come here because we don't offer it. They know they can get their work done and not get distracted.'

This is something that I suspect will be lost on about 95% of the slashdot-reading population -- net access isn't necessarily critical to everyone's ability to do their work.

Re:right over their heads (1, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187384)

I can understand not requiring internet access to work, but then internet access should be irrelevant. It's only prejudicial if you suffer from ADHD and can't stop refreshing your Facebook status if you do have net access.

Personally, if I don't need net, I just don't use it, I don't have to physically restrain myself from it.

Re:right over their heads (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187514)

Who the hell goes to a noisy distraction filled coffee shop to "work"? I mean seriously.

I also find it funny that they want and expect people to hang out and work for hours on end but then get mad when people do it. You can't have it both ways idiots.

Re:right over their heads (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187704)

If you've ever worked from home in a small city apartment, a coffee shop can seem like a very pleasant place to work. You are right, though... not for the easily distracted.

Re:right over their heads (1)

Darkinspiration (901976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187610)

Yah!, Well if they aren't in a vpn tunnel thay are not doing any work if they know what's good for them. And don't leave your files on your laptop you security disaster in the making you...

Re:right over their heads (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187736)

Not everyone works for the Pentagon. If someone intercepted my ftp uploads, they wouldn't know or care what the heck it was. No financial data, no personal data, just reams of oscilloscope data and such.

Coffee culture (4, Interesting)

Tisha_AH (600987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187274)

I have not been too keen to spend my day hanging out in the coffee shop just to browse the internet. It always has seemed like an odd fit to me, similar to fishing and collating.

Now if they had someone playing light jazz and maybe a collection of weird art books that would be really cool.

Re:Coffee culture (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187906)

It's a combination of addictive activities and addictive substances. Internet. Coffee. It's like a perfect storm.

Re:Coffee culture (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187940)

similar to fishing and collating.

You don't sort your fish? You barbarian!

".. and not get distracted." (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187278)

Piff, noobs just can't handle the power of wireless freedom.

in other words (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187280)

the internet sucks great big donkey balls, just like most coffee you find around here

Terminology error? (4, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187288)

Lots of customers appreciated a wireless cup of joe at the Downbeat Cafe, a popular lunch spot in Echo Park. 'People come here because we don't offer it. They know they can get their work done and not get distracted.'"

It was wireless before. Do you mean 'connectionless' or something? :-)

Wirelessless (4, Insightful)

6031769 (829845) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187318)

I think they mean "wirelessless". Note wirelessless != wired.

Re:Wirelessless (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187348)

Because I know many people will start speculating without bothering to click a link, that flub appeared in the original submission, and is not hypercorrection by the editor.

Re:Terminology error? (2, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187508)

You can always choose to not be connected, being wifi there or not. The main problem is people staying hours there during peak hours buying only a coffee, so reading a book, working offline or browsing online is more or less the same. You have to decide if you want to have the customers there for more time (having wifi available would be the same to let them pick books or the newspaper and read them while there), or a fast rotation of them. If you get usually full without having a lot of long staying customers then the second option could be the best one.

Still camping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187290)

"get work done and not get distracted"? Sounds like they are still the ones considered by the cafe owners to "camp all day nursing a single cup of coffee".

They just need to treat it like it's a privilege (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187292)

WiFi at these places is a privilege, not a right. You don't get to just buy a $2 drink, take over a table and hog it for hours during the busier part of the day. These cafes should have made it clear that if you want to stay during the busier time, that's fine and welcome, but you WILL be buying food and/or a steady supply of coffee.

It'd be painful in the short term because they'd have to tell some of these entitled hoity-toities that it is a privilege, not an entitlement and if they want to complain they can just GTFO.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (5, Informative)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187352)

Entirely agree. They should lock the wifi and your receipt comes with a code for a free 30/60 minute wifi key. They do this at the local Burger Kings in my area. Wifi is free, but you have to purchase food to get a limited amount of time to use it. The problem here is the trading/asking for receipts. I guess the local Burger King does this right too, they only print the code on the receipt if you _ask_ for it. It's sort of like asking for no pickles on your sandwich, there is no charge or deduction, just a note that you want no pickles.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187382)

If they require you to purchase food for a limited amount of time, then it's not free. That's subsidized or possibly included in the purchase price.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187466)

Versus having people come in and just mooch without pay or paying so little it costs you money? There are obviously pro's and con's on both sides, but if you think you can just go in and pay $2 and sit there for multiple hours surfing their internet, you need to wake up.

But I don't equate "customers only" to "fee". I understand that bathrooms in nice restaurants are for their customers only. I understand that those call in numbers on receipts for a "chance to win" isn't simply given out and you need to be a customer. Wifi should be the same way. You can use it proportional to how much of a customer you are. The problem with a fully open system is what they are seeing now. People who simply leech off their good will, take up space and create a less than enjoyable atmosphere.

"Not free" might be technically true. But totally free doesn't seem to be working as well as hoped and I understand, no, suggest that they lock it down a bit. Simply put, if you're going to Joe's Coffee Bazaar merely to use their internet and not purchase anything, you shouldn't be allowed to mooch their WiFi all you want. Purchase something and you're free to use their services.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (5, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187598)

I'm not going to care, as a business owner, if ultra cheapass wants to mooch wifi. I don't care about the wifi. I care about the sloth who isn't making me any money taking up a chair or a sofa or a table for hours on end.

Paying customers walk in, see that the wifi slugs are taking up all the places to sit, and just leave. That is the problem. It's not about the wifi. It's about getting the douches who think all businesses are charity operations designed to give them what they want for free that are the problem.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187600)

Are you stupid? Of course it isn't free. Do you think the cafés are just offering a public service? Should they release their scones under the GPL?

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187714)

Do you somehow think that the free wifi offered by stores is not included in the purchase price?

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187456)

I suspect that there are two problems with this granular, technically sound solution:

1. BK is a major chain corporation, economies of scale and whatnot. Per retail establishment, the cost was probably near peanuts to integrate the code printing into the POS software, and the code verification into the captive portal on the wifi, and so forth. For Jimmy's Indie Brewz, locations 1, the wifi is probably just some router on a DSL line. Integrating a code system would either mean forking over $$$$ to his POS vendor, if they even offer that, or hoping that his cousin is one of those "linux hackers".

2. Indie coffee shops obviously aren't immune to economics, and need to make sales to survive; but part of their appeal is "atmosphere". Any system that mires the customers in codes and makes explicit the subsidy of the wifi by the coffee has the potential to degrade the perceived atmosphere. What they really want is for freeloaders to feel social pressure, from disapproving patrons that surround them, and move along. Unfortunately for them, either the freeloaders don't care about nasty looks, or the availability of an open AP creates a critical mass of freeloaders that impose their own social norms, rendering them immune to other customers. BK isn't aiming to give you the warm and fuzzies, they just want you in, eating, and out, so they needn't be as concerned.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (5, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187488)

D-link used to sell a product that was ADSL router, small till-roll printer and embedded software that managed printing out each user a unique access code, and a no-cat-auth style login web page for access. Cost was under 200 dollars as I recall.
I'd imagine as well as the points in the rest of this thread another reason for wifi decline is a) the economy means that any business cost that doesn't bring in a profit gets squeezed, and also the risk of an unidentified customer doing something naughty with the internet connection and the coffee shop being prosecuted for it.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (3, Informative)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187926)

I've used such a device. It is in use at Bergen Science Center and it was insanely easy to configure and use... The printer has 3 buttons on it and you just push one to get a code printed.
The software lets you decide on the time to link to each button. Works wonderfully.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (1)

szquirrel (140575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187828)

For Jimmy's Indie Brewz, locations 1, the wifi is probably just some router on a DSL line. Integrating a code system would either mean forking over $$$$ to his POS vendor, if they even offer that, or hoping that his cousin is one of those "linux hackers".

If Jimmy doesn't know how to run his WiFi then why is he trying to sell it? I know nothing about coffee; if I tried to sell coffee I would go bankrupt. Even if you "sell" WiFi access for free as a loss leader, it's still a product. Stick to products you understand or hire someone who knows the product you're trying to sell. That's Business 101.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33188036)

Plus, BKs tend to be a lot larger than coffeeshops.

There are plenty of coffee places where there is literally just one row of tables, maybe eight or so. When four of those tables have freeloaders with laptops on them...

Whereas most fast food places are rather bigger than they need to be, and it's really not important.

When i go and see a movie somewhere alone, I often stop in some fast food places, order some food, and eat it and, sit and keep reading a book until the movie is near, sometimes for an hour or more. They don't mind, because I'm taking up 1 of the 30 tables.

I'm sure there are busy times that they would mind, but fast food places have a lot more slack space than coffee houses in general, at least around here, which are often jammed into 35-foot wide strip mall places, which doesn't leave a lot of room for anything after the coffee-making area is put in.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (3, Insightful)

cycleflight (1811074) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187512)

But when's the last time you lounged in a chair in torn jeans and $150 dress shoes, a dress shirt covered nicely with a sweater vest, horn rimmed glasses and just-greasy-enough hair, looking up casually at the passers by before returning to one-handedly surfing for the latest website for wholly organic silica gel packets, at your local Burger King? That kind of policy just doesn't have the right flow, man.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (4, Insightful)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187370)

" you WILL be buying food and/or a steady supply of coffee."

They need to make it easier to keep buying coffee and food. At the moment, people have generally 3 choices when it comes to buying more:

1) Leave your stuff (including laptop) at seat while you get more coffee (and risk theft)
2) "Decamp" then buy more stuff (and risk losing your seat)
3) make a cup last as long as possible to avoid options 1 & 2

Basically, if coffee shops want to make more money from the WiFi hogs then they should look into something like table service, at least for people who have already been to the counter once. It gives people an easy way to spend money and the "nagging" effect of somebody asking if the hog wants to order more will make most of them either pay up or move on. It shouldn't be that much of an extra burden on staff as you need to have people going around and cleaning up tables anyway.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (5, Interesting)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187440)

Or instead of the "you have x minutes left" counters that get displayed in a web page on some hotspots, have a "more coffee" button, that places your order at the till to be delivered to you at your table. I like this idea.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187448)

They also need to provide barf bags, catheters, and diuretics stronger than caffeine. Or at least, a lack of desire to freeking eat more has always been my biggest problem when camping out at these places, but perhaps this isn't a problem for most americans.

   

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (1)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187480)

You hit the nail on the head. For a while I would camp out at Taco Bell, as they had free wireless and nobody cared if someone sat there for hours with only a drink because they're all being paid shit. The problems you listed are exactly why I would only buy anything once.

It's only speculation, but I suspect that they got tired of me and just let the wireless router go into disrepair. Oh well.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187666)

Wah.

Here is a news flash for you. the Coffee shop is not your office. if you are one of those douchebags that set up camp in a booth then you deserve the risks involved. If the place is so busy that as soon as you get up to get your next coffee that someone takes your spot, Then you are leaching off them. Sorry, but grab another spot, it's not yours, you dont own it. Wah!

as for risking loss, ever heard of a laptop lock cable? oh wait, you have at least 80 pounds of other crap there.

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187764)

Do these people never go to the bathroom, esp after a high caffeine drink? Seems like 1 & 2 are not very valid.

There seems to be a large market for easy implementation of a passcode system either with or alongside your receipt. Whee are all the products?

Re:They just need to treat it like it's a privileg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187818)

Excuse me? You mean American coffee shops don't do table service? That's only the big chains, no? Certainly the small ones wait tables?

interesting flip (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187298)

Indie coffee shops used to have free wifi as a differentiator, while Starbucks charged. Now Starbucks has free wifi, so they're going to no/limited wifi as their differentiator. I guess it doesn't matter how it's different, so long as they just do something different.

Old Problem, Old Solution (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187304)

Everywhere else in the world they have temporary tokens (Usually just a card with a number or they just tell you a number) which lasts for a certain period of time until expiring, you get one per purchase or whatever. This shit isn't hard.

Re:Old Problem, Old Solution (5, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187326)

This shit isn't hard.

Drink less coffee.

I'm almost sorry for that one. Almost...

You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (5, Insightful)

cualexander (576700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187310)

Cutting off wireless access is pretty pointless. The better solution is to give 2 free hours and then give a code when you buy something else that gives you another 2. That at least keeps the freeloaders at bay. Caribou does something similar to this already. You aren't going to keep people from sitting there and surfing the internet though just by cutting off wi-fi. I like to take my iPad to coffee shops and read the news and it's tethered to my phone so I still have free internet regardless. I think had you done this in the early 2000s yeah, you would have stopped people from turning your coffee shop into an internet cafe, but in 2010, it's a little late.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187360)

You can't(legally) stop 3g without an expensive retrofit(the FCC can nail you if you are jamming, they can't stop you from building walls with horrible RF propagation characteristics); but I suspect that the numbers are still such that cutting off the wifi makes a major difference.

At least it the US, smartphones with internet access aren't at all uncommon; but(in part because of their increasing endurability as access devices) tethering them is less common, and dedicated WWAN cards for laptops seem to be largely a business thing. You should be able to cut the number of internet-connected laptops by at least 50%, maybe more like 75%, by cutting off the wifi.

Once you shift the numbers like that, the percieved social pressure on the remainder to either eat up or get out is presumably greater.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187372)

Seems like a sensible solution. I was thinking the same kind of thing.
2 hours may seem a little long IMO. Buy a cup of coffee, get 30 mins of free WiFi. Should be enough to get your coffee downed.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

wolverine1999 (126497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187692)

If you're with a date and want to have a couple of coffees and TALK with your date, 30 minutes should NOT be enough. One hour or 1.5 hrs should be, though.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (4, Insightful)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187962)

If you are with your date *turn you WiFi off*...

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

Tordre (1447083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187374)

better yet print the code on the cup or the cardboard hand protector things.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187616)

2 hours? I would have thought something like 30 minutes per consumption. Also I would say it is needed to ask up front. Still free.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187630)

I doubt that it's necessary. WiFi freeloaders are in the coffee shop because that's where the WiFi is. If you're using 3G in a coffee shop then chances are you're there for the coffee.

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187636)

People come here because we don't offer it.

This person has a great future in marketing.

Can you imagine people going somewhere because there's no WiFi?

"I go to Stimbucks for my coffee because they don't have WiFi or napkins or little stirrer sticks. I find the atmosphere is more friendsly because of what they don't have".

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187836)

Makes sense to me. Some pubs in the UK have no music. Makes a nice change to be able to hear the people you're talking to, and not have to shout over the `atmosphere` induced by piping in crap pop/rock music. Ditto for tv (especially sports tv).

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187664)

I think this is totally fair, but I hate coffee. Can I buy something else that is over priced?

Re:You can stop wi-fi, but you can't stop 3G (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33188000)

You could always go somewhere else where you want what they're selling.

Odd... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187312)

How is surfing the internet different from 'just getting work done', as far as shop atmosphere is concerned?

Re:Odd... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187400)

Apparently because you're not typing on the computer like a zombie and are talking with other people. Wait, people that are working the next great American novel are probably not talking a lot either.

I can only agree... (2, Interesting)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187316)

Going to a coffee shop to find every place being used all evening by single persons with their laptop and a cup of coffee (that's most likely cold by then) is really frustrating. It's probably even more frustrating to the owner who sees is investment monopolized by clients that bring only little income to the place.

But I think the summary went totally off track by associating wireless network access in coffee shops with global city-wide wireless network access. Once you have global wireless networks, the need for local public networks is obviously much reduced. Furthermore, having a global city-wide network may even limit the problem forcing coffee shops to removed their local wireless network. On the other hand, it may then affect establishments the willingly refused to have wireless network access. In the end, it's really difficult to state that one is a counter-trend to the other.

I can see some advantages to this (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187324)

"I'm sorry boss, how was I supposed to know you'd sent me the big file by email to work on during lunch? The coffee shop didn't have WIFI so I couldn't connect and see my email!"

Why not allocate credits? (4, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187330)

When a customer buys a coffee their receipt should contain a unique PIN which is good for X amount of minutes from the time of purchase. The customer would have to enter the PIN to get through the firewall. Seems like a no brainer solution, one which discourages freeloaders and still allows coffee shops (or anywhere else) to offer wifi.

Re:Why not allocate credits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187414)

I've seen this in Europe. It works really well, and the Europeans are famous for hanging out all day.

Solutions for PIN based time allocations? (2, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187786)

I think this is a fair compromise.

Another solution I had once considered was having times when you could use wi-fi freely and others when there are more customers you have to chip in either by buying a coffee or paying for the connection. It may work, but some people I have spoken too worry that this may end up being too confusing to actually work.

On the subject of PIN based wireless internet, with time limitations, are there any solutions out there that are either available off the shelf or via something like OpenWRT?

Internet booths? (1)

mister_dave (1613441) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187338)

MacDonalds (uk) seem to have a good compromise. They have coin operated terminals, one per restaurant.

Re:Internet booths? (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187820)

Here in holland most Mac's (or should i say Mickey D's?) have free wifi, and i hardly ever see loitering metrosexuals with their macbooks taking up tables with their small milkshake..

I think it is mostly an atmosphere thing, if i stop by to get a burger for lunch, i find it nice to take my ipod touch and just surf the news a bit while eating (didnt have a propper smartphone then), but i sure as hell wont spend more time there then i need to down my meal. The thought alone of actually doing work in that screaming kiddy infested, headache inducingly colored hell hole make me cringe..

Solution for coffeeshop owners, set up a ball-pit in the store, drop a few kids in there..

It's no longer trendy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187388)

So being 'connected' is no longer trendy. Yay. There is a certain segment of society (IT workers, mgt., etc.) that truly needs to be connected all the time to make their lives easier. That's a very small percentage. What I want to know is, what will the trend-followers jump on to next? Whatever it is, there's money to be made.

Re:It's no longer trendy (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187516)

What I want to know is, what will the trend-followers jump on to next

Well, that thing is having a small niche of people enjoying it right now privately. The moment it become "popular" and "trendy", it will kill its originating core-base.

By the time it's general public, its soul will be dead.

I guess you should ask 14-15yo's right now what's hot and cool to know as we've pushed through our generation and hypothecated on it, we grew older and made (or found ways to justify) our jobs with it for what we thought was cool and innovating and all in their niche has preached it as the next best thing because we believed it was and taught it was while all envisioned a world where it could be.

It's why we're here without a renewing populus, reliving our own tech-nostalgia. Ever wondered why "hardcore nerds" are *STILL* talking about starwars? It's yought-nostalgia and with slashdot and all we unite, justify it and keep the "image alive", but we'll die out and the legacy we're leaving behind us with the interest to understand and maintain the "pragmatic thinking in coding" or preaching in the industry we've pushed forth and discussed about in a self-serving sense of importance and creation of an industry we all feel good with because we can "thinking with computers and get paid for it".

So, while making the extrapolation and combing the enthousiastic talks of my cousins, the future will be about vampires and law-enforcement with cool forensics skills.

Re:It's no longer trendy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187814)

i bet your resume is 12 pages long.

Re:It's no longer trendy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187932)

the future will be about vampires and law-enforcement with cool forensics skills

Dude, you scary.

the .ne(x)t generation isn't anymore? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187392)

kind of impLies that the 'net is only to be used by the wee folk to consume rather than distribute anything. "he who controls the trade routes...".

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"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

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"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Because LA sucks for WiFi in general (5, Funny)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187394)

The greater Los Angeles area is huge. If you looked up "urban sprawl" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of LA. Consequently, services like WiFi and GSM/CDMA are not as heavily concentrated as they are in cities like San Francisco or New York, where the population density is higher. In general, I find the idea of being able to drive around the city and expect to find open access points to be laughable. So where does that leave those annoying Hollywood hipsters and aspiring screenwriters? They can't be "discovered" if they stay at home, but they can't write their next big screenplay if they go out. That's why you see them crowding around the Starbucks and Coffee Beans plaguing nearly every street corner, trying to strike some self-imagined balance of trendiness and importance.

If more shops shut down their WiFi, that would further concentrate these pretentious jerks in those shops that still offer a connection. Maybe that's not such a bad thing--you'd know which places to avoid. There's nothing wrong with spending a half hour in your local coffee shop having a drink and a snack while checking up on news or whatever floats your online boat. But really, who has nothing better to do with their day than to spend all of it huddled over their laptop, browsing the web, in a noisy and crowded coffee shop? I see students use coffee shops like it was an annex to their dorm room--wearing pajamas, headphones on, textbooks sprawled everywhere. That's just beyond sad.

Re:Because LA sucks for WiFi in general (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187856)

I see students use coffee shops like it was an annex to their dorm room--wearing pajamas, headphones on, textbooks sprawled everywhere. That's just beyond sad.

A tad judgmental, are we?

Re:Because LA sucks for WiFi in general (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187910)

The greater Los Angeles area is huge. If you looked up "urban sprawl" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of LA.

Oddly the wikipedia page has Toronto, Jordan Landing in Utah, Chicago, Melbourne, Morrisville in North Carolina, but no LA pictures.

And none of the online dictionaries I checked had any pictures at all.

Somebody should get to editing.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187500)

These coffee shops should just start giving out a free 1 or 2 hour "Wi-Fi Voucher" with every purchased cup of coffee. This way that customer who sits there all day now has to repeatedly buy additional items throughout their day. I would think this solves it relatively quickly and its good for the consumer and the business owner.

Put a code on the receipt (0, Redundant)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187502)

Each code gets you so much time of wi-fi. If you want more, purchase a second cup of coffee. This would be very easy to implement.

In oher news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187524)

put access code on reciept and change the key every 2 hours

in oher news can we implement a spelling test for slashdot post editors?

Re:In oher news (2)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187590)

put access code on reciept and change the key every 2 hours

in oher news can we implement a spelling test for slashdot post editors?

Is the answer "i before e except after c"?

More horrible than that (2, Informative)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187580)

Surf the web? Mike's Deli in Brookline has only a few tables, so they don't even let customers read while sitting and eating.

I always get take out, because I am physically incapable of not reading while eating by myself.

Re:More horrible than that (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187864)

The coffee shop I used in New York just yanked the router at peak times. They even had a sign on the door telling you exactly when free Wifi was available.

How about the stores do it right? (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187588)

If all you added was a Linksys wifi AP then you deserve to have a freeloader there in your store. Quit being a cheap bastard and buy a Real captive portal setup that when the customer buy's their Double caf-decaf soy latte they get a code on the receipt that gives them 1 hour. That's more than enough time. Now your freeloaders have to buy something once an hour to stay online.

Problem is most of these coffee shop owners are cheap bastards that balk at the cost of a proper setup that would work fine for the next 5 years. If they cant cheap out with a $59.00 toy and have cousin timmy who is handy with 'puters do it for free, they dont want it.

They will discover what many here have... Drop the wifi they lose a lot of customers.

Minimum coffee purchace per hour? (0, Redundant)

RabbitWho (1805112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187706)

This doesn't already exist in the states? If i tried to sit in a coffee shop (even one without wi-fi) for over an hour on a single cup of coffee they'd tell me to buy something or get out.

Who fucking CARES ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187752)

What's the matter, Malda, wife want a new car so you need to increase the
number of bullshit "stories" in order to generate more revenue ?

Stories like this insult the intelligence of the intelligent readers who make
Slashdot worth reading. Slashdot is becoming the equivalent of the movie theater
which used to show cool art house films but now shows Disney films because they
attract more customers. If you think that's an insult toward Slashdot, you're right.

Oh my word (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187760)

Who could have known that coffee drinkers were rude. Well, butter my biscuit...

So I just fire up tethering... (1)

brain1 (699194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187902)

On my Nexus One (or substitute your favorite Android phone running Froyo 2.2) and keep on surfing. Ho hum.

Personally, I don't abuse the privilege. I will take my notebook with me when I go to a Coffee Shop, buy coffee and a snack and enjoy reading Slashdot (and others) while I sip my cup. I suppose they could ban anyone bringing in a notebook computer, but then they would lose me as a customer.
 

CoffeeShops in Amsterdam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187920)

Into CoffeeShops in Amsterdam, back in Europe, you never needed Wi-Fi to stay in contact with all your friends at once.. real and colorfully imagined ones....

Applause (2, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187952)

I highly applaud this move.

Some nice places were starting to have a similar problem in Washington D.C., so the owners decided to cut WI-FI access off during the weekends. Seating was limited. Some people would come up, set up their lap tops and camp out at a table all day despite seeing that people who bought food had no place to sit. Some of these people would even put their feet up on other chairs and refuse to share their table if asked.

Rude and as some of the owners figured out, bad for business.

I like to go and read a book in public places sometimes, but if I see people not getting seats I pick up and go.

When I got online my surroundings vanish, so I don't see a point in going out somewhere nice to get on the computer. I can do that at home. If I am going to be somewhere nice, I want to be there.

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