Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R.I.P. The WiFi Squatter

Dear Fellow Squatter:

Times are tough in Squattistan, and growing tougher. Back in the Golden Age, a card-carrying member of the Overhead-Free Clan could saunter into any coffee shop and enjoy free, robust, reliable WiFi service. No longer, Squatter. They are attempting to banish us.

The first warning bell sounded at the Linden Hills Dunn Bros one month ago. To my surprise, I spied an abandoned corner table near the One True Thing ... not natural light, of course. I speak of Proximate Electricity. And not just one outlet. Two units, each with four outlets! (In my naivete, I rejoiced. In retrospect, I should have smelled Denmark's rottenness...)

In accordance with the Squatter Rules of Engagement, I planted my flag (computer case) on the table PRIOR to purchasing my first beverage. Away, interlopers! Iced Americano in hand, I returned to my temporary homestead, released the MacBook Pro, connected the two ends of the white Apple power cord and waited for the little dot on the square magnetic computer connection to turn green. My friend, it did not light.

I explored another plug. Nothing. I moved to the other outlet. Nada. A malfunctioning corner, clearly. I spied a less-desirable table near the play area for kids. Careful not to lose my home, I maintained my empty case at the corner table and carted the MacBook yonder. Another glorious four-piece of pure voltage awaited. I engaged. But no green. Different plug, same non-result.

I stepped to the counter to initiate Barista Diplomacy. The ambassador lifted a crooked finger and pointed to a far wall. "The laptop crowd is allowed to sit along that perimeter only. All the other outlets have been turned off in fairness to our other patrons." And with that, my friend, a shiver shivered down my shivery spine. "They're onto us," I thought. "The end is nigh."

Since that fateful moment, the pieces of Grand Conspiracy continue to merge:

- The Caribou on Grand and Snelling requires Squatters to purchase a libation for every hour of WiFi use.
- All other Caribous allow Squatters to receive, but not send, email (Sisyphusian problem-solving at its cruel finest, comrade).
- WiFi service at the Dunn Brothers at Lyndale and Franklin has always been spotty at best. But now, management has lost all urgency in remedying the matter. (A world without compassion, my MacBook Brother.)
- When last I darkened the door of the Longfellow Grill Dunn Brothers, I received a WiFi airport signal, but no actual service. (Cruel and unusual, my Squatter Sister.)

We are an accursed race, my friend. The infidels are banishing us to the ghettos. The Caffeine Oligarchs are consolidating their power. 'Tis time to reconstitute and seek amnesty in a more promised land.

Either that, or work from home.

19 comments:

Mike said...

This has come to my attention previously, as I am a Comrade Squatter on some days.

I have a secret location. I will share, but only by e-mail (you'll have to work out the "send/receive" part).

I propose restaurants and wine bars open up wi-fi service, to take the steam (shall we say) away from the latte crowd.

Perhaps this is no permanent gulag, merely a hiccup on the road toward progress? Growing pains in the Wi-Fi West?

m. f. said...

FYI, I just submitted this post to mnspeak, and it was accepted!

Carry on your lonely battle...

Marc Conklin said...

Mnspeak... interesting. I'm checking it out. The best place (still) for coffee, pastries, squatting and electricity is Kopplin's in St. Paul.

m. f. said...

Yeah, it's a good local place with a good vibe. Right in my hood.
I just wish I could take their coffee. It's just so intense.

Glad to hear they give good Wifi tho...

Mike said...

Kopplin's WAS the best place.

...You may have just hastened the Great Cybersquatter Migration of '08.

"There ain't nobody gonna push me off my land!"

Kim said...

best fucking free wifi spot: Ridgedale library, my friend. Send and receive all you want. Drink your Dunn Brothers coffee (purchased from the Ridgedale library DB shop). And if you want complete quiet, you can go in the sealed off quiet room (for those of us who hate chatty cathies). And, there are outlets galore.

Marc Conklin said...

I'll have to do a future post just rating Dunn Bros through the Cities. The post was written from my second fave, the Loring Park establishment. Thanks to mnspeak.com (and mf) for giving this post about 10 times more traffic than anything I've ever written.

Marc Conklin said...

On second thought, it might be the Caribou on Fairview and Randolph that mandates ongoing purchasing (no problem for me... I buy often. In fact, I should note that 70 percent of my disposable income goes to Dunn Bros, and deservedly so).

m. f. said...

No prob on linking you to mnspeak. It seemed apropos. (I'm dreaming of the day one of my blogs gets noticed by those guys).

You just gotta love that Web 2.0 revolution, right? Except when you're hating it, of course...

Ted said...

The bitter sweet love/hate relationship between the squatter and the Super Coffee House overlord. You are a meger vasal Marc. Its time to face that annoying piper my friend.

Marc Conklin said...

NEVER!

Marc Conklin said...

P.S. I'm at a real gem this morning: TK's Coffee in Mendota Heights. Very neighborhoody feel, older crowd, decent breve. Free WiFi with a cumbersome password.

Urbanopolis said...

Why do you only patron Dunn Bros and *HACKLECOUGH* Caribou?!!?!! Why don't you go to local coffee shops where wi-fi is supreme and expected to be used. Then again if you prefer the upscale whiteness of suburban coffeeshops, I'll just have more bandwidth to myself :)

Marc Conklin said...

Oh, believe me, I'm an equal-opportunity squatter. I'm partial to Dunn Bros. because it was the first coffee shop I visited prior to deciding to move here (and the one on Grand and Snelling is the closest thing to an Irish pub I can find, in a way). Keep in mind, even though it's a chain, it's still local. But I've spent more than my share of time at Kopplin's, Brewberrys, Cahoots, and as of today, TK's in Mendota Heights, among many, many others.

m.f. said...

Jeezo, what is it with the 20-something blogger and his/her inability to spell or use proper grammar? You'd think if someone wanted to slap someone down he/she'd at least try to use a bit of proper English.

Ted, Urbano--an education is a terrible thing to (have) waste(d).

Aunt Christy said...

I'm not much of a coffee shop loiterer so the computer user issue doesn't bother me. I do have friends who hate trying to relax in a place full of computer screens and clicking.

I bet this post could generate some controversy if linked to the right places. Is mnspeak one of those?

The Wordman said...

re: your photo -- you are looking more and more like James Joyce and/or Sam'l Beckett, Marc: have you checked your Jameson's levels recently?

re: cafes with free wi-fi AND electricity -- two letters: J and S.
at Randolph & Saratoga. friendly urban attitude. afternoon cigar club with crabby owner on the back patio. 'nuff said.

Marc Conklin said...

Not sure why I'm so baggy-eyed in that photo... the professional one in the blog template is more how I'd like to be seen, obviously. Hey, I haven't had a Jameson since the last time I was in a bar with you, Wordman!

Anonymous said...

The Wordman has nailed it again. I knew there was something familiar about Conk's latest self portrait. Although I find the Beckett comparison to be more spot on than the Joyce ref. Now, if Conk starts referring to his laptop as "Krapp," we'll know the endgame has begun and there's no use waiting for anybody to show up.
DK