Video: The most clueless radio show caller ever?

posted at 1:20 pm on February 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Okay, let’s be honest. All of us, at one time or another, have poached on a wi-fi network in order to get Internet access while on the road. Even Leo LaPorte, the host of The Tech Guy radio show, admitted he’s done it, too, on occasion. However, he’s never been clueless enough to whine about losing access to the wi-fi router after poaching for over a year and a half from home, or asking for technical assistance to get access back into it again (via Melissa Clouthier):

Leo’s right; technically, this is theft, although no one’s going to arrest anyone for it. You’re taking resources (especially bandwidth) from people who have to pay for it. It’s not theft when using the public networks that businesses set up for their customers, such as Panera and other coffee shops, although it’s arguably unethical if one uses their networks without at least buying something from them. When using a private but unencrypted network for more than 18 months, that’s a completely different matter, ethically if not legally.

What are the morals to this story? If you have a wireless network in your house, encrypt it immediately, and make sure you check once in a while to ensure that only your devices are on the network. If you have to travel extensively (or just are out of the house on a regular basis), then get a wireless access device through the cell phone companies. I use Verizon’s MiFi 2200, and it works great; I can even network a few PCs off of it if I need to do so. For the home, get a bundled package from the phone or cable company for your own Internet connection. Remember that any unencrypted access point not only allows you access to the Internet, it allows the network access to your PC and the stream of communication you’re creating between your PC and the Internet. It’s like having sex with strangers and not using a condom; you’ll only get lucky for so long before getting a disease.

And if you poach someone else’s Internet access for 18 months, don’t whine when it disappears or call into tech shows to try to get it back — unless you really enjoy being an example to others and exposing yourself as a clueless cheapskate. As for her final defense, that the price of broadband Internet access drove her to poaching, it’s a great example of the entitlement mentality in current vogue — and her “someone should make it cheaper” demand is the impulse that drives statism.

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AnninCA on March 1, 2010 at 5:51 PM

You obviously haven’t seen the South Park episode “Over logging”. Randy Marsh gives a moving speech at the end.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM

If I pay for it and it’s unlimited, what’s the big deal?

AnninCA on March 1, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Because you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of attacks. It’s not about fear but about sensibility. The same reason you bother locking your car doors or the doors in your house.

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 5:59 PM

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Honestly, you aren’t only protecting your connection to the internet, but also the communications between your computer and the router. For banking sites, it’s encrypted, but what about the sites that don’t have the “https”?

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:02 PM

You obviously haven’t seen the South Park episode “Over logging”. Randy Marsh gives a moving speech at the end.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Yeah, but that’s not what I remember about his part in that episode.

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Are you perhaps referencing the “spooky ghost”?

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:04 PM

but what about the sites that don’t have the “https”?

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Now you’re just going over my head. My husband’s the computer person. I take it those sites aren’t encrypted?

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:05 PM

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:05 PM

If a URL starts with “http”, like http://www.Hotair.com, then it is unencrypted. If it starts with “https”, then it is encrypted.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Are you perhaps referencing the “spooky ghost”?

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:04 PM

Yep. :)

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM

If a URL starts with “http”, like http://www.Hotair.com, then it is unencrypted. If it starts with “https”, then it is encrypted.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Interesting. Thanks.

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM

I about died laughing at that scene.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:18 PM

I about died laughing at that scene.

Rightwingguy on March 1, 2010 at 6:18 PM

“Oh..ah..there was…there was a ghost! The..Ectoplasm. Did you see the ghost? Ran through here and slimed me.”

I loved that entire episode. It entertained and frightened me. God forbid any disaster brings the Internet down over here.

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Esthier on March 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

You play Bioshock 2?

Ingenue on March 1, 2010 at 7:12 PM

This one hit pretty close to home for me. I do tech support and usually encounter a customer every couple of months that I catch doing this. They always beat around the bush and then try to confuse you with the, “But but but it always used to work before I just want it to work again”. Usually after one of those calls it is worthy of a, “Hey everybody guess what the last customer I just talked to said,” when your gathered around the proverbial water cooler. Face palms are usually the response from your co-workers when they hear about this type of end-user activity.

Heftyjo on March 1, 2010 at 7:33 PM

I’ve come into this conversation very late and haven’t read all the comments. However, just to remind people here that employees of the Canadian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) have hacked into private citizens unprotected computers in order to spy on other private Canadian citizens activities. Nuff said.

kellyjane on March 1, 2010 at 8:30 PM

kellyjane on March 1, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Are you serious? The star chamber that Ezra Levant fought against and won? That is terrifying.

daesleeper on March 1, 2010 at 8:39 PM

A neighbor watering your lawn and you using a neighbor’s WLAN are two separate things.

Not much really. The neighbor is paying for the water yet unbeknown to me it is falling on my lawn. The neighbor’s wi-fi signal, that he is paying for, is spilling over, unencrypted, into my house. If I turn on my PC and it automagically connects to his router, why is that my fault? Is it my responsibility to go around the neighborhood and check to see who is giving away their connection for free and who isn’t? When I open my computer and I get the dialog box that says “connect to a wifi network” and I click “yes” and it does, someone is giving me permission to connect to their wireless router, either on purpose or by accident. This is not the same a trying to hack into someone’s network, which would be illegal. I’m basically asking permission to use the network and the wireless router is granting me that permission. Whether the doofus that set up the network knows that or not seems to be his problem, not mine. My neighbor’s signal is more or less breaking into my house, I’m not breaking into his to steal it. To use the “just because I leave may house unlocked doesn’t mean you can eat my food” analogy, it’s more akin to my neighbor leaving his food inside my house, and now he’s upset because I’m eating it? If you don’t want me to use your free wifi signal, don’t leave it lying around in my house. Or, if you are going to leave it lying around in my house, lock it up.

Fed45 on March 1, 2010 at 9:43 PM

However, just to remind people here that employees of the Canadian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) have hacked into private citizens unprotected computers in order to spy on other private Canadian citizens activities. Nuff said.

How can it be hacking if it’s unprotected? If a car or a house is unlocked, am I breaking into it? I may be trespassing, but I’m not breaking into the house.

Fed45 on March 1, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Fed45 on March 1, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Your comment kind or proves why they are not the same . . .

The water is accidentally going onto your lawn, you have no control over accepting the water with something like that. You are consciously saying yes to tapping into someone else’s wireless.

Ingenue on March 1, 2010 at 10:09 PM

How can it be hacking if it’s unprotected? If a car or a house is unlocked, am I breaking into it? I may be trespassing, but I’m not breaking into the house.

Fed45 on March 1, 2010 at 9:45 PM

It’s more “unlawful entry” than “trespassing.” Trespassing usually requires prior and proper notice. I don’t need to specifically tell someone he is not welcome to waltz into my house to make an unlawful entry charge stick.

Incidentally, in certain jurisdictions entering a house illegally, even if the door is unlocked, allows the resident to assume you are Up To No Good and protects his right to give you Excedrin Headache #.357….

JohnTant on March 2, 2010 at 12:12 AM

If all my neighbors leave their WAP’s open and use the default out of the box setting, how can I tell which of my neighbors I am using? And how can I tell the difference between the ones that are stupid and the ones that are socialists and want me to use it?

Fed45 on March 1, 2010 at 12:36 AM

A) Assume they are all stupid (that’s ipso-facto what socialism is anyway).
B) Don’t use it.

To use your “watering the lawn” analogy, it’s one thing if your neighbor waters your lawn as part of his/her gardening, but it’s totally another if you go over and use their hose to water your lawn. That’s stealing.

One is passive, the other is active.

The moment you use their wireless’ DHCP to get an address, and the moment you send packets to the internet using their device and get content back, you are stealing. You have done something active to get that access, so there you have it.

For those libertarians out there who think that anything not covered by law is legal, you are absolutely right — but sooner or later, a law will be made. You’ll think that law is stupid, but you’ll be absolutely wrong.

Again, in my viewpoint, the nanny state is the result of libertarians overstepping their bounds.

unclesmrgol on March 2, 2010 at 12:15 AM

I have not had the time to read all comments here, so I don’t know if this has been addressed yet:

Lock your wireless down because if you have a neighbor who is downloading kiddie-porn, it could be traced to your router and YOU get the badge-and-gun types hauling you off to jail along with the neighbor.

Another tip. DON’T use a passWORD for your router. Use a passPHRASE. Something lenghty, like an old ad slogan for example. CadillacTheStandardOfTheWorld, or, BMWTheUltimateDrivingMachine. Or ToyotaMovingForwardEvenIfYouDontWantTo are examples.

And last, don’t just lock down the wireless network itself. Change the actual router setup login defaults as well.

friendlygrizzly on March 2, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Hahaha blue stater.

DanaSmiles on March 2, 2010 at 8:26 AM

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