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Wireless Networking Spam Hardware

Coming Soon to a Wireless Hotspot Near You: Ads 363

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the information-superhighway-billboards dept.
mindless4210 writes "A new generation of spam is born with the launch of FreeFi's new Wi-Fi advertising network. It is the first service of its kind, with intentions of delivering ad content to hotspots around the world starting in mid-Summer. FreeFi's President, Lawrence Laffer, says that the service displays a 'persistent set of ads adjacent to the user's browser without use of invasive advertising software or pop-up ads.' He also claims '[their] market research indicates that, except for pop-ups, people really don't mind ads.'" This seems like the kind of thing that would keep me from using "free" wireless access, but I've a feeling I'm in the minority.
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Coming Soon to a Wireless Hotspot Near You: Ads

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  • Ads... so what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by strictnein (318940) * <strictfoo-slashdotNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:02PM (#9041156) Homepage Journal
    This seems like the kind of thing that would keep me from using "free" wireless access, but I've a feeling I'm in the minority.

    Good... stay off the free service and leave bandwidth for those of us who have the amazing innate ability to ignore ads. Hosting these free hotspots costs money (as does slashdot). They need to recoup their costs or they will go bye-bye. Who f'en cares if there's a little bit of your screen taken up with ads that will be easily ignored (at least by the majority of us not included in your minority)?

    It's a good thing you run a website free of ads. Oh... wait... shoot. Now, why again do you have ads? Oh... that's right, to pay for shit.
    • by jargoone (166102) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:04PM (#9041177)
      I was going to say this same thing, thanks for saving me the time.

      In other news, television, magazines, radio stations, newspapers, taxi cabs, and sporting events may soon have to turn to advertising to help cover costs.
      • Re:Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:37PM (#9041602) Homepage
        Interesting to note that commercial-free TV (PBS..), is not really. Those messages between NOVA and Antiques Roadshow from Pfizer and IBM telling us how Earth-friendly they are? Those are called ads. They help pay for Public TV... Many worthwhile things are paid for with ads (Slashdot may fall into this category, only YOU can say...)
        • Re:Mod parent up (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Buran (150348)
          I don't mind those at all since they don't shove themselves into the content screaming at me to BUY BUY BUY! when I'm in soak-up-all-the-info mode during a NOVA or other documentary about a subject that interests me. When I sit down to watch a program, I'm there to learn (my tastes are typically documentaries when I'm watching television, with the occasional Star Trek or similar thrown in; the Trek stuff gets the ads skipped via Tivo; sadly, I've seen most of the ads I skip over at least once because they j
    • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crackshoe (751995) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:05PM (#9041184)
      I'd rather deal with ads (although i'm undecided about flash adds with cutesy soounds) to get free wireless access, although i've had some bad experiences with hotel's that offer free wireless - mostly that they periodically shunt you to a very slow loading, grpahics intensive splash page. Still... free with a catch is still free enough.
      • Noisy ads are a PITA. Especially at the campus computer lab I work in. The Dell boxen have built-in speakers that serve as a mono sound output, and IT hasn't gotten around to disabling them in BIOS. (You could disable sound with a ghost image, sure, but that screws over the people who use Sam & Tom, and other applications that are still useful with headphoens.)

        Speaking of disruptive (or annoying) sounds...they're doing something in the elecrtonics lab upstairs that sounds like the warp core of the ST
      • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:34PM (#9041571) Homepage Journal
        Its a way to rope you in, then slowly increase your cost to actual hard dollars...

        Look at what happened with TV.. used to be free.. then commercials.. then nothing but commercials...then cable... now you got cable and dish with a fee to watch the commercials.....
        • Look at what happened with TV.. used to be free.. then commercials.. then nothing but commercials...then cable... now you got cable and dish with a fee to watch the commercials.....

          TV has always had commercials. People who wanted commercial-free content, more recent movies, etc., started to pay to get cable, because they couldn't get that (for free or otherwise) over broadcast. To pay for this new content, cable companies could depend solely on customer fees. Now, with content becoming more expensive,
      • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by antarctican (301636) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:53PM (#9041785) Homepage
        My question is.... how many slashdot readers who would use this service actually would be firing up a web browser to begin with?

        I mean whenever I seek out a hotspot for some quick access the only thing I do is fire up putty and ssh into my machine. Pine be thy friend. So if there were ads, I'd never see them.

        There's also ways to get around this.... some of Mozilla's features might be very good at stopping these ads. Or one could blackhole them using their hosts file if you were really determined to elimiante them.

        There's nothing to complain about in this. For those who don't mind ads for some free service it's great. For those who rarely use the web while on the road, it's great. It's only those who feel the need to complain whenever they see the word "ad" that should be concerned.
    • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kallisti777 (46059) <TimWalker@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:12PM (#9041284) Homepage Journal
      Who f'en cares if there's a little bit of your screen taken up with ads that will be easily ignored?

      Amen. I'm just waiting for the deluge of "How dare they!" posts to begin from people with Hotmail and Gmail accounts.

      Somehow I doubt they'll see the irony.

    • by kryonD (163018) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:14PM (#9041313) Homepage Journal
      Granted high speed has more value to it than POTS dialup, but is this company really going to be able to compete? Several states are starting to consider WiFi as a viable public utility that they provide for "free" using the Tax Base. Benefit to the people is seamless wireless access without ads. Benefit to the state is reliable high speed access for public safety and services such as fire, police, EMS, etc.. Plus, once they ensure that everyone is online, they can begin reducing costs by allowing a great deal of government red tape to be handled electronically. (i.e. paying speeding tickets or applying for building permits)
    • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cruciform (42896) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:22PM (#9041408) Homepage
      Agreed. Advertising makes the market go 'round. If it pays their bills, and allows them to offer the service, then more power to them.

      As long as the ads don't pop-up or pop-under what I'm viewing, or blare out annoying audio soundbites, I don't mind them.

      Unobtrusiveness is the key.

      I've never had a ThinkGeek ad try to commandeer my attention through brute force, but they still get my clicks now and then. The same can't be said for the ads that come with full audio and video presentations. If I can't block them, I stop visiting the host site until they're gone, or if there is a readily available contact for the advertiser, let them know just how annoying it is.

      There's no chance in hell I'll every buy a "Solo" cell phone after the endless waves of annoying ringtone ads that permeated local news sites, and those using geo-specific adware. But if I could get free wi-fi at a local coffee shop and see ads for local businesses letting me know what they have to offer, I wouldn't complain. Heck, I'd even fill out an "interests" questionnaire to generate an *anonymous* cookie if it meant that the served ads were relevant to me.

      Advertising does not have to be the enemy. They just need to learn how to deal with their prospective audiences. And then small businesses can offer great things like free wi-fi without eating the overhead themselves.
      • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:50PM (#9042497)


        Heck, I'd even fill out an "interests" questionnaire to generate an *anonymous* cookie if it meant that the served ads were relevant to me.


        I'm behind all that you had to say until this point. The issue I have with an "anonymous" cookie is that there is no guarantee that it remains anonymous. Look at Doubleclick and its plans to merge with Abacus Direct. Part of that plan was to have client sites that link names to cookies. Suddenly, an entire history of anonymous browsing is linked to a full-on identity.

        As a side note - these plans were put on hold but not (as far I know) canceled. This will be a returning issue, I'm sure.


        And then small businesses can offer great things like free wi-fi without eating the overhead themselves.


        Fair enough point. But then, wireless access should also be a draw to the business itself. I splurge on the local coffee shop more often now that my big-cup-o-caffeine comes with connectivity. I can nip out of the office, get some coffee, and then VPN back to work and catch up on stuff without interruptions from people dropping by my desk.
    • I hate ads.

      The response is simple.

      Ad Filter.

    • ...the amazing innate ability to ignore ads

      And once they know you're ignoring the, they'll make them flash pop-overs, etc until you're so angry you ALMOST won't use their service. Squeeze every last cent they can from you. Yay capitalism.
    • Good... stay off the free service and leave bandwidth for those of us who have the amazing innate ability to ignore ads.

      Hm. It seems I do not have this ability. Any motion draws my eye. I feel obligated to absorb everything about me. Adverts are a cancer growing on my existence. I dispise them with all my soul, because I have to consciously ignore them, and it degrades the quality of my existence.

      Not everyone is like you. Your "amazing innate ability" is not an ability everyone has, or wants. For the rec
    • Re:Ads... so what? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lullabud (679893)

      Hosting these free hotspots costs money

      Yes, running a hot-spot costs money, but the theory is that having "free" wi-fi will attract enough business to pay for the initial invetment, upkeep, and then some. If advertising will increase the profit then of course a wise business will choose that as well. I think that advertising income is easier to make solid numbers from, since you can't realiably track how much money your wi-fi users are spending at your shop, which makes it another plus for business ow

    • I find that free wifi hotspots are easy to fund with USER SUBSCRIPTIONS.

      by using nocatauth freebies get very limited access to only port 80 traffic and their bandwidth is throttled every time a member logs on. (Members get the bandwidth first plus lots of ports open, freebies get it last and port 80.)
      cince we put this fact on the initial auth screen, we get at least 20-30 new memberships a month. which pay's for the free wirelees net we have going and has funded the 7th hotspot. (we now offer "branded" hot
    • To cheap to meter (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pauljlucas (529435)
      Hosting these free hotspots costs money...
      Not really [simson.net].
  • heheh (Score:3, Funny)

    by f13nd (555737) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:03PM (#9041171) Homepage
    reminds me of good 'ol /. with the ad-banner down the side
    • Re:heheh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:32PM (#9041546)
      Question: Is this a Internet Explorer specific system or will these ads show up on ANY web browser? So far, I have had very few pop-up, banner or other issues when I use Lynx.
      • Re:heheh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#9041941) Homepage Journal
        If I were implementing a system like this I would use a slightly customized transparent proxy to put my ads on the page, and embed whatever you were viewing in an iframe. Rewriting pages to work with frames could potentially be a PITA, though perhaps replacing all instances of _top or whatever it is with the funky psuedorandom name of your frame would be sufficient. (I have not used iframes, but AFAIK web pages don't know they're running in one.) Meanwhile if the proxy is not serving you the ads, it can be configured to refuse to serve you anything else but a "until you can see our ads you're not getting free web access sucka" message. I suggest adding a new error code number, 5000, to the list of valid HTML error codes for this purpose.
  • Go Anti-Spammers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Wifi is a medium which requires cooperation to work, so if enough people object to this, they can actually do something about the commercials. Drown the ads ... ... or just offer free access to your AP.
    • The point is, that in exchange for providing you with WiFi for FREE AS IN BEER, you have to put up with the ads. There is no law that says they have to provide you with WiFi for FREE AS IN BEER, just as to keep Slashdot going there are ads here too.
  • Past experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pen (7191) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:05PM (#9041201)
    Isn't this the same exact thing that NetZero (and Juno and others) have tried in the past with dial-up? Are any of them still offering free access?
  • what browser? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:06PM (#9041205) Journal
    This seems like the kind of thing that would keep me from using "free" wireless access, but I've a feeling I'm in the minority.

    Yep, the majority of us will just find a way around it. I kinda doubt they'll be putting ads next to my lynx window.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:06PM (#9041207) Homepage Journal
    Submitter: He also claims '[their] market research indicates that, except for pop-ups, people really don't mind ads.'"
    CowboyNeil: This seems like the kind of thing that would keep me from using "free" wireless access, but I've a feeling I'm in the minority.

    Actually, Mr. Cowboy, you just validated their business plan.

    While the idea of free wireless Internet access is fun for the user, there's still the annoying fact that someone's paying for your bandwidth. Ideally, geeks like us would be more than happy to open their broadband connections to the world -- I would, if I could get broadband in rural east Texas.

    Unfortunately, there aren't enough altruistic geeks per square mile to sustain that "business model". So someone has to pay the bill. Why not advertisers?

    I run Opera [opera.com], but I'm too cheap to pay for it. So I have a banner ad built into my browser. I even click it sometimes -- out of curiosity, or to send Opera some ad clicks. I'm willing to put up with advertising to get the product, and lucky for me, the model is working.

    I hope ad-supported wireless access takes off. I wouldn't put my money in the companies, though... anyone remember Bluelight [bluelight.com]?
    • I'm willing to put up with advertising to get the product, and lucky for me, the model is working.

      I have to wonder sometimes how successful banners really are. I used to work at a TV station that had banners on it's web site, and the numbers were pretty dismal. Granted, maybe that's changed since then, but I'd love to see a study done as to the effectiveness of banner ads (I'm sure someone's already done one - I just don't know where to look for it).

    • Ideally, geeks like us would be more than happy to open their broadband connections to the world

      Are you really sure about that? It works these days since geeks tend to be the only ones with netstumbler and similar.

      But it's not going to be long before people start using this for less than savory purposes. Think a spammer would be happy to use a connection for free? How about someone looking for kiddie porn or visiting Al Quada websites? (I can't find the reference, but there was a story recently abou

  • Must be closed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:06PM (#9041209)
    The obvious problem with this, is that you'll need special software to be able to use it (so that the ads will be displayed). It will probably be Windows only, and you won't have acces\s to source code, so you won't know what you're really getting or have any idea if it's secure or not.

    Maybe you can run it inside Vmware, and have your "real" OS route through the virtual machine. Or the crossover guys could make a hacked WINE just for running this client and network interface.

    • Re:Must be closed (Score:5, Informative)

      by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:14PM (#9041326) Journal
      That's not necessarily true. They could set up the access point to run all connections through a proxy, or even run the wireless access point as a proxy, which basically would allow the computer to change web pages on the fly. So they could force all content to resize into a frame (or iframe, or table, or do any of a number of HTML tricks) on whatever portion of the screen they allocate for content, and then put the ad bar in. Or they could create a flash "float over" ad bar. Or they could do any of a number of things to modify the web page, without requiring the user to install any special software at all. Note this would even allow you to play games / whatever online, because it would only modify traffic going over port 80, and then only modify HTML.
      • You know, if that's the way tehy hadle it, and they don't burden us with annoying ads that jump around or make sound, I say go for it.
      • Re:Must be closed (Score:3, Informative)

        by whovian (107062)
        I get a hunch they already can do that. I mean, to get an IP address you lease your IP address in their redirecting your web browser's first request to their log-on site. That would be the simplest way to put in advertising. But of course as these things go, users end up having ads thrust upon them (google take exception).
      • Re:Must be closed (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JFitzsimmons (764599)
        But maybe I'm not running a browser... what about when I'm playing online games or using ssh?
        • Re:Must be closed (Score:3, Interesting)

          by KingOfBLASH (620432)
          If they are only modifying traffic going in and out of port 80, you should still be able to play online games, etc. (Assuming they don't firewall off those ports). Besides, it's easy to tell whats a web page and what's binary data. Web pages usually use charachters and not weird characthers, and usually have things like
          <html><head></head></html>
          in them.
      • Re:Must be closed (Score:5, Informative)

        by Apreche (239272) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:06PM (#9041970) Homepage Journal
        Right, so they modify the html. And firefox modifies it right back to where it came from with my handy dandy user-content.css. If they work some evil magik that gets around it I'll just use that adblock extension. Remember, there is NO WAY to stop the determined geek.
    • Let's whine about it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Myrrh (53301)
      It's cool, it's FREE, supported by nonintrusive ads on the side of your Web browser, and it's likely fast, too.

      And all a significant portion of the Slashdot crowd can think to do is whine about it being "probably closed source" and "probably Windows" and you don't know if it's secure or not ... cry me a river.

      You want to use it, cool. Don't do anything that you wouldn't want published in the NY Times. Do that stuff at home.

      If you want your Open Source and your Linux and your guarantees that it's free, we
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:07PM (#9041217) Journal
    And it failed too, remember free dialup? Free internet access for looking at ads. Where did they all go? Out of business.
    • Ahem... [netzero.net] They offer a free account with ads and a paid account that's inexpensive with no ads. Seems like a pretty good business model.
    • Yes it was done and wasn't profitable. Does it change the fact that people used it and enjoyed it? All this says is that its not very wise to make free wireless in the first place. I disagree. I see the real benefit in this lies not in making existing wireless cheaper, but in expanding the reach of wireless by allowing it to be in places that would not normally be covered. Think waiting rooms and fast food restaurants. The business sees a benefit without cost, the user gets free wireless. And of cour
    • "And it failed too, remember free dialup? Free internet access for looking at ads. Where did they all go? Out of business."

      Actually, no, they coverted to $10/month internet and are still going.
  • by Jack Wagner (444727) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:07PM (#9041218) Homepage Journal
    Lets face it, nobody wants to look at an ad, but companies blast them out for a reason. It's the seed that drives the revenue that makes the giant capitalist machine plod onward. You need look no further than the former communist Russia if you want a failed model for how to do commerce, why do you think they never had a spam problem in Russia???

    Sure the ad system isn't the best but it's functional and beats having to wait in line for 45 minutes to buy a pack of $20 ciggarettes in a Socialist/Communist society.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too I'm afraid.

    • Sure the ad system isn't the best but it's functional and beats having to wait in line for 45 minutes to buy a pack of $20 ciggarettes in a Socialist/Communist society.

      You can't have your cake and eat it too I'm afraid.

      Cake, eh?

      In our system, most businesses fail. Most wealth is horded by the top few percentiles. For the majority, most real incomes have been stagnant since the 1960s. Our communities and workforces have been devastated by two decades of rapacious mergers, corporate accounting scams, an

  • by TooTallFourThinking (206334) <normalforcekills@@@hotmail...com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:07PM (#9041226) Homepage
    I kept looking for how it actual works but didn't see anything. Maybe I just don't have much Wi-Fi experience. Are the ads forced through the browser? Does a custom piece of software need to run first? I'm not quite sure how the ads are going to get onto my computer screen.
    • My best guess would be the free WiFi forces you through a proxy that'll insert the ads mid-stream. One major downside to that, apart from the actual advertising of course, is that it's often not perfect and may dork up the page. That's the only method I could imagine that wouldn't really piss people off or be more trouble than free WiFi is worth.
  • by Sevn (12012) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:07PM (#9041228) Homepage Journal
    Someone will write an application/patch/work-around that deactivates their ads without effecting the service. Those in the know will use it. Those not smart enough, or not clued in won't. This is how it always is. The application/patch/work-around will be brought up here of course. It always is.
    • > Someone will write an application/patch/work-around
      > that deactivates their ads without effecting the service.

      Look, all you have to do is put duck tape over the area where their annoying ads pop up. Sure you'll lose some screen space, but without all that distraction you'll actually get some work done. Duck tape rules!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...this guy is really named LARRY LAFFER?
  • by commo1 (709770) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:08PM (#9041243)
    This reminds me of an old points programme (emphasis on the "mme") that paid people to surf with ads on their machines..... Now: My poll question: What is more acceptable: Ads a) on top or below your surfing/working window or b) to the left or right? My vote is for the right side, as we normally read from left to right, and the ads are discarded by (my) brain as superflouous. Comments? Opinions?

    BTW, I only ask this and entertain the notion because like it or not, ads are going to be a part of the hotspot experience.... why not do it right from the beginning?
    • I think the bottom would work best for me, mostly because I hate having to scroll left to right, and an add on the right ot left hand side would probably create the need to do so. If its on the top, then its right there where you are going to notice it constantly. If its on the bottom, it would seem, to me, to be less noticable. As it is, I think most of us are trained to scroll down for more information, whereas the right to left scroll is less ingrained.

    • I know if it's on the right they'll get lots of inadvertant clicks when people are aiming for the scroll bar. Then again, it's another reason to put it there.

      Stuff on the bottom just fucks with my brain. Anytime I'm on a friend's computer and those huge msn e-mail warnings come up (and those are hella small compared to these ads) or some retard has logged on I always scream out in horror. No one should put anything down there that isn't in a taskbar and cordoned off from doing anything to my sanity!

      Left s
  • Not enough info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MysticalMatt517 (772389) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:09PM (#9041254) Homepage
    I think I could live with the ads if it was definately a free service. The thing that scares me about this is that eventually we'll start seeing services that make you pay AND cram ads down your throat. (see Cable TV)

    Also, it depends on what kind of software they make you install to see the ads / access the network. I'm assuming that they'll have to use something because if it's just a proxy I think it would be to easy too defeat. If they make you install special software, is it going to be Windows only?

    I don't have enough details to make judgment yet.
  • not ads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by photoblur (552862) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:10PM (#9041257) Homepage

    I'd much rather the hotspot be funded by charging an extra $0.10 for coffee, or whatever the business may be. Actually, I just set up a WiFi hotspot for a local coffeehouse and the "free" WiFi has brought him enough extra business that he feels quite justified in not charging extra for the service.

    WiFi should be a condiment, like catsup or salt or paper napkins...

    • Re:not ads (Score:4, Insightful)

      by doublem (118724) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:24PM (#9041438) Homepage Journal
      Good point.

      The Wi-Fi is, in the classis sense, a "Loss Leader"

      If $150 / mo for a business cable modem and $300 in one time setup hardware results in an extra $200 a months in business with no extra "tech support" issues from customers, then it's worth the investment.
    • Re:not ads (Score:3, Insightful)

      Except when every café has a hotspot, and it doesn't generate extra business, then it's just an added monthly cost, and has to be paid somehow.
      • Maybe, maybe not. Sure, I might pick one coffee house over another because it has Wi-fi. (Sometimes I do.)

        I might also choose to go to a place with Wi-fi instead of staying in my office or at home because I can get work done that way.

        Point is, Wi-fi at all restaurants, etc., will increase business for all of them. By how much? Who knows.

  • Windows Only? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loginx (586174) <xavier@@@wuug...org> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:10PM (#9041258) Homepage
    This will require software to be installed on the client's computer in order to display the ads besides the browser, I assume.

    Does that mean that there is a 99.99% chance that this software won't install on linux (or Mac) and only windows laptops will be able to access those spots?

    Isn't there a better way to do this that doesn't require software installation? like injecting HTML code for banner ads in the pages viewed by users on your network like free hosting companies were doing all the time back in the days?

    Does that also mean that there will be no way to tell if there is malicious (or even vulnerable) code bundled with the software?
    • Re:Windows Only? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Therlin (126989)
      Actually if you look at the screenshot in the article, it looks like it's simply a new browser window that is sent to the top of the screen while slightly reducing your main browser window. In other words, I believe that this will work with many browsers (but maybe not all).
    • Re:Windows Only? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      The easiest way would be to embed your browsing of other sites in an iframe using a transparent proxy. You can do this even on nonstandard ports, by using pattern match support plus stateful filtering. This would mean you'd need a browser capable of displaying iframes, but that hardly seems like a show-stopper to me.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:10PM (#9041259) Homepage
    ...they've found that the reason people don't mind ads other than pop-ups is that they don't notice them.

    Oops, so much for that business model.
  • He also claims '[their] market research indicates that, except for pop-ups, people really don't mind ads.'

    I have a feeling that what people don't mind is context relevant ads.

    I, for one, do not like ads that are irrelevant, even if they are along side the browser. Especially if the ads are animated, and loops endlessly.

    What about you?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:11PM (#9041274) Journal
    "As of 2003, there were almost 10,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots in the U.S. alone" says Lawrence Laffer, President of FreeFi Networks.""

    Laffer? Larry Laffer? Ditched the Leisure Suit for a business suit I see.
  • Not Really Spam... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zokrath (593920) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:12PM (#9041285)
    If the free wireless internet access is funded via advertisements, then those ads are not spam. Television ads are not spam; spam is widespread and unsolicited advertisement.

    This is not to say that advertising is not often irritating and intrusive, but beggars can not be browsers without being subjected to ads.

    Of course, they could very well be monitoring and recording what you are doing online, above and beyond simple browsing information, in the name of 'targeted marketing'. But that is for the tin foil crowd to determine; I do not have a laptop, let alone use wireless access in public locations, so I am not too concerned about the privacy implications, 'First they came for the WiFiers' be damned.
  • I looked at the site. It allows a location to be a fre or reduced cost hot spot. The service is free or a reduced cost to the location, but is the reduced cost passed one?
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:21PM (#9041401) Homepage Journal
    market research indicates that, except for pop-ups, people really don't mind ads.

    Furthermore, market research* indicates that people really don't mind anal probes.

    -kgj

    *Market research conducted by Kang and Kodos [szilagyi.us]. All test subjects consented voluntarily to mind-control ray and anal probe. No human species were exterminated during this course of this research. Earth void where prohibited.
  • No problem at all (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaHat (247651) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:24PM (#9041437) Homepage
    Long ago I took up updating my hosts file with data from http://pgl.yoyo.org/adservers/ which provides a list of known ad servers that you then point back to your local machine.

    I decided to take this one step further and change the mapped to IP to be that of SCO, so that each time I come to Slashdot and don't see their ads, I instead see a small bit of the SCO homepage, what you might call a mini DoS
  • Handhelds (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mongolian (768610)
    So what is to happen to the use of handheld computers whose browsers are already hugely limited by screen size? I'd hate to have to use a computer on which literally half of the screen was consumed by advertisements. Still not too bad of a deal for laptop users though. But one would have to be on crack to tolerate that on a CE machine.
  • by HeghmoH (13204)
    A site which used to be completely free, funded by ads, and is still mostly free and mostly funded by ads, and an editor of said site criticizing another free, ad-funded service because he doesn't like ads. I guess he's lucky not everybody has the same opinion, or else he'd have to find another job.
  • by Natchswing (588534) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:27PM (#9041484)
    Wait, Larry Laffer [allowe.com] is choosing the ads for us? I hope they have a PG version.
  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:30PM (#9041517)
    I don't see anything wrong with this at all... if there's a free hotspot somewhere, and the owner puts ads on it, it's not like you're forced to use it.

    It's *FREE*...

    If you don't like it, PAY for a hotspot that doesn't have ads. What's wrong with that?

  • by slappyjack (196918) <slappyjack@gmail.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:30PM (#9041524) Homepage Journal
    When you look at it, whats the cost for a small coffe chop of restaurant to offer free wireless in their place? Maybe $50-70 a month for broadband, then slap in a Linksys wireless router for $100, then maybe figure out how to lock the thing down a little.

    Let the customers know that this is a free and open network, and that you're not responsible to what happens to their machines, and thats about it.

    Its been my experience that people will go to a place to pay 10 times over cost for a cup of coffee spedifically because they can boot up and be online without having to goof with their settings too much. Like these folks, I will even spend a little more just staying there a little longer because I can sit and read /. for hours on end in a nice environment.

    10 people a week spend an extra $2.50 a visit because of the wireless and you get $25. 4.2 weeks in the average month adds up to $105.

    Bingo. WiFi cost recovered.

    This doesn't even take into account the Evercrack geeks that will sit there for hours on end mainlining shot after shot of espresso into themselves for that extra twitch speed while playing.

    This is just yet another attempt at a useless industry trying to insert themselves into a place where they're not wanted or needed.

    Hey Marketers, fuck you. We're not going to buy your shit no matter how many times you put it in front of us.
    • by realmolo (574068) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:36PM (#9042314)
      A coffee shop (or any business, or private party) can't just hook up a cablemodem and resell their bandwidth. Their ISP would have a fucking FIT. It's against their Terms of Service.

      Generally, you don't get to resell your cablemodem bandwidth. You might be able to work out a deal with your ISP, but you'll definitely be paying more than $70.
      • by Otto (17870) on Monday May 03, 2004 @02:13PM (#9042774) Homepage Journal
        A coffee shop (or any business, or private party) can't just hook up a cablemodem and resell their bandwidth. Their ISP would have a fucking FIT. It's against their Terms of Service.

        Generally, you don't get to resell your cablemodem bandwidth. You might be able to work out a deal with your ISP, but you'll definitely be paying more than $70.


        I have yet to see a cablemodem provider that doesn't offer "business class". You're right about the $70 being low, but if the lowest grade of business class service they offer is greater than about $200-$250, I'd be freakin' shocked.

        And those Terms of Service do allow reselling, or at least use in a such a way as to allow something like internet for your customers. That's the whole point of getting business class service in the first place.

        Low end business class in my area runs around $150, gives you 6mbit down, 1.5 up, and yes, you can resell to your greedy little hearts content.
  • by straponego (521991) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:31PM (#9041531)
    I've stayed at a hotel (C??rty?rd) which, on top of $10/day for Internet access, has proxies configured to hijack requests for Amazon. If you try to buy something through their connection, they rewrite the headers to get the referral credit. This should be illegal... I noticed because at the time I stayed, their code was a little broken, at least with Moz/Linux, but it was clear from the error message what they were attempting. I just used an SSH tunnel through one of my systems for the rest of my browsing... but I'm sure they made some nice bucks from the victim class (MS/IE users).
  • Pocket PCs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tmbg37 (694325) *
    I for one am the owner of a Pocket PC with a built-in WiFi chipset, and I don't like the idea of mandatory ads obscuring half of my device's tiny screen. I might not even be able to use the service at all if it requires software to be installed (probably Windows only, and/or resource hogging.)
  • People stop worrying, the ads can easily be defeated and if you cant be bothered to write a filter-rule for it, someone will be making some nice "QwikBar" blocking plug-ins. This business model is aimed at Internet Explorer users only. I love the little "Closing this window disconnects FreeFi" caption on the top of the explorer window, and the name is just brilliant! Combining two words into one with capitalised first letters (as is the poncy fashion these days) as well as managing to totally fuck the spell
  • If this business model works for Wi-Fi networks, could it works for water network?

    Our water network, here in Montréal, Québec, is in a very bad state. It will cost billons of dollar to repair it, and neither municipalities, provincial or federal government want to pay for fscking it.

    I personnaly wouldn't care to have an ad displayed in the bottom of my toilet. I might even enjoy using it, sometimes, depending on the advertiser!
  • by eggboard (315140) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:35PM (#9041582) Homepage
    First off, these guys aren't the first: a company called DotSpot (read my article) [wifinetnews.com] launched six weeks ago. Second, if you don't want the ads, don't use the free service. Spam is unsolicited commercial whatever that you're the unwilling recipient of. Terms of service are different. If you sign up for a free ISP and then promise to spam you, it's not spam. If they don't disclose they spam, it is spam.
  • Are these guys offering wireless internet access? or just a web proxy stuffed with adds?
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:39PM (#9041623)
    "Wait, I thought the consensus here was that everything should be free be and open. I for one find it apppaaaauuulling that they're not willing to offer a service that costs them money for free. I mean what if i'm at the park and the next kernel comes out and I can't update until I get home? This is just like the corporate fat cats, always trying to "make money to live off of!""

    I know at least 20% of the people out there reading the headline to the article were thinking that. I'm also willing to bet that 40% of them are currently unemployed as they would be at work now and not slashdot. (I'm a college student so I got an excuse.) What's the big deal with this, everything "free" today is laced with ads of some type. Ads are everywhere, deal with them by not buying sugared water for $2 not by bitching on slashdot (which by the way is free to you and paid for by ads!).

    Other than your internet connection, most of the content on the web is free but paid for by ads. If you're in the park and you get free web access and bitch because of some popup ad, then don't use it! Connect to the internet from your cell phone and pay for the minutes!
  • Remember Netzero and others selling free (subsidised) dialup the same way, with these persistent banners? I used netzero for a while, it worked well enough but they apparently couldn't get enough ad revenue to make money.

    Anyway, this isn't spam, and it's not a bad idea at all.
  • web services (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:49PM (#9041737) Homepage
    as long as they can identify xml-rpc payloads. Otherwise, it's not going to be pretty.
  • by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Monday May 03, 2004 @12:57PM (#9041842) Homepage Journal
    "A new generation of spam is born with the launch of FreeFi's new Wi-Fi advertising network....

    Excuse me, but that's not spam. It's like calling the ads on the side of slashdot for spam. It's not. Spam is something you didn't ask for. You do indeed ask for these ads when you chose to use their free service.

    I hate spam as much as the next guy, so no reason to cry wolf!
  • by Webmoth (75878) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:01PM (#9041880) Homepage
    Lawrence Laffer... Lawrence... Larry... Larry Laffer...

    I know I've seen that name somewhere before.

    Ah yes, here. [dyndns.org]
  • technology used? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael (134664) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:15PM (#9042065) Homepage
    I know this might be a naive question, but how does the technology work? I mean usually wireless is the lower protocol level (ala TCP/IP) and ads are at a higher level (ala HTTP)...do requests for webpages serve up a dummy page that loads up the small and ad on the side and the forwards to the real thing, or what?
  • Could it be.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acidrain69 (632468) on Monday May 03, 2004 @01:38PM (#9042344) Journal
    without use of invasive advertising software or pop-up ads?

    Sounds like they may just be using a transparent proxy to add some HTML to the sites you view to show some ads. Could be as simple as a 2 column table with one column for ads and the other for the page you requested.

    Time to break out the hosts file. Although this would leave an empty table on one side. There are some proxies available that will actually edit out pages for you, so you could have little proxy wars with the provider.

    I know advertising has it's place, but for me personally, they just get in the way, especially when they are flashy and annoying. If the host can't afford to provide without annoying it's visitors, it's time to close up shop, or get a clue.

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