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Wireless Networking The Internet Hardware Technology

WiFi On Two Wheels 200

MeGaBiTe1 writes "Yury Gitman is not the average cyclist from Brooklyn. His goal is to bring more easily accessible free wireless hotspots to the masses. To do this, he has created what he calls the Magicbike, a bicycle equipped with a laptop, power supply and antenna. Gitman's bike has allowed people in NYC to browse the internet freely in local parks and gardens. 'I am like the ice cream man, but with no music and I deliver free wireless access and not ice cream'."
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WiFi On Two Wheels

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  • by JessLeah ( 625838 ) * on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:12AM (#9060562)
    I wonder how long it will be before a cop pulls over his bike and tickets him for inappropriate and bizarre analogies...
  • Wardrivers (Score:4, Funny)

    by RucasRiot ( 773111 ) <> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:14AM (#9060575) Homepage Journal
    I bet the wardrivers with GPS are going nuts trying to pin him down while he's riding.
    • I'm not a very good person at times and was out wardriving with some buddies after about 5 martinis, at 3 AM, in fog, and with a half naked woman in the car. I wasn't driving but thank god it was a volvo and that woman was in someone's grip (was not wearing a seatbelt) or we would of been in trouble, the redwood just flaked off some bark. I still don't know where my keys or leather jacket is.
    • Not really. If he's like the ice-cream man, then he'll be loudly playing some mutant tune of the damned over and over again.
  • Past Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by modifried ( 605582 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:14AM (#9060577) Homepage
    Wireless Review did an article on the wheelbike back in February. e_wheel_deal/ []
  • Sounds good.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SavedLinuXgeeK ( 769306 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:14AM (#9060579) Homepage
    in theory, but exposing your equipment to the elements, vibrations, and possible accidents, and even theft. Good lord its New York. I mean maybe in cars, like CB radio-style. But by bike, ehhh... I would be a lil afraid for my own property.
    • by MikeD83 ( 529104 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:30AM (#9060648)
      I know this is a new concept on Slashdot, but just maybe people can't steal the equipment because he's actually riding the bike. Like excercise, who does that?
      • Only on slashdot would riding a motorcycle with a laptop and wireless internet installed count as exercise...

        next thing you know, river rafting with a cluster of notebooks running folding@home with a propulsion system of 120mm pana-flo fans will be extreme sports...

      • but just maybe people can't steal the equipment because he's actually riding the bike

        Yes, in the same way that carrying your wallet prevents muggers from taking it.

    • ...but exposing your equipment to the elements, vibrations, and possible accidents, and even theft.

      Yeah, I'd be more worried about the RF overexposing his "equipment". If you know what I mean.

    • Brooklyn doesn't have many parks, in fact the only parks you can realistically ride your bike for more than a minute is Prospect Park [] or Shore Road park, which is a narrow landscaped bike path along New York harbor.

      Chances are he is riding in Prospect Park, and probably on the weekend when cars are banned from the Park's cross streets.

      It really is rather safe on the weekends if it is nice, as there are tons of people in the open sections. I mean, he isn't going to be chilling in the nature preserve sectio
  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:14AM (#9060581)
    Isn't it possible that some legalities could result from "amplifying" someone elses open WiFi network?
  • So... yeah... then you're pretty much not like an ice cream man at all are you? Interesting.
  • by The Kow ( 184414 ) <putnamp@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:17AM (#9060594)
    What happens when someone does something illegal from his 'hotspot'?
  • so... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Man in Spandex ( 775950 ) <`prsn.kev' `at' `'> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:18AM (#9060597)
    Can we just buy one of those magic bicycle and keep it in our room?
  • by the pickle ( 261584 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:19AM (#9060602) Homepage
    Definitely a topic that's been on Slashdot before:

    The Internet by Motorbike []

    I do have to wonder, though, if this is really that fast. His uplink is either cellular (dog-slow) or bridged to another WAP, and I'd have to say I suspect the latter isn't the dominant mode of operation.

    In case the site gets slammed later, here's the About page text:

    Magicbike is a mobile WiFi (wireless Internet) hotspot that gives free Internet connectivity wherever its ridden or parked. By turning a common bicycle into a wireless hotspot, Magicbike explores new delivery and use strategies for wireless networks and modern-day urbanites. Wireless bicycles disappear into the urban fabric and bring Internet to yet unserved spaces and communities. Mixing public art with techno-activism, Magicbikes are perfect for setting up adhoc Internet connectivity for art and culture events, emergency access, public demonstrations, and communities on the struggling end of the digital-divide.

    Weaving Internet Infrastuctures into Cultural Fabric

    Magicbike aims to weave wireless infrastructures into an existing mobile and socially active cultural fabric, bicycle culture. Bicycles are extremely versatile vehicles that travel many places inaccessible by automobiles and other forms of transportation. Bicycles are also traditional symbols of political movements ranging from the women's movement in the latter 19th century, to the labor movements of the early 20th century, through today where bicycles are held in high esteem as a clean, energy-efficient alternative to a global dependence on oil and urban sprawl. Since WiFi is an emerging technology based on open standards it is malleable. Superimposing WiFi technology onto bicycle culture pushes the technology towards the particular needs, tastes, and motivations of bicyclists. Wireless and computing technology gain from becoming more (mobile and) bicycle and street friendly. The culture around wireless is also influenced by century-old cultural trends of political consciousness, social responsibility, and physical health.

    Bicycle Hotspots Tech Description

    Magicbike turns common bicycles into WiFi hotspots. The end effect creates bicycles that broadcast free WiFi connectivity to their proximity. The technology behind this is not complex. Magicbike is simply a creative configuration, or reconfiguration, of widely available computer, bicycle, and WiFi gear. WiFi antennas mounted on the bike's frame feed into a laptop embedded into a specially outfitted bicycle side-bag. The bike's embedded laptop is configured to be a wireless repeater and hotspot. The bike receives its uplink connection either from the cellular network or from far-off WiFi hotspots (with the help of its mounted antennas). With this uplink connection from any one of various sources, the bike is able to serve-up its own Internet connection.

    A Magicbike hotspot operates like standard hotspots, able to serve up to 250 users in a radius of 30 meters indoors and 100 meters outdoors [although its antennas can increase the hotspot's accuracy and range]. A group of bikes can repeat and/or bridge the signal down a chain of wireless bikes. Meaning, a bicycle gang can snake into subways stations or across hilltops to provide Internet connectivity to (fringe but) vital communities and spaces ignored by the traditional telecommunications industry. A grassroots bottom-up wireless infrastructure can be formed and pedaled to any place accessible by bicycle.

    Wireless Bikes as Art Objects

    Wireless bikes are a tacitly surrealistic Ready-made that playfully reframe our assumptions about the interplay of technology and art. The tradition of Ready-made objects in modern art is credited to start with Marcel Duchamp's "Roue de Bicyclette" or "Bicycle Wheel," his first "Ready-made." The bicycle's role in art seems to be that of a transcendent object acting as a vehicle to interface conceptual and m
    • Definitely a topic that's been on Slashdot before:

      I actually saw MagicBike at an art and tech show in New York last year. Spoke to Yury Gitman who was actually a pretty cool guy. MagicBike actually came before the Cambodian project and inspired quite a few others like it.
    • Now they're just finding things and calling them art? These freaking hippy artists need to get back to work. They've gone way too far trying to be 'deep'.
    • No, it is quite different! The Internet-Motorbike is a store-and-forward e-mail-system. The idea is to deliver e-mails to spots where there is no internet connection possible. However, it does not create a real internet-connection. The magicbike establishes a real internet-connection. But I instantly had to think of the Internet-Motorbike as I saw the magikbike, too.
    • And why in the hell would you pull out your laptop while in the NYC subway system?
  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:21AM (#9060605)
    Someone miniaturize a wifi hotspot enough so that you can strap it to a pidgeon, then put some around New York. Then I'll really be impressed! Access for peanuts... or breadcrumbs... hey let's try squirrels maybe then it can be for peanuts.
    • Hmmm... I can think of a fun activity, then. Arp-poisoning pigeons in the park!

      ...So, if Sunday you're free,
      Why don't you come with me
      And we'll arp poison the pigeons in the park.
      And maybe we'll do
      In a wifi-enabled squirrel or two,
      While we're arp poisoning pigeons in the park.

      (With profound apologies to Tom Lehrer)

    • One question: Will it implement RFC 1149 []?
  • by CritterNYC ( 190163 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:21AM (#9060606) Homepage
    ... but with no music
    ... and with wireless internet service instead of ice cream
    ... and with a bike instead of a truck
    ... and it's free instead of costing money
    ... and I'm really more of a boy, not a man

    ... come to think of it, I'm nothing like the ice cream man at all... I was just talking outta my ass.
    • Yeah, he seems a little more like the Free Candy Man []... unfortunately, that means he targets children.
    • ... come to think of it, I'm nothing like the ice cream man at all... I was just talking outta my ass.

      That seems about right, looking at your logo [] there. It looks like the WiFi comes out of your ass as you ride...
    • Besides the fact that it was intended to be a humorously ironic statement, he was referring more to the fact that he brings the product directly to the people who otherwise didn't have it available to them. Also, like the ice cream man, the Magicbike would presumably be something welcomed by the consumer (the idea of the ice cream man carries a certain whimsical, mystical quality). So quit complaining about the cute non-analogy already.
  • by uunh haun ( 638348 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:21AM (#9060608)
    "urban fabric," "socially active cultural fabric," "Wireless bikes are a tacitly surrealistic Ready-made that playfully reframe our assumptions"

    ^ Why I hate being an artist. Make your mark with your work, not with the hype.
  • Not that magical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brad Mace ( 624801 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:25AM (#9060624) Homepage
    Sorry to sound like a party pooper, but it only brings wifi 100m closer to the masses. It's kinda neat but it doesn't seem all that useful.
    • Re:Not that magical (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Audiostar ( 734627 )
      I think the idea is not just to have one magicbike going around, but many of them (perhaps attached to bicycle messengers?) in order to bridge the connection in many ways. Its pretty idealistic, but I think the idea is a good means of promoting the concept of free internet access for the masses. The town I live in (Athens, GA) has wifi access spanning the entire downtown, as well as the campus and immediate areas. I have often thought of how amazing it would be if some rich benefactor would set up similar a
    • Here's an interesting idea for the magicbikes. So let's say you get a bunch of these guys driving around. They already have Internet access. So let's say you're in the park, and you decide you'd like to browse Slashdot. You call up the dispatch office, and they use GPS to determine the location of the nearest magicbike. Then they send a message to the guy and tell him to bike to such and such a place. Bam, you've got Internet anywhere you want in New York.

      Or bam, you've just stolen a bike with a bunc
  • What? no music? On ya bike son...
  • by yawhcihw ( 171760 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:30AM (#9060647)
    Hopefully the site isn't hosted on this bike...if it got slashdotted and crashed, we could all get sued for his injuries!
  • This totally gives new meaning to wardriving.
  • But guys! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MilenCent ( 219397 ) * <> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:42AM (#9060707) Homepage
    Sheesh, it's amazing that no one has remarked upon the important thing about this guy, which is that he's freaking cool! This is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to do if I had the money and time! Good ol' selflessness and wonder and doing good for your fellow man! Just because!

    What a nifty idea, wow. And I liked his analogy too, which I saw as more of a humor thing than a real analogy anyway.
    • Or you could say here's all these people outside and he's encouraging them to "just check their email" or "just check a site out" instead of exersizing and talking to other people in the park.

      To the optimist, the glass is half full.
      To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
      To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
  • or is the wifi coming out his ass!?!? []

    Icecream indeed.

  • by iustus ( 773423 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:50AM (#9060750)
    "He's coming around the park again~ Quick! hit
    the reload button while you have the chance!"

    -- Connected to Wi-fi bike boy --
    -- 11.00 mbits per second --
    -- signal stregnth low --


    --wireless internet conneciton unavailable--

    "damnit. . . "
  • Whats the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:51AM (#9060754) Homepage
    The point of finding a free acess point, for most people, is to get on the internet, to send/receive e-mail. Some people might be interested in fiddling around with 'clueless user Linksys #82", but mostly finding an acess point is a means to an end, not an end in itself. A mobile acess point is not a roving Lan party, it is sort of useless. Unless he has omnidirectional wireless internet connection with him (nope) then most people will be kind of disinterested in what he has to offer. Most people won't even bother (or know how!) to browse the network. I really wonder where he is going with this.
    • Same as I do with my backback.

      run it set up with thesame way they set up nocatauth.

      no matter what web address you type in, you end up at the local http server.

      works great, I have a nice dowload section and a shoutcast server running streaming from a bunch of random mp3's as well as a set of informational pages and a "portal" using myphpnuke.

      you would be suprised how many logins I see in there from people that "accidently" find it.
      • Offtopic:
        I've been thinking about doing something similar as an experiment. I have a few questions, but can't find your e-mail.
        What exactly do you use? Is it an integrated system? What are the specs. Do you have pictures? :)

    • he has omnidirectional wireless internet connection (nope)

      Um, why wouldn't he. My PCS phone can give me 128Kpbs (even more with a little knowhow) and it has 24-hour unlimited access. Plug this into a laptop, then use the RJ-45 port to connect to the WAP and you have portable sharable internet. What this guy did is not hard to do, but it is a very cool concept. I might make one of these up when I get a new laptop (gave my old one away).
    • RTFA.

      It even has a nice little picture for those of us who can't understand the text.

      Insightful? OK!
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:54AM (#9060764) Journal long before spammers just load their software onto laptops and start blasting out spam from the nearest hotspot? Are there any safeguards that will prevent this?
  • by eastern ( 92669 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:54AM (#9060765)
    Does anyone remember the greatest geek bike ever made?

    Big Electronic Human Energised Machine, Only Too Heavy

    Check this out []

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @01:56AM (#9060777) Homepage Journal
    but the first thing that ran across my mind is that this poor bastard is going to end up in court because some pervert used him to anonymously download kiddy porn off of the net.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @02:00AM (#9060796)
    On the one hand what he's doing is kind of cool and nice. Interesting to say the least... On the other hand walking around like he's a saint or he's bringing vittles to the starving masses makes him look like an imbecile... I mean for chrissakes, you're giving people limited wireless connectivity, in the random chance that you happen to be parked by a guy with a laptop...

    You want to be a hero or feel good about yourself? Be a volunteer firefighter. Restore PCs for senior citizen centers, donate to cancer research foundations, give a starving Afican or Chinese kid lunch money. Driving around giving out free wireless internet... *snickers*

    The very point of it is pointless. It's basically just a "Lookit me, I'm special-decial like Homestar Runner." I think the guy needs a hobby...maybe he should try being a kernel hacker, I hear that eats into your free time. ;)
    • On the other hand walking around like he's a saint or he's bringing vittles to the starving masses makes him look like an imbecile... I mean for chrissakes, you're giving people limited wireless connectivity, in the random chance that you happen to be parked by a guy with a laptop...

      Hmmm.... Well, rural villagers in Cambodia don't seem to be complaining about the concept [].

      "An interesting combination of wireless, wheels, and store-and-forward email: 'In Cambodia, motorbikes act as routers for a store-and-
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @02:14AM (#9060846)
    Free Wi-Fi on a bike? Why not a train?

    PointShot (, the folks that provided ACE passengers with the country's first Wi-Fi train service, is in the process of trying to bring a Wi-Fi service to Caltrain here in Silicon Valley.

    But according to Caltrain management, it is going to take a year to find a free provider:

    "Caltrain is currently working on a request for proposal to provide wi-fi on its trains. Our goal is to be able to attract a provider who will provide free wi-fi service through more than just a pilot period. If the entire process goes smoothly, we may be able to offer wi-fi within about a year.

    Our long-term vision is to provide complimentary wi-fi and work with companies along our corridor to allow their employees to start their workday by logging on while on the train. We believe this will be a huge quality of life benefit to our customers and their employees."

    For those of you that don't know, Caltrain is the Silicon Valley commuter train that serves passengers from San Jose to San Francisco.

    If you find "a year" to be entirely too long or you know of interested Wi-Fi providers, email or go to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For those wanting a picture of the magic bike and it's creater, go here bike.html
  • by Anonymous Coward
    are now planning on robbing him.
  • 'I am like the ice cream man, but with no music and I deliver free wireless access and not ice cream'."

    So he is infact nothing like a ice cream man

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @03:20AM (#9061026) Homepage
    His "I'm like the ice cream man" analogy reminded me of this:

    To me boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.

    --Deep Thoughts (by Jack Handy)

    And let us not forget the classic:

    The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

  • ... all the people on laptops following him via bike around the park. I'd pay to see the carnage that'd ensue.
  • Ok... So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Phidoux ( 705500 )
    Every morning when I go out for a jog in the park, I take my laptop computer with me just in case a cyclist, with an attached mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, happens to be getting a bit of exercise at the same time.

    It's great! Lugging the laptop around adds to the exercise potential of my jog and being able to read my spam, while in the middle of my jog, really goes a long way to breaking the boredom of exercise regime.
  • So basically, this strange guy provides slow unreliable internet access to people enjoying a bit of air and sunshine in the park. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I want unreliable internet access, I'll do that at home with with Comcast. At least with them, I don't need some weirdo to point a funny antenna at me when I'm trying to surf the web.
  • by rpiquepa ( 644694 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @03:59AM (#9061120) Homepage
    This was the title of an article from the New York Times about Yury Gitman and his Magicbike last December. Here is a permanent link [] to this article (free registration needed).
  • Three wheels AND music - still no ice cream though

    iTrike []
  • quote (Score:2, Funny)

    by jeffs72 ( 711141 )
    'I am like the ice cream man, but with no music and I deliver free wireless access and not ice cream'." Or you're like a big dork with too much time on your hands.
  • Just think of the Dynamo you're gonna need to keep that mother powered when the batteries start to fail.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @05:23AM (#9061328) Homepage
    'I am like the ice cream man, but with no music and I deliver free wireless access and not ice cream'.

    If we had bacon, we could have bacon and eggs if we had eggs.
  • by aardwolf204 ( 630780 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @05:31AM (#9061350)
    I like my bike mod better. I attached my old ipaq to the center of the handle bars and with a pcmcia wifi card, serial GPS receiver on the back and the right software i can go biking while wardriving and listening to mp3s at the same time. Wish I had a pic. Anyone else try anything similar?

    Oh yeah, and how does he get his connection while on the road, cellphone? Even with Vision or Edge it wouldnt be that great internet access now would it.
  • get a life! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @08:15AM (#9062117) Homepage
    Mixing public art with techno-activism

    arg, I hate pop culture. I bet this guy is a 'metrosexual' too. Let it die! techno-activism is a made up word. You're a fruit on a bike! There are tons of wireless hotspots out there anyways, the chances that you're doing the world even a minute's worth of good are slim to none. If you really want ubiquitous wireless net access, try, oh , say, setting up a hotspot in your house. Or donating to a cause or group or company who would set up these spots. The idea that your bike provides wifi is hardly useful. get a life, and this is coming from a computer geek.
  • the next step in bicycle modding is, having a modded PC case integrated into the bicycle frame, along with some of those bicycle accessories...
  • Nomadic computing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mknewman ( 557587 ) *
    Years ago I met Steve Roberts, a self proclaimed nomad, in Austin Texas. He was riding his recumbant bike literally slewn with solar panels, radios, a trailer with a satellite dish and computers. Here is his web page: e .html He wrote a book, mostly about his love afairs on his cross country trip, but also ended up working for Sun Microsystems in some sort of ad-hoc consultant position. He's gone on to making a high tech Winnebago and now ocean going can
  • Powerbook w/ Bluetooth + GPRS Cell w/ Bluetooth + T-Mobile's Unlimited Wireless Internet = Internet on my computer everywhere. And I don't even need a bike!
  • Steve Roberts [] did this with ham radio a long time ago. He cultivated relationships with hardware vendors and got them to outfit his bike so that he didn't need to spend too much money himself. For them, it was good PR. Since then, he's moved to a boat [].

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray