Tim Hortons' Free Wifi Isn't

At least I thought I was. You see, the Internet is a very large place. Contrary to what most people (especially Facebook) would have you believe, there's a lot more to this Internet thing than the World Wide Web. There's a term you haven't heard in years.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Table Tents

What about SMTP (Email, anyone?) or IRC? SSH sessions? VPNs?

Forget about it. Apparently, in Canada, "wifi" is only used to get on the Facebooks, and check your webmail. Hell, you can't even access a proxy, probably because that means you're doing something illegal and big brother (eh) needs to be able to pry open your packets to see exactly what you're up to.

And what does the legion of lawyers at Tim Hortons HQ think people are doing with their free wifi? Cyber-terrorism? Hacktivism? Porn? Is Interpol going to throw the CEO in jail if someone uses company wifi to do evil deeds?

Here's an idea I'd like to float past the top brass at Tim Hortons: public gathering places (in the real world) are also dangerous. Every store should be staffed with table monitors. After you order, and pick a table, the monitor will sit with you, to make sure you aren't planning any drug deals. Or murders. Or grand theft. Ya know, just to be safe, should the Law start asking questions.

Anyway, back to the original rant.

I'll admit it, I use technology differently than most. My workflow is heavy on git-over-SSH and scp. I have a VPS on the internet and a box at home next to the TV. I VPN into my home network.

So maybe I'm not Tim Hortons' target audience. Except that I do like coffee, frequent coffee shops, and have money to spend. Money that will never again see the inside of a Tim Hortons cash register.

These Guys Figured It Out

SPoT Coffee, on the other hand, has this revolutionary setup: you buy coffee, you get free wifi. You don't buy coffeee, you get free wifi. I can walk in, fire up Thunderbird and check my email. I can connect to my home VPN and get shit done. Because of that, I usually order a full meal there, which translates into income for them. All because they kicked their previous system to the curb and opened the access points to the world.

Shame on you Tim Hortons. Congratulations SPoT.

James (@iamjameshunt) works on the Internet, spends his weekends developing new and interesting bits of software and his nights trying to make sense of research papers.

Currently working on Rook.