I see this on my machine quite often when searching for wifi access, ‘Free Public WiFi’ and I sometimes wonder, why are there so many of these and should I try any of them.  Normally I don’t anything access point that I do not know is safe so I don’t even bother to click on it. After a while I realised that most of these are ad-hoc connection meaning I’m just seeing someone elses computer. However, I read a post on slashdot and someone explained why we see them so often and all over the place..  its a bug!  A windowsXP bug to be precise. (should have figured)  It goes like this…

Apparently, the way XP works is that if it can’t find a ‘favorite’ WiFi hotspot, it automatically sets up the computer to broadcast itself as an ad hoc network point, using the name of the last connection the computer attempted. So… people see ‘Free Public WiFi’ and they try to log on. Then their own computer starts broadcasting the same thing, because it can’t find a network it knows. And, like a virus, the ‘Free Public WiFi’ that doesn’t work lives on and on and on.”

Nice eh?  So now you know.  And knowing is half the battle!

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