Wireless Campus: Work, Study, and Play a la Carte

By Stephanie Polizzi, 4th Year English and Italian Major

A shorter version of this article was published 10/12/2005 in the California Aggie.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited. I just invested in an iBook G4, which is, in less technical terms, a Mac laptop. It's shiny, it's fast and it lets me access the Internet on campus and elsewhere in Davis.

In fact, you may have seen me lounging between classes at the MU, which now boasts better coverage due to wireless improvements courtesy of ASUCD. (This is the first of many upgrades to be made during this school year. Stay tuned to see where coverage expands to next!)

Although I'm currently using wireless for games and email, in a few weeks I'll be browsing digital notes and researching academic Web sites. I guess that's the beauty of using wireless on campus: what I do is up to me.

Get Connected
I know some of you hate the technical stuff, so allow me to assure you that hooking up to campus wireless is pretty easy. At any rate, you only have to do it once and then you're set. I could give you the instructions in a nutshell, but these things are best explained in detail, especially if you're a technophobe like some people I know.

So visit wireless.ucdavis.edu/howto.html or pick up the Fall edition of Hypertext (available at computer rooms) for a clear guide to connecting to campus wireless.

Note that if you're having trouble getting your lappy online, your friends at IT Express in 182 Shields Library are always happy to help.

Find Your Hot Spot
Like me, most people gravitate toward the MU to access wireless, but other popular wi-fi points include the ARC, Silo, and Wellman Hall. For a full map of hot spots, snag a Hypertext or download the map at wireless.ucdavis.edu/UCDwire lessmap.pdf.

Why Wireless?
Immediate Internet access far outweighs the burden of toting a laptop around campus. Here's what I find comes in handy:

  • Checking email: never again wait in line at a computer room just to check your email.
  • Taking notes: If you're like me, you type faster than you write, so using a laptop during a lecture would enable you to catch more of what the professor is saying. Just make sure your instructor allows you to use a laptop during class.
  • Unwinding: playing a game or surfing the Web after a taxing exam really helps me relax and de-stress.
  • Writing essays: write and research essays away from your pets, roommates, and--if you're in the library--a lot of noise.

Stay Cyber Safe
Over the summer, I had to drive to LA to wipe my sister's computer clean of data, debug it, and reinstall software. Why? Because someone hacked into her computer via her wireless connection.

Wireless is naturally insecure. Even campus wireless, which is protected by Kerberos authentication, is not infallible. Having current operating system patches and virus protection on your lappy help keep intruders at bay, but extra caution is necessary when using wireless. You should refrain from the following while surfing a wireless connection:

  • Shopping: no eBay, Amazon.com, or anything that requires entering a credit card number.
  • Banking: avoid any Web sites that require sensitive personal info.
  • File sharing: disable anything that allows others to access your computer.
  • By now, you must be either itching to access wireless or wishing you had a laptop. To purchase a (student discounted!) laptop, drop by the Bookstore Computer Shop or visit their Web site at bookstore.ucdavis.edu.