Kuala Lumpur mandates WiFi in all restaurants and bars

kuala lumpur wifiThanks to a new law, visitors to Malaysia‘s capital city of Kuala Lumpur will be able to enjoy WiFi in all local restaurants and bars starting in April.

The New Straits Times reports that the law, passed yesterday, will make it mandatory for restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and clubs larger than 120 square meters in area to offer wireless Internet services free of charge, or for a reasonable fee. Kuala Lumpur’s city council intends to extend the requirement to public food courts, or hawker centers, later in the year.

While the law will certainly cement Kuala Lumpur’s reputation as one of the most connected cities in Southeast Asia, one has to wonder how the proliferation of WiFi will affect the dining experience, especially for travelers. It’d be a shame to be distracted from Malaysia’s mind-blowing cuisine by email and Facebook.

[Via The Next Web Asia; Flickr image via the trial]

How much have you paid for hotel internet access?

gadling hotel madness no free internet accessIf our Hotel Madness tournament taught us anything, it’s that people really hate paying for internet access when traveling. No free Wi-Fi handily won our tournament by proving itself as the most hated hotel nuisance. While it bothers so many of us, we’ve all taken the plunge and paid a hefty fee for in-room internet. Whether it’s because we have work to do, pictures to upload or loved ones to Skype with, we’ve paid exorbitant fees to get online. Just how much have you paid? After seeing just how (un)popular paying for Wi-Fi was in Hotel Madness, we’re more curious than ever. Well, that’s what we want to know. Vote in our poll and let us know the most that you’ve ever paid for hotel internet access.We’re talking about the most you’ve paid for one session of internet access, be it five hours, 12 hours or one full day. After you’ve voted, please share more details about your experience in the comments. Let us know exactly how much you paid and which hotel was gouging its prices while cheating its customers. Lastly, tell us about the quality of the connection. Was it excruciatingly slow and/or intermittent.

This is your chance to vent. Let it all out!
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Browsing Facebook & Twitter on the road? Don’t get hacked.

Unsecured wireless networks have always been a danger for traveling technophiles — the data that we transfer through open spaces can always be intercepted and decrypted by wandering spies, including bank accounts, passwords and heaps of other sensitive information. That’s why most people refrain from logging into private websites while in public places.

With the proliferation of social media in today’s mainstream culture, however, many are concerned about the privacy of those accounts in public places. It used to be that the relative difficulty of hacking a Facebook account versus a bank account meant that most people felt safe using social media at a neighborhood cafe. Why spend the time changing someone’s online status versus stealing their money?

Now, however, sites like Facebook and Twitter are encoded with such simple technology that web developers can write apps to steal random social media passwords — all inside of a simple web browser. This means that any old person with Windows XP and Firefox can boot up their browser, turn on an application and start poaching Facebook data. Five minutes after sitting down with your tall non-fat latte you might find yourself with a new fancy status message, group of friends and password to boot.

You can read the full details of the technology (and even try it out!) over at codebutler.

The only solution? Don’t log into social media when browsing on an untrusted, unsecure network. Will that stop anyone? Probably not. It probably won’t happen to you, but don’t say that Gadling didn’t warn you when your Facebook profile turns to mush.

[flickr image via dcwriterdawn]

Can mobile 4G broadband work for a travel writer? Mostly.

One of the difficulties that I have in living a travel lifestyle is paying for utilities when I’m only home half of the time. Water, gas and heat I can deal with, since those are mostly used upon consumption, but what about internet? Paying $50 a month for service on top of the mobile Boingo/Hotel/Airport wireless is an irritating and costly measure, especially when I’m hit with egregious hotel wireless fees.

My solution came in the form of wireless broadband internet, in my case, 4G+ mobile hotspot provided by Clear (full disclosure: I pay for my own service). Basically, a small device the size of a deck of cards streams 4G service and then converts it to a wireless signal picked up by my computer or mobile phone. Statically, I can leave it in my apartment turned on 24/7 and pretend it’s my home wireless internet.

But if I ever leave home, I can unplug the widget, take it with me and stream the signal on the road. A three hour battery life keeps the data pumping while away from a power source and I can connect up to five devices to the unit at a time. As far as speed, I’m currently downloading at 7Mb/sec, which is plenty of bandwidth for a few Youtube videos and this travel editor’s needs.

The critical point in the whole operation though is reliability. After I first got the 4G+ mobile hotspot in June my service was rife with faults and disconnects. I was only able to connect to the internet some 70% of the time, which is far too seldom to stay in tune to a travel blog. But ever since late August (plus a new modem plus a firmware update), service has stabilized and I’d rank my service at about 97% connectable. That I can deal with.

As for taking the service on the road, Clear doesn’t provide service countrywide but will operate well in larger metropolitan areas. My recent trips to New York, Los Angeles and Dallas have provided 100% coverage, and I’ve even loaned my service out to distraught, roaming wireless users.

To that end, Clear’s 4G+ has provided a great deal of use over the past few months and I have high hopes for continuing the service. Next month my defunct, home internet goes into the dumpster.

Wi-fi, cell coverage coming to New York City subways

Do you ever feel the urge to live-tweet your ride on the F train? A jones to push iPhone photos to Posterous? Well, you’ll have the chance soon. Whether you just want to chronicle your subway rides for the rest of the world or feel the need to stay connected at all times, New York City is going help you out. Wi-fi access and mobile service are set to come to the subway system, according to Mashable.

This development is three years in the making, and now that some cash has been unearthed to make this project possible, New York will finally attain the standard set by Singapore, Berlin and Tokyo.

The effort, which was scheduled to take 10 years from 2007, will start with stations near Union Square in the next two years, with the remaining 271 platforms coming in the four to follow. While some of the tunnels will have access, most of the connectivity will be available on mezzanines and platforms.

This means that the bodegas at the tops of the stairs will need to add another item to their shelves, of course: ear plugs.

[photo by @mjassal]