I am currently hanging out at Fremont Coffee Company (FCC, not to be mistaken with that other FCC) in the Fremont area of Seattle, enjoying an great 8 oz latte before I head on out to conduct some personal business here in the Fremont area. Since I have my laptop with me, I thought I might as well pull it out and get online and check out twitter since I am rather early and I have a few minutes to spare.
Now if you want to use the wireless here, you have to buy something like a coffee or some goodies. You can then ask the barista to give you a user name and password that you can use for the time you are here. Behind the barista is this machine that actually generates user names and passwords that are valid for a period of 4 hours and that’s what you use to log on to FCC’s wireless. I think that is pretty smart idea. On the one hand you provide ‘free’ wireless to your actual customers as opposed to folks simply hanging out and enjoying free wifi and on the other hand, you also don’t get someone buying one cup of coffee then hanging out here all day. I call this free because the general idea is that you are there to get your coffee, but once you do, you then have the option to use their wireless at no extra charge. And you must admit, 4 hours is actually a pretty generous allocation of wifi time. And at the worst, if you really need more than four hours of online time, then at the end of the first four hours, your drink is probably stale so you should get up and go buy another drink or get some good eats.
The reason I think this is a great idea is because I remember a few years ago when I used to spend a lot of time at Victrola Coffee doing my dev work. The place was so popular, and everyone and their grannies would be hanging out there all day using free wireless and their network would simply crawl. Eventually it got so bad there that they started turning off the wireless on weekends, and asking people to be reasonable with regard to parking at the store. I simply stopped going there even though it was (and still is) my favorite coffeehouse.
I am guessing that with the sheer number of Seattle Pacific University students who like to come here and study probably had some influence on the decision to have users buy a drink before they can use the wireless… but I am only speculating…
Oh and my 8 oz latte? Really, really good. I have decided that one of the ways I am cutting back on my dairy intake is that in the future, when I order my double shot latte, I will be ordering an 8oz rather than a 12oz. This way, not only do I get a stronger, tastier (I hope) drink, but I also don’t get too full from consuming a 12 oz latte. And to think that just a few years ago I used to order the 16 oz lattes!