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Murky Was Clear Choice

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  Chris Confessore works on his laptop computer in Murky Coffee on Capitol Hill, where he gets his Internet access for free. (Matthew Cavanaugh - For The Washington Post)


_____WiFi Special Report_____
Here, There, WiFi Anywhere (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
Flexibility Comes Relatively Cheap (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
Seeking a Simple, Safe Connection (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
_____Finding WiFi Spots_____
Getting Online, On the Road (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
Getting Connected With the Hot Spots (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
_____The WiFi Effect_____
Share the Word . . . (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
Nice Presents, but Some Assembly Required (The Washington Post, Apr 25, 2004)
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By Christopher Confessore
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page F09

The Internet provider I chose last summer has some definite quirks. I can't get online after 8 p.m., and on weekends there may not be enough capacity for everyone who wants to log on. In return, though, it does provide me with a high-speed connection for free. My provider is a coffee shop, Murky Coffee, two blocks from my Capitol Hill abode.

I discovered it in the middle of a job search. The walls of my apartment were closing in on me and I needed a better Internet option than using my free 45 minutes a day at the library or paying $12 an hour at Kinko's. Then I heard that magic word: WiFi. By adding a wireless card to my laptop, I could get out of my apartment and get online wherever I had access to a signal. And who would've guessed the coffee shop just down the street would install that WiFi access?

For the cost of a cup of coffee or two, I now had a reliable, convenient connection to the Internet, almost any time I wanted it. With the only real limit on my access being the risk of a sore butt and caffeine jitters, I found I could not only use this free access to find jobs, I could use it to do jobs. I'm just lucky the staff hasn't grown tired of me yet -- maybe it's my sparkling personality, maybe it's because I'm tall enough to easily flip the reset button on the WiFi router when it needs its occasional reboot.

Then again, this free access works out well for the coffee shop as well. Compare what it pays each month for its digital subscriber line to the people it draws in and the extra drink or two that each of them gets after the first hour or so online.

Murky Coffee has drawn a different crowd of regulars since offering free WiFi; hanging out with this eclectic bunch is a good deal in its own right. I've seen three books written in the chairs next to me, countless articles and photos filed from the counter stools, musical works created out on the patio. Can your Internet provider offer that?


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