Being a computer teacher has its advantages. I often will get things before anyone else and get to try them out for others. Earlier in the blog, I spoke about the introduction of laptops to our itinerant staff and how we were unprepared for them as a district. This is another example of being too far ahead of the curve. I had one of the first laptops for teachers in the district and the school. I had to plug it into an ethernet cord to get anything to connect to the internet. We were in the process of wiring the building for ethernet as a whole and wifi were to come later. I was impatient and I wanted to be able to use the laptop as a mobile device like it was intended. Our first foray into wifi was in the main office for the administrative staff and the rest of the building was going to come along later. I struck up a plan to put in my own wireless hub in the classroom and run it off of the district network so I could at least travel around my classroom and office. The district told me I was not allowed to do this because of the fear of students getting into the district network. It did not occur to them that we had wired machines and the students already had ample access to the district network.
I decided I need wifi and I was not going to take no for an answer. I had to explore ways to get it into my classroom. The value of having friends can never be underestimated in a situation like this. I spent a day searching for networks around the building. I could only get district access from the office area. I could get wifi from the homes that ran along the backside of our school. It was a ways away but in those days there wasn’t much regulation and so everything ran at full tilt. We also had a direct line of sight to the homes so we had no interference other than the windows. As I scanned the networks that showed up on my machine I noticed a name I recognized. In those days Internet Service Providers were telling people to use something that was easy to find and as a rule, most of us used our names. The name I recognized was someone who worked for the district. In fact, both spouses worked for the district. I sent an email asking Jim if I could access his wifi during the day since they wouldn’t be there. I was lucky and he said yes and called me with the password. Problem Solved! The district folks came around and multiple times asked me where I hid the wireless hub since I wasn’t attached to an ethernet cord. I honestly told them I was not on the district wifi and as a result I had wifi a full year before any of the classrooms. Help and friends sometimes come in handy.