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Education The Internet United States News

Internet-Deprived Kids Turning To 'McLibraries' 331

theodp writes "After the school computer lab and public library close for the night in many communities, the local McDonald's is often the only place to turn for students without internet access at home. 'Cheap smartphones and tablets have put Web-ready technology into more hands than ever,' reports the WSJ's Anton Troianovski. 'But the price of Internet connectivity hasn't come down nearly as quickly. And in many rural areas, high-speed Internet through traditional phone lines simply isn't available at any price. The result is a divide between families that have broadband constantly available on their home computers and phones, and those that have to plan their days around visits to free sources of Internet access.' The FCC says it can make broadband available to all Americans by spending $45 billion over 10 years, but until then the U.S. will have to rely on Mickey D's, Starbucks, and others to help address its digital divide. Time to update that iconic McDonald's sign?"
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Internet-Deprived Kids Turning To 'McLibraries'

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  • Title translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @03:31AM (#42776095)
    Deprivation of Internet - a common cause of picking bad eating habits at low ages for Homo sapiens.
    • All the more reason to run an open hotspot with your router.

      Many newer routers allow a "guest" account that allows internet use without access to your LAN.
      • I run an open hotspot. Unfortunately - it sees no use. I guess it has something to do with the fact that my house is located 1/4 mile from a barren stretch of highway that runs between two little forgotten nowhere towns.

        Oh well - you can't say I didn't TRY!

        • That makes me wonder, would you be upset if someone actually was sitting out in their car using it?

          Idk about you but I would be rather paranoid if someone was sitting in their car outside my house for a few hours at random hours of the night/day

          • Depends on time of day, and how long they were there. To be of any use, they would have to drive down our road, at least as far as the abandoned house my mother in law lived in. I check on anyone parked there, to see that they aren't vandalizing the place. If said occupant of car told me, "Hey, I found a free wifi, so I'm just checking my mail!" I'd say "Cool" and go about my business.

            On the other hand, seeing half a dozen cars parked there around the clock would probably motivate me to disable the WIFI

            • by plopez ( 54068 )

              "abandoned house my mother in law lived in"
                  Are you Norman's brother-in-law by any chance? Nice "wireless hotel". Drivers check in for the wifi, but they never check out...

          • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:35AM (#42776617) Homepage Journal

            Also - it's only fair to point out, that my router goes THROUGH my Linux box before it goes to the modem. One of my net analyzers would quickly allow me to verify that the person(s) using my WIFI were doing legitimate things, like checking email, browsing legitimate sites, etc - or if they were using my connection to grab torrented movies, etc. I would quickly shut down a TOR tunnel, connections to porn sites, things like that.

            Someone who reads this will scream about CENSORSHIP! Whoop-ti-do - censorship. I'm offering a free connection for anyone who might find the damned thing out here in the middle of nowhere. The least they can do is to respect my need to avoid attention from RIAA and their ilk, or attention from the government for activity on child porn sites.

            Some schools of thought seem to make me "responsible" for anything going in or out of my internet connection.

            Not to mention, if they are torrenting, in might impact on my wife's ability to play Pogo games, then all hell would break loose!

  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jmc23 ( 2353706 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @03:48AM (#42776143) Journal
    I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities. Judging by the amount of debt the US has, sounds like par for the course.
    • Define poor.. I'm hardly poor, but my first oppertunity for Internet was on dial-up at $0.25/minute. I passed because the bang for the buck was terrible. In some rural areas like where my folks live, Broadband is a small fraction of 1Mbps supposidly due to the distance from the DSLAM, but at higher rates then my city DSL connection at 6 Meg. When the gap between dial-up and broadband is only ~3X faster and price is ~10X more, it makes sense to stay on dial-up for a while and just use email. YouTube is

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Does this come up for discussion in small rural areas? I'm guessing small rural areas might not have lots of geeks but I'm sure at least one of them has to have considered setting up a mesh network. Or are the people not very friendly about sharing? I remember visiting Nicaragua and there being free and/or open wifis everywhere.
        • by MBC1977 ( 978793 )
          You fail to consider that the American (U.S) mindset however is based upon individualism rather than community. Sometimes I believe its both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.
        • I remember visiting Nicaragua and there being free and/or open wifis everywhere.

          I remember having a conversation about access in the USA, and then some guy started blathering about Nicaragua. Oh yeah? Well in Panama and Costa Rica, access is poor even in many towns, especially in the highlands, and there's open wifi nowhere. That was precisely as relevant as your anecdote. Meanwhile here in the USA I live in a county where literally all the fiber is owned by AT&T and that situation is protected by typical legal protectionism, so my WISP beams in access from four hilltops away so th

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities.

      Believe me, you cannot solve a poverty-line salary by budgeting or "setting priorities". Most (granted, not all) of those people are poor because they do not make enough money. Inflation-adjusted wages have been stagnant for decades.

      Also, states are promoting state lottery that has about 50% effective payoff (vs casinos at 98% or so). That's gotta stop too - it is not helping.

      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

        by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @04:18AM (#42776229)

        states are promoting state lottery that has about 50% effective payoff

        A game where a whole bunch of dumb people make one dumb person look really smart.

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Sure, poor people with cars and laptops.

        I grew up poor. When I got my first part time minimum wage job (in Vancouver) I almost didn't know what to do with all the money. After all, it was more money than we had as a family of 5 growing up.

        • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

          Sure, poor people with cars and laptops. ... When I got my first part time minimum wage job (in Vancouver)

          In US, one usually has to have a car if they are to hold a job. Public transport is a joke in most locations. That may not be so in Vancouver - I don't know.

          The minimum wage in Vancouver is currently $10.25 ($10.28 US) and the federal minimal wage in United States is $7.25. I can't speak about your circumstances, but currently there is a 40%+ gap between those two.

          "A laptop" can cost any amount of money -- even brand new anywhere between $350 and $2000, so ownership of a laptop does not contradict being

          • Also, once you buy a laptop, you get to keep it until it dies or is lost. Your job may well not last as long.

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            At the time US minimum was higher with exchange rate and I was only working 16-24/week.

            Priorities. Poor people are used to walking. Sometimes I would walk 14km just to go to the mall, sometimes 20-30km to get home from a party. A bike is infinitely more affordable and healthier than a car. As well, if you think having 350$ of disposable income is poor, well like I said, really suprised by what you guys consider 'poor'.

            • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

              Priorities. Poor people are used to walking. Sometimes I would walk 14km just to go to the mall, sometimes 20-30km to get home from a party.

              Some people have children to get back to. It is not just the matter of not willing to walk 10-20km, but the lack of spare time to do so. Same with owning a car -- needing to get back home and/or to the 2nd job quickly enough is a must for many people.

              Car ownership is not really a luxury. I am quite happy to get along without a car nowdays, but I live in a major US city with decent public transport.

              • For reference, Vancouver is a major Canadian city (3rd largest with about 2 million people in the metro area) that probably has more public transportation than most.

            • by Minupla ( 62455 )

              You're also forgetting that ppl south of the border have to deal with medical which was in my wife's case 500/mo due to a congenital heart defect. That'll put a crimp in your entry level job budgeting.

              She'll tell you if you're poor, be poor in Canada, it's cheaper.


    • Being poor and making bad decisions usually go hand in hand.

    • Wow, what a dickish comment. As if CHILDREN have any influence over the irresponsible spending practices of the US government. (Score: 5, Knee-jerk anti-American)
    • I thought this. I grew up without satellite tv, or cable. We had the internet. We didn't have cell phones (although who did in the 90's?), but I did visit the library frequently and check out books to read. From the article, I read it this way: "I can't afford the internet, but I spent my money on a shiny cell phone and tv.???"
    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities. Judging by the amount of debt the US has, sounds like par for the course.

      From TFA:

      A third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home still don't have broadband access there

      Families living for that surely can't priorities broadband... They probably priorities food, rent, electricity and clean clothes, is it even possible to pay for health insurance after rent, food, etc.?

    • Judging by the amount of debt the US has, sounds like par for the course.

      That debt (consumer debt at least) has for the most part been caused by massive falls in real wages for the working and middle classes to the benefit of the rich. Assuming that you aren't part of the 1%, this means your wages as well.

      But you go ahead, keep blaming it on the individual, just like you've been taught to.

  • by puregen1us ( 648116 ) <alex@alexwasserO ... inus threevowels> on Sunday February 03, 2013 @04:08AM (#42776205)

    Given that the McDs connections are pretty fast, and pretty reliable, it's actually handy to use as a backup.

    Couple of years ago the connection at home was being flaky and finally gave out. Problem was, it was a major DR test day at work, and I needed to be online from home for 12 or so hours.

    I just grabbed the laptop, blackberry, and powercord, and went 5 mins down the road to the 24hour McDs. Sat there for hours til my ass was numb, happily on my work BB using hands-free, and worked away for hours.

    I wasn't disturbed, had unlimited food and drinks available. Really, not the worst place to work at all. I had more space there than I get at my desk job, and better food and drinks too. Work don't have iced tea on tap.

    The McDs connection was enough to remote desktop into my XP desktop at work, without lag or dropping. I was impressed how stable it was. Most places can't handle basic browsing that well given the number of people sharing, but that was totally solid.

    • I wasn't disturbed, had unlimited food and drinks available.

      Where did you manage to find food in a McDonalds?

    • I was thinking the same thing - although you don't even need to go inside. A couple of years ago, my internet connection at home went down, and there were no 24 hour places near me. I just went and parked in the McDonald's parking lot for a couple of hours, using their connection.

      They are also handy at airports that still charge for WiFi (yeah, there are a few). Just go to the McDonald's in the terminal, and you can use their WiFi for free, instead of having to pay the $5 an hour to the airport. And at seve

  • by hessian ( 467078 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @04:32AM (#42776275) Homepage Journal

    See, the free market came through where government did not.

  • getting an education 20+ years ago -- without the internet.

    So, what the fuck is the problem here?

    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      I'll tell you what the problem is. That awesome education you acquired without the use of the internet wasn't sufficient enough to enable you to find the answer to your simple question either through logic or by RTFA!
  • I'm not surprised at all. Capitalism at its very best! Pffft! I hate Big Telecom!
  • Once again (like in the 80's)Apple was focusing on the "classes" - selling overpriced but stylish tech to those that can afford it, while Commodore et al. sold cheap but functional computers that were purchased by everyone, and brought technology and often education, to the masses.

    We are seeing the repeat of this scenario, where Apple sells overpriced but stylish tech (someone wants to challenge me on overpriced? Bring it on, the margins on the iPhone 5 are particularly succulent data) with the iPhones and

    • too true for 69 euro I have a Samsung galaxy mini Bluetooth wifi and a 7 meg modem I own this not rented from the phone company . It tethers wirelessly or by USB. It is my GPS too.

      To get free internet and free calls and texts I top up by 20 euro for 30 days access for 5 I can buy an add on for net access once I have used my 30 days limited data but if I need the cash for something else I am still connected and being in Europe I don't pay to receive calls or texts. I haven,t had a landline in years .


  • My question is, why haven't they finished their homework by the time the public library closes? The public libraries around me are open until 9 or 10 pm. You should be able to finish your homework long before then.
  • The article says these kids go to McDonalds after the public library closes (where they already get free Internet access).

    If this is really such a hardship, why not keep school and/or the public library open a little longer?

    • Because that would cost money, and getting people to add costs to a public school budget these days is nigh impossible.

  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @10:30AM (#42777467)

    Much of the USA has trouble getting broadband because the population density of rural areas makes it too expensive do the "last mile" connection of broadband to the home. This isn't like South Korea or Japan, where the population density is high enough per square kilometer to justify the enormous expense of hardwired high-speed Internet connections to everyone.

    I think if the IRS were to offer substantial corporate tax incentives to get the "last mile" connection--whether by DSL, cable or even long-range wireless not tied to cellphones like 802.16 WiMax--out to rural customers, they could solve the problem pretty quickly.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan