Saturday, March 15, 2008

WTF Palo Alto

Don't I hear about how Palo Alto is the center of Silicon Valley? The hub of high-tech innovation? The leading edge of technology? The frontier of the information superhighway?

Why then did I have to go to three cafes along University Ave to find wireless internet?

Especially misleading was the fact that the first two cafes were filled with people on laptops. Apparently they were tweaking spreadsheets and writing papers offline.

Stock photos of the offending cafes:





Finally I went to a trusty standby (stock photo below). See if you can guess which cafe this is.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, that's really hard to guess...
It must be Coupa Cafe!

Anonymous said...

Some businesses, especially in college towns, don't like to have free wireless because people will come in and sit there all day, only buying one cheap coffee or something. I know a certain donut shop that had to get rid of its wireless for similar reasons.

Adam Lasnik said...

I know I'm being a bit hypocritical here, Niniane, but... how 'bout going to the cafe with a book or magazine or newspaper? Sometimes it's NICE to unplug, ya know? ;)

I actually kinda dread having internet access on planes soon, in fact, because it's nice for there to be at least a few spots on earth, a few hours in my life when I don't feel like I HAVE to be "connected."

viczhang.com said...

Me--->Laptop--[Bluetooth]-->BlackBerry--[EVDO]-->Sprint_Network---->Internet---->Happiness

Strider Aragorn said...

Somewhat along the lines of what viczang said... Aren't google employee's supposed to be on the bleeding edge of technology? Then why is it do I see posts from them complaining about no inet when EVDO is available? ;)
Everyone I work with has EVDO of some sort. Most have the cards, but I use the bluetooth to my phone method. Drains the battery, but oh well. At least lets me get online. :)

John K. Lin said...

Technically, the city of San Jose vociferously argues (based on the # of people employed and # of companies), that San Jose is the "capital of Silicon Valley"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Valley

However, one could argue that Palo Alto is indeed the center of Silicon Valley, with Stanford and HP headquarters (the first true Silicon Valley startup).

Silicon Valley is a state of mind. Google in Mountain View is still the Internet mind-share winner, so maybe Mountain View is now the center of Silicon Valley. Why don't you just go to a cafe in Mountain View where there is free Google WiFi everywhere?

As for Palo Alto, you should go to Pete's Coffee, which is close enough to Apple to get free Apple WiFi.

KE Liew said...

Some of you missed the point.

That's outrageous IMHO for a place not having wireless yet pride 'emselves as blablabla.

dr-nuk said...

Gentrification.

Anonymous said...

both del doge and coupa have free wifi. are you saying both were "down"?

Anonymous said...

isn't metro wifi a losing proposition for the city? Why did earthlink pulled out of SF and IBM pull out of Miami?

Anonymous said...

cool post John K.! I agree 100%

Anonymous said...

If your issue is with Palo Alto, then it has nothing to do with the coffee shops. Palo Alto should have free city wide wifi...end of story. Leave the coffee shops out of it...they are there to sell coffee.

Jean said...

Ironically, Coupa Cafe (your second picture above) has great Wifi... except on weekends when they shut it down purposely, to ensure us nerds don't hang around the whole afternoon on a single expresso.

Tao said...

EV-DO --isn't that what Google employees use on the noted (Jack) Bauer "Magic Buses"? From what I read, the buses are equipped with wifi/ev-do routers, which connect laptops by wifi to the Sprint EV-DO network.
Perhaps you can carry around a wifi router with you. Plug it in and give everyone around you Internet access....

Anonymous said...

Niniane, you are completely right. Many Palo Alto cafes should be ashamed. I once was told, after producing a pencil and scribbling something on a piece of paper, that customers were not allowed to write. Reading was permitted but writing forbidden. The money that some are making in PA drives the others (read coffee shop owners) to do idiotic things. Cafe owners: if you want to make a billion dollars, start a tech company. Otherwise, raise your coffee prices until you have a profitable business and stop acting jerky. Thank you.

Sam said...

sue those coffee shops! what are they thinking???? hello... palo alto... no wireless= ridicul"ess"

Anonymous said...

A guide to Palo Alto hotspots from Valleywag.

Anonymous said...

This is from a cafe owner in Palo Alto, just to add to the diversity of opinions here.

1. Coffeeshops don't make a killing in profits as someone implied; profitability is an art, making it very difficult for some businesses to make any profit whatsoever (note hard evidence of closures in downtown Palo Alto)

2. One of the biggest costs in this business is real estate. If you're not so wise, you'll pay the averaged asked-for price of real estate; from which if all rest of the innumerable variables are in your favor including a ton of clientele, it will still take years to make a profit.

3. A coffeeshop's function is to sell coffee and all other complementary goods; not wifi. That would be called an Internet Cafe.

4. If you wish provide Wifi, it needs to be priced correctly because what you are buying through wifi is not only connectivity but the time on your seat at this very expensive real estate. The only business that prices wifi correctly are Starbucks because they sell it. Everyone who gives it for free does it at a risk.

5. Popular places can turn their FREE wifi on or off as they please to segment the market. It should be off at peak times and on at low times.

6. To assume that FREE wifi is a right at coffeeshops is simply a false sense of entitlement, because whatever the coffeeshop desides to sell you and to give you for free, esprecially, is at the sole discretion of the owners.

7. To imply that Palo Alto is not the center of Silicon Valley simply because not every coffeeshop has free wifi is also a misguided notion. Stanford gave birth of Silicon Valley, and the VC money, and the entrepreneurial brains are all still hovering in this general vicinity. It think this is more important than where your factories are.

8. To those that really need connectivity, there are two real solutions a) you get an office with your own free wifi or b) learn to pay for it. I hear the mobile cards are now in the $30 per month. I suggest you realign your sense of expectations, and stop being frustrated because coffeeshops have other things to do like making coffee.