Internet Access Anywhere? Yes You Can.

You’re deft. You’re resourceful. You’re on the move.

You have a laptop, a wireless card, and no sense of right and wrong.

OK, maybe your moral compass isn’t broken, but you’re not opposed to dipping your Internet cup in someone else’s well. After all, hotspots are out there to be used, right? You’re just being a patriot by seeking them out and using them.

Some cities – most notably, Denver; Houston; Minneapolis; Raleigh, N.C.; and Seattle – have excellent infrastructure for free public wi-fi. But in your town, you’ll have to know the playing field in order to email, download, check fantasy lineups and find your next love match online while you’re out and about.

Here’s three tips for maintaining your rep as the five-bar bandit you are:

Do the legwork.

Your game plan can come from a little Web search (before you get out looking for a signal, of course.) Find out where the hotspots are in your town with some research before you go. Smart phone aps can show you where they are. This is a game, and without a game plan, you’re flirting with failure.

Rely on the old reliables.

McDonalds, Panera and Starbucks are go-to places for wi-fi, having established reputations for free Internet access to their customers, without a lot of pressure to get up and go when your time’s up. Others – such as Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and FedEx – are following the trend. These establishments don’t usually require codes, but you’ll have to click an acceptance of terms screen to browse.

Libraries, shopping malls and hotels are decent, too, although the hospitality business is likely to charge for access if you’re trolling the high-brow chains. The mid-range places, such as Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Residence Inn, will probably require an access code or hotel room number to put you on the Web.

These are your bread-and-butter plays. Stick with them.

Spend a little dough.

You could spring for an Internet card and pay for a service that will give you a hot spot wherever you go, but what’s the sport in that? There’s nothing wrong with enhancing your chances with an add-on, such as a wireless antennae booster. Get one online for $3-$102. You can improve your catch by as much as three bars. It’s like reaching for the titanium club or using a duck decoy when you go hunting – you’re still stalking the free signal fair and square, you’re just getting a little boost.

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