Paul Boutin writes about kiping your neighbor's Wi-Fi: Paul suggests the easiest ways to gain access to even poorly password protected networks run by your neighbors without violating any laws that the FCC is aware of. He even links to a list of common passwords. I expect that more and more networks will wind up becoming secured as manufacturers continue to promote using WPA and make it easier to protect machines.
(John Dvorak ranted about WPA recently, and rightly so: unless you know that everyone using a network has all the updates, WPA isn't a solution. It's appropriate for home and businesses in which the users are forced to upgrade!)
Paul has a great line in this story about warchalking:
"Warchalking," a technique for writing symbols in public places to alert neighbors to nearby wireless access points, is a cool concept that's been undermined by the fact that no one has ever used it.
Warchalking was a great mini-phenomenon because it was instantly adopted not by a street culture, but by many small companies involved in Wi-Fi hotspots and equipment manufacturers. Eventually, it burbled up to major corporations, that want to be hip in the same way that saying jiggy with it makes you a cool thirtysomething. It was identity rebranding by Matt Jones, a party unaffiliated with the Wi-Fi industry.
Interestingly, too, in revisiting a number of companies' Web sites that had warchalking elements on them, I find that they've removed those marks. Warchalking never had a marketing budget, and even Jiwire's logo is just the stylized remnants of the original design.
Update: I read Paul's piece on warchalking from July 2003 that he links to from this article, and found how prescient I was:
"It's something everyone thinks is cool but it may not actually have staying power," agreed freelance journalist Glenn Fleishman, who edits 802.11b Networking News. "It's a compelling idea more than a physical reality."
But several warchalking enthusiasts -- none of whom claimed to have actually done any chalking yet -- claimed the idea itself is more important than whether or not anyone is running around chalking walls yet.