Forget The Internet Cafe — Free Government WiFi

from the who-wants-to-warchalk-the-building? dept

Bob Dole writes in to point out that, even though it’s only in press release (and pdf) format “The Federal Communications Commission has made its Washington D.C. building a public WiFi hotspot. It’s cheaper than McDonald’s (i.e. free).” Very cool. I guess Michael Powell has been lurking on some of these community WiFi mailing lists. Of course how long until some clueless reporter writes a scare story about how (oh my goodness!!!) the FCC has a WiFi connection that is open to hackers and everyone freaks out? As an aside, why do companies (and government agencies, apparently) insist on putting up press releases in pdf format? It makes it much more of a pain to read and increases the likelihood (in my case, quite a bit) of crashing a browser. There are some cases where pdf makes sense, but for a press release – where the idea is to spread the info as far as possible, pdf makes no sense. Update: For those who don’t want to deal with the pdf, now the story has been picked up elsewhere.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Forget The Internet Cafe — Free Government WiFi”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Tony Lawrence (user link) says:


I’ve carped about PDF files for years, but I’m giving up. As dumb as it is, people will keep doing this because they just don’t know any better.

Most of the folks I’ve complained react with astonishment: what on earth could be wrong with putting up PDF files? When I tell them about crashing browsers, computers that don’t have PDF viewers and the limitations of search engine spiders, they shrug their shoulders because “it’s too hard to make it look right with HTML”.

It’s like HTML email. I used to tell people not to send it to me, but I don’t even bother anymore – not worth the effort because most don’t even know that they are sending HTML and don’t care anyway.

Michael Kohne says:


I suspect the reason for all the PDFs in press releases is that the folks writing the releases want to control the exact way the page looks. Since PDF files WILL look pretty much the same everywhere (that’s how Adobe has made it a standard!), PDF gives them what they want. The fact that they don’t NEED to precisely control the page layout is something they don’t understand or care about.

One thing: What browsers crash on PDF files? I mostly use windows (IE or Mozialla Firebird) for my browsing, so this is something new to me.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: PDFs

One thing: What browsers crash on PDF files? I mostly use windows (IE or Mozialla Firebird) for my browsing, so this is something new to me.

I use IE, Opera, and Mozilla Firebird. IE tends to crash about 25% of the time on opening a PDF.

This morning, on opening that FCC document in IE, the crash was due to the Acrobat reader popping up a box to ask if I wanted to check for a newer copy of Acrobat reader. The box popped up just as I was going to click within the PDF (to scroll). In clicking within the PDF, the “update box” was hidden behind the browser, but the browser was frozen because Acrobat Reader told it to wait until I had answered the “update” question. However, I couldn’t minimize the window either (I tried), so the box was permanently stuck behind the browser, and the browser was frozen. The only way out was to force-close IE, which shuts down every open IE window.

Anyway, my other problem with PDFs is the insanely long amount of time it takes to open up the Adobe reader. I don’t want to see the startup screen and see a scrolling list of all the various plugins it’s installing.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I suspect the PDF thing is about accountability – they can permanently store a PDF file somewhere without it being modified.

When the sh1t hits the fan, someone can be blamed.

Or its just that Windoze users find it easier to print to Distiller to make a PDF than export to HTML….

PDFs are crap though, as are HTML Emails, I agree.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...