Hire Tom
Mostly Mozart


High Speed Hotel
Posted August 19, 2004

Hotels are great.

I know how to pick 'em.

Just like women's underwear.

Hotels are great because they have lots of parking spots. The maid comes every day. Everything is clean and white. The bathroom fixtures are new. There's a swimming pool downstairs. There's an iron, an ironing board, and a hair dryer. There's a cute little fridge, a cute little coffee maker, a cute little bottle of shampoo, and a gigantic bed.

There are more than enough lamps, electrical outlets, televisions, and telephones, and air conditioning. There's even an alarm clock that's already set 10 minutes ahead.

Obviously, every modern hotel in a major centre has an ethernet port in every room. High speed internet access was my only real requirement, so it didn't matter which hotel I used. I chose one of the long row of modern hotels on Banff Trail ("Hotel Village") by turning left when it felt right. It turned out to be a Comfort Inn. I checked in to a $90 room, found the ethernet port, and started my DHCP client. Within seconds, I was back in Nelson, trying to force an XServe G5 to go into single user mode with a shell on its console port.

I thought: "Hotels are great."

I decided to look for a better place the next day. I wanted an electric stove, so I could make coffee with my moka machine. I moved everything back into the car and checked out Monday morning.

Monday afternoon, I found the University of Calgary web site and read about their "conference accommodations" -- one-bedroom apartments with full kitchens. Every residence room has internet access. Perfect! I got a room for $66.

I also had to buy a $16 parking pass for my first week; the parking lot was only a few minutes away from the residence. I parked in the loading zone ("30 minutes max, flashers must be on") to move my stuff into the room.

The room had a full-size fridge and stove, both new. The towels were in a neat pile. There were two single beds. The bedding was strewn all over the place; I assumed that the housekeeping staff were trying to make me feel at home. The mattresses looked like they had been brutally squished at some point. There was a fairly strong smell of mildew, or perhaps mustifaction. I opened the windows and drove downtown to buy incense. I couldn't find any incense, so I ate dinner and wandered around instead. When I returned, the smell was gone.

I plugged in my laptop and started my DHCP client. Nothing happened. I looked at the LEDs on the ethernet card: no carrier. I phoned the conference services office. "The ethernet ports have been disconnected since last September." Oh, good. "All of the residences have wireless services. You can buy a username and password for $10 per day, or $50 per week." Oh, good. "The library has internet terminals, but the library closed at 8:30." Oh, good. I do have a wireless card in my possession, but I'll need internet access and at least a few hours of tinkering before I can make it work.

I moved my stuff back into the car at 7:00 Tuesday morning and checked out. I longed for a clean hotel room with big mirrors. At least my ice packs were good and hard; the freezer worked far better than the one in the bar fridge at the Comfort Inn.

Tuesday afternoon, I asked for internet access and a stove at about seven hotels in Hotel Village. Most places claimed to have internet service in their rooms, but they were usually talking about phone jacks labelled "data". The Holiday Inn had internet access in the lobby, but not in the rooms, which cost $120. I tried some motels in the cheap district too; they just said no.

The Quality Inn had a wireless system set up. The room cost $90. They let me borrow a wireless bridge, after I agreed to pay $350 if I didn't bring it back. The receptionist was a bit grumpy, but it looked like a nice enough place, and it was the same price as the Comfort Inn. I decided to give it a chance.

I took the bridge to my room and tried it. There was no DHCP server. I could ping but I got 40-80% packet loss, depending on where I put the bridge. I moved my computer to the lobby in case the signal was better there. I got 100% packet loss. I was tired of all this wireless crap and the grumpy staff. I gave up.

I came back to the Comfort Inn. The receptionist laughed, which was better than the "I hate cowboy hats and you look like a dork" look I got at the Quality Inn.

This time, I got a suite with a couch, a microwave, and a bedroom door. There is a television and a telephone in each room. The internet connection works perfectly.


I picked the best hotel, on my first attempt, without even trying.

I win!

I rewarded myself by using the waterslide. Thirty-two steps. 540 degrees. High speed.