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Born to Be Wireless

January 12, 2003|MARA SCHWARTZ

Constant connectivity doesn't even come close to satisfying guys like Frank Keeney and Mike Outmesguine, co-founders of the Southern California Wireless Users Group (SOCALWUG). The 10-month-old organization, which convenes regularly at a Pasadena IHOP, exists to celebrate the untethered joys of 24/7 roaming communication opportunities.

For wireless wonks, it's all about mobility--roving Internet hook-ins, Palm Pilots and cellular phones. Yep, SOCALWUGs e-mail in the park, from the car and pretty much anyplace you can think of. "Often you don't get information when it's usable," says Keeney. He points to a Web site that tracks freeway traffic, which he logs onto in his car to avoid SigAlert hot spots. "Who wants to be plugged in to get that?" Keeney insists that the point is to make life easier. "I'll stop [my car] a block away from home," he says, "and quickly reply to a couple of e-mails. Then I can drive into my house and spend time with my kids."

SOCALWUG's monthly events have drawn as many as 80 attendees, including "probably 10% to 20% women," says Outmesguine. The get-togethers typically feature networking and an industry speaker. All meetings are later streamed on the Internet at www.socalwug.org, so that even old-school wired folks can attend virtually.

The pair (wireless business owners both) met more than a year ago when Outmesguine contacted Keeney after reading Keeney's article about how he spent his hard-earned family vacation "wardriving"--cruising around armed with equipment that can detect unguarded wireless networks. The group has instituted a "Wardrive-in," where members have met in a fast-food parking lot to munch burgers--and flaunt their in-car wireless rigs, of course.

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