You know what readers? You've all been really, really good this year. So good, that I think you've earned an early treat. Just this once, I'm going to let you all open a Christmas gift early. No, you can't open the one from Aunt Shirley yet. Here, try this one. It's from Google, and it's small but it doesn't feel like socks.
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Oh man! It's free Wi-Fi in 47 separate airports from now until January 15, 2009. This'll go great with the free WiFi they're also giving out to all Virgin Airlines passengers this holiday season. This is definitely a very clever bit of image marketing on Google's part, but that doesn't mean I'll be any less grateful for it. I just got back from a two week trip to Europe, and I spent a good sixty hours of it in airports. Free WiFi at any of them would have been a very welcome blessing.
All of the 47 airports have not been named, but Google has confirmed that Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte will be among them. Google also announced that, starting from this day onward, Burbank and Seattle would be receiving their free WiFi indefinitely. Google definitely believes in giving generously during the holidays.
In addition to free Internet for stressed-out travelers, Google is also supporting a charity drive. When users log onto the Internet using the free WiFi in any of these airports, they'll be given the option of making a donation to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation, or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Google's matching every donation made with up to $250,000 per airport. The network that generates the most charitable donations will be given $15,000 to donate to a local nonprofit organization of their choice.
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Wow. Kudos on remembering the spirit of the season, Google. They're not the only ones though. The Times Square Alliance also announced today that they've teamed up with Yahoo! to bring free WiFi to Times Square. The service begins today, November 10th, with the opening of a special Times Square Internet Cafe.