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Friday, August 05, 2005

WiFly -- Still Not Wireless in Taipei

I like the idea of being wireless, and I'd love to go wireless in Taipei. Like many others I lug around a portable, and sit in Starbucks. So I am the protoype city dweller highly interested in going wireless. So far I haven't.. call me shy.

Wireless Taipei -- the intention is for the whole city to go wireless by the end of 2005 -- is being constructed as I am sipping my latte's. Turn on your portable in an MRT station, and you can find the WiFly signal. WiFly being the company building the network.

The city has a cool promotional video, grandparents with portable's the thing. From a PR perspective everything seems A-Ok. So why I am not online yet?

So surf to and try to find the sign up form. You can find it, with some luck, and the first thing it asks for is your credit card, ID card and name of your first born child.

Now, remember this service is free at the moment. Why the credit card ? A query to WiFly staff returns that this is a city government requirement.

Ok, so far I am stuck. The issue is trust. They are asking for my credit card details on an unencrypted page. Sloppy, not only that, they would like to have your ID, name, address and everything else. This page is supposed to be used by people signing to their wireless service -- wirelessly. With all known wireless security measures comprimised, this is just a credit card theft exploit waiting to happen.

If you have just looked at the website, you will agree that it doesn't exactly inspire trust. It looks clunky, badly designed and barely works. Take it from me, if you don't have Internet Explorer with Flash player it won't work.

So how to improve my trust? Three easy steps.
  • Dump the website, and build a new one without the flash player requirement.
  • Use webstandards, make it clean. Get a decent web designer who does not overdose on the graphics. Taipei must have tons of them.
  • Make it multi-lingual. Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean should be the minimum! This is a battle of the world cities show-off project. It needs to shine!
Why is this so important? We announced to the whole world that Taipei is going wireless. So visitors come over, want to be impressed, but find out that it doesn't work.

Ouch... come on guys, galls, at the moment it looks like a dot-bomb waiting to happen... which will happen if nobody signs up. Get it to work!


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