In yesterday's Australian there was an article reprinted from the Wall Street Journal detailing how various coffee shops were putting restrictions on the use of their free wi-fi by laptop users (There's also a follow up WSJ blog post on this).
I had two reactions, one based on my travels with the ookygoo, that these restrictions basically make the business of travelling more difficult, and the second was, astonishment - why didn't these people work from home?
When I was unemployed in late 2003 after migrating to Australia, that's exactly what I did. Got myself the cheapest pay as you go mobile phone and cheapest internet plan I could find and went to work. Every morning at 0830 until I found myself a job.
I may be becoming more right wing in my old age, but really, why should you expect a coffee shop to subsidise your job hunting or grad school application?
Free wi-fi is not a right - and much as I admit to finding it damned useful I've always understood the deal - if a place gives you free wi-fi, you do them the courtesy of buying coffee and food. If you can't afford to do that go find somewhere else to work such as libraries. Relearn the trick of preparing materials offline so that when you do go online with that single cup of coffee, you can get that information uploaded/uploaded/sent etc ...