Visiting family has always (where “always” means “since the early 90s”) meant cutting myself off from the Internet, as my parents are pretty much exactly the type of people we talk about when we talk about older people who Don’t Get It (where “it” means “anything having to do with computers”). I’ve traditionally been able to handle being cut off from the online universe because my parents have cable TV, and I can trade the pleasures of mindless web surfing for those of mindless channel surfing. This context switch has continued through enough holiday seasons that it’s dug a small rut in my subconscious — there’s a part of me that really thinks that Internet access and cable TV are mutually exclusive. I clearly haven’t been paying enough attention to all those cable and satellite companies screaming at me to buy their TV/Internet bundles.

Now, though, I can have my cake and watch it, too, even when I’m away from home. My parents have cable TV and broadband access, although I’m still not exactly sure how much use they get out of the Internet. Maybe it’s the myopia that a child has towards his parents, but I don’t see my folks as the videoblogging, Counterstrike-playing, eBay-living-making types. In other words, they’re not quite “You” yet. There’s still plenty of good stuff to be gotten out of Web 1.0 (I’m going to hell just for using that phrase), though, so bully for them.

While my parents are now fully plugged into the Web, I haven’t actually plugged my laptop into their connection, and I’m not using their PC. One of the underreported stories of 2006 is how U.S. cities are rapidly being covered by a blanket of free WiFi, not by any type of organized civic or corporate initiatives, but by a zillion unsecured home networks, one of which I’m shamelessly using to post this entry. One of the big stories of 2007 will probably be how all of these home networks are getting owned left and right. Remember kids: Keep your firewalls up at every node, especially at home. Knowing is half the battle.