Busboys & Poets WiFi Port Blocking Is Really Asinine

I really like Busboys & Poets. It’s a nice place, with great ambience, good food, good music, and … well, their coffee is pretty crappy, but you can’t have everything. They also have free WiFi, so it has also been one of my favorite places to work. The only downside is that they block a bunch of outgoing ports.

First, they block IRC, which is kind of weird. I mean, it’s a freakin’ chat program! It’s like they’re afraid of it because it exudes some sort of “hacker mystique.” That’s not so bad, though. I can’t talk with my friends, but it doesn’t disrupt my life.

Also, presumably to ensure that nobody sends spam over their network, they block SMTP traffic. That’s a fair concern, I guess, and a better approach than secretly intercepting the SMTP connection. I can’t help wonder if they are worried about a problem that doesn’t exist, however, since Busboys & Poets is the only place I visit that does so.

This gets stupider, though. Up until now, their blocking really hasn’t bothered me so much because I use Speakeasy’s secure mail server as my outgoing relay. It runs over a different port than regular SMTP, so it wasn’t blocked. Furthermore, it is both encrypted and requires authentication. In short, nobody could ever use this port for spamming. And as of now, it seems to be blocked, which means I can’t send email without bouncing it through SSH. (At least until they decide to block that, too, I guess.)

So maybe I won’t be coming here any more, since I can’t really do anything without email. That’s a shame, because I really like this place. I hope such asinine port blocking doesn’t become standard fare for free WiFi - that’d put a real crimp in my style.