Hotel chain fined in USA for jamming guests’ wi-fi

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no_cell_phones_PA_3777At last someone has taken issue with the exorbitant prices hotels try to charge you for using their wi-fi.

Federal regulators in the US have fined Hilton hotels $25,000 for obstructing an investigation into allegations that one of its hotels in California blocked guests’ personal hotspots unless they paid the hotel $500.

The Federal Communications Commission has warned the hotel chain, which includes Hilton, Conrad, Double Tree, Embassy Suites and Waldorf Astoria hotels, that it could face significantly higher fines for any continued obstruction or delay (the hotel had ignored the FCC’s request for information about its wi-fi policy for a year. It is illegal to block wi-fi under America’s Communication Act).

A Hilton spokesperson denied that the hotel had blocked wi-fi to collect a fee but couldn’t say if it had done it for any other reason. Charging for wi-fi has become the most prevalent additional or upcharge in hotels in recent years, particularly business class ones, as the use of mobile technology has reduced the ability to charge for phone calls and entertainment services. (They offer it free in low-cost hotels as an incentive to stay so it can be done).

Last year the FCC fined Marriott hotels $600,000 for wi-fi blocking. (The hotel protested that conference attendees could launch a cyber-attack on its network!)

They also made an IT services provider pay a $708,000 charge for blocking wi-fi at a convention centre which had been charging over $1,000 at each event for wi-fi services.

I wish we would take similar action in the UK. I’m sick of hotels here charging for wi-fi when I can go to little Lithuania and enjoy free wi-fi in their hotels in the capital. 



Traumatised? Don’t sleep on it.

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CharismaEver had a traumatic event and been told by well-intentioned friends or colleagues that you’ll be OK after a good night’s sleep?

Well scientists at Oxford University now believe it’s the worst thing you can do.

Sleep is known to help consolidate memories so they are suggesting that sleep deprivation might be desirable  in reducing long-term psychological effects by impairing those memories.

In an experiment two groups were shown a disturbing film which included a suicide. One group went to bed as normal while the other was kept awake by staff trained to stop them falling asleep.

In the days that followed all the participants were asked  how often images from the film popped into their heads. The ones that slept were found to be more likely to experience flashbacks.

Professor Foster said “Maybe the routine treatment after such events should be gently to keep people awake – to sit with them and chat to them“. At present patients are often sedated after such events to help them sleep.

He also referred to experiences after battles in early cultures when it was more likely that the tradition was to sit round  campfire celebrating the event with alcohol.

Post traumatic stress (PTSD) can cause a number of problems for those suffering from it. Not just the flashbacks but problems concentrating, irritability and a heightened startle response.

A recent American study showed that women under 65 who had suffered traumatic experiences and had four or more symptoms of PTSD were 60% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke in later life.

Even those without any symptoms but who had suffered some trauma were 45% more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease compared to women who hadn’t been exposed to traumatic events.

Karestan Koenen of Columbia University said “Our results provide further evidence that PTSD increase the risk of chronic disease. The medical system needs to stop treating the mind and the body as if they were separate.Patients need access to integrated mental and physical care”