Rouge light district

In DC tonight staying at the Hotel Rouge. All red, the theme. I was offered the “technology room” and of course took it. As I rode up the elevator I thought of the Tokyo I have mythologized all the times I’ve never been there, populated as I believe it must be with robot valets, voice-responsive bidets (which I would politely inform “no, thank you”), and theater-style seating in front of the TV. It is not this.

The technology room is, as far as I can tell, a regular hotel room outfitted with a tiny stereo crammed under the underwhelming CRT television, free wireless (unless you want a VPN tunnel), and a full computer in the corner.

Now, the stereo is nice; I like that. But it is so firmly wired into the under-cabinet that it is almost useless for playing music via iPod or connecting to your computer. Because, c’mon, who lugs around their CD collection to a hotel?

Free wireless but you have to pay $5 if you want to establish an encrypted connection. What the hell? Do scrambled bits really cost more to carry than plaintext? Please.

The TV? Who cares, they aren’t carrying the Cubs final week here anyway.

But the computer, oh, the computer. I approached it tentatively. As you might do in a seedy Internet cafe. It was a PC, of course, with a nice flat panel monitor. The desktop bore the imprint of befuddled room guests before. Aborted downloads, attempts to install AOL, files. There was one image file on the desktop. I hesitated to open. I went to the trash. Not sure why, but I did. You might as well have handed me one of those police-grade semen stain goggles. The trash was bulging with the downloaded porn of the previous guest, of course. And the file on the desktop: a lone piece of gay porn.

The first thing I thought was, ick. No way I am using this computer. (I have my laptop of course.) But really, how astonishing is it that the hotel will vacuum rooms in between stays, change sheets, and empty trash cans but not empty the room computer’s trash (at the very least)? Administrators of public computers have known for decades how to centrally manage terminals. It seems to me that a hotel room is the last place that you want to leave evidence of online exploits. I shudder to peek at the browsers’ histories. And can you imagine how many viruses are crawling around that thing? XP + hotel room = bad idea.

I’m not a prude. I know what goes on in hotel rooms. But I don’t want a computer giving me forensic evidence of it, thank you.