The Wall Street Journal reports that many of San Francisco's homeless are savvy at finding ways to go online regularly. Shelter attendants say the number of overnight visitors with laptops is growing, and SF Homeless, a two-year-old Internet forum, has 140 members. As noted, many job and housing applications must be submitted online, and some homeless advocates say the economic downturn is pushing more of the wired middle class on to the streets.

One aspiring poet has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online, and keeps in touch with friends via email. An aspiring computer programmer utilizes Whole Foods' free wireless access to search for work, and he writes a computer program he hopes to sell eventually. One particularly resourceful man, who charges his laptop with his van's battery, keeps his Macbook's battery going for sixteen hours by turning off the fan and the wireless antenna when not online and cooling the laptop by putting it on a damp washcloth. Another resourceful man, who lives in a tent, has four hard drives to accompany his laptop, and rents movies online from Netflix and Blockbuster. Staying connected comes with baggage though, since most of these guys have to lug their gear around and worry about it getting stolen or broken.