Why do wireless networks work better some times and not others?

I use high speed internet through the cable at home, but I am visiting my Dad during the holidays now and I've discovered that sometimes wireless networks are available to me and I don't need to use a modem. Why is the signal strong at some times and not others? Does it depend on whether my neighbor is... show more I use high speed internet through the cable at home, but I am visiting my Dad during the holidays now and I've discovered that sometimes wireless networks are available to me and I don't need to use a modem. Why is the signal strong at some times and not others? Does it depend on whether my neighbor is using their network? I also noticed today that I had a very weak connection that was worthless until I attached the phone cable into the back of my laptop. I didn't even dial in with the modem and my connection worked dramatically better immediately. Is it because my phone line is working as an antenna? I also notice that when I first start up my computer it contacts a wireless network and it works really well for about a minute and then doesn't work well at all. That's when I thought I should go ahead and dial in with the modem and discovered that it started working really well, without even dialing in. Is it just a coincidence or something, or is there something to it?
Update: If it is against the law, then why does my computer just automatically connect to the wireless (unsecured) server? Why isn't it the responsibility of the server to secure itself? Why does my computer say that it is connected even when I am using the modem? How can you "bait" others when the signal... show more If it is against the law, then why does my computer just automatically connect to the wireless (unsecured) server? Why isn't it the responsibility of the server to secure itself? Why does my computer say that it is connected even when I am using the modem? How can you "bait" others when the signal strength is not affected by your use?
Update 2: Also, why do you bait others? Are you trying to steal stuff from their computers?
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