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Seeing as how your "friend" and your "work" aren't offering you advice on how to connect... you should be careful. Clandestine wireless surfing (or WarDriving) can be risky. There are tools to identify new devices connected to wireless networks... and that makes YOU vulnerable. I have these tools in place and if somebody tries to hack me when I'm having a bad day, they have a bad day too.
WarDriving is fun, but be careful and don't be malicious.
There are some tools available on the net (such as Network Stumbler) that will identify wireless networks and tell you if they are encrypted or not. They will also give you a signal strength. This is helpful if you walk around your apartment with your laptop to see if the signal strength is stonger in one spot.