2199: Cryptic Wifi Networks

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 02:14, 7 September 2019 by (talk) (Explanation: WiFi positioning system, wikilinks)
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Cryptic Wifi Networks
They actually showed up on the first scan by the first WiFi-capable device.
Title text: They actually showed up on the first scan by the first WiFi-capable device.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a Toshiba-U2187-OfficeLink-Net46UHZ. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

There are in many places cryptic Wi-Fi networks that pop up in strange places and it may not be obvious where the router is located. In this comic, Randall is joking that those networks are an unexplained phenomenon (as opposed the more probable explanation that they come from strangely placed servers or wireless printers).

In the picture, a character with a knit cap is pictured at the top of a high mountain. Checking his phone, he sees a WiFi network even in this remote area.

The name of the network is Toshiba-U2187-OfficeLink-Net46UHZ. Toshiba is a multinational electronics conglomerate. Toshiba make many products, including large office printers. It's very common for devices to have embedded wireless access points that include the manufacturer name on the SSID. Many network names contain words like Net, Office or Link.

Network names are used to track locations of mobile devices (Wi-Fi positioning system), for instance Google street view equipment records locations of networks. War-drivers also collect network location information, which can be searched in tools like https://wigle.net/.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[A human with a knit cap and a backpack is checking his phone at the highest mountain in a mountainous landscape.]
Phone: Available WiFi Networks
Phone: Toshiba-U2187-OfficeLink-Net46UHZ
Phone: [in gray] Join other network
[Caption below the comic:]
Tech Trivia: No one actually knows what devices produce those cryptic WiFi networks. They just appear at random across the Earth's surface.

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Reminds me of these :) BytEfLUSh (talk) 00:17, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

It would be nice to check to see if this SSID exists already (using LocationAPI.org, Combain Positioning Service, Google location services, Wiggle, etc.). Could also be interesting to track use of this SSID over time. Of course takes a while for any changes to show up in the search engines. 02:17, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

Is there a way to make a https://github.com/freifunk/openwifimap-api/blob/master/API.md query out of a URL? 14:45, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

Soon those names will be e.g. "StarLink_6514". ;) Fabian42 (talk) 09:46, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

Could the 46UHZ be a reference to the frequency band, i.e. 5GHz? Maybe this WiFi network was originally configured to operate on an unknown-to-us 46μHz band. 18:49, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

46 microHz would be in the submarine communications area. Unlikely to exist on a mountain top. (talk) 10:23, 8 September 2019 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Furthermore, since the data transmission rate is limited by the signal frequency, a 46 microHz signal would have extremely dismal performance - many magnitudes slower than 56K dialup modems. At ~6 hours per cycle, you probably couldn't even get 1 byte of data per day. I don't think that would be useful at all! Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 20:52, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
But think of the range! 15:54, 21 September 2019 (UTC)

I live in the middle of the forest, even in the winter when there are no leaves to block the way there's only one house even within sight, and yet there are five 802.11* networks in my scan right now. I mean, they're all mine, but still...—Kazvorpal (talk) 23:09, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

"a character with a knit cap is on top of a high mountain in a remote location. He sees" How do we know that Knit Cap is a "he"? We don't, actually . . . . 12:19, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

My favorite ISP is linksys! RandalSchwartz (talk) 17:42, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

Knit Cap may just have forgotten they have a Toshiba device in their backpack, set to 'hot spot' mode, so it would seem like this cryptic WiFi network is following them, making them feel spooky for no reason. -- Malgond (talk) 07:57, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

This "explanation" is mostly incomprehensible to non-tech people. Can someone create a site ExplainExplainxkcd? Or translate the jargon into English? (talk) 04:54, 9 September 2019 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I agree the explanation has devolved into a history lesson in wireless communications, and most of the latter paragraphs are largely unnecessary. The alternate explanations paragraph seems to have grown into a list of ridiculous possibilities. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 12:43, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Ridiculous or carefully selected from mindful curation? 07:11, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

Trivia could be a reference to number radio stations that were allegedly tuned on the first receivers before regular broadcasts started. I've heard such (false, obviously) claim somewhere, but cannot find it anywhere. 11:23, 11 September 2019 (UTC)

u2187 could refer to a unicode character?

That's funny, it renders on Android Chrome but not OSX Safari. 21:44, 12 September 2019 (UTC)

What is 48 UHz in lightspeed wavelength? 23:55, 13 September 2019 (UTC)

48 microhertz corresponds to a wavelength of 6,200 Gm or 41 AU.[1] The period is 4.1 per day, 5h50m or 29 per week. The alien colony ship? 22:31, 14 September 2019 (UTC)

Sounds like SCP material CCCVVVA (talk) 06:07, 23 September 2019 (UTC)

User:CCCVVVA are there any SCP numbers assigned for ordinary visiting alien colony ships yet? 06:59, 29 October 2019 (UTC)