Tinfoil hat time

I just thought I would share an amusing anecdote from my time at Netflix, related to wi-fi networking in our office. Because many devices that support Netflix have built-in wi-fi, we would test streaming with wi-fi connections to ensure that the experience was still satisfactory. Pretty standard stuff.

At one point, though, we ran into a mysterious problem with wi-fi networking on one of our supported device types. Thinking that perhaps there was an issue with the wi-fi adapter on the device, or the signal from the router, someone did a WLAN survey to see how many wi-fi networks were visible from our corner of the office.

It turns out that there were no fewer than 150 access points visible from there. Yes, 150 access points. That’s what happens when you have a huge number of people, working on a huge array of different devices, with different network configurations, and in different working environments.

Of course, this discovery led to more than a few jokes about sterilization, CIA mind control, and space madness.

(It turns out that the root cause of the problem didn’t have anything to do with wi-fi interference — it was actually a firmware bug on the device, which was triggered by a separate firmware update to the wireless access points in our building. Pretty crazy!)

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