Fun with naming Wi-Fi nets

Fun with naming Wi-Fi nets

According to a media report out of San Antonio, the man recently accused of planning to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, D.C., was not the sharpest tool in the box. However, if neighbor accounts are to be taken at face value, the same could be said of the FBI agents tasked with foiling his alleged plot.

It's unlikely, however, that those accounts are worth face value.

From a story on "Neighbors, however, said it had been years since (suspect Manssor) Arbabsiar lived in the stucco house he once shared with his wife on a suburban cul-de-sac. They said it appeared as many as 10 people were living in the house, and lately there had been some signs of suspicious activity: When residents looked for available Wi-Fi networks, names like "FBI Van 1" would pop up."

Really now. The idea that the FBI would be so foolish as to choose "FBI Van 1" for a Wi-Fi SSID landed the story on the front page of Fark, a social-bookmarking site that specializes and delights in skewering the stupid.

But could the FBI really have been that stupid?

Presuming it would be futile to ask the FBI directly, I did a bit of online searching and quickly turned up ample reason to believe that the answer is, "No, not that stupid."

Ridiculous FBI list: You might be a domestic terrorist if ...

In fact, the question had also come up as recently as this summer after news reports about an alleged plot to blow up a Tampa, Fla., high school included assertions that the FBI had been busted using "FBI_SURVEILLANCE VAN" as an SSID.

No proof materialized, but the stories did elicit many accounts of people doing this sort of thing with their home Wi-Fi ... just for yucks. It's such a common gag, in fact - with so many variations -- that "Police Surveillance Van 2" topped Mashable's list of favorite Wi-Fi names.

Case closed, right? Do not besmirch the FBI with this accusation any longer.

Well, hold on there a minute, J. Edgar, let's play devil's advocate (tongue-in-cheek style): If every wise guy on every block in America thinks it's funny to display "Surveillance Van" on their Wi-Fi -- and if word of the joke has gotten around -- wouldn't doing so offer the perfect cover for a real FBI surveillance van?

Think about that one as you're pulling back the curtain to take a peek out the window.

Kindle purchase offers 10-year-old a lesson

Recently my 10-year-old daughter Emma, a voracious reader, took delivery of the family's first Kindle. She's barely put it down since.

One thing that made this purchase particularly notable in our household is that Emma paid for it herself using money she had accumulated through birthday gifts and the like. She forked over $89, which was not only more than she'd ever spent but also represented a significant portion of her personal wealth (at least that which she's allowed to access).

An e-reader and a rite of passage, all wrapped up into one. What's not to like?

Well, the very next day I received an email from Amazon with the subject line: "Kindle, now from $79."

It's only $10 difference, you say? ... Did I mention she's 10?

I'm still trying to decide whether to tell her or not.

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