Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Dinner with Max Levchin and James Hong
James and Max lookin' hot in their convertible
When I showed up at FiRe, I noticed a guy wearing a PayPal T-Shirt and a guy wearing HotorNot T-Shirt. They looked a bit out-of-place in the crowd. I noticed it was Max and James. Max was a co-founder of PayPal and the CTO. James is the founder of HotorNot. I met them at my party in Palo Alto a few months ago. Max left PayPal and is thinking of the next big thing. James still runs HotorNot. During the conference, (ironically during the Future of WiFi panel) the WiFi network flaked out and Max figured out a cool hack to get me back on the network. Somehow another network with the same name as the hotel network got created and the stupid Macintosh API only chose networks by name and would latch me on to the wrong network. Max figured out how to switch the order of the two networks and get me on the right one... Anyway, that was cool. James was zapping through all of the HotorNot postings from San Diego and that was a bit distracting. ;-)

Max and James make me feel like an old fart. I guess I better get used to it since that's what I'm quickly becoming. Anyway, I'm happy that they'd hang out with me. They even drove me to the airport, although Max kept getting lost. Max told me he thought I was involved in way too much stuff that was just a waste of time. James and Max also turned me on to Yatta.


On the WiFi thing. The Mac is not being stupid, it is working to spec. WiFi networks wit the same name are meant to be interchangeable, and the firmware will pick the strongest one dynamically.
The problem is the creation of rogue networks.
On the Mac, you can only join networks that exist already, and you see a list to choose from. You have to explicitly create and name anew network, and it will enforce a unique name (at least within range at that time).

So how do the rogue networks get created? On Windows XP you have to type in the name of the network you want to join, and click a button saying join. Unfortunately, in the same dialog is a similar UI where you type in the name of a network and cretae a network. A lot of the time, users do this by accident, and as the OS doesn't do a sanity check, it will let you create a new network that has the same name as an existing one.

Hmmm... Thanks for the clarification Kevin. Sounds like a bad combination. 200 hundred people with Macs and XP trying to get onto a single WiFi network. It would seem a bit more friendly if you could force the Mac to choose a network if you wanted to... Seems pretty insecure being able to create a network with the same name...

Kevin - I've never seen anything like that process on my laptop running XP. Its click on a network and go. Perhaps its something specific to the software of a particular WiFi card?

YOU feel like an old fart!? That sort of puts me in the class of a natural gas flare-off. Older at source.

I *heart* James and Max :)
so glad you got to hang with them
*rolls eyes* at the old fart comment though!

William - no, the problem is typically caused by the default XP wireless setup interface.

if you look at the wireless pane of the properties dialog, to join a previously existing network, you'd use the top half. but if the beacon detection is flaky, etc. people will sometimes use the bottom half, and depending on what's checked, will occasionally create a network instead of joining an existing one. which plays havoc with people sitting next to the XP machine.