What the Fuck Is My Wifi Password?

Illustration for article titled What the Fuck Is My Wifi Password?
Photo: Bryan Menegus

I don’t really know how it happened, or why a thing with no moving parts suddenly fails catastrophically, but my modem shit the bed.

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Almost exactly a week after wifi in huge swaths of the country went down due to Hurricane Isaias, my internet stopped working yesterday again. My roommate and I went through the usual rigmarole of hurling reboots, unpluggings, and strong language at the problem, but no luck. This would be a nuisance in the Before Times; in pandemic America, for someone who’s job is predicated on being online, it was a problem in need of immediate solving.

Two hours on hold with Optimum last night—which gave me precisely enough time to read the first collection of Mickey Zacchilli’s RAV (it’s very good)—led to a service appointment to replace a supposedly fried modem. Said appointment has come and gone. All I have to show for it is a brand new modem, a monolithic gatekeeper on my normally simple road to the information superhighway, and this cardboard box that is dangling the goddamn keys in front of my face.

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I have tried, to the best of my imagination, every iteration of letters, numbers, and characters these sharpie squiggles imply, e.g.:

  • The first character as a “g” or a “9”
  • The third-to-last as an “8,” “&,” or at the insistence of my colleague Sam Rutherford, a capital “B”
  • Swapping the “o” with “O” or “0"
  • Changing the apparent “5”s to “S”es
  • Putting all of these options into some sort of grid or matrix and systematically testing them one by one

None of it works! What kind of bullshit riddle am I looking at here?!

As I write this, back on hold with Optimum where I am told approximately once every 30 seconds that they are experiencing “longer than normal wait times” due to “unusually high call volume” and that for “product, pricing, and troubleshooting information” I ought to “visit [their] website.” Sounds great—wish I could use the service I pay you for to get there!

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My editor suggested that perhaps posting the password to my home wifi network on a public blog is unwise unless I planned to change it later. With full sincerity: NOTHING WOULD GIVE ME MORE PLEASURE.

I leave it to you, the reader, who I assume is thinking more clearly, to tell me what on earth I could possibly be missing here. Please help. I never want to see the word “chestnut” for the rest of my stupid life.

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Update: The correct answer was indeed the simplest—95-chestnut-2805—but it only worked after restoring the router/modem combo to factory settings. Unclear if this was a refurbished device or what but god damn, it’s good to be back.

Much as I would now love to change the name and password of my local wifi to truly any single other thing, Optimum has a new treat for me:

Illustration for article titled What the Fuck Is My Wifi Password?
Screenshot: Me, having the time of my life
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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

hey bryan-

have you tried wh4t5upd0g?