Identifying mysterious wireless issues.

“The first drop was at 11, when lunch began.”

In my current position, I have been struggling to identify a particular wireless issue that was sporadically taking our wireless network down. At the moment, we have put APs our throughout the building, but only three people in one office are using them. As such, it’s a very small sample size, but still peculiar when all three simultaneously drop.

These issues tend to be what I call quantum mechanic problems (as in car problems that exist until observed by a mechanic). Nobody who witnesses them is technical enough to give you adequate data to diagnose the problem (“The internet is down”). Watching for an issue that crops up once every two weeks is impossible, and automated reporting tools were not providing useful data.

Today, after having worked until 3 AM the previous night and existing on 3 hours of sleep, I revisited a previous notion that the microwave might be to blame. This was discounted in the past as during the one drop I was able to witness, I ran to the kitchen to find nobody using the microwave. Today, however, I recalled that on the shop floor, we have microwaves scattered everywhere for lunch. The nearest microwave in the shop was 30 feet from the AP, and delicious burrito testing revealed that the AP was completely drowned out by this crappy plastic $30 microwave.

Replacing one microwave may prove to be enough, but I am also delving into “other avenues” to solve this if it continues as we roll wireless devices out to the entire shop.