“Alexandra Janelli is a Wi-Fi detective,” writes Christopher Borelli in “The Weird World of Wi-Fi Router Names,” published in today’s Chicago Tribune. Specifically, Janelli hunts for colorful (or creepy) Wi-Fi names—names like Dain Bramage, Isthisthingon, and Stop Cooking Indian!!!—and posts them on her website, WTFwifi.com. Janelli explains on her About Us page:
The idea for WTFwifi was hatched at a bar on the Lower East Side back in early 2009 when my iPhone cordially invited me to join the wireless network ‘Alcoholics Shut In’. The irony was not lost. From that day on it became our mission to uncover the most exemplary shout out to the queerest, funniest, most bizarre, and quirky WiFi names in NYC!
Janelli—who used to be an environmental consultant and now has a day job as a hypnotherapist—was the subject of a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece, “The Tao of WiFi,” in December 2011. Writer Lauren Collins noted that Wi-Fi* names follow trends: “For a few months last year, Janelli kept seeing Pretty Fly for a WiFi; then it was FBI Surveillance Van.”
Janelli moved to Evanston, Illinois, in August 2010, and she continues her amateur research in the Chicago area. Reporter Borelli followed her around for his article:
On Monday morning, we walked west on Davis Street in Evanston, Wi-Fi sleuthing. Janelli, who has long, chestnut-colored hair and big, dark eyes, wore a turquoise scarf and held her iPhone before her, watching router names appear on the screen then vanish a second later, replaced by different names. She carried the phone like a divining rod, pulling in fragments of thoughts and nicknames and factory codings.
“‘WeltMeister,’” Janelli read off her phone. She considered that a moment. There were other names on her screen. Names like “2Wire808” and “Home 3.” But these didn't concern her — these said nothing. So we continued walking, then stopped at Ridge Avenue. “Ah,” she said, reading from the list of router names that had popped up on her phone: “Here we got ‘Daddy's Boat’ and ‘Sex Town.’” We took a few steps to the south. The names vanished and a new wireless name appeared:
“Sis Seduced the Family.”
She read it and made a face. “Ew,” she said finally.
Hat tip to Dennis McClendon of the American Name Society for the link to the Tribune story.