Confessions of a Test Wilot

Never has it been more exciting to be a test wilot. No- I didn’t say pilot, I said wilot dagnab itUs test wilots say what we mean and we mean what we say. What’s that? What’s a test wilot? I suppose that’s a fair question for you civilians, and I’ll try to keep it simple: a test wilot flies cutting-edge wireless networking systems, and the “wi” comes from Wi-Fi. Unlike test PILOTS, we generally don’t get hazard pay and our patches are usually a hell of a lot nerdier.

But that’s not the point. The point here is that times are high for us test wilots. Business has never been better, and the stakes have never been higher. Before we get into that, let me introduce myself… I’m Conrad Coolbreeze, and what I’m about to tell you can’t leave this room. I’m only sharing it with you because I’m into my sixth gin & tonic… I had a pretty rough day doing test wilot stuff.

Where to start? Well, first of all, let me share THIS GUY with you. What the hell is he thinking? If he had his way, us test wilots would have normal, boring lives of simply keeping expensive wireless network systems running…

stable phil

Network Phil can just just the hell up! Don’t be ruining my good thing… Let me tell you about the general state of wireless networking- like about what really has me all fired up.

One market-leading vendor just issued a big-ass recall of a whole bunch of access points that got botched in manufacturing. This same vendor has a track record of glorious instability in their wireless products that keep me flying high, I tellya. Then another vendor can’t get their 802.11ax-related code straight, and if you follow one big discussion forum, a lot of people are frustrated. Screw that, I hope they keep pumping out crap that isn’t fully baked. The examples are many, and if you blink you might miss the next one.

The bonus in all of this is that none of these systems are getting any cheaper. And the complicated licensing required to run these Houses of Cards just adds insult to injury. It’s fantastic! Check this out… a while back this Gonzo-writing dude dared to ask the question Will Reliability Be Prioritized Before Wi-Fi’s Whizzbang Future Gets Here?  Well thankfully reliability WASN’T prioritized… it’s the same old shitshow it’s always been, and my intent is that it never get better. Because I’m a test wilot. I fly craptastic, unpolished, systems that have been rushed out the door in the name of one-upping the competition, I tellya. (Chest thump)

But it gets better, Even the smaller players are trying to compete with the big guns. There’s this other vendor with a feature called “auto optimization”… from what I can tell, 2/3 of their users have no clue what it does, and the general first step in any sort of troubleshooting is to disable it. That’s the stuff! Glad to see even the down-market systems getting in on the instability and confusion. Don’t even get me started on how dicked up client devices can be… that’s just the icing on the cake.

What? What about the standards? Ah, you sweet naive kid… Not only are wireless standards a Book of Lies and Missed Opportunities, we can’t even agree on what constitutes the bleeding edge.

Things are looking good for us test wilots… and now that I’m a little more in the bag, I gotta secret to tell you. But again, it can’t leave this room…

As dicked up as the general WLAN climate is, we’re ALL test wilots whether we realize it or not… vendors don’t HAVE to fully bake their stuff, because the marketing departments convince us all we need what ain’t quite ready… we’ve been beaten into submission. We expect the suck, and mark my words, the suck will continue. Except now you’ll need Python to fully experience the suck. After you buy all eight suck licenses needed to enable the suck.

I got more to tell, but I think I gotta go outside and yak first.

 

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