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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Is it me, or did the power just go off?

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

So I’m sitting down to work this morning and all of a sudden, the floor lamp next to my desk turns off and my backup power supply starts beeping. Huh. The power just went out.

That backup power supply won’t drive my iMac for very long, so I shut down my computer and decide I’ll try to get some work done on my iPad and iPhone in the meantime. But after a few minutes, the paranoia sets in: How do I know the power is out for the neighborhood, and not just me? I stepped outside my front door to discover an empty neighborhood on a Tuesday morning. Nobody else was around to notice.

I realized, then, that the best way to discover if the power was just out to my house or if it was the whole neigborhood was to open the Settings app on my iPhone and tap on Wi-Fi.

Everyone’s got a wi-fi base station. On a normal day I can see a half-dozen SSIDs around my house and yard. But on this sunny, calm Tuesday morning: Nothing. Not a single signal. (Not even a battery-operated device offering wi-fi for tethering purposes, that I could see.)

So it wasn’t just me. The entire neighborhood was out. The wi-fi signals (or lack of same) were what told the tale.

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