A few weeks ago, I noticed two computers on my home network that I couldn’t identify. One was GainSpand23v and the other was simply new_host.
The network uses WPA-2 with a fairly strong password, so I was mystified how something could have got on without my wife or I knowing about it. Just to play it safe, I went into the router’s settings, blocked them from having access, and made a mental note to undo them in case it turned out they were something important like my wife’s VOIP phone.
Nothing broke immediately, so I left it be and let the mystery sit for a while.
Early last week, I bought George Takei’s e-book Oh Myyy! from Amazon. Surprisingly, it didn’t appear on my 3-month old, e-ink Kindle and as I attempted to sync it manually, I started getting error messages that the Kindle couldn’t even connect to the WiFi.
Remember those two unknown computers? I didn’t. It took most of a week before I realized “new_host” was the Kindle. (And since the e-ink Kindles only connect rarely, that would explain why this “computer” wasn’t pingable.)
So now had to find out what the heck GainSpand23v was. Google came back with a link to GainSpan, a company which apparently makes low-power WiFi modules for “The Internet of Things.”
OK, a clue. What “smart” devices do I have? The Raspberry Pi? Nope, that was accounted for. The thermostat? No, that was also showing up. What else could there be?
Finally, my mind hit on the Aria Scale. Could that be it? So I searched for “gainspan fitbit” to see if perhaps Fitbit was one of GainSpan’s customers. Bingo. It seems someone else found GainSpan on his network too.
Both companies might want to consider having their devices do a better job of identifying themselves. But for now, I hereby record this experience in case someone else should run across the same mystery.