How Christmas Can Be Bad for Bandwidth: Links You Need to See


Did you know that strings of Christmas lights, the kind you see everywhere on Christmas and in college dorms all year round, can interfere with your wi-fi signal?UK communications regulator Ofcom released that curious warning along with their new Wi-fi signal checking smartphone app Tuesday. According to The Conversation, the electromagnetic frequency from lights can affect how far your wireless signal travels. Then again, so does everything else in your house, so let’s not go ruining the holiday mood just because there’s some lag on your digital Yule Log.

If you want to get riled up and/or paranoid about a tech story, maybe you focus your ire on Chinese electronics manufacturer Vtech. An unnamed individual accessed servers connected to the company’s educational toy line, stealing names, email addresses and even photos for hundreds of thousands of children and parents.

Motherboard, who actually alerted the company to the hack in the process of reporting the story, also spoke to the hacker in question, who claimed he simply wanted to alert the company to its vulnerability. “Profiting from [database] dumps is not something I do. Especially not if children are involved!“ the mystery hacker said. “I just want issues made aware of and fixed.”

If you can’t keep your children’s digital toys safe from hackers, maybe you need to go back to analog. There are always new and inspiring things you can do with Lego, for example. The Brothers Brick showcased one existentialist creation of expert builder Jason Allemann: a motorized statue of the mythological king Sisyphus pushing a boulder for eternity. Albert Camus would be proud.

If you need more suggestions for who to imagine pushing a boulder for eternity, Mother Jones published a data-intensive story reporting that the 100 richest people in America have money than all 42 million African Americans combined.

Fans of Robin Williams probably know he made his name playing alien Mork on the Happy Days spin-off Mork and Mindy. What they may not know is that, despite Williams’ goofy talent, Mork and Mindy was perpetually in trouble. This abridged —but still extremely long— oral history of the show from io9 illuminates all the different ways Mork and Mindy could have failed.