LOW-FI WI-FI?: What could be blocking your internet signal

VIJAY SHAH via TecNovedosos

Having unfettered and uninterrupted access to wireless internet, is for those of use in the developed world, now as essential as having a continuous supply of electricity, gas and other utilities. We increasingly spend much of our lives online, and the things we need to do, such as shopping and filling in government forms are moving online too. So when your wireless signal becomes weak or choppy, the frustration is palpable.

If you happen to have a rubbish signal, with constant disconnections or super-slow download speeds, it could be your provider, but it could be due to your surroundings. Presented below are some of the things in your home or office that might be interfering with the quality of your Wi-Fi. This article is based off a feature published in the Spanish-language site TecNovedosos.

 

Objects that cause the Wi-Fi to drop or fizzle out are often referred to as ‘interference sources’ or ‘wireless barriers’ in the industry. So what are these barriers and how can you solve the low fidelity of your wireless ‘fidelity’ and get back to happy surfing.

Firstly the cause might be a mirror or a metal surface in the locality. Metal has a high interference capacity, according to the technical support guys at top tech firm Apple. Indeed having flat metallic objects in the same room is by far the most drastic means of limiting the strength of your signal. So it’s time to give the full-length mirror the boot. Just don’t break it, unless you are keen on seven years of bad Wi-Fi luck.

Another leading cause of interference is bulletproof or toughened glass. Its thickness and reflective properties act as a means of soaking up and reflecting the radio waves that propel Wi-Fi. Unless you work for a top-secret agency or military complex, bulletproof glass is probably not going to be an issue for you, but for the average user, things like glass tables, desks, or fancy glass ornaments can cause major interference with the Wi-Fi signal, and you should either remove or replace these sort of objects to lessen the interference capabilities they have.

Web connections can also be affected by the presence of other appliances, especially fridges, washing machines and radiators. Their piping, which often contains liquids like water, can act as ‘sponges’ that drown the signals. The impact of white goods is considerably less than glass or metal, but this is something worth considering if you are browsing through IKEA’s latest sales on the laptop while in the kitchen, and the product pictures take forever to load.

While you’re in the kitchen looking for Wi-Fi signal thieves, you can also add your microwave oven, gas/electric oven and even baby monitors and drones to the suspects list. These devices emit electromagnetic waves that can impede the radio waves used by wireless internet. Both types of signal operate at a frequency of around 2.4 Hz, so can cancel each other out. Other suspects include webcams, cordless phones and the telly. Healthy technological competition this ain’t.

You should keep your router as far away from other electrical devices and shiny surfaces as much as possible. Most of the people I know keep their routers in the hallways or passages of their homes.

As the festive season approaches, you will be pleased to know that Christmas lights can also be a problem for the signal. As with microwaves, lights generate their own electromagnetic fields which can play havoc with Wi-Fi connectivity, so don’t go online while decorating the Christmas tree!.

The popular expression goes ‘the walls have ears’, well in the case of bad signal troubleshooting, if you live in a house that has stone, cement or brick walls, then it may be time for you to move out if you want a better signal, which given that most homes are made of these materials might make house-hunting a bit tricky. The thicknesses of modern construction materials can act as a barrier to getting the perfect level of connectivity. The best way to mitigate this is to keep your router on the same floor as where you go online, so if you do most of your internet activities upstairs, the router needs to be upstairs too. If you find your signal is still weak or negligible, try moving and experimenting with different positions and locations for the router. A good recommendation is to place the router in a high location above other objects in the room or passage it is situated in.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

La Publicación 🇪🇸, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/LaPublicacion

“Estos son los objetos que más suelen bloquear tu señal de wifi” – TecNovedosos/Grupo Editorial Grandes Medios (15 September 2018) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/objetos-bloquean-senal-de-wifi/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Wifi, Hotspot, Public, Travel” – mohamed mohamed mahmoud hassan, PublicDomainPictures.net/Bobek Ltd. License: CC0 Public Domain https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=261335&picture=wifi-hotspot-public-travel

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ENGLISH GCSE CONTROLLED ASSESSMENT: Useful pointers

Vijay Shah

One of the reasons why I set up The Half-Eaten Mind was as an educational vehicle. My ambition was to teach readers about the world they live in through both news as well as informative articles. With the benefit of a high intelligence gifted by God, I wanted to impart some of my knowledge and writing skills to the next generation. The fact that the blog regularly gets hits from schools, sixth-form colleges and universities is testament to that. It has proven a useful resource for people doing online research for homework, exam revision, class projects (or lessons plans for teachers/lecturers) or just for informative fun.

(c) nlyl/openclipart

As a website that is primarily dedicated to news, we are not normally in the business of publishing educational materials per se. Publishing specimen essays, for example, would not be a safe idea, as it would only encourage plagiarism and cheating in the classroom lesson and in coursework. After all, who really would want an essay or paper they have laboured hard on to be copied and pasted by another student who is too slovenly to do the write-up themselves? That being said, there is no harm in providing useful guides and help to students preparing for examinations or class projects who may need some guidance and inspiration on where to begin. For many a student, just looking at an assessment or mock exam paper is enough to send their minds into a tizzy. Teachers can only offer so much assistance but ultimately it is up to the student to make the plan work. One of my brothers is preparing for the first year of their GCSEs. The GCSEs are important exams used by most schools in the United Kingdom to certify children completing their compulsory education and to get the grades they need to progress to sixth-form college, vocational courses, and if they decide to leave school behind to enter the world of work. So I readily appreciate the hard work and stress my little brother is going through, because these are ‘make-or-break’ exams. The GCSEs are spread over two years from the ages of about 14-16 years, which in England and Wales corresponds to school Years 10 and 11. Recently he was asked to complete a controlled assessment for his English Language GCSE. Being the older sibling, and having done the GCSE thing myself many years ago (and passing them mostly with flying colours), I was the first port of call for help. His controlled assessment was on how modern forms of communication technologies, such as texting (SMS messaging), instant messaging and social media help users in being creative in language. Ironically we communicated all this via Facebook messaging. To help him, I drew up some bullet points of ideas and facts that serve as pointers, a framework for him to build the essay around. In helping him out, it also gave me an idea for today’s article. I am now going to reproduce the notes I drew up for him on the Half-Eaten Mind so that other GCSE students can benefit and get ideas to form their controlled assessments around. Students reading this will of course still need to do their own research and give their own examples, which is only fair. Please note this is just a list of bullet points for further discussion and not an essay plan. Hopefully these tips will give readers good ideas to discuss and expand upon and all the best for those sitting their GCSEs this year. The Half-Eaten Mind wishes you well.

(c) Dennis Finocchiaro

The Question: Explore the view that texting and/or web-based interactions can be very creative forms of language use. Bullet Points:

  • Emoticons have become a useful way of conveying emotions and expressions which requires few or no words at all. This enables brevity in messages allowing conversations to take on an spoken element, previously only available in traditional face-to-face speaking situations.
  • Emoticons, like texting, are flexible in their design, while some like “ :)” are universal, again there are no authoritative rules and new designs come and go.
  • Many social networks – most recently Facebook – have joined the emoticon bandwagon, bringing out new revolutionary designs that require only one dab at the screen, more convenience that older forms of emoticon.
  • Twitter, similar communication to texting. In fact Twitter was influenced by texting. People on Twitter again heavily rely on abbreviations and neologisms, but also have created a community language all of their own i.e. RT is retweet ‘@’ to get attention of another Twitter user. Also Twitter lexicon has become widely used even in standard English. Word such as ‘Twitterati’, ‘retweet’ etc.
  • Texting and instant messaging is affecting people’s concentration in exams. As people have briefer communications, they cannot hold the attention as much as previous generations of children/teens. Everything is instant in communication now.
  • As people are more reliant on tweeting, texting, IM and Facebook, they are forgetting the importance and artistry of writing.
  • Even in official writing and writing of letters, coursework etc. people are more prone to using texting language. Some have becoming too used to text language and its mode of convenience. Others are just plain lazy -> affects negatively their educational and job prospects.
  • There are government concerns that texting is having an impact on the literacy skills of the young.
  • People’s over-reliance on technology and instant messaging means traditional socialising has declined. Everyone seems to have lost the ‘art of conversation’.
  • Some teenagers are said to spend as much as 7-8 hours per day in front of a computer screen.
  • Texting and Facebook wall posts can encourage users to understand as well as creatively subvert language rules, so they become more creative in their written expression.
  • Texting proves useful for people whose first language is not English. They can learn English faster that way, and makes the language more practical to them in its real-life usage.
  • In texting, punctuation is dropped, unless used for emphasis and Capitalisation is more commonplace. It’s convenient and perfect for angst-ridden teens.
  • Texting gives young people a cultural identifier all of their own, unlike in earlier generations where children simply acquired juvenile versions of adult cultural norms. Young people use texting and social media among themselves to maintain their identity as an exclusive group. On the other hand, older people see this new wave of communication as an assault on the English language and a sign of declining standards.
  • Texting and instant messages enable a spoken element to be introduced into the written nature of the communication, which is much harder in formal written language. This is ideal for teenagers who often experience a whirlwind of emotions.

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IMAGE CREDITS:
“notebook” – ‘nlyl’ , Openclipart (10 February 2007) LINK
“A List (for Fun)” – Dennis Finocchiaro, A Flash of Inspiration (31 January 2012) LINK