Old memories, accidentally trapped in amber by our digital devices

Digital Memories

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Designer and typographer Marcin Wichary started a thread on Twitter yesterday about “UIs that accidentally amass memories” with the initial example of the “Preferred Networks” listing of all the wifi networks his computer had ever joined, “unexpected reminders of business trips, vacations, accidental detours, once frequented and now closed cafés”.

Several other people chimed in with their own examples…the Bluetooth pairings list, the Reminders app, the list of alarms, saved places in mapping apps, AIM/iChat status message log, chat apps not used for years, the Gmail drafts folder, etc.

John Bull noted that his list of former addresses on Amazon is “a massive walk down memory line of my old jobs and places of residence”.

Everyone Is Trying to Outdo Each Other With Cute Wi-Fi Names

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Network names have gone from being boring digit chains to another opportunity for personalization, like vanity plates or monogrammed towels. “You name your Wi-Fi so you don’t have to read the overly lengthy digit code and password to visitors, but also to authentically create a moment of levity, to tell your friend something they may not know about you,” said Natalie Zfat, 31, a social media entrepreneur in New York City.

Ms. Zfat equates the importance of Wi-Fi branding to screen names 15 years ago. “There were always people who were straightforward and then others who were much more creative and detail focused,” she said, citing aliases like Flirty4u and Sporty88.

Cuba’s Internet Is F*cking Insane. And the Ways Cubans Use It Are Genius.

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Here’s how it works: you buy a prepaid card from government stores or from one of these (illegal but pretty much ignored by police) scalpers, and on the card is a login code that gives you an hour of access. I bought a card for $3. Surrounding me and my increasingly soggy access card was a mass of flickering screens, devices wavering in and out of connectivity — relatives waving on video chat, Facebook pages being scrolled through, statuses being updated, photos being shared, and even movie trailers being watched (Star Wars!) with frequent buffering. Every now and then, a towel or shirt was pulled out to dry the rain water flecking the screens.

…While I successfully connected, the speed of my Internet brought on flashbacks of MegaBus Wi-Fi, or sharing a remote cabin router with 10 of my friends in upstate New York. The much-maligned “wheel of loading” spun eternally on my screen, and in a fit of American impatience, I decided no selfie was worth literal minutes of upload times, especially in a steady rain and a pair of decidedly un-waterproof Clarks. I opted to cut my excursion short to pursue dry socks, and maybe a quick nap. I wasted three dollars. I am a really shitty Cuban.

…El Paquete Semana. The weekly packet. A one-terabyte hard-drive loaded with a week’s worth of American movies, shows, music, magazines, and even smartphone apps. The original source of this smorgasbord of media is something of a mystery, but dealers pace the streets of Havana, selling full versions of El Paquete for around $8, or a smaller version with partial content for a few bucks. It’s passed around the Cuban population by street dealers for a cost, or by friends out of charity, like borrowing a Netflix password. My particular amigos were already looking forward to seeing the Latin Grammys and the Victoria Secret Fashion show in the upcoming months, both of which would make rounds on El Paquete about a week after airing on US television.

And yes, my friends assure me, “El Paquete and chill” is definitely a thing.

What does your router name say about you?

broadband router and cable

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While some router names are picked to deliberately offend, others cover everything from the deliberately arcane through to crowd-pleasing puns. Why do we pick particular names and what do these names tell us about ourselves? Burton argues that the names we then choose for ourselves serve to telegraph our identities on our own terms. “It’s all woven into the fabric of how we choose to present and represent ourselves.”

If we choose a particularly humorous name or an interesting play on language, we are broadcasting something about who we are.

But there’s a twist when it comes to network names: not only are we communicating something about ourselves via a named router, we are insisting others comply with it.

Saudi scholar issues fatwa against stealing someone else’s WiFi

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A Saudi scholar issued a fatwa against using another person’s WiFi without permission, since theft cannot be tolerated in Islam.

…The WiFi fatwa is far less provocative, although the need for it confused some commentators. Why not just encourage people to put passwords on their private Internet?

“We do not need a religious edict to pinpoint such basic things,” a Saudi blogger noted, according to the Gulf Times. “Private property should remain private, especially [since] the owner paid money for the services. Nobody should just take advantage.”

I’m a holiday Wi-Fi addict – and proud

Logging on while on holiday needn’t detract from your experience; in fact, it can help enrich it.

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What do you do first on arriving at a hotel? Check out the pool? Or the view from the balcony? No. Apparently most of us now demand the Wi-Fi code and logon, with a massive 65% admitting to tuning in within seven minutes of arrival, according to a new survey. All I can say, as a frequent traveller, is, what took you so long?

Confession: I am an instinctive and habitual Wi-Fi user, the sort who mainlines Instagram and Twitter without much reflection on the implications for my own mental and physical health. Who cares?

Frankly, it would not surprise me if we start to hear of Wi-Fi-rage before long. Let’s call it Wi-Fury.

The underlying subtle implication of this survey, I reckon, is that this is wrong… To this I would reply: when is anyone fully there? What about the novel you are reading? The film you watched on the plane? Surely every experience is mangled and digested by a million different forces, not least those of memory. What difference can it make if I am connected to people around the globe in a new and different way than before?


‘Terror’ wi-fi signal leaves LA-London flight grounded

wi-fi list

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Many broadband subscribers re-name their home wi-fi network to personalise it.

When a device comes within range of the network, its name will appear on a list of potentially available wi-fi connections.

While some use their family name or the name of their house, others take a more satirical approach.

“It can be a kooky way of saying you support a local football team or you want to bait your neighbour who supports the opposing team,” said Stuart Miles of tech review site Pocket Lint.

“Some people use it as advertising. It’s an unwritten code of spreading a message that you’re allowed to do – but obviously sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s not.”

In a discussion about favourite wi-fi names on community site Reddit, users admitted to using titles like “FBI Surveillance Van”, “ISIS HQ” and names that sounded like computer viruses to alarm passers-by