A plea for help: My problems with radio interference

I have a bit of a problem with my speakers. Whenever they're on, I can faintly hear my campus radio station. Now don't get me wrong, I like WNUR, but I don't like hearing it when I'm working. Or napping. It's mostly the napping thing.

I visited the website for my speakers and found out that the radio interference problem is a common one. There's all kinds of radio signals in the air and any wire can become an antenna if its length is on the same wavelength as a signal. This problem has been compounded recently as everything is going wireless. What's worse, if a signal gets mixed up with the connection between a modem and a computer, data can get mangled and lost.

The problem works with any device that carries rapidly changing electric currents. That's any electromagnetic device or even natural objects, like the Northern Lights or the Sun. The electromagnetic signals can interfere with just about any circuit and may make it less effective.

I've been trying to fix the interference problem using the website's suggestions. Moving the speakers across my desk didn't work, and neither did moving across campus. Ditto for bundling the wires. The last suggestion is buying ferrite beads, which block signals. You've most likely seen them on computer wires - they're the huge bumps at the end. Even though the ferrite beads would likely help the problem, I don't think I'm welcome in the local Radio Shack after I bought a VCR, then returned it after I taped The Office. I'd also like to solve the problem without spending very much money.

So I'm opening it up to you, readers. Have you tackled any problems with radio interference? How much of a nuisance was it? And, how can I fix the problem without setting foot in Radio Shack?

The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]


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