Houseguests, technological literacy, and the goddamned wifi: a single chart

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This hotel I’m staying in has unsecured wifi with a login gateway (that you have to redo every 24 hours.) I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out the sense in this. It’s the worst of both worlds. I’m pretty sure the staff is not tech-savvy enough to be sniffing bank account passwords or patrolling for kiddie porn. They can’t even get the TV set up right.


We’ve got an extender for our wifi as most of the stuff that needs to connect is in the basement rec room, and the signal isn’t great in parts of the upstairs. The thing is, the extender only works for my husband. I can’t get it to work with any of my devices. My laptop doesn’t even think it exists most of the time, and I’m sitting 6 feet from it right now.


sighs German Hotel? Apparently, a lot so this. Something to do with accepting terms and conditions which you are required to do as a service provider to ensure you are not liable for your customers shit. Or so everyone thinks.


Nope, American. I’ve stayed in dozens of hotels in this city (because I’m homeless) and while terms & conditions gateways aren’t uncommon, I’ve never seen one “protecting” an unencrypted connection.


Have seen it frequently here in Toronto with public wifi. The nearest hospital, the upscale mall, the subway, and two nearby supermarkets all have a T&C for their public wifi but no password. The philosophy seems to be that having a password is either creating extra customer service issues from all the people asking what it is no matter how large you make the sign that says here is the password… Or else making it so people don’t realize that its public (hey it has a padlock symbol, so it must be private) so they don’t use it at all no matter what you name it, and then complain about how there’s no wifi.


See, this one requires a user/pass, which is posted at the front desk, which you can clearly read from out on the sidewalk.

In this neighborhood it would be a really bad idea to hang out on the street using a computer or tablet or even a phone, so until we slip into a Gibsonian future where tech is so ubiquitous that every hobo and crackhead is jacked into the cyberspace 24/7 I’m not panicking, but I’m definitely not checking my bank balance through this AP.




I’m guessing this is aimed at Windows users?


I’m afraid that the firmware is brogrammed and they regard that as a feature not a bug, because bros don’t let bros lose bandwidth to SOs watching cat videos. How they identify that the computer user is female is beyond me, but experience suggests that they can.


I admit I didn’t get this one. Why would something about firmware prevent a technically savvy person from using your Wi-Fi?

(Note: I’ve always considered myself a technically savvy person)


Same here. The joke kind of works if you think of router firmware (DD-WRT and the like), but that’s not really something guests tend to mess with. Thankfully.

The explainxkcd article didn’t help much this time. There was one comment under it which another comment called the only viable explanation, so I’ll copy it here in case someone can extricate some humor from it. I admit my brain just wandered off mid-sentence.

Some devices need operational firmware downloaded to them after reset, so it’s handled at boot time by a firmware downloader. A typical example is devices which have s DSP in them; the DSP’s code would be loaded into the device’s RAM designated for the purpose. For Wi-Fi, it might handle the low level details of associating with an AP, performing the WPA2 protocol for example so the device looks for the most part logically like any other network interface, e.g. Ethernet. In this case, it would have nothing to do with the firmware in the Wi-Fi AP.

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OK, I am used to seeing this kind of paranoid class and race based fear of one’s fellow citizens from americans*, but the slide from “i am afraid of being robbed by these people” to “i am afraid of being hacked by these people” strikes me as really quite irrational. The venn diagram of muggers/purse snatchers and hackers interested in emptying out your bank account online has, I think, almost no overlap.

*There’s essentially no place in Toronto I would especially worry about having my phone or tablet stolen if I went there. I don’t think that’s because of lower crime rates so much as because, despite the best efforts of the tabloids, there just isn’t the same climate of fear up here as in the US about people of colour or the poor. That we are far less segregated than 99% of the US probably helps in that regard.


Now that you’ve bricked it, it’s only good as a hood ornament.


I’m not worried about street people slurping my traffic, and I’m not worried about hotel guests/staff snatching my laptop. It’s not a monoculture.

And if you were at all familiar with the neighborhood I’m currently in, you wouldn’t be calling it “paranoid class and race based fear,” you’d call it a perfectly reasonable decision not to blithely flaunt valuable electronics in front of people literally shooting meth in the alley outside my front door.


Having tinkered with FreeBSD some years ago on a Powerbook G4 with a Cardbus WiFi card, I completely identify with this chart.


I think the joke is about people who have rooted their mobile device in order to install custom firmware, said custom firmware being far less stable/usable than the default, so despite having lots of shiny gewgaws, their mobile device cannot easily and seamlessly connect to wifi anymore. Or else it’s got so many customizable settings that they are defeated by its complexity and cannot figure out how to use it.


people who are using using obscure opensource unix distros. half of their day consists of getting their OS to work, the other half is actually using it, maybe.


A friend who frequently couch surfs gave me a good tip: There is a convention starting to form that the wifi password for a house will be on the fridge somewhere. Eliminates the task of trying to figure out who in the house knows the wifi details and having them remember where they wrote it down.

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