Here we have yours truly demonstrating a quick and easy way to greatly enhance your computer's ability to detect and connect to Wi-Fi networks both near and far with a piece of Asian parabolic cookware. Yes, the steamer basket we used is perhaps not the most Asian member of the parabolic cookware family, but this project is most famously done using a wok or deep-fry strainer, and the term stuck. Basically anything parabola-shaped and made of metal soft enough to puncture will work to some extent—experimentation will determine which yields the best pickup.
And if you want to get really precise, you can plot the focal point of your improvised antenna and position the Wi-Fi USB stick there for greater reception. Much more info can be found here. —John Mahoney
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Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.