Busting Technological MythsMikey 9 comments
I always thought that would make a great companion site to Myth Busters. Sure it would have fewer explosions and physics but more gadgets and computer technologies. But my idea of what makes something interesting seldom agrees with most people.
I recently overheard a conversation between two would-be money wasters at my local computer vendor, where if I had not been in such a hurry I would have entertained the idea of correcting the misguided statement; "You need an iPod if you want to listen to podcasts".
Hearing that got me really wound up. Another victim of the Apple marketing machine I thought. Or, perhaps just trying to justify forking out hard earned clams for what is essentially an over priced fashion accessory that happens to play music. But his ignorance is not that misplaced. When you consider the very name 'podcast' closely resembles the word 'ipod'. You can easily draw comparisons between other products that have an unfair market advantage, such as Glad Wrap (cling wrap) and Bandaid (adhesive strip). It is for this reason I am not particularly a fan of the iPod, aside from it being an over rated and over priced identity statement.
So with this fresh in mind, I present, in no particular order, a list of technological myths that have been asked of me and that have spawned debate and confusion among the ignorant and ill-advised for many years. Let's begin with the one I already mentioned.
You need an iPod to listen to podcasts: False.
If we believed everything the Apple marketing machine throws at us, then sure you would need an iPod to listen to podcasts. Luckily this is far from the truth. You can listen to a podcast on any device capable of playing the format in which the podcast is endoded - typically MP3. This includes my mobile phone, which allows me to listen to the Triple J podcasts without any dramas. And I don't need a pair of those "look at me" white ear buds to do it.
Windows always crashes: Partly true, but mostly False.
Every operating system that was ever conceived has bugs, but Microsoft seems to cop the most flack over it. This is sad, considering most of the time a crash is actually the result of a driver issue, poorly coded third party applications, or bad configuration by the user. That combined with Windows being used by more people in the world than any other operating system will easily generate a lot of negative sentiment towards a product (Windows XP Pro) that I have not seen crash in years, except when it was my fault.
Getting a computer will mean I can work from a paperless office: False.
If I remember correctly, we were all supposed to be working from paper-less office somewhere around 1998. Today, I still have a pile of paper on my desk and draws full of the stuff, and I print documents almost daily because of the convenience a hard copy offers. I can't see this changing any time soon.
As long as I have a virus scanner I will always be protected: False.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me "but how could I have got the virus when I am running Norton?" I would not need to be writing this article. If I had another dollar for the number of times I have seen something to the effect of "last anti-virus definition update: November 1998" I would have retired a long time ago. Antivirus software needs constant updating and patching to keep you protected, and even then there are no guarantees. Opening the email attachment 'funnyfile.exe' is almost guaranteed to cause you no end of trouble.
You can use Google Earth to spy on people: False.
If you consider looking at low quality satellite topography without enough resolution to tell the difference between people and animals an invasion of privacy, then sure why not. Said Google Earth maps also date anything from 2 years old to 10 years old. Still not convinced? Go and spy on your neighbour now and see how far you get.
You have to be very smart to use a computer: False.
While this may be true of some overly complex Linux distros, modern Operating systems like Windows and Apple OS10 are relatively easy to use. Given you do at least need to have the capacity to turn a computer off without pouring water into it; both companies respectively invest a lot of money and resources into making the operating experience as easy as possible. Bottom line - don't be intimidated.
The government reads your email before you receive it: False.
This is quite a laugh, but my Uncle is seriously so paranoid of this that he states he will never own a computer. Even when I explained how the email and pop3 system works, I still could not assure him the government is not spying on us.
Playing violent video games excessively will turn you into a killer: Depends who you ask, but most say False.
Without going into detail here, read this article.
Radiation emitted by computer monitors will give you cancer: False.
The most harm a computer monitor can do is cause a headache from staring at a screen with a low refresh rate. Unless you play 'catch' with your monitor.
Microsoft invented the Internet: False.
While Bill Gates and Co certainly made innovations towards Internet related technology, when the Internet was invented in 1957 the Microsoft co-founder was barely out of nappies at only 3 years old. And In 1983, the network protocol known as TCP/IP was invented and is still the foundation by which we all connect to the internet today.
Forwarding that chain email will help save the little cancer girl: False.
I have probably personally seen at least 10 variations of this email chain letter, proclaiming that if enough people forward it, Bill Gates will donate the money to pay for the cancer girls' operation. First and foremost, if Bill Gates was genuinely interested in saving a girls life, he would not make it conditional on the circulation of an email. He has the resources to make pretty much anything happen. Secondly, if you send an email to someone, there is no way of tracking who they send it to. This hoax and many more like it seem to pop-up around the same time every year or two.
There are plenty more but I fear boring you even further. As a general rule of thumb, if it sounds like BS, it probably is BS. If you want to add to this list, post your comments below.