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Tech’s Tallest Tales; And The Truth

gadgets Updated: Aug 05, 2011 11:02 IST
Rajiv Makhni

Don’t buy a plasma TV, the gas inside freezes in winter.


Every mobile phone has a secret battery that can be unlocked.


If an LCD TV gets punctured, liquid will flow out.



The world of technology has some of the greatest myths, urban legends and tales banded around it. The funny part is that the more outlandish ones are actually true and the simpler ones are the usually tall tales. Here’s a two-part look at some of the biggest tech tales and the real truth behind them.



Steaming your CD


CDs are still prized possessions and were supposed to last a lifetime. Unless of course, you got them all scratched up. Then they were nothing more than a tacky reflector at the back of your bike. While CD recovery kits and polishes were sold by many brands, they were nothing more than snake oil. But one tall tale has always survived. Boiling your CD.



Throw your CD into boiling water and take it out immediately. Apparently it melts and smoothens the plastic and takes care of the scratches. My experience – rarely works! What does work is putting your CD on top of a thin stream of hot steam, aimed at the scratches – works 9 times out of 10 on CDs and DVDs. So finally get that face steamer you bought to do some real work.

Gadgets

Strong Bars


The bars on your phone screen show you how clear your call will be. Well, not really. All it’s telling you is how well you’re connected to the closest tower. The rest is all dependent on that tower. Thus a full signal connection to a tower that has too much traffic and is super congested will still make you hear a splitter-spatter-spurt call. Also, some companies don’t have a very accurate reading of the bars in the first place and report extra bars just to make it all look good. Sneaky, sneaky!



Universal Death Clasp

Steve Jobs may have made it famous when he said all phones have a grip of death and any phone gripped tightly can drop a call. The underlying logic was that almost all phones have their antennas inside, thus your finger positioning can kill a signal. True and untrue. While it’s true that every phone’s antenna performs weirdly if your fingers are wrapped around them – it seems the iPhone 4 is way too sensitive to the ‘grippy’. I tried this on many phones and I was never able to get them to drop a call.



Pulling the Plug


Pulling out your USB stick or hard drive without ejecting it will make you lose your data and kill the drive. Not really true anymore. Earlier technology used to leave the last file that you put on a USB open, awaiting more. Thus you could lose that data if you pulled it out without a safe eject. It’s best not to have a folder open on the USB drive or a data transfer on; other than that – it’s all pretty much okay even without a three-step eject process.



The Sperminator


Laptops can cause your fertility to go all haywire. It’s true, though it’s not the laptop that does it; it’s the heat. Almost any kind of heat hanging around in that section will cause the male sperm count to take a fatal plunge. Laptops are usually the only thing we tend to keep there for long hours – thus they’ve been termed ‘the Sperminator’. Use a laptop mat or cooler and make sure the little boys have a free run.



Laptop The Defrag Rule


Defrag your hard drive regularly. Yes, you should, if you have some old equipment. The theory was that older systems and hard drives tend to write data all over the place and it takes that much longer to seek out all that info, thus making read-write operations longer. First, if you have a Solid State Hard drive – this is all redundant.



Second, the newer OSes have better algorithms to make better use of the drive real estate and more RAM helps here too. Third – over defragging is a bigger killer as each hard drive has only a certain number of read-writes it can do. You may just be butchering it with your overzealous daily auto defrag.



Stuck forever


Magnets can ruin gadgets, your USB drive and all your storage media. Once again, not really true anymore. This carries on from the time of the floppy disk and the fact that you weren’t supposed to take photographic film through an airport scanner. Current media would really need an industrial strength magnet to do damage. After all the iPad 2 uses a magnetic cover as part of the ‘feature’ set. You're pretty safe with all your stuff unless you live with a mad scientist with a death ray magnet machine.



Lots more to come from this amazing world – where great ideas are dismissed as tall stories and silly myths are taken to be the gospel truth. Next week we’ll go deep into the world of expensive HDMI cables (give a better picture?), gadgets that fall into water (can they be revived?), mobile phones on an airplane (can you really crash that giant thing?) and of course the infamous and always asked question – do you really have a secret battery on your mobile phone that can give you juice when unlocked with a code? All shall be revealed next week.



Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.
Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni

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