Some common tech myths busted

Have you heard the rumour about using your mobile phone as a digital key to unlock your car?

With myths like this one propagating at the speed of spam, it can be hard to tell fact from fiction.

We examine some common tech myths and tell you whether they’re downright silly, or if they hold more than a grain of truth.

‘You must completely discharge your laptop battery before recharging it’

Thankfully, this myth is only valid for nickel-cadmium (NiCd), or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

Such batteries have a “memory” quirk that reduces their capacity if they are recharged before they run out of juice. So, they need to be discharged completely beforehand, or else you’ll see its capacity decrease at a much faster rate.

Computer maker Dell says that most of the laptops today use lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, which do not suffer from the “memory effect” that affects their nickel-based brethren.

In fact, you should keep lithium-based batteries charged to avoid shortening their life span. We did a random check on several laptops from different manufacturers and found that all employ Li-ion batteries. Phew.

Just to be sure, check your batteries for the symbols Li-ion, NiCd or NiMH to see which advice applies.

‘Men shouldn’t use laptopsbecause it makes them infertile’

Unfortunately, for those too keen to whip out laptops on the long train commute, there’s some truth to this one.

A recent scientific study revealed that using a laptop on your lap can increase the temperature to up to 2.8°C in your, er, nether regions — not exactly the optimum temperature for the testes to produce sperm properly.

“The increased temperature comes about partly because of the positioning of the scrotum within the closed thighs and also from the radiation of heat from the laptop computer,” explained Dr Ng Kok Kit from Changi General Hospital. He added that not only is sperm production reduced, the shape of sperm and its movements are also affected.

He said: “All of these factors contribute to infertility. Men who are concerned with fertility should not work with laptops on their laps. At the very least, they should limit the amount of time their laptops are used in that manner.”

Gulp. Men, best to stick to a desk, or use a breakfast tray.

‘Metal detectors or airport X-ray scanners can erase data on your Digicams and memory cards’

Do you hesitate when asked to place your laptops or digital cameras through the X-ray scanners at the airport, fearing your precious data might be wiped clean by the machines?

I haven’t had any mishaps of losing data in such a way, even as I zip in and out of the country for work or holidays — I think you’d be more likely to delete your own data by accident.

Tests carried out by manufacturer SanDisk, the International Imaging Industry Association and the United States Transportation Security Administration found that X-ray scanners and walk-through or hand-held metal detectors do not affect the data on memory cards. In fact, old media formats like analogue film are more likely to be damaged from X-ray machines.

‘When your mobile phone runs out of juice, press *3370# to tap into its reserve battery power’

Each handset manufacturer has its own set of codes to enable hidden settings or functions. But, you can punch the above-mentioned numbers and symbols on some Nokia phones to enhance voice quality — which actually drains battery power at a faster rate.

Instead, typing in *4720# decreases voice quality and uses less battery power, so as to prolong slightly your phone’s standby time — but there’s no secret reservoir of battery power that you can tap into when you’re low on juice.

The voice quality trick only works on particular Nokia models — we found that it doesn’t work on some of its new phones that run on the S60 operating system and doesn’t apply to handsets from other manufacturers.

‘You should shut down the operating system before switching off the power to your computers to avoid data loss’

It has become standard practice for us to switch off our computers by shutting down the operating system first because we’ve been led to believe that any abrupt shutdown might cause data loss. But, some say that cutting power to your computer is harmless and won’t damage your hard drive as long as you’ve saved your work.

Well, according to Microsoft Singapore, all users should follow the proper shutdown procedure, regardless of the operating system in use.

“Users should avoid switching off power to the PC without having first saved the data and shut down properly, as this does affect the lifespan of the hard drives,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Today. “Microsoft’s advice to users is to ensure all documents are saved before shutting down their computers via the operating system. It is also important that users wait for a computer to shut down fully before switching off the power supply.”

The company added that it is not true that shutting down one’s PC every few hours will have a detrimental impact. In general, Microsoft advises that your computer should be shut down and allowed to “rest” whenever it is not in use.
Source: Today

No comments: