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Tech Tonic

The mythology of technology

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Like most things in life, technology has its own set of beliefs, urban legends, myths and prejudices. And like its contemporaries in other fields, many of these are miles from the truth. We bust eleven of the most common myths in the world of technology...

Tennis players avoid walking on lines, cricketers insist on kissing the ball before running in to bowl, actors avoid shooting at certain times of the day. . . no matter what humans do, you can be sure that there will be an element of myth and faith, often unsubstantiated, associated with it. For all its claims to being based on information and knowledge of assorted fields, the world of technology is no different. It too has its own urban legends. Just walk into an electronics shop and you will come across all kinds of statements, varying from the firm belief that the computers of certain companies 'start boiling' to cell phones that fry your brains with radiation.

While some of these myths and beliefs are rooted in facts, most bear nothing but a passing resemblance to the truth and are based on information that has long become outdated or simply does not exist. Needless to say, these often mislead tech users and result in consequences that vary from wasting money to hardware damage. Here are some myths that you should be wary of:

THE PROCESSOR

Ask someone about a computer and there is a fair chance that the first thing he will mention about it is its processor and its speed and the number of cores that it has. Blame it on successful advertising or plain media perception, one of the biggest myths in tech is that all will be well with a device if it has a good processor. While there is no doubt that the processor is indeed a vital component of any gadget - be it a computer or a smartphone - it alone cannot ensure that the gadget will work well. There are several other components that need to be kept in mind as well, ranging from graphic cards, memory, storage and so on. The processor is only a part of the equation, not its solution. In fact, a number of devices with relatively slower processors have outperformed those with faster ones, simply because they were better engineered. So, do pay attention to processor details when you evaluate a gizmo, but not at the cost of ignoring other details.

GOOD CAMERA = HIGH MEGAPIXELS

The blame for the 'more megapixels equals better pictures' myth can be laid squarely at the door of camera phone manufacturers who have, of late, been tom-tomming the fact that their devices come with cameras that have more MPs than ever before. But just as processors alone cannot guarantee a good computer, megapixels, though important, do not a great picture make. There are other components - quality of the sensors and the zoom - that play an equally important role when it comes to picture quality. In fact, many professional photographers actually wield cameras that have a lower megapixel count than even those found on some phones and still churn out great results!

VIDEO GAME? HOW OLD IS YOUR CHILD?

Contrary to popular belief, video games are not child's play. In fact, many titles are strictly meant for adults and come with an "18 years and above" rating. They are stuffed with content ranging from violence to crude language and explicit scenes that would make even older people blanch. The next time you see a retailer handing out a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 to a 10-year-old, stop him. Not all video games are meant for the younger - the highest selling ones are, in fact, targeted at adults!

VIDEO GAMES KILL THE COMPUTER
This myth stems from incidents in the late 90s when playing videogames on computers often resulted in overheated, damaged motherboards. However, to make a sweeping statement based on a few incidents is extremely unfair. The truth is that videogames, like any software, come with certain system requirements (processor, memory etc. ) and if you play them on a system that does not meet these, you are running the risk of some damage. However, most games these days will simply refuse to play on computers that do not conform to the minimum requirements. If you have a good enough computer, it is highly unlikely that a videogame will damage it.

BLACKBERRY FOR E-MAIL ON THE GO

Ask a lay person which phone one should use for accessing e-mail, and there is fair chance that the answer you will get is "BlackBerry". While this is a tribute to just how well BlackBerry devices handle e-mail, the widely-held belief that they are the best - and sometimes only - phones for handling mail is subject to debate. With the emergence of devices like Nokia's E series, Apple's iPhone and a range of Android and Windows Mobile phones, e-mail on a handset is no longer a novelty. In fact, some of these devices handle e-mail just as well, if not better, than a BlackBerry, besides throwing in other useful enterprise features. Yes, BlackBerry is one of the best devices in town for handling mobile e-mail, but it is certainly not the only one, as many would have us believe!

SAVE BATTERY, KEEP YOUR DEVICE PLUGGED IN

We wish we had a penny for every user who persists in keeping his devices plugged into the local power outlet to "conserve battery". While this might have actually worked some years ago, today, most devices' battery will actually drain much faster if you do not use it enough. So, if you have a choice between keeping your laptop or cellphone plugged to the mains or running it on battery, opt for the latter. You will be surprised at just how much longer the battery lasts.

MACS ARE FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS


This myth stems from the fact that most advertising agencies, studios and music composers tend to use Macs - be it iMac or Macbook Pro. However, the belief that Apple's computers are meant only for designers is as untrue as is the one which suggests that the Mac is the only computing option for anyone in a creative business. Even a normal individual can use a Mac and heck, designers can also work just as well (depending on their needs) on computers from other brands.

FREE SOFTWARE IS NEVER AS GOOD

Blame this one on pirates who use this argument to convince relatively naive tech users to buy hacked versions of expensive software at knockdown prices. The fact is that while not all free software applications work well, quite a few - like OpenOffice. org, Linux and Mozilla Thunderbird - actually prove more than a match for their paid counterparts. In fact, some free software is so good that we actually would recommend it over paid ones. So, ignore the pirates, and give free software a try, especially if it happens to be open source. You will be pleasantly surprised.

TO EDIT PICTURES, GET PHOTOSHOP

Has a software ever been so synonymous with a function as Photoshop has been with image tweaking? The result is that most people head for Photoshop (generally pirated versions, much to Adobe's dismay) when they need to do anything that involves playing around with photographs. The fact is that most cameras these days ship with basic image editing software and there are a number of other image editing options (including a number of free ones) that are available online. Yes, Photoshop is one of the most powerful image editing options available in the world today, but it is by no means your only option when all you want to do is some basic image editing.

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH PIRACY

Notwithstanding all the assurances of the person you get your pirated product from (" original copy, sir/madam" ), you can rest assured that the lower price you pay will come at some cost. Be it a hacked Photoshop disk, a jailbroken iPhone or a smuggled Kindle, your pirated copy will have some shortcomings. It might be short of a few features, might not be able to receive updates or might crash at random. Just remember that irrespective of what people tell you (and there are a number of so-called tech pundits who are not shy of pushing piracy), a pirated product will sooner or later give you more than its share of headaches. And, of course, buying it is not really legal!

APPLE, BLACKBERRY PRODUCTS ARE COSTLY

A classic case of two brands being evaluated by their high-end products. The stark fact is that you can get Apple and BlackBerry products for relatively low prices - an iPod shuffle comes for less than Rs 2, 500, an iPod nano with video recording for around Rs 8, 000, and you can get BlackBerry handsets for less than Rs 10, 000. Now, if that is not value for money, we do not know what is. So do not scratch out these brands the next time you go for making a purchase, just because someone told you that Apple and BlackBerry products come with "premium" price tags. Yes, these brands do tend to cost more than some of their contemporaries, but they also have eminently affordable offerings.

Reader's opinion (1)

Deven Nov 18th, 2010 at 15:27 PM

Informative article

 
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