Thanks to the age of the internet, sharing information has become commonplace. And with this also comes the myths, where people can share faulty information. Anyone can share faulty information, and sometimes this information will make itself into a myth, as it is passed from one person to another. And IT is one of the worst for mythical facts. I am here today to share 7 great facts of IT and computing, that turn out to be myths.
- “Android is an open source operating system”
This is one of the most popular myths in existence, and in an age of smartphones and mobile Operating Systems, it has spread like wildfire.
Although the Android OS is technically an Open-Source project, only the previous stable version is released to the public. The work going on for all new projects is done normally by google, who have used their financial muscle to basically control the project. Therefore, Android is not completely open-source, as a community does not work on new versions. Instead a team of Google engineers and software developers do this ‘in-house’.
- “Incognito mode (and alternatives) makes you anonymous”
The fact that Incognito mode makes you anonymous means only that people viewing you history from your device cannot see what you have viewed. Your Internet Service Provider, Network Manager and even a WebMaster can see that you have visited. Even I can see that you have visited my blog and read this, even if you do activate incognito mode. The only possible way of doing this is to pretend to be someone else, like using a VPN or proxy. But that is another article altogether.
- “BitTorrent is illegal”
This is simply untrue. Period. The fact that someone uses a torrent client to download illegal or pirated material is illegal, but just having Bittorrent on your system is not. Bittorrent can be used to download almost anything nowadays, not just illegal material. Many game mods and even open-source software is downloadable via a torrent client such as Bittorrent.
- “Mobile phones give you cancer”
Many studies have found that although mobile phones haven’t been around long enough to assess long-term effects, the results of studies so far haven’t demonstrated that the use of mobile phones causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer.
- “Airport scanners will wipe your hard disk”
This is a hangover from the days of camera film, when putting your bag through an airport X-ray machine often meant no more pretty photos. Flash storage ended that issue, and you can rest assured your laptop is safe too. X-ray machines primarily use electromagnetic energy, unlike the magnetic energy of the walk-through metal detectors, so your tech kit is fine on the conveyor belt with your keys and wallet. Even the handful of early scare stories about the Kindle’s E Ink display being damaged have proved to be unfounded as time has gone on.
- “Plugging your phone in every night will kill the battery”
This may have been good advice back in the days of nickel-cadmium batteries, but modern lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries don’t suffer any harm from being left charging for long periods. In fact, it’s better to keep them plugged in than to leave them to run down: repeatedly allowing a lithium battery to discharge to a low level before topping it up will shorten its life.
- “Mobile phones interfere with plane equipment”
It can’t practically be proven that mobile phones don’t interfere with aircraft equipment, in much the same way it can’t be proven that God doesn’t exist. We can, however, be confident that if the aviation industry thought phones actively endangered aircraft, they’d rely on more than eagle-eyed cabin crew to prohibit use.
Aviation authorities ban the use of mobiles on planes because the levels of electromagnetic interference from such devices can exceed the susceptibility levels of onboard equipment, especially in older aircraft. While most modern phones and modern planes operate together without conflict, certifying each and every handset would be an administrative nightmare, hence the much simpler blanket ban. That said, airlines such as Emirates and Virgin Atlantic are now fitting picocells in their modern fleets to allow passengers to make calls and send text messages.