postheadericon ECS: Top 10 Device Myths – Debunked!

There is a lot of misinformation out there that only gets worse the more you google up facts about your precious computing devices, so here is a list of my top 10 myths (and truths) that often go misreported or are misunderstood.

1. Impatience kills, or does it?
You are in a rush, but common thinking and multitudes of warning messages tell you that pulling out hard drives and pen drives from your computer will destroy your precious data and ruin the computer, but is that really so?  And what about just pushing the big red button to instantly shut down your work, instead of waiting ages for the "Shut Down" click to gyrate your box and close your computer gracefully?

Well as it turns out, it depends on what type of computer that you have.  Because of the way that an Apple computer handles its files, repeated and abrupt power-offs (as in the case of loadshedding without an invertor) can mangle the system bad enough to warrant a software repair. However, in tests done with Windows 7, no amount of abrupt power-offs or yanking of pen drives was ever found to be harmful, outside of error messages from your system. So, Mac users want to have a copy of Disk Warrior handy, which will fix any such mangling in just a jif.

2. Macs are safer than PCs, malware-wise
This urban tech legend is actually true, as statistically speaking, you are less likely to become part of a Russian Bot-Net or get phished into some scam if you are using an Apple computer, but common sense is still required, even if Anti-Virus software is not. The one scam that has suckered Mac users is ironically called MacDefender, a phishing scam that gets you to buy fake anti-malware software for your Mac, just adding insult to injury once you realize you've been duped. (PC users note: up-to-date anti-malware is absolutely essential.)

3. Airport Security will fry your data like eggs
Not that I would trust most of what the TSA says about anything, in this case, believe them when they say today's scanners are safe for hard drives, memory cards or whatever. Multitudes of tests have been run, and modern media can be safely scanned. Conventional film is another matter, but who carries that around anymore? Just leave your mason-jarred cupcakes at home, and expect your baby's diaper to get inspected instead.

4. Do Specs really matter?
For those fretting over a new tablet, laptop, or computer, here's a tip: forgettaboutit if you find yourself pouring over device specs like they were answers to the meaning of life. i5 or i7? 16mb or 32mb? 2.4 GHz or 2.8? To save you a lot of time and headache, just follow this simple rule of thumb: buy the latest and greatest of whatever it is that you want, at the price that you can afford, and then be happy. For those that need the specifics, focus on reviews posted on sites like or for info on full system performance.  Btw, all Macs are living proof that lower-spec'ed machines can work just great – no worries there.

5. Defragging & Partitioning hard drives is something you should do
Let's take defragging first; unless you are a professional video editor or someone with a huge multimedia library to maintain (as in terabytes), you can forget about the torturous defrag. It takes hours, and you will never see the benefit. Partitioning is indeed another thing, and the rule there is to partition your computer so that your data is separated from your system and applications. So for example, PC users can have c:\windows and d:\data that enables them to do sane backups and restores as needed. It's good practice for Mac users as well...just don't forget to regularly make clones of your partitions to external drives.

6. Big Brother is watching, so you had better watch out
This is a bit sticky, and opinions go from tin-hat conspiracy theories - where Big Brother is watching intently - to attitudes like, "What the heck, I've nothing at all to hide. My recommendation is to go down some middle road, and try not to put so much of your activity "out there." Downloading pirated software from torrent sites is not exactly legal, and from a tech standpoint, is easily traced. Whether or not anyone here is doing the tracing here in Nepal is an open question...or in other words, would your ISP report on you if asked? I made a small tin foil hat from left-over takeaway wrappings, and I keep that in plain sight as a reminder: big brother may be watching.

7. Turning off your devices when not using is a good, green idea
Nepali conventional wisdom says turn off all appliances when not using, as there isn't a whole lot of electricity here to waste. Western culture often thinks otherwise, where IT departments recommend never turning off anything computerized, perhaps in fear it won't ever start back up, and that would require a service call...but Nepali wisdom wins again, as turning computers on and off really is no big deal...they won't break in that way.  So power-down everything in sight if you don't need it running.

8. Never letting your laptop battery die will shorten it's life
Some of my friends have laptop apps that tell them they have run 30 hours, and it's time to let the battery drain. Actually, all those apps really do is to calibrate your onboard software that measures the battery in the first place.  Some folks also think that today's batteries have "memory," and the battery needs to be cared for like a mental patient. But the truth of the matter is, today's laptop batteries need no maintenance whatsoever - just top it off whenever you have loadshedding hours to do so, and then forget about it.

9. Fancy power strips are a waste of money, and cheap Chinese ones will do
This is one that I could rant on about for hours, as it's really dangerous to plug in anything here. Hi-tech appliances are not made to work well here in this jungle of electrical wiring and dubious standards of service. But good news on that front, as Belkin-branded power strips are available on the market for just a few hundred rupes more. Ya gotta get them if your devices are to have any hope of living a long and useful life in Nepal. Never mind the Nrs. 50,000 of insurance that comes with - what you want is a stable strip that can withstand a few shocks, and keep those surges from getting to your sensitive power supplies. Macs are notorious for burnt-out power bricks that will just ruin your day – in a flash!

10. You don't need a good Internet connection 24x7 with today's devices
This is my favorite myth debunked, as I have so many friends in Nepal that think they can go buy a fancy new device, say a tablet or an iPod or a new macbook, and not have a home internet connection of some substantial speed. The costs of a good Internet connection (256kbps and higher) needs to be factored into even the simplest of iPod purchases these days. More grown-up devices (PS3, laptop, flatscreen TVs, etc.) are even more dependent on the Internet then ever before. OS Updates, new apps, new YouTubes, new news, etc. are all things that need to constantly stream down while you are sending your life's story up to Facebook.


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I'm retired, and I walk my dog... a lot.

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