Category Archives: Technology

Bittorrent For Legitimate Purposes

Lest one think of torrents and illegal downloads at the same time, it's worth reminding the public that torrents are just a file distribution system and one that has many legitimate uses. For example, one IT department used torrent technology to distribute a set of system patches and upgrades in just four hours. The same patch would have previously taken over 4 days!

Manage Your Online Reputation

Lifehacker has an interesting article about managing your online reputation. They talk about how to tell when new information about you surfaces (setting up a Google alert) and how to amend or respond to negative information. There are also ways to artifically improve the way you're viewed online (your own blog).

It's a good read for anyone who's concerned about what people will find when searching for your name online.

Teens VS Adults War Continues

A while back we were hearing stories of teens setting ringtones to frequencies that most adults couldn't hear. Now the tables are turning and there are some people who are using the same technique to chase young people away!

While very funny and an ironic twist on the ultrasonic ringtone idea, it has some legitimate drawbacks that are leading some to call for the devices to be banned.

The £500 Mosquito device has been installed at some 3,500 locations across the country since it first went on sale in January 2006. It emits an irritating, high-pitched sound that can only be heard by children and young people up into their early twenties, forcing them to move on.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

eBay To Eliminate Negative Feedback

In what is perhaps the dumbest move eBay has ever made, they are planning to eliminate the ability to leave negative or neutral feedback. Positive feedback is already pointless with a horde of robotic responses left only for bragging rights:

AAAAA+++++ Buyer!
Would Buy again!
Fast Shipping. Excellent Seller!

What does any of this mean? NOTHING. If you want the real scoop, it used to be only the negative feedback that would give it to you. Besides, if you DO get scammed, it's not like eBay will do anything about it so the negative feedback was the only thing that would protect you.

Science May Have Unlocked Human Memory

This is so very cool. I believe memory is the keystone of intelligence and it's what makes your life worthwhile. After all, what is the point of living if you can't remember anything?

The man, who has not been identified, was also tested on his ability to learn lists of paired objects. After three weeks of continuous hypothalamic stimulation, his performance on two learning tests was significantly improved. He was also much more likely to remember a list of unrelated paired objects with the electrodes turned on than when turned off.

(H/T to Digg.com for the link)

Recover Unclaimed Money at MissingMoney.com

For what sounds like a scam if ever there was one, MissingMoney.com appears to be legitimate. The team over at Lifehacker have had a rush of successes listed in their comments after their first post of this service and having tried it myself, I was actually able to find an unclaimed rebate in my name!

I found a record with one of my old addresses and clicked the link they gave me. It led to Washington State's web-based unclaimed funds service.

I had to create an account with Washington state's unclaimed money department, but that was a simple process. There was a point where they ask for a SSN, but they give you the option of providing it offline (which I thought was a nice touch).

Afterward, they asked me to submit any kind of record that shows that I lived at that address (which I did) and it was a done deal. In theory, I should get my money in a while. I will update this page at that time. Of course, if you do this, make sure that you're not providing sensitive documents as proof (I think I sent a bill with account numbers blacked out or such).

Update 1 – I checked for just about everyone I know, but it seems they're not hooked into every state yet. I just forwarded my friends and family to their local state's unclaimed property page for now, but if missing money manages to complete this service, it will be very valuable to people who have moved a lot.

Update 2 – According to the state unclaimed property site, my family has almost 10 claims! A few are for over $50 too. This is fun! I wonder how soon missing money will be hooked into all the states?

Update 3 – Got my rebate. It's for just over $30. Pretty neat.

Trick Automated Callers Into Never Calling You Again

From the, "that's freaking brilliant!" department, someone figured out that there's a phone tone that means "vacant circuit", or in layman's terms, there's no phone here. When an automated dialer gets that, they erase the phone number from their records so they don't waste their valuable time and money (as if ours wasn't). So what he did was download the tone from the Internet and put it as the first thing on his answering machine.

As long as you don't belong to a school system or work for someone who uses auto-dialers, this is pretty cool.

USB 3.0 Coming

Information about the coming USB 3 format is now available. Of course it's far faster than the previous version (about 10 times as fast), but the important nugget is that the connector is backwards compatible with USB1 and 2. That means that you can plug USB 3 devices into older systems and you can plug your old devices into USB 3 solts. That's pretty cool.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

Life Imitates Art – Green Laser Flashed at Helicopter

This story of a couple who shined a green laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter is interesting. According to the article, they were just having fun flashing them into the sky like giant light-sabers (which sounds pretty fun to me). Unfortunately, it hit the cockpit of the helicopter which must have diffused and spread the light (or else this couple has some killer aim to be able to hit the retina of a helicopter pilot at 500 feet).

Sounds just like a CSI Miami episode I saw.

And apparenlty, I'm not the only one who's noticed this connection.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

We Wanted ET, but Got Klingons

If you believe that life exists out there, it's easy to see why programs like SETI have been created to try and gather evidence. Now there's an effort called "Active SETI" that's no longer content to wait for signs of life, it's broadcasting signals directly to other stars that are likely to contain similar lifeforms to us.

The problem is, there are some who believe that doing so puts us all in danger. Without knowing who or what is out there, what their capabilities are, and what their intentions are, we could be inviting our own destruction.

Rather than sound paranoid, this is very sound advice. If you drugged and blindfolded and were then released somewhere that sounded like a city, would the first thing you did be to yell, "hey, hey! I'm over here! HELLLLLOOOOO!!!"

You could be in any part of any city in the world. This is a stupid action to take.

Typosquatting A Problem, But Tools are Wrong Solution

There's been a recent report about the Typo-squatting problem where they talk about mistyping a popular website name can get you served with a fake site full of ads, malware, or porn.

They mention the McAffee SiteAdvisor software that tries to alert you if you're on a site that probably isn't what you intended, but I offer this simple tool instead: Google. Set Google to your homepage and from now on, whenever you would normally type a site name into the address bar, hit the "home" button and type it into Google's search box instead.

If you mispelled it, Google will correct it and the first or second link will probably be the page you meant.

Substitute a different search engine if you must.

Spychips Author Sets Record Straight on Cancer-Causing RFID Implants

Caspian just released a paper documenting the research showing the causal link between RFID implants and cancer in lab animals. The reason they issued this report is because of the recent news press about the issue. They wrote and issued this report because "a lot of misinformation about the cancer research has circulated since [the original cancer research] was published". Damage control by Verichip perhaps?

In almost all cases, the malignant tumors, typically sarcomas, arose at the site of the implants and grew to surround and fully encase the devices.

That's not subtle is it? Neither is this:

Either VeriChip and the makers of HomeAgain actually don't understand the difference between a benign fibroma and a malignant fibrosarcoma," noted Dr. Albrecht, "or they're deliberately lying to the public. Either way, it's clear they can't be trusted. We hope our new report will set the record straight.

Check out the "Recent Industry Misstatements about Implant-Cancer Research" section near the bottom of the page for specific examples of lies/ignorance told by chip makers and CASPIAN's factual rebuttals.