The Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” show is great, and very popular with geeks and all, but we could use one for computing. The show deals mainly with physics and nature myths, especially when they give Jamie and Adam an opportunity to blow stuff up. We’ll never forget that cement truck.
So we could use some computer Mythbusters. Because over the years of working and playing with computers, I have accumulated a stack of things I know… or think I know… or don’t know whether I know. There’s debate all over the place about these issues, but nobody ever rolls a camera, rounds up some test machines, and sets out to either prove it as fact or bust it once and for all.
I’m going to fess up to these here, just so you know that ever a high and mighty geek blogger has stuff he doesn’t know either. If anybody has a definite test that proves results one way or the other, feel free to link me to my education for the day.
Is it better to turn the computer off or leave it on? – When I turn it off, I’m saving energy. When I leave it on, I’m saving the delicate circuitry inside the motherboard from being jolted with the sudden current when I turn it on. So which is better?
Are screensavers still necessary? – You can see an excellent example of “raster-burn” mostly on old arcade machines. Ever seen a Pac-Man machine with the maze burned into the tube even when it’s turned off? But I keep hearing how monitors have come a long way. What about LCD screens on laptops?
Do I really have to wear wrist-guards and take precautions against static when handling components? – You know, don’t touch the motherboard without touching the case first to discharge static, handle RAM chips only by their edges, static mats, wrist bands with the clip connecting to the chassis, yadda yadda. I went for a decade handling computer guts as if they were Faberge eggs, and then one day I was at a computer store and the clerk took a card out of the bag and had his fingers all over it. I asked “What about static?” and he shook his head and said, “Myth!” I took the card home and it worked. Even since then, I handle components like anything else, and have had no problem.
Are there really no viruses for Linux? – Yes, I know all about those proof-of-concept experiments done at places like Kaspersky labs. I’m not talking about in a theoretical way in some mad scientist lab, but in the wild. And don’t give me that conventional wisdom that there aren’t enough Linux boxes to exploit, because there are places where Linux has enough market share (such as the server room) to make it possible. For that matter, Linux powers some of the biggest sites on the web, which is where the money is anyway. I know programming. I know enough to know that there is no such thing as a hermetically perfectly secure system. So, where’s the viruses?
Do you really need to burn CDs slow? – Every time I go to burn a CD, I pick 4x as the burn speed because I heard that burning faster can corrupt the data on it and I’ll end up with a frisbee. But my read/write CD drive and software says it can go many factors faster. Burning at 4x takes about a minute or two anyway. So why bother making it faster if it’s going to mess something up?
Did the old ‘turbo’ button on old computers ever do anything? – Every time I’ve seen one on an old box, I’ve pushed it and tested and pushed it again. I never noticed any difference in speed at all, for anything. I never got around to dismantling the case to find out if it’s actually just not connected to anything. I could see it if it’s there to give you something to do when you call tech support.
Heck, I could come up with more all day, but I’ll turn the mike over to the comment crowd.
- Fixing Windows using a Live Linux CD – part two
- Partitioning for Linux – part 2: the how
- Securing your Home Network – the least you need to know
- On Founding The Cult of Microsoft
- Intel vs. AMD