Tech myths exploded

Uncovering the real truth about your gadgets

Is it safe to use your mobile phone at a petrol station? Was Donkey Kong supposed to be called Monkey Kong? T3 seeks to uncover the truth by examining the biggest tech tales out there

Proof that even some of the most self-proclaimed techies can be caught out by so-called tech truths, we’ve dug out some distorted tales in tech, revealing those which carry an element of truth, and the ones which are as false as your grandmother's teeth.

A 5.1 sound system will deliver you the ultimate audio haven

Yes, it is technically true but only unless it is set up properly. Ensuring that speakers are positioned from specific distances from your seating area and the sound source is encoded in a surround sound format is essential. However that leaves most of us with ordinary devices like CDs and televisions which boast just stereo sound, struggling to capture true directional sound.

Airport X-ray machines can do damage to your memory card

Picture the scene; You've just spent three months trekking across South America taking in all the spectacular sights, and when you reach arrivals the pics you saved appear to have been erased. Well, the likelihood of this actual scenario occurring is minimal, contrary to what some are led to believe there is no case to suggest that the machines will affect the data on your memory cards. Magnets on the other hand may be more of a threat, so perhaps keeping your camera away from the beginning of the conveyer belt will help keep your pics and data safe.

Buy a camera with a high ISO for the best pictures

Another case of 'one function does not make a great picture', while a higher ISO gives you higher sensitivity, it is better suited to low light photography, so a very high ISO on your typical cam can lead to extreme noise in your pictures. The tale of the digital camera tape, is don't judge your buying on the higher ISO alone, and think about what kind of pics you are likely to take.

CD/DVD Media will live forever

Manufacturers have been split on whether the disc-based media can live for over 100 years, but it seems its life will only be immortal should you store it in ideal conditions, not piled high and out of their cases by your telly. Some CDs and DVDs simply left on a shelf unused can stop working after five years, so to get the most life out of your discs, we suggest backing them up, and keeping the away from sunlight and dusty spaces.

Donkey Kong was meant to be called Monkey Kong

Considering there's not a donkey in sight in this console classic, it sounds like game naming gaffe from a mile. However game inventor Shigeru Miyamoto has gone on record may times stating that the name was intentional and a play on "King Kong" to evoke the image of a stubborn, foolish gorilla.

Emptying your recycle bin will delete those files forever

A question asked by many, and the answer is of course, no. Emptying the recycle bin leaves you trash in a landfill that can still be got at with the aid of file recovery software that can search your hard disk for files that are still lingering. There is tools available that will allow you to delete the files permanently, but we suggest not downloading that dodgy file in the first place...

Forget the Internet, get ready for the Internet 2

The sophisticated super-powered private network that runs across America for a select few and is headed by colleges and universities, is highly unlikely to make a more public appearance anytime in the near future. The cost to run the suped-up net on a greater scale would be truly astronomical for both ISPs and the consumer.

It's all about the megapixels

It's easy when looking to buy a new camera, to see 14-megapixels, and think 'that's one for me'. Well before you hand over the cash, remember there's more to that final pic than your pixels. Make sure you are considering image sensor size and type, lenses, image stabilization, because as much as a load of megapixels sounds like powerful pic-grabbing, a DSLR with 5-megaxpixels could do an equally if not a better job than a brand new compact.

Magnets can damage your storage devices

Now this is true only if for some bizarre reason you are still holding onto a floppy drive, your more updated storage devices should be a little more safe. Hard drives can be affected by magnets but only by the kind you find scientists playing around with in their labs. Other magnets are simply not strong enough to cause damage to your stored data, so go crazy on the fridge magnets we say.

Pong was the first video game

True hardcore gamers will know that Pong was in fact not the first video game, but the first video game that was playable for the masses. Before the simplistic tennis title was revealed to the world on November 29th 1972, the little known, 'Computer Space' was the first commercially sold video game released a full year before Pong. It was however, rock hard to play, and is the reason why most recognize the more playable Pong the birth of the video game.

Rechargeable batteries are better value than disposable ones

Now this conundrum simply boils down to how often you use your gadgets. Rechargeable nickel cadmium and nickel metals hydride batteries lose their charge quickly when stored, so for gadgets like a flashlight you should probably opt against the rechargeable variety. So, occasional snappers need not invest to heavily in rechargeable batteries, or for that matter those ones from down the market.

Saddam Hussein and his Playstation 2-constructed guided missile system

One that hit the news back in 2000, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was reported to have been stockpiling Playstation 2 systems into the country. But rather than planning a mammoth gaming session, speculation mounted that Saddam wanted to string together the consoles to create a supercomputer powerful enough to guide missile systems. The biggest flaw with this plan is that technically the method to carry it out would take bloody ages.We heard that Saddam was always a Dreamcast man anyway.

Sony originally developed the PlayStation for Nintendo

What seems like an unlikely partnership now was indeed the case back in 1986, when Sony worked alongside Ninty to produce a CD-based video console. At the eleventh hour Nintendo pulled out of the deal with the SNES-CD video console being prepped for launch. So Sony went it alone with the project, delivering the Sony Playstation while Nintendo released the 64, and the rest as they say, is history.

Static images on your plasma TV will burn if left too long

While most will not have to worry about this, leaving the telly on overnight on the 'We'll be back at 9am' screen it seems can do damage to your precious flatscreen telly. Hardcore gamers are likely to be at risk too with static images from games over time liable to leave faint but permanent impressions on your screen.

Switching off the power without shutting down can do damage to your PC

One of the most infamous debates of the tech world, it is commonly understood that shutting down improperly can do damage to your physical hard drive. However, you've only got about about a 10% chance of confronting the Blue Screen of Death. Which means 1 in every ten bad shutdowns may require you to panic. The element of truth is minimal, but enough for us to shut down in the properly.

The iPhone 3G killer switch

What would this gadget great be without an even greater tech myth to go with it? While it's not entirely false, you need not worry about Mr Jobs and co suddenly taking control of your Apple smartphone. The 'kill switch' is actually there to safeguard you against hacking - disabling unapproved apps that could do damage to your phone. Since Apple can't actually disable the phone at will, dubbing it a 'kill switch' makes it sound unnecessarily worse than it actually is.

There are millions of Atari cartridges buried in the New Mexico Desert

What does a brown alien, Steven Spielberg, and Atari have in common? The answer can be found at the bottom of a landfill in the New Mexico Desert, where millions of unwanted Atari cartridges were deposited. When an Atari version of Pac-Man and a game based on the blockbuster film, E.T was rushed out for a Christmas release in 1982, they both fell so far below company and public expectations that most of the games were sent back to Atari, who decided to dump them quickly.

Use 'Safely Remove' hardware function every time you unplug a USB device

One which clearly bothers many, as they try to load the rest of their work at the end of the day onto their USB stick. If you are in the middle of transferring data, then - unless you want to get home with desired document in tact - don't pull the device out. If your device is idle, then there is no real need to aim your cursor to the icon at the bottom of your desktop screen; that's just a nicety.

Using a mobile phone at petrol stations

Is it true that chatting away on you phone near the petrol pumps can result in a Hollywood style explosion? Well the scenario has never been scientifically demonstrated nor are there any documented cases of it happening. Most instances of such explosive results that are mobile related, have not involved a spark from a handset. Whether you continue to obey the law of the forecourt, we suggest probably you should.

You can only use your iPod on five computers

One Apple tale that has floated around for some time, where the truth is actually a little miscued. You can actually hook your iPod up to an infinite number of computers, but a little more closer to the truth is that music purchased from the iTunes Music Store can only be put onto five computers.