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DJ Steve Miller claims that he is allergic to Wifi. Being caught near a Wifi connection causes him agonizing pain. From the Daily Mail:

The condition, known as electromagnetic sensitivity, affects two per cent of the population, and this is set to grow as more people opt for wireless internet signals. Steve navigates normal daily chores with the help of a ‘wi-fi detector’ which spots areas he should avoid. But the sensitivity has made moving house a real mission for Steve, who has needed to avoid homes close to a connection. He said: ‘I can’t live within 50 yards of anyone. I wouldn’t be able to stand it feeling ill in my own house. In his current home, in a remote area of Cornwall, he is shielded from the ‘electrosmog’ by sturdy 18-inch walls.

There are a growing number of people who complain that they're allergic to WiFi. Last year there were reports of a group of "electro-sensitive people" trying to stop the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico from creating a wireless internet network, claiming it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ian Douglas, of the Telegraph, explains why no one is allergic to Wifi:

Wifi consists of electromagnetic waves, just like light or radio waves, with a frequency of 2.4GHz, giving it a wavelength of around 12.5cm. There is some variation but not enough of a range to make any difference. 2.4GHz is on the long end of microwave, getting close to radio, rather similar to mobile phone signals. It transmits at much lower power than a mobile phone mast, so even if those signals were harmful, Wifi would be less so.
Mr Miller makes no mention of mobile phones, he is only bothered by Wifi. If it is electromagnetic radiation in general he’s sensitive to, he’s in real trouble as radio waves and visible light flood our atmosphere every minute of every day.

However, there is one group that is well known to have an extreme sensitivity to electromagnetic waves such as light: Vampires! Intriguingly, Steve Miller's stagename is "Afterlife." So I'm betting he's a vampire.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 28, 2009
Comments (14)
About two weeks ago, rumors began to spread online about a flesh-eating robot created by the military. The robot, named the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™), would be a reconnaissance droid that could survive for long periods behind enemy lines by foraging for fuel. This fuel would include virtually any kind of biomass: twigs, branches, apple cores, stray cats, or even human bodies.

The robot, it turns out, is real, but the claim that it will be able to feed on human bodies is false. The companies building the robot, Cyclone Power Technologies and Robotic Technology Inc., issued a press release addressing the rumor:

RTI’s patent pending robotic system will be able to find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment. Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes “human bodies,” the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips – small, plant-based items for which RTI’s robotic technology is designed to forage. Desecration of the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI.
Categories: Food, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 20, 2009
Comments (6)
A new hoax website advertises the World's First USB-powered Chainsaw:

Current materials used on bodies of chainsaws are too heavy for office use. Lighter materials, however, could cause the vertical axis of the guide bar to shift when pressure is applied onto the saw chain. Research and development introduced several innovations to offer an optimal blend of tough plastic and lightweight alloy.



It's said to be shipping in September. The real question is who created this page and why. It's registered anonymously (typical for a hoax site). We'll just have to wait and see who takes credit for it. (via wired)
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 09, 2009
Comments (12)
Back in August 2006, the Irish company Steorn declared it had developed "revolutionary free energy technology." To back up its claim, they ran an ad in the Economist inviting a jury of independent experts to scrutinize its claims.

It's been almost three years, but the jury has finally delivered its verdict.

The unanimous verdict of the Jury is that Steorn's attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy. The jury is therefore ceasing work.

So the whole thing was a big waste of time. The mystery is why Steorn even bothered. What did they think they were gaining from this elaborate charade?
Categories: Free Energy, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 30, 2009
Comments (11)
A new site (in French), roulez-leko.com, appears to announce the imminent introduction of the Leko, "the car by Ikea". The suspicious part: the car is set to debut right around April 1st. However, it could be legitimate because the first week of April is France's Sustainable Development Week, which the text on the site states that the debut is part of. We'll know soon enough if it's a hoax or something real.

If it is real, it serves as a reminder that companies should avoid making major product announcements on or around April 1st. Link: carconnection.com
Categories: April Fools Day, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 23, 2009
Comments (6)
James Katz, a professor of communication at Rutgers University, has studied the phenomenon of people who fake calls on cell phones. He's found that a very high number of people do this (above 90%). Reasons include: to avoid talking to someone nearby, to look important, or to look busier than they are. Katz has been quoted as saying: "They are taking a device that was designed to talk to people who are far away and using it to communicate with people who are directly around them."

Two apps available for the iPhone demonstrate the robustness of this trend: Fake Calls will make it look like you just received a call. Similarly, Fake Text will make it look like you just received an SMS text message.

Since I don't have a cell phone, let alone an iPhone, I won't be needing these.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 11, 2009
Comments (28)
Get a tan as you sit in front of your computer by logging onto ComputerTan.com:

This technological breakthrough is enabled by converting the electrical impulse delivered to your pc into radiated factor-free UV rays.

It's Tan-Tastic!

The Times Online reveals that the site is actually a hoax created by the UK skin cancer charity Skcin "to raise awareness of skin cancer in the UK." However, within only 24 hours, 30,000 people had registered their interest in getting a "computer tan" before the site was revealed to be a hoax.

This isn't the first online tanning salon we've seen. Back in 2004 I posted about sunnysite.com.
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 05, 2009
Comments (6)
Hudson Pace sent this interesting clipping. He writes:

Here's a hoax (see attached). Presumably done with double-exposures, but it would be nice to know how many people he fooled and why he did it.
It's from 'The Encyclopedia of Modern Wonders for Boys', published by Collins apparently in the 1930s. Googling 'Herbert Winck' gives one reference to the same pictures in 'The Wonder World Encyclopedia' from 1936, also published by Collins. As you'll see from the caption, the pictures fooled at least one person.



I assume the pictures were created via double exposure, in the same way spirit photographs are usually made. As for Herbert Winck, I can't find out anything more about him. But searching the google news archive for articles about invisibility machines, I did come across a March 3, 1937 article in the Chicago Tribune about an Italian inventor who supposedly created something that sounds very similar to Winck's machine. The article was syndicated. A similar version also ran in the Washington Post.

MAKES 2 WOMEN VANISH BY USING A BIT OF SCIENCE
Expert in Physics Insists He's No Magician


Rome, March 2 -- (AP) -- Prof. Mario Mancini, who makes people disappear by "purely scientific principles," insisted today he was not a magician -- and "I do not use mirrors." Mancini, 33 years old and former professor of physics at Breda academy here, made his wife and sister disappear before the eyes of an Associated Press correspondent at his home in Milan. He would not explain beyond saying: "It is simply a scientific instrument which nullifies the rays reflected by opaque bodies."

Uses Wooden Box.
A huge wooden box, of practically cubical shape, the sides of which were about eight feet long, occupied nearly half the drawing room where the professor held his demonstration. The side toward the observer apparently was open but in reality was closed by a sheet of transparent glass. The professor's wife and sister entered the box through a side door and seated themselves in chairs. While Prof. Mancini dangled his legs over the side of a table on which the electrical controls were placed the two subjects inside the box talked to each other and those in the room.

Outlines of Women Vanish
The professor pressed a button illuminating the box inside. Simultaneously there was a distinct buzzing sound. After a few moments the outlines of the two women and the chairs became more and more indistinct until they disappeared completely. The voice of the two still could be heard, however. After another moment the controls were reversed and the two subjects and chairs came back into clear view.
Categories: Magic, Technology
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 04, 2008
Comments (7)
We've seen quite a few dubious devices that claim to enhance the performance and mileage of automobiles. The BioPerformance pills come to mind. However, the Magic Power System (aka MPS Power Shift Bar) is something special because it's a product that's not even vaguely plausible. It's on sale on eBay UK for the low buy-it-now price of £34.99 (about $52). All you do is plug it into the lighter socket of your car, and here's the improvements you will see:
  • enhance fuel efficiency - saves gasoline (10-30%)
  • increase engine torque - increase power (2-5ps)
  • reduce car emissions - contribute to the environment unconsciously
  • improve car audio sounds
  • the small device cleans the entire car electrically including its body
  • battery level check function: LED blue light for normal, LED red light for caution
  • silent, no more noise
What a bargain! (via jalopnik)
Categories: Scams, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 18, 2008
Comments (10)
Designed to deter sandwich thieves. Green splotches are printed on both sides: "After your sandwich is placed inside, no one will want to touch it."

The bag was designed by Sherwood Forlee, who describes himself as "a designer with no design or art education." He also writes that he "calls himself a designer because it sounds hip and no one likes hanging around a nerd at a party."

One of his other inventions is a "Vaginal Simulator," which isn't a sex toy. "Rather, it is one of the most advanced and effective tampon testing simulators."
Categories: Food, Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 12, 2008
Comments (6)
1) The school child who walked at the front of the Chinese team during the opening ceremonies (he was a survivor of the Sichuan earthquake) was carrying an upside-down Chinese flag. Why is debatable. Maybe it was an innocent mistake, or maybe it was a coded message of "great distress" (as upside-down flags mean in nautical convention). Whatever the reason, the Chinese media cropped the upside-down flag out of the photos they showed Chinese audiences.

2) The opening ceremonies included a massive fireworks display. But what was shown to television audiences was a pre-recorded, computer-generated shot of fireworks. This was done because of "potential dangers in filming the display live from a helicopter." I've seen plenty of televised fireworks displays, but I've never heard that excuse before.

[Update: According to stuff.co.nz, the fake fireworks occurred during the sequence when firework "footprints" were going off in a series over the city of Beijing, tracked from a helicopter and leading right up to the stadium. When I watched the ceremony, I remember the NBC commentators noting that the sequence was a computer generated graphic. This is more understandable to me. When I read the yahoo sports article, I got the impression that it was the fireworks directly over the stadium that had been faked.]

3) The ceremonies concluded with a dramatic torch-lighting stunt. As this was happening, a projection of the Microsoft "blue screen of death" mysteriously appeared on the roof of the stadium. Some programmer's mistake, apparently. This really happened.

And a fourth item to note (Thanks, Nick): the little girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" was lip-synching. The AP reports:
Lin Miaoke's performance Friday night, like the ceremony itself, was an immediate hit. "Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke becomes instant star with patriotic song," the China Daily newspaper headline said Tuesday. But the real voice behind the tiny, pigtailed girl in the red dress who wowed 91,000 spectators at the National Stadium on opening night really belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi. Her looks apparently failed the cuteness test with officials organizing the ceremony, but Chen said her voice was judged the most beautiful.
"The national interest requires that the girl should have good looks and a good grasp of the song and look good on screen," Chen said. "Lin Miaoke was the best in this. And Yang Peiyi's voice was the most outstanding."
Categories: Photos/Videos, Sports, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 12, 2008
Comments (6)
Customers at Apple's online iPhone store recently had the opportunity to buy a program called "I Am Rich." True to its name, it cost $999.99.

The program, created by Armin Heinrich, a German software developer, displayed a large red ruby on the iPhone's screen. And that's it. Nothing else. The product description read:

"The red icon on your iPhone always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this. It's a work of art with no hidden function at all."

Eight people actually purchased the program before Apple removed it from the site. One of them complained that he bought it thinking it was a joke, only to discover a charge for $999.99 on his credit card.

This program walks the fine line between a prank and a scam. The concept is kind of funny, but Heinrich is apparently keeping the money that people paid. I wouldn't find that funny if it was my money.
Categories: Pranks, Scams, Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 11, 2008
Comments (13)
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