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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Technology
LazyTruth Fact-Checking Widget
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2012
A software company has announced it's making a widget called LazyTruth that will scan all your incoming emails for misinformation: tl;dr: We’re building an inbox widget that surfaces vetted information when you receive an email forward full of political myths, urban rumors, or security threats. It’s called LazyTruth. Basically the widget will scan the text of your incoming emails and check them against "pre-existing nonpartisan information". It's an interesting idea. I'll be curious to see how well it works. Of course, the main problem will be that the people who need the widget most, won't use it. And the widget won't work if some authoritative source hasn't…
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Technology Comments (3)
The Human Birdwings Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 21, 2012
Jarno Smeets claims to be a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands who's attempting to build a machine (Human Birdwings) to let people fly with flapping wings like a bird. It's not human-powered, per se. As you can see in the video, Jarno flaps his arms, and his arm motions are read by a Nintendo Wii controller and an Android smartphone which interprets them into mechanical commands. That's the theory, anyway. Is this fake? It seems to be. Wired did some digging into Smeets' background, and basically everything he said he did before the human birdwings project (attending Coventry University, working at a variety of…
Categories: Technology Comments (4)
Virus-Noise-Reducing Cable
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 14, 2012
Add this to the list of bizarre and dubious claims made by the manufacturers of audio and computer cables. The manufacturer of the Xbox 360 Elite HDMI 2.5m Basic Cable claim that their product includes "anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises." I'm glad someone is finally doing something about those awful virus noises! (via reddit)
Categories: Technology Comments (5)
The Man Who Claims He Invented Email
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 07, 2012
Back in November 2011, Time magazine ran an article titled "The Man Who Invented Email." It was about V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who, in 1978 as a 14-year-old kid, wrote and copyrighted a program called EMAIL. This article led the Smithsonian to recently acquire various documents related to Ayyadurai's 1978 program, in order to immortalize its contribution to American life and culture. In late February, the Washington Post added to Ayyadurai's growing fame as the creator of email by writing a piece about him titled, "Smithsonian acquires documents from inventor of EMAIL program.' Ayyadurai in 1980 All this has led to outrage in the tech community, with many people pointing out that…
Categories: Technology Comments (3)
Clay iPads
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 20, 2012
At least 10 people in Vancouver who bought iPad 2s have reported opening up the packaging only to discover it contained a slab of modeling clay, not an iPad. It's an old strategy for thieves to conceal their crime by replacing the item in the box with something of lesser value. Reminds me of the case from 2006 of the Hawaiian boy who opened an iPod box on Christmas Day, only to discover it contained a package of meat. Link: Yahoo!
Quantum Levitation Car Racing
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 11, 2012
A video of a race between miniature cars floating above a track by means of "quantum levitation" was recently debunked. The intro screen to the video credited it to the (fictitious) "Japan Institute of Science and Technology," but the true creator was Sony and SCE Studio Liverpool. The Business Insider says: "the video was a ploy by Sony and developer SCE Studio Liverpool to promote the Wipeout 2048 game that's coming out on the PS Vita." I'm assuming the video was inspired by a demonstration of "quantum levitation" conducted by the superconductivity group at Tel-Aviv University and posted on youtube a few months ago.
Categories: Technology, Videos Comments (2)
Project Black Mirror
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 15, 2011
Since the end of October, a group of young programmers have been blogging about their attempt to control Siri (that voice-activated iPhone app) using their thoughts. They call their effort Project Black Mirror. The basic premise is to measure the pattern of their brain waves, and then to design a program that can "detect the signature patterns that indicate a certain word is being thought of" and pass this information along to Siri, which executes the command. On their blog, they provide more details about exactly how they're going about this: 1. ECG pads provide raw…
Categories: Technology Comments (1)
Steorn: perpetually in the news
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 16, 2009
Irish company Steorn is back in the news with their perpetual motion machine. Having had their claims dismissed by a jury of scientists earlier this year, they're now appealing directly to the public by staging a demonstration of their machine in Dublin. I still can't figure out if these guys really think they've developed a new, revolutionary technology, or if it's all a cynical publicity ploy. Links: herald.ie, steorn.com/orbo Related entries: Official verdict: Steorn didn't develop free energy technology (06/30/09)
Categories: Free Energy, Technology Comments (9)
Polar Bear Simulacra
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 18, 2009
The St. Louis Zoo hasn't had much luck keeping its polar bears alive. From riverfronttimes.com: The zoo's last polar bear, Hope, was euthanized in April when veterinarians found it had cancer. In May 2005 another polar bear, named Churchill, ate a fatal helping of cloth and plastic inside its bin and died while undergoing stomach surgery. Five weeks later, a polar bear named Penny died at the zoo from infection. Turns out, she had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo officials didn't know she was pregnant. Their solution has…
Categories: Animals, Technology Comments (8)
CNET lists top 8 brainless tech rumors
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 17, 2009
CNET UK has come up with a list of "the eight most brainless tech rumours ever." They are: Hoverboards are real The large hadron collider will kill us all X-ray is a hoax Home taping to kill music Apple will buy Nintendo Google to buy CNET Y2K Bug will kill us all Bill Gates is the antichrist An odd list. They've omitted classics such as killer cell phone calls, cell phones explode gas stations, sunlamps cook internal organs, the Nokia speed trap detector, and (of course) penis-melting zionist robot combs.
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (3)
Does the internet promote extremism and crazy rumors?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 09, 2009
Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker discusses whether the internet promotes the spread of bizarre rumors by encouraging "group polarization": People’s tendency to become more extreme after speaking with like-minded others has become known as “group polarization”... “Views that would ordinarily dissolve, simply because of an absence of social support, can be found in large numbers on the Internet, even if they are understood to be exotic, indefensible, or bizarre in most communities,” Sunstein observes. Racists used to have to leave home to meet up with other racists (or Democrats with other Democrats, or Republicans with…
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (8)
Divining Rods for Bombs
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 05, 2009
Despite major bombings that have rattled the nation, and fears of rising violence as American troops withdraw, Iraq’s security forces have been relying on a device to detect bombs and weapons that the United States military and technical experts say is useless. The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board” — the power of suggestion — said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining…
Categories: Military, Technology Comments (4)
Solar Panel Made From Human Hair
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 10, 2009
Milan Karki, a young inventor from rural Nepal, claims to have figured out a way to replace the silicon in solar panels with human hair. From the Daily Mail: Milan and four classmates initially made the solar panel as an experiment but the teens are convinced it has wide applicability and commercial viability. 'I'm trying to produce commercially and distribute to the districts. We've already sent a couple out to the districts to test for feasibility,' he said. The solar panel, which produces 9 V (18 W) of energy, costs…
Categories: Technology Comments (11)
Man claims to be allergic to Wifi
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 28, 2009
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…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Technology Comments (14)
No Flesh-Eating Robots
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 20, 2009
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:
Categories: Food, Technology Comments (6)
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