Hoax Museum Blog: Technology

Holotext Messaging — One day I'm sure it'll be possible to receive holographic messages on your iPhone. But not yet. Which means that this video showing (what appears to be) an iPhone displaying Holotext messages is a fake.

I kept expecting Princess Leia to pop up and say, "Help me, Obi-Wan. You're my only hope."
Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2008.   Comments (5)

Tribal Laptop — I saw this image posted on Gizmodo (who got it from pixdaus). They claim to know nothing about it, except that it shows the Dani people of Papua, New Guinea.

Is it real, or has the Sony Vaio been photoshopped in? My hunch is that it's real. I'd guess that the laptop belongs to a photographer or researcher who handed the laptop to the guy with the big headdress in order to show him a picture. But that's just a guess.

I debated whether the image could be considered "not safe for work." But then I figured, No, it's too "National Geographic" to be considered sexual. (Though if this were the exact same scene with Caucasian women, I'm sure it would be considered NSFW... strange how that works.)

Only one question: What's with the disembodied hand reaching out from behind the headdress?
Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2008.   Comments (38)

Cell Phones Cook Popcorn — A youtube video purports to show popcorn popping when placed in between cell phones all ringing at once.

Clearly fake. It's a new spin on the old joke about cooking an egg with two cell phones. The only question is how they got the popcorn to pop. My guess is there must be a heating element beneath the table.
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008.   Comments (14)

KaleCoAuto — KaleCoAuto offers a variety of automobile parts and accessories you're unlikely to find anywhere else. For instance, they sell "seasonal air" for your tires, so you can make sure the air inside your tires is at the correct temperature for the season outside.

Other products include porcupine seat covers, a car-to-tank kit, and (my favorite) the "Round Tuit" (pictured) -- a multi-functional tool that is "a requirement to finish all those hard jobs that you keep putting off."

According to uwhois.com, the KaleCoAuto.com site is registered to Ronald McPothole who lives on 1986 Corvette Lane. I'm sure that's a real name. (Thanks, Jerry)
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008.   Comments (6)

The Perfect Woman — Ai Robotics claim to have developed the "Perfect Woman." Her face is shiny and her movements jerky, but she does housework. From perfect-woman.com:

The company AI ROBOTICS was founded 2 years ago by Etienne Fresse and Yoichi Yamato, both robotics specialists working on developing cutting-edge technologies. During the last 3 years the two founders have dedicated all their time and energy to their project “robot woman LISA” which thanks to the support of numerous foreign investors will be presented to the public on June 11 2008. The company’s philosophy is to enhance the conditions of human life and to give as many people as possible access to new technologies. The company AI ROBOTICS is based in Kobe, Japan.


Lisa can cook you a meal based on what is in the fridge (visual recognition). She can go shopping, do household work or give you a hydraulic massage, but she can also play chess and video games (over 390 are available) and even learn to do certain sports...
We have designed Lisa to be a true companion. She is there to serve you. She dresses herself and recharges herself automatically. You can talk to her about news, travelling, culture and music. Lisa has an IQ of 130. She is even able to satisfy your desires in the bedroom. For this we have cooperated with a renowned sexologist whose expertise has been integrated into Lisa’s configuration.

Check out this video of "Lisa" on YouTube:

I would call Lisa "creepy" rather than "perfect." I would also call her "an actress pretending to be a robot" rather than a "robot."

The absence of google ads on the perfect woman site suggests to me that it's some kind of art project. The site is registered to Etienne Fresse, so he, at least, might be real. (via dvice.com)
Posted: Thu May 29, 2008.   Comments (18)

Padded Lampposts Protext Text-Messagers — A few weeks ago a story was going around about a street in London where the lampposts had been padded in order to protect text-messaging pedestrians. Neo posted about it in the forum. The story sounded pretty ridiculous, and sure enough it turns out to have been a publicity-stunt hoax. The padding was placed on the lampposts by a pr firm, and it was only there for a day and a half. The Press Gazette reports:

Journalists across the world reported that Britain’s first “safe text” street had been created via the creation of a pilot scheme which could be extended across the country. But locals in Tower Hamlets have said that the padding – put in place by a PR firm working for directory company 118188 – were only on a few lampposts and only there for a day and a half.
Data from a study of more than 1,000 people for 118118 and charity Living Streets was used to claim that 6.5 million people in Britain were injured while sending messages in the last year. And in separate research – based on the amount of complaints the charity had received in the past year – Brick Lane was labelled as the most dangerous street in the country for texting.
The phone directory company said in a press release, written by PR firm Resonate, that “safe text” rubber pads, similar to ones used on rugby posts, were being put on lampposts in the street to minimise harm. It claimed the “trailblazing” scheme would be monitored before it was decided whether to expand it to other parts of the country.

I have to admit, I accepted it as real news when I first saw the story. I should have known better.
Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2008.   Comments (4)

Gravity Lamp — About two weeks ago it was announced that a U.S. grad student, Clay Moulton, won second place in a "Greener Gadgets Conference" competition for inventing a floor lamp powered by gravity.

The concept was that a person would place a weight (about ten pounds) at the top of a four-foot column. Over the course of the next four hours, the weight would descend down the column, causing a rotor to spin that would produce a gentle light (about the strength of a 40 watt bulb).

Moulton's concept generated a lot of interest on blogs, but also a lot of skepticism. People who crunched the numbers insisted the thing could never work. It was outputting way more energy than was being put into it. But it seemed as if Moulton had actually built a prototype, and it did work -- and he had won an award for it. So the skeptics were kept at bay.

The skeptics were right. The thing would never work. Moulton has now admitted he hadn't built a prototype. It was just pie-in-the-sky theorizing. It would only work if super-efficient LEDs were invented at some point in the future. Or if you used a ten-ton weight. Moulton has offered to concede the second place prize.

The Gravity Lamp seems typical of so many of the inventions you read about that promise to save the world's energy problems. Somehow they never pan out. (via core77.com)
Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008.   Comments (10)

Lego Halo — Rumors have been floating around suggesting that Bungie Software might be coming out with a new game called Lego Halo. It would be the same as the Halo series, except everything would look like it was made out of lego. The rumor is based on a scan of an article from an upcoming issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly which describes this game.

There really is a Lego Star Wars game, so there's a precedent for this concept. However, Lego Halo appears to be a hoax. Gaming Today reports:

"it’s fake. As proof, I’m not pointing to the fact that the whole article in general has a “too ridiculous to be true” nature to it. No, I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s EGM’s April issue, where they’ve always been known to throw in an April Fool’s joke or two."

Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008.   Comments (3)

The Air Poo — Airpoo.com launches with a splash screen that says, "Going to the bathroom used to be... Boring... Quiet... A loss of productivity. Introducing the Air Poo™. Poonovation. Available Summer 2008."

Basically the Air Poo is a high-tech toilet. It has a heated seat, a "multi-touch flusher" that allows you to choose between a light or heavy flush, an iPod Dock to listen to music, an integrated surround sound system, and a MacBook Air docking slot.

The MacBook Air docking slot is the only feature that confuses me. What is the purpose of docking your laptop as you go to the bathroom? If someone was going to be using the toilet for a while, surely they would want to use the laptop, not slide it away into a slot to dock it. [Update: I understand now. You dock it while you're not using the toilet, and then undock it and use it while you're on the can.]

The Air Poo reminds me a lot of Microsoft's iLoo, which debuted back in 2003. The iLoo was a hoax that Microsoft later confusingly claimed wasn't a hoax (but which most people assumed actually was a hoax).

I'm guessing the Air Poo is a hoax. The fine print at the bottom of the site says "Site by LOLZ LLC". LOLZ LLC is an ad agency. They probably dreamed up the Air Poo as a mock product to show potential clients their sense of humor, and their ability to create online buzz.
Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008.   Comments (1)

Death-Threat Elmo — Back in January 2006 I posted about a "Who Wants To Die" Talking Elmo book. When the book's buttons were pressed, the book said, "Who wants to die?" It was supposed to say, "Who wants to try to go potty?" (I'm not sure which is worse.)

Now another Elmo is in the news for making bizarre death threats. TBO.com reports:

A Lithia family says a cuddly, programmable Elmo doll revealed its dark side yesterday after fresh batteries were installed.
Instead of singing songs or reciting the favorite color of its 2-year-old owner, James Bowman, the doll started making death threats, the family says.
With a squeeze of its fuzzy belly, the Sesame Street character now says, in a sing-song voice, "Kill James." "It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy," said Melissa Bowman, James' mother. "But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught."

This is how the robot war begins.
Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2008.   Comments (11)

Long Handles — I know there are some weird motorcycles out there, but even so, I'm going to vote that this is fake, even though I don't see any obvious evidence of photoshopping. I just don't think it would be possible to steer a bike like this. Especially not on a highway. (via bcmacsac1's flickr page)

Update: I should have known better. I should have known that just because something looks incredibly stupid is not a reason to doubt its reality. And the discovery of more pictures of this long-handled motorcycle has convinced me that it is, in fact, real.

Apparently such bikes are called "ape hangers". The motorcycle shown in the pictures is an extreme example of one. I'd guess it was designed more for show than for serious riding. Thanks to everyone whose comments convinced me of my error, particularly BlueMoon for finding the additional photos.

Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2008.   Comments (16)

Micro Nuclear Reactor — Last month a lot of blogs posted about a "micro nuclear reactor" supposedly developed by Toshiba. It promised to provide dirt-cheap energy, and was also small enough to fit in a basement. The story was first posted on nextenergynews.com:

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.

The idea of everyone putting a nuclear reactor in their basement sounded a bit dicey, and a lot of people were suspicious. Sure enough, the story has turned out to be a hoax. Rod Adams, of the Atomic Insights Blog, contacted Toshiba, who confirmed that they're not building an apartment-sized nuclear reactor. However, it's not clear who was the source of the hoax. Next Energy News perhaps?
Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008.   Comments (12)

Video Game Urban Legends — Yahoo! Games has an article about urban legends involving video games. Though half the legends they list are true. Here's a summary:

Donkey Kong was a mistranslation of Monkey Kong.
False. Donkey Kong was the original title. "Donkey" was apparently meant to indicate stubborn stupidity. "Kong" was a reference to King Kong.

Saddam Hussein tried to build a supercomputer out of Playstation 2s.
False. The rumor was offered as an explanation for a shortage of Playstation 2s, but if an evil dictator did want to build a supercomputer, using game consoles would be a bad way to do it.

Sony first developed the Playstation for Nintendo.
True. Back in the late 1980s Nintendo and Sony were considering a partnership, but negotiations fell apart and the two went their separate ways.

Million of Atari games are buried in the New Mexico desert.
True. Atari buried millions of games it couldn't sell.

A video arcade game called Polybius was actually part of a military mind-control experiment.
False. I posted about the Polybius legend back in 2004.

A man died by playing video games nonstop.
True. Apparently this has happened more than once. Technically, they died of exhaustion.
Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2008.   Comments (8)

Automotive Bermuda Triangle — In 2006 I posted about the road of non-starting cars in the town of Gosport, England. An unknown force on this road was preventing cars from starting. I don't know if Gosport ever solved its problem, but it seems that the neighborhood around the Empire State Building in New York City is experiencing the same issue.

The New York Daily News reports:

In the shadow of the Empire State Building lies an “automotive Bermuda Triangle” - a five-block radius where vehicles mysteriously die. No one is sure what’s causing it, but all roads appear to lead to the looming giant in our midst - specifically, its Art Deco mast and 203-foot-long, antenna-laden spire...

The Empire State Building Co., which refused to provide the Daily News a list of its antennas, denied it has created any “adverse impact” on automobiles.
“If the claim were indeed true, the streets in the vicinity of the building would be constantly littered with disabled vehicles,” the building’s owner said.
According to many doormen in the area, they often are.

I said it back in 2006, and I'll say it again. Problems like these are obviously the result of inner-earth dwellers and their infernal electromagnetic pulse machines. When will people wise up?
Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2008.   Comments (11)

Wrong Number Generator — SpySite.com is selling a prank gadget that seems like it would have the potential to drive someone crazy... such as a boss you intensely dislike. Unfortunately the gadget costs $89, which is a bit steep. From spysite's description:

It causes calls made from the target phones to reach wrong numbers! Think about how absolutely maddening and frustrating that would be if it were to happen to your phone. Now, you'll begin to appreciate the devastating effect that this device can have.

Just to toy with their fury and confusion even more, it is engineered to allow about 25% of the calls dialed to go through correctly. (Note: calls to 911 will always go through.) And, as is the case with all of the devices in this section, even once the target realizes that something very weird is going on, they'll be hard-pressed to stop it; replacing their telephones or even getting a new phone number won't do any good since they would have to locate the actual device and remove it. Installs anywhere along the telephone line;

(via OhGizmo)
Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2008.   Comments (5)

Quick Links: Dec. 22, 2007 — MAVAV Strikes Again
The State of New York produced an educational video to warn about the dangers of video games. The video includes a list of "resources" parents can visit to learn more, one of which is the website of "Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence." Obviously the state of New York hasn't been reading this website, since we listed MAVAV as a hoax back in 2004.

Chuck Norris Sues
Chuck Norris is suing the publisher and author of The Truth About Chuck Norris for "trademark infringement, unjust enrichment and privacy rights." Plus, he disputes the claim that his tears cure cancer.

Painting in the Nude
Dennis Tawis created a lot of controversy in the town of Millville, New Jersey, when advertised that he would paint in the nude at a public event. He stayed true to his word, but he never disrobed.

Dairy Tax Hoax
When I first saw the headline of this story, I assumed they had misspelled "diary". But no, they mean "dairy". Some guy claimed over $2000 in tax refunds on account of his dairy, which didn't exist.
Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2007.   Comments (5)

Student receives detention for using Firefox — A letter describing how a high school student received detention for using the Firefox browser -- apparently because his teacher didn't understand that Firefox is simply a different kind of browser -- has been doing the rounds:

The letter actually says "Foxfire" not "Firefox" -- which makes it sound like the teacher was totally clueless.

I believed the letter when I saw it. In fact, I didn't notice that anyone was skeptical of it (though apparently a few people were). But it turns out to be a hoax. The Big Spring School District has posted a notice online
Recently, a file was uploaded to the Internet purporting to be a copy of a letter from Big Spring High School to a student regarding a two hour detention. The uploaded letter was an altered version of a detention letter sent to a student. Unfortunately, privacy concerns prevent the School District from giving a full explanation of the nature and source of the letter’s alteration at this time. The Big Spring School District does have confirmation that the discipline letter was altered.

The reports, blogs and other sources on the Internet indicating that a Big Spring student was assigned detention for using the Firefox internet browser instead of Internet Explorer are untrue and were based on the fake letter. Detention is assigned in our schools after appropriate warnings are given. If students continue to engage in non-academic activities or fail to follow a teacher’s directive during class time, discipline can and will be assigned.

Sincerely yours,

John C. Scudder

High School Principal

Atomic1fire already posted this in the forum, but I thought it deserved to be on the main page.
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007.   Comments (8)

Web-Controlled Christmas Lights Are Back for 2007 — Alek Komarnitsky is back with his web-controlled Christmas lights. These are the lights that started out as a hoax, but have transformed, by popular demand, into something real. Alek writes:

There are three live webcams and X10 powerline control technology system so web surfers can not only view the action, but also *control* the 17,000 lights. Heck, you can even inflate/deflate the giant Elmo, Frosty, Santa, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Homer Simpson – D’OH! 😉

While people around the world (157 countries last year) enjoy seeing the lights ON, environmentalists will be happy to know that they can turn the lights OFF with a click of the mouse. Better yet, this is the 4th year I'm using 100% Wind Energy and even though that is "clean" energy, I even did a Carbon Offset contribution for the 0.61 Tons of CO2 for the ~MegaWatt-Hour of power consumed; that's about the same as *one* cross-country airline trip. Finally, by providing viewing via webcam, you don't need to burn fossil fuels by driving around to see christmas lights - Al Gore would be proud!

He encourages visitors to his site to make a donation to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007.   Comments (1)

Quick Links: Dec. 3, 2007 — Pie in Santa's Face
"A 22-year-old University of Montana student was charged with assault Friday for shoving a pumpkin pie into Santa Claus’ face at a shopping mall while a teen sat on his lap."

Save the Park
Four students in the UK created a hoax website as a social experiment to test the influence of the media. Their website, savethepark.co.uk, claimed there were plans to build a 220,000 tonne waste incineration plant in a South London park. Within a few weeks their site had received thousands of hits, and they had been contacted by a newspaper. They claim that their experiment, "showed how rumours can spread and how easy it is to get information out there that isn't true." But also that, "we are still a community and we can still stand together."

Venezuelan Toilet Paper Shortage
"Venezuelans have been buying large amounts of toilet paper on rumours it could be the next hard-to-find thing amid shortages of products like milk and meat."

Death by Cell Phone Report Disputed
It turns out that the death of a South Korean man was not due to an exploding cell phone, as many media outlets recently reported. Instead, police are attributing the death to a co-worker who backed into him with a drilling vehicle, and then tried to frame the cell phone. (Thanks, Joe)
Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007.   Comments (4)

How to charge an iPod with an onion — I'm not sure what to make of this video. Is it true or false?

It describes how to charge an iPod with an onion. The instructions are that you first poke a hole in the onion, then you soak it in an electrolyte solution (Gatorade). Once the onion has soaked up enough of the Gatorade, you simply push the usb adapter of your iPod's power cable into the onion, and according to the guys who made the video "your iPod will power up and it should begin charging."

I'm sure that the onion would generate some electricity. It's the part about sticking the usb adapter directly into the onion that surprised me. Somehow it just seems too easy. And I don't want to potentially ruin my iPod by testing it out.

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007.   Comments (25)

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