As with all things complex and made by humans, technology is rife with myths and misconceptions. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and while many of you think the only thing missing from my outfit is a wizard hat, I can assure you this is just Clarke’s third law manifested. Most people have no idea how email works, or how a computer works, or how your smartphone can access the knowledge of the world in the palm of your hand. It’s exhausting to learn, and in most cases, not really necessary for most people, but if the alternative is ignoring some important facts, it may be useful for me to dispel some common misconceptions.
What this means for you
I like lists. You like lists. We all like lists. Here are some myths/misconceptions I try to dispel on a regular basis. Some may require further explanation (possible future blogs?), but hopefully your trust me enough that these will cast back some of the arcane darkness surrounding the wonderful technology we use daily.
- “WIFI is a good substitute for a wired data connection.” I’ll admit, WIFI has come a long way from where it was even 5 years ago, but it’s still no match for a hardline. WIFI trades reliability for convenience and accessibility. WIFI is to wired connections as a squirt gun is to plumbing – both will deliver water, but only the latter will do it reliably and in quantity. Today’s WIFI is like the Super Soaker of squirt guns, but if you need to fill buckets fast and in quantity, nothing substitutes for hardlines.
- “My email/data/SMS is private.” A lot of you are slowly shedding this misconception, but it’s like finding out certain festive holiday entities aren’t real. Most of us don’t want to believe this because the reality is unpleasant at best, and at worst, can be a privacy nightmare. If a company can make money selling/using/sharing your data, they will. And lest you think otherwise, your work email isn’t your property, it belongs to your company. No ifs, ands or buts.
- “Hard drives don’t fail often.” Spinning hard drives have an average life expectancy of between 4-6 years, which in case you hadn’t noticed, can pass in the blinking of an eye. If you are using an older computer with a spinning drive, it’s very likely you are working on borrowed time. We can replace broken hard drives, but we can’t replace data that isn’t backed up. Every data drive will fail. It’s only a matter of time or a lightning strike away, so don’t gamble with your data.
- “I don’t need to reboot my Windows PC.” There was a time during the late days of Windows 7 where your PC could be up for weeks, even months without a single reboot, and it would continue to perform like a champ. Those days are long gone. Windows 10 (and 11) should be reboot at least weekly. The longer you go without rebooting, the worse it will get, guaranteed.
- “Hackers won’t bother attacking me.” For whatever reason, a lot of people feel like they aren’t worthy of being hacked. From a monetary standpoint, this may be true, but the attacks you and I will likely face aren’t targeted. More than likely, we will be just a line in a long, long list of potential targets. We’re a large school of fish and the hackers are trawling from above, looking for anyone to go for the bait. Another way to look at cyberattacks is to consider it like pollution or radiation – it will have an impact regardless of who you are, but how much of an impact will depend on how prepared you are for it.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net