Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth

Gadgets10 Great Snake-Oil Gadgets
Will Nett

So, I'm surfing Digg and woe and behold a link for another top ten list called the 10 Great Snake-Oil Gsadgets (with pics), and after perusing the list... well, I had to call BS flag. Who makes the top
ten list? Which panel judges these lists? Who submits these items for consideration?

So I submit to you MY top ten BS technology based products:

1. For historical reasons I think the Steve Comisar conceived "Solar Powered Clothes Dryer" wins the prize. Sold in magazine and newspaper advertisements for $49.95, this product made the inventor a huge (undisclosed) sum of money. For your prompt payment you received thirty feet of clothes line. A judge subsequently made him pull the ads as he called them misleading. Steve is currently in jail on
unrelated charges.

2. The Cell-Phone range extender metallic sticker / later called the RF blocker. C'mon... this product made millions and is still in the market today. Anyone who knows RF will tell you this product is pure
unadulterated cow dung. What is it? A range extender or a filter? Anyone worried about RF should probably not stand in front of a microwave whilst it's making your popcorn as there is more leakage
from a household microwave or a home WiFi kit than a cell phone.

3. The RAM doubler software. AKA the swap file increasing software also made quite a bit of money... that is until a judge closed that business endeavor in 2003, again misleading. This product from
Connectix found many suckers, slowed down your computer, and eventually went out of business.

4. Holistic Magnetic Healing Jewelry. Sorry folks, there is no ferrous metals in our bodies concentrated enough for these snake oil products to work. Placebos have been scientifically proven to be more

5. The smokeless ashtray. The only thing that can huff down a stogie faster than my dad was the smokeless ashtray. Know what? The house still stunk like RJ Reynolds. This device sucked air all around the cigarette and 'filtered' it through a patented carbon filter... sounds like a human right? It makes the stogie shine pretty and bright... and gets it down to the filter in approximately three minutes.

6. The paperless office. Ok, so maybe this is an idea rather than an actual product, but if an idea can be considered a product (ask any Intellectual Property lawyer) then I call this one straight up bull manure. We use more paper today than ever. If you want to save a tree, call 1-888-567-8688 and opt out from all those pre-approved credit card offers. Think about it, you'll also be reducing the chances of identity theft, and won't have to call Life Lock to get protection! The number works, and so does my office's printer... all the time.

7. The speed trap laser detector. Um, nothing we have now travels faster than the speed of light, If your laser detector goes've already been had. If you're lucky, the cop either wasn't paying
attention, giving someone else a ticket, or inhaling a dough nut. Fact is that lasers are light based, and light is a very narrowly focused beam of energy. How focused you ask? If I can put four Gigabytes of
data on a DVD I can point your car in millimeters. In reality, a laser speed detector has a beam of light less than one inch in diameter at 100 yards. If your detector goes off... you're busted.

8. Technology Help Desk. This again idea (sorry, but its my article) applies to 99% of the technology based companies out there. Calling a modern day help desk is like calling your ten year old nephew or
niece. Welcome to Bangalore India, Tijuana Mexico, or even a state prison! Cisco touts that it has over 300 TAC (Technical Assistance Offices) but fails to mention that it's 99% overseas. Ever tried
calling them? You spend almost a half hour going through an automated menu (painful if you're using a cell phone) a half hour answering scripted questions from a person whom barely speaks you language, and get put on hold for an eternity... you usually tire and solve the problem yourself. This bullet actually applies to any automated telephone system. Tell them, FSCK OFF!

9. Idiot lights on cars' dashboards. Who ever thought this one up needs to be taken out back and shot. I'm a geek, and I want gauges. Idiot lights don't tell you when you're going to have a problem...
they tell you when you have one. They don't blink when the problem gets worse, and they don't audibly say, "Its getting worse." Unlike 'bitching Betty' in a jet fighter which lets you know when you're low
on fuel or oil, it just shows up as a stupid light like 'Check engine' which could mean anything including a failed oxygen sensor or a faulty exhaust reading.

10. Software in general. Think you own it? Guess again. Whom ever has read through an EULA (End User License Agreement) knows, the company you buy your software from isn't liable for anything, offers no warranties, agreements, or responsibilities. Yes, this mostly applies to Closed Source software, but its leaking into Open Source as well. In many cases you don't actually own that software... you merely own the media on which it came upon. To boot this BS flag, you can't say no once you've opened it, that is to say you can't return it. How a company can force me to agree upon something I haven't even read yet is beyond me, but apparently there are enough lawyers to back it up.
Good luck trying to return a software title at a retail store when it doesn't work on your hardware.

Well kids, that's my list... and Doug and I would love to hear more of your ideas! So drop us line and let us know, for all we know this list is BS!

William Nett
A Network Administrator



The Information Technology Survival Guide -- Douglas Chick

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