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Tech Myths: Boosting Reality

Reality Reloaded

Long ago, in a life epoch far, far away, I did a fair amount of religious studies—Western, Eastern, primitive, you name it. Here in the West, we have this tradition that reality is defined by our five senses. We don’t just judge books by their covers—they essentially are their covers. From ancient Greek philosophy comes the entire industry of modern marketing. In the other parts of the world, though, “reality” is a different, more fluid thing. In fact, in some traditions, there is no reality. We are all simply figments, illusions, transitory things forever striving to be free of the delusion all around us. If you want to understand where the Wachowski brothers found the roots behind The Matrix, start with old school Hinduism.

Now you’ll understand why I was drawn to the theme of boosting reality for this week’s episode of tech myths. Who’s to say that what we see is fixed and “real”? Perhaps reality can be...modified.

That’s right. There’s a signpost up ahead. You’re now crossing over into the Tech Myth Zone, your one-stop source for tech-related curiosity, high velocity, and (every so often in our forums) heated animosity. Got a tech myth or supposed view of electronic reality that you think needs challenging? Don’t be shy. You know you want answers. Email us or post in the forum below. Your innocent brilliance could surprise us all.

First up in this episode, it’s Geeks Gone Wild II, where we return to the mountains and try to boost our otherwise lame cell phone reception with ordinary camp gear. And while we’re on a natural theme, let’s delve into some deep debate on compact fluorescent lighting—how dangerous is it when you boost your mercury levels by busting a bulb? Finally, it’s time for a double-dose of

  • I have been able to improve the reception of my Samsung A-640. I was complaining at work one day about the poor cell coverage I experienced inside my home (usually only one or two bars), and at the time... I had no land line, so decent coverage was kindof important.

    He told me to buy some wire, cut off a piece a 7 - 10 feet long, wrap as much as you can around the antenna in a tight coil (A-640 has an antenna that pulls out about two inches, so I extended the antenna and wrapped the wire around it), you then throw the other end of the wire up into a tree (or in my case... attach it to a hook in the ceiling)

    I was able to get between one and two additional bars and I stopped dropping calls!
    Reply
  • You really should try to avoid buying Rockstar energy drink. It's a company started by right wing talk show host Michael Savage, a notorious racist and homophobe who is, nonetheless very influential due to his syndicated radio show. He makes Rush look like a thoughtful person.
    Reply
  • DarkMantle
    Great read as always.
    Reply
  • williamvw
    ButIDigressYou really should try to avoid buying Rockstar energy drink. It's a company started by right wing talk show host Michael Savage, a notorious racist and homophobe who is, nonetheless very influential due to his syndicated radio show. He makes Rush look like a thoughtful person.Based on a few minutes of reading online, it seems the company that produces Rockstar is actually owned by Savage's son, Russell G. Weiner. Savage's wife is the CFO. Now, I definitely do NOT want to turn Tech Myths or Tom's Guide into a political debate forum. None of us are here for that purpose. That said, no, I definitely do not agree with most of Michael Savage's positions or statements. However, the only political similarities or cooperation I find between father and son were their founding of the Paul Revere Society in 1996, which had the mission of combating illegal immigration. I can find no other political, financial, religious, or any other link between them. I am not going to condemn the son, who openly supported California's Jerry Brown, for the father's views and actions. I'm sure there are plenty of us who strive not to emulate our parents, both internally and externally. Whatever reasons there are not to drink Rockstar, I don't believe Michael Savage is one of them. Can we go back to discussing technology now?
    Reply
  • MJRSnyder
    Since when did they sell Doritos in a can? I want some
    Reply
  • dingumf
    "The five individual exposures were rendered in Photomatix Pro software in its Generate HDR Image mode."

    Isn't that cheating
    Reply
  • williamvw
    dingumf"The five individual exposures were rendered in Photomatix Pro software in its Generate HDR Image mode."Isn't that cheatingNot at all. The goal was to perform HDR imaging that ANYONE could do, not just owners of Photoshop or specialists with a ton of costly tools.
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  • Draven35
    If you're trying to capture as much of the dynamic range as possible, start with exposure turned so there is plenty of detail in the shadows, but the rest of the image is overexposed, then gradually step up the exposure so that the highlights have detail but the rest of the image is underexposed. Seven exposures seems to be adequate, but more is better. HDR images shot this way or a mirror ball are often used in visual effects, because a quick mirror ball photo will give you the actual lighting from the scene you are placing effects into instead of having to approximate it in your 3d software.
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  • duckmanx88
    you shouldn't drink energy drinks regardless of who makes them. $2 of sugar and chemicals. want energy? eat fruits and vegetables.
    Reply
  • andyviant
    Now I haven't done any recent studies on radio wave frequencies and their interactions with materials, but it seems from what i remember that your can parabolas could actually STOP the microwaves going b/t the phone and tower. Metal is picky when it comes to absorbing or reflecting microwaves. This is why a fork will spark, and a CD will crizzle, but the inside of the oven is made of metal, which doesn't do either (because it configured to reflect). So this definitely seems like it COULD work, under ideal circumstances with ideal materials, but it's definitely hit or miss. Unsure why this seems to be so successful w/ wifi waves...maybe the short vs. long range wave strength is at fault.

    Also to note: how many cell phones
    are made out of aluminum -- wrapping a can part way around a phone seems to go directly against the design decision to avoid use of metal in the phones shell.
    Reply