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Technology | Seven myths to bust

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We hear them all over the place, these myths about technology. They sometimes contain a grain of truth, such as the surprising photographic quality of telephones or the pointlessness of paying expensive prices for cables, but must be nuanced. Other falsehoods, like the invulnerability of Macs or the discretion of Private Browsing mode, die hard. The Press asked four experts to tell the truth about seven tech beliefs.


PHOTO ARCHIVES PRESS

The standards for digital cables have become so diversified that it is no longer possible to simply compare two HDMI or USB cables according to their price.

No need to pay expensive digital cable

What was accepted a decade ago, that there is no point in paying more for digital cables, commands shades in 2022. It is that the standards have become so diversified that we can no longer simply compare two HDMI or USB cables according to their price. If you want 4K resolution at 120fps with Dolby Vision and HDR10, don’t go for the cheapest cable, an HDMI 1.4 which will be unsatisfactory or downright non-functional. You will need a more expensive cable, HDMI 2.0, or even 2.1 for the total.

Same thing for so-called “USB-C” cables, a term that designates the oval shape and not a standard. You won’t be able to hook up your computer to a monitor with the basic USB-C cable that charges your phone, you’ll need a similarly shaped, but much more expensive USB 3.1 cable. “We have simplified the number of connections, but we have complicated what the cables are used for”, sums up Marc-Étienne Léveillé, malware researcher at the Montreal office of ESET. However, there is still a grain of truth: for cables that are truly identical, not only in shape, but in technical specifications, there is no point in paying more, even if the durability could be better. Either the digital signal passes or it does not.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Macs are less affected than Windows computers because they represent only 13.5% of the global market, explains Marc-André Léger, cybersecurity researcher.

If I have a Mac, I’m safe from viruses

Wrong, answer two experts. Marc-Étienne Léveillé, at ESET, is precisely specialized in monitoring “non-Windows” devices. “Telemetry shows us that there are a lot of Mac viruses spreading, often when you install pirated software that will install other software alongside it. »

Macs are less affected than Windows computers because they represent only 13.5% of the global market, explains Marc-André Léger, cybersecurity researcher and lecturer at Polytechnique Montréal and Concordia University. “If you create viruses for a living, you better target Windows machines. But there are viruses for Macs. »


IMAGE PROVIDED BY NORTHSTAR, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Even without GPS, a phone reveals its location by connecting to nearby cell towers.

You can’t be tracked if you turn off your phone’s GPS or put it in airplane mode

Phones do everything to communicate and hence will reveal the location of their owner. “We believe that by deactivating the GPS, by putting the Airplane mode, we are not followed, but it is a myth, slice Asma Ghali, entrepreneur and IT director at Canada Life. These are passive systems in our phones that keep track of where we are. As soon as a connection to WiFi or even Bluetooth is authorized, location information can be sent, notes Jacques Bourdeau, information security engineer. Also, even without GPS, a phone reveals its location by connecting to nearby cell towers. “The average hacker won’t have access to this data, but the vendor, the police, the NSA [National Security Agency des États-Unis] or CSIS [Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité]yes,” recalls Marc-André Léger.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY APPLE

The ability of cell phones to take quality photos, like this one taken with an iPhone 14 Pro Max, has come on leaps and bounds and can produce results quite comparable to DSLR-type cameras.

Cell phones take as good photos as professional SLR cameras

It is not yet this year that you will see, with some exceptions, a professional equipped with an iPhone or a Galaxy for a wedding or a photo session in the studio. First, because these phones rely heavily on software solutions to improve photos, where professionals will use lenses, have a larger and more sensitive sensor and more precise manual configuration possibilities. “Digital zoom only damages the image,” recalls Jacques Bourdeau. “What a phone lacks is volume. And a good lens can cost more than a camera,” says Marc-André Léger. That said, for the average user who is content with automatic settings, the telephone is the ideal tool, the one that you always have on hand and that does everything to ensure that your photos are not missed, if not perfect.


INCLUDED BROWSING MODE SCREENSHOT

Private Browsing mode will ensure that your history, cookies, and information entered into a form will not be saved in Chrome, but the websites visited, your employer, your internet service provider, and the network administrator will see everything.

In Private Browsing mode, I leave no trace

It is enough in fact to read what is displayed when opening a private browsing window, for example with Chrome, to demolish this myth. Private Browsing mode will ensure that your history, cookies, and information entered into a form will not be saved in Chrome, but the websites visited, your employer, your internet service provider, and the network administrator will see everything.

“You’re never really anonymous, you go through your internet provider, through Canadian networks, through your router, you’ll leave traces everywhere, on the servers,” says Marc-André Léger. The closest thing to anonymity on the web is the use of a virtual private network (RPV, or VPN in English) which encrypts communications and allows hiding behind a remote server.


PHOTO BRENT LEWIN, BLOOMBERG ARCHIVES

More than the frequency or duration of recharges, “what kills the batteries is the heat,” says an expert.

Frequently charging my phone will degrade its battery

More than the frequency or duration of recharges, “what kills the batteries is the heat”, says Jacques Bourdeau. This temperature rise can occur when the battery drops below 20% and will struggle to meet the power demand. It is also noticeable when the phone is over 80%, and dangerous when the charge continues after 100%. This is where choosing a good charger that will stop in time is important and, even more so, a phone configured to intelligently manage its charging.

This is what Apple iPhones and some Android phones, including Pixels and Galaxy, do. The phone “learns” your habits and will stay as much as possible, for example, at 80% overnight before undertaking a full charge before you wake up.


PHOTO FLORENCE LO, REUTERS ARCHIVES

The number of gigabytes of RAM and the speed of the processor do not tell everything: it is also necessary to take into account the efficiency of the processor and the needs for intensive software.

More RAM and GHz in a Computer Means Speed

It is not entirely wrong to say that increasing the RAM can make your computer faster, but only if you open very demanding software or are used to working with several programs at the same time. “For office work, it’s useless to have a bunch of gigabytes of RAM,” warns Marc-Andé Léger. If the available RAM is not 100% utilized, adding a RAM stick will not increase computer speed.

Processor speed, sometimes referred to as “clock speed or frequency,” expressed in gigahertz (GHz), is also not an absolute guarantee of speed. Everything depends in fact on the efficiency of the processor, the less efficient ones tending to multiply the operations. A recent processor that performs 3.1 billion cycles per second, or 3.1 GHz, can be more powerful and efficient than an older processor pushed to 3.7 GHz.



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