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Peter Imes: Recent tech news roundup

 

Peter Imes

 

Over the past few weeks, we''ve been exploring the various ways the Internet has changed our daily lives. Let''s put a hold on that series and touch on a couple of items that have popped up in the news over the past week.  

 

Back to those five rules... 

 

A few weeks ago I wrote a column in this paper called "5 rules every Internet user should follow." My Golden Rule of the Internet is to never post anything online that you don''t want made public. 

 

Wednesday''s Dispatch featured a front-page story about a Columbus Municipal School security guard who was let go amid suspicions she ran a sexually oriented website. By the time I learned about the story, the person in question had removed the website from the Internet. 

 

In an effort to help the newsroom sniff out details for the news story and to get an image of what the website looked like, I used a couple of techniques to bring the website back from the dead. 

 

I first used WaybackMachine. WaybackMachine is a neat website that keeps an archive of the entire Internet. It can be found at http://www.archive.org. Using the WaybackMachine, I can type in a domain name and see a history of that website along with working examples of that the website looked like. It''s a neat way to see how some of your favorite websites have changed over time. This method of finding the missing website didn''t work in this case so I went to the next option. 

 

Google and other search engines have little programs called spiders that constantly look throughout the Internet and keep a log (or cache) of what they find. Google uses this cache when you search for something online. Searching through their cache is much easier than searching the entire Internet each time you look for something. Google is often a little delayed in updating their cache. So even though a website is removed from the Internet, Google may still have a complete copy of it in their cache. Knowing how to search Google cache, I went to Google.com and typed "cache:" followed by the domain name of the website that had disappeared. Bingo! The dominatrix website appeared. 

 

Searching Google''s cache is rarely needed, but the fact that it exists is one more reason to be cautious when posting private information online. 

 

 

 

iPhone 4 

 

The iPhone 4 is the latest version of the popular smartphone that has a sleek design and a touch screen. Apple sold 3 million of them in the first three weeks they were available. For those of you unfamiliar with the iPhone, it is a cell phone that, in addition to acting like a traditional cell phone, allows you to connect to the Internet two different ways. If you are near a high speed wireless Internet signal (wi-fi), the phone can connect to the Internet using that signal. If you are not near one of these wireless signals, you can still connect to the Internet through the cell phone network albeit at much slower speeds. There is an issue with the antenna for the wi-fi signal. If you hold the phone a certain way, the wireless signal is blocked. Apple has denied that this is a problem despite a ton of complaints and a "not recommended" rating from Consumer Reports. 

 

Anything Apple does makes big headlines these days. Apple is the largest technology company in the world (yes, even bigger than Microsoft), has a fascinating CEO and develops some of the most innovative and user-friendly devices on the market. My feeling is that this problem has been blown out of proportion by the media and by tech bloggers. According to Apple a mere 0.55 percent of purchasers have contacted the company with complaints on this issue. I haven''t upgraded to the iPhone 4 yet, but I plan on doing it soon. A good friend who lives in DC told me via text message last week that he had not experienced any problems since purchasing his phone a couple of weeks ago. 

 

Simply putting your iPhone in a protective case, called a Bumper, will fix this problem. Apple has offered to provide a free Bumper case to anyone who has purchased an iPhone. The antenna is in the lower left corner of the phone. If you keep your hand away from this area when using the wi-fi connection, you shouldn''t have any problems. For the true Apple geeks out there who want to make a statement and have a sense of humor, a six-pack of Antenna-aids is available. The Antenna-aid is a trendy looking band-aid for your iPhone. It fits right over the faulty antenna. The company''s tag line is "Apple made a boo-boo. Make it all better." I can''t confirm that the Antenna-aid actually fixes the problem, but it''s creative and would make a good gag gift for a friend who has an iPhone 4. 

 

 

 

Facebook 

 

By the time you read this, Facebook will probably have announced that they have reached nearly 500 million different visitors per month. If you haven''t tried Facebook yet, I can guarantee that you''ll be amazed by the number of old friends Facebook will help you rediscover. If you are already on Facebook, you should make sure you "Like" the Dispatch at http://www.facebook.com/TheDispatch for news updates and special offers.

 

Peter Imes is the general manager at The Dispatch. You can email him at pimes@cdispatch.com or follow him on Twitter at @pimes.

 

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