15 Tech Myths: Busted and Confirmed

Myth 4: Google finds everything on the Web, and once it has your information, it can't be removed.

Bogus Meter 4.0

Though it sometimes feels like the invisible fingers of Google touch everything, it's really not so. Google will find something on the Web only if another site links to that page, notes Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land. "If you don't want information found, then don't put it on the Web at all, or ensure it can only be viewed with a password," he says. "Google doesn't do passwords."

You can also keep Google's searchbot from indexing your site--or get it to remove pages it's already found--by following the instructions at Google Webmaster Central. If the site has already been spidered, however, it will take time before the results are flushed from Google's cache.

The trickier question is how to remove personal information from Google if it's on a site that's not under your control. You can politely ask the site owner to remove the page or block Google from spidering it. If the owner refuses, and the site contains sensitive information like your Social Security number or copyrighted material, you can ask Google to delete it from its index. Otherwise you may need the services of a site like ReputationDefender, which attempts to eliminate inaccurate, embarrassing, or offensive material about you for a $30 fee--but offers no guarantees.

Myth 5. You're fully protected when you buy something on eBay.

Bogus Meter 3.5

The world's biggest auction site and its online payment division PayPal offer an arsenal of tools to guard against fraudsters, con artists, and the criminally stupid. But the protection falls short of 100 percent.

"When buyers use PayPal to purchase a physical item on eBay.com, they are automatically provided with $200 of coverage on the transaction," says eBay spokesperson Catherine England. "If the buyer uses PayPal to purchase an item from an eBay seller who is PayPal Verified, then the transaction automatically has up to $2000 of coverage."

Unfortunately, if you pay by some other method--personal check, money order, or wire transfer--all bets are off. These protections also don't apply to nonphysical items, such as software or electronic documents. And if you're fooled by a misleading or confusing item description, you may be out of luck.

For example, PR professional Greg P. thought he got a great deal when his $300 auction bid scored him a Microsoft Xbox. If he had merely received a broken Xbox, Greg P. would have been covered. But what he actually bought was a Word document listing places where he could buy Xboxes at a discount. Because (a) the item he purchased was electronic, not physical, and (b) the item for sale was accurately described, even though it displayed a photo of an Xbox, PayPal's Buyer Protection did not apply.

Myth 6: Static images on a plasma TV will burn in, so you can't leave them on for too long.

Bogus Meter 2.0

Photograph: Image Courtesy of Pioneer Electronics
Plasma burn-in is not a myth, but it's something that most people need not worry about. According to CrutchfieldAdvisor.com, plasmas and some CRTs can suffer from burn-in when "a static image such as a video game, stock or news ticker, or station logo remains on-screen for an extended period. Over time, these images can become etched into the phosphor coating, leaving faint but permanent impressions on-screen."

Crutchfield product advisor Dallas Simon says this is extremely rare, since the image refreshes itself during commercial breaks and when you change channels. But it can be a problem for hard-core gamers, who may be playing the same first-person shooter for hours at a stretch, notes Andre Sam, a sales specialist for Best Buy in New York City. For instance, many titles display a static set of in-game statistics, such as scores, medals, energy bars, and radar.

Still, thanks to advances in plasma technology, newer flat panels are less likely to suffer from burn-in. "Like anything, if you abuse it you will probably break it," says Paul Meyhoefer, VP of Marketing and Product Planning for Pioneer Electronics. "With that said, new generations of plasma TVs have made significant improvements with things like the phosphors, cell structure, and filters to alleviate this issue."

recommended for you

101 Fantastic Freebies

Read more »

Subscribe to the The Advisor Newsletter

Comments