My cell phone really cooks

Cell phone Schadenfreude is so last year. Writing a column decrying their ubiquity, mocking cheesy ring tones and castigating impolite users is like shooting fish in a barrel: it’s no challenge, and it leaves a lingering smell. An article rounding up recent cell phone news odds and ends is entirely beneath me.

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

— First up, cell phone cooking lessons. According to the Wymsey Weekend Web site, it’s a simple process to boil an egg with a couple mobis and a radio. Place the egg in an insulating egg cup, and position in front of a portable radio. Switch the radio on. Place the two cell phones in the proximity of radio and breakfast, their antennae about half an inch from the egg. Call one cell phone with the other; let them chat for a few minutes, and Bob’s your breakfast.

Not having an egg handy, we IT Bidness folk were about to test the theory with an experimental bagel (as the office toaster is jammed and I never touched it, I swear) when we discovered — gasp! — the whole matter was a hoax.

The fundamental fly in the omelette, according to the eagle-eyed who contribute to Slashdot, is that cell phones don’t talk to each other, but to transmission towers. Thus, notes one Mrs. Grundy, “there is no reason to think you are forming some ultra powerful death beam between the two phones by placing them in close proximity to each other.”

This is all good news for Finnish women because . . .

— Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority is testing the effects of cell phone transmission on live volunteers. (All 10 of the women involved work for the agency. Sure they “volunteered.”) Reuters reports the authority will take skin samples from the women, then expose them to cell phone radiation for the equivalent of a long phone call — one hour, or until breakfast’s ready (see above). Scientists will compare the original sample with one taken after exposure to check for shrinkage or other changes on a, ahem, cellular level that might compromise the body’s ability to keep toxins in the bloodstream from reaching brain cells.

And in other cell phone public safety news . . .

— The Register reports that a study by Carnegie Mellon University — henceforth known as “The Mellon” — confirms what we already know: Cell phone use aboard commercial aircraft is not only obnoxious, it’s dangerous. The Mellon snuck a portable spectrum analyzer aboard a number of short-haul U.S. flights, finding an average of one to four cell phone calls per flight, often in critical flight stages such as takeoff, final approach and drinks service.

The head of the Mellon study — henceforth known as “The Mellon Head” — said the phone calls can disrupt cockpit instruments, especially GPS systems, which are terribly important since without them, we’ve no idea where the damn plane is — crucial information when you’re hurtling toward the tarmac at several hundred miles per hour in a metal tube full of drunken salesmen on expense accounts.

Cell phone use during critical flight stages also exacerbates the risk of assault by other passengers and just generally being recognized as a jerk.

— According to hipster free daily magazine Dose, My Humps by Black-Eyed Peas is the top-selling ringtone. You may believe that a cell phone plus a puerile, artless, lowest-common-denominator ringtone is evidence that Western culture is at a nadir, that it has hit rock bottom and begun to dig. You would be correct.

Dave Webb has been known to wander the street wearing a Bluetooth headset so he can mutter to himself without drawing too much attention.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
A journalist of 20 years experience in newspapers and magazines. He has followed technology exclusively since 1998 and was the winner of the Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in the eEconomy category in 2000. (The category was eliminated in 2001, leaving Webb as the only winner ever.) He has held senior editorial positions with publications including Computing Canada, eBusiness Journal, InfoSystems Executive, Canadian Smart Living and Network World. He is currently the editor of ComputerWorld Canada and the IT World Canada newswire.
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