Archive for July 2008

Cell Phones and Cancer

I received an email this morning from a friend in NYC. He sent me a copy of a memo with the subject line “Important Precautionary Advice Regarding Cell Phone Use”. It was attributed to a Dr Ronald B. Herberman at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute (UPCI). He asked if I had “Any Comments?” about the memo.

First, I’d like you to know, that my friends, clients, and associates often contact me when they read of some threat or danger from technology or Internet usage.  Some write to warn me, while others ask if it’s “just a hoax”.  (See my post regarding the “UPS Email ‘Partial’ Hoax” and my own web page “Email Hoaxes: How Spot Them, How To Check Them”.


Back to the Memo of the Day. Was It Real?

Eager to help my friend, I did some research about Dr. Herberman’s memo.

  • The memo had a link to a page at the “Center for Environmental Oncology” at the UPCI. (http://www.environmentaloncology.org/node/201). I clicked the link and checked the address bar of my browser.  The link address and the page address matched.
  • Dr. Herberman’s name was listed on the web page, too.
  • Though the web page wasn’t a verbatim copy of the memo my friend sent, there was nothing to contradict the memo either.
  • I went to Google and I searched for “Center for Environmental Oncology” and the address for the center listed with Google matched the address in the memo and the web site.
  • I emailed a Information Contact at the UPCI asking them to verify that Dr. Herberman had actually issued such a memo. They notified me that my request had been forwarded.
  • I also did a search for “Dr. Ronald B. Herberman”. The first two results linked to “UPMC Cancer Centers” and “the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh”.
  • Additional links among the Herberman search results listed the very same memo I was researching. Those sites included Time magazine and The New York Times among others.

I had learned two things:

  1. This memo didn’t look like a hoax
  2. I need to watch and read the news more often

Enough Already, What Did the Memo Say About Cell Phones

FROM: Ronald B. Herberman, MD
SUBJECT: Important Precautionary Advice Regarding Cell Phone Use

Recently I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer. Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.

An international expert panel of pathologists, oncologists and public health specialists, recently declared that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones should be considered a potential human health risk.

To date, a number of countries including France, Germany and India have issued recommendations that exposure to electromagnetic fields should be limited. In addition, Toronto’s Department of Public Health is advising teenagers and young children to limit their use of cell phones, to avoid potential health risks.

More definitive data that cover the health effects from prolonged cell phone use have been compiled by the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, publication has been delayed for two years. In anticipation of release of the WHO report, the following prudent and simple precautions, intended to promote precautionary efforts to reduce exposures to cell phone electromagnetic radiation, have been reviewed by UPCI experts in neuro-oncology, epidemiology, neurosurgery and the Center for Environmental Oncology.

Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted from Cell Phones

  1. Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
  2. While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet. Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or use of a hands-free ear piece attachment may also reduce exposures.
  3. Avoid using your cell phone in places, like a bus, where you can passively expose others to your phone’s electromagnetic fields.
  4. Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on “flight” or “off-line” mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions.
  5. If you must carry your cell phone on you, make sure that the keypad is positioned toward your body and the back is positioned toward the outside so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from your rather than through you.
  6. Only use your cell phone to establish contact or for conversations lasting a few minutes, as the biological effects are directly related to the duration of exposure. For longer conversations, use a land line with a corded phone, not a cordless phone, which uses electromagnetic emitting technology similar to that of cell
    phones.
  7. Switch sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread out your exposure. Before putting your cell phone to the ear, wait until your correspondent has picked up. This limits the power of the electromagnetic field emitted near your ear and the duration of your exposure.
  8. Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in a car or train, as this automatically increases power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.
  9. When possible, communicate via text messaging rather than making a call, limiting the duration of exposure and the proximity to the body.
  10. Choose a device with the lowest SAR possible (SAR = Specific Absorption Rate, which is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field absorbed by the body). SAR ratings of contemporary phones by different manufacturers are available by searching for “sar ratings cell phones” on the internet.

From Batya
C/Net Reviews
10 lowest-radiation cell phones (United States)

Manufacturer and model SAR level (digital)

  1. Motorola Razr V3x 0.14
  2. Samsung SGH-G800 0.23
  3. Samsung Soul 0.24
  4. Nokia 7390 0.26
  5. Motorola Razr2 V8 0.36
  6. Samsung SGH-T229 0.383
  7. Nokia 6263 0.43
  8. Samsung SGH-i450 0.457
  9. Samsung SLM SGH-A747 0.478
  10. Samsung Access SGH-A827 0.486

You should also know that “The current U.S. standard for radiation exposure from cell phone towers is 580-1,000 microwatts per sq. cm. (mW/cm2), among the least protective in the world. More progressive European countries have set standards 100 to 1,000 times lower than the U.S. Compare Australia at 200 microwatts, Russia, Italy, and Toronto, Canada at 10, China at 6, and Switzerland, at 4. In Salzburg, Austria the level is .1 microwatts (pulsed), 10,000 times less than the U.S. New Zealand has proposed yet more stringent levels, at .02 microwatts, 50,000 times more protective than the U.S. Standard.”

— end of memo —

What Distinguishes This Memo From A Hoax

HOAXES have:

  1. No links or contacts to back them up.
  2. Phrases in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
  3. Egregious spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. Phrases such as “Send this to everyone you know” or “This has been confirmed”.
  5. A hoax would have said something such as “Don’t use your cell phone! You’ll get CANCER!”
  6. Hoaxes ask you to “Tell everyone”.

This message attributed to Dr. Herberman does none of the above.

  1. It has a legitimate link to the Center for Environmental Oncology (www.environmentaloncology.org) at the University of Pittsburgh
  2. The message on the linked web page, while not the same message, backs up the content of the email message.
  3. Dr. Herberman’s name is on the page along with the other members of the international expert panel.
  4. Dr. Herberman is a doctor at the Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Center (http://www.upci.upmc.edu/about/bio-herberman.html)
  5. It isn’t trying to scare or alarm anyone as a hoax would. It only asks people take “precautions” with cell phones.
  6. It isn’t asking you to “Tell everyone”.

Thanks Dr. Herberman. And thanks, too, to my friend for sending me the message. Time for me to get a new headset.

If anyone has a question, please email them to me using the Contact link, or, if it relates to today’s message, please use the Comment and Question link below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Update: The Dell Studio Hybrid

My article on the new Dell Studio Hybrid mini-desktop, which was officially released for sale on July 29, 2008, has been updated. Click here for the revised post.

UK Hacker Loses Extradition Hearing

42 year old British hacker Gary McKinnon, lost his extradition hearing in a top London court today. As a result he may have to return to the US to face charges of hacing into dozens of US military, NASA, and other government web sites in an effort to prove that the US government was covering up the existence of aliens.

The House of Lords voted not to block his extradition.  Now his defense team will approach the European Court of Human Rights in France i  another effort to block his extradition to the US.

Read more about it at CNN.com

Dell’s Mini-Desktop: The Studio Hybrid

Dell's Studio Hybrid mini-desktop

Dell's Studio Hybrid mini-desktop

Reports are flying about a new mini-desktop to be launched by Dell as early as August 2008, or later this year. The PC in question: The Studio Hybrid (shown at right). (Update: The Hybrid was released on July 29, 2008)

PC World, among others, reports that the PC is 80% smaller than a mini-tower — comparable to the Mac mini or HP’s Slimline s3500 mini-desktops. Furthermore, the Studio Hybrid uses 70% less power. Engadget displays some fuzzy photos of a candy apple red Studio Hybrid, as opposed to the darker colored model shown here.


Mac mini ($449)

Various articles have mentioned a hidden page on the Dell web site with pictures of the Studio Hybrid, but no one provides a link to said page. I conducted a search for the mini at Dell’s site, and while it surfaced in the results, a single click brought me to “The page you have requested may no longer exist on Dell.com“. (Update: The Hybrid is now listed on Dell’s home page and other pages, too.)

More on the Minis

Well… size-wise they measure around 12 inches square or smaller, and 4 inches thick or thinner. The Mac mini, which has been available for 3 years as of this week is about 6.5 inches square and 2 inches thick/tall. Hewlett-Packard’s Slimline series is about 12 by 12 by 4 inches in size. It, too, has been available for three years now.


HP Slimline ($599)

The mini desktops are practical for shoppers who want a small unobtrusive computer without the mobility and expense of a laptop. Other minis, like the Studio Hybrid, are powered by Intel Core 2 Duo or similar processors, have 2 to 4 GB of RAM (memory), spacious hard drives with 120 to 500 GB of file storage, and DVD or Blu-ray. The Mac mini has the least of these features (1 GB RAM and a 120 GB or less hard drive.) The Studio Hybrid isn’t the first small computer offered by Dell, as they also have the popular and well-received iMac competitor, the all-in-one Dell XPS One which starts at $1,299.

Update: The Studio Hybrid is available in six colors and bamboo with exchangeable sleeves.

Update: See a promotional email I received from Dell regarding the Studio Hybrid line


Please share your comments and questions using the links below. You can also email me using the Contact link. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Google Goes for a Walk

Google Maps has long been my favorite website for getting driving directions. I’ve found them to be clear and easy to read with very good printing options. Now I can use Google Maps for walking routes, too. This past Tuesday, July 22, Google added walking directions to its map service.

None of the other major map sites (MapQuest, Yahoo! Maps, or MSN’s MapBlast) offer walking directions. The only other major site offering walking directions at this time is Ask.com.

Why Should Walking Be Any Different?

Let’s face it, there are places you drive to that you can walk to, but you probably wouldn’t take the same route. I could walk to my favorite pizza place through the local sidestreets, but if I get in the car, I’m going to hop onto the local highway for a quick one exit jump. The car route is slightly longer, too.

For example, I plotted a route from my home to my office with Google Maps, and the driving directions took me onto a local highway, but when I clicked “Walking” it switched my route to a residential ‘road’ that ran parallel to the highway.

Also, residents and travelers in major cities are more likely to walk or take mass transit than they are to drive. With that in mind, I’d like to point out that Google maps works best in metropolitan cities, and that the walking directions system is still in a test (beta) stage, so they directions offered will improve as more people use the service.

Google walking directions use fewer turns and they try to keep you on major pedestrian walkways such as avenues, boulevards, and broadways, but off of sidestreets. Sidestreets tend to be less traveled, and some people don’t feel safe if they’re the only person in sight, particularly in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

A Demonstration

I’d like to demonstrate using Google maps with an example. I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and after that I’d like to go to dinner and drinks at Lexington Bar and Books on Lexington Ave.

I go to maps.google.com (no www needed), then I click the "Get Directions" link. (circled in red here. Click the picture for a larger view.)
Two boxes appear, one is labeled "Start Address", and the other is "End Address".
For the starting address, I type Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (I could type the street address, if I knew it, but Google should know where it is).

For the end address, I type 1020 Lexington Ave, New York, NY. (A friend gave me the address when they recommended the place.)

Then I click the gray "Get Directions" button.


Now Google has found several museums in NYC, and it shows me a list so I can select the one I had in mind. The first one is the right, so I click it.

(Notice they also display a map of the city with numbered 'thumb tacks' indicating the locations of the various museums. My destination has a tack labeled 'B'.)

There was no problem with my destination address, so Google Maps shows me the driving route. (I'll have to click "Walking" to get the walking directions.)
I've clicked "Walking" and you can see the route has changed to one that stays on main streets and avenues — places that will have more pedestrian traffic than other residential side streets.

(Notice it says "Beta" next to where I clicked 'Walking' earlier. The term 'Beta' is a term used in the computer and software industry to indicate a feature that is in a test stage. When they're satisfied with the system they'll remove the Beta label.)

Another nice feature of Google Maps is the 'street view' feature. I can click on the number at each step in the directions to see a photo of the area with my route superimposed.

Here I've clicked on step 2 of the directions. There are left and right arrows in the top left corner of the photo (circled). I can click them to rotate my point of view and see what the area looks like. Again, this features works best in more urban areas where Google has more photos.

Also notice the "Add destination…" link. I can click this if I need directions to another destination after dinner.

Why not head over to Google Maps now and try it out.


Setting Up Envelopes with Word 2007

Gary from Bayshore, Long Island writes in:

I upgraded to Microsoft Word 2007 last month, and the new design has confused me. All the menus have changed, and now I can’t find page setup to create an envelope. Help! Are you familiar with Word 2007?

Word 2007 icon
Word 2007 icon

Thanks for writing, Gary. I’ve had Word 2007 since March 2007, just three months after its retail release in January 2007, and I know what you mean about the “new look”. I was confused, too, and I actually hated it for a couple of months, but I eventually caught on.

The new design of the Office 2007 products (Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Outlook, etc.) was intended to reveal useful features that were “buried” in previous versions. The toolbars are replaced with “the ribbon”. The “menus” are replaced by “tabs”.  As you click the labeled tabs, the ribbon buttons change. So a task that may have required 4 or 5 clicks to get to, can now be accessed in 1 or 2 clicks.

As for your question on setting up envelopes. Just as before there are two ways to setup an envelope. You can use either the “Envelopes tool” which is useful for printing a single envelope. Or you can use “Page Setup” which is useful for printing more than one envelope. I’m with you, Gary, I prefer using Page Setup, too, even though it can be a bit more complicated, but once you know how to do it, it’s easy enough.

The page setup routine of prior versions has changed in Word 2007, but it’s so much easier once you figure it out.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Start Word 2007 (of course).
  2. Click the “Page Layout” tab. On the ribbon:
    1. Click “Size” and “Envelope 10” (or another size if needed)
    2. Click “Orientation”, then “Landscape”
    3. Click “Margins”, then “Narrow”
  3. Click the “View” tab. On the ribbon click “Print Layout” and “One Page”.
Click to enlarge
Word 2007 & envelope

And that’s it!  You should be able to type up your envelope from there in the usual way.

Once you setup your envelope, you can save it for later use, and you can quickly print it out by using the combination CTRL + P on your keyboard.

Thanks again for your question, Gary.

If anyone has a question, please email them to me using the Contact link, or, if it relates to today’s question, please use the Comment and Question link below. I’m looking forward to answering your questions.


More Spammer News

A few more spammer related news items have popped up in the past few days.

  • Tues., July 22: Seattle spammer, Robert Soloway, age 29, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for mail fraud, spam, and tax evasion charges. He also sold spamming software and services. His sentencing also included three years of supervised release, and 200 hours of community service. A later hearing will determine the total amount of restitution Soloway owes to the victims of his spamming. (AP, DOJ, NetworkWorld)
  • Sun., July 20: Edward “Eddie” Davidson, age 35, walked away from a federal prison camp in Florence, CO. Davidson, who was serving 21 months in federal prison, is now officially in “escape” status. He was last seen in Lakewood. U.S. Marshals are leading the search for Davidson. The FBI, IRS, and the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force are aiding in the search. (AP, FBI, NetworkWorld)

Hewlett-Packard Co. Recalls Fax Machines Due to Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Hewlett-Packard Co., announced a voluntary recall of the HP 1010 and 1010xi Fax Machines. Consumers should immediately disconnect the recalled fax machine from the electrical power source and contact HP to receive a rebate.

HP 1010 and 1010xi Fax machine
HP 1010 and 1010xi Fax Machine

Name of Product: HP Fax 1010 and 1010xi Machines

Units: About 367,000 units (an additional 84,000 units sold outside of the U.S.)

Importer: Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif.

Hazard: An internal electrical component failure can cause overheating of the product posing a risk of burn or fire.

Incidents/Injuries: Hewlett-Packard has received three reports of overheating including two in the U.S. resulting in minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves the HP Fax 1010 and HP Fax 1010xi models manufactured from November 2002 through September 2004. The HP logo and the model name and number are printed on the front of the fax machine.

Sold at: Electronic, computer and camera stores nationwide, as well as Web retailers from November 2002 through December 2004 for between $130 and $150.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately disconnect the recalled fax machine from the electrical power source and contact HP to receive a rebate.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact HP toll-free at (888) 654-9296 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or visit HP’s Web site at www.hp.com/go/fax1010recall

From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions recall page. Contact the CPSC Recall Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Please post a Comment or Question with the link below. You can also keep up-to-date with Skylarking by Subscribing by Email or by RSS Newsfeed. You can also respond by email at info @ skylarknetworks.com. I’ll do my best to answer your question either here on Skylarking or by email.


Update: Blockbuster Total Access

I’ve updated my Blockbuster Total Access review with a new special two-week free trial in addition to the original $10 off the first month offer. Click the link to read it now.

One More Way to Deal with Spam — Unsubscribe

Another way to deal with spam or “Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE)” is to use the required Unsubscribe link all the way at the bottom of the message.

“I Don’t See an Unsubscribe link?”

Then the “spammer” has violated the CAN SPAM Act which also requires an “Unsubscribe Mechanism” in every commercial email message. Forward the message to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov. You’ll find the “Forward” button on the same row as your “Reply” button.

“I Clicked Unsubscribe, But I Got an Error Message”

That’s another violation for the spammer. There must have an electronic Internet based method of unsubscribing, and it must be functional. Forward the message to spam@uce.gov.

“All This Forwarding, It’s Too Much For Me”

Fair enough. Some email services have a “Spam” button. If you are currently reading the spam message, just look for a button labeled “Spam” or “Junk” and click it. The email address for that message will be added to a spam filter and blocked. Just be sure you don’t want to hear from that person again.

“I Tried All This, and I Got Another Message From The Same Sender”

If you used the Unsubscribe option, then the sender was required to remove your email address within three business days. They’re just looking for trouble, aren’t they? You can now take a few minutes to file a complaint with the FTC using the “FTC Complaint Assistant”. It’s also available in Spanish. Plus they have a special service, Military Sentinel, designed for complaints from members of the Armed Forces and their families. Your tip might just be the one that helps send another spammer to jail.

Read more about the FTC Complaint Assistant.

Related Articles

Please post a Comment or Question with the link below. You can also keep up-to-date with Skylarking by Subscribing by Email or by RSS Newsfeed. You can also respond by email at info @ skylarknetworks.com. I’ll do my best to answer your question either here on Skylarking or by email.