Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snake inside The Computer - - Reality of Email Message

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email with attached photographs claims that a technician found a snake inside a computer after the user reported hearing hissing noises and a bad smell.

The photographs are genuine and they do indeed show a dead snake found inside a computer. However, the description has been somewhat embellished. See detailed analysis for more information.

Contects of the said mail are like following:


Subject: Fwd: computer problems

'Hello, technical support, how can I help you?'

'Last night my computer started making a lot of hissing noise at me so I shut it down. This morning when I turned it on the computer started hissing and cracking, then started smoking and a bad smell, then nothing.'

'I will have a technician come over first thing this morning, just leave the computer just like it is, so they can find the problem and fix it, or change it out with another computer. Give me your address; phone number and the technician will be there just as soon as they can'

When the technician got there, the lady showed the technician where the computer was, told him what happened to it and this is what the technician found wrong. Take a look at the pictures...! And you thought you had computer problems!





The technician told her it must have been after the mouse! The woman didn't think it was very funny at all.


Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This email forward tells the tale of a woman who called technical support after her computer started producing strange hissing noises, a bad smell, and smoke before it stopped working completely. According to the message, when the technician arrived to diagnose the problem, he found a recently deceased snake inside the computer tower. Photographs that accompany the message show the hapless reptile being removed from its unusual hiding place, apparently after being electrocuted.

The photographs are genuine and the snake was indeed found dead inside the computer by a technician. However, the description that comes with the photographs has been somewhat embellished.

Reader Wendy Collett narrated the story about the discovery. She explains: I can give you the original story of the situation.

The technician who’s hands are shown in the photos is Brian Fox (now deceased), from Brisbane, Australia.

He was called to a job site which was a gardening/grass-growing farm in the general area of Boonah, Queensland, Australia, which the office area had some small holes in the walls, and sometimes had vermin in the office area. The office people called him one day because their computer wasn’t working when it was turned on (they had heard a hissing noise when they turned it on), and he came to site. He first put his hand around the back of the computer to ‘feel’ whether the cords were all in place, then he spun the computer around to find the snake!

The snake is a baby red-belly black snake, which is highly deadly (when alive). It apparently crawled into the computer seeking the warmth of the computer fan after it was turned off for the day, and got electrocuted on the power source on the way out.

This happened in approximately 2002/2003.

Brian gave me a copy of the photos, and I put them on the website I had at the time, and shared the information with a newsgroup forum I used to help moderate for the GoldMine program, called (original website since disappeared) - within a couple of days, it was the most popular items on my website, and I had many international visitors having a look. I took down my old website in about 2006, so these photos have certainly been circulating a long time!

The tech support story has been made up, and there was never anything about it being a mouse. Brian did tell me that he never again put his hand behind a computer before first checking visually that there was no more snakes, and he also told me that the grass-growing farm had the holes in the office wall fixed immediately afterwards.

Brian was a bit of a joker and always enjoyed a laugh, but I can guarantee, this was deadly serious, and he took the photos because he thought nobody would believe him if he didn’t!

Sadly, Brian passed away about 2 years ago, so he is unable to speak for himself on this situation, but I hope you enjoy the REAL story of the photos, and learn from the lesson – ALWAYS visually check behind your computer before you reach to ‘feel’ the cords!

Wendy Collett

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mars and Earth - - At The Closest Point in the History

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email claims that Earth and Mars will have the closest approach in recorded history in August and will be a spectacular sight for stargazers.

In fact, the event described did occur back in 2003, but this message is now hopelessly outdated. No such close approach will occur in July or August 2010.

The subjected mail looks like as under:


Subject: Mars - August 27th must see

Get those telescopes out!

Something to look forward to this summer.


The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!

This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide at a modest 75-power magnification.

Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye.

Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren.



Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

An email that has circulated during July and August for several years is again hitting inboxes in 2010. The message informs recipients that the planet Mars will be passing very close to Earth in August. While this information was valid back in 2003, it is totally inaccurate for 2010. One of the 2010 incarnations of the hoax consists of a PowerPoint slide presentation that provides basically the same information as contained in the above email along with several more photographs of Mars

The year is not specifically mentioned in the message and a great many recipients therefore assume that the message refers to August, 2010. Virtually identical (and equally misleading) messages were circulating back in July and August 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The events outlined in the message were more or less true back in 2003 although they were a little hyped even then. According to NASA, on August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were the closest they have been for around 60,000 years. Mars was indeed a spectacular site in the night sky during several months of 2003.

However, this fact is not quite as earth shattering as you might think. A 2003 NASA article on the subject explains that:
Much has been made of the fact that the August 27th encounter with Mars is the closest in some 60,000 years. Neanderthals were the last to observe Mars so favorably placed. This is true. It's also a bit of hype. Mars and Earth have been almost this close many times in recent history.
And, during 2010, the view of Mars will be far less than "spectacular". In an article about the hoax, Science website EarthSky notes:
In both July and August of 2010, Mars is low in the west after sunset. Not only is it not as large as a full moon, it’s barely noticeable as a tiny dot of light in the sunset glare. In July 2010, Mars is one of several planets – including Saturn, Venus and Mercury – in that part of the sky.

Around August 27 – the day of the hoax – Mars will be near the planet Venus on our sky’s dome. Venus will guide your eye to Mars.

Why is Mars so faint in the summer of 2010? If you did not know where to look for it, you’d never notice it. It’s faint because it’s far away from us now.
In fact, the closest approach of Mars to the Earth for 2010 has already occurred back in January 2010. Even then, at 99 million kilometers Mars was still a lot further away than it was in 2003 when it was only 56 million kilometers from Earth. In reference to this January 2010 encounter, astronomy website SEDS noted:
Mars will come into Opposition on January 29, 2010 in the constellation Cancer. Two days before, on January 27, 2010, the planet will have come to its closest approach to Earth during this apparation: 99.33 million km (0.66399 AU). This is not very close, as Mars will be quite close to its aphelion at the time of this opposition; the aphelion is passed on March 31, 2010. This opposition will occur during Northern Spring and Southern Autumn on Mars, so primarily observable will be the Northern hemisphere of Mars.
Thus, like the earlier incarnations of this hoax, the claims in the 2010 version are nonsense.

This message seems set to keep resurfacing every year and duping a whole new set of recipients into gazing rather fruitlessly at the night sky. But don't despair! Close encounters with Mars are not such uncommon events. The claim that "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!" is misleading. It is true that the next time Mars will be as close to Earth as it was in 2003 will be on August 28, 2287. In the mean time however, there will be plenty of other close approaches, so our children and our children's children are not likely to miss out altogether.

Charity Hoax Reality - - Baby With An Extraordinarily Large Head

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email that includes attached images of a baby with a severely enlarged head claims that, each time the email is forwarded, money will be donated to help pay for an operation to help the child.

The claims in the message are false. No money will be donated to help this child when the email is forwarded. Any message that claims that donations will be made in exchange for forwarding is certain to be a hoax. It is unclear if the images have been manipulated or if the baby in the photographs has a severe case of a medical condition such as hydrocephalus. Either way, forwarding the message will not help this baby.

Actual contents of the mail are:


Subject: 1 forward he gets 3.00 Thai baht

Whilst you are aware of your smiles, when you smile, someone is not aware if it is a smile or if they will ever smile. This Family needs our help………………if you forward this mail to one person, they will get $3.00 Thai Bhat that will go towards the operation……… I hope that you will pass along just as I did…

Thank you…..


Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Detailed Analysis:

This widely circulated email claims that you can help the family of a baby with a severe medical condition pay for a vital operation simply by forwarding the email to others. The message contains a series of attached images depicting an infant with an extremely enlarged head. According to the message, the family will receive three Thai Bhat (around 9 cents) each time the message is sent on to another person.

However, the claims in the message are untrue. Money will certainly not be donated to this child's family in exchange for forwarding the email. In fact, the message is just one more in a long series of similar charity hoaxes that claim that money will be donated when a particular message is forwarded.

The message makes no mention of how the email is to be tracked as it is forwarded nor does it state what organization or person will be giving the promised donations. In reality, there is simply no reliable or ethical method of tracking the journey of a specific email as it is forwarded again and again from thousands of email accounts all around the world. Therefore, it would be impossible to calculate in any reasonable or meaningful way just how many Thai Bhat the elusive benefactor would be obliged to give to the family. Moreover, it is vastly improbable that any company or charitable organization would ever agree to participate in such a ridiculous and ill-conceived fund raising scheme. Forwarding this absurd hoax email will do nothing whatsoever to help the baby shown in the images.

The message does not contain any information that would help identify the child in the images or ascertain the baby's current condition. Many commentators have suggested that the images have been altered using image manipulation software such as Photoshop. This suggestion may well be correct. However, it has also been suggested that the child may have a severe case of the medical condition hydrocephalus. This condition can result in unusually large head sizes in infants. A National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke fact sheet about hydrocephalus notes:
Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary with age, disease progression, and individual differences in tolerance to the condition. For example, an infant's ability to compensate for increased CSF pressure and enlargement of the ventricles differs from an adult's. The infant skull can expand to accommodate the buildup of CSF because the sutures (the fibrous joints that connect the bones of the skull) have not yet closed.

In infancy, the most obvious indication of hydrocephalus is often a rapid increase in head circumference or an unusually large head size. Other symptoms may include vomiting, sleepiness, irritability, downward deviation of the eyes (also called "sunsetting"), and seizures.
Thus, a severe case of hydrocephalus cannot be conclusively ruled out, at least until further information about the origin of the images becomes available.

And, even if the images do depict a baby with a real medical condition, it is important to understand that sending on this email will do nothing whatsoever to help. In fact, any message that claims that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding an email is sure to be a hoax and should not be forwarded.

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