We now know people who are married, or about to be, to mates they met online; it’s becoming normal. But if any of these meets make you nervous, you can make preliminary checks. A friend of ours turned down a match from an online dating service because the guy had “too many relationships.” told her.

The scope of the information was amazing. TruthFinder not only knew how many online relationships the guy had, but how many business filings he’d made with the government (they were for McDonald’s franchises), what his house was worth, how much he paid for his mortgage, and so on. The service, which charges $28 for a one-time search, or $23 if you go monthly, also offers a simple summary of past addresses for free.

The paid version, which is not expensive, can find criminal offenses — from felonies down to traffic tickets, financial hardship info, job information, weapons permits, online profiles, and on and on. Some people say they used it to find old friends and lost relatives. We looked Bob up in the free version (sometimes we astonish ourselves with how cheap we can be) and the information they had was correct. They give you a preview, noting places lived and relatives.

Before you pay the $28, however, you can try Facebook, LinkedIn and Google searches. (Hey, they’re free.) Bob found Joy’s long-lost brother in two minutes on LinkedIn; he’s a business school professor. Joy added one more to her 27 nephews and nieces.

Should We Worry About Cell Phone Radiation?

California has issued warnings about keeping a cell phone in your pocket all day, or keeping it up to your ear for hours at a time. So naturally we turned to one of our sharpest readers, a physicist, to ask about radiation dangers.

“Cell phone wave lengths are about ten million times greater than ultraviolet light,” he said, “so the radiation coming from radio waves, also called ‘photons,’ is too weak by a factor of ten million. An ice cube has a greater chance of surviving in Hell than a photon has of harming a human being.”

For comparison purposes, he added: “A frog that can barely jump one foot high would not be able, even if it tried very hard, to jump 2000 miles high. It’s that kind of energy difference between what is needed and what the photon has. The numbers matter. A lot.”

We did some further research on the matter (well, the particle matter) and found an article from the M.I.T.’s “Technology Review” that seemed to back this up. And yet, California’s Department of Public Health has issued warnings about carrying cell phones next to your body, holding them next to your head or even at your bedside while sleeping.

The main point, our reader notes, is that cell phone radiation does not break any chemical bonds. As far as we know, he added, if chemical bonds aren’t broken, cancer and other deleterious effects can’t happen. “It’s worth noting,” he added, “that cell phones have been around almost 30 years and we have not seen a rise in brain cancers that one would expect if there was more than an extremely small effect.”


Magnets Revisited

A reader asked us about our write-up of rare earth magnets on a rod, from MagnetPal. He wondered: Wouldn’t it destroy a cell phone if it got too close? What about a computer?

According to an article in Forbes Magazine, a magnet could wipe clean the hard drive inside a PC, but it would need one with a 450-pound pull force. That’s huge and way, way beyond the little magnets we wrote about. But … destroying the remote-control locking button on your car keys might be within its range. Our reader’s daughter magnetized her Audi key fob, and it took him an “extraordinary amount of money to get a replacement.”

Range, of course is the key issue. As we all learned in high school, the strength of any electromagnetic field diminishes with the square of the distance from the source. So, for example, a magnet that was only one hundredth of an inch from the car key fob (essentially touching), would have only one-ten-thousandth of the effect if it were held just one inch away. (High school was so interesting.)

Microsoft Annoyances

Bob wanted to use System Restore in Windows 10 to bring his computer back to a day when everything was working properly. In Windows 7 and 8, this was no problem, with many dates to choose from. In Windows 10, he had only one choice for a restore point and that one didn’t work.

Joy tried it on her new computer and found that she also had no restore points. So she created one. To do this yourself, type “recovery” in the Windows search box and click on it when it comes up in Control Panel. Click “open System Restore.” If you see no restore points, cancel, and click “Configure System Restore.” Then click “Create” to create a restore point. In the future, when you need to restore your PC, pick a date a few days earlier, or at least two days. Files will not be lost in this process; whatever you’ve written in between is like the handwriting on the wall. (Bob recalls that the famous “handwriting on the wall” refers to a wall in the royal feast room of the king’s palace in ancient Babylon. What the writing said was “Mene, Mene, tekel upharsin.” Which means, loosely translated, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” Not good news.

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