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15 technology tricks that are naughty but nice

They're fun but you shouldn't do them, right?

Rules were made to be broken, right? And technology is no exception. We've rounded up 15 awesome things relating to technology that you really shouldn't do. Break these rules at your own peril.

9. Make email vanish

If you have something confidential to say, email is probably the worst vehicle to say it, because copies of it are everywhere - on your PC, on your recipient's machine, and on many of the servers that it touched along the way. The same warning applies to text messages on your phone.

Want to keep those convos on the QT? Try VaporStream, a web-based service that lets you send messages that cannot be stored, copied, or forwarded. VaporStream won't even display the sender/receiver and message contents on the same screen (so taking a screen shot of a message won't mean squat). And once the recipient finishes reading a message, it self-destructs - permanently. The cost? A mere $7.50 (£4.60) a month, though both the sender and the recipient must have VaporStream accounts.

Why this is awesome: If the message doesn't exist, Johnny Law can't get his grubby fingers on it. For their part, law-abiding citizens can send proprietary or confidential information without worrying about leaks, and they can avoid the cost of storing messages.

Why you shouldn't do it: If you work in an industry (like financial services or healthcare) that requires you maintain records of all communications, you could be breaking the law – and we will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

10. Spy on someone's texts

Worried that teen Johnny or tween Betsy Lou are holed up in their bedrooms, sexting their little fingers to the bone? For $50 (£30), products like Mobile Spy and SpectorSoft's eBlaster Mobile will secretly copy you on every text message your kids send or receive. These products may also provide revelatory information on your spouse's extracurricular happy time (see the caveats below).

Why this is awesome: Because the little brats have it coming.

Why you shouldn't do it: Monitoring your spouse without his or her consent is almost certainly illegal (unless you have a warrant or other judicial permission), says Ezor. And though it's legal to tap your kids' texts (assuming that you own the phone), if they catch you doing it they will hate you even more than they already do.

11. Download YouTube videos

For reasons beyond all human understanding, my 11-year-old daughter loves Rick Astley videos. She likes being rickrolled. But rather than sitting idly by and grinding my teeth as she streamed 'Never Gonna Give You Up' on YouTube for the 27th time, I used KeepVid to put a copy of it on her hard drive - so she could transfer it to her portable media player, go into her room, and watch the damned thing by herself. Downloading YouTube videos to your hard drive is easy. Just plug in the URL of the video you want, and KeepVid will convert it to 3GP, FLV, or MP4 format in a range of sizes. My daughter can fill up an entire flash drive with these inane videos (dancing cats are also a favourite) without sucking up precious bandwidth or driving dad insane. All for free.

Why this is awesome: Portable Rick Astley? Say no more.

Why you shouldn't do it: You're violating YouTube's prohibitions against accessing content "through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself [or] the Embeddable Player". And if you distribute the videos, you may be violating the content owner's copyright. But we're never gonna give you up.

NEXT PAGE: Ditch that DRM

  1. Naughty tech tricks
  2. Maintain multiple Facebook identities
  3. Hijack someone else's Facebook or Twitter account
  4. Make email Vanish
  5. Ditch that DRM
  6. Maintain multiple Facebook identities


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