Geekly Update - 08 February 2017

Category: Tech-News

Is there a super-simple strategy to protect your computers from ransomware? Does the MacBook Pro have a secret feature to help people cheat on tests? What happens when you pour 11.3 ounces of apple juice on the keyboard of a CTL J5X Chromebook? And what's the real reason Time-Warner Cable changed their name to Spectrum? Find out... in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Ransomware shut down the computer systems of Licking County, Ohio, on February 1, forcing county workers to work with paper and pen, without even landline phones. But instead of paying the ransom, IT workers are rebuilding the system from... (drumroll, please...) good backups!

Several States’ bar associations have banned the coolest feature of the new MacBook Pro from bar examinations. Apparently, the Touch Bar on the new computer can be programmed to display exam answers and otherwise facilitate cheating. Technicians will be in exam rooms to ensure that Touch Bars are disabled. Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros are outright banned in several other States.

Tired of Windows 10 forced updates and restarts ruining your work? Learn how to specify a window of time when you won’t be using the machine and restarts can take place harmlessly.

Geekly Update 02-08-2017

Five States are considering “right to repair” laws that would require manufacturers to sell repair parts to independent repair shops and consumers, and to make their service manuals and diagnostic tools available. Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Kansas would enshrine the right to repair for all goods, while Wyoming is targeting only farm equipment. John Deere, for example, claims that since tractors include software they cannot be repaired by farmers.

Have a peek at the very first TV commercial for a cell phone (sold only at Radio Shack), and wonder how they fit the phone on those itsy-bitsy 26-inch screens.

They don’t build servers like this anymore. A Stratus Technologies fault-tolerant server was first booted up in 1993. Since then, it has never crashed; only scheduled maintenance has seen it shut down. This work horse will be put out to pasture in April when the system it’s part of gets updated.

A repository of 3 billion sets of user credentials has gone offline, dealing a blow to amateur “script kiddies.” LeakedSource was compiled from smaller databases of hacked accounts, ostensibly so consumers could check to see if their credentials had been compromised. Rumor has it the U. S. government shut down LeakedSource, but the Justice Dept. isn’t saying.

Comcast is introducing gigabit Internet without fiber optics to business customers in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Nashville. The coax-based system relies on the latest DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem standard.

Not news: ransomware locks up hotel’s data. Fake news: ransomware locks hotel guests in their rooms. Real news: ransomware prevents hotel from generating new digital room keys.

The CTL J5X is a ruggedized Chromebook intended for classroom use. Its rigid metal lid can bear up to 300 pounds and includes a whiteboard. The $290 machine survives drops from up to 2.5 ft/76 cm and keyboard flooding with up to 11.2 oz/331 ml. of liquid. If you do manage to break it, the J5X comes with a one-year accidental damage warranty.

Data from Google Street View will be used to make self-driving cars safer by overlaying Street View location data on live video used for navigation. The Street View data will be especially helpful on dark, rainy, or snowy nights.

"Adoptly is an app-based platform that seamlessly connects prospective parents to adoptable children nearby." Actually, you can’t swipe left on a baby, a Tinder-like process that adoption experts called “dehumanizing.” The hoax was created by Ben Becker and Elliot Glass, who brought us another fake app called Pooper last year. You don’t want to know what Pooper purportedly did.

Now we understand why they changed their name. Time-Warner Cable has been ripping off customers since at least 2012, according to a lawsuit filed by New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. The suit accuses TWC (now owned by Charter Communications and recently re-branded as “Spectrum”) of promising Internet speeds it could not actually deliver through the obsolete routers and modems it leased to customers.

Say “no” to any so-called “Google Chrome font update” that a website may offer you. It’s a fake font package that actually contains ransomware. Chrome doesn’t need font updates.

A simple invention could put thousands of sewing machine operators out of work. Robots can’t correctly stitch material that bends, so Jonathan Zornow stiffens cloth temporarily with water-soluble polymers.

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 08 February 2017"

Posted by:

Roger Browett
08 Feb 2017

I notice that TotalAv & Scanguard are 1 & 2 on your list of recommend Antivirus programs. Some time ago, in one of your articles you were skeptical of these programs. Have you changed your opinion and now rate them as top choices. What is your opinion of them now. Thank you for your answer.


Posted by:

Rick
08 Feb 2017

Sure, backups are essential (regardless of whether you choose an image backup or only valuable files. But are they safe from encryption by Ransomware when located on a local drive (USB or network)? CNET says "no": https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/can-my-backup-hard-drives-be-affected-by-ransomware/


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
08 Feb 2017

At Roger Browett above: Here is what Bob Rankin said in a previous article about TotalAV and Scanguard:

"The only review of ScanGuard that I could find comes from a brand-new site called Top10BestAntivirus.com, which was registered in October 2016. Warning bells went off right away, when I saw that the top 2 items here are TotalAV and ScanGuard, two unknowns that have the same domain registration information. The reviews for both are glowing and vague, and the other products listed are all affiliate links."

"I would not use ScanGuard or recommend it to anyone. The company is sketchy, and it seems pretty obvious that the "review" site mentioned above is a thinly-veiled shill for the product. The product is crude and not user-friendly. There are much better alternatives, and they are free."


Posted by:

sirpaul2
08 Feb 2017

@ Rick: It would depend on the ransomeware. As far as I know, all ransomeware needs to 'see' a drive letter to encrypt files - so any non-drive letter backups (unplugged drive, online) would be unaffected by the ransomeware.
Remember to neutralize the ransomeware before connecting any drives.


Posted by:

PgmrDude
08 Feb 2017

Radio Cell Phone commercial: My Dad had a portable phone (possibly in the '90s) that he kept in the trunk of his car (just like in the TV spot), which he only had/used for emergencies. I don't know if he ever actually used it. I also don't know the make/model, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was indeed from Radio Shack - they carried everything!

-Note: there is no indication of the date of this commercial.


Posted by:

mark smith
09 Feb 2017

At the end of the cell phone commercial the tandy 100 notebook in the boys lap was also at the leading edge. Very cool piece, AAA batteries and a built in modem. reporters loved them.


Posted by:

Darcetha
09 Feb 2017

Five States are considering “right to repair” laws that would require manufacturers to sell repair parts to independent repair shops and consumers, and to make their service manuals and diagnostic tools available. Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Kansas would enshrine the right to repair for all goods, while Wyoming is targeting only farm equipment. John Deere, for example, claims that since tractors include software they cannot be repaired by farmers.

I think this is a good thing. I happen to keep my smartphones for a while, and would like the option of being able to repair it myself, as long as manufacture offers software updates.


Posted by:

Brad
10 Feb 2017

For anyone else who is frustrated by Windows 10's forced reboots, here's a way to stop them permanently.

http://winaero.com/blog/how-to-permanently-stop-windows-10-reboots-after-installing-updates/


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