Geekly Update - 08 September 2016
What makes the Samsung Note 7 such a hot seller? What vital function does the world's longest-lasting battery provide? And is the IRS now accepting Outback Steakhouse gift cards as a form of payment for taxes due? Find out in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. And it's *guaranteed* to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!
The AskBobRankin Geekly Update
Samsung has recalled all 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones it has sold due to a risk their batteries may catch fire or explode.
"On average, your apps will run about 15 percent slower in the summer!" reads a report issued by Apteligent, maker of tools for mobile app developers. They say that's because humidity weakens radio signals and causes delays as lost data must be retransmitted.
Uber and Lyft face new, cheaper competition in the San Francisco area from Google, which is experimenting with its own ride-sharing service. (Would a Google/Uber merger result in Goober?)
A Houston man spilled some solvent on his pants. He went outside to let the sun evaporate it just as a Google Maps car drove by, and immortalized the embarrassing moment.
The popular Whatsapp messaging app, now owned by Facebook, will soon begin sharing users' data with its parent company. Users can opt out, but there's a deadline for doing so.
Trend Micro has released some free tools that will help decrypt files encrypted by some ransomware programs without paying the hostage-takers.
Russian cybercrime kingpin Roman Seleznev faces up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of masterminding credit card data thefts that led to $170 million in global losses. (The jury is still out on the "crime doesn't pay" issue.)
Visitors to NYC's Bryant Park will soon be tracked by their cellphone signals, and the aggregated, anonymized data (which includes the movement and buying habits of parkgoers) will be sold to marketers by the private group that manages the city-owned park.
Twenty years of genetic research data has been wrong, thanks to the way many spreadsheet programs handle ambiguous data input. Gene names such as SEPT2 (which means "Septin 2" to geneticists) are convered to dates, i. e., "2-Sep." The discoverers of this glitch say, "there is no way to permanently deactivate automatic conversion to dates in MS Excel and other spreadsheet software such as LibreOffice Calc." But Google Sheets does not make this mistake.
The world's largest battery can keep the lights on in Fairbanks, Alaska, for up to seven hours in the event of a power failure. Larger than a football field and weighing 1,500 tons, the city's new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) consists of 13,760 individual nickel-cadmium cells, each the size of a desktop PC and weighing 165 pounds.
A much smaller battery, which powers the Oxford Electric Bell has been going strong for 176 years. Nobody knows exactly what's inside the world's longest lasting battery, or how long it will last.
More than 100 identity thieves were arrested and 900 investigations are now open thanks to an upgrade of the facial recognition system used by the New York Dept. of Motor Vehicles. The system can now compare 128 points on each driver's license photo instead of 64.
Up to 56% of email recipients and 40% of Facebook users will click on a link from an unknown source even though they know the risk of being infected by malware, according to a study by the Computer Science department of FAU, a German university.
Accused of liberal bias in the selection of "trending" news, Facebook fired all of its human editors and created an algorithm that does the job. The algorithm promptly started "trending" (giving priority to) fake news stories. It's so much easier to blame bias on poorly-written software.
The Iranian government is building its own, tightly-controlled Internet, which is being touted as providing "high quality, high speed" connections at "low costs." Easy enough when you cut out international news, social media such as Twitter and Facebook, dissenting voices, and cat videos.
The FBI has issued alerts to county election officials, warning them to be on the lookout for voting system hackers. Not that county election officials have the money or talent to do anything about hackers.
Microsoft issued a red-faced apology after its Bing search engine was discovered mis-translating the Arabic word, "Daesh," used as a synonym for the terrorist Islamic State, as "Saudi Arabia." Maybe they just followed the money.
An Iowa woman apparently hasn't read any of the numerous advisories warning consumers that the IRS does not demand payment of taxes in the form of gift cards. She lost nearly $6,000 to this well-publicised scam.
Thousands of patent examiners cheated taxpayers out of $18.3 million by billing the Patent Office for nearly 300,000 hours of work they never did, according to a General Accounting Office audit. That's 2% of all billed hours between 2010 and 2014, but the Patent Office says that's a big improvement over previous years. Meanwhile, 500,000 patent applications are awaiting examination.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Sep 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 08 September 2016 (Posted: 8 Sep 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved