Geekly Update - 14 May 2014
Is it possible to live a full year without the Internet? Can an embedded microchip make it impossible to steal stuff? How did those giant Starfleet logos end up on a Martian desert? And is 'tar and feathers' the latest weapon in the war against ATM hackers? Get answers to these burning questions, and the scoop on the latest tech news, in this edition of the Geekly Update. It's guaranteed to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!
The AskBobRankin Geekly Update
Could you live a year without computers, the Internet and a mobile phone? One Canadian family of four turned back the hands of time to 1986, surviving a full year with a rotary phone, a console television, even hair and clothes to match.
A desert on the planet Mars is emblazoned with giant Starfleet logos… or, according to NASA scientists, sand dunes shaped that way by wind. Sure, NASA, we believe you.
Android and other open-source software could be history if Oracle prevails in its copyright lawsuit against Google. Android includes a mimic of Java, and many open-source classics mimic proprietary software. Oracle claims copyright not only to the source code but also to the overall structure and naming conventions of Java. A lower court dismissed Oracle’s complaint but an appeals court has put it back in play.
But before you ditch your Droid… yet another iPhone security flaw allows someone with access to your phone to bypass the lock screen, with a little help from Siri.
"Just add feathers..." Inspired by the Bombardier Beetle which defends itself with a cloud of boiling toxic chemicals, a Swiss firm has developed a thin film which releases a torrent of hot foam (80 degrees Celsius, or 176 Fahrenheit) when broken. They want to coat ATMs with this stuff to deter thieves.
Just in case you thought Microsoft was kidding about ending security patches for XP and Office 2003... they're not. The first "Patch Tuesday" batch of patches since XP's end-of-life was released yesterday, and does not contain fixes for several vulnerabilities that affect XP and Office 2003.
Habitual shoplifters may be the ideal market for a microchip embedded beneath the skin that debits your bank account automatically when you leave a store with merchandise. “People have said when checkout is working really well, it will feel like stealing. You grab a pair of shoes and you just walk out.” But I wonder... if you walk back in, does the store process an automatic return and credit your card?
If Spotify seems to be broken it’s probably because every garage band on Earth is uploading “albums” containing nothing but silence. They’ll be imitating the Los Angeles band that did so and asked its fans to stream the empty album repeatedly all night, generating over $20,000 in royalties from Spotify.
Amazon has been granted a patent on a method of photographing an object against a white background, proving once again that U.S. patent examiners all suffer from advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Whenever you see enormous computer simulations running for days on the world’s fastest state-of-the-art supercomputers, you can be pretty sure the programs were written in FORTRAN, the hottest programming language of the 1950s. And today.
Handheld communication devices have a chokehold on American workers, and the smart CEO will caress rather than squeeze. That’s the bottom line of a “Mother Jones” article that adds statistics to what everyone has long known.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 14 May 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 14 May 2014 (Posted: 14 May 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved