Geekly Update - 24 July 2013

Category: Tech-News

Are police using license plate scanners to track your every move? Is your smartphone secretly listening to every word you say? And are there certain words that your iPhone just doesn't want you to type? 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

Google’s Moto X phone will always be listening to you, according to a leaked video about the mobile device due to be released in August. The feature enables voice commands without having to press a button, but raises privacy concerns.

Automated license plate scanners on police cars are compiling millions of images that could be used to track citizens’ movements, the ACLU charges. Some jurisdictions store such images for years.

The Internet delivers. A “Send Pizza” sign on the window of a child cancer patient’s hospital room was photographed and posted on Reddit, resulting in 20 pizzas and a heartwarming party for all the young patients.

Geekly Update 07-24-2013

"Notty werds?" Apple iPhones will not suggest corrections for misspellings of certain sensitive words including “abortion,” “rape,” “bigoted,” “homoerotic,” “ammo,” and “bullet.” An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on The Daily Beast’s findings.

AT&T has joined T-mobile in dropping subsidies for smartphones. The company’s new AT&T Next program divides the retail cost of a phone by 20 and adds the result to your service plan. But after just 12 months you can upgrade to a newer phone.

A security hole that exists in 99% of Android phones was patched 5 months ago by Google, but carriers and mobile phone vendors are very slow to roll out even critical fixes. A newly released app called ReKey promises to fix the problem, but a phone must be rooted before the patch can be applied.

Since joining Yahoo as CEO a year ago, Marissa Mayer has improved everything except the most important thing. The stock price has climbed 70%, employee turnover has halved, and workers don’t mind actually coming to work since telecommuting was banned. But revenues are up only 2%.

The universe may not be expanding, according to theoretical astrophysicist Christof Wetterich. It may just be getting fat. If the mass of atomic particles has gradually increased over time, that would explain the red-shifting of light from distant galaxies as well as the “expansion” theory. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to test Wetterich’s theory.

A growing number of extortionists are using a VoIP version of “distributed denial of service” attacks to block incoming calls to emergency services, hospitals, nursing homes, businesses, and other targets. Some victims have wired thousands of dollars to overseas bank accounts to get the attacks to stop; others have created new firewall filters that are only partially effective. Internet authorities are working on “caller-ID for VoiP” in an effort to prevent such carnage.

"STOP." India shut down its 167 year-old telegraph system on July 15. Formerly used for official business and announcements of births, marriages, and deaths, the telegram was ultimately killed by cell phones and the Internet. Union workers are protesting loss of jobs.

In another sign of the changing times, Alan Turing, famous information scientist of the early 20th Century, has been granted a pardon by the UK government for his infamous conviction in 1952. His crime? Homosexuality. An inquest in 1954 ruled his death "suicide by poisoned apple," but a recent review of the evidence suggests otherwise.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 24 July 2013"

Posted by:

Butch
24 Jul 2013

Thank you for including the Alan Turing pardon. Without his brilliance, the Brits and we Americans might have German as our native language today! His contributions to computing should not be ignored, belittled, or pushed aside because of his sexual orientation. To do so would be an immersion in stupidity and ignorance.


Posted by:

Bruce Doxey
24 Jul 2013

Hi Bob, Just wanted to say, this may be the best issue of your "Geekly Update" ever.

Didn't want you to think that your ever improving emails were unnoticed by the masses. After all, we are 146% smarter than the typical non subscribers!

Bruce


Posted by:

Martín
24 Jul 2013

It just took 61 years to grant a pardon for Alan Turing (sigh). Let's hope ignorance and intolerance are soon quashed like this stupid criminal conviction.


Posted by:

j b
24 Jul 2013

License plate scanners are not all bad. Cops collect data when they arrive at a crime or fire scene. Sometimes the perp's car is still there.


Posted by:

Rick
25 Jul 2013

Blocking emergency calls / services, called extortion? If someone dies because of it,is it manslaughter? Murder? How would you catch that type of serial killer??


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