Geekly Update - 27 January 2016

Category: Tech-News

Is your paranoia about government spies listening to your phone calls finally paying off? Can computers generate inane TV sitcom scripts without human assistance? And is your lost phone hiding out in the suburbs of Atlanta? 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

Airbnb, an online service that allows people to rent out living space to strangers, recently put the kibosh on a $200-night igloo created by two Brooklynites after the recent blizzard. Airbnb (which does list "Igloo" as an option) said the structure failed to meet occupancy standards.

In a suburb of Atlanta, Michael Saba and Christina Lee live in fear for their lives. Over a dozen angry people and the police have shown up at the couple’s home since February, 2015, looking for lost phones that Michael and Christina don’t have. Yet various “find my phone” apps keep directing forlorn owners to the couple’s address.

How predictable are the plot lines for TV sitcoms? Andy Herd fed the script of every episode of the popular "Friends" show into his computer, and created software that uses machine learning to churn out new scripts. With a bit of tweaking, Herd says, "All I'd have to do is push a button and BAM, top quality sitcom fodder ready to go."

Soldering may be replaced by a metallic glue developed at Boston’s Northeastern University. MesoGlue can be applied at room temperature and does not involve toxic vapors, and yields a bond just as strong and electrically conductive as solder.

Geekly Update 01-27-2016

Amazon’s Echo digital assistant can now read Kindle ebooks aloud, although not with the dramatic flair of Morgan Freeman.

A VoIP encryption protocol developed by the UK spy agency, GCHQ, contains a secret “back door” that allows employers or government agencies to eavesdrop on callers. The MIKEY-SAKKE protocol is being promoted by the UK government to ISPs, employers, and others who provide VoIP services; there’s even talk of mandating its use.

What do California and New York district attorneys have in common? Suspiciously identical proposed laws they have introduced to their state legislatures that would penalize digital device manufacturers who do not build backdoors into their products’ security.

Gordon Trent Austin has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect. The former dentist has subpoenaed Google, seeking the identity of a YouTube user who, in 2009, posted a 10-minute news report of Austin’s indictment on charges of assaulting patients while they were under anesthesia. It isn’t clear why Austin waited until now to file a defamation lawsuit.

A mysterious distress signal spurred a massive search for a downed aircraft in Wilton, CT. Eleven police officers, nine firefighters, 23 search-and-rescue volunteers, a K-9 unit, and a divers’ boat were called out on the night of January 19. After several hours, it was discovered the beacon came from a high-end smartwatch.

Forget self-driving cars. The SmartBe is a self-driving baby carriage that sticks close to Mom and/or Dad while they jog over hill and dale. Fully tricked out, it costs $2,750.

If you’re looking forward to Intel’s next-generation Skylake processor, you'd best be running Windows 10. Windows 7 and 8.1 will be supported on only a limited number of machines that use it. Microsoft has posted links to manufacturers’ lists of Skylake and “legacy” Windows machines.

The sickly hilarious Exploding Kittens card game raised $8.8 million during its Kickstarter campaign. Now, the mobile app version has skyrocketed to the Number 1 Paid App position on Apple’s App Store, just one day after it launched.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 27 January 2016"

Posted by:

David
27 Jan 2016

"Gordon Trent has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect..." I think you're missing Gordon Trent's last name, Austin.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fixed, thanks.


Posted by:

Reg
27 Jan 2016

Guess I won't be buying a "Skylake" processor. Not going to be required to use anyone's software.


Posted by:

Paul
27 Jan 2016

'top quality' sitcom fodder. I assume that's sarcasm.


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