Geekly Update - 27 November 2013

Category: Tech-News

Which online retailers are on the Naughty List, and how did they get there? If you connect enough veggies with copper wire, will it power your holiday light display? And who is behind the mysterious puzzle that's baffling the world's crypto experts? 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

The naughty and nice list of e-commerce and electronic retailers published by Consumer Reports flogs Amazon for raising the purchase threshold for free shipping to $35; Best Buy for requiring scans of driver’s licenses for returns; Fry’s for not accepting returns of TVs larger than 24 inches (they still make 'em that small?).

"Drink Your Ovaltine?" For the past two years, the world’s finest cryptologists have been baffled by codes freely given to them by a mysterious Internet entity calling itself “Cicada 3301.” Cicada introduced its first puzzle by explaining that it is “looking for highly intelligent individuals.” No word on why it chose this planet.

London's South Bank has perhaps the "greenest" Christmas tree ever, powered by 1000 brussel sprouts, which generate the 63 volts needed to power its LED lights.
Geekly Update 11-27-2013

Apple’s Siri (hands) Free is to be available as a dealer-installed accessory on 2014 Honda Accord and the Acura RDX and ILX models. It will allow drivers to send text messages and emails and “similar things,” according to Honda. Presumbaly that would include "searching for lower insurance rates" and "video tips on how to fix dented fenders."

Night vision is coming to smartphones courtesy of SnooperScope from PSY Corp., Ltd., enabling 24/7 selfies. Or maybe not, because as of this writing the fundraising campaign has reached barely 10 percent of its $60,000 goal.

Landline phones are dying not just because people are going mobile, but also because the PTSN (Public Switched Telephone Network) is nearing the end of its usable life cycle. The copper wires, switches, and other apparatus are very old and on their last legs.

“Perfect forward security” is what Twitter now offers users with a dramatically different and unbreakable encryption method. Instead of storing an encryption key on its servers, which might subpoenaed by the NSA someday, Tweets are now encrypted using two very temporary keys which vanish and can never be recovered.

“There can be only one.” Microsoft has finally admitted that three versions of Windows – full, RT, and Phone – is just ridiculous and cannot continue. Of course, they didn’t say it quite so accurately but that’s the future.

Acer added a touchscreen to its C720P Chromebook and raised its top price just in time for Christmas. The C720P family is priced at $199, $249, and $299 for the touchscreen model. Each features quick startup (7 second), long battery life (7.5 hours), an Intel Haswell-based Celeron processor, and 16GB of flash storage (32GB in the touchscreen model).

"Can we hurry this up, Officer? I'm paying by the minute here." Car2Go, the Internet rent-by-the-minute car company, got an unusual customer in Richard Delarosa of Austin, TX. He was speeding at 75 mph in a Car2Go smartcar. Police gave chase; Delarosa pulled a U-turn and crashed the car, then hopped into another Car2Go vehicle and led police on a second chase before being apprehended. I had no idea Car2Go was so ubiquitous, or could go that fast.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 27 November 2013"

Posted by:

Jon
27 Nov 2013

Hmmmmm Amazon is a problem...

I have to balance the BBC article - Amazon workers face 'increased risk of mental illness' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25034598

With the fact that I just got a laptop at £100GBP cheaper than anywhere else in the UK on their Black Friday instant deals.

As with everything else the bank balance has to win.

Jon


Posted by:

john
27 Nov 2013

Hi, Bob I'm reading the N and N list now and it says, “Refunds cannot be given on televisions 24 inches and larger.”
I think that's worse than your comment of;
not accepting returns of TVs larger than 24 inches. Best regards, john.


Posted by:

JonS
27 Nov 2013

Your observation that the Public Switched Telephone Network is nearing the end of its planned operating life is important. Besides the impact on home users, how will it affect communication with for example, businesses and government offices? There may be some real big and far-reaching changes just around the corner! It seems like the impact of the phasing out of the Public Switched Telephone Network is a tip of the iceberg kind of event.

Will this also mean that we won't be on hold anymore?


Posted by:

Pablo Cassels
28 Nov 2013

Wouldn't it be fantastic if Cicada 3301 would create a free utility for Windows, Linux and Apple PCs; so that .txt, .doc(x). .odt, and similar files could be encrypted by the algorithms used to baffle security experts?
Instead of requiring shared encryption keys which could be intercepted, the program would do it all. Of course, the program would have to be too sophisticated to be cracked or reverse engineered.


Posted by:

RandiO
02 Dec 2013

It is NOT the copper that is killing the PTSN, it is the fact that phone companies can no longer milk the public for revenue. ATT is actually not willing to invest any further money in providing copper (phone lines) to the housing market! Email may become the next target of dead technologies!
Some day soon, someone is going to figure out how to tax the citizenry via a "bit" tax and that will/may endure a while longer than the lifetime of copper! Since taxation of carbon is not working out too well, either: Next, they will move to tax electron usage and when that well dries, they will move on to eeek revenue from quarks and qubits! :)


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