[146 PERCENT?] Geekly Update - 02 March 2016

Category: Tech-News

Can you call 911 if you lose your Facebook password? Is there a cell phone just for people who drive huge tractors underwater? And what magic words must one say prior to making a video recording of a police officer? 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. Don't believe me? Read on and I'll provide the proof!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

New York City has launched a network of free public WiFi hotspots housed in obsolete payphone booths. Each hotspot also includes a landline offering free calls to anywhere in the U. S., two USB charging ports, a tablet for accessing the Web, and a red 911 button for emergency calls.

A quartz disc the size of a silver dollar can store 360 TB of data for up to 14 billion years using 3D laser encoding tech developed at Southampton University in the UK. However, the life expectancy of our solar system is only 5.5 billion years.

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, Inc., has introduced its sixth branded smartphone. The $599 Cat S60 is the first phone with a FLIR thermal imaging camera built in, and you can even use it underwater for up to one hour. The S60’s steel frame is so rugged that you can drive a Caterpillar earthmover over it.

Geekly Update 03-02-2016

Nissan's Connected Car app was taken offline after the app was found to be “shockingly” vulnerable to hacking. All you need is a car’s VIN to log into its NissanConnect account and fiddle with entertainment, environmental control, and other non-critical systems. (Maybe this explains why my car plays only the Barry Manilow Channel on Sirius XM.)

“We want it just for this one phone,” the FBI told a California judge in its successful request for an order compelling Apple to create a backdoor in its iOS software. Now it seems there are at least 12 other iPhones the government wants to use that software on.

People occasionally ask me how I can guarantee that readers of the Geekly Update will be "146% smarter" than their friends, family and co-workers. I shouldn't tell you this, but the 146% figure is just an AVERAGE. I started collecting this data by tapping into the NSA's skycam network (of course, filtering out all those NOT currently viewing the Geekly Update page). I've since added drones, robots, bio-feedback, eye-tracking and a secret gadget that I can't talk about. A proprietary algorithm (powered by my TI-58 calculator) uses the latest artificial intelligence to analyze that data in real time. I was surprised to find that some readers experience smartness gains up to 300%! Of course, that implies that a small percentage of readers actually get dumber, but it's all for the greater good. :-)

An adorable little autonomous robot named “Starship” will be tested in the U. S. starting in April. The self-driving delivery vehicle rolls down sidewalks, politely stopping and moving aside for pedestrians. In UK tests, adults mostly ignored Starship but kids "like to pet it and try to feed it," says the inventor. Over here, someone’s sure to call the bomb squad.

You can photograph or record video of cops, but at the same time you must tell them why you are doing so, ruled U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney in denying a First Amendment complaint lodged by students who were arrested while documenting the arrest of another student. If you don’t directly and explicitly express your purpose at the time, ruled Kearney, there is no “expression” for the First Amendment to protect.

The perennially renewed federal ban on taxing of Internet services has been made permanent by an executive order issued by President Obama. That’s one less thing for Congress to fight about every year.

Robots are losing their jobs to people for a change, as Mercedes brings assembly workers back to handle the complex customizations of its luxury vehicles.

Indiana’s texting-while-driving law is “useless” because any driver seen fiddling with a phone could be doing any number of perfectly legal things like dialing, navigating, shopping, or reading the news, a federal appeals court ruled.

The Truthy Database is a federally funded project to track “suspicious memes” that spread “misinformation.” Indiana University researchers plan to track how misinformation is spread. (Do we really want the government to decide what’s truthy?)

California’s Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 in Bitcoins after its computer system was brought to a halt by ransomware. The hospital’s operations were brought to a virtual halt for over a week, with most patients transferred to other facilities.

Google's Gmailify app now lets Yahoo and Outlook.com (Hotmail) users enjoy Gmail’s spam filtering, tabbed inbox, and other bells and whistles without giving up their current email addresses. Unfortunately, it’s available only on mobile.

When you zoom in too closely on a Google Maps Earth View, things can look pretty weird. Digital artist Kyle F. Williams has compiled a collection of close-ups gone horribly wrong.

 
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Most recent comments on "[146 PERCENT?] Geekly Update - 02 March 2016"

Posted by:

MmeMoxie
02 Mar 2016

OMG, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center hacked with Ransomware!!! While I never worked there, I knew many Surg. Techs. that did, way back when. It was/is a good, respected hospital with many, many advances, in my days of working in surgery in California back in the 70's & 80's.

They had an EMI scan, the forerunner of the everyday C-Scan, that is used today! Now, it only scanned the brain, but, the technology was there and within a few years, the C-Scan was born. As with any technology, there is always a beginning and the EMI scan was that starting point.

WHY a hospital???!!! What is wrong with these people? I guess they honestly do NOT care about anybody's life. This is bad, really bad. The fact that they can hack into hospitals, they will continue to do it.

Randsomware is terroristic activities, in my book. Listen I don't like what Ransomware is doing, either - BUT, to hack a hospital??? NO, that is not just computer "fun & games", this is extremely serious. In my mind, they are terrorists.


Posted by:

John C
02 Mar 2016

Indiana’s texting-while-driving law is “useless” because any driver seen fiddling with a phone could be doing any number of perfectly legal things like dialing, navigating, shopping, or reading the news, a federal appeals court ruled.

So it's okay for people to read news and shop while driving. That's about as "smart" as texting while driving.

I was heading home from work one night. A woman in an SUV was doing 30 mph in the passing lane on the freeway. Other drivers passing her were blowing their horns and flashing lights.

She was busy doing things on her tablet or phone she had placed in the middle of her steering wheel, and was totally oblivious to the world around her.

I've seen similar actions with people doing office stuff on laptops while driving as well, which caused accidents and horrific traffic tie ups because they're so busy being selfish that they don't care that they're blocking traffic.

As you can see this one struck a chord! :-)


Posted by:

Ralph Sproxton
02 Mar 2016

“'We want it just for this one phone,' the FBI told a California judge in its successful request for an order compelling Apple to create a backdoor in its iOS software. Now it seems there are at least 12 other iPhones the government wants to use that software on."

And, I've read, a Manhattan DA who wants 175 more.


Posted by:

RichF
02 Mar 2016

I hope that cute delivery robot doesn't end up like that robot that went safely across Canada and then started in the US until it was broken up (mugged) in Philly about 1 - 1 1/2 years ago.


Posted by:

Wayne B.
02 Mar 2016

Why don't they ask the "black hat" guys to unlock that phone in California. Why mess with Apple anyway!


Posted by:

Jillian S
02 Mar 2016

I glanced over this quickly and thought it was a spoof. Then I clicked on some links and found out they are true! Well, that's how one knows that the world is moving faster than one can keep up. I have a question. About half the links I could not connect to--I got the "click" sound and the red and yellow star. That has been happening rather often lately when I've been researching something. Why is that?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not sure what you mean by red and yellow stars. Does anyone else ever see that?


Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
02 Mar 2016

You can photograph or record video of cops, but at the same time you must tell them why you are doing so, ruled U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney in denying a First Amendment complaint lodged by students who were arrested while documenting the arrest of another student. If you don’t directly and explicitly express your purpose at the time, ruled Kearney, there is no “expression” for the First Amendment to protect.

Thanks Bob. This is good to know, with everyone pulling out cellphones and recording everything.


Posted by:

Robert A
02 Mar 2016

Regarding the hacking of hospital computer systems, the medical competency and/or prestige of any given institution, whether good or bad, is irrelevant to hackers. Esteemed institutions such as Sloan-Kettering, the Mayo Clinic or St. Jude's Hospital, down to the one's local welfare receiving hospital are all potential victims of Black Hat hackers, who, unfortunately, are looking for personal information such as social security numbers, insurance policy numbers medical and medicine prescription records, etc., that would be of use to them. It should go without saying that all institutions, public and private, dealing with personal information of clients or patients, should institute the highest and most current software encryptions available.

As to drivers texting while driving, I have a hard time believing that of all the drivers on the road at that time, not one driver (if not more) was unable to take the initiative to notify the local police about the unsafe driving of such a dimwit. Most cars built within the past eight or so years have some sort of built-in system similar to Ford's "Sync" system, that allows a driver to link their phone into the car's telematics, and, with a press of a button on the steering wheel, and a voice command, call into the 911 emergency service. If more drivers cared to report such activities, we would have less and less of these types of situations on the roads.


Posted by:

barry
02 Mar 2016

"U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney...denying a First Amendment complaint lodged by students"

The Ministry for State Security has spoken-Ministerium für Staatssicherheit,!!!!

Sieg Heil!!


Posted by:

Brummagem Flash
02 Mar 2016

Thanks again, Bob R.: another selection of enlightening gems, and contoversial anomalies.
I'd like to comment firstly on texting whilst driving...
Here in the UK, ANY use of a mobile (English for cell) 'phone, whilst driving is contrary to British road law. A driver will be prosecuted for "not being in proper control of a vehicle". This catch-all offence can equally be applied to eating an apple or sandwich; drinking a cola; or applying make-up.
Drivers' mobiles have frequently been shown to be in use at the time of a serious injury collision.
The USA, especially Indiana, road laws in this area patently lag behind all countries of Europe: drivers should be held accountable for the "due diligence" necessary at ALL TIMES to drive safely!
Secondly, on hacking in-car computers...
I'm not surprised that someone's found a way to hack an in-car system; although Nissan seem to have held the door open for them! But no-one seems too bothered that; where ANY computers are concerned; there will always be back doors for hackers to find, and also the inevitable albeit occasional "blank-screen" failure.
My questions have always been "Who will be held accountable?" and "How can the cause of any failure be proved?"; when in-car computer "glitches" cause multiple deaths and the maiming of innocents....
Surely the cars' manufacturers cannot be relied upon to investigate such failures themselves: their vested interest would make such involvement inevitably prejudiced.
When my Hyundai's anti-lock brakes system "computer" failed; there was (and still is) no independent body to test that computer in the UK at a reasonable cost.
How can we feel safe; passing over the control of our cars' speed and direction to hackable computers; all of which are also inherently fallible?
Why are there no manufacturers' plans for manual over-rides to allow us to take back control of such potential death-traps?


Posted by:

Lloyd Collins
03 Mar 2016

"Robots are losing their jobs to people for a change, as Mercedes brings assembly workers back to handle the complex customizations of its luxury vehicles."

GO, HUMANS! It is about time, now robot's goals of taking over the World is slowed.

P.S. Bob, I want my money back, I only got 145% smarter. Please, no Bitcoins.


Posted by:

Stephanie
03 Mar 2016

I believe Jillian S. is referring to the little red and yellow "POW" symbol (I call it that because it reminds me of a Lichtenstein painting)that appears when you left click on a link and it is disabled due to a pop-up blocker. You then have to right click and use "open" from the menu.


Posted by:

NB
03 Mar 2016

No need for an independent body - you can test anti-lock brakes with your right foot. While driving on a clear stretch of road, press hard on the brake pedal. If the brakes pulse rapidly, the anti-lock is working. If they do not pulse, it is not.


Posted by:

Phil
03 Mar 2016

Hi Bob. ALways interesting. Thanks for your continuing efforts to educate us all. Just want to say though that I particularly enjoyed your sidebar. I am just hoping that I fall above and not below the average. ;-)


Posted by:

Schalk
03 Mar 2016

Thanks for all the fun!


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
03 Mar 2016

@Robert A -- Thank you for pointing out what these hackers are trying to do. Yes, all hospitals can be hacked with Ransomware. I just happen to know Hollywood Pres. from personal experience & was shocked. I think this is a good wake-up call, for all hospitals. You are spot on that a good encryption is the answer.

In reading your comment, I thought of several different ways these hackers can do damage. A large segment of the equipment in the hospitals are computerized & connected to the main computer. I think, this is why Hollywood Pres put their patients in other hospitals in the area.

All of the computers in the ICU & CCU are in connected to the main computer storage. The ability to mess with these computers is possible & that can have devastating outcomes. This applies to ALL hospitals!!!


Posted by:

HA
04 Mar 2016

I think I got dummer.


Posted by:

Larry
17 Mar 2016

Bob,
"The perennially renewed federal ban on taxing of Internet services has been made permanent by an executive order issued by President Obama. That’s one less thing for Congress to fight about every year. "

Obama DID NOT sign an executive order. He can't. He signed a bill into law.
Let's keep it accurate. Please

BTW, Happy Birthday !!!


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