Geekly Update - 01 April 2020

Category: Tech-News

What should you do if a teddy bear with a USB flash drive arrives in your mailbox? Should you cancel your summer vacation plans and travel the world with virtual reality instead? And will a 'census enumerator' show up at your front door armed with an outdated iPhone? Get answers in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. No April Fools jokes today... but this issue IS guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Stuck at home? Here are eleven cool places you can virtually visit while you're sheltering in place, via Google Street View. Tour the Roman Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, The Louvre, or check out the CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Or bring the fun right into your place. A combination of Google search and augmented reality models allows you to place a life-sized lion or tiger right in your living room, bedroom, or backyard. Virtually, of course. Other options include a giant panda, Rottweiler, wolf, alligator, hedgehog, and a duck.

The FBI warns that hackers from the FIN7 cybercriminal group have been sending malicious USB drives, sometimes along with teddy bears or gift cards, through the US Postal Service. When plugged into a computer, the USB devices function as a keyboard, and inject commands to download malware.

Geekly Update 04-01-2020

Lots of people have been using the popular Zoom video conferencing app to connect with family, co-workers or attend virtual church services. But security experts warn that the app can leak your login credentials if you click on links sent via the Chat feature.

ZDNet has put together a series of videos about Building the Bionic Brain. Topics include brain-computer interfaces, mind-reading computers, privacy and ethical concerns.

Numerous scams have cropped up in the wake of the current virus crisis, and they've already cost consumers almost $5 million, according the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Commonly-seen schemes include travel refund scams, and fraudsters posing as the government.

Popular Mechanics has the lowdown on the the best camera phones, whether you’re an Apple fan or Android adherent.

Giant space mirrors could send sunlight back to Earth after dark, making solar power collection possible even at night.

Did you get a letter in the mail about completing your Census form? You can complete your input via the Web, over the phone or by return mail. If you don't comply, a "census enumerator" will be sent to your home in late May. These human census takers will be using iPhone apps instead of paper and clipboards, but be sure to check their credentials, as there will undoubtedly be imitators with injurious intentions.

Volvo Valet lets owners service cars without leaving the couch. Owners can schedule service appointments and a pickup time through a smartphone app. An employee will pick up the car, leave a loaner vehicle and return your Volvo after service is complete. Similar to programs are offered by competing automakers.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 01 April 2020"

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

I cannot believe that anyone would accept an unsolicited gift, much less one with a USB drive! how dumb can people be? wait - don't answer that!!

Posted by:

Wild Bill
01 Apr 2020

Giant mirrors sending sunlight back to Earth after dark for night-time solar power generation? The dark sky and astronomy communities must be jumping for joy. Did Elon Musk suggest this?

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

To pdsterling:

... or smart. To turn the tables. I'd use old computer with no Internet access, that anyway is collecting dust somewhere in garage, shed or attic to see what's going on and research what kind of USB drive it is. Or, that is more likely, what USB device it is. What it does and how. And how could I use it after "disinfecting", if it's possible, of course. C'mon, guys, it's boring to be in isolation. Let's have some fun! Especially when somebody already paid for that, he-he.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

Yikes,teddy bears with malicious USB drives is a new one.Never heard of FIN7,so everyone needs to be careful.

I bet female executives could get taken more easily be one of these schemes.They would see the gift USB and put it in.Guys receiving such a gift might just take the bear home and give it to their kids.

You need to treat all foreign USB drives as suspicious.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

I'm with PD, plug it into one of those old computers in the garage, we all have one I'm sure. Anything we can do to turn the tables on the bad guys. Now the adds that pop up on your site, Stuck Inside with Barbara Eden, your going to get us all into trouble.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

Kirill: or if it's a USB killer, (yes, it's a thing, go Google it) you won't be using that computer any more.

I don't understand why, in the case of the USB Killer, people can be so malicious. There isn't even money in it. Unless, of course, you're selling it on Amazon; and yes, you can buy a USB stick that kills computers on Amazon.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2020

Hmmmm. Teddy Bears accompanied by USB sticks with malware inside....and pretending to come from Best Buy? The moral is: Beware of Geeks bearing gifts.

Posted by:

02 Apr 2020

I have received junk like that in the mail with USB drives. I just tossed in the camp fire to completely destroy it! I would NEVER insert something like this onto my computers. I think those hucksters out there need to get a life, and people better not fall for such slimy gimmicks!

Posted by:

02 Apr 2020

If people were not so dumb as to plug in an unknown then the bad guys would not send them. Since they do there must be a high profit margin in stupidity.

Posted by:

02 Apr 2020

Mirrors and solar. Didn't research my question, but for the concern of Climate Change...
The night solar solution, will this bring more energy into the Earths' ecosystem?
Wouldn't more energy equate to greater warming of the planet?
A self defeating idea, that might be trumpeted because it's better than what we have, then once it's large scale it's another part of the 'disaster'.
Better to find a solution from the sunlight of the day, me thinks!

Posted by:

02 Apr 2020

Am I the only one to detect that HiFi5000 is a misogynist pig & his comment should be deleted??

Posted by:

02 Apr 2020

To bb:

Hacking now is a business. So this USB stick with teddy bear is an investment to get some useful (to make some profit) info. How do you expect to make some profit by killing some old computer that still collecting dust because of owner's laziness? It would be a good help to get rid of this old stuff finally.

I remember time, when hacking was deep researching for sake of pure knowledge. For me it would be interesting to analyze some new code to understand how it works and what to expect. Of course, this old computer should be completely ready for this type of investigation, with all tools to reverse-engineering, otherwise it's easy to let this code into your working computers.

Posted by:

03 Apr 2020

Mainer, clearly HiFi5000 is an alien from another planet or from an ancient time when dinosaurs roamed Earth. WAIT!!! Maybe HiFi5000 IS a dinosaur... LOL poor baby - wake up and join the human race.

Cheers and here's to better times ahead!

Posted by:

Ken Driver
03 Apr 2020

I've received 3 letters from the Census Bureau reminding me to fill out the census form. Impatient aren't they?

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