Geekly Update - 02 April 2014

Category: Tech-News

What's to stop super-smart robots from taking over the world? Can airborne drones really steal data from your smartphone? And how soon will scientists perfect the mind reading technology that's already being used in labs? 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

Will you welcome your robot overlords? Not only are Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics inadequate to protect humanity from super-intelligent artificial intelligences, but there actually exists a discipline of “machine ethics” that is trying to upgrade them before it’s too late.

The skull of a 22 year-old woman was replaced with a plastic replica printed in 3D. The woman suffered from a rare disease which made her skull thicken. The surgery took 23 hours, the printing longer.

The U.S. government prints so much stuff that just switching fonts could save it $400 million worth of printer ink per year, according to the science project results of 14 year-old Suvir Mirchandani.
Geekly Update 04-02-2014

Mind Reading, Part One. Ever wonder what you look like to someone else? Scientists are constructing images of faces from brain scans of the people who are looking at them.

Opening an email message can expose Microsoft Outlook users to hijackers even if they don’t open any file attachments. If an email is sent in RTF (Rich Text Format) and if Microsoft Word is the default viewer for RTF files, then an email can be coded to give its sender the same user privileges as the user of the viewing device. Microsoft is working on a patch for Word (versions 2003 and higher are affected). In the meantime, the company is offering this FixIt solution that disables reading of RTF files.

In completely RELATED news, this is just one example of the kind of software flaw that Microsoft will NOT be fixing, after support for Windows XP and Office 2003 ends on April 8th.

Ya hear that buzzin' sound? An airborne drone can steal private data from your smartphone. It looks for smartphones that are broadcasting the names of WiFi networks to which they have connected before; mimics one of those networks to entice a phone to log in to the drone’s flying WiFi access point; then takes whatever it wants from the data streaming between user and the Internet.

What happens when a government tries to block Twitter and YouTube? The government of Turkey is learning that it isn’t as easy as blocking DNS servers and IP addresses. Turks are still able to access anti-government information. See how:

Construction of the first 3D-printed home has begun in Amsterdam. The components of its 13 rooms are being printed on-site using an “ink” that is 75 per cent plant oil. There is no sawdust or scrap lumber; leftovers are melted down and recycled. The parts lock together like Lego blocks.

Apple is considering an iTunes app for Android and launching a Spotify competitor, according to unnamed sources cited by Billboard magazine. The surprising rumors seem to arise from recent double-digit declines in iTunes download sales. If true, Apple may have found some humility.

The Roku Streaming stick competes with Google Chromecast; both are thumb drive-sized gadgets that plug into a TV’s HDMI port and stream Internet video content to a WiFi network. The Roku device costs $50, $15 more than Chromecast and about half the price of Apple TV. But Roku receives twice as many channels than either of the other two.

On March 29, 2014, Microsoft pledged to stop reading the private communications of its customers even if they were suspected of stealing company property, i. e., pirating MS software. Why yes, the Microsoft EULA does give the company that right, all nice and legal and alarmingly open-ended. The EULA will be revised “in coming months, making it binding upon Microsoft.” Couldn't they have waited three more days to make this announcement?

Your thoughts on these topics are mandatory. Drones carrying mind-reading devices are monitoring you now. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 02 April 2014"

Posted by:

RandiO
02 Apr 2014

Thank you, Mr. Bob Rankin.
Not that I want to be known as a "geek" but at least three of these updates are very relevant to me!


Posted by:

Ross
02 Apr 2014

Well, Bob, since Drones carrying mind-reading devices are monitoring my thoughts, I didn't really need to leave a "Comment", did I. :o)

Great Update, per always.


Posted by:

Gyppo
02 Apr 2014

Microshaft will stop spying on us? My immediate thought upon seeing this headline was that they would sub-contract the spying to someone else, thus creating a legal 'distance' for themselves.

So I read the article (usually much more informative than just fabricating impressions from the headline) and what does it say?

'Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.'

So not only was I correct, but another question arises. How will they decide if 'further action is required' if they don't sneak a peek at the emails first. Even if they use a computer programme to look for phrases like 'can you get me a free copy of Win 7?' rather than human eyes.

Intrigued.

Gyppo


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
04 Apr 2014

Bob, the one geekly mention ... Is the Drone business. Now, I really must admit, that scares the bejeebies out of me. I have read in other newsletters, they have nothing to do with computers ... That the US government is planning on using Drone, throughout the USA, to "spy" on various actions and people. Heavens, even Amazon is considering using Drones, to deliver purchased products, to your home!!!

I see, both Drones and Robots, as "dual edge swords." They can be extremely useful and good and they can be extremely bad and evil. In some respects, I am glad that I will not live to see the day, when the novel "1984", truly comes to pass.

I am 70 years old and in all honesty, I am scared for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 50 years, life in the USA will be totally different, especially with how things are going, right now.


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