Geekly Update - 02 June 2021

Category: Tech-News

Is Google intentionally making it impossible to opt out of location tracking? Is Amazon secretly sharing your Internet connection with neighbors and passersby? Are you ready for the Ring of Fire? And if a robot laughs at your dumb joke, is that a good thing? Get answers in today's Geekly Update... it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Unredacted court documents show that Google intentionally made it "nearly impossible" for users keep the company from collecting their location data. Testimony revealed that Google devices continued to track and record location data even when users turned off location-sharing settings. The company also pressured smartphone makers into making those privacy settings harder to find.

This just in from the Cool or Creepy Department: “Engineers Use AI to Teach Robots to Make Appropriate Reactive Human Facial Expressions.” Nobody wants their robots staring back at them with a blank expression and lifeless googly eyes. So researchers at Creative Machines Lab came up with Eva, a robot with a soft, expressive face that can smile. Eva can also respond with anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, or surprise, matching the facial expressions of nearby humans. If they could teach Eva to laugh at my jokes, that would be real progress.

It's nice to share. But not so much when you're forced to do so. Wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have a long history of being insecure. That's why some are sounding the alarm after Amazon announced that Alexa, Echo, Ring and other Amazon devices will be automatically enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk is a mesh network that will "share" part of your Internet bandwidth with nearby devices that don’t have connectivity. Users have until June 8th to turn off Sidewalk, thereby opting out of what could be a privacy nightmare in the making.

Geekly Update 06-02-2021

Not dead yet. PC prices are poised to rise for the rest of 2021, due to continued strong demand and a global chip shortage. The same is happening in other sectors where semiconductors are needed. The chip shortage is a side-effect of the COVID pandemic, whch caused semiconductor foundries around the world to temporarily halt production. A subsequent surge in demand for PCs, smartphones, cloud services, and cars has compounded the problem.

The newly released version of the Chrome browser (version 91) promises to run 23% faster, thanks to the integration of Sparkplug into the V8 JavaScript engine. If those car metaphors don't drive home the point, suffice it to say that these under-the-hood changes will make almost every page on the web load faster, resulting in a smoother ride on the information highway. You'll still have to change the blinker fluid regularly, though.

Have I Been Pwned, the popular tool you can use to find out if your user IDs and passwords are floating around on the dark web, is now open source. Making the source code public gives people confidence that everything is above board, and will also help to ensure the future of the website by allowing the others to help with coding and maintenance.

Are you ready for the Ring of Fire solar eclipse on June 10th? That morning, the moon will pass in front of the sun, resulting in a partial solar eclipse. Sky watchers in North America and northern Europe will have the best view. Depending on the time and location, the eclipse may look like a ring of fire in the sky. Others may see "devil horns" or a "shark fin" as the annular eclipse appears on the horizon. As with any eclipse, use eye protection when viewing.

Smartphone maker Xiaomi is claiming new world records for both wired and wireless charging speeds. The company says it can fully charge it's Mi 11 Pro with a 4,000mAh battery in 8 minutes with their 200-watt wired “HyperCharge” system, or in 15 minutes with 120-watt wireless charging. The downside is that fast-charging systems require special chargers and cables, so they’ll probably be useful only at home. If my phone can last the day without draining the battery, I don't care how fast it charges on my night stand.

“My name is Jake, and I’m an addict.” You've probably heard the rags-to-riches stories of Bitcoin investors. But Jake lost millions trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He does not want his identity known because he is still in treatment for what amounts to a digital gambling addiction that affected his job, marriage and finances. Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire, Scotland operates a cryptocurrency addiction clinic that treats people who are obsessed with gambling on the value of the virtual currency.

Chile and Argentina have one of the fiercest soccer rivalries. So when the Chilean team saw a drone in the sky above one of their World Cup training sessions, they suspected the Argentinians where spying on them. Team Chile sent sent up its own drone to do battle with the "spy-cam" but it turned out to be a drone from a Chilean energy company, inspecting street lights.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 02 June 2021"

Posted by:

02 Jun 2021

Enjoyable newsletter as always. But we do all have this running spelling/grammar thingy.

"they suspected the Argentinians where spying on them"

Sorry Bob, should be "were spying" shouldn't it?

Posted by:

02 Jun 2021

I had to blink twice upon reading your disparaging news about g00gle. Of course one should never 'byte' the feeding hand; yet like g00gle, you have "intentionally made it "nearly impossible" for users keep" buying you Snicker bars as kudos.

Posted by:

02 Jun 2021

Would also help if the robot's "soft expressive face" didn't look like a smurf with alopecia universalis.

Posted by:

John S
02 Jun 2021

I'm trying to understand the motive behind Amazon's Sidewalk. Amazon is a profit-making behemoth and I fail to see how this makes them a profit.

Posted by:

Eddy B
03 Jun 2021

Bob, as a European soccer fan living in the Americas I strongly ask you not to comment on so-called, non-existing "fierce soccer rivalries". US citizens don't know squat about soccer so don't pretend you do. You don't hear me commenting on MLB (boring) and the NFL (rugby for sissies). Agreed? Saludos, amigo, and thanks for all your priceless posts.

EDITOR'S NOTE: My source was a BBC article, so one can presume not an American author. You can blame the Brits for this one. And for the record, there are plenty of Americans who are obsessed with what the rest of the world rightly calls "football." There's no reason to think that American citizens are a homogenous lot when it comes to interest in sports.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 02 June 2021 (Posted: 2 Jun 2021)
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