Geekly Update - 03 December 2015

Category: Tech-News

How long does it take the government to waste a billion dollars? What's even more annoying than flying a drone over your neighbor's back yard? And what new technology makes it possible for drivers to spend more time NOT looking at the road? 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

A New York startup called Bond uses modified 3-D printers and Monte Blanc pens to create robotic handwritten notes for all occasions. The cost is $3, which includes mailing the letter for you. The only thing missing is a smudge of Mom's lipstick on the back of the envelope.

Spybot Anti-Beacon for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 is a free utility that disables all the telemetry features that have sparked privacy concerns, but without all the adware and half-baked programming of hastier efforts.

You think drones are cool? The lightest, fastest, most maneuverable personal jetpack ever made is shown zipping around the Statue of Liberty in the video embedded in this article.

Geekly Update 12-03-2015

Los Angeles is deploying “smart” light poles that include miniaturized cellular towers. It is hoped these “invisible towers” will help relieve network congestion. More likely, it'll just mean more distracted drivers. “Cool, now I can post pics of my morning commute, while I drive!”

The good news: A panel of journalists who do a lot of research on Wikipedia have compiled a list of the most fascinating Wikipedia articles you’ve never read.” The bad news: Journalists do a lot of their research on Wikipedia.

Walmart and other large retailers are warning of long checkout lines this holiday season because, they fear, shoppers will be baffled by new EMV “chipped” card checkout procedures. Really, how is this different than using ATMs, which have been around since the 1970s?

An Australian woman posted on Facebook a selfie that showed her winning horse race ticket, complete with its barcode. By the time she got to the payout window, one of her “friends” had duplicated the barcode and claimed her $869 prize at an automated betting machine.

"Linear TV is a mature, declining business," says Charlie Ergen, Dish Network's CEO; as proof, Dish’s satellite TV business lost 178,000 subscribers while its on-demand Sling TV service gained 155,000 customers in the last quarter.

Ooops? An Iranian cyberespionage group infected its own command-and-control servers with its own keylogger malware, enabling counterspies to see exactly what the Iranians were up to. (Which no doubt, enabled counter-counterspies to spy on the spies who were spying on the other spies.)

Your tax dollars at work… Ten years and $1 billion after commencing its automation of immigration paperwork processing, the Dept. of Homeland Security admits that it has only one immigration form online, and that the whole project needs to be scrapped.

Wipe the smug off the faces of your Linux geek friends by showing them the first disk-encrypting ransomware designed for Linux. “All your penguins are belong to us now.”

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 03 December 2015"

Posted by:

03 Dec 2015

Regarding "Walmart and other large retailers are warning of long checkout lines this holiday season because, they fear, shoppers will be baffled by new EMV “chipped” card checkout procedures. Really, how is this different than using ATMs, which have been around since the 1970s?"

I have used several EMV chipped card readers recently. The results were they worked but were many times slower. I put in my card at Office Depot and it took minutes to checkout vs. seconds when I swiped the same card at the same store. Apparently the combination of the protocols involved and the infrastructure is such that it takes a long time.

Posted by:

03 Dec 2015

Ransomware on Linux!!!??? I'm officially afraid! A very big screw up for the Magento guys who left that door open. Bob, if it's possible, can you write an article concerning malware threats for Linux? (I know there are much more Windows users than Linux geeks around, but for those of us who have migrated to Linux, I think it's a relevant topic)

Posted by:

03 Dec 2015

I had to laugh at the chipped card story. "Anarchy." That's how a Walmart spokesperson described his imagined outcome of holiday shoppers using chipped cards. Really? Give me a break. The chipped cards are incredibly easy to use. I've been using them consistently for months at several retail establishments I frequent. I've only experienced a delay once, when the terminal didn't get a good read the first time around. (This is something I've experienced from time to time using a stripped card transactions, as well, so I do not blame the "new system" for that.) I have found that these cards are typically quick and efficient to use. The added security is welcome. Now, if we can only get catch up to the rest of the developed world and use chip-and-pin cards. But, I guess decision makers decided that was too much for us to handle all at once, so we get "baby steps." I'm so tired of the media running stories that attempt to make our citizens out to be morons.

Posted by:

Jay R
03 Dec 2015

Just a thot, Laurie.

"I'm so tired of the media running stories that attempt to make our citizens out to be morons."

Isn't that wasted effort? To me, it seems that many qualify and don't require assistance.

Posted by:

Ralph C
03 Dec 2015

Here in Canada, we have been using chip cards for years. Put your card in the reader, accept the purchase amount, enter your PIN, and done. Now most terminals accept "Tap" where you accept the purchase and tap the card, done. How can this be difficult to understand and use? Are we Cnadians actually smarter than Americans? I doubt it, just use them. Just my 2 cents worth, but then we don't have cents anymore in Canada, so it is my nickle's worth I guess.

Posted by:

03 Dec 2015

Come on, you guys! Chipped cards have been the norm in Australia, and other parts of the world for a long time without fuss. Having to sign is un-usual downunder. It amazes me that when in the U.S I have to sign dockets rather than just swipe them. It's much easier, quicker, and I think, more secure.

Posted by:

04 Dec 2015

Wow! A lot of great info here, Bob.
If only the Dish CEO would admit that even with 3 or more satellites broadcasting, their signal is still weak! Whenever it rains, snows, BAM!
Chipped cards at WallyWorld- my woman's bank card works and says it will dispense a cash advance. Until it's time to cough it up. At least she isn't charged for the non-existent advance.
And ransomeware for Linux? Great. After deciding to try Windows 10 and experiencing 2 install failures I was convinced to go try Linux (Mint) again. Downloaded Mint 8 from a distro site. Thought that 8 seemed old. Wiped that partition and installed Mint 17.2 from another distro site. This is on my small, oldest laptop. Just for practice. Free (Wins 10) is not always good.

Posted by:

04 Dec 2015

I think that Walmart's excuse about long lines is just a cover for their lack of staff to open ALL the checkouts.......that would almost instantly make the long lines dissapear!

Posted by:

04 Dec 2015

@Mat - I'm with you, regarding Walmart!!! The lines have always been long and delays are noted, especially, during the Holidays!

As for the new Chip Cards, I haven't gotten mine, yet. My financial institution has notified all of the members, that the new Chip Cards will be coming out soon. In fact, some of the members have already gotten theirs. I estimate, it will take at least 6 months, to complete their process.

I noted at my Sam's Club Warehouse, that they have had the Chip Card transaction machines, for well over a year now. So, I think, most of the major retail stores are ready. I am not talking about small retail stores, just the big ones.

Posted by:

04 Dec 2015

Yesterday I used my chipped card at Trader Joe's.
I was told not to insert the card until all items had been entered. Then I was told to wait until the machine showed "Remove card" after my card was processed. Way slower than a simple swipe!

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