Geekly Update - 03 March 2021

Category: Tech-News

Can artificial intelligence bring your long-deceased relatives back to life? Would you be interested in fully de-Googled smartphone? Did Amazon have a secret alliance with Hitler? And are you sure that you have enough non-fungible tokens? 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

The Canadian artist known as Grimes sold almost $6 million worth of NFT Crypto artwork at auction yesterday. If you didn’t already know, NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” a technology that allows (apparently super-rich cool) people to purchase digital goods such as images or video. You can’t hang NFT on the living room wall – it lives as a digital token on a blockchain.

Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are “surprised” that a new drug that works so well against depression. Ezogabine uses a different mechanism than existing treatments, opening potassium channels in the brain, leading to significant improvements in depressive symptoms.

A week into Black History Month, Amazon removed a critically acclaimed PBS documentary on Justice Clarence Thomas, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.” Thomas is the only black justice currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. The five-star rated video had been on Amazon Prime for months, but is still “unavailable to watch in your location.” Nothing to see here, move along, folks.

Geekly Update 03-03-2021

This just in from the Creepy or Cool Department: Deep Nostalgia uses (you guessed it) artificial intelligence to animate still photos. The service is offered by online genealogy company MyHeritage, and is designed to take your photos of deceased loved ones and bring them to (digital) life in short video clips.

The Federal Communications Commission has announced a program that provides discounts of up to $50 per month for low-income households needing broadband internet service. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program also provides up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands and a one-time discount of up to $100 on a tablet, laptop or desktop computer for those who qualify.

In 1697, a French man wrote a letter to his cousin, and sealed it with a technique known as letterlocking, to safeguard the contents. More than 300 years later, researchers used a 3D imaging technique to reveal its contents without opening or unfolding it.

Walmart is dropping its $35 minimum order requirement for its Express two-hour delivery service for Walmart Plus subscribers. Express Delivery for food, pantry items, household essentials, and other products can cost up to $19.95, but Walmart will waive the fee if you subscribe to Walmart Plus. Anything that provides an alternative or competition for Amazon is a good thing.

If you’ve always dreamed of an open-source, de-Googled version of Android, your dream just came true. The e Foundation is selling refurbished Samsung phones preloaded with the /e/ operating system. A de-Googled Galaxy S9 goes for $380.

Citing user privacy concerns, Google is phasing out third-party tracking cookies, and they pinky-swear that they “will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web.” Instead, they’ll create “privacy-preserving APIs” which prevent individual tracking and still make advertisers and publishers happy. Huh.

Someone must have noticed that Amazon’s new app icon, which rolled out in January, had what vaguely resembled a “Hitler mustache” in the design. So they’ve made a slight update to the icon that replaced the mustache with a colorful strip of tape.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 03 March 2021"

Posted by:

Peter Tazzyman
03 Mar 2021

Walmart is what you get if you make a wish for an alternative to Amazon on a monkey's paw

Posted by:

Annette N
03 Mar 2021

To Peter, I say Amen!

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

After extensive world travel, two Honorable discharges on my wall and keen observational skills - I can solidly proclaim that "Liberalism Destroys All It Touches".

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

Is there a patton on degoogle? :)

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

To Vulcan I say, “And America is directly in the crosshairs unless we can figure out how to stop it.”

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

That PBS DVD, "Created Equal", that was pulled from streaming and no longer available for purchase at Amazon, is still available from PBS, although it is on back order now, expected to ship by 3/24.

Posted by:

03 Mar 2021

/e/ OS looks very interesting. But don't forget about Lineage and better yet GrapheneOS. I switched to Graphene over a year ago and love being Google free.

Posted by:

Steve Millburg
04 Mar 2021

Calling Created Equal a "PBS documentary" might be a little misleading. It aired on PBS in May 2020, but as PBS points out on its website, "PBS is not a producer, but rather a distributor of programming." The film was made by Michael Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker who had a tumultuous tenure as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (Voice of America, etc.) from June 2020 until January of this year. It had a limited theatrical release before being shown on PBS.

I haven't seen it, but it seems to be "critically acclaimed" mostly or maybe exclusively by conservative critics. Judging from Rotten Tomatoes, it got mostly middling reviews from critics at newspapers and the likes of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Consensus seems to be that if you're conservative, you'll love it, and if you're liberal, you'll hate it.

Amazon's making it unavailable with no notice or explanation is not cool, but unfortunately hardly Amazon's first or only uncool move. One can imagine all sorts of possible reasons ranging from benign to nefarious. It would be nice to know rather than having to speculate.

Posted by:

04 Mar 2021

Amazon does not want their logo to look like Hitler even though they have adopted his silencing techniques.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2021

To Vulcan and Diane, is there a point to your comments? Am I missing something?

Posted by:

05 Mar 2021

To Frances - I believe their comments are in response to Bob's link to the article on "Amazon removed a critically acclaimed PBS documentary on Justice Clarence Thomas".

Amazon has engaged in star chamber-like decisions about what publications are acceptable to be sold on its site and what is not, rather than letting the individual consumer decide whether to buy or not.

Then there's the whole AWS pulling the plug on Parler thing, combined with other tech-titan censorship favoring liberal over conservative viewpoints.

Posted by:

09 Mar 2021

Hi Bob,

Love your emails. How about you make all html links APPEND BLANK to open in new windows?

Thanks, Tom

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 03 March 2021 (Posted: 3 Mar 2021)
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