Geekly Update - 03 March 2022

Category: Tech-News

What's the big kerfuffle with hackers and McFlurry machines? Will a brain implant allow you to review your memories like leafing through a photo album? What is the least useful device on the Internet of Things? And is it time to delete your password? 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

Wired Magazine reports that "Ice Cream Machine Hackers" are suing McDonald's for almost a billion dollars. The so-called hackers are actually a startup called Kytch, which was selling a device to help McDonald's franchise owners monitor and troubleshoot their famously finicky McFlurry machines.

Scientists may have accidentally proved that people actually see their life flash before their eyes when they are dying. Doctors were performing an electroencephalogram (EEG) on an elderly patient who died during the procedure. They captured brain waves that were "remarkably similar to those seen during dreaming, memory recall and meditation."

That story reminded me of the Robin Williams movie "The Final Cut," which imagines a world in which people have brain implants that capture every memory. But science fiction has a way of becoming reality. Neuralink is brain/computer interface spearheaded by Elon Musk, who hopes eventually it will cure brain disorders, help paraplegics walk again, and save memories so people can scroll through them like photo albums.

Apple's AirTags are sold as a competitor to the popular Tile tags, which help people locate lost keys, wallets and other objects. But some clever folks have found that AirTags can also be used to surreptitiously track humans. Stories have been published about people slipping them into another person's jacket or car to track them without permission. There's an app called AirGuard for Android that promises to provide protection from AirTag tracking.

Geekly Update 03-03-2022

For years, tech pundits have been predicting the demise of the desktop PC. Now they're adding passwords to the soon-to-be-a-dinosaur list. Technology Review reports that many companies are replacing passwords with other forms of authentication. Some options include facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and authenticator apps.

The Underground Railroad was a network operating in the U.S. in the mid-1800s, which helped many Southern slaves escape to freedom in the North. Now archaeologists and historians have used technology to learn new details about the Underground Railroad. Drones, lasers and radar that can peer under the ground have revealed tunnels and caves used by the freedom seekers.

As the saying goes, "Luck favors the prepared." But Stanley Aryanto was prepared. After quitting his job as a mechanical engineer, he focused his attention on photography. Aryanto captured an astrophotography trifecta, a shot that included the Comet Neowise, the Aurora Borealis, and Milky Way.

An Internet user who goes by the name [fhuable] was tired of trudging down to the mailbox, only to find it empty. So he whipped up some hardware to put his mailbox on the Internet of Things. Combine one solar panel, a tiny CPU, a camera, and an FTP server, and voila, he can see what's inside the mailbox. But he may have re-invented the wheel. The US Postal Service offers Informed Delivery, a free notification feature that gives people the ability to digitally preview their daily mail.

Almost every appliance now is billed as "smart"; even your outlets and light bulbs want to be connected to your home WiFi network. But a writer for Yahoo News says "actually making a smart home that works in harmony is a nightmare that the average person is unlikely to be able to navigate on their own." The reason: too much tech jargon, incompatible standards, and difficulty of installation.

Here's a clever gadget that doesn't need an Internet connection, a video feed, or even a power supply. Read about the minimalistic doorbell that uses an induction motor linked up to a bell inside the shell of an old hard drive. So much harder than attaching a knocker to your door, but much more fun!

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 2022"

Posted by:

03 Mar 2022

The advantage of having a camera in your mailbox is that you can see when the mail has been delivered and get a notification. Also, you can see if someone steals your mail. But I would probably use a different camera for that purpose to try to get a better picture of the mail thief and maybe their car/license plate.

Posted by:

03 Mar 2022

20 or so years ago, I gave my parents a simple device that sent a signal inside their house - a buzzer - when the mailbox door was opened. a much simpler solution than used AA-batteries.

Posted by:

03 Mar 2022

Testing! Received an error message about JavaScript being disabled. Delete this.

Posted by:

04 Mar 2022

If (when) I replace an appliance, my first question will be "how do I keep it from connecting to the internet?".

Posted by:

04 Mar 2022

USPS informed delivery has been wrong much of the time lately, and notifying the user that parcels are out for delivery today, only to see them arrive tomorrow. It seems to happen 10-20% of the time.

Posted by:

Jay R
04 Mar 2022

When Passwords become obsolete are we going to be required to change the alternative form of identification every 3 months or so?

Posted by:

David S.
04 Mar 2022

So let me get this straight,the US government has a picture of every piece of mail I get. What could possibly go wrong with this? I thought it was bad that they listened to my phone calls.

Posted by:

Nat Gildersleeve
04 Mar 2022

USPS Informed Delivery at my location(zipcode=93626) is completely useless. My estimate is Informed Delivery forecasts delivery of less than 10% of my mail. Why bother??

Posted by:

05 Mar 2022

Savvy thieves are signing up for USPS Informed Delivery at homes that have not done so yet and thus get alerts about their incoming mail.

Then steal mail that looks like a check or credit card.

Thus, to protect yourself, sign up.

Posted by:

06 Mar 2022

I moved a year ago and signed up online to get my mail forwarded. The USPS Informed Delivery was part of that and I'm still getting it. Here are the facts:

1. It is nice to SEE what is arriving that day, as it gives you a PHOTO of each item.

2. It doesn't solve the "problem" of WHEN the mail has been delivered... you STILL have to go out and check on that. I've always thought that the mailbox could "easily" let me know (via a separate Flag on the box) when mail has been inserted. If this exists currently, I've never seen it.

3. It frequently tells me about FEWER mailings than I actually RECEIVE. For Example: It says I got one piece of mail, and there are 2+ in the box, WITHOUT the notification of pieces that were not imaged.

Posted by:

09 Mar 2022

For years, tech pundits have been predicting the demise of the desktop PC.
You must be part of those 'tech pundits' but your preachings to offer us alternative solutions to passwords have fallen on my deaf ears, for at least a decade.
You've also never liked KeePass (a password management utility) all these years... which is shame!

EDITOR'S NOTE: For what it's worth, I've mentioned Keepass at least 10 times.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 03 March 2022 (Posted: 3 Mar 2022)
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