Geekly Update - 03 September 2014

Category: Tech-News

Can bad guys hack your laptop just by touching it? How bad is smartphone addiction amongst college students? And are robots REALLY taking over the Internet this time? 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

Don't touch my laptop! Researchers at Tel Aviv University have demonstrated a way to extract data from a PC simply by touching it. They claim that by touching exposed metal on the computer, and measuring the fluctuations in the ground electric potential, the information being processed inside (such as encryption keys) can be decoded.

Female college students spend an “astounding” 10 hours a day on cell phones, according to astounded business school researcher James Roberts. Male students spend 8 hours/day glued to the phone. Of course, these were Baylor University students, and only 164 of them, and the data was gathered through an online survey so there’s no evidence that any respondent was serious, let alone sober. But the results were good enough to get published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

Geekly Update 09-03-2014

A 3D-printed vertebra was implanted in the spine of a 12 year-old Chinese cancer patient, the first such procedure and a big leap over past vertebra-replacements. Using high-resolution scans of the boy’s own vertebra, an exact replica was 3D-printed using titanium powder with tiny pores that bone can grow into, securing the implant. The old, cruder technique glued in place a titanium tube that didn’t fit and fell out over time.

A stable 64-bit version of Google Chrome for Windows became available on August 26. On 64-bit machines, it’s 15% faster than 32-bit Chrome and more secure. To switch from 32-bit Chrome, go to the Chrome download page and click the “64-bit Windows” text link just beneath the green “Download” button. All of your existing extensions will be preserved.

Facebook changed its timeline algorithm in an effort to combat “click bait” -- junk articles that lure readers to click on them with misleading or ambiguous headlines. Now, the algorithm will take into account how much attention readers pay to an article: time spent reading it, commenting, and shares.

Robo Brain, a supercomputer system, is currently downloading a large chunk of the Internet and storing all of its information in robot-friendly form. Robo Brain will then “teach” other robots everything that it has learned from 1 billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals. Yes, but will it make house calls?

RFID implants similar to the rice-sized “chips” implanted in pets could replace keys and wallets, ending agonizing hip pain and saving millions of labor hours now spent looking for them. That’s just one obvious benefit of having a microchip implanted under one’s skin. Then there’s the other side, when your malware-infected chip bricks every electronic device it touches.

The Bleep USB phone charger also backs up your phone’s data to its internal flash memory (up to 64 GB). The inventors’ Indiegogo campaign to raise production launch costs ends October 24 and has already exceeded its goal. Time to buy?

If you think the taxi business is corrupt, look at what car-service providers Lyft and Uber are doing to each other and the private citizens who drive for them. Both companies’ drivers are accused of booking thousands of bogus trip requests with the competition, tying up each others’ drivers, burning their gas on no-show pick-ups, and disrupting their incomes. So much for the “ethos of sharing” that supposedly unpins this business model.

Google revealed that it has been developing a drone-based delivery system for the past two years, starting from a typically Googlish fantasy: “Wouldn’t it be neat to deliver defibrillator kits to suspected heart attack patients faster than ambulances can?” So far, the Google Goose (to suggest a name) has managed to carry first aid kits from one Australian farm to a neighboring one without crashing and drop its payload without hitting anyone. The remote Aussie outback was selected not for secrecy but because drone regulations are more liberal Down Under.

What happens when you delete (or “deactivate”) your Facebook account? Consultant and former Facebook addict Frank Catalano describes what he went through and why it was worth it, in an article worth reading.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 03 September 2014"

Posted by:

03 Sep 2014

Folks SHOULD read the article. This is something we all should suspect anyway:

" . . it appears [YOU] may not be able to choose what [YOU] see or what [YOU] share [since] the only rules worth following are [the companies] own algorithms." (i.e.: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Confirmation doesn't make it true, it only makes you less paranoid.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2014

--------------> FOR EDITOR

Re: measuring rainfall using cell towers. I was also reminded how 'open' the world is since to me, in the US, it seems very VERY crowded, watching a town I grew up in grown into a 'baby Aspen, Co' only makes me sad not happy that a $30, 000 house is now, I am told worth $400,000 (thank GOD for prop 13 limiting my taxs to what my grandmother paid on her $30, 000 home). Now, once one of 'us' I am now 'one of them'.

20% of the land surface is covered by cell service, this reaches 90% of the worlds population (!!). At least some VERY large parts of Nevada where I used to do research still has no cell service. Thought you might find this interesting.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2014

Another good one Bob, thanks. Just wondering if Chrome will update the 64 bit browser automatically to 64 bit machines or will it have to be downloaded?

Posted by:

03 Sep 2014

Hello Bob,
I have just installed the 64-bit version of Chrome, but now Shockwave crashes constantly.

Shockwave's website states that there is no 64-bit version for Windows and a 32-bit browser must be used.

On further investigation I found that I had a version of Flashplayer installed in addition to the one embedded in Chrome. Disabling that (via "about:plugins" in the browser) seems to have resolved the problem.

Posted by:

Mr Gray
03 Sep 2014

Ejem! I know you meant 'underpin this business model' really.

Posted by:

04 Sep 2014

I had to download the 64 bit version, but I'm wondering why Google didn't at least notify me it was available if needed.

Posted by:

04 Sep 2014

Keno said " in addition to the one embedded in Chrome." Does this mean I do not need shockwave only Chrome??

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 03 September 2014 (Posted: 3 Sep 2014)
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