Geekly Update - 04 December 2019

Category: Tech-News

How reliable is the science behind those DNA test kits? Why is the FBI warning holiday shoppers about security risks of smart TV sets? And how can you be sure that 'cutting the cord' and switching to internet-only streaming services will save you money? 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

If you're thinking of ordering one of those DNA test kits as a holiday gift, you should read this article first. Twin sisters mailed in DNA test kits from five companies (23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, Living DNA) and got curiously differing results regarding health risks and ethnic origins. “Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies.”

Cybersecurity expert Asaf Ashkenazi says connected cars could be hacked "in seconds" by cyber criminals anywhere in the world, potentially allowing them to take control of a vehicle.

How much personal, sensitive of confidential data do you have in your Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos accounts? The Google Advanced Protection Program makes it practically impossible for anyone other than you to access your Google services. A physical security key is required to be kept nearby (in your pocket or on a keychain) in order to access your Google account.

If you typically have multiple tabs open, and find your Firefox or Chrome web browser is taxing your computer's available memory, "Auto Tab Discard" may help. This add-on frees up memory by unloading inactive tabs from memory.

Who's watching while you're watching? The FBI is warning that some Smart TV manufacturers don't make your privacy and security a priority. Smart TVs equipped with a camera and a microphone may have security vulnerabilities exploitable by hackers.

Cord Cutters Plus is a new service that aims to help consumers save hundreds of dollars per year on TV, Internet and phone services. My friend Chuck Eglinton is one of two military veterans organizing the nonprofit service. A live-streaming spreadsheet compares the features and pricing for the most popular streaming services, and helps cord cutters choose the most economical package to replace existing cable TV service.

This Wired Magazine story says "It's much harder than it should be to get your name off of data broker and people-search sites, but it's possible." Some data brokers make it relatively easy to opt out of their data collection. Others make it frustrating and tediously difficult.

It's not debatable that talking on your phone while driving is a safety hazard. But even onerous fines don't seem to be changing that habit. So police in New South Wales, Australia are testing a system that uses roadside cameras with machine vision and AI to spot offenders. If a driver is flagged by the software, a human confirms and a warning letter is sent out to the driver.

Coffee chaff is a waste product of the coffee roasting process, and McDonald's has a lot of it. So they've teamed up with Ford to find ways to make car parts from the coffee waste. The chaff is heated and mixed with plastic, resulting in a process that's significantly less energy-intensive, and requires less petroleum-based plastics.

High-end phones from Samsung and Apple typically sport 12 or 16 megapixel cameras, and they can take some pretty impressive photos. But Qualcomm has just announced the Snapdragon 865 chipset which will provide support for 200 megapixel cameras in phones next year. The upside is super high resolution photos, but the image files will be huge as well.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 04 December 2019"

Posted by:

04 Dec 2019

Bob: Your Email of 12/4 has advertisements for Windows 10 and Update by Are these safe and do you test them?

Posted by:

05 Dec 2019

Ron: Short answer, "No."
Bob Rankin does not control the advertising that shows up on his site. He has an advertising agency which pays him to put their ads on the page. If the ad agency has ... well lets call them 'iffy' clients ... buying ads on their service, then those ads can show up on Bob's pages.
Since the ad agency tries to match ads to the content of the page, this has the amusing side effect that a Bob Rankin article on, say, "Unnecessary Driver Updaters" it may very well have advertising for Driver Updaters!
Buyer beware ... always.

Posted by:

Judith Knight
05 Dec 2019

Quick question - were the twins who had their DNA analyzed identical twins or fraternal twins. Sorry if I missed it in the article. If they were fraternal it might explain the variance in the results. If they are are identical twins I cannot understand the results - the DNA of the women should be pretty close to 100% identical. I would think that the analysis and algorithms would provide almost the same results [for each company, not among the group].

Posted by:

Emily Booth
13 Dec 2019

It was so time consuming to get my personal info off public data websites (many are foreign owned w/an address here). Each one had a different process. There were 2 or 3 websites where I turned to the local states attorney office for help. Because it was so time consuming and because opting out is not permanent, I ended up joining deleteme. I pay for this service. My personal info has been hacked and this, for me, is like insurance. The number of public data websites is large and continues to grow. I feel my information should not be free. BTW, I use a psuedonym on the internet.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 04 December 2019 (Posted: 4 Dec 2019)
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