Geekly Update - 04 May 2023 (giraffes ahead...)

Category: Tech-News

Has AI advanced to the point where mind reading is possible? Did passwords become obsolete this week? Is it safe to poke a robot? And can giraffes predict the statistical likelihood that your hard drive will soon fail? 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

Researchers at the University of Texas have developed a system that can read your mind. Sort of, some times. Using a combination of AI, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, and a "semantic decoder", the researchers were able to scan a subject's brain activity and generate a stream of text that was surprisingly close to what they were thinking. The participants listened to stories, watched silent videos, or silently imagined stories, while the software attempted to decipher and reconstruct their thoughts. About 50 percent of the time, the results were good. The researchers hope that further work in this area will help those with disabilities who are unable to speak.

The folks at Backblaze have over 240,000 hard drives in their data center, so they keep a keen eye on hard drive performance and failure rates. But when they saw a report claiming the average age at which hard drives failed was just two years and 10 months, they were skeptical. But after running the numbers on their own collection of drives, they were even more surprised. Their own review of hard drive failure rates came up with an even more dismal average failure time of 2 years and 6 months. When was YOUR last backup?

Passwords can be frustrating. "You must enter at least 8 characters, composed of upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and a Celtic rune or Egytian hieroglyph." Fortunately, passkeys are here to save the day. Passkeys are touted as a more secure and convenient login alternative, which eliminates the need for those hard to remember passwords that many sites require. Passkeys typically are based on a biometric such as fingerprint or facial recognition, and are tied to one or more devices that you own. Google announced this week that passkeys can be used for password-less logins to Gmail, Drive, YouTube and other Google accounts.

Geekly Update 05-04-2023

Are you thinking about switching to, or at least experimenting with Linux? Wired has a list of the best laptops for Linux, including some that come with Linux already installed.

Arvind Krishna, IBM's CEO, is salivating at the thought of replacing up to 7,800 human workers with artificial intelligence. The company plans to pause hiring for certain jobs that could potentially be automated by AI. Those thought to be most vulnerable are human resources, office-support workers, lawyers and engineers. But that's the good news. Goldman Sachs believes generative AI "could significantly disrupt the global economy" and replace up to 300 million white-collar workers. I wonder if that includes CEOs.

It's bad enough that robots are getting smarter, faster and stronger than humans. Soon, they'll know when you're touching them. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed electronic skin for robots that give them a sense of touch. Robo-skin could help a robot understand how hot something is, or how tightly an object is being gripped.

Would you like to make your Android phone feel twice as fast? Tweaking a few settings in your smartphone can boost the speed of opening apps, window pop-ups, moving between home screen panels, and animations that happen when you open or close apps. It's a little bit geeky, but worth a try.

Computer guru Kim Komando wants you to know the five Google searches you should avoid. Search reaults for these topics can lead to online scams, malicious websites, malware, identity theft, and ripoffs.

And finally, this week's Just Here for the Headline: Giraffes, Despite a Relatively Small Brain, Can Handle Statistics. That leaves only Lies and Damned Lies to worry about.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 04 May 2023 (giraffes ahead...)"

Posted by:

John Wood
04 May 2023

Wonderful backhand reference to my favourite book on statistics thanks for making me remember it. Keep up the awesome work, thanks.

Posted by:

04 May 2023

Will Passkeys be available in some form without using biometrics??
There are some passwords I want to be able to share, especially for emergencies. Hard to do if the system needs MY fingerprint or MY face.

Posted by:

04 May 2023

Will Passkeys be available in some form without using biometrics??
There are some passwords I want to be able to share, especially for emergencies. Hard to do if the system needs MY fingerprint or MY face.

Posted by:

05 May 2023

Passkeys is based on "something you have" not something you know (a password.)

The "something you have" is private key which is never disclosed. The sites you want to login to have your public key, it doesn't matter if that is disclosed.

But how does your device know that it's really you trying to access your private key? That's were the bio-metrics come in, "something you are."

And if the device doesn't have bio-metrics? Guess what ... there's a password to remember!

Not that Passkeys is bad, it's really, really good, but a SQRL login method is better. But there's no way to track people with SQRL so Google, Microsoft and company don't want to use it. Oh ... and SQRL is free and open source.

Posted by:

06 May 2023

I have a 74g Western Digital Raptor drive (sata) that runs at 10,000 rpm. It's 15 years old, works perfectly and still has Windows XP Pro on it. So far I've had only one WD drive fail me as it's the only drives I buy.

Posted by:

07 May 2023

Regarding the google search topic, does this mean, Bob, that you are rethinking your recommendation of Retail me Not.
We use that exclusively since you started recommending it.

Posted by:

Joe Farkas
18 May 2023

I have a strange feeling that this Weekly Geekily update was sent around about 2 weeks ago. AI at work?

Posted by:

Ryan James
18 May 2023

I set up Passkey on my Gmail account. I still have to verify my identity by pressing on various numbers sent to my phone. Usually, I have to do this twice. Then I get the message that states I have a Passkey so can use it the next time. Yea, right!

Posted by:

18 May 2023

Yeah, this is an old update.

Posted by:

Henry Bruce
19 May 2023

Probably due to my age, I've watched several explanations of passkeys and still can't grasp how they are different from passwords, and/or how they differ from using a password manager. I'll keep trying.

Posted by:

Annette N
19 May 2023

So, if we work with statistics, I guess we need to stop worrying about AI taking our jobs and start worrying about giraffes taking our jobs.

Posted by:

Ken Driver
20 May 2023

electronic skin for robots? They're getting closer and closer to creating the girl of my dreams.

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