Geekly Update - 05 March 2020

Category: Tech-News

Does a newly discovered CPU flaw render your computer vulnerable to hacking? Why isn't Facebook secretly recording all your conversations? And did astrophysics researchers at UC Berkeley shut down SETI@Home after finally discovering signs of alien life? 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

This just in from the "Worse Than Previously Thought" department: A flaw in the security subsystem of Intel chips affects almost all Intel-based computers made in the last five years. Attacks are impossible to detect, and the only solution is to replace the CPU.

Waymo's next-gen self-driving system uses radar, LIDAR, and 29 cameras integrated into the vehicle, allowing the car to "see" a stop sign 1500 feet away.

If you have visual or reading difficulties, you'll like this one. The Google Assistant app on your Android phone will be happy to read web articles out loud. Just say "Hey Google, read this page" while viewing a web page in your smartphone's browser. The page will scroll and highlight words as they're read aloud. You can choose from multiple speaking voices and change the reading speed if desired. And if the page is not in your preferred language it can be automatically translated and read out in one of 42 available languages.

Geekly Update 03-05-2020

If you think Facebook is spying on you by listening to your conversations, you're wrong. But that's because they have better methods to figure out everything about you. Gennie Gebhart, a research director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says voice detection is Stone Age advertising technology, and describes other "nefarious and evasive methods" used by the social network.

Samsung's T55 monitor with 1000R curvature just took the top spot on my wish list. The 32-inch ergonomic curved monitor promises less eye strain and lots of screen real estate. The curvature radius of the T55 closely matches the human field of view, allowing you to see easily everything on the screen. And hey, my birthday is coming up this month.

Microsoft is planning a new look for the Windows 10 interface. The Start menu will have new "fluent design" icons and logos, and no more annoying "live tiles". Christina Koehn, Microsoft's creative director, hopes the new design will reduce the "cognitive load to scan and find applications."

Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have developed a contact lens that can help people with red-green color blindness. The thin lenses can deliver a 10x improvement in color perception, and the technology may help to correct other vision disorders. Clinical testing is needed before they are available to consumers.

SETI@Home, the crowdsourced effort to scan the universe for intelligent life, is shutting down after 21 years. SETI@Home used the idle home computers of volunteers to crunch astrophysical data. UC Berkeley will close down the project on March 31st, and focus on sifting through the data that has been collected. So far, no little green men.

Goodyear's Recharge tires, designed specifically for electric vehicles, don't need to be replaced. Just pop in a capsule and it regrows itself. The concept tire of the future will adapt to weather and road conditions, and may even change color on demand.

Krebs on Security reports that the FCC plans to slap fines of more than $200 million on four U.S. wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint) for selling access to their customers' location data. Some critics say the penalties amount to a "cost of doing business" expense, and don’t go far enough to deter them from continuing the practice.

Bella is an artificially intelligent baby monitor that promises to keep your baby safer. Bella alerts parents if the baby needs attention, or if their face is covered. It can also send alerts if a toddler enters a "danger zone". And of course, it will never, ever be hacked.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 05 March 2020"

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

I agree that the fines the FCC levied against service providers are much too small, and targeting the wrong people. I deserve compensation for having my phone ring 24 times a day with only 1 or 2 being from friends. it makes one rather hate the world!

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

I have contributed to SETI@Home and am sad to see it go.The search does continue in other ways.

If you have the BOINC application on your machine,you can join other projects such as Einstein@Home,Milkyway@Home and others.There is a "Add project" button on most BOINC setups and you can join that way.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

About that Samsung T55 monitor with 1000R curvature, or any monitor that's curved. I hope the lighting where you'll be sitting is perfectly situated or you'll be picking up reflections that may bother what you see. Just saying.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

"Samsung's T55 monitor with 1000R curvature just took the top spot on my wish list. . . And hey, my birthday is coming up this month."

AND Bob has a new e-book on backups coming out soon. Coincidence? IDK.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

Regarding comment by pdsterling about robo-calls...

iPhone recently added a feature that only rings your phone if a number is in your contacts list. All other calls go directly to voicemail. Awesome!

Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

The theory behind the Samsung monitors is that they are curved to fit your view. That only happens at one distance for each, where you are at the center of the curve. They don't say what the curve is.
The other thing that works against them is that people don't hold their head still while looking around at things. If you glance from one side to the other, your eye moves first to find what you want and your head then follows to put the eyes in a comfortable location.
They also only have standard HD resolution. Larger monitors with the same pixels only show things bigger, you can only see the same detail on them. The 43" monitor I am using as I type this has 4K resolution. I can actually put 4 times the information on the screen and read it well. Basicly it is four 22" monitors without bezels in the middle.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

So the contacts are basically the same filtering as the glasses for this issue, filtering out certain frequencies so that the eyes can detect the reds vs greens better.
I have a slight amount of this problem (I can see most reds and greens but pale versions and mixed colors can be a problem) and would love to see if it changes things for me.
Their big thing is that they use big impressive words for how they work and make claims about how clunky glasses are. My eyes are too dry for contacts. Tried them many years ago.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

The Goodyear Web page for the grow-your-own reCharge misspells it as tyre, but the open captions spell it correctly as tire. Left hand, meet right hand.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2020

David, 'Tyre' is the correct spelling in the UK, Austrailia, and New Zealand.

Posted by:

06 Mar 2020

David & Jim: The link goes to EU website with Great Britain version of the article. By the way, British bloody snobs're still ignoring Americans - there is no American English version of the article and also you are unable to find USA among countries you are allowed to switch to.

Posted by:

06 Mar 2020

Re: flaw in the security subsystem of Intel chips

I read the article linked to but it was somewhat geeky and I am not sure I understand.

Is my ten year old Intel laptop safe but my 6 month old Intel one not?

Bob, maybe an article going deeper on this subject would be appreciated by many of your readers.

Posted by:

07 Mar 2020

T55? No thanks. I'll stick to my 20" ASUS with 1 dead pixel.

My Mom is blue-green color blind. Just saying.

Posted by:

Jay Bingham
10 Mar 2020

I read the article about Microsoft's new "fluent design" icons and logos. The video never loaded and the image was not large enough to really see what the new look is all about, so I guess that I will reserve judgement until it is forced upon me.
However, given Microsoft's past history of fixing things that are not broken (even though Ms Koehn claims that live tiles are broken) and ignoring things that are broken and their insatiable drive to change the look and feel of a product without providing any new or useful improvement in functionality, I do not have a warm feeling that this change is actually necessary. I am inclined to believe that it is just another change in the look and feel being foisted upon the users and being proclaimed to be an improvement.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 05 March 2020 (Posted: 5 Mar 2020)
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