Geekly Update - 05 May 2016
Are smartphone zombies headed to your neighborhood? Does Google want to inject electronic gadgets into your eyeballs? Can you get a decent Internet connection for five dollars a month? And does Amazon owe you money for stuff you didn't buy? 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
Oli Lansley, of the United Kingdom, bought a used armchair. In one of its pockets, he found a photo album containing what seemed to be family snapshots from the 1960s and 1970s. He posted on Facebook some of the pictures and an appeal for help finding the album’s owner. Soon, Neil Douglas was reunited with the precious album, which he had lost 18 years earlier.
AT&T is now offering 3 Mbps home Internet connections for $5.00 per month to low-income families nationwide; basically, any household in which one member receives Medicaid or SNAP (food stamp) benefits. A 5-10 Mbps connection will cost only $10. Installation and equipment fees will be waived. The FCC’s LifeLine program, which was expanded in March to cover Internet as well as phone service, will pay AT&T an additional $9.95 per month per account.
The German city of Augsburg has installed traffic signals in sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks, facing up, in hopes that oblivious “smombies” (smartphone zombies) will take note of them. “Maybe it’d be useful at night, but yeah, I didn’t realize it was there until just now,” a teen smombie told a newspaper reporter.
Google and Microsoft have ended years of complaining about each other to regulators. “Our companies compete vigorously, but we want to do so on the merits of our products, not in legal proceedings,” said Google’s spokesperson. This agreement may last longer than the typical New Year resolution, or not.
This could get ugly... BeautifulPeople.com, a dating site where members rate each other’s looks and ban the losers, was hacked and lost the very personal data of 1.1 million members.
Payphones still exist; the remaining 500,000 in the USA supported 1.7 billion calls in 2015. They’re still profitable for their owners, regulated, and handy in emergencies.
A fire alarm housed in a bird feeder is equipped with solar-powered battery and cellular connectivity, so it can safeguard all but the most remote trees, or your getaway cabin in the wood. Not surprisingly, an insurance company is funding this project.
Robotic restaurant servers and cooks are no threat to human workers just yet. In Guangzhou, China, three restaurants bought robots last year; now, two are out of business and the third has fired its “incompetent” robotic waiters.
Dish Network replaced its basic $19.99/month satellite service plan with Sling TV, a $19.99 Internet-only plan. So Dish saves satellite transmission costs and collects the same money for service. Dish is also dumping high-maintenance customers. "Some customers haven't called us in 10 years. Some call us every 10 days," CEO Charlie Ergen said. "We'd prefer to have a profitable customer."
Dyson Corp., which brought us the overpriced vacuum cleaner, will soon release a lighter, more energy-efficient, safer handheld hair dryer that costs about $385 more than a typical dryer.
“Martial Arts Meets Iron Man” is how the MMA promoters are touting the new full-body suit of armor that will allow contestants to really lay into each other without (much) fear of injury or death.
Amazon owes millions of dollars in refunds to thousands of parents whose children made in-app purchases without parental consent, a federal judge has ruled in summary judgment on an FTC complaint. Similar charges were levied against Google and Microsoft in the past, making this one a no-brainer. The judge will decide exactly how much Amazon owes to whom in coming weeks. Parents hit with surprise bills run up by offspring are reminded that minors cannot form binding contracts, and demand refunds.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware “stormed” the background screen of a live TV weather forecast, urging meteorologist Metinka Slater (and her viewers) to upgrade to Windows 10 right in the middle of her warning about extreme thunderstorms rolling through Iowa.
Get ready for drone races in which the drones are controlled by pilots’ brain waves. "Oh look, a butterfly. Dang it!"
In the “Nope, I’m Good” category, Google has filed a patent on a vision-correcting electronic device that is injected directly into a patient’s eyeball.
“Swatting,” the so-called prank of siccing police on an innocent party’s home, would earn a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years under a bill making its way through Congress. Swatting wastes enormous police resources and can get someone killed for another’s revenge or perverted pleasure.
Bloomberg News is trying to reassure its journalists and editors that the recently announced expansion of artificial intelligence programs to actually write news reports will not put anyone out of a job. That’s probably true, given China’s experience with robotic waiters.
Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, will only work with Windows 10’s Edge browser and Microsoft’s Bing search engine from now on. Microsoft made that seemingly anti-competitive decision because other browsers and search engines are not designed to deliver the best Cortana experience. Of course, neither is Cortana.
Google Fiber is coming to Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville was announced as the next place to get Google Fiber in January, 2015. Initially, only four apartment buildings and condo complexes will get it. But Google Fiber’s slow yet inexorable rollout is putting fear of price pressures into incumbent cable and telephone network operators.
Your thoughts on ehses topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 May 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 05 May 2016 (Posted: 5 May 2016)
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