Geekly Update - 06 January 2016

Category: Tech-News

Is the Ford Motor Company encouraging the use of unicycles instead of gas-powered cars? Is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving away magical unicorns? And how can you tell for sure if a receptionist is real or robotic? 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

A new social robot named “Nadine” has been employed as a university receptionist. Nadine is capable of expressing emotions appropropriate to a topic, remembering faces and conversations connected to them, and answering questions.

The geekiest obituary of the year was published upon the untimely death of Microsoft product evangelist William Ralf “Bill” Fink, who “encountered an unhandled exception in his core operating system, which prematurely triggered a critical STOP condition on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.”

Music services like Spotify pay artists for each click on one of their songs. Fraudsters have long used software robots to generate bogus clicks. Now the bots are also composing and posting the music.

Geekly Update 01-06-2016 has published its list of the 25 most frequently forwarded Internet urban legends. How many did you fall for?

North Korea’s “paranoid” version of the Linux operating system allows network connections only to state-controlled servers, watermarks every media file it encounters, and reboots itself if any changes to system files are attempted. (Just be extra careful when issuing the "kill" command from the Terminal window.)

The U. S. Marines have decided to pass on the $32 million Legged Squad Support Systems robots developed by Google subsidiary Boston Dynamics. The four-legged bots of burden, which can carry up to 400 pounds of gear over rough terrain at a pretty good pace, have one fatal flaw: their gasoline motors are as loud as “chainsaws on steroids.”

Ford Motor Co. has patented a design for a removable rear wheel that transforms into a (drumroll, please…) unicycle! The idea seems to be that commuters will park in cheap lots far from downtown and one-wheel it the last mile to work. (Because a foldup bike in the trunk would just be too easy, I guess.)

Scam warning: Yes, Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to give away most of his $45 billion fortune. No, you can’t get $4.5 million of it by forwarding a message to all your Facebook friends and tagging at least five of them. (But the magical unicorn thing is real. I got mine in the mail yesterday.)

Verizon has joined the other major carriers in offering customers up to $650 to switch… subject to a bewildering array of conditions, of course.

A majority (56%) of Americans think the government should monitor the Internet communications of its citizens; only 28% oppose warrantless surveillance. Only a third of under 30 crowd thinks blanket surveillance is a good idea. (Ben Franklin said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.")

An estimated 1 million drone aircraft were received as Christmas presents this year. The FAA reminds everyone to register their drones or face a fine of up to $27,500.

A new Web page error code, indicating that a page has been removed for political or legal reasons, has been approved by the Internet Engineering Steering Group. The numeric code “451” was chosen, apparently in honor of Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi novel about censorship, “Fahrenheit 451.”

“It’s not a tinfoil hat,” insist the people behind the Kickstarter campaign of Shield Signal Proof Headwear. Instead, the beanie and baseball cap models consist of two layers of cotton cloth with a layer of “100% silver coated shielding fabric” between them.

T-mobile’s Binge On feature has 24 partners whose streaming video content does not count against customers’ data buckets. YouTube is not one them, and is very unhappy that T-mobile is degrading its videos’ resolution to 480p along with all the Binge On partners.

National Audio Company (NAC), of Springfield, MO, has enjoyed revenue increases of over 20 percent in each of the past several years. The company’s product is audio cassette tapes, of which NAC is nearly the last remaining manufacturer.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 06 January 2016"

Posted by:

06 Jan 2016

Glad to read that last one, I need some tapes for my TRS-80.

Posted by:

06 Jan 2016

Glad to see the Bennie cap with the silver coated layer. Though I am not sure about radio waves, the heat losses from my focalally challenged head would be reduced by an infrared reflector.

Posted by:

06 Jan 2016

Does that social robot Nadine look like Professor Nadia Thalmann to anyone else?

Posted by:

Old Man
06 Jan 2016

Why do people insist on equating privacy with liberty/freedom? They are not the same.
A prisoner in an isolation cell has complete privacy but no liberty/freedom.
There are nomadic tribes in Africa and South America with no housing structures. They have complete freedom but no privacy.
Giving up privacy does not necessarily lead to loss of liberty/freedom.
However, the loss of privacy is often used to enforce the loss of other liberties. It is not used to bring about restrictions, but to find those who oppose the restrictions already employed.

Posted by:

06 Jan 2016

Great Geekly Update to start 2016! Many thanks for this one and all of the others, too. Happy New Year!

Posted by:

06 Jan 2016

The 25 most frequently forwarded Internet urban legends has a tag at the bottom concerning it's founder that is hilariously funny.

Posted by:

07 Jan 2016

I must respectfully disagree with Old Man. Th prisoner in an isolation cell has zero expectancy of privacy. Many are video monitored 24 hours per day. I think all have a large window that can be viewed at any time to see what is happening. So, they actually have zero or next to no privacy and little freedom.

All of the nomadic tribes that I know about use tents as their dwellings. They have almost as much privacy in their tents as we have in our homes. The primary difference would be loud communications would be easier to spy.

I almost acknowledge/agree that "Giving up privacy does not necessarily lead to loss of liberty/freedom." If I give up my privacy, I have only lost some of my freedoms. E.g., I can still vote without anyone knowing how I voted.

But, privacy is a large component of freedom. Here is why: If I cannot communicate with ONLY the specific person to whom I intend to communicate, then my freedom to communicate has been infringed.

To me, the real argument is not whether or not we have freedom of privacy, it's whether we should give up ANY of that privacy in order to make us safer. Is it an all or nothing affair? Or should we consider a balance? Up until the budget act restored the NSA surveillance, we chose a balance of letting judges be the arbiter of when our privacy could be violated. Now, it's not that clear.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 06 January 2016 (Posted: 6 Jan 2016)
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