Geekly Update - 08 April 2015
Why is Microsoft giving away free iPhones, and where do you get yours? Does cancelling your Facebook account stop them from tracking your online activity? And how can we stop monkeys from destroying the Internet, before it's too late? 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
Yes, you heard that right: Microsoft is giving away free iPhones. But only in China, to promote “XiaoIce,” a social network chatbot that incorporates the artificial intelligence of “Cortana,” Microsoft’s answer to Siri. Is it all perfectly clear now?
Is your home your castle or your shopping cart? Amazon will send you free Dash buttons to stick up next to your washer, toilet, shaving mirror, and other places where you run out of things that you forget to re-order when you get back online. Press the WiFi-connected button and a specified quantity of a detergent, TP, shaving cream, etc., is automatically charged to your card and shipped.
Those who grew up playing video games in the 70's and 80's will remember Pong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong. They might seem dated today, but what if you could combine all that fun into one game? Yes, it's Pacapong, it's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and you're welcome. :-)
Facebook tracks your Web activity for up to two years even after you log out of Facebook, deactivate your account, or opt out of “behavioral advertising,” according to a report by Belgian privacy investigators. In a feat of fiendish treachery, Facebook plants the cookie that enables this tracking when one visits the European Digital Advertising Alliance website to opt out of tracking.
The odious operator of a “revenge p**n” site got 18 years in federal prison in the first sentencing of its kind. Kevin Bollaert, age 28, not only posted compromising images submitted by ex-boyfriends, he published victims’ personal details and then charged $300 to $400 to take the material offline.
A Russian hacker briefly held the power to delete any (or all!) YouTube videos. “I’ve fought the urge to clean up (Justin) Bieber’s channel haha,” wrote Kamil Hismatullin, which is probably why Google paid him a bounty of only $5,000 for the vulnerability heads-up.
Speaking of Russian hackers... CNN is reporting that hackers penetrated the White House computer system, and were able to access emails and non-public details of the president's schedule.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Netflix is not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is “not connected to any actual, physical place.” These judges apparently are unaware that the Internet is “a series of tubes” that connects people to computers. (Google it.) Last year, a trial judge in Massachusetts ruled that Netflix is a “place of public accommodation.”
"All your diplomas are belong to us." The University of Charleston (SC) had its identity stolen by an online diploma mill offering Ph. D. degrees in exchange for $450 and “life experience.” The bogus Charleston State University stole UC’s history and mission statement, but apparently thought the Meadow Building at the UK’s University of Oxford made a classier home page picture.
Delta Airlines will tag your pet’s travel crate with an electronic device that lets you monitor the ambient temperature, GPS location, and other things that worry people who fly with pets. This peace of mind is available for $50 and works only when the plane is (drum roll, please...) on the ground.
India has set an ambitious goal to lay 700,000 kms (434,960 miles) of broadband cable to connect India's 250,000 village clusters within three years. The Hindu nation’s sacred monkeys have a similarly ambitious goal -- to chew through every inch of cable. Seems that curry powder in the cable shielding hasn’t occurred to anyone yet.
"No Internet For You!" The FBI indicted two people on terrorism-plotting charges, citing as evidence their possession of anarchistic “Inspire” magazine and a copy of the venerable “Anarchist Cookbook.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was moved to declare, “These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the Internet.” But A) the DoJ told Feinstein in 1997 that the “Anarchist’s Cookbook” is protected by the 1st Amendment, and B) the defendants got the documents from an FBI informant, not the Internet. Perhaps the Senator should be removed from the Internet instead.
It’s actually cheaper to pay the 99 cents for the premium version of an Android app than to pay for all the electricity, data usage, and performance losses that the ad-heavy free versions incur, according to researchers who studied this matter in astonishing detail.
Your thoughts on these topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below, or I will release the monkeys...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Apr 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 08 April 2015 (Posted: 8 Apr 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved