Geekly Update - 09 December 2020

Category: Tech-News

What happens to your files and photos in the cloud if you don't touch them for two years? Will a new Internet protocol make your Internet Service Provider oblivious to your online activity? And what popular online activity was responsible for over 100 billion hours of wasted time in 2020? 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

Hackers Hacked, Film at 11. Security firm FireEye reported that it was hacked by a "highly sophisticated threat actor" and advanced penetration (hacking) tools were stolen. Because FireEye uses those tools test the networks of its customers, they are sharing data that will help other companies detect if any of the stolen hacking tools are used against them.

Google Drive and Google Photos are convenient for stashing files and photos in the cloud, but it may not be your best option for long-term backups. Google has begun warning users that any Gmail, Google Photos and Google Drive accounts that have not been used for two years will be deleted. The same applies for accounts that have exceeded their storage limit for two years.

Cloudflare is working with Apple to create a new DNS standard aimed at boosting internet privacy. Oblivious DNS over HTTPS (ODoH) offers to encrypt the information that’s sent when you make a request to access a website, thereby hiding your web history from your Internet Service Provider. But Cloudflare says that ODoH alone "probably won’t be enough" to completely hide your tracks from "creepy" ISPs.

This headline from The Verge made me laugh: "How to Buy Apple’s New AirPods Max Headphones Arriving on December 15th for $549." I didn't read the article, but I'm guessing Step One is "get really drunk and whip out your credit card."

Geekly Update 12-09-2020

Still trying to wrap my head around this one. YouTube Gaming has reported that users spent 100 billion hours in 2020 watching other people play video games. Minecraft-watching-users were the biggest time wasters by far, followed by other users wasting time watching other users play Roblox, Grand Theft Auto V and Fortnite.

Along those lines, if you're missing Sean Connery, or just in desperate need of a Bond Binge, you're in luck. YouTube, Peacock and PlutoTV are now streaming over 20 James Bond films for free.

Comcast is extending free access to public Wi-Fi hotspots and discounts on internet service plans, as part of the company's COVID-19 support program. Free access to Comcast's Xfinity WiFi hotspots will be extended through June 2021, and you don't have to be an Xfinity subscriber to tap in.

Huawei has developed a facial recognition system that can identify Uighurs, an oppressed minority group in China. A report claims the system can relay "Uighur alerts" to Chinese officials, intensifying the government crackdown on the mostly Muslim ethnic group. Over a million Uighurs have been detained so far in forced labor and re-education camps the government calls "vocational skills education centers."

Eye-gaze communication technology in Google's "Look to Speak" app lets people with motor and speech impairments use their eyes to select and speak phrases. The app is available for users of Android 9.0 and higher. Star Trek's Captain Pike would have been a good beta tester for this.

Researchers from Parks Associates reported that almost half of US households with high-speed Internet subscribe to Amazon Prime Video. I find this both interesting and disturbing, because it underscores the enormous power that Amazon wields in the marketplace. A year ago, it was reported that nearly 50% of all online purchases were via, and sales are up by 40% this year, with revenues approaching half a trillion dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission announced awards from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund totaling over US$9 billion to subsidize broadband internet in rural areas across the US. SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband project was the biggest winner, scoring an $886 million grant over the next 10 years. SpaceX already has launched 900 low-earth orbit satellites for the Starlink system.

A study by the Associated Press says only 18 U.S. states make contact tracing apps available to their citizens, and only 1 in 14 people in those states have enabled them. "Don't trace me bro."

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 09 December 2020"

Posted by:

09 Dec 2020

These 8 stores should match or beat Amazon prices. Give it a try, you won't lose anything, except maybe some time.

Bed Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Dick's Sporting Goods
Fry's Electronics
J C Penney
Walmart (if you look, you will probably find the same price at Amazon and Walmart right there on the website. No effort needed.)

Posted by:

09 Dec 2020

Regarding Amazon--This year I made 4 purchases that were not Amazon and got hosed over on 3 of them. With Amazon at least they have my back. PayPal buyer protection involved having to return the item to China (they were shipped to me from the United States.) I had to fill out a long customs form for each. Then I found I was not covered unless I spent over $55 on tracked shipping, Then I had to rely on the person who sent it to admit they had received it back. And PayPal's Return on Us only covers $30 of the shipping,

Posted by:

James Green
10 Dec 2020

re: contact tracing apps. The one for use is WA state does not tell you WHERE, or FOR HOW LONG you may have been in contact with someone who may have tested positive. Nor does it say what the criteria is (such as time in proximity) -- next to useless. I will wait until there is more useful information available for me to judge my potential exposure.

Posted by:

10 Dec 2020

If even FireEye can get hacked; then, why even bother?

Posted by:

10 Dec 2020

I agree with Jackie's post regarding Amazon. I want to help small businesses but besides getting wrong items, the price on Amazon is cheaper than on small business website and there is no shipping fees for Prime. Savings can be up to or more than $15.

Posted by:

Kenny D
12 Dec 2020

The reason so many households subscribe to Amazon Prime is the great value. 2 Day shipping, Grocery shopping with free shipping, and a a great selection of tv shows and movies, and music.

Posted by:

13 Dec 2020

The big C. Comcast "offers a $10/month internet plan for low income households." Only if you're already on a Government subsidy program though.
"Comcast offers free internet access and discounted offers." This house is ~300' from a Comcast employee who broadcasts a Comcast access point. I'm using a mifi device for internet so I've tried several times to access the big C. Internet choices here are the big V dsl. Terribly slow. Prices continue to rise as well as their landline price. The big C cable. Their $39.95/month 1 year plan. Or satellite internet. And this is a suburb in SE Pa. Another dsl provider was chased from the area ~25 years ago.
The gov't pours money into broadband resources. To increase stockholder's profits?

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 09 December 2020 (Posted: 9 Dec 2020)
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