Geekly Update - 09 September 2020

Category: Tech-News

What's the answer to the recent laptop shortage? Will Facebook's new tech imbue you with superpowers? Is there a way to block those annoying auto-playing videos? And what did Australian astronomers discover after scanning 10 million stars? 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

Due to the forced popularity of work-from-home and remote learning, many laptops are in short supply. But ASUS is one vendor that seems to be keeping up with demand. Here are some of the best models you can buy now, and get fast shipping. The ASUS Chromebook Flip with 14" Full HD Touchscreen ($598) is a best-seller on Amazon. If you can squeeze your work into an 11.6-inch screen the ASUS VivoBook L203MA laptop is only $275. And if you need a top of the line laptop NOW, the ASUS ZenBook 15 laptop is on sale for $1132 with free one-day shipping.

Facebook wants to grant you “perceptual superpowers,” by adding augmented reality audio features to their AR glasses. The idea is to figure out what you’re trying to hear, then amplify it and remove background noise. Could be useful when one is trying to hold a conversation in a crowded venue.

Auto-play videos can be annoying, harmful, and potentially bad for your relationship, if you’re scanning social media in bed. Here’s how to turn off those autoplay videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and desktop browsers.

Google announced an update to the Phone app that will help fight robocalls and spam calls. The Verified Calls feature promises to tell you what business is calling, and in some cases, why they're calling.

Geekly Upsate 09-09-2020

NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope is producing some produce some “cosmic delights” which include awesome images of galaxies, stars, nebulas and supernovas. These pics are definitely worth a look.

Astronomers in Australia scanned over 10 million stars, but they say they found no indication of any alien civilizations. Keep looking guys, there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way alone, and about 10 billion other galaxies.

The Pangolin dress is Dutch "fashiontech" designer Anouk Wipprecht's latest creation – a dress that can read your mind, and change shape or color according to your brainwaves. Other than revealing your emotions, one possible downside is the requirement to shave your head and wear a “head-hugging brain computer interface.”

In the wake of reports that people in all 50 U.S. states have received unsolicited packages of mystery seeds postmarked from China, Amazon is banning the sale of foreign seeds to the US. Despite warning from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people are reportedly planting (and some eating) them.

It’s no surprise that facial recognition tools trained on data sets of mostly white faces, often fail to accurately identify people of color. But a software engineer from Ghana has created a facial identification product that's specifically designed to identify African faces. 26-year-old Charlette N'Guessan won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering's Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

Can you trust reviews on Amazon's marketplace? I recently purchased an item on Amazon for $36, and a few days later a letter from that vendor arrived in the mail, promising me a $20 gift card in exchange for leaving a good review. The BBC says that some competitors are using one-star reviews to harm rivals, and other sellers are offering incentives for fake 5-star reviews.

Android 11 officially launched September 8th, after months of beta testing. The latest version of the mobile operating system is available now on Google Pixel devices, and also for phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Oppo.

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

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

Posted by:

Ken H
09 Sep 2020

As far as reviews go, I do always read several of them, but I take them all with a grain of salt.
Just giving a star rating is not at all helpful. I start with the worst and work my way up to the best.
The proportion of 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 stars is of significance, but many negative reviews are obviously from complainers ("it looks cheap," "it looks like it won't last," and the like). Some complainers didn't read the product info and are complaining that the product didn't meet their needs.
Some good reviewers haven't actually used the product at all, or at least long enough to form an opinion. But there are usually enough helpful reviews to make an informed opinion.
In general I rate positive reviews higher than negative just because people are more likely to complain about something than to praise it.

Posted by:

09 Sep 2020

Thank you for all that you do to keep us informed.
There is 'fake-news' everywhere; including amazon reviews and celestial images.
These rendered Chandra X-ray telescope images do look truly awesome but they need to be viewed as if they were created by a gifted artist and/or hanging in an art gallery.

Posted by:

09 Sep 2020

Aren't you supposed to indicate that you will get a referral fee when readers buy a product from a purchasing link in your content? I'm referencing the three ASUS units in the first paragraph.

Posted by:

Paul Rosenberger
09 Sep 2020

Re Reviews: Is nothing sacred anymore? Political ads are almost as unbelievable.

Posted by:

09 Sep 2020

"Astronomers in Australia scanned over 10 million stars, but they say they found no indication of any alien civilizations."

Earth to Oz...

Try scanning planets. Their surface temperatures are 10,000 degrees colder than stars!

Posted by:

09 Sep 2020

At those prices I don't see ASUS filling too many orders. The shortages are caused by all the school districts going online. Those online classes will likely get the same kind of reviews you see on Amazon.

Political ads? why would we trust them anymore than the stations that are bringing them to us? The truth is another victim of the times.

Posted by:

09 Sep 2020

That is NOT how the IOS works. I've three IOS devices, none have a "menu" button.

For that price, even with an I7 processor, I'd want a 17 inch screen. Not sure I trust ASUS either.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2020

There are gazillions of refurbed 11" Chromebooks on the market. Most are suitable for grades 1-8 and cost less than 100 bucks. You can find the on Amazon, EBay and other vendors as well.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2020

To: gene
By he way, for years HP uses in their desktops ASUS motherboards. And none of originally US laptop manufacturers like Dell or HP have their own motherboards in them either. You actually buy Quantra, Compal, Wistron, Pegatron, etc under those US brands. At least ASUS doesn't hide their Chinese origins.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2020

The incontrovertible evidence of alien intelligence: they have made no effort to contact us, indeed, have made every effort to avoid us.

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