Geekly Update - 11 December 2015

Category: Tech-News

How much EXTRA would you pay your Internet provider to protect your privacy online? Have Japanese scientists figured out how to touch a hologram? What's the most ridiculous Christmas present ever? And is Barbie spying on us now? 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

Dave Barry's annual holiday gift guide is here. It features bizarre-but-real gifts, along with Barry's humorous commentary. Who wouldn't want a Wearable Hummingbird Feeder, or a Nicolas Cage Pillowcase?

AT&T's GigaPower service delivers ultra-fast Internet, but monitors everything you do online. The good news, for an extra $29/month, you can have your privacy back.

“Hello Barbie,” the Internet-connected Mattel doll, is raising concerns among privacy and child advocates. “When Barbie’s belt buckle is held down, everything your child says is transmitted to cloud servers, where it will be stored and analysed by ToyTalk, Mattel’s technology partner. Employees of ToyTalk and their partner corporations listen to recordings of children’s conversations — and ToyTalk won’t even say who their partners are.”

Geekly Update 12-11-2015

Thanks to the Internet, the average Australian child now learns the innocence-crushing truth about Santa Claus two years earlier than the previous generation did. But there’s a browser plug-in that will filter search results and other Web content that might reveal this aspect of the “adult conspiracy.”

Here's a clever way to save $800... For only $899 plus shipping, you can buy a USB Typewriter to replace your $30 keyboard; or, for just $99, you can buy the USB Keyboard DIY Kit and wire it together yourself.

Unintended consequences... An Arizona man used the Lifelock credit monitoring service to stalk his ex-wife, monitoring her movements, purchases, and other financial activities.

Amazon released video of its latest delivery drone prototype actually delivering a package in the middle of someone’s backyard, where it surely can’t be stolen or damaged by weather, pets, or wild animals.

It's a Tvablet! The 18.4-inch Samsung Galaxy View tablet is a cord-cutter’s dream. Actually, it’s an Android-powered portable flat-screen TV that sells for $499 in the WiFi-only version. The AT&T LTE version is $499.99 with a two-year contract or $30/month for 20 months on an installment plan.

According to a U.S. government data dump, Windows 10’s market share is at 12.4% as of the end of November, while Windows 7 fell 7% to 64.2% of the market. XP usage has dropped to under 4%. About 85% of Web surfers are using Windows.

Udemy, a platform that lets academics sell online courses they developed, has a piracy problem. Many authors are complaining that their courses are downloaded, identifying information is stripped out, and the pirated works are re-posted on Udemy, often at steep discounts or free of charge.

Japanese scientists have created holograms that a person can “touch” and manipulate as if they were solid objects. It will get really interesting when holograms can touch you back.

A smartphone app is aiding the hunt for the UK’s only native cicada. The app lets users record audio of suspected cicada sounds and send the file to researchers, who come running with nets if they believe the sound is genuine.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 11 December 2015"

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
11 Dec 2015

Ever since Amazon proposed the idea of drone delivery, I've believed that they needed to add a "landing beacon" to the loop. This video doesn't include a beacon, per se, but does depict a landing target. Drones guided by GPS can only get about 10-meter accuracy; a landing beacon could get that down to a few centimeters

The beacon should be programmed by your PC via USB, and would provide immediate delivery notification to your smartphone. If the beacon included something as simple as a scale, the beacon could even include something like a "package of the correct weight has been delivered".

Apartment houses? The building manager should have the beacon on the roof.

Posted by:

11 Dec 2015

Ken: You are outdated with your GPS specs.
With WAAS turned on (in the US) typical open area locations are within 10 feet and it gets better if you stay in one sport for a little while.

If you add a DGPS receiver (along with the license to receive the extra signals), you can be easily within a foot.

The customer does not need to install a beacon.

Posted by:

Phil Sevetson
11 Dec 2015

So, AT&T monitors pages visited and searches entered for marketing purposes.
1) Nothing is stopping law enforcement, under current precedents, from demanding that information without a warrant.
2) Question for the room -- (a) does using a VPN circumvent AT&T's data collection on this, and (b) what kind of speed penalty do you pay in doing so (if there's a uniform answer!)?

Posted by:

Phil Sevetson
11 Dec 2015

"Holograms that a person can touch or manipulate" -- My first thought was that if it can touch me, I can program my smartphone to wake me up by tapping my shoulder when we get close to the end of my train commute.
-- My second thought was, wow, Rule 34 -- this is going to add a whole new dimension (exactly!) to Internet p**n.
-- My third thought, just now, is that if there isn't a fairly low theoretical limit on the intensity of the touch that the machine can apply to you, we've got a new way to murder people.

Posted by:

11 Dec 2015

And the whole 'connected toy' (and 'connected appliance') thing is about to get much worse. The British government is seriously trying to get legislative authority to monitor the microphones and cameras in such devices in peoples' homes.

Posted by:

11 Dec 2015

Bob - thanks so much for the Dave Barry link - all my Christmas shopping taken care of in just a few minutes. Plus I can get a bottle of Poo-Pourri for my local congressional representative.

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