Geekly Update - 13 August 2014

Category: Tech-News

Is Windows 8 an even bigger flop than Vista? Can you print your own bionic man for less than six million dollars? And are birds conspiring to poop on bloviating world leaders? 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

Did a passing bird really drop a load on Vladimir Poo-tin during a recent speech? Watch the video and decide for yourself.

If you worked for Apple, and your name is Sam Sung, apparently the obvious thing to do is auction off your business card on eBay. The highest bid is nearing $2000, with two days remaining. If your name is Mike Rowsoff or Gu Gahl, now is the time to act!

People are buying Windows 8 at a rate even slower than they bought Vista, widely considered to be Microsoft’s biggest OS failure to date. Worse: Windows XP has more market share than Windows 8 even though Microsoft ended all support for XP last April.

Geekly Update 08-13-2014

"Take that, Lee Majors!" Prosthetic hands can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you get them from medical technology specialists. Or you can make your own bionic hand from a design freely available online, using less than $100 worth of parts available at Home Depot.

Thanks, Ed Snowden! Higher search engine rankings are the carrot Google is holding out to webmasters who provide encrypted (HTTPS) connections to their sites, as part of the effort to thwart privacy violations by governments and private snoops. Yahoo is joining Google in making end-to-end encrypted email available to users by 2015.

The Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire lets you explore ancient Rome via a Google Maps interface. This sort of thing is exactly why the Internet was invented.

Waiting for your smartphone to recharge is like waiting for water to boil; even more so with the KettleCharge from BioLite. The company is revered among campers for its twig-burning, gadget-powering portable stoves, but the KettleCharge is equally useful at home or in the field. Boiling water generates thermoelectricity of up to 10 watts, enough to charge a tablet. And you get potable water in case the power grid blows.

Four reasons Microsoft may pull the plug on its Surface tablet line: 1. MS learned with Zune you can’t spend your way to success; 2. Steve Balmer is gone; 3. Microsoft is no longer a “devices and services company,” says new CEO Satya Nadella; and 4. Tablet sales are plateauing in general.

All cellular carriers must support text-to-911 in all service areas by the end of this year, according to a rule adopted by the FCC Commissioners in a 3-2 vote last week. Now, if only they’d do the same for bus schedule inquiries.

Municipal wireless networks used by police to link surveillance cameras are easily hacked, according to two security researchers speaking at DEF CON. Dustin Hoffman and Thomas Kinsey of tech-support firm Exigent Systems explained that the mesh networks set up with Homeland Security grants have no encryption keys and can be accessed by anyone. "We could do all sorts of tomfoolery — hey, let's have Godzilla walk down the street," Hoffman said. "Or, we could do the opposite and send police resources elsewhere."

Desktops will decline, tablets will slow, and ultrathin notebooks will soar; that’s the gist of Gartner Group’s revised forecasts for consumer sales over the next three years.

At least his honesty is refreshing... With 50 million subscribers, Netflix’s premium streaming service revenues now exceed HBO’s. "They still kick our ass in profits and Emmy's, but we are making progress," said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 13 August 2014"

Posted by:

Linda M.
13 Aug 2014

Re Win8. I just bought a notebook. The only way to buy one without Win8 was to pay a couple hundred bucks more for either Linux (ideal) or Win7 preloaded. Not happy with Win8 but it is not as bad as everyone claims. A number of the innovations are rip offs of Ubuntu, only not so well done. It seems to be amazingly like.... XP but for a superficial layer meant to attract non-computer people who can't type or do much more than touch the screen. It's Windows for primates, in other words. Will install Ubuntu on it soon. Why pay $200 more for a free OS, I asked myself?

Posted by:

E. M. Osborne
13 Aug 2014

This link worked perfectly. Thanks.

Posted by:

13 Aug 2014

Yes, perhaps Win 8 (8.1) hasn't sold as many copies as Vista, making it a "disaster", but Vista was simply a very bad version of Windows and poorly written. That cannot be said of Windows 8. Windows 8, with one addition, is quite good, even better than Windows 7. What is the addition? A Windows 7 start menu. I recommend "Startisback". For $3, Startisback will convert Windows 8to look like and feel exactly like Windows 7, with 1 major difference. Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7.

In the last 3 months, I have set up 4 new Windows 8 computers for friends with Startisback, and none have complained that they were having problems with the new OS. My sister doesn't even know she has a new OS and just continues the way she has in the past.

And as I said, Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7. And that makes it better.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't disagree about Windows 8. With a few tweaks, it's almost indistinguishable from Win7 -- only faster and better secured. But the awful initial rollout and Microsoft's unwillingness to fix the Start button problem created a bad impression in the minds of many consumers.

Posted by:

13 Aug 2014

>Leave a comment, or I'll send a mischevious bird to visit you...

The word is "mischievous," and pronounced with only three syllables. Remember, you're the one who says spelling etc. is important! :)

EDITOR'S NOTE: How embarrascing! :-)

Posted by:

Smoky Lowe
13 Aug 2014

I like windows 8.1 had windows 8 but updated, now the computer works fast and solid. I have the little free program called classic shell and have put it on several customers computers and they all like it. makes things work like XP, Vista, or windows 7,a great add on. thank you for a good article.

Posted by:

13 Aug 2014

I am delaying replacing my old XP laptop because I don't want to deal with Windows 8. For someone with a better than average knowledge of computers and software, modifying or adding something like Startisback to Windows 8 is probably a good answer. For us 'techno-dummies' who need off-the-shelf computers and useable-right-out-of-the-box software, it's a problem.

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
13 Aug 2014

Windoze8; I haven't had many problems working with Windoze8 - since I installed the Classic Shell included in, recommended by Bob. Thanks!

Google Maps; yeah, ancient Rome is cool. But how many of you have played the Google Street view called ""? It's fascinating; it drops you at a random location on the Earth in Google Street View, and you figure out where you are. Warning: A MASSIVE time sink. You can easily waste hours on this. But lots of fun, too.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2014

Windows 8 was such a pain to work with that my college age daughter spent her own money to replace the new HP PC my wife bought her with an Apple machine. She is very happy with it.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2014

The only real problem with Win 8 is the horrible user interface which is oriented towards a tablet user and ignores the other billion computer users. Then there's the dismal response from Microsoft who finds it unbareable to even admit they made a mistake. The good news is that there are several inexpensive fixes and even a free one that transforms Win 8 into a Win 7 interface with Win 8 underneath. Check out Classic Shell which is free and all your problems will be gone for the most part.

Posted by:

Ralph C
15 Aug 2014

I bought a new Dell laptop about 8 months ago and it came with Win 8. learned who to use it, found work arounds on the net and it was OK and fast too. After Bob's suggestion I upgraded to Win 8.1. Runs ok, upgrade went well, but it is much slower to boot up and shut down. The one advantage it had over Win 7 is gone. Oh well...

Posted by:

21 Aug 2014


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