Geekly Update - 14 August 2019

Category: Tech-News

Do we finally have the solution to block robocalls? Is 600 million dollars a fair price for a supercomputer that might help to reconstruct the history of the universe? Can your digital camera be infected with ransomware? And are you still looking for a way to get Windows 10 for free? 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

The Geekly Update is all about gadgets, and if you have culinary inclinations, this one is for you. Amazon has the Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6-quart pressure cooker on sale for $49. All that "3rd generation microprocessor technology" in the nifty pressure cooker will help you prepare food up to 70 percent faster. "While supplies last," of course.

Skimmers hidden inside gas pumps can be used by hackers to steal your card info (and your money). Krebs on Security reports on Bluetana, a new mobile app that is helping police locate compromised fuel stations. Computer scientists teamed up with the U.S. Secret Service to develop the software. (Did you know... in addition to protecting government officials, the Secret Service also investigates financial and other cybercrimes?)

The decades-old battle over the fastest supercomputer has shifted again. IBM arch-rival Cray will build El Capitan, the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The $600 million dollar beast will be 10 times faster than IBM's Sierra machine, and will help scientists determine if old nuclear weapons could still explode, assist in designing engines and aircraft, and "reconstructing the history of the universe."

Geekly Update 08-14-2019

Still clinging to Windows 7? (I've seen Windows XP running in local banks and restaurants.) If the price tag is your biggest concern about upgrading to Windows 10, here's good news. You can still get it for free, or almost free. Here’s a list of methods to get a free or discounted version of Windows 10.

Ransomware is the scourge of desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. But security researchers have found that DSLR cameras are vulnerable as well. It turns out Canon's Picture Transfer Protocol is unauthenticated, and can be used to install malware on a digital camers over a Wi-Fi or USB connection. Canon has issued a patch for the vulnerability.

In response to the robocall plague, the FCC has ordered mobile phone carriers to implement a call authentication system by the end of the year. AT&T and T-Mobile are the first to step up with a (partial) solution based on the SHAKEN/STIR standard that works for calls placed between the two networks. It won't block robocalls, but a “Caller Verified” message will indicate that the call isn’t from a spoofed number.

Why are robocalls, SIM-swapping attacks, and mobile phone privacy violations so common? Brian Krebs says it's because the wireless industry has "ceded control... to cybercriminals, scammers, corrupt employees and plain old corporate greed."

Trying to follow those little blue dots while using Google Maps in walking mode isn't easy, especially in cities where the signal can be blocked by tall buildings. Live View is a new feature in the Google Maps app for iPhone and Android eliminates the dots and superimposes a big blue arrow on the screen make sure you don't miss a turn.

Apple recalled some 15-inch Macbook Pros sold because they "contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk." Translation: "They might catch on fire." If you have one of the recalled models, don't try to get on a plane with it -- they've been banned from flights by US aviation safety regulators.

OnePlus had a year-long competition to come up with a catchy name for its upcoming Android TV project. The winner was predictable -- "OnePlus TV" beat out my suggestion: "TV-Mc-TVFace".

Twitter is rolling out a new option that will let you follow topics instead of users. The Android-only feature will let you follow (or block) topics including sports teams, celebrities, and television shows.

Tesla’s $40,000 Model 3 doesn’t come with an old-school physical key. You can unlock or start it with a smartphone, key fob, or keycard. One Tesla owner apparently has a problem keeping track of those items, so she implanted the RFID chip from the keycard into her forearm.

If you have a faulty Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone, it could be worth up to $500. Google will pay out $7.25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over faulty microphones on the original Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 14 August 2019"

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

how happy I am that I am too dumb to use any software on my camera; just remove the SD chip and feed it to my computer - et voilà!

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

I'd be hesitant to order any instant pot pressure cooker. I was going to buy one, but there are lots of reports of people seriously injured when they leak/explode...

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

The robocall call authentication system doesn't work on legacy landlines, and there are no plans to implement on those. That's where I get all my robocalls.

Posted by:

Lester Noyes
14 Aug 2019

I run Windows XP (on an old machine) because it runs software that doesn't work on newer computers. It's my Extra computer - not on the internet - where I keep finance info, password list, etc.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

Elimination of robocalls would be a big plus for society. Right now we (and others) won't answer the phone unless we know who's calling.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

Thinking about back-up, have you ever heard of infinitikloud? Your opinion.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2019

Fun fact: the Secret Service was originally established to chase down counterfeiters and had nothing to do with protecting federal officials. Counterfeiting is a financial crime.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2019

To eliminate robo calls on landlines, go to and follow the directions.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2019

Diane, Nomorobo doesn't work on traditional old style AT&T copper landlines. It does work on U-verse and other IP based landlines.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2019

regarding instapot, I would not worry, the units were designed by an engineer who was laid off when Nortel Networks went under. they are loaded with all sorts of sensors to make sure that everything stays in the safe range.

unlike the old pressure cookers which depended on one mechanical pressure release.

AND they work wonderfully.

Posted by:

Oliver Fleming
15 Aug 2019

Live view does not work in Australia.
Oliver Fleming

Posted by:

Walter Davis
15 Aug 2019

Charley, I had Nomorobo on my old style phone (AT&T/NET&T) before I switched to Spectrum. Worked then and works now on my Spectrum linked phone. Also have it on my cell phone, though $.99/month. Works there, too. No more calls to sell me siding (live in a mobile home with siding.)

Posted by:

15 Aug 2019

I won't be switching to W-10 as I am slowly dying and see no need to endure the steep learning curve. Will I live to see the end of support for W-7? Perhaps...perhaps not. I expect I still qualify for W-10 through the disability claim....should a miracle cure be discovered.

Posted by:

16 Aug 2019

I've been using an old fashioned pressure cooker for 60 years without any problems. Everything is fine as long as you follow procedure. I'm sure an InstaPot would be equally fine if used correctly. (I would use a microwave but there's a little problem - no place to put one.)

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 14 August 2019 (Posted: 14 Aug 2019)
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