Geekly Update - 15 March 2018

Category: Tech-News

Is your car stealing personal and private information from your smartphone? Are Geek Squad technicians digging into your personal files when you bring your computer in for repairs? And under what circumstances would it be a cardinal sin to tweet your baby sister? 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 FBI’s Louisville, KY, division paid Best Buy Geek Squad managers to snitch about potentially illegal content found on customers’ devices. Agents would then show up at Geek Squad shops, review the suspect material, seize devices, and initiate cases. The Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered this ten year-old program through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

If you've ever struggled for hours to solve a Rubik's Cube, then this news will not make you any happier. An MIT student has created a machine that uses cameras and robotic arms to solve the puzzle in less than half a second.

It turns out the cardinal's baby is a sister. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, a New Jersey archbishop, sent a tweet reading "Nighty-night, baby. I love you." His spokesman says the misbegotten missive was a message meant for his (biological) sister. Maybe the Cardinal needs a baby-sitter when he's tweeting his baby sister.

Geekly Update 03-15-2018

Drive a Mazda? Security researchers say they caught two models “collecting an awful lot of information from drivers' smartphones, including text messages, call records, app activity, photos, contacts, GPS history and emails.” It was all stored unencrypted, and the researchers found a way to introduce malware that transmitted it to them over the Internet.

Researchers in Texas are working on robots with minds of their own. Right now, the robots are too busy playing football, so we needn't worry about them taking over the world. Yet.

The F35 jet is the most expensive military procurement program of all time. It's also unable to meet performance requirements, is way over budget already, and is now so far behind schedule that it needs modernization to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.... the FCC is preparing to revoke the communications license of startup SWARM Technologies, effectively killing the venture, after the company launched four tiny comms satellites despite the FCC’s explicit denial of permission to do so for fear they would pose hazards to other satellites that could not “see” them. CEO Sara Spangelo says on her blog, “Feel free to contact me!” So go ahead and tell her what you think of such arrogant, reckless, cosmonaut-threatening misconduct.

If people stop growing new neurons in their early teens but those neurons are not fully wired together until their mid-twenties, then what is going on in those heads during the “formative years,” exactly?

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by playing the 30th anniversary game online for free, courtesty of the BBC.

IBM’s three year-old “homomorphic encryption” code just got 75 times faster, making it feasible to upload large sets of data to cloud servers and work on them without decrypting to plain text. This breakthrough could help stem the tide of leaks coming out of Amazon Web Services, if only AWS made encryption mandatory.

“Hi, I’m Windows. I enjoy working with humans.” Microsoft is rolling out Windows ML (Machine Learning) to app developers who want to add artificial intelligence to their mix of things that can go wrong. “Alexa Cortana” may appear in your Windows 10 devices within a year.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 15 March 2018"

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

“Hi, I’m Windows. I enjoy working with humans.”

Anyone remember that dreadful animated paperclip way back when. Was it in Windows 98?

Posted by:

Paul S
15 Mar 2018

I think "Clippy" was the biggest impediment to work productivity until we turned the d****d thing off! Just seemed to get in the way.

Posted by:

15 Mar 2018

The problem with the Best Buy Geek Squad is a bit of a nuanced problem. I believe every state has mandatory reporting requirements for material like child p*rnography (the example Best Buy used in it's excuse letter). We're also required or strongly encouraged to contact authorities when we see evidence of terrorist activity, violence, etc.

But the FBI started paying those Geek Squad employees to act as informants. Essentially, that made them an agent of the state. That's a 4th amendment violation. We have every right to be concerned.

Posted by:

Robert A.
15 Mar 2018

The Geek Squad agents working as paid informants for the FBI is nothing new. I remember a similar scandal about five to seven years ago covering essentially the same thing with the Geek Squad guys. Anyone else remember that?

Posted by:

16 Mar 2018

I just tried the Hitchhikers game. I guess if you have some instructions it might be ok. As it is you have no idea what you're doing or what the objective is. I'll stick to the books. I did have the Starship Titanic game but it didn't keep my interest so now Goodwill industries own it (till they sell it at least)

Posted by:

16 Mar 2018

Geek Squad is the CREEP Squad!

Maybe if they were paid a living wage they wouldn't have to moonlight as rats.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2018

Why so many bad reviews for SAFEPCKIT??

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ummm, why would there be a GOOD review for it?

Posted by:

Jay, Texas
17 Mar 2018

I have turned Cortana off on all my computers. I turned of that annoying paper clip and all the other 'helpful' animations that Microsoft has attempted to foist on the public. I cannot see me enabling AI features anytime soon. They will have to convince me that they are a lot more intelligent and a lot less annoying before I will even consider using them.

Posted by:

Jorge M.
17 Mar 2018

I hope El Presidente starts draining the FBI swamp. I'm tired of living in a police state.

Posted by:

Mildred Agnew
17 Mar 2018

Does the USA own outer space? Regarding the SWARM 4 satellites, I don't understand how the FCC gets to regulate this? What if India or China, Russia, etc. was the owner? The USA/FCC could not legally interfere with foreign nations. What if SWARM set up their Corp. in, say, Eritrea and "operated" from that location? It would be like a gambling website (illegal in USA) operating from a foreign nation.

Plus, the article says the "satellites" are the size of a book. There are tons of space junk floating around and there's concern about 4 book sized objects?

Posted by:

18 Mar 2018

When I managed a computer repair business the techs were told that if they came across illegal material on a customers computer then they were to notify management. No-one was actually searching computers to find stuff and no-one was paid anything for this. In the 12 years I was there we only came across 1 computer with kiddie p*rn that we saw, and we notified police about it for them to deal with. The flag was raised when a dodgy file name was noticed during a virus scan.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 15 March 2018 (Posted: 15 Mar 2018)
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