Geekly Update - 16 March 2016
Has Google Earth discovered the location of missing jet planes? Is it illegal to say “Happy Birthday” in a text message? And are criminals who use proper spelling and grammar more likely to get away with their misdeeds? 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
The next billboard you look at may be looking back at you. Clear Channel Outdoor America, in partnership with AT&T, has begun enabling billboards to track passers-by and their travels through their smartphones.
Why does Google Earth show a ghostly airplane at the bottom of Lake Harriet in Minnesota? Actually, many Google Earth composite satellite photos include passing aircraft, but the phenomenon never fails to attract conspiracy theorists.
Verizon has agreed to pay the FCC $1.3 million and stop using “supercookies” to track its network users without their explicit consent, and to stop tracking when consent is withdrawn.
Watch your watch. A $17 “smartwatch” sold by various eBay vendors was found to be sending data surreptitiously to unknown IP addresses in China.
Scientists have synthesized Kryptonite for the first time. Actually, it’s krypton oxide, but it’s still a big deal because the element krypton was long thought to be too unstable to form any crystalline compound. (I wonder if the scientists are reporting extreme fatigue or weakness.)
Google Destinations is sending tremors of fear through TripAdvisor.com and other vacation-planning sites. Combining Google Flights and Hotels Search, the new service produces travel site-style comparisons of airline flights and local accommodations whenever you end a Google Search with the keyword “destination.” Oddly, Google Destinations is available only on mobile platforms.
Singapore’s customs agency has fined a Tesla Model S owner because his all-electric car (which has no emissions) causes too much pollution. Turns out it's not the car, but rather the power plant generating the electricity.
A Chicago CPA was arrested for using an illegal radio signal jammer to silence cell phone conversations during his daily train commute. Interfering with cellular communications is a serious federal crime; a Tampa commuter who did likewise was fined $48,000.
A shoplifter in Henrico, VA, requested an Uber ride as her getaway vehicle. Police nabbed her while she waited for the Uber car.
"Speling is importint." A single typo stopped a one billion dollar theft from the national Bangladesh Bank. Hackers faked electronic money transfer requests, but one of them misspelled “foundation” as “fandation,” triggering a fraud alert.
The FBI has seen a sharp increase in “CEO fraud,” a phishing scam in which email purportedly from a company’s CEO tricks an employee into emailing sensitive company data. Someone at SnapChat actually thought that CEO Evan Spiegel wanted the company’s payroll data emailed to him.
Amazon dropped device encryption from Fire OS 5, released in December, 2015, because few people were using it. But now Amazon has re-enabled device encryption, apparently in solidarity with Apple and its fight with the FBI.
A lawsuit alleges that Facebook violates the Consumer Telephone Privacy Act every time you send a “happy birthday” text to one of your friends at the company’s suggestion.
Who is responsible for online threats broadcast by a robot? Jeffrey van der Goot of Amsterdam was interrogated by Dutch police when his Twitter bot, which is programmed to make “comprehendible” sentences from fragments of others’ Tweets, posted, “I seriously want to kill people.”
A middle school couple broke up and the boy had a topless photo of his 12 year-old girlfriend. No, he didn’t post it on social media and harass her; his 40 year-old mother did, according to police. Danica Michaux now faces charges of cyber harassment of a child, which is a misdemeanor, and a felony count of criminal use of a communication facility.
Yahoo’s core businesses - search, email, and news - are going on the auction block, it seems. The company has started sending non-disclosure letters to interested bidders, including one elderly gentleman who said, “I’ll give you tree-fiddy for it.”
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Mar 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 16 March 2016 (Posted: 16 Mar 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved