Geekly Update - 16 March 2016

Category: Tech-News

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using “supercookies” to track its network users without their explicit consent, and to stop tracking when consent is withdrawn.

Geekly Update 03-16-2016

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 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.

MIT researchers have developed server-side Javascript code that loads Web page elements in the most efficient order, speeding up page load times by 34%.

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.”

An app aptly named No More Voicemail sends all unanswered calls to a number that just rings until the caller hangs up. Apparently, installing an app is easier than figuring out how to turn off voicemail. The app’s privacy policy is not online, so there’s no way to know what it does with the phone numbers of people who call you.

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.”

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 16 March 2016"

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

What is a tree-fiddy?

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

"What is a tree-fiddy?"


I think that's a bit high I'd go two bob and a pack of crisps myself.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

"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."

I've often wondered how "green" our "green energy" really is, when you factor in how it's produced...

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

Dialectal pronunciation of three-fifty.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

A search for "krypton difluoride" reveals many details, including that it has been known since the mid 1960s.

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016


$3.50 from South Park cartoons

Posted by:

16 Mar 2016

Southpark? My goodness, you folks must be awfully young not to know of Leo Gorcey and the Bowery Boys (one of their incarnations). "Muggs" must be turning over in his grave at this blasphemy. [That's one of Gorcey's character names in the series.]

Posted by:

Sarah L
17 Mar 2016

The link in the item about Happy Birthday posts and face book is a 404. Is this a real story?

Posted by:

C Cochran
18 Mar 2016

I noticed one person was questioning how Green our Green energy is. I used to work at a wind energy facility. First, the reliability is just plain not there. In the place where I lived we had what they called "spinning reserve" which was generally fossil plants kept online to provide the reliability. We also generated a good deal of waste oils, oily rags, broken parts. The massive fiberglass blades were a huge problem when they must be replaced which happens more often than one might think. Then there are the service vehicles. On any day we had at least 5 pickup trucks running around the site of 109 turbines and if there was a crane job, that added around 10 semis to the mix. It was not as green as people think although it does beat fossil. If they can ever get the storage part down, it will become what we want it to be. They are messing with batteries right now but all I can think of is "what happens to them when they're worn out?". We just have to keep working on innovations to get the efficiency we need or to find something other than electricity.
Now, as far as the Tesla guy. He's not the one generating the electricity. Are they going to go fine everyone with lights, appliances, etc since they all use power too? Seriously people.

Posted by:

Sarah L
18 Mar 2016

The link on the face book issue is still bad. Here is another one
It says the issue is face book sending texts to mobile phones, with the content being that a friend is having a birthday. There is a class action suit underway. So, not the message on face book, but unsolicited texts sent to mobile phones. Now I know not to give a mobile phone # to face book.

Posted by:

Brummagem Flash
18 Mar 2016

Another great batch of ponderables,thanks, Bob!
Is it OK to send an unsolicited "Happy Birthday"
To the Incredible Hulk?
He's a man who knows about Green Energy!
Talking of Super-Heros:
I met those kryptonite scientists yesterday, Happily jumping up in the air,
And singing, "Up, up, and away!
Those magnificent men: they were flying machines.
They flew up, fiddy-feet-up;
They flew down to the town;
Toasting their group's
Kryptonium compound."
Are they men?
Are they birds?
No, they're just googly images of jet-planes, Reflected by bodies of water.
Aww, shucks!

Posted by:

28 Mar 2016

If you think tree-fitty comes from South Park you are very young indeed.

If you have never heard the story of Rindecella and the Slass Glipper (it also involves a Pransom Hince) I suggest taking a look a brief history of Spoonerisms:

At least he didn't say I'll give you pee-frussy ;)

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 16 March 2016 (Posted: 16 Mar 2016)
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