Geekly Update - 17 December 2020

Category: Tech-News

Is your family ready for a robot dog that uses blockchain-enabled decentralized artificial intelligence to guard the premises? Did all your Gmail friends suddenly vanish from the Internet? And how can you stop porch pirates from stealing your Amazon packages? 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

A six-year-old boy in Connecticut spent over $16,000 on “in-app purchases” while playing the Sonic Forces video game on his mother’s iPad. Apple refuses to refund the charges, and the family now can't pay their mortgage. Reminder to parents: turn off in-app purchases before handing over the digital babysitter to your first-graders.

This just in from the Fancy-Sounding Tech Jargon Department: KODA, the artificial intelligence robot dog, wants to be your family companion, seeing-eye dog, and vigilant guard dog. KODA employs blockchain-enabled decentralized AI infrastructure to “interact socially with its owners,” and evolve to suit its owner's needs. Woof.

If you sent email to a Gmail user yesterday, and got a message that “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist,” you should resend that email. Your Gmail friend didn’t disappear after all. A day after a worldwide outage affecting Gmail and other Google services, the Gmail service was still glitching.

Geekly Update 12-17-2020

In the wake of the SolarWinds hack that affected U.S. cybersecurity operations, security researcher Brian Krebs reports that a key malicious domain name that was used in the attack
was taken over by security experts and used as a "killswitch" against itself.

Ex-NASA engineer Mark Rober has a solution to the “porch pirate” problem, or at least a way to punish those package thieves. The Glitterbomb is a decoy package that explodes with a cloud of biodegradable glitter and smelly skunk spray when a thief opens the stolen package.

Zoom is lifting the 40-minute limit on video calls for those using the free version of the popular online meeting service, but only for certain timeframes during the December holidays. They might have noticed that competitors Microsoft Teams and Google Meet recently started offering free unlimited video calling.

Google has purchased Neverware, a company that created a product that can turn old Windows 7 PCs into Chrome OS computers. CloudReady is a web-centric operating system that gets security patches and fixes every six weeks.

If you’re not comfortable letting Google manage your passwords, perhaps another giant corporation can do the job for you. Microsoft’s newly updated Authenticator App also works as a password manager for Edge, Chrome, and mobile devices.

New research shows that 3D printers commonly used in homes may be releasing chemical by-products and particles that can infiltrate deep into the lungs. Researchers are studying the health impacts of 3D printers that use thermoplastics, metals, nanomaterials, and polymers to create objects.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 17 December 2020"

Posted by:

17 Dec 2020

Glitter bombs are too good for porch pirates. Something strong enough to blow off their hand would be preferred. (And yes I am being facetious because I am aware that there might be innocent children hurt if you actually did this.)

Posted by:

17 Dec 2020

The first SolarWinds/FireEye mystery book/movie should be named "To Kill a KillSwitch"!

Posted by:

Mike R
18 Dec 2020

The most surprising thing about the 3D printers- this wasn't thought of before! The smell of these things can be terrible, and worse- things pointed out in the article. All you need is an industrial hood and fan to protect yourself and pollute the environment instead.

Posted by:

18 Dec 2020

I really wonder why Americans put up with their delivery services.

We live in Wales but all our family are in the USA, so we experience USA delays and efficiency every birthday and holiday.

Here supermarkets deliver in one hour time slots and even in lockdown it isn't really difficult to book a delivery. With a lot of courier services we can watch the driver's progress online knowing an estimate of delivery time by email and when 'out for delivery' following the van's progress with a countdown of deliveries until 'next delivery' shows.

Amazon and Sainsburys are doing same day deliveries if ordered before 12 noon for groceries.

With most suppliers deliveries are free as long as the order is over £40 ($54) and with the prices that's easily met.

Amazon Prime is becoming a joke importing USA delivery practices to the UK using Covid as an excuse. Other suppliers are keeping things at standard speeds (or quicker.

The last bit is to our postman - overworked and underpaid he knows we are shielding and vulnerable and rings our bell with every delivery and waits at the bottom of the garden to make sure we are still OK.

My message to the USA is to complain. complain and use only services that deliver on time. Sooner or later your suppliers will change and develop sensible and customer friendly services.

Posted by:

18 Dec 2020

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly with Jon, you American people should revolt against those practices. Over here in the Netherlands package delivery is separated from other mail. When you order something you get a choice of when and where the package can be delivered. You can also choose to have it delivered to a pick-up point close to your home or work. Then, later, you get an e-mail with a link for the time slot and you can follow the status of your delivery. If you miss the delivery, they either take it with them to try again later or deliver it to one of your neighbours if they’re home and leave a message where your package is waiting for you. I’ve put a notice on my front door for delivery people saying which neighbours can be used to drop off deliveries if I’m not home.

Amazon has started to expand in our country recently and I was already weary, but hearing they use flimsy excuses to try and introduce their American delivery practices in Europe makes me determined to never use them if I can help it.

Posted by:

Kenneth Maltby
18 Dec 2020

Cal67 - I liked your response, facetious or not, you thought of everything (that people would be upset by). As for Jon and Chris - talking about non US delivery expectations - hopefully people will follow your advice and complain until the (Amazon) service improves.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2020

Partial reason for the Solarwinds hack ... their admin password was solarwinds123. Of course no one could have ever guessed that!

Posted by:

21 Dec 2020

What a great Christmas present from you Bob!! Always appreciate your Geekly Updates with 2 or 3 interesting tidbits but this one was over flowing with tidbits.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2020

To Jon and Chris, there are people here in the USA who believe it's their right to have terrible delivery service and crappy internet service. We're a mess...

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 17 December 2020 (Posted: 17 Dec 2020)
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