Geekly Update - 17 February 2016

Category: Tech-News

What's the real reason smartphones are getting larger? Have robots replaced hotel maids and bellhops? Ahd what is the worst place to put your cell phone at night? 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

Relay the Robot looks more like a futuristic trash can than a friendly servant, but it is capable of delivering fresh towels, toothpaste, and other sundries to hotel rooms. Front desk staff load his compartment, punch a room number into a touchscreen, and off he goes, returning to his charging station when idle. No tipping necessary, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing (or not) when you answer the door. Just don’t short Relay out by putting wet towels in him.

New York City police are warning against putting your cell phone under the pillow while sleeping. A set of photos tweeted by the NYPD 33rd Precinct shows a scorched pillow, burned sheets, and a fried phone.

When cold weather comes, you might as well make the best of it. One clever Canadian man took it to the next level, by constructing an outdoor theater entirely of snow. The setup included tables, seating, and a 20-foot screen for movies.

Geekly Update 02-17-2016

If you shop online at Kohls, you might want to change your password. According to Krebs on Security, scammers are using compromised Kohls accounts to order expensive stuff, racking up "Kohls cash" that can be redeemed for merchandise at Kohl's stores.

Smartphones have converged on an ideal screen size of 4.7 inches, even though studies show that the average male hand can’t handle much over 4.3 inches, and female hands are even smaller. Larger phones get dropped more often, and cost more to repair. Apparently, “ideal” means “maximizing repair revenues.”

Even the White House can’t get good WiFi. President Obama admits “it’s a real issue,” with multiple dead zones throughout the sprawling, centuries-old mansion. He hopes to complete upgrades for the next occupant before leaving office next January.

Police at Iowa State University ask the public to use their smartphones to call 911 before taking pictures of a bizarre car wreck. Somehow, an SUV ended up atop several other vehicles; there are lots of snapshot on social media but not one witness called the emergency number.

FTDI, an Israeli maker of USB chipsets, is accused for the second time of pushing firmware updates via Windows Update that disable counterfeit chips, leaving some devices unusable.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day came the touching story of WWII vet Norwood Thomas and his long lost British flame, Joyce Durrant Morris. Thanks to new-fangled contraptions Google, Skype, and GoFundme, the two lovebirds, he 93 and she 88, were reunited after 71 years apart. Air New Zealand kicked in free, first-class tickets, too.

The Norwegian developers of the Opera browser are considering a $1.2 billion buy-out offer from a Chinese tech firm. The only thing to consider is the currency in which to accept it.

Super Bowl attendees consumed a record 10 Terabytes of wireless data at Levi Stadium, up 63% from last year. That’s a lot of selfies.

Google has agreed to EU privacy authorities’ demand that “right to be forgotten” requests will be honored on its non-European search sites as well as national versions of the search engine.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 17 February 2016"

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

Was the blog about cell phone sizes written my Michael Moore? Same kind of dishonest drivel to push his own conspiracy theory.

The market is what drives larger phones. Packing more pixels on the screen, at a size where they can be seen, is important to a lot of people. I have a phone in the 5.7" range. I handled many in the store and decided that it did work in my hands. It was a tough call between it and the next smaller sizes (not being an Apple fan boy, I have a lot of choices available). I decided that the larger screen had more utility.

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

Bob, I love my Galaxy Note 4!!! I am female, it's larger, but, it is easier for me to see. As far as handling in one hand, no problem for me. I happen to have larger hands, than a lot of women. Very helpful when I worked in surgery. :)

When my husband was in the hospital, for another coronary stent he has 11 stents. I was leaving his room, to go to the elevator and I looked up to see a robot, similar to the picture you used, going by itself, up the hall.

It was delivery drugs to the floor. This was back in early 2005 or 2006. I must admit, I was surprised, but, not shocked. I knew about robots being used, I just hadn't seen one in action.

What was shocking to me was Robotic Surgery! Now at this point, it is not self-propelling, but, I think eventually, it will be self-propelling. By self-propelling, I mean that all a surgeon would have to do is punch in some numbers and the robot will do the surgery. Must admit that could be life-saving, in the long run. Now, this will not happen for decades to come - However, with the way technology is advancing, it may come a lot sooner. :)

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

Google is between a rock and a hard place. This kind of blatant censoring is damaging to the internet. But, there options are: 1) Acquiesce -- realizing the EU will never be satisfied, 2) Withdraw from Europe and lose unknown millions in revenue and give an opportunity for another provider to increase their market share dramatically, 3) Acquesce for now but draw a line in the sand where they won't budge-- hoping the rest of the world will back them, 4) Tell Europe it can't be done and they are welcome to sue for whatever money they think they can force out.

We, the rest of the civilized world, need to tell the EU they don't run the world. The rest of us have rights also.

Posted by:

Bab Krinno
17 Feb 2016

White House WiFi ! !
Ridiculous statement - if Obama really wanted WiFi he could have it in every room via HomePlug WiFi if necessary.
Does he even have a cell phone ?

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

FTDI has every right to protect its product from clone use by unscrupulous device builders and/or careless or complicit users. My computers are full of hardware from many manufacturers. What would Intel or AMD do if they identified one of my CPUs as a fake clone? If a genuine driver crippled any of my devices, shame on me for not buying from reputable vendors!

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

ummmm... the right to Privacy - what a Quaint British Idea! Actually heard a BBC World (??) broadcast about the Right to Privacy from Ann Bolin to Present. Seems she handed Henry a book by (Timmons??) and suggested that he read it. It said a person had the right to their own thoughts - how PROTESTANT of him!!! - before that you had to confess to the Church -- in England that meant you could become a candle for some kind of public celebration.

It then followed History from Jolly Old to the Revolutionary Terrorists of the New World where is was accepted as common sense by most all Colonies - But seems to have lost it's way post 9/11. Or was that Pre HUAC? It's SO hard to remember when cops were our friends, the Government cared About the people it governed, and we didn't have the largest percent of our population in prison than ANY other nation on earth.

Maybe it was a PBX podcast - hard to tell without a television there are only two places I could have heard it (PBX- RADIOTOPIA-NPR) or(BBC).

But what a quaint concept!!!! Privacy!!! Whoda thunk it was a 'right' - so fundamental it wasn't even mentioned in the Constitution since it was such a fundamental underlying right it was the reason they WROTE the Dec of Inde, and both the Articles and Constitution with the unspoken presumption that they had the God-Given right to privacy - just as we sure don't have a constitutional right to breathe - hence The Death Penalty -- and we have the right to PURSUE but not ATTAIN Happiness. Just think, 300 years ago Torture (the real kind, not waterboarding - the REAL kind) was never thought of as 'wrong' in ANY possible interpretation of the world in which we lived.

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

Cite for Ann Bolyn and the right to Privacy - I was wrong-- not PBX that I know of:


If that doesn't open, try the longer tiny URL:

Posted by:

17 Feb 2016

FTDI is not an Israeli company. It's Scottish.

"The Scottish design firm FTDI has used Windows Update to push a malicious driver that identifies counterfeit chips modeled after FTDI's design."

Sorry if this posts twice - Edge crashed while posting.

Posted by:

18 Feb 2016

Wow! I love it, Doc is on a true rant and every word means something. Great Job! You are not alone.
Privacy what a concept in this day and time and one of the primary reasons I got off Face Book.
As always I like the articles.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 17 February 2016 (Posted: 17 Feb 2016)
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