Geekly Update - 18 April 2019
What's the secret to getting a discount on your next smartphone activation? Are Killer USB gadgets coming to destroy your computer? Has T-Mobile solved the robocall problem? And will sketchy dudes in white vans really pay you twenty bucks for a DNA sample? 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 good news: Verizon is reducing fees for some customers who activate their new phone. The fee will be reduced from $30 to $20 if it’s done online or in-app. The bad news: Verizon is raising fees for in-store phone activations. You guessed it… that $30 fee will go up to $40 if a human Verizon representative is involved in the transaction. Verizon justifies the higher fee by calling it a “full-service experience.”
On a related note, I just upgraded my phone to the Motorola Moto Z3 which is touted as "the world’s first 5G-upgradable smartphone." An optional "moto mod" snaps on the back of the phone to enable 5G, but only on the Verizon network, and only in "select cities" at present. I didn't buy the $200 5G mod, for two reasons. First, Verizon offered me a 50% discount on the $480 phone, and a $100 trade-in for my old Moto Z2, which brought the price down to $140, and they also waived the activation fee. And second, it will be a LONG time before 5G service is available in my rural area.
There's an item on Amazon titled Motorola Moto z3 Play, alongside a picture of the phone I just bought. When I saw the $13.99 price tag, I knew something was wrong. Turns out it's just a protective case for this phone, sold by Spigen. I ended up buying this item, and also the Supershieldz Tempered Glass Screen Protector (2-pack) for $5.99. If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend both of these items, which will save you the grief of a broken or scratched screen. The Spigen cases I've purchased fit perfectly and don't interfere with the buttons on the side of the phone.
Back in January, I did a roundup of hardware security keys, which protect your account from phishing attacks and suspicious login attempts. Google has just announced that your smartphone running Android 7.0+ can be your security key, making it easier for you to unlock this powerful protection, without having to carry around an additional gadget.
Vishwanath Akuthota, a former student of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, has pled guilty to destroying campus computers with a "killer USB" device that was somehow capable of frying the circuitry of the targeted computers. Akuthota faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Remember a few weeks ago when I announced the Samsung Galaxy Fold? The $2000 gadget folds like a book along its vertical axis, converting from a smartphone into a tablet. Predictably, that design has problems, as three early adopters have reported that their Galaxy Fold screen broke after just a day of use.
A whopping 5.2 billion robocalls are placed each month, annoying 169 million people per day. But T-Mobile and Comcast customers may be getting less of them. A new call protection feature will identify and block robocalls to T-Mobile customers on certain Samsung and LG smartphones. The new feature will also be available for Comcast Xfinity Voice home phone service customers later in the year.
Microsoft president Brad Smith has said NO to a request from California law enforcement to equip patrol cars and body cameras with face recognition tech. The Golden State police wanted to run a scan every time an officer pulls someone over. Microsoft rejected the contract because face recognition systems still have gender and race bias, which could result in more women and minorities being unfairly detained. I guess the California cops will have to get their face recognition tech from some Chinese company instead.
Soon, Lime’s electric scooters will be able to guess when you’re too drunk to ride. No, it doesn't have a built-in breathalyzer, it just slows down when "irregular driving" is detected. Another great excuse for explaining why you're home so late on a Thursday evening.
Helvetica Now is an upgrade to Helvetica, one of the world's most commonly used fonts. Aside from the enhanced readability on smaller mobile screens, it’s mostly minor design tweaks. The "Now" version will help to distinguish between a lowercase "l" and a capital "I", has an updated "@" symbol, and a lowercase "u" without a trailing serif. You probably won't notice the difference, unless your name is Iliana, or you wear a smartwatch.
Authorities in several states are warning that sketchy dudes in unmarked white vans who offer to pay $20 for DNA samples just might be up to no good. As it turns out, they're not. Scammers are targeting senior-living communities and low-income neighborhoods, offering to perform DNA tests. But their goal is to defraud Medicare and steal their victims' identities.
The Capsule Projector is a nifty soda can-sized pocket projector, capable of projecting an image of up to 100 inches. The 360-degree omnidirectional speaker pumps out sound in every direction.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Apr 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 18 April 2019 (Posted: 18 Apr 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved