Geekly Update - 19 December 2018

Category: Tech-News

Where can you fill up your gas tank for under 2 cents a gallon? Is Windows 10 sending the details of your activity back to Microsoft HQ, even after you told it to stop? What can you do when the police can't be bothered to investigate packages stolen from your front porch? Could you live without your smartphone for a full year? 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

If you're a NASA engineer who helped build the Mars Rover, you solve the problem of package thieves on your own. Mark Rober spent six months designing a "bait package" that has a built-in booby trap. When a thief opens the package, he or she will face the wrath of a glitter bomb and a very unpleasant odor.

A computer glitch resulted in a gas price of 1.9 cents per gallon at a convenience store in South Carolina. Police had to be called to stop customers from taking advantage of the error.

A parrot named Rocco is in love with Amazon Alexa, mainly because Alexa lets Rocco order all sorts of birdie goodies by voice command.

Vitamin Water is offering a $100,000 prize if you can ditch your smarpthone and survive with a basic flip phone for one year. But no cheating, a lie detector test will be administered at the end of the year.

Talk about a Grinch! Phishers compromised the email account of an employee of the Save The Children Foundation, and used it to generate false invoices which were paid to a Japanese bank account. The crooks made off with $1 million.

Geekly Update 12-19-2018

Google+ will shut down early after its second major security leak this year. An estimated 53 million users, including some whose accounts were set to “private,” had their names, email addresses, ages, and occupations exposed… assuming they ever bothered to provide all that data.

Amazon is selling Google Chromecast streaming devices again. The Chromecast device, which competes with Amazon's Fire Stick, was banned in 2015, briefly reinstated, and now is officially back. Chromecast still does not support Prime Video (which competes with Google Play Movies).

Contrary to a short-lived rumor, Windows 10 is not sending your activity data back to headquarters even after you tell it not too. Microsoft says it was a misunderstanding caused by two different things being given the same name. (That's odd, usually Microsoft gives two different things slightly different names.)

Amazon Alexa Guard can alert you if it hears a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm or breaking glass. But can it roll over, sit, up, and beg, too? Dog wins again!

Google Maps now shows travel times via Lime electric scooter. Stop legitimizing those nuisances!

A Windows 95 ugly Christmas sweater is the perfect holiday gift for nerds.

A huge wave of emailed bomb threats swept the U. S. and Canada on December 13, prompting evacuations of schools, office buildings, and even hospitals.

Verizon is cutting 10,400 jobs company-wide through management buy-outs. The company also revealed that its digital media group, Oath Inc., is a flop. Oath consists mainly of AOL and Yahoo, which will now cause Verizon to take a $4.6 billion “goodwill” write-down.

T-mobile lied to the FCC by claiming it provided 4G LTE coverage in rural areas where it did not even have cell towers, the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) said in an FCC filing.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 19 December 2018"

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018

Wow! A NASA engineer who helped develop the Mars Rover needed SIX months to design a glitter/stink bomb bait package? Small wonder our space program is lagging so much.

There has to me far more to the story about the Circle K gas price fiasco than we are being told. I worked for Circle K for a few years up to eight and a half years ago after retiring from the job I get my pension from. All the Circle K employees needed to do to stop the sales was hit a button at any POS (Point of Sale). That button is there to shut of the flow of gas to pumps in case of fire or an accident that damages a pump.

I suspect the police were actually needed to quell angry customers who were demanding that Circle K continue to sell gas at that price. I'm also wondering how the foul up occurred in the first place since, back when I worked there, each store physically controlled what price was on the pumps, not Corporate. Corporate only told the stores what price to sell the gas at. Then again, back when I worked there, Circle K had serious management issues from the store level on up to the top.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018


Mark Rober could make a small fortune if he sold his glitter-stink bomb bait box, although he'd have to use budget phones or make a BYOP version.

With Verizon stating that Oath is a failure, I wonder if Tumblr will soon cease to exist.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018

Verizon should kill off Oath and let AOL, Yahoo, Tumblr and any other entities subsumed into Oath carry on as they were before the debacle.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018

The $100k offered by the water company has got to be a hoax. I and most of the people I know would quite happily ditch our smart phones for a year for $100k.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018

@ Denis People interested in participating are being called on to make an Instagram or Twitter post using the hashtags "#nophoneforayear" and "#contest" before Jan. 8. One contestant will be chosen from the entries and will be given the chance to win the $100,000 prize.

Posted by:

19 Dec 2018

Gee, I've had only a flip phone for decades. I automatically win. Oh, yeah, probably disqualified for being a Luddite!

Oh, well, maybe they could afford a booby prize of a couple of hundred toward our replacement furnace and water heater.

Posted by:

James E Shaneman
21 Dec 2018

The AG ought to go after AT&T which, I understand, like a number of other biggie companies, bought out T Mobile, while the AG at the time, slept. Big A played it smart, and kept the T Mobile moniker in order to cover up the fact that big A was the true owner. During the Obama WH, a number of large corporations played the same game, buying out other biggies where anti trust might be a factor, then kept the trade name of the target, just to confuse the White House, which really wasn't difficult to do.

Posted by:

23 Dec 2018

I saw the Youtube video with the bait package and I thought it was brilliant. I only wish that the engineer designed it so that it sprayed some sort of glue before the glitter was ejected.

Posted by:

Gloria Huffman
27 Dec 2018

About the $100,000 prize from VitaminWater for not using your smartphone for a year, it's legitimate:

Must have/own and use a smartphone on a daily basis before the start of the Contest.

The Contest begins on December 11, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time ("ET"), ends on January 8, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET (the "Contest Period").

To enter, you will "share on twitter or instagram what you’d do instead of scrolling," and use the hashtags #nophoneforayear and #contest. Then go scroll-free for a year, and prove it.

Your Twitter or Instagram post will be a "Submission" (you can make up to 4 Submissions) formatted according to specific guidelines and restrictions, and will be chosen based on specific judging criteria (originality, brand relevance, humor, quality [good English, high-quality photos/videos if included).

"In the event of an exact tie in the scores of 2 or more Submissions, the entrant whose Submission received the highest score in the Creativity and Originality of Submission category, as determined by the qualified judges, will be deemed the potential winner among the tied Submissions. If they remain tied, Sponsor will compare their scores for Humor of Submission."

From these Submissions, one person will be chosen to get a basic cell phone and try to go smartphone-free for a year. If he/she only makes it through 6 months, the prize will be $10,000.

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