Geekly Update - 19 February 2020

Category: Tech-News

What good is an electronic voting system that doesn't even try to protect itself from hackers? Has a Harvard astronomer proved that mysterious radio signals from outer space are proof of alien life? What happens when your connected car get disconnected? And dang it, are robots eating all the cupcakes now? 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

Microsoft's ElectionGuard system isn't even trying to protect voting machines from hackers. Instead, it aims to make vote hacking pointless. The open-source ElectionGuard system uses a touchscreen and two printed copies of the voting record. One copy goes into the ballot box, and the other has a QR code that lets voters check to make sure their vote was not changed after the fact.

The friendly folks at the NSA have some advice for aspiring coders: learn the Python programming language. And thanks to a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request by one programmer, the NSA has released a 400-page Python training manual.

Kari Paul is a technology journalist who rented a car with GigCarShare, an "eco-friendly car sharing for the Bay Area and Sacramento." But she soon discovered that sharing has its limits. When she travelled into a rural area of California where there was no cell service, the car refused to start, and Paul was stranded for hours.

Geekly Update 02-19-2020

On the flip side of that connected car coin is Masamba Sinclair, who rented a Ford Expedition and paired the vehicle with the FordPass app on his phone. Several months after returning the car, Sinclair discovered that he could still remotely start it, lock or unlock the doors, and track its location.

The Corona Virus scare has resulted in a worldwide spike in demand for face masks. But how does one use the "face unlock" feature on their smartphone while wearing a mask? Simple, get a custom respirator mask that looks exactly like the lower half of your face. The "Resting Risk Face" mask sells for $40.

This just in from the "Yes, But Maybe" Department: One Harvard scientist says that a mysterious repeating radio signal from the other side of the universe could be a message from an alien civilization. But more likely, says Abraham Loeb, who serves as Chair of Harvard's Department of Astronomy, the pulses are just "the bright analogs of pulsars, which are spinning neutron stars with strong magnetic fields."

How smart can a baby diaper be? MIT researchers think it's dumb to let a baby wallow in filth, so they've created a diaper-embedded moisture sensor that can alert a caregiver when a diaper is wet. The sensor costs less than 2 cents to manufacture, and can send a "distress signal" via RFID.

If you've always wanted to go into space, but didn't have the inclination to spend years training to be an astronaut, here's your chance. Space Adventures has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Crew Dragon free-flyer mission. The flight, which is expected to last about 5 days, will undoubtedly carry a multi-million dollar ticket price.

If you're longing for a return to the days of the flip phone, they're back, sort of. The new Motorola Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip offer the aesthetic of the 2005-era flips, but they're expensive ($1400-$1500) and not nearly as rugged, according to testers.

And just in case you were wondering whether or not a robot can move donuts, cupcakes and croissants from a conveyor belt without getting sticky fingers, here's an entertaining video that answers the question.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 19 February 2020"

Posted by:

Ken H
19 Feb 2020

So thanks to Space Adventures and Space X we will be living Avenue 5 any time now.

Also kudos to Microsoft for their Defending Democracy Program.

Too bad Facebook is not as interested in defending democracy as they are in making money. It hardly matters is the vote is secure if the people are too ignorant (well indoctrinated against facts) to make an intelligent choice.


Posted by:

Sarah L
19 Feb 2020

Disposable diapers for babies and toddlers have a line on the outer layer of the diaper that turns blue when the diaper is wet.

The RFID method might wake a sleeping parent, depending what the sensor does once it detects moisture. I am not familiar for adult diapers, but maybe they use the same as diapers for babies.


Posted by:

Robert A.
19 Feb 2020

Unless a person is severely handicapped or incapacitated, I think an adult would surely know it's time to change their Depend, and wouldn't need a remote signaling system to remind them.


Posted by:

Ernest Lane
20 Feb 2020

Some States even have Internet voting. Incredible.


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