Geekly Update - 19 June 2014

Category: Tech-News

How easy is it to hack into the ATM at your local grocery store? What critical thing should you avoid when plagiarizing a graduation speech? And is stashing your smartphone in your pants pocket a good birth control method? 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

The NSA’s latest excuse for disregarding multiple court orders to preserve data evidence that might be used against it is, “our systems are too complex for that.”

A Bank of Montreal ATM was hacked by two 14 year-olds during their lunch break from school. They aren’t genius-level programmers; just two kids who found a maintenance manual online and thought they’d try the default administrator password. It worked because banks are dumber than 14 year-olds. The teens even changed the machine’s greeting from “Welcome to the BMO ATM” to “Go away. This ATM has been hacked.”

If you're not down with the latest slang used on Twitter, texting and other social media venues, the FBI can help! They've produced an 83-page document which includes English translations for over 2500 terms such as DYJHIW (don't you just hate it when), IGNTS (I've got nothing to say) and LMSO (laughing my socks off).
Geekly Update 06-19-2914

Roosevelt High School Principal Steven Strachan plagiarized his message to the graduating Class of 2014. That was bad enough, but it didn't even require a Google search to out him. He closed the message with “Congratulations to the Albany High School Class of 2013.” Oops.

The low-level radiation emitted by smartphones reduces sperm’s motility by 8 percent and its viability by 9 percent, according to a meta-study of 10 earlier studies. So it may be time to take the phone out of your pants pocket – or leave it there, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Teaching kids about nutrition is hard unless you use Flatulence, an app that teaches nutritional information, toxicity, and most importantly, whether a given food will make you fart.

A freshly-coded Trojan Horse has been discovered in the wild. RSA security researchers uncovered Pandemyia, a modular, multi-function malware program that steals form data (such as credit card details), creates fake Web pages, runs a botnet, and can fool network intrusion detection systems. It’s planted on victims’ PCs through exploit kits and drive-by downloads. Removing it involves registry tweaking.

Police need a search warrant to obtain cell phone location data from service providers, a federal appeals court has ruled for the first time. State courts in Massachusetts and New Jersey have come to the same conclusion, and Maine and Montana have passed laws protecting the privacy of cell phone location data.

Comcast is turning its customers’ WiFi router/modems into public hotspots that any passerby can use for free. The feature creates a public network with the SSID “xfinitywifi” that is “entirely separate” from the customer’s home network. So there’s nothing to be concerned about, right?

A pair of private data-collection firms has sued the State of Arkansas for violating their corporate right to collect license plate data from traveling vehicles. Arkansas passed a law prohibiting private collection of such data, reserving such snooping for its police. The State plans to defend the law.

Netflix has replied to Verizon’s cease-and-desist letter with a snippy “no.” The ISP is demanding that Netflix stop showing its customers messages such as, “The Verizon network is crowded right now… adjusting video for smoother playback.” The finger-pointing in the letters exchanged by two corporate counsels is more entertaining than most Netflix content.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 19 June 2014"

Posted by:

19 Jun 2014

Thanks Bob for cheering me up this morning.

Oh, by the way, I think I have already spotted one of those Comcast public hotspots right here in my neighborhood. Same security. Hmmmm.

Posted by:

Ken Ormson
19 Jun 2014

Hello Bob,

In response to the item about Comcast creating free hotspots, British Telecom (BT) in the UK has been doing something similar for a few years now. The WiFi routers that they supply effectively have a guest network as well as the main network. The guest network is restricted to a small portion of the customers Broadband bandwidth. Any BT customer is then allowed to sign in to these hotspots as they travel.

The two networks are set up so that they do not have access to each others devices or data.

Posted by:

19 Jun 2014

The "news" that caught my eye, was the one about the new Trojan Horse, called Pandemyia!!! You said, the operative words, "Removing it involves registry tweaking." Oh may heavens ... This is a bad one, should anyone get it. Too many PC or Laptop users haven't a clue, how to look through the Registry, let alone "tweak" it.

I can only hope and pray that AT&T doesn't take the page of WiFi sharing, on my personally paid for U-Verse modem!!! I don't lease mine and AT&T doesn't lease their modems, they charge a price for it and when you need a new one or to replace one, they just send you out a "replacement", that is in all probability, a refurbished modem. This doesn't bother me, either. I have had to have my modems replaced and the "new" ones have almost always, seem to work great. In thinking back, I think only once, did I get a bad modem replacement and they simply, sent out another one, without any questions. Plus, AT&T is pretty darn quick, in getting out the replacement. Must mention that, DirecTV is quick on replacement of their receivers and DVRs. So, with the coming merger, I am not uneasy about, any of it. :)

Posted by:

19 Jun 2014

I am a Comcast customer but I own my own cable modem. Comcast has been pushing me to 'upgrade' to one of their 'wireless modems', allegedly to provide higher bandwidth. But now I suspect they want to sneak one of those public hotspots into my house. Thanks for the warning, Bob.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2014

Well I decided to take one for the team and give one of those xfinitywifi spots a try. So I hauled out my netbook and found a spot nearby. It took about 4 minutes of "spinning beachball" before a page loaded. It seems that the service is only "free" if you are an Xfinity or Comcast Business account holder, and it requires your log-in information to use the service. As I don't have an account that was the end of that.

There was an option for a "free trial" or buyig access passes, but when I clicked on it all I got were "not connected to a network" messages. Something tells me this "service" isn't ready for Prime Time.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2014

@Robert --- Here's the article, Bob, links to. It was just posted on June 12, 2014. Unless, you live in the Houston, Texas area, your "taking one for the team", was for not. :)

"Two days ago, Comcast did something that would be inconceivable if it was any other company than Comcast: It turned 50,000 residential Xfinity modems into public WiFi hotspots. There are 50,000 paying Xfinity customers in Houston, Texas who are now broadcasting free WiFi that anyone can use. As far as Comcast is concerned, of course, this is a genius move to blanket the country in high-speed WiFi (and there are plans to hijack millions more modems by the end of 2014) — for Comcast’s customers, though, this is egregious monopolistic overreach taken to the next level… and it’s possibly illegal as well."

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