Geekly Update - 20 April 2016

Category: Tech-News

Is a non-descript farmhouse in Kansas the epicenter of spam, scams and cybercrime? Can the police demand to see your cell phone during a traffic stop? And why are things about to get much QUIETER at the headquarters of the National Weather Service? 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

Nearly half of U.S. households now subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to a study conducted by financial-services company Piper Jaffray.

A solar panel has been invented that can generate electricity from the energy of rain falling on it. This Chinese invention uses a layer of graphene only one atom thick. (Wouldn't that make it an "aqua panel" then?)

Drivers could lose their licenses if they refuse to submit their smartphones to police textalyzing following an accident, under a bill that’s brewing in the New York legislature. A device made by Israel-based Cellebrite would collect only data about whether the phone was in use at the time of the accident, not the content of texts or calls.

Geekly Update 04-20-2016

An isolated farm an hour’s drive from Wichita, Kansas, has been visited by the FBI, IRS collectors, U. S. marshals, and random vandals ever since mapping software company MaxMind arbitrarily made the farm's GPS coordinates the “center” of the United States. The tale of this decade-old string of mistaken identity cases will horrify you, and it’s not the only one.

The Somm, as in “sommelier,” is a smart wine dispenser that chills, aerates, and pours the perfect glass of vino. It also tracks what you drink and recommends other vintages it thinks you may like. The Somm’s Kickstarter campaign blew past its $100,000 goal in just 15 hours.

University of Washington researchers have discovered how to store digital images in a smear of DNA and retrieve perfect copies of them later. No word on where the “smear” comes from.

All 50 United States have laws prohibiting unauthorized use of computer networks, even if the owners have left their WiFi unprotected. And now, it's also un-Islamic, an imam (religious leader) in Dubai has ruled in a fatwa issued in April, 2016.


All Apple devices running older versions of iOS may be rendered inoperable permanently by a glitch that can be exploited simply by setting the system clock’s date to January 1, 1970. Apple patched the flaw in iOS v 9.3.1. Desktop and laptop computers running Mac OSX are not affected.

“Freebooting” is the tawdry and illegal act of pirating someone’s online video and claiming it as your own. Facebook is offering a Digital Rights Management tool that lets video publishers limit who can share their videos to combat this plague.

Verizon customers can earn an extra 2 GB of data credit when they use the Android Pay touchless payment system, but only in two billing cycles.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 20 April 2016"

Posted by:

20 Apr 2016

The correct term is "piezo-electric" panel.

Posted by:

Jay R
20 Apr 2016

I'm down with that pizza-electric. How's that work? You plug it in and the pizza is done in 15 minutes?

Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
20 Apr 2016

Who started the adage of "yelling" when all capital letters are used? How many engineers have been using all caps in labels, titles etc. in drawings and blueprints? How many of you "older" programmers remember that there were no lower case letters on keypunch machines? I can't remember lower case letters in FORTRAN, COBOL and most programming languages, including IBM System 360/370 Assembler. What happened and when, that we older people are so un-political?

Posted by:

20 Apr 2016

Dwayne: My guess of when YELLING=UPPER CASE started was with Unix. In Unix (which was a play on words with the already established Multics) all the commands were defined in lower case. In fact, if one logged with all uppercase, the whole system switched to uppercase just like you were on an ASR33 or teletype.
When Unix came together with BBS's and USENET that's when the rules of netiquette became convention.

Posted by:

Oliver Fleming
21 Apr 2016

I looked at my IP address. It is about 60 miles from my home at the botanical gardens. So I should not have any problems. Thank goodness!

Posted by:

21 Apr 2016

Bob, Just wanted to say I'm enjoying my newest reading literature. Good job!

Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
21 Apr 2016

Thanks for the information re:UPPER CASE YELLING.
I have wondered for a long time. I never thought about Unix. The first time I was chided for doing so, I had no idea what the person was talking about! I just considered that my "educator" was a young, new-to-the-industry, fresh-out-of-college person that would eventually come to know what they were doing.

Posted by:

Ray B.
05 May 2016

I'd like to give a SHOUT-OUT to the National Weather Service for moving away from all caps.
The English language has a long tradition of using capitals to help convey specific information, such as showing the beginning of a sentence, proper names, or for emphasis. when only upper or lower case letters are used, the message is often not as clear or as easy to read.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 20 April 2016 (Posted: 20 Apr 2016)
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