Geekly Update - 20 April 2022

Category: Tech-News

Has life been discovered on Jupiter? Can a sneaky text message drain your bank account? Are the Netflix Police going to crack down on password sharing? What the heck is Oreo-logy? And what are the mushrooms trying to tell us? 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

Some physicists are suggesting that time may not exist. Just give them a minute to explain...

Scammy text messages are becoming more common, and more dangerous than email phishing. Be wary of unexpected SMS messages asking you to click a link. A malicious link on your smartphone could give hackers access to your bank account or allow them to track your movements. Recently I've gotten texts touting nutritional supplements, others promising cash prizes, and some with fake shipping notifications. Other common "smishing" scams involve bogus covid test results, and warnings about failed payments.

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022, and expects that trend to accelerate. The company forecasts another 2 million subscribers will exit in the second quarter. But that doesn't mean fewer people are watching; password sharing is highlighted as a major factor in the declining subscriber base.

A federal judge voided the requirement for masks on planes and trains. Uber, Amtrak, American Airlines, Delta, Jetblue, United and other carriers quickly announced that masking would be optional for both customers and employees. Airline CEOs argued that aircraft have air filtration systems that are far more protective than typically found at restaurants, schools and sporting events.

This just in from the "You're Welcome, We Fixed Your Computer" desk: Some US companies were slow to remove Cyclops Blink, a Russian botnet malware strain that the Kremlin was using to attack computer networks. So the FBI remotely (and secretly) accessed the affected systems (ironically, firewall appliances meant to prevent intrusion) and disinfected them.

Researchers at Stanford have developed solar panels that can generate electricity at night. When the sun isn't shining, the panels use a thermoelectric generator that takes advantage of the temperature difference between the night air and the solar cell.

Elon Musk, who has been a very vocal critic of Twitter, has offered to buy the company outright for $43 billion. CNet dives into the reasons why, the reaction of the Twitter board, and what might happen going forward.

MIT is known for technology. Students are known for an affinity for junk food. The combination has produced Oreology -- a "paradigmatic model of parallel plate rheometry in which a fluid sample," the cream in the middle of an Oreo cookie, is held between two rotating parallel wafers. "When the wafers are counter-rotated," Owens, Fan, Hart, and McKinley assert, "the cream deforms, flows, and ultimately fractures, leading to separation of the cookie into two pieces." Future studies will probe whether the fruit paste inside Fig Newtons has the implied Newtonian flow behavior.

Stanford University researchers say a vast ocean under the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa might support life. Geological data from Greenland was used to support the assertion.

And finally, this week's Just Here For the Headline: Fungi May Be Communicating in a Way That Looks Uncannily Like Human Speech. "Fungi, meet Fun Guy."

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 20 April 2022"

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
20 Apr 2022

Regarding the second item 'Be wary of unexpected SMS messages', I handle all text messages very similarly to how I handle all email messages, with a very healthy dose of skepticism. If either contains a link, and I don't recognize the sender, I simply delete it - better safe than sorry. If it appears to come from someone I know, I contact them directly (either my phone or in person) to learn if they sent it. If they did, I and I trust them to never send me any malicious links (even inadvertently), then I trust the link and click it, otherwise I delete it (the same as I do with any message from an unknown sender). On those few occasions when I'm uncertain or curious about a link, I search the Internet for the site it appears to be taking me to. If I find the site/URL on the first page of search results (and I want to explore the site), I click the link in my search results (NOT the message!). If I DON'T find at least the first part of the URL (from the 'https://' to the first forward slash '/'), I play it safe and delete the message that contains the link.

This is a part of what I call 'Cognitive Security'. At the most fundamental level, be aware of the possible consequences of any action you choose to take and be prepared to accept them before you do anything. Essentially, don't trust anything until you have evaluated it for yourself.



Posted by:

Jay R
21 Apr 2022

Fungi, meet fun guy sounds homophilic. Do better.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Homophonic, not homophilic. See

Posted by:

21 Apr 2022

Netflix looses 200K subscribers - blames it on password sharing. Not once did I read Netflix confessing that people are dropping them because they have NOTHING worth paying $14.99 a month to watch. After several months of paying for Netflix and not watching anything I became one of the 200,000.

Posted by:

Gary D.
22 Apr 2022

"MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] is known for technology." Thanks for that, Bob. Now I really am 146% smarter.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I hope you'll think of me every time you twist open an Oreo cookie.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 20 April 2022 (Posted: 20 Apr 2022)
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