Geekly Update - 20 July 2016

Category: Tech-News

Could eating a Baconator sandwich result in identity theft? Is your antivirus software the biggest security threat on your computer? And can Google Maps act as a time machine? Today's Geekly Update is jam-packed with the latest tech news. It's *guaranteed* to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Researchers in the Netherlands have developed a data-storage device that works by positioning individual atoms. It is capable of packing 500 terabits (enough space to store every book written) into a single square inch. But you can't buy one now, because it only works in a vacuum, at a temperature of -210°C.

Here's some good news on the privacy front. "Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen's cell phone into a tracking device," wrote U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on July 12, in a first-ever ruling that tossed out evidence collected by the FBI’s notorious “stingray” device.

On the other hand... everybody is losing your credit card data to hackers these days! Wendy’s, the hamburger chain, is the latest leaker, with customers affected in over 1,000 stores in the USA. Company officials say they're not sure the breach (which started in the fall of 2015) has been contained. Better pay cash for your Baconator until further notice.

Geekly Update 07-20-2016

And now your antivirus software might actually make you LESS saecure. “Symantec and Norton Security Products Contain Critical Vulnerabilities” was the headline of a July 5th alert issued by the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT). Some of the vulnerabilities required no user interaction and could allow a remote attacker to take control. Symantec has issued fixes, but you’re too smart to be paying money for security software, aren’t you, gentle readers?

Landlines are going away; get used to it. The FCC has made it easier for telcos to stop maintaining or offering new landline service in areas that meet certain criteria.

Snapchat’s Discover program, which curates articles found on various media sites, should be rated “R,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed by attorney Mark Geragos. He wants $50,000 for each alleged violation of the Communications Decency Act, and a warning to parents that Snapchat Discovery is “harmful to minors.” A list of salacious headlines makes his case “arguable,” at least.

Time, Inc. thinks it can compete with YouTube and Instagram; isn’t that adorable? is the new streaming video service that editorial director Kirstin Benson says, cluelessly, “is for my grandmother.” The press release says is “strictly mobile” but it works in desktop browsers too.

“Brewmaster” is another job that may be threatened by automation. A startup called IntelligentX claims its artificial intelligence software can quickly adjust flavorings to satisfy beer drinkers’ suggestions.

If you bought RAM (computer memory chips) 15 years ago, you may soon see a check in the mail. Several big RAM manufacturers have settled a class-action lawsuit that accused them of illegally fixing RAM prices back in the 1990s.

A Google Map showing New York City as it may have appeared circa 1900 has been developed by a team of archivists using photographs from that era.

Tired of cats pooping in your garden? Nvidia Systems Software Engineer Robert Bond sure was, so he put together a “deep learning” network whose surveillance cameras can recognize cats and turn on the sprinkler system. If he can create one that combines deer recognition with laser-guided missiles, I'd be interested.

MuckRock, an organization that has long helped citizens navigate the intimidating and confusing process of filing a Freedom of Information Act request for data from government agencies, is now building a database of reasons agencies have given for denying FOIA requests. “The dog ate it” is probably one of more frequent reasons.

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

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

Posted by:

Peter Skelton
20 Jul 2016

Absolute zero is -273.15 degrees C, it doesn't get colder than that. Did you mean -210?

The article reads as if it came from The Onion, in last April's piece about umobtanium.

Posted by:

20 Jul 2016

No - no - no, please don't kill Bambi!

Posted by:

John Kennington
20 Jul 2016

Here is the relevant quote from the article: "In its current form, the atomic hard drive can only operate in clean vacuum conditions and at liquid nitrogen temperatures, which is -346°F (-210°C)."

And a paragraph down is this:

"... it would not be inconceivable to have data storage solutions at nitrogen temperatures in larger data centers,” Otte said. “Many MRI scanners in hospitals are kept at helium temperature permanently, so in that sense it is not as extreme as it may sound at first.”

Posted by:

Jay R
20 Jul 2016

I totally missed the below absolute zero number. I just knew that this data storage needed more than what my Frigidaire was capable of delivering.

.Is the cat software available? The Gospel according to Robert Bond!

Posted by:

Mike Budwey
20 Jul 2016

The original source from which you quoted the -321 degrees Celsius number was mistaken. It should have said -321 degrees Farenheit (which translates to -196 degrees Celsius. That is the boiling point of liquid Nitrogen.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I think the article from which I got that number has been updated to show -210C. In any event, it has to be pretty darned cold!

Posted by:

Mike Budwey
20 Jul 2016

Oops, I misspelled Fahrenheit.

Posted by:

Mike in Colorado
20 Jul 2016

Patrick could have used those cameras for his Squirrels :)

Posted by:

20 Jul 2016

Apropos Peter Skelton's comment on your article: as others have commented, I fear you were using the Fahrenheit scale which DOES go way below -273 degs. C

Posted by:

20 Jul 2016

Hi Bob, did you know that you are entitled $$ from a class-action lawsuit that has been successfully won. It is similar to the RAM gouging you wrote about, post-haste! But what good would it do you if you never had heard of it or registered to be part of it?

Posted by:

20 Jul 2016

Was surprised to find a $176 check in the mail from the class action lawsuit settlement.

Posted by:

20 Jul 2016

Turning the sprinklers on to get rid of neighborhood cats may be illegal here in California. Many California areas allow watering the yard on only certain days during certain hours. Turning the sprinklers on at 12:22 PM on a Thursday might subject you to a fairly large fine.

Posted by:

21 Jul 2016

For deer, I use a motion detector with a radio hooked up to play when the lights come on. It is on a Rap station, because they apparently don't like rap either, There has to be something to do with the music that goes with rap.

Posted by:

Old Man
21 Jul 2016

"And now your antivirus software might actually make you LESS saecure."
I checked my dictionary but couldn't find "saecure".

They could find a good place for the data storage device in politician's heads. The temperature part may be a little hard to control, though.

Posted by:

22 Jul 2016

@ Harold


Posted by:

23 Jul 2016

The Japanese have had water-powered "deer chasers" for ages. Called shishi-odoshi, made from bamboo. Of course they "clunk" all time so it may keep *you* away too because of the noise...

See wiki article:

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