Geekly Update - 21 August 2019

Category: Tech-News

Are stuffed animals spying on you and your family? Why did Google ban videos of fighting robots, claiming they violated animal cruelty standards? And will fancy new robo-shorts help you finally win the three-legged race at the family picnic this year? 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

E-cigarettes promised to be a safer option to cigarettes, eliminating the tar and combustion. But researchers in the journal Radiology report that inhaling e-cigarette vapor (WITHOUT the nicotine and flavorings) has an "immediate, negative impact" on the vascular system. The Centers for Disease Control is also concerned, and is launching an investigation into the health effects of e-cigarettes.

In late 2016, security researcher Joseph Tartaro through it would be fun to get a vanity license plate that read "NULL". But the joke was on him. It turns out that because NULL is computer jargon for an empty value, every time a traffic cop didn't enter the license plate number on a ticket, the fines (over $12,000 worth) were assigned to Tartaro.

A new privacy feature on Facebook called Off-Facebook Activity lets you view a summary of information Facebook receives about your activity on other apps and websites, and allows you to disconnect that information from your account, so it will not be associated with you personally. This tool is available to users in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain now, and will roll out to others "in the coming months."

Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed robo-shorts, an exosuit worn on the lower back that can assist in walking or running. The flexible shorts have a motorized system that can make you feel as much as a dozen pounds lighter, and may be helpful to recreational hikers, military personnel, and rescue workers.

Geekly Update 08-21-19

"Warshipping" is a technique used for hacking into companies by mail. For a cost of under $100, a shipped package can function as a Trojan horse for attacks. Tiny surveillance devices can take the form of a wall plaque, a stuffed animal, or even a cardboard box.

During World War II, the US Navy was concerned about secret messages being intercepted by enemy forces. So they developed a bean-bag that could be dropped on the deck of a carrier to safely deliver messages. Now with concerns about China and Russia hacking into military communications, the Navy is using the same old-school technique to "encrypt" sensitive messages.

Microsoft is taking another step away from proprietary browser code, by relaunching its unpopular Edge browser with an open-source Chromium code base. A beta version of the Chromium-based Edge browser (dubbed "Chredge") was just released for Windows 10, 8, 7 and Mac OS.

This just in from the "Blowing Off Steam" Department: A Russian security researcher was banned from submitting bug reports to Valve, developer of the Steam gaming platform. When the company refused to accept his next bug report, he published details online about a zero-day flaw in the Steam gaming client.

Is Google treating robots the same as animals? This week, YouTube removed robot fighting videos, claiming they violated policies against showing displays of animal cruelty. Turns out it was a flaw in the AI algorithm that incorrectly identified the battle-bots as chickens in a c0ckfight.

Last week two dozen small towns in Texas were hit by a coordinated ransomware attack that appears to be the work of a single person. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) says the targets were specific departments in the affected towns. The DIR didn't say if those departments had full system backups from which they could quickly recover.

Kaia Gerber and Gigi Hadid are two of the world’s most popular models, and they want to spread the message that prolonged social media use is linked to depression and loneliness. Ironically, they're doing this with a stream of Instagram selfies that carry a warning: “Social media seriously harms your mental health.”

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 21 August 2019"

Posted by:

hifi5000
21 Aug 2019

Just read the article about US Navy pilots deploying bean bags for messaging commanders without using electronic communications that could be compromised.That is not all.

I read an article a few years ago that the US Navy is starting to teach celestial navigation to seamen again because the current GPS system could be jammed or misleading.We are seriously overdependent on technology because it is cheap and convenient.I am glad a few organizations out there are starting to realize the vulnerability of the tech we take for granted.


Posted by:

Jay R
21 Aug 2019

I believe that the models got it right.


Posted by:

Steve Morehead
22 Aug 2019

Misidentification in c0ckfights is one of the best excuses I've ever heard.


Posted by:

Bob Cole
22 Aug 2019

You might ask, what do You tube, Artificial Intelligence and chickens have in common? They apparently are all a sign of the times.


Posted by:

RandiO
23 Aug 2019

@hifi5k > Technology is a double-edge sword. There has even been a few articles on the subject of the human internal orienting going the way of the dodo bird. During a recent visit to a Grainger store, I noticed that the worker was a phenom on the order-entry keyboard yet he had never noticed the little nipples on the F and the G keys to orient index fingers w/o looking down. I was going to tell him about why the QWERTY keyboard is laid-out the way it is but he was too excited about discovering the uniqueness of the F/G keys.


Posted by:

RandiO
23 Aug 2019

Ooops, I meant the F and J keys... duh!


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