Geekly Update - 21 May 2014

Category: Tech-News

What can you do with a 30-year-old PC running DOS? Would you eat veggies grown next door to a leaking nuclear plant? Why are Japanese girls buying silicone thumbs? And what's the fastest way to get earthquake alerts? 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

From the "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" file, the crowdfunded Chui doorbell uses facial recognition tech to identify who is ringing it and adds their photo to a Web-based database of visitors. The homeowner is notified via email, and if the Chui is connected to an electric door look he can let the caller in remotely.

Maybe you don’t need to update your PC after all. “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin revealed in a recent interview that he writes his novels on a 30 year-old MS-DOS machine using the Wordstar 4.0 word processor, which was released in 1987.

He explains, “I hate these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital - I don't want a capital! If I wanted a capital I'd have typed a capital. I know how to work this."

Geekly Update 05-21-2014

Do you have a restless urge to be a resident of Estonia? Now you can! Thanks to the Internet, you will soon be able to apply for an Estonian e-resident ID card without ever setting foot there. (Perhaps Estonia was inspired by Noah Mamet.)

Would you eat food grown in Fukushima, site of Japan’s nuclear disaster? How about if it’s grown in a high-tech “clean room” formerly used to fabricate microchips? Fujitsu has repurposed the clean room of a plant it closed in 2009 to grow low-potassium lettuce.

The fastest earthquake alerts are coming from Twitter, not the U.S. Geological Survey’s vast network of underground sensors. In fact, the USGS uses the #Earthquake hashtag and other key search terms in Tweets to pinpoint the source of tremors in less than one minute.

An oscillating electric fan provocatively named the “LFDJ-301K” has an infrared sensor that detects the presence and positions of humans in a room so it can turn itself on or off and direct airflow to where it’s needed most.

More fake antivirus programs are making their way into Google Play and the Windows Store, according to researchers at Kaspersky Labs. One of them was downloaded over 10,000 times before being detected and removed from Google Play, despite costing $3.99 and doing absolutely nothing to prevent virus infections.

A Subway sandwich franchisee sold computerized cash registers to other franchisees. He secretly installed LogMeIn remote access software on each machine, then sneaked in to load value onto gift cards which he sold on eBay and Craigslist. Ironically, his register-selling company was named, “POS Doctor.”

You’ve always wanted a longer thumb so you could text faster, right? From Japan, it comes: 15 mm of "lifelike" silicone rubber reach.

Netflix accounts for one-third of all U. S. Internet traffic, but it seems to be wiping out movie piracy. In 2008, peer-to-peer traffic accounted for 31 per cent of all traffic; today, it’s down to 8.1 per cent.

An exhaustively documented tear-down of a counterfeit iPad charger and a genuine Apple charger reveals that you really should pay the extra $16 for the real thing.

If you switched from iPhone to Android or any other flavor of smartphone, iMessage may be quietly losing text messages sent to you by other iPhone users. Apple engineers are stymied by this problem.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 21 May 2014"

Posted by:

Bob K
21 May 2014

I have DOS machines up and running, and connected to the internet. They are set up to do a specific job, and do it well. Not every application needs a graphical user interface.

I just checked -- one of those machines has been up for 171 days. Another one had been up far longer until the other day when I moved it.

I appreciate that Microsoft doesn't support these operating systems any more -- but they were rock solid to start with.

Posted by:

Michael Webb
21 May 2014

Bob--found an important typo here. You have WordStar 4.0 "released in 1997", which was 2 years after Windows 95 came out. I checked Wikipedia as a first stop, and its article on Wordstar says 4.0 came out in 1987, 10 years earlier. I presume a typo, not misinformation.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fixed, thanks.

Posted by:

22 May 2014

I used to work at a small manufacturing operation that hired a college kid for the summer. He mentioned that he'd just bought a Sanyo PC, with a copy of Wordstar. The Engineers (all UNH EE grads) gave him a hard time, that he'd just bought the second legitimate copy of Wordstar in the state of New Hampshire....

Posted by:

23 May 2014

I still have some DOS programs that I run on my XP computer. I disconnected my XP to the internet, so I can still us it. I started working on DOS computers back in 1985. It was a lot easier then it is today. I didn't bother me to use Function keys.

Posted by:

25 May 2014

I'm glad to hear that Wordstar is still being used. Friends have laughed at me when I mention I still use Wordstar v7 but I like it. It may not have all the bells and whistles of MS Word (also using Word2000) but still very useful. Incidentally, Wordstar also made life easy for me when I used XTGold back in the late 80s - 90s; the Ctrl+ functions werre identical in many respects.

Keep up the good work Bob.

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