Geekly Update - 22 June 2016

Category: Tech-News

Can your landlord force you to “like” him on Facebook, or face eviction? How large should the fine be for a telemarketer found guilty of 117 million violations of FTC rules? Can artificial intelligence software create better songs and movies than humans? And what's that big red button for? 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

“Like me or leave me,” says an addendum to the community rules of the City Park Apartments complex in Salt Lake City, UT. Tenants were furious that the landlord insists they "like" the complex’s Facebook page or move out. The new rules also prohibited tenants from posting negative reviews on any public forum. After public outcry, lawyers for the complex backed off, claiming that their rules were poorly worded.

Who's the real bully? Facebook and other social media giants should be held accountable for “bullying” and other problematic content posted by their users, says Gawker Media founder Nick Denton. He made the comment while defending his company’s recent loss of a privacy invasion lawsuit to famous wrestler, Hulk Hogan. It’s surprising - incredible, actually - to read that a major US-based online publisher is unaware of the difference between an online publisher, like Gawker, and an online platform for publishers, like Facebook. The law of the land is that the latter are not responsible for what’s posted by their users. But keep waving that red cape, Nick, while you scramble for the $140 million that Gawker now owes for an egregious violation of Hogan's privacy.

Uber and Lyft, the ride-sharing platforms that are always looking out for the best interests of the totally independent contractors who drive for them, has found a new way to supplement drivers’ incomes without paying them a dime: let them deliver groceries for WalMart as well as carry passengers.

Geekly Update 06-22-2016

A Utah jury slapped Forrest S. Baker III and his companies with 117 million violations of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules and the popular Do Not Call Registry federal statute. The potential fines add up to nearly $1.9 trillion. That’s still not enough, is it?

A Calgary high-school student named Zeel Patel has invented a $7 home test kit that can detect heart disease many times cheaper and faster than traditional lab tests. A paper imbued with various chemicals is immersed in a blood sample; color changes indicate the presence of disease antigens in just minutes, instead of days.

Google researchers have created a “big red button” that can stop an artificial intelligence program in its track should it ever start misbehaving. HAL 9000 could have used one of those.

To really drive a co-worker insane, secretly install the “Squeaky Mouse” app on his/her computer. It plays custom WAV audio files when specified buttons are clicked. Designed as an aid for the visually impaired, it makes a great practical joke as well.

Programmable pills are possible thanks to a new discovery by scientists at the National University of Singapore. Their technique allows multiple medications to be 3D-printed in the form of a single pill. Each layer of medication can be given its own release profile, so one may be released all at once and others over periods of several hours.

Security researcher Justin Shafer alerted software developer Patterson Dental that confidential data about its patients was sitting on the company’s anonymous FTP server, the kind that anyone can access, the company “thanked” him with a criminal complaint alleging he exceeded “authorized access limits.” The resulting FBI raid is just the first installment of Shafer’s “reward.”

Your Tumblr account records may be among 65 million spotted for sale on underground online markets. If you have a Tumblr account, change your password, security questions, and any other data that can be changed to keep hackers out of your account. And of course, change your password on any other site where you used the same credentials.

The first ransomware that replicates and distributes itself to other systems it encounters online is making Microsoft and other security experts very, very nervous. Zcryptor may be the Zika virus of malware.

“Lyfe From Flyte” is a magnetically levitated planter that allows houseplants to hover in the air.

A surprising 93% of phishing emails are pushing ransomware now, powerful testimony to the dangerous effectiveness of the ransomware business model. Shields up, everyone!

Sunspring is a short movie written and created entirely by an artificial intelligence program. Ars Technica, which is hosting Sunspring and the documentary of its creation, describes the movie as “strangely moving.”

Not to be outdone, Google’s Magenta, a machine-learning project, has produced the first song written by an artificial intelligence program. Beginning with knowledge of just four musical notes, Magenta produced a 90-second melody that rivals Nickelback for variety and talent.

Genealogists researching Scottish ancestors will appreciate a new online database of Scottish family histories curated by the National Library of Scotland.

The Net Data Directory is a free, publicly available, searchable database of different sources of data about the Internet. A project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this resource is intended for journalists, researchers, and anyone who wants to know how many cat pictures have passed through Facebook.

Google is teaching its self-driving cars when to honk their horns at pedestrians, and how to honk in a “friendly” manner. That should lull the dimwitted humans into an easy saunter, and then...

“Things your Mom no longer does for you” is how one Silicon Valley venture capitalist describes most of the business plans he sees these days. Among them is this machine that folds your laundry for you.

Zenbo, the latest robot from Japanese electronics giant ASUS, can be a helpmate to everyone. But Zenbo has particular talents that are ideally suited for senior citizen, the company says. For instance, if an elderly person falls, Zenbo can dial up emergency contacts and show them video of what’s happening. But Zenbo can’t make them do anything about it.

Here come X-ray glasses again! A new digital camera sensor captures both colors and near-infrared radiation. It could enable your smartphone to give you as many cheap thrills as TSA agents get every day.

Have you zuckered anyone lately? WordSpy is a new Web service that monitors online conversations looking for emerging neologisms (new words or uses of a word). If you need to keep up with what your offspring are talking about, WordSpy can clue you in.

Desktop PC sales plummeted even more than expected during the fourth quarter of 2015. New predictions are that PC sales will end up 7.3% lower than the previous year, compared to a previous forecast of a 5.4% decline.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 22 June 2016"

Posted by:

David Quinn
22 Jun 2016

This subject did not interest me.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Not one made you pause for thought?

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Enough interest to read and carp.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Amazing this 16 year old kid develops a heart test that should only cost $7 with the results available immediately. I wonder how much the blood sucking drug companies will charge for it once they get their hands on it.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

David, if you are not interested in any of this then why are you reading it? Just to complain and insult people? You really need to learn manners and respect for others or go away.

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

Hi Bob, You comment "Shields Up!" made me smile. :) Thank you for everything you do for us!

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

I ADORE stories like the one about the 17 year old kid who developed the artery disease test. Yeah, I know that we can be all cynical about what Big Pharma might do with it, but for a moment let's all just admire the kid's smarts!

Posted by:

22 Jun 2016

that Squeaky Mouse app reminds me of an ancient mac program called MacSniff which would randomly make subtle cloghing sneezing and clearing throat sounds on someones computer.

Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
22 Jun 2016

I got about halfway through the AI-written movie, "Sunspring," before my brain felt like it was going to bust its mainspring.

Interesting, but not really very.


Posted by:

23 Jun 2016

"Zenbo, the latest robot from Japanese electronics giant ASUS"

Seriously? When did they move out of Taiwan? Oops... Maybe never. The article from your link says:

"The resulting social and economic problems are already being felt in Asia, which is why companies like ASUS are anxious to position home robots as a potential solution.
The Taiwanese company showed off its vision for that future on Monday with Zenbo..."

I know, that "All Asians look alike", but c'mon!

Posted by:

Jay R
23 Jun 2016

I followed the folding clothes link. The machine lists for about $800. And I have to put the shirts in it?!?! For that kind of money, I'm thinking that it had better pull all the clothes out of the dryer, fold them, and then put them up.

Posted by:

23 Jun 2016

Just an update: Another Israeli company.

The Machine that folds your laundry is not available yet. The company that designed this wonderful machine is located in Israel. They are taking orders and expect to deliver sometime in 2017. They are also looking for investors.

The concept is awesome in my book. But I have had to fold laundry for over 60 years and I am darn tired of doing it!!!!

Posted by:

Pat. C.
23 Jun 2016

I like my desktop. I can add 'daughter cards' update memory add another hard drive and...

Posted by:

23 Jun 2016

That Berkman Net Data Directory will probably succeed.
In their pull-down menu of topics they list p**nography.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2016

Kudos to Zeel Patel. Sometimes cheaper is better. Those telemarketer leeches have some modern resources available to them. Like hackers.
The squeaky mouse program would be fun to install as a prank. That's all this wireless trackball keyboard would need for me to toss it. And the program would probably be hard to find.
Xray glasses. Yeah. Always grabbed my attention from a little squirt on up. Call me a perv? Like Peewee Herman's shoe mirrors. Entertaining. Mischievous.
-Thanks for the article, Bob.

Posted by:

Dwight Simmons
27 Jun 2016

If you are going to support the NRA by promoting their adverts, I will discontinue my subscription. I do not wish to interfere with your right to free speech or to bear arms, but I cannot support the NRA. They are ridiculously opposed to any reasonable exploration of how we can reduce the yearly carnage in America. They are as much as part of the problem as those who would ban guns in total. Just one man's opinion. Thank you.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 22 June 2016 (Posted: 22 Jun 2016)
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