Geekly Update - 22 November 2016
Do shoppers on mobile devices get lower prices? Is your smartphone forwarding all your text messages to China? Are the geeks at Office Depot ripping you off? And are you one of the 400 million people whose username and password was just exposed? Find out... in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. And it's *guaranteed* to make you 146% smarter. Read, think, and, comment!
The AskBobRankin Geekly Update
Researchers at Northeastern University found that shopping online with your smartphone may yield a lower price than shopping from a desktop computer. I tried a few hotel searches myself on Travelocity, and found that prices were about 10% lower when I did the the exact same search on my phone.
So I had an idea… I wondered if changing the UserAgent on my desktop browser would fool these sites into giving me the "mobile discount." And it seems to work. I checked the price for one night at a hotel in Orlando using Chrome on desktop: $145. After changing my UserAgent string to make my desktop browser identify as an iPad, the price showed as $131.
Office Depot staffers are accused of falsely diagnosing virus infections on perfectly healthy computers and then charging up to $200 to “fix” them. Employees say they are pressured by unrealistic sales goals to load up customers with antivirus and computer service contracts.
Here's another smokin' hot tip to save money when shopping online: CamelCamelCamel is an Amazon price tracking, research, and alert service that helps users get the best deals on the e-commerce giant. No idea where Camel got its triplicate name.
A backdoor program is included with thousands of Blu Products’ low-cost Android phones sold in the U. S. via Best Buy and Amazon. The secretive backdoor collects a lot of data, including the full contents of text messages, and sends it to several servers in China. But don't worry, the company that installed the spying software only wants to spy on its Chinese customers.
AT&T will throttle “most” streaming video starting in 2017, the company announced. The new Stream-Saver feature can be toggled off by users, providing full high-definition streams. But some worry this feature opens the door to “zero-rating” deals with content providers that would violate Net-neutrality principles.
"Ashley Madison, Part Deux." Over 400 million accounts from the Adult Friend Finder dating service were leaked online. Usernames, passwords, and email addresses were leaked, but not more personal data. Ummm, you think maybe logging in with one of those stolen passwords would yield any "personal data"?
Those eerily flickering “No Vacancy” signs are disappearing from American motels. Digital LED signs are driving neon repair people out of business.
Google has released PhotoScan, an Android app that helps you digitize old printed photos. The process involves taking four snapshots of each photo; then you have to move them around to line up added dots in circles. Repeat for dozens or hundreds of prints and you’ll find it’s cheaper to go buy a dedicated scanner; you’ll also get better results.
The FBI will now have access to (some of) your Tweets with the ability to filter and search them in any way. The agency is contracting with Dataminr, a data-mining firm. Twitter’s terms of service forbid using it for surveillance, but apparently Dataminr (which is part-owned by Twitter) is not so self-constrained.
Meet Miles, the talking, singing, selfie-snapping… gas pump? Yes, petroleum giant BP, in conjunction with Pandora Radio and satirical faux-news site The Onion, are testing interactive gas pumps at selected BP gas stations; only four so far, thank goodness.
AT&T customers can now send text messages hands-free via Amazon Echo. Now if only your contacts could reply via Echo.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Nov 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 22 November 2016 (Posted: 22 Nov 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved