Geekly Update - 22 October 2014

Category: Tech-News

Will Cray's new supercomputer be used to determine the outcome of the World Series? Why is a really bad password sometimes a really good idea? And wouldn't you like to know if your cellphone's lithium battery is about to explode? 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

Sometimes loyalty is a bad thing. A British man who faked being quadriplegic for two years, in order to avoid court appearances, was nailed because he used his loyalty card in a supermarket. Police picked up the lead, and obtained video surveillance of the man walking and driving.

All I Want for Christmas: The Cray Urika-XA supercomputer “appliance” has over 1,500 processor cores, 6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage. It’s used to crunch “big data” and solve big problems, like which pinch hitter should be selected against KC Royals closer Greg Holland in the 9th inning, with one out and a guy on first base who has an 85.7 stolen base percentage. Oh, and it's also nifty for banks and government agencies with huge piles of data to sift. It will be available in December, but don’t look for it at Best Buy.

Geekly Update 10-22-2014

"Weak Passwords Save Lives!" A driver who crashed and rolled into a remote ravine was located after 17 hours thanks to the “Find My iPhone” app on the device she desperately clutched. A clever cop asked relatives for her iPad, and (after only four guesses at her password) logged in and was able to pinpoint her location.

A long-hidden security flaw was fixed in Drupal, the open-source content management system used on over a million Web sites including The flaw allowed SQL-injection exploits in Drupal’s anti-SQL injection module, which was designed to prevent such things. Ooopsie.

Your smartphone’s short battery life may annoy you, but it probably beats the utterly inadequate 15-30 minutes of this Air Umbrella. This gadget is held upright like a regular umbrella; a “canopy” of fast-moving air blows raindrops away from you (and onto standersby). It’s a nifty idea that needs a lot of work.

Matt Ficarra was paralyzed three years ago in a boating accident. But with the help of a bionic exoskeleton, he walked down the aisle to meet his bride at the altar. Video footage of the event shows Ficarra wearing the battery powered Ekso device, and a snazzy tux.

A UK man was treated for “Internet addiction” caused by wearing Google Glass every day for 18 hours, removing the device only to wash and sleep. The patient reported becoming argumentative, irritable, and anxious when deprived of the spiffy specs, and dreaming that he was wearing them. There's a word for people like this…

The domain name can be yours for a mere $150,000. Jon Schulz registered the name in 2008 and figures now is the time to cash out. He reasons, " would be a great domain for a pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine or cure, a company selling pandemic or disaster-preparedness supplies, or a medical company wishing to provide information and advertise services. There could be many other applications as well. With so many people concerned about the disease, any advertisement referring people to should get an excellent response."

Warning, Danger! A “smart” Lithium Ion battery can tell you when it is about to explode, a surprisingly common occurrence when Li-on batteries are overcharged.

“All calls are recorded for training, quality assurance, and identification purposes” is what the familiar warning should read. Voice biometric data samples are routinely collected by corporations without the advice or consent of callers. “Voiceprints” of more than 65 million people are in corporate and government databases, says the Associated Press.

Facebook is going to bug you even if you’re busy with an earthquake or typhoon. The company’s new “Safety Check” product takes its best guess at your location and sends a notification if you seem to be in the danger zone of a natural disaster. If you reply with “safe” or “not in the area” Facebook posts a status update tell all friends you are OK… even the ones who don’t care.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or a supercomputer will probe your browsing history...

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 22 October 2014"

Posted by:

22 Oct 2014

I'm shocked about Facebook's latest abhorrent intrusive behavior. Shocked, I tell you!

Posted by:

22 Oct 2014

Matt Ficarra's story was truly, awesome, in my book. It is totally, amazing what today's medical science can do for the paralysed. His wife Jordan is just as awesome, for seeing who Matt really is, not the outside, but, the really important inside.

Facebook has done it, again!!! Intruding into the lives of FB Members. This "warning" system is so over the top and will be foisted on all, who use Facebook, no matter whether they want this goodies or not!!!

Posted by:

ST channing
22 Oct 2014

Emergency contact and notification is one of the many good reasons why I am a fan of Facebook and Twitter. They are always on and free: what's not to like, LOL. Government agency FB and TWTR sites are also my favorites for announcements of breaking news and changes of rules and regulations.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2014

Bob asked: Will Cray's new supercomputer be used to determine the outcome of the World Series? I suppose it could make a good guess at the probabilities, given sufficient detailed input.

But will it ever be able solve the real underlying mystery which fascinates those of us who understand English. Why is it called the World Series when the only players are American ? ;-)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Oh come on... there is one Canadian team. :-) On a more serious note, there are lots of MLB players from South America, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, and other countries.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2014

Facebook is going to publicize your location? Another of the hundred reasons not to use it.

Posted by:

23 Oct 2014

Now what are companies going to do with 65 million voice biometric data samples? Compare them to previous calls? Sell them to law enforcement? Seriously, that is quite a supply of voices.

Posted by:

25 Oct 2014

CG- After consideration of your insightful question, I plan to compare them with the many voices in my head and see if any match.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 22 October 2014 (Posted: 22 Oct 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved