Geekly Update - 23 April 2014

Category: Tech-News

Can you get in legal trouble for abusing the CAPS LOCK Key? Does a new Facebook feature allow people to stalk their friends? And why were millions of video games buried in a small New Mexico town? 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

"STOP YELLING AT ME!" A father was ordered by a judge in England to lay off the CAPS LOCK key when emailing his children. The High Court judge opined that using all capital letters in emails to his children was "insensitive" and "equivalent to him shouting." Fortunately, a family assistance officer will be employed to help the hapless dad with digital communication skills.

“I'd had a bit of wine but not too much,” says Katie Bryant of the South African vacation party during which she downloaded a Neil Diamond album and ran up a cellular data bill of over £2,609 ($4,361.73). That’s pretty much the definition of “too much wine,” isn't it?

Facebook launched a new feature, “Nearby Friends,” on April 18. When enabled, it lets your friends know where you are via your phone’s GPS service. You can control what type(s) of friends can learn your location. The most impressive thing about the Stalk Me Nearby Friends app is that it’s not enabled by default; you have to go turn it on in your Facebook Settings.
Geekly Update 04-23-2014

Google has developed an optical character recognition algorithm that can crack Google’s own CAPTCHA puzzles – those jumbled, distorted, obscured characters you have to type in to prove you’re human. The algorithm was developed to enable reading of real-world street signs for accurate mapping of Google View photos, but if it ever escapes into the wild we’re in trouble.

The latest suspect for “Father of Bitcoin” is George Washington University’s law professor Nick Szabo. Forensic linguists found an “uncanny number” of similarities between his writings and an early paper outlining the Bitcoin system. Szabo is also a financial law expert, cryptographer, and programmer.

The Samsung Galaxy S5’s fingerprint authentication technology has multiple flaws that make it ridiculously easy to defeat, allowing hackers access to S5 owners’ bank and Paypal accounts. Seven months ago, security researchers cracked Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner less than 48 hours after it was released.

Blood money? Vein-scanning, an alternative to fingerprint-scanning, is supposedly a more secure way to pay for things by waving one’s hand. The authors of this article went a bit too far by concluding, “As with the fingerprint scanners on latest iPhones and Samsung S5 phones, the technology provides an almost infallible security protection.”

You’ve seen “Bliss,” the default wallpaper of Windows XP depicting an impossibly idyllic scene of perfectly manicured green grass under an azure sky. A Photoshop special, right? Nope, it’s an unedited photograph taken by Chuck O'Rear. To commemorate the end of support for Windows XP, Microsoft has made a video about O’Rear and the famous photo.

“The Atari Landfill Excavation” expedition aims to unearth a rumored treasure: thousands of copies of “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” widely regarded as one of the worst video games ever made.

A backup computer on the International Space Station is “not responding to commands.” Unfortunately, it’s on the outside of the ISS so someone will have to take a spacewalk to reboot it. And you grumble about having to crawl under your desk…

The WallCharger adds two USB-compatible power ports to a standard electrical outlet, enabling you to charge a phone or tablet without unplugging the TV or stereo system. If the WallCharger was incorporated into mandatory building codes, we could do without portable chargers too.

Do you get jetlag when you fly across time zones? There’s an app for that, and it’s free. Developed by graduate math students at the University of Michigan, “Entrain for iPhone” simply tells you when to turn the lights up and down based on your destination and starting time zone.

Your thoughts on these topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below, or I'll hack into your computer and make it play the E.T. video game in an endless loop.

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 23 April 2014"

Posted by:

MmeMoxie
23 Apr 2014

Tsk, tsk, tsk for Samsung not to get it right, with the new "finger swiping" aspect for the Galaxy 5s. Doesn't it seem to be, when new technology is first available, there always seem to be "security flaws." Can't there be a bit more testing, to help prevent this? Just asking. :)

Bob, I bet you "spoke" to soon ... Facebook providing a new aspect and it is NOT default, right from the get go???!!! Something's wrong. Facebook is becoming, your worse enemy, in my opinion.

LOVED The "Bliss" article!!! I read it, too. It was very interesting and I am glad that Microsoft has recognized the person, who shot the photo. I also, saw the comments, of the article. One person was claiming that the whole article was a "lie." They were claiming to see "tall trees" on the right side of the photo, when no trees should have been present. If, anyone really knew their California landscapes ... They would know that the "small" trees are California Oak trees and what looks like "tall trees" are in fact, are called "hills" by Californians and "mountains" by others. Born and raised in Southern California and know my state, extremely well and traveled it, from South to North.

It is well known, that Rocket Scientists are NOT known for common sense, just brains!!! LOL ;)

Bob, thank you for a wonderful chuckle or two or three today. It is greatly appreciated, I needed them.


Posted by:

Lee I
23 Apr 2014

"And you grumble about having to crawl under your desk… "

Classic!



Posted by:

Adolf
23 Apr 2014

Another example of a Government Official sticking his nose into what is none of their business. What about those nasty loud commercials or all Caps Billboards? There are any visually challenged people who need large print.

As a Dispatcher we were all required to learn how to Deaf People used their machines.

They would use all kinds of abbreviations instead of just typing out their problem. This often caused confusion and delayed response times. There was nothing wrong with their eyesight. They just demanded special treatment, unlike the blind and other handicapped individuals.


Posted by:

John
23 Apr 2014

QUOTE: The most impressive thing about the Stalk Me Nearby Friends app is that it’s not enabled by default; you have to go turn it on in your Facebook Settings.

For how long?

QUOTE: The WallCharger adds two USB-compatible power ports to a standard electrical outlet, enabling you to charge a phone or tablet without unplugging the TV or stereo system. If the WallCharger was incorporated into mandatory building codes, we could do without portable chargers too.

Whoopee do! Another reason for humans to stop thinking about anything. Another reason for people to sit in cafes all bloody day. Another thing which can go wrong ;-)

Gyppo


Posted by:

jason
23 Apr 2014

Love reading these articles


Posted by:

Gar Suitor
23 Apr 2014

"The WallCharger adds two USB-compatible power ports to a standard electrical outlet, enabling you to charge a phone or tablet without unplugging the TV or stereo system. If the WallCharger was incorporated into mandatory building codes, we could do without portable chargers too. "

This would be a good idea ONLY if the charger units consumed no power unless they were charging something. While each "wall wart" only consumes a small amount of power at idle, when you add millions of these things to the grid, all wasting just a watt or two, it soon mounts up to a considerable amount of wasted generating capacity. I'm a firm believer that no device should consume power when it is turned "OFF". Many devices do these days, enough that it is a matter of concern to the power generating facilities. I have everything in my home connected to power strips so that I can shut it off completely when not in use. I bought a "Kill-a-watt" meter, just so I could find out how much power was being wasted. I was shocked - no pun intended - at the results. The cable DVR box alone consumed 36 watts when it was "turned off".


Posted by:

Ed C
23 Apr 2014

Leviton makes a USB 120 volt outlet, it has been around for a while ....

http://www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/SectionDisplay.jsp?section=53874&minisite=10251


Posted by:

Larry Fries
23 Apr 2014

I still cannot comment because this comes up BEFORE I get a chance to read the information.

So, Teacher?/Professor?, did I do good with the grammar and UPPER/lower thing?


Posted by:

Misterfish
23 Apr 2014

Caps lock - for years I suffered from inadvertently touching the caps lock key and upon finishing a line of type discover it was all in caps.

Here is my own solution for others similarly afflicted (including the Anti-caps lock Judge)- I simply levered the caps lock key out of the keyboard, so now no more cursing (in capitals) at the computer for that particular annoyance.

Pity there's no way to commercialise the idea....


Posted by:

Rex Bosse
23 Apr 2014

You DO know that Leviton, U-Socket and Cooper Wiring already offer USB chargers on their outlets, don't you? Granted, I'm only aware of USA-centric outlets, but they're cheaper than WallCharger. A friend remodeled his kitchen a year ago and included those, because he was "strongly advised" to do so by the electrical inspector. You can even buy them at Big Box Stores.


Posted by:

Doug
24 Apr 2014

I always have and continue to wonder why the CAP LOCK IS SO CLOSE TO THE UPPER CASE BUTTON ,,, duh ... causing it to be accidentally hit way too often. How often does anyone want to use the cap lock anyway .... more moronic designers is what I think ... its especially annoying on laptops with their smaller keyboards.
Mandatory USB chargers in wall plugs is dumb... now you would have things charging and laying around all over the place ... dumb ... just plug in a splitter bar and stop being so lame.


Posted by:

geek
24 Apr 2014

the wall charger link is likely harmful

http://labs.sucuri.net/?blacklist=indiegogo.com


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