Geekly Update - 23 October 2019

Category: Tech-News

Do online simulations of cosmetic surgery have a negative impact on your mental health? Can a new app use your horoscope to predict winners in the stock market? Does cord cutting lead to loss of privacy? And how environmentally friendly are electric vehicles? Get answers in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Would you like to know how you would look after cosmetic surgery? Instgram says that might make you sad, so they are banning augmented reality filters that depict or promote lip injections, facelifts or other types of cosmetic surgery.

The BBC says electric cars aren't as "green" as you may think. Much of the lithium needed to make batteries for EVs comes from salt flats in Argentina. But lithium extraction requires huge quantities or water, a very scarce resource in the region. Oh, and where does all that electricity needed to run those cars come from? Yep, fossil fuels.

Unlike other single-network mobile providers, Google Fi gives you access to three networks (Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular) and automatically connects you to the fastest network available, based on your location and signal strength. Until now, switching from one network to another caused a noticeable "hiccup" in the connection. But Google's latest smartphone, the Pixel 4, has a "Dual Sim Dual Standby" feature that connects to two networks at once, so switching from one network to another happens without any delays or pauses.

Geekly Update 10-23-2019

A new app called Bull & Moon uses your astrological sign to offer up a custom stock portfolio. At least they got the "bull" part right.

Quantum Leap or Flop? Last month a Google/NASA research paper was "leaked" which contained details of a computer said to achieve "Quantum Supremacy." Google says their quantum computer performed a calculation in 200 seconds that would take over 10,000 years on a classical computer. But IBM, also feverishly working on quantum computing tech, says the test was flawed, and that Google's quantum computer has no practical applications.

According to a report in Fast Company, popular streaming apps such as Roku and Amazon Fire collect viewing data that advertisers can associate with specific users, and sell that data (sometimes including email addresses) to Google, Facebook, and others. Further, privacy settings that are supposed to limit data collection don't always work as promised.

Security researcher Brian Krebs reports that software providers Avast and NordVPN experienced network intrusions. Carelessly maintained user accounts granted hackers access to internal systems for several months. Both companies are downplaying the impact of the breaches, but Krebs underscores the point that these intruders could have been stopped by using two-factor authentication.

Researchers at Security Research Labs have found new ways for hackers to exploit holes in Amazon Alexa and Google Home security, allowing malicious actors to eavesdrop on conversations or launch phishing attacks. The researchers used programming interfaces provided by Amazon and Google to create voice apps to demonstrate the hacks, turning Alexa and Google Home into "Smart Spies" instead of helpful digital assistants.

The U.S. Air Force has finally replaced "unhackable" 8-inch floppy disks used for decades as part of their nuclear emergency broadcast system. The aging floppies were replaced with solid state drives, which are presumably more hackable.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act that would create a small claims court where graphic artists, photographers, and other content creators can more easily sue infringers. Not so fast, though, say the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. Your average internet user could be sued for simply sharing a meme.

Microsoft announced a new feature in its Windows Defender antivirus tool, which aims to block malware from disabling the security software. Tamper Protection is available only on Windows 10 systems, and does not apply to third-party antivirus applications.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 23 October 2019"

Posted by:

David P. Lagesse
23 Oct 2019

NONE of that so-called “Green Energy” is actually GREEN!
The energy used to mine, refine, smelter, and all of the manufacturing and construction processes involved in building a wind tower, then the great gobs of lubricating oil to keep it running, and other maintenance costs, can never be replaced by the energy produced in the wind towers’ own lifetime. Net energy production is minus zero! Then there are the subsequent bird, bat, and butterfly deaths.

Solar panels and lithium batteries for electric car production and the final disposal at the end-of-life, all involve using highly toxic, rare-earth heavy metals, and highly dangerous chemicals that cannot be recycled.
Solar panels use indium, gallium and other so-called “rare earth” elements. These substances not only are scarce but are supplied largely by foreign countries, with China mining more than 90 percent of the rare earths needed for batteries in hybrid cars, magnets, electronics, and other high-tech products. Other solar panels use copper indium gallium diselenide photovoltaic technology.

Environmental Impacts of Solar Power
“Solar panels may be an appealing choice for clean energy, but they harbor more than their share of toxic chemicals. The toxic chemicals are a problem at the beginning of a solar panel’s life -- during its construction -- and at the end of its life when it is disposed of. These two intervals are times when toxic chemicals can enter into the environment.


Posted by:

Bob K
23 Oct 2019

I run an ad blocker here. That is my choice.

Some sites don't like it, but give me the choice to permit their sites thru.

But the Forbes site doesn't allow me to access their stuff unless I turn the ad blocker completely off. I am not willing to do that.

Makes me wonder what else they may be up to.


Posted by:

Gene
23 Oct 2019

OK, let's try this again without the "less than" symbol...

"Oh, and where does all that electricity needed to run those cars come from? Yep, fossil fuels."

Speak for yourself. The public utility district I'm on has less than 1% fossil fuel sourced electricity. Our sources are 90% hydro, 9% nuclear, and 1% "other"; "other" is divided among central solar, distributed solar, wind, coal, and oil/natural gas.


Posted by:

Bill C
23 Oct 2019


Gene......So you live near a dam, lucky you.

What about the other 98% of the world?


Posted by:

Jay R
23 Oct 2019

These days, a person is lucky to live close to a dam. The other four letter words are all too common. Know what I mean, Vern?


Posted by:

db
23 Oct 2019

@Gene and Bill C - Hydroelectric power includes both massive hydroelectric dams and small run-of-the-river plants, but it is unlikely that new facilities will be added to the existing US fleet in the future.

Hydropower does not pollute the water or the air. However, hydropower facilities can have large environmental impacts by changing the environment and affecting land use, homes, and natural habitats in the dam area.

Fish Ladder at the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River Separating Washington and Oregon.Most hydroelectric power plants have a dam and a reservoir. These structures may obstruct fish migration and affect their populations. Operating a hydroelectric power plant may also change the water temperature and the river's flow. These changes may harm native plants and animals in the river and on land.

Reservoirs may cover people's homes, important natural areas, agricultural land, and archeological sites. So building dams can require relocating people. Methane, a strong greenhouse gas, may also form in some reservoirs and be emitted to the atmosphere.


Posted by:

Emily Booth
23 Oct 2019

I love Google Fi. I use a TracFone which could not be used in Canada. After much research, i decided to use Google Fi. It meant buying a 2nd cell phone. I got the Motorola G6 off eBay. It also meant getting a 2nd cell phone number. I plan on using both the phone &number for travel outside the US. No roaming fees. I ended up paying $35 for 4 days of travel. Not bad. TracFone is still cheaper within the US. Google Fi is great for travel. Loved the Motorola G6.


Posted by:

Emily Booth
23 Oct 2019

I love Google Fi. I use a TracFone which could not be used in Canada. After much research, i decided to use Google Fi. It meant buying a 2nd cell phone. I got the Motorola G6 off eBay. It also meant getting a 2nd cell phone number. I plan on using both the phone &number for travel outside the US. No roaming fees. I ended up paying $35 for 4 days of travel. Not bad. TracFone is still cheaper within the US. Google Fi is great for travel. Loved the Motorola G6.


Posted by:

Robert A.
23 Oct 2019

Gee. I ran a an IQ test after reading this column, and the best I could come up with is 144.62873% smarter than before reading it! ;-)


Posted by:

john
23 Oct 2019

RE: Why cord cutting is a privacy minefield

That's why you use Ublock-Orgin, Privacy Possum, and a VPN.

Maybe one day Bob will have an article on Privacy protection which includes VPN and adblocker & tracker blocker addons for Chrome and Firefox.


Posted by:

Coco
24 Oct 2019

John, can you explain how using UBlock-Origin, Privacy Possum and a VPN, gives you better privacy when using a Roku or Amazon Fire device?? I just read this whole post, so I'm 146% smarter than I was before hand and I still can't figure that one out!! Thanks.


Posted by:

john
24 Oct 2019

@COCO,
My Firestick has all three installed. Amazon does not know what I am streaming. It also does not know what I am searching for or was searching for.


Posted by:

john
24 Oct 2019

@coco I probably should have added, I do not use any Amazon apps, all my apps are third party not associated with Amazon or Google.


Posted by:

Brad
24 Oct 2019

Well, I tried several times to (turn on) the Tamper Protection feature, unable to even find this option on my windows 10
That said, my system is fully updated.
Oh well.....


Posted by:

FrancesMC
27 Oct 2019

Where I live, our electricity comes from nuclear (50%), hydro (about 25%), then gas, with small amounts of wind and solar. Agreed that none of it is purely green.


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