Geekly Update - 24 December 2014

Category: Tech-News

Is there free WiFi in space? Will personal laser cannons be available soon? Was that a ROBOT sitting in seat 21A on your flight to Frankfurt? And speaking of robots, did I just see a head-mounted camera on a cockroach? 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

“I could use a wrench,” said Barry Wilmore, Commander of the International Space Station, in a radio conversation overheard by Made In Space founder, Mike Chen. So the CAD team at MIS, which built the 3D printer aboard the ISS, quickly whipped up a design file for a wrench, emailed it to Wilmore, and it was printed on the spacecraft.

"Zzzzzzzzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaapp!" The Navy’s new laser weapon system performed so well in tests that it is now approved for use in actual combat defense. It can destroy incoming shells and rockets, drones, helicopters, and even small patrol boats, for less than a dollar per shot. I want one on the hood of my car.

It cost $6,000 to ship a robotic arm the last time German researchers Alexander Herzog and Jeannette Bohg tried it, so when they bought a whole robot from a U.S. firm they just booked “Athena” a flight on Lufthansa. Hilarity ensued as the 6’ 2” ‘bot was wheeled through security and squeezed into a coach seat.
Geekly Update 12-24-2014

A phishing email did some good, for once. A pop-up message on the screen of Wales resident Nigel William Batterham informed him that police had caught him redhanded viewing child porn. Instead of paying the “fine” demanded by the bogus message, Batterham turned himself in to police because he was, indeed, guilty.

An online Spirograph? Yes, please. Change the background and pen colors, number of teeth on fixed and rotating parts, roll the gear around and watch the geometric shape appear. Then erase or download your creation. You may need a second refrigerator.

The world’s fastest WiFi hotspot costs $100,000. It also goes from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Tesla Motors and Telstra, an Australian 3G carrier, have teamed up to give free Internet service to Tesla Model S buyers. A 17-inch tablet in the console of the car controls everything and communicates with GPS, Google Maps, etc.

If you fall asleep in front of the TV, the KipstR wrist heart rate monitor will pause your TiVO playback until you wake up. Invented by two teenagers, the device could measure emotional responses to shows and help Netflix recommend others that get your heart racing.

The U.S. Navy’s “Ghostswimmer” drone looks and moves exactly like a five-foot shark. Other animal-mimicking military robots include the “Cheetah” which can run at 30 mph, the Stickybot that climbs walls and ceilings like a gecko, and the scariest of all: the cockroach-inspired iSprawl that can scurry 7.5 feet per second.

"Yes, but does it come when you call it?" BMW’s prototype Remote Parking Assistant takes the valet out of valet parking. Activate it via an app after exiting your vehicle and it uses sensors built into the car to navigate parking lot obstacles and pull into a space. Then it locks the car. No tipping, no joyrides.

"Roll over, but don't play dead." T-mobile introduced rollover data in its latest Un-Carrier 8.0 plan. Starting with 10 GB of “free” data, bytes roll over to the next month if they go unused. Reselling used electrons is a great way to make money.

Strawberry forests forever? The “Strawberry Tree” is a solar-powered, 16-port cell phone charger with free WiFi and USB sockets that doubles as a public rest area. Created by Milos Milisavljevic of Serbai, it was the only non-American entry in the Verge Accelerate startup competition in San Francisco at the end of October… and it won.

"These are not the droids results you're looking for..." Facebook has dumped Bing as its external search engine. The bigger story is that Facebook thinks the rest of the world is irrelevant. "We're not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we're focused on helping people find what's been shared with them on Facebook," said a Facebook spokesperson.

European police are crying “no fair” about the Target Blu Eye “emergency vehicle alert” system that detects the encrypted radio communications used by cops, fire fighters, and other emergency vehicles. The device issues visible and audible alerts when it detects such signals (but does not decipher them), enabling drivers to slow down or crooks to make their escape.

Sprint drew a $105 million fine from the FCC for “cramming” bogus premium service charges onto its customers’ phone bills. That figure ties the record fine levied against AT&T last October for the very same thing. Maybe it’s not such a great idea to let third-party marketers directly access your billing systems, especially when you don’t monitor them at all.

When will they ever learn? After lobbying successfully for a law that requires Google News to pay newspapers for displaying snippets of articles, the Spanish newspaper publishers association is now screaming for government to “do something” about Google excluding them from Google News.

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 24 December 2014"

Posted by:

GeorgeY
25 Dec 2014

Bob, Merry Christmas to you and your family! I really enjoy your articles. I do believe that Milos is from Serbia not "Serbai" as printed above. Soon it'll be Happy New Year and keep up the great work.


Posted by:

nana
02 Jan 2015

I know I'm late in reading your news but just had to tell you this was such a good "newsy" piece. I can't imagine the time you put into gathering and sorting all this for our enjoyment. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy new year and looking forward to more great info.


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