Geekly Update - 26 August 2015

Category: Tech-News

Quick... what novelist predicted both the smartwatch and mentioned Google by name in 1953? Is it against the law to take a snapshot of your dinner at a fancy restaurant? Why are rubber bands so popular at the Burning Man festival? And robots are HAVING BABIES? 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 had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn't enough. He was right." So wrote crime novel author, Raymond Chandler, in a parody of science fiction penned in 1953, 45 years before Google’s incorporation.

OK, now it’s time to worry about machines evolving faster than humans. A “motherbot” created by Cambridge University geeks builds its own walking childbots, observes how they perform, then redesigns its next offspring with improvements.

Posting snapshots of fancy meals could be crimes under a German law that extends copyright protection to chefs’ unique creations. Should have filed this one under the public decency act.
Geekly Update 08-26-2015

Pot, meet kettle. Facebook rescinded an internship offer to Harvard student Aran Khanna after the computer science major exposed a privacy flaw in the company’s mobile Messenger app that let users track the locations of their “friends.” According to Khanna, Facebook told him that his blog post didn’t meet the company’s “high ethical standards.”

Programmers must constantly learn new languages to remain employable, right? Not if they learned COBOL 50 years ago; the venerable mainframe language still powers much of the financial world and experts in it are in great demand.

British architects are trying to raise $2.9 billion (yes, "Billion" with a "B") in an Indiegogo campaign to build a life-size, functioning replica of Minas Tirith. If you’re not a “Lord of the Rings” fan, you probably don’t need to know more about the gigantic, seven-walled medieval city.

Selfies have civil rights, at least when it’s a selfie of you and the election ballot you marked. A federal judge struck down a New Hampshire law that forbade taking photos in a ballot booth. Plaintiff Andrew Langlois sued after being prosecuted for writing his dog’s name on ballot, photographing it, and displaying the photo online.

Meet the real-life people, male and female, who give Apple’s Siri personal assistant her voices.

Apple Mac users can now install Windows 10 as an alternate OS using the updated “Boot Camp” dual-boot utility.

The UK plans to test “smart” highways that charge the batteries of electric vehicles as they travel via electromagnetic induction. The roads had better be pothole-proof, too.

Patrons of 600 movie theaters owned by Regal Entertainment Group (including United Artists brand) must now submit to searches of purses, backpacks, and even diaper bags that might contain weapons (or reasonably priced Raisinets). If I need more “safety and comfort,” I’ll just stay home and watch Netflix.

Home Depot stores near Black Rock City, Nevada, are stocking up for Burning Man festival patrons. Perennially popular items include water, water, water, coolers, generators, air conditioners, rebar for tent stakes, and… ummm, rubber bands?

“Must be fluent in Java, C++, and Klingon.” Israeli tech firm Zook is running a help-wanted ad written in the alien warrior language familiar only to the most fanatical Star Trek fans.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 26 August 2015"

Posted by:

Howie Watkins
26 Aug 2015

Boot Camp is great and running Windows on a Mac is sometimes very useful. But Boot Camp has limitations compared with the alternatives... I use PARALLELS, a truly marvellous piece of software that allows even a Dummy to painlessly setup and run numerous virtual machines from within MAC OS. The user has full control of what resources the virtual machines can access. Right now I'm working on my Mac and my virtual Win 8.1 PC simultaneously. I might need to fire up XP too in a minute and I might start up UBUNTU just for kicks.

Posted by:

Mac ''n' Cheese
26 Aug 2015

Thanks, Bob. I followed the link and read the interview with the Siri voiceover artists. As a voiceover artist myself (but not one who has ever used or recorded for an Apple product), I found the story fascinating and heartwarming.


Posted by:

26 Aug 2015

@Howie Watkins... I prefer VirtualBox... it does almost everything that Parallels can do, but it's FREE.

Bob, I have a question: Can you tell us how to get a copy of Windows 10? As far as I know, it's only available as an update for Win7 or Win8, but if I want to install it on a machine made by myself (or in my trusty Linux box as a virtual machine), I don't know where or how I can get it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can buy it at

Posted by:

Michael L. McQuown
26 Aug 2015

In the UK, a billion is a million millions, not a thousand millions as it is here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: According to Oxford: "In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English."

Posted by:

27 Aug 2015

@Martin WIndows 10 software is available on Newegg, either full or OEM system builder versions. Win 8 and Win 7 available too.

Posted by:

27 Aug 2015

What is the source of power for the smart highway?
If it's the car's movement relative to the highway, then you are slowing the car while charging it.

Posted by:

27 Aug 2015

I'm trying to remember the last movie I went to see in a theater. . . Airport-style searches aren't making it likely that the next time will be any time soon. Maybe if Morgan Freeman finally gets to make "Rendezvous with Rama".

Posted by:

27 Aug 2015

@ HA
Obviously, the induction coils in the roadbed are being powered by the power grid. (Because burning coal is so much cleaner than burning gasoline.)

Posted by:

27 Aug 2015

@ Michael L. McQuown

I think the main reason the American usage prevailed is because most of the world went with SI units, with each prefix representing a thousandfold increase (or decrease) from the previous one. Ironically, we 'Muricans don't use SI much except for science and bottling, but, at least we got to keep our kind of 'billion'. BTW, while the Brits were calling 10^12 a billion, they were calling 10^9 a 'milliard'.

Posted by:

29 Aug 2015

I used to know COBOL well and earned good money. They are great for accounting and payrolls.Why mess with something extremely well.

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