Geekly Update - 27 April 2023 (What is reality?)

Category: Tech-News

Can a virus enter your smartphone via the charging port? How can you tell a deepfake video from the real thing? Have you been impacted by a recent data breach? And is it possible to jumpstart your car without a battery? 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

KrebsOnSecurity, the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission are warning about "juice jacking" -- the potential for data theft when using a public charging kiosk to juice up your smartphone. “Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers,” the FBI’s Denver office warned. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.” Who knew Charlie Sheen was into computers?

MIT Technology Review says "Despite its charms, AI is little more than an excellent liar." As AI language models get more sophiticated, they learn to generate text that is more fluent, convincing, and coherent. But unfortunately they are not becoming more trustworthy. "They're just betting better at sounding like they're telling the truth."

Back in 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a video interview that “a Model S and Model X, at this point, can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person.” Or did he? Tesla lawyers, in a bid to keep CEO Elon Musk from testifying in a wrongful death lawsuit, are making the dubious claim that Musk's past statements about the safety of Tesla self-driving technology might be deepfakes. The judge in the case was not amused.

Geekly Update 04-27-2023

On a related note, Wired says: "Brace Yourself for the 2024 Deepfake Election." Technology has made it possible to create convincing (but fake) videos of public figures. It's going to get harder and harder to know what's real.

"You don’t want to fall for this..." The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a smart TV scam. Any connected device, the article reminds us, is potentially a vector for scammers to attack. And your smart TV is just another computer connected to the Internet. BBB's Scam Tracker says scammers are using pop-ups on smart TVs to trick people into calling a phone number or visiting a website, and then get your credit card number. In some cases, the scammers have installed malware on smart TVs.

ZDNet has some tips on avoiding identity theft, and how to find out if you've been impacted the latest data breaches.

Battery-less jump starters are the latest gadget to help you out when your car won't start. Unlike portable battery jump starters that need to be charged before they can be used, the battery-less models actually work by drawing small amounts of power from your almost-dead battery, feeding that into ultracapacitors which boost the charge and then feed it back into the battery.

If you're looking for an alternative to Roku, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is $20 off right now. The Fire TV Stick can connect your TV to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and others streaming services.

Did you know the iPhone 14 has satellite connectivity? You can't make a phone call in the desert, but the Satellite Rescue Feature on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models does allow you to summon help by sending a text message to via satellite, even when there is no cellular signal. The "Find My" app can also be used to share your location with emergency services via satellite.

And finally, this week's Just Here For the Headline: Meta’s avatars are getting new body shapes and improved hair. If the Metaverse doesn't have good hair, I want no part of it.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 27 April 2023 (What is reality?)"

Posted by:

28 Apr 2023

When you can't tell whats real, it's called schizophrenia.

Posted by:

28 Apr 2023

Bob, here is what the Electronic Frontier Foundation says about the charger warning; posted at their url.

Be Skeptical of FBI Warnings About Phone Chargers

Posted by:

28 Apr 2023

Correction: Paragraph #2 says "They're just betting better at...". It should obviously be "Getting better".

Correction: re ZDNet, says "been impacted the latest", but it should say "been impacted BY the latest".

Good newsletter, as always!

Posted by:

wild bill
28 Apr 2023

Thanks, J, for the link. I was suspicious of the juice-jacking warning.
Bob, I have to wonder: if your battery has 100 joules but your engine needs 1000 joules to start, what magic in a box can accomplish the task?

Posted by:

28 Apr 2023

Most juice-jacking horror stories are BS.
Airport charging stations, and such, do NOT have data wires; only power wires.
USB has 4 wires, 2 for power and a separate 2 for Data.
Most charging ports are ONLY the 2 power wires.

Posted by:

28 Apr 2023

The Fire Stick may be on sale, but

Roku has a lot of their own free shows, plus free live Roku TV with hundreds of channels.

Does the Amazon product carry that free Roku streaming?

Posted by:

Russell Baldwin
28 Apr 2023

To those who noted spelling errors... It was just Bob testing AI out and seeing if we would notice... :). Part of his fun and informative articles! The battery booster has me curious too... although perhaps with the correct electronics in place, It supplies a one time 'jolt' that perhaps is enough to give a one start chance?

Posted by:

29 Apr 2023

To "wild bill":
For your example, the box won't work. It's for the case where the battery still has enough joules, but not enough volts.

Posted by:

wild bill
01 May 2023

For BillP my argument is to the idea that if battery power is expressed as voltage times current then no magic can increase the voltage without decreasing the current unless some external energy source is involved. Using the battery to charge a capacitor bank to a higher voltage is fine but does not increase the net available power. You actually can't lift yourself by your bootstraps. Now, if the capacitor bank could upconvert all the battery energy and then deliver it sustained for the starting period, it might get things started but the explanation that is given would be like taking a nearly empty glass and by pouring the contents into a different glass and then back somehow increase the volume. Nope.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 27 April 2023 (What is reality?) (Posted: 27 Apr 2023)
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