Geekly Update - 27 December 2018

Category: Tech-News

Billionaire inventor Elon Musk is best known for his part in creating Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX. So why is he digging tunnels under Los Angeles? Which voice-powered artificially intelligent digital assistant is the smartest? And are are those home DNA tests a huge privacy risk? 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

Google Assistant is still smarter than Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, but Apple’s personal assistant shows great improvement. Researchers asked the voice-enabled gadgets a series of 800 questions. Google Assistant answered correctly 88 percent of the time. Siri and Alexa got it right 75 and 72 percent, respectively. Microsoft's Cortana trailed the pack, answering correctly only 63% of the time.

Elon Musk's vision of high-speed underground highways with 16-passenger vehicles moving at 150 mph seems to have hit a bump in the road. The latest prototype was “like riding on a dirt road” according to journalists who described their trip through Elon Musk’s "Loop" tunnel beneath Los Angeles; and that was at 30-35 mph.

If you received a 23-and-Me or AncestryDNA kit for Christmas your best bet may be to throw it away. Home DNA tests were the best-selling non-Amazon-branded item on Amazon during this year’s Cyber Monday buying frenzy. But the tests are wildly inaccurate, unregulated, and you don’t know who will buy your test results.

Windows 10 will soon reboot your PC immediately after updating, an option that no user has ever requested but Microsoft thinks you should have.

Geekly Update 12-27-2019

It's nice to share, as long as you're sharing something that belongs to you. But Facebook hasn't gotten that message yet. In their latest privacy debacle, Facebook shared user data with Amazon so that the latter could better enforce its product review policies, although some might object to the word “better.” (See also: Wired Magazine's 21 Biggest Facebook Scandals of 2018.)

Internet access customers of Charter Communications will be getting cash refunds and months of free premium channels thanks to New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s settlement of a lawsuit alleging Charter defrauded it subscribers.

Fast, accurate, idiotproof blood pressure reading are possible on the go, thanks to the Heartguide smartwatch which incorporates an inflatable pressure band just like the one at your doctor’s office.

Hacking your own insulin pump is surprisingly easy, and the benefits are substantial. People with Type 1 diabetes can use the DIY method to make their pumps adjust insulin levels automatically and more precisely.

Amazon is overhauling its inventories of soft drinks, snack foods, and other product types known as “CRaP,” for “Can’t Realize a Profit.” That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy CRaP on Amazon; it will just be shipped by its makers instead of from Amazon warehouses, or moved to Prime Pantry which makes shoppers fill a box with small, inexpensive items before it will be shipped.

Here is a free service that quickly removes the background from an image you upload. For now, there must be at least one person in the image, but in the future it may support other kinds of images as well. The original images are deleted from the remote server within an hour.

The threat to free speech posed by automated DMCA takedown systems is highlighted in this case of a game developer who carpet-bombed a YouTube celeb with admittedly bogus copyright infringement claims just to silence him.

An autonomous delivery robot caught fire while rolling around the campus of UC-Berkeley. Manufacturer Kiwibot calls it “human error” that a replacement battery was defective. Maybe they shouldn't be used to transport hot wings.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 27 December 2018"

Posted by:

GuitarRebel
27 Dec 2018

I just used the image background remover and wow! It works like a charm.
Thanks, Bob.


Posted by:

Bart
27 Dec 2018

Insulin pumps are not easy to hack, unless you get an old one. Current pumps are not usable this way. Even if you can do the hack, you need enough know-how to program it correctly, as far as insulin dosing.


Posted by:

johnnieberesolute
27 Dec 2018

I use Microsoft products and MS compatible third party programs for the most part. It is my opinion that MS uses strong tactics to get its way. It is my computer. Why can't I determine a few things? Also, Win 10 is becoming bloatware in many respects. They keep adding featuires I do not want and will never use. How many gigs and how big of a drive will it take just to hold and then boot Win 10? I do not like automatic updates. I want to know that the update has actually been applied. But this pattern of doing everything the developers' way is systemic in computer programming. So many useful programs will not play nice with other useful programs, because the original author thinks his is better than anything else. I know your opinion of MalwareBytes, and I have a lifetime license for it. But MalwareBytes flags legitimate and useful programs as PUPs on my
computer. They just refuse to take the time to check out those programs.


Posted by:

mike wax
27 Dec 2018

as an inventor, Elon Musk should know how stupid, spoiled, and childish american consumers are, including journalists. He should know that the concept of "unfinished" and "work-in-progress" are beyond the cognitive grasp of their primitive brains. You have to have this thing called Human Imagination to understand when he says "i know it's not perfect, but it will be when..." Elon, you can't use the future tense with these people.


Posted by:

gene
27 Dec 2018

Tunnels under LA where at any moment an earthquake could make you a permanent underground resident. Great idea. I'm not going down there. Ever.


Posted by:

Sarah L
27 Dec 2018

The Ancestry DNA test yields an ethnicity profile, and the profile changes when there are more data available to compare people. The second thing it yields are possible matches with other Ancestry members who have taken the test. Those matches are identified by user names, so a person can be as private as they desire.


Posted by:

KENNETH HEIKKILA
28 Dec 2018

I agree with Sarah L. Nothing I read in this article made me regret using an Ancestry.com DNA test. I have made contact with relatives I have not been able to locate any other way and they are totally up front about the accuracy of their database which as Sarah L points out (and in my experience over the few years since I first took the test) has improved demonstrably.


Posted by:

Greg
28 Dec 2018

Perhaps you take a DNA test, then years later Police show up at your door with a warrant, arresting you for MURDER.
You know you are innocent, and even the Police KNOW you are innocent, but they want your help in identifying a distant relative. Charging you with murder is the most expeditious way to ensure your assistance and compliance.
Enjoy you kit, while it lasts.


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