Geekly Update - 28 January 2015
Kittens are exploding... is it the Internet's revenge on stupid cat videos? Can you charge your cell phone with a butane lighter? What familiar amenity won't be on your next flight? And are you fully prepared for the upcoming leap second? 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
Love is 3-dimensional: A husband saved his wife’s vision with a 3D printer and lots of persistence. Using MRI images, Michael Balzer printed a model of Pamela’s skull and the tumor that was misdiagnosed as slow-growing. He shopped it around the world until finding a Pittsburgh doctor who removed the tumor using a novel technique enabled by the 3D model.
Kitty go boom: Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal satirical cartoons site, is crowdfunding a game in which players choose cards until one gets a “kitten” card; then that player explodes and is out of the game. Exploding Kittens reached its $10,000 goal in 8 minutes and blew past $2 million in a single day.
Better charge your phone before boarding: You won't have that SkyMall catalog to entertain you any more. The in-flight shopping catalog of things like the Solafeet Foot Tanner and the NFL Shoe Wine Holder, blames in-flight WiFi and e-commerce for forcing it into bankruptcy.
Cellular-on-a-stick: Rural residents tired of waiting for cell phone towers can now build their own cellular network access points for under $6,000. The Endaga CCN1 is a microwave oven-sized box that you just plug in to power and the Internet and mount on a pole or tree. Voila: 2G cellular service for up to 1,000 users within six miles.
Yes, but can it slice carrots?: An unlikely partnership between researchers in China and the State of Georgia promises an unlikely outcome: a keyboard that knows who’s typing on it and can lock out strangers. It also generates its own power from keystrokes and is designed without crumb-catching crannies.
Gas-powered smartphone: The Kraftwerk is a palm-fitting portable power plant that can charge an iPhone 11 times before needing recharging itself. It’s based on innovative fuel cell technology that uses the same butane gas in cigarette lighters.
Umm, which back door are we talking about here?: UK Prime Minister David Cameron promises to ban encrypted messaging services unless they provide "back doors" for law enforcement.
Blast from the past: Did you know the first Consumer Electronics Show occurred in 1967? Here are some photos from the CES’s of the 60s and 70s.
Blast from the future: A 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated featured an interview with an AT&T engineer who predicted touchtone dialing, pocket-sized mobile phones, full-color video calls, ringtones, Siri, FaceTime, and Google Voice numbers that can be kept for life. Obviously I have a bit of reading to catch up on.
The weakest link: Which federal government agency is the worst at practicing cyber security? Why, it's DHS, the one charged with protecting the nation against cyber attacks, of course.
#TPemergency: A VirginTrains passenger identified only as “Adam” discovered too late that the lavatory stall he had selected was out of toilet paper. But like many people, Adam takes his smartphone with him everywhere. Desperately, or perhaps ingeniously, he Tweeted to @VirginTrains his location and predicament. “We’ll send someone down to you,” came the prompt reply, and very soon a gentleman “looking quite worried in a full black suit carrying (a) toilet roll” knocked on Adam’s door.
Practice makes perfect: A computer program so adept at Fixed-limit Heads-Up Texas Hold ‘Em poker that it cannot be beaten by a human player has been developed by researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada. Previous card-playing programs have beaten human players consistently, but only in games where both players know all the cards dealt. The program, named Cepheus, developed the optimal strategy by playing 24 trillion hands of poker per second for two months.
Gimme a second, please: Expect a growing drumbeat of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) from now until June 30, 2015. On that date, at 11:59 p.m. and 60 seconds, a leap second will be added to atomic clocks worldwide. FUD-mongers are already hyping the chaos this caused in 2012, when Qantas Airlines flights were delayed by confused computers, Amazon.com was down for two hours, and Gizmodo was offline for a whole 45 minutes. Hopefully, these and the few other victims have applied the fixes for “leap second” that have long existed.
Perpetual Mendacity Machine: Vaporware – products that do not and never will exist – is not uncommon at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. But a perpetual motion machine takes this year’s top prize. Watch AuroraTek’s William Alek try to explain how his very special electrical transformer puts out more energy than is put into it, using the “negative time domain” to get around physics’ First Law of Thermodynamics.
Beam me up: Over 130,000 pages of declassified UFO records are now on the Web at The Black Vault. UFO enthusiast John Greenewald spent two decades filling FOIA requests and compiling this database.
Your thoughts on these topics have already been recorded in a top-secret database in Utah. Post your comment or question below, so those of us who lack the proper security clearance will know what you're thinking...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Jan 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 28 January 2015 (Posted: 28 Jan 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved