nGeekly Update - 07 August 2019

Category: Tech-News

How likely are you to get a slice of the 700 million dollars that Equifax has set aside for consumers harmed by their massive data breach? We know e-cigarettes are loaded with 20 times the nicotine of tobacco cigs, but are they spying on you, too? And which one of Verizon's new 'unlimited' mobile plans will cost you more and give you less? 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

I reported a few weeks ago that Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million in damages as a result of the massive 2017 data breach that exposed sensitive data of 147 million Americans. It turns out that only $31 million is allocated to individuals who were harmed by the breach. The FTC says “millions” of consumers have already filed a claim online, making likely payouts in the single digits. The agency says consumers would be better off taking Equifax's free credit monitoring offer instead.

If you think vaping is a healthy alternative to regular cigarettes, think again. The FDA warns that vaping could lead to a teenage "addiction epidemic," and says teenagers who vape are more likely to start smoking tobacco. So e-cig vendor Juul has released a new product, the Juul C1, that will monitor users when they vape, and incorporates facial recognition tech to verify the user's age.

Tesla's “Dog Mode” is supposed to keep pets cool while their owners pop into the Whole Foods market for grain-free kibble and spiced pumpkin doggie biscuits. But a software flaw could cause drivers to accidentally deactivate it. Instead of referring to this as “Hot Dog Mode”, the company tweeted that Tesla was fixing the problem.

Geekly Update 08-07-2019

After one failed attempt, French inventor Frank Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel on his jet-powered hoverboard. The trip from Sangatte, France to Dover, England took only 22 minutes including a pit stop at the halfway mark to refuel. The Flyboard Air, which reminds me of the fictional hoverboard in "Back to the Future" can reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Google, Apple, and Amazon are starting to get real about voice privacy -- but not because they want to. After lots of negative press, and pressure from the EU, Apple and Google will no longer have humans "reviewing" what their voice-enabled devices hear you say. Amazon will offer an opt-out setting to Alexa users.

This just in from the "I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means" Department: Verizon has four new "unlimited" offerings which are even more confusing than the three plans previously available. It turns out they are more limited than before, and if you switch you'll lose any corporate discounts you currently have. DroidLife helps you decide if one of the new plans is right for you. (See also: related video clip)

The “get voicemail via message” feature in Google Voice has become the latest victim of the robocall scourge. The feature allowed users to forward voicemail transcripts to their phone via text message. But a Google rep says "certain carriers are blocking the delivery of these messages because they are automated and, at times, contain unsolicited robocall transcripts. We can no longer ensure these messages will be delivered, so unfortunately we are turning (off) the feature."

Google's Advanced Protection Program will provide another layer of safety for those who download often. Users will see warnings for some download attempts, and some will be blocked automatically. The goal is to make it harder for cyber-scammers to trick you into downloading malware onto your computer. Sounds like a good thing if you have a family member prone to clicking anything with an HREF.

Bring on the robo-chargers. Volkswagen is partnering with an electric vehicle charging startup to eliminate human intervention from the re-charging process. If robots are going to drive, they might as well do this as well. I'll buy a self-driving car when it comes with a coffee maker and onboard porta-potty. Then I'll never have to stop at all.

Is traffic congestion getting worse in cities due to the popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft? According to a study commissioned by the two firms, the answer is yes. And so...?

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

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Most recent comments on "nGeekly Update - 07 August 2019"

Posted by:

Granville Alley
07 Aug 2019

As to the Equifax Settlement, several things - First as to the $125 Cash Payment, yes that is illusory, yes it is limited to a total of $31 Million Dollars and yes that means people if they elect the cash option will receive far less than $125. So the 10 Year Free Credit Monitoring is probably the better deal for that section of the Settlement.

One further note in this regard, if you are concerned you are going to receive 10 Years Credit Monitoring from Equifax (the very party that caused or allowed the Data Breach, this is not the case at least not entirely. The first 4 years of Credit Monitoring is a 3 Bureau Monitoring Service from an Equifax Competitor, only after that expires do you have 6 additional years of Single Bureau Monitoring from Equifax. Also note, the Breach was of Equifax's Credit Bureau Information Database not its Credit Monitoring Services, which s why it impacts so many people.

But on to the Settlement. The Settlement is composed of 3 parts, the first is the either/or $125 Maximum (if 248,000 or fewer claim it) or 10 Year Credit Monitoring. The 2nd Component is compensation for up to 20 Hours of your time at $25 Per Hour for Credit Exposure or Risk Assessment and Actions you take to minimize or mitigate those risks. Under this section a Claimant can claim up to ten (10) Hours at $25 an hour without any documentation other than your sworn statement saying how many hours you spent and what you were doing to mitigate the damage.

For example, if you spent 3 Hours Searching the Web for your exposed date, another 2 Hours trying to find a suitable and reliable Service to monitor or protect your credit and 5 Hours changing passwords and security questions on the many websites that you log into regularly or irregularly to mitigate your exposure, you would have 10 Hours at $25 an Hour or $250 Cash coming to you just by stating on the Settlement Website's online form without requiring any further documentation. If you actually can show you opened or closed accounts, purchased or reviewed Credit Monitoring Services, etc. for another 10 Hours you can document you can receive another $250 for a total of $500.

In addition to that you can claim up to $20,000 for actual damages or actual out of pocket expenditures caused by either the Breach or your attempts to mitigate damage from the Breach. This would include for example: Any Fees for Credit Monitoring Services you paid since the Breach, Say $20 a Month for LifeLock for example and $150 for Credit Service Monitoring from an Equifax competitor or Equifax itself. It would also include any costs incurred due to accounts being exposed, credit being taken out wrongfully in your name and cost associated with correcting the same. Up to $20,000 total.

Both of the latter sums are not subject to the $31 Million Dollar Cap on level one claims and are additions to not in lieu of level one claims. You can make claims on all three levels and the latter two levels are capped only by the overall Settlement Amount of $700 Million dollars plus.

I believe almost anyone that change any passwords can at a minimum legitimately claim the 10 Hours at $25 an Hour or $250 plus the 10 Years Free Credit Monitoring and it takes minimal effort to claim both. I would add that most Husbands and Wives can make individual claims each so most couples could rightfully receive $250 Each plus 10 Years Credit Monitoring Each. If you took steps or incurred costs and you can document that your can claim up to $250 More (10 more Hours Documented) Plus any actual out of pocket costs.

So the settlement as a whole is not illusory at all, in my opinion and unlike many such settlements is not limited to useless coupons or discounts but rather pays actual real cash or actual real services or both.

Posted by:

Granville Alley
08 Aug 2019

I mentioned the last regarding discounts and coupons because my personal experience has been that many Class Action Law Suit Settlement Agreements provide huge fees for the lawyers involved, inflated by totally illusory "huge dollar assigned value" often in the hundreds of millions of dollars "stated value" that are actually merely coupons or supposed discounts you receive only if you buy directly from the offending company and the stated discounts are off list prices so that often the "savings" don't even get you down to the regular price you can find everyday for the same product.

But the Lawyers Fees are based on the "Hundreds of Millions of Dollars" of benefits to consumers (that are actually totally non-existentso they receive actual cash of Millions, Tens of Millions or sometimes Hundreds of Millions of Dollars and are the only ones who actually receive anything of value. The Offending Company meanwhile effectively only ends up paying the Class Action's Counsel and to the extent they honor coupons of discounts gets direct sales at more than their normal wholesale price. Now that is a scam.

Posted by:

08 Aug 2019

I suggest, Bob, that you implement a maximum-length for comments as well as a possible limit of how many times a person can submit a comment within one particular session.

Posted by:

Wild Bill
09 Aug 2019

Its called an RV, Bob. All we need is the self-driving feature and we're home. (Have to empty the sewage tank every so often.)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ha, that's quite right!

Posted by:

10 Aug 2019

"exposed sensitive data of 147 Americans." Only 147 Americans? Boy are they gonna get a lot of that $31 million!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Oops, should have been 147 MILLION. :-)

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