Sanitizing Your Cellphone With UV Light?

Demand for high-tech solutions to sanitizing our devices completely and in a way that is safe for our devices has increased greatly. One company, PhoneSoap, has developed a device intended to completely sanitize your cellphone along with other person items like keys and credit cards.

The PhoneSoap 3 device allows one to disinfect your phone and other small personal items with ultra-violet light. The PhoneSoap 3 cost $80.

It also employs reflective technology on the inside of the device to make sure all surfaces of the cellphone and other items are being sanitized on all sides.

While this might sound like science fiction to some, UV rays are being used not just for techy people’s smart phones. Hospitals are now using UV light to sanitize facemasks worn by nurses and doctors to help extend the useful lifespan of masks that may be in short supply.

UV light attacks viruses and bacteria at their core—their DNA—and kills them. This allows medical staff to get three uses out of a mask which are typically single use. It also now allows you to safely sterilize your hand held personal items w/o gunking them up with disinfectants or having to remember to carry alcohol swabs with you.

EBay Sells eBay Classifieds for $9.2 Billion

EBay’s classified ads business, one of the oldest businesses on the internet, just sold to Adevinta (Norway) for $9.2 billion in order for them to create the largest online classifieds company.

Today classifieds online aren’t a huge business. Only about 3% of the $125 billion online advertising market (2019 according to Interactive Advertising Bureau).

However, in their day Craigslist and what became eBay Classifieds were some of the largest on the web.

EBay Classifieds Group was started 25 years ago as the AuctionWeb. EBay’s classifieds business was once known as DBA which was a popular, Danish all-classifieds newspaper that started publishing in the 1970s far before the idea that everyone would have a network connected computer in their home was commonplace. It decided to give the web a go in 1995.

EBay bought DBA along with lots of other similar businesses in 2008 to form the eBay Classifieds Group. However, classifieds weren’t ever at the center of eBay’s profit ambitions and in the first quarter of 2020 accounted for just 10% of the company’s total revenue.

Now, among a growing group of other non-central businesses like Skype, PayPal and StubHub, eBay decided to dump another branch of its business as it struggles to keep up with its primary and much larger rival Amazon.

 

Apple News, News+ Adding Audio and More

Apple has announced that will being to create its own daily news overview podcats, Apple News Today. Former WNYC hosts Durate Geraldino and Shumita Basu have been hired been hired as co-hosts. Apple News Today will run Mondays-Fridays in the morning and will be filed in Apple’s News and Podcast apps. The 10-minute podcast will attempt to brief listeners on the day’s news.

The company is also going to be creating audio versions of print stories. These will be available in Apple News+, Apple’s subscription service that gives users access to top magazines and newspapers.

Apple’s writers and editors will create about 20 audio stories a week, according to Apple. These will be narrated by professional voice actors, though there is no word on them hiring “names you would know.” This service will only be available through the Apple News+ subscription.

Apple will also add an Audio tab to its News app. This is where users will find the Apple News Today podcast and the new audio stories. Apple’s new audio features will also be available on their CarPlay system.

Apple also announced that users will have more access to local news through both Apple News and News+. The areas will include Houston, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

News+ subscribers will also have access to seven local papers: The Idaho Statesman, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, The News & Observer, the State and The Sacramento Bee.

New Research Finds Potential Security Risk in Internet Based Home Monitoring Cameras

A new study found that some popular home security cameras could alert a tech savvy burglar whether you are home or not. The researchers claim they could tell not only if someone was home but perhaps even what they are doing by looking just at the data uploaded by the camera and not even the actual footage.

The study was conducted by Queen Mary University of London and the Chinese Academy of Science. They used data provided by a large Chinese manufacturer of IP security cameras. Consumers use the cameras to remotely monitor their homes via a video feed over the internet.

The study found that the unencrypted data upload increased when a camera was recording movement. And that they could even tell by the data—and not the video feed itself—if someone was sitting or running for example.

While researchers were quick to note it would take a fairly technically savvy criminal to passively monitor this data it isn’t out of the question that someone could create and sell a software program that takes away the need for technical know-how.

The researchers also noted that they found no evidence that this was happening regularly or at all but it is a potential loop-hole in internet based home monitoring cameras. Someone could potentially collect and compare data to decide when someone is least likely to be home. Researchers suggested companies might want to inject random data into the stream to make it more difficult to make the data useful to criminals.

As of know these cameras aren’t very “smart” (to keep costs down) and record everything. In the future cameras might be able to decide when to record or when not to. For example, pet owners would probably want to set their cameras to ignore their pets’ movements.

Pop Cultural Icon, the Segway PT, to Stop Production 15 July 2020

While the Segway PT will forever have a place in 21st century pop culture the vehicle never saw the widespread use required for its inventor’s society-changing hopes. And this summer the Segway PT will be put to rest.

Chinese company Ninebot, who bought Segway in 2015, will stop production on the Person Transport on July 15th this year. They will also say goodbye to twenty staff involved in the project at their Bedford, New Hampshire plant.

The Segway PT made waves when it was first revealed on Good Morning America in early December of 2001.

Dean Kamen, the Segway inventor, had said that cars would become obsolete and the personal transport revolution would begin. Kamen thought it absurd that 2-ton vehicles are used for short trips—and perhaps he is still right about that. But consumers spoke out and the Segway PT only accounted for 1.5% of Ninebot’s revenue. Costing between $6k-$10k only tour companies and police departments could afford it.

Even police departments have switched over to Ninebot’s less expensive electric scooters.

With many more options of electronic or electronic-assisted personal transport out there the Segway, perhaps sadly, will become a museum piece this July.

Will Apple Finally Use its Own Processors in All Products? If So, What Does That Mean?

Apple may soon announce what has long been rumor—switching from Intel processors in their Mac computers, iMacs and Macbooks, to their own Apple chip sets, which are already used in iPhones and iPads. This could happen as soon as 2021. Analysists say despite a transition period the end result would be beneficial not only to the company but its product users.

Some analysists believe that single product lines will switch over at a time instead of their entire stable of computers all at once.

Whatever devices end up with Apple’s own CPU chips users can expect better battery life and thinner, less heavy devices. This is made possible because the chips were specifically designed to be used in smartphones which already required good battery life and sleeker designs. Additionally, this might even mean the end of fans in a Mac computer.

Another huge benefit would be an even more standardized experience between tablets, phones and computers from the Apple lineup—a huge selling feature already built into their products. This then would allow app developers to create a more standard user experience across devices.

And even though Apple has made no mention of it, this could open up the possibility that Mac computers be equipped with cellular connectivity.
Apple may also be able to offer lower prices or promise performance upgrades with each generation of device since it wouldn’t be reliant on Intel to improve performance.

KFC “Trolls” Playstation and Xbox New Console Announcements

As Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox announced their newest consoles fast food chain KFC announced the launch of their own gaming console. Unfortunately, (?) it was just a gag.

The day after Sony revealed its PlayStation 5 console whose design was met with mixed initial reviews KFC posted a video of its new “KFConsole” on social media.
The KFConsole looks like a legitimate gaming console complete with power button, disc drive, lights etc.

The video also claimed that the KFConsole would have cross-platform compatibility. There was, however, one feature that gives away the KFC game system as a joke. The KFConsole has a built in BBQ grill called a “chicken chamber” to be employed when the gamer has a hankerin’ to grill up some chicken.

The KFConsole video claimed the system would be released on November 12th. Many are hoping they have a follow up planed for that date.

While this may seem an act of total absurdity on KFC’s part to some, they do have a standing relationship with the gaming community. Their KFC Gaming Twitter has 123.6k followers and their KFC Gaming Instrgram has 66.6k followers. They’ve also released an actual video game on Steam called “I Love Your Colonel Sanders Dating Simulator Game. The fast food company has also encouraged games to create KFC themed Minecraft builds and share them.

Additionally, they are no stranger to unusual marketing including items like KFC nail polish, KFC chicken scented sun screen or KFC Crocs.

Medical Supplies Delivered Autonomously From the Sky

Near Charlotte, NC drones—large ones with 11-foot wingspan—fly over neighborhoods, an interstate highway and a reservoir as fast as 63 mph arriving at Huntersville Medical Center.

When the drone arrives its compartment door opens and a parachute equipped package drops gently to the pavement below. This happens about 10 times a day. And after dropping its package the drone returns to the hospital distribution center.

Novant Health operates 15 hospitals in the area. This includes Huntersville Medical Center. Novant has any number of delivery choices but decided to test drones as they believe it will prove useful in future heath crises.

As delivering medical supplies will be more challenging following natural disasters or political unrest the drones may offer solutions for delivering supplies to places conventional vehicles cannot reach.

The FAA gave Novant Health a temporary waiver so they and Zipline, the startup operating the drones, could fly drones over people and beyond the visual range of the person responsible for the drone. Zipline’s drones are autonomous but are monitored by a human being.

U.S. business have been slow adopters of drone delivery as needed regulation has yet to be set. The U.S. has more crowded and complex air space than places where drone delivery is legal.

Zipline has been around 2016 and began their journey in Ghana. As of now they say they have delivered more than 110,000 medical items.

The Little Light Technology Getting Loud About Sterilization

LEDs, the now ubiquitous “Light Emitting Diode,” can be found everywhere—all over your house, your car, in the flashlights your family takes camping or uses for safety and visibility while riding bikes. The are tough, tiny, bright and energy efficient making them the perfect technology for additional research and applications.

A Mr. Zollner and his colleagues have been studying LEDs that emit ultraviolet light, particularly UV-C light, which is deadly to bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus.

The goal of the project is to create LEDs that are more powerful, tougher and cheaper. They want to make them ten to twenty times more powerful.
His goal is to make those LEDs more powerful, robust and cheaper. Zollner believes the technology could be widely adopted and used to clean surfaces and other things in the event of another pandemic or even just during our typical flu season.

Currently the technology is strong enough to clean a close cabinet. But to clean a room the lights need to be about twenty times more powerful.

These lights are so powerful that they are dangerous to human eyes and skin.
However one firm has already found a use for them by creating the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle. To protect the human user the LEDs, seated in the lid, only function when the lid is securely sealed. Users must push down on the lid to turn on the lights. The creating LARQ claims their bottle will be clear of most bacteria and viruses in just 60 seconds.

Coronavirus Contact Tracing

So now we are in the middle of this pandemic. In the face of this, Google and Apple has joined forces to supply contact tracing. They will be releasing software to automatically and autonomously log all the people you have been in contact with. It uses Bluetooth to collect (encrypted) codes but it doesn’t know the identity of the person. The codes stay on your phone while you remain anonymous.

Apps can be built on the API they make that can do what needs to be done with the codes but you will have to give permissions. Contact tracing is used to try to keep coronavirus at bay. This will help find those who are positive stay quarantined during their contagious period and find those they have contacted before they were symptomatic.

Having Apple and Google on this, will ensure their respective OS systems can be ready for this. They have only built a way to collect and make alerts. It is up to healthcare/governments to build the app to handle the information.

Google Lens

Google Lens seems to be a item to have. It is available through other Google apps, such as Google Assistant, Google Photos, some camera apps, Android devices, in Google Photos on iOS and in the Google app on iOS. The apps it is on will show it as four rounded corners with a dot in the middle. So let’s see exactly what it does.

Say you are out taking a walk and see a plant you and you dont know what it is. If you take a picture of it, it will find it and bring up web results so you can see it. Same with animals. On iOS, if I open the Google app, click on the lens icon in the search bar, I can see it has accessed my camera (I had given previous permissions) and some dots appear. If I click on one of the dots, it will find the item I have clicked on.

If you hover over text that is in another language, you can touch the Google Translate button and it will translate to English for you.

https://lens.google.com/https://lens.google.com/

May the Force (4th) Be With You!

Today is May 4th and many promos may say “May the 4th be with you” as play on words of a popular line from Star Wars. So where did this punny way of saying it come from?

An early use comes from an ad in the London Evening News on May 4th in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was first elected as British Prime Minister. The ad read “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

It was used a second time in 1994 when Harry Cohen of the parliament made a joke in the House of Commons. In 2008, groups celebrated “Luke Skywalker Day” with the same phrase. It has been more popular since 2011 when the Star Wars Day event at the Toronto Underground Cinema.

May 4th is considered “Star Wars Day”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Day

Stuck at Home With Some Bored Kids?

Here is something they can try for free. Microsoft is offering free tutorials and also streaming live tutorials daily on their MakeCode site. There are several to choose from for learning computing.

Current offerings:
micro:bit
Circuit Playground Express
Minecraft
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3
Cue
Arcate
Chibi Chip

For Windows 10 computer owners, they also have apps for micro:bit, Adafruit, and Cue by Wonder Workshop.

For some of the courses you may need some peripheral products. The micro:bit computer can run about $20. The circuit for Adafruit Circuit Playground Express runs about $25.

Find out more: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/makecode
Adafruit Circuit: https://www.adafruit.com/product/3333
micro:bit computer: https://store.birdbraintechnologies.com/collections/featured-items/products/micro-bit

Why Are People Still Using Zoom?

Since the last time we mentioned Zoom, it seems there have been alerts put out there asking people to stop using it. There are numerous problems with it. Sure, it is probably the easiest meeting software for non-technical people to use but the security is what has people up in arms.

So what is the problem? There are a few. Even last summer they found there was software used to bypass security to be able to launch it in a few clicks. This also makes it easy for hackers to start webcams and watch users without them knowing. The other bad thing is this bug remained even after the user uninstalls Zoom. Apple has removed this component by issuing a force-deployed update to every Mac in the world.

There are other things. Zoom can use your private video calls and sell ads. What if you are using Zoom to speak with your therapist? What kind of ads will they be marketing?

Another thing that was “fixed” was the fact that Zoom was sending user info to Facebook. That has since been fixed in an update.

To see more about this:
OneZero.medium.com
Tidbits.com

Here is a light-hearted parody of the Zoom security issues:

Some New Changes from Microsoft We Came Across

Technology is all about change. Thinkgs are in constant state of flux as you have to get used to changes as they come around.

One change we have recently found was that Microsoft will start flagging double spaces after periods. The new norm is one space after sentences. Back in the day of typewriters, we were always taught to make 2 spaces after a sentence. In the world of web development, when you try to put in two spaces, it will ignore one of them in most cases unless you use an editor, then it might force the second space in with code.

If you run a search about using one or two spaces, you will see there is a lot of controversy about this subject. Most of the ones against 2 spaces say only old people (over 40) use 2 spaces. Then people cite older versions of APA guides that say to use 2.

Another change we came across was kind of weird. We had recently updated a PC’s software and then every time we do a restart, it opens up MS Publisher. I looked in the startup programs and it wasn’t there. It must be I had MS Publisher open when I started the update. It turns out that a new setting can cause this. To fix this, go to Settings >> Accounts >> Sign-in options >> Privacy – toggle off “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device and reopen my apps after an update or restart.”

Some Ways Covid-19 has Changed the World

There are too many ways to count how this pandemic has changed the world. Here in America, it is like life has come to a stand-still. Many establishments are closed including schools, churches, libraries, dine-in restaurants, to name a few. Sometimes while we wallow in our own self-pity, we forget how it is affecting others, especially children, teenagers, and college students who are missing once in a lifetime milestones. We want to talk about how tech can be used to help.

First, the high school seniors are missing out on prom. Some have taken the initiative to try to have a virtual prom on Instagram or TikTok.

One college in Japan is holding their graduation via robots. The robots, dressed in cap and gown, have the students faces via Zoom showing their faces where the robot faces would be.

Our church has been able to bring services weekly during this crisis by keeping band members at least 6 feet apart. We were streaming every week anyway so we had everything in place for this to begin with. Our small groups have all moved to using online virtual meetings using software such as Webex or Zoom.

There are also new cautions about using Zoom. You need to make sure your settings are set up correctly as it could be hacked. Meetings are being “Zoombombed” and intruders putting in awful posts and images.

Zoom vs Skype vs Webex

We need to follow our government orders and stay at home. Many of us are fortunate enough be able to work from home, some already having been working remotely. Some of us already have some favorite tools to use. I only need a chat program but a lot of them have gone by the wayside: AIM, Googletalk, Yahoo messenger, Windows Live messenger, to name a few. ICQ is still around but who can stand “UH OH” every time a message comes in? Some messengers come with many more tools such as Slack.

Some groups or workforces need to have meetings where everyone can be in on the call. With the Covid-19 pandemic people are looking for ways to meet. Most people these days are using Zoom. ZDNet saw the trend of people using Zoom and did an informal survey to find out why people were Zooming and not Skyping.

Here is what they found out:

It seems that Zoom is easier to use, especially for non-technical people.

Next, they found people found Skype buggy, especially the apps.

Third issue was spam. Unless you have your settings locked down, you will be contacted by a lot of people you don’t know, or people trying to sell or get you to do something.

Webex, by Cisco, is a little trickier for some to use. They recently enhanced their free tier to allow up to 100 participants in each meeting instead of 50; they have allowed the meetings to be as long as you want up from 40 minute limit.

Some organizations that have regular meetings, like Bible studies or other meetings have had to find alternate ways to meet. Personally, we have tried Skype but as mentioned above, there were too many issues. We have moved to Webex ourselves.

I have not personally used Zoom but have signed up on their site and it does look very easy to use for small meetings. Zoom has up to 100 participants in a meeting, 40 minute limits but unlimited number of meetings. There are plans that cost money for each of the video conferencing software programs with added features like cloud storage, recording transcriptions, numbers of users, ways to connect, for example.

Charges are usually per host. So if you have one lead person hosting each meeting, that will be the only charge. Webex charges go from $13.50/month to $26.95/month. Zoom paid plans start at $14.99/month to $19.99/month/host minimum 10 hosts or 50 hosts for the business plan. Skype is free up to 50 people for video calls.

ZDNET article

Searching a Web Page on iPhone or iPad

Ever been on a page that was just too long to read? Maybe you wanted to see if the page you are on actually has the information you are looking for. There is a way to search a web page. The way to find something on a web page varies by browser. For most searches on a desktop or laptop, you simply need to use CTRL+F or Command+F for MAC. But how do you search a page for a term on an iPhone or iPad?

For all the examples below, I am using this link: https://www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-state-capitals-in-the-United-States-2119210

For Safari, the default browser:
Once you are on a webpage that you might want to search, you can put a word in the search bar and you will get the option that says “On This Page” and will tell you how many matches. So I went to the above link and typed “florida” in the address bar. This is what I got:

Safari Search Safarai Search

 

For Chrome:
Once you are at the page, you will see 3 dots on bottom right. If you click on that you will get an option to “Find in page…” – If you click that, you will get a search box and can put what you want to search there.

Chrome Search Chrome Search

 

For Firefox:
Firefox is similar to Chrome except you will find the 3 dots on the top right.

Firefox Search Firefox Search

To Track or Not to Track

Zachary McCoy, a restaurant worker in Florida, received a surprising email from Google. Google’s legal support team was letting him know that the local police department demanded some of his Google account data. Unless he tried to block it in court, they would release the data in seven days.

Not knowing what he had done, but noticing a case number, he began to search for the information. He found there was a burglary of a woman’s home within a mile of his and his roommates’ house. Knowing he had nothing to do with this, he contacted his parents who in turn hired a lawyer for him.

Their lawyer found out that they were looking for a “geofence warrant,” which just sweeps up all Google data from all GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connections nearby.

It turns out that McCoy uses an app on his phone called RunKeeper to record his bike rides. He found he passed by the victim’s home a few times within one hour, which is actually part of his normal frequent loops he makes all the time.

Even if you are innocently using your apps with GPS that keep track of your activities, you may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Read the full article

Another Type of Smart Glasses

We’ve told you about Google Glass, Vaunt Smart Glasses, and Amazon Echoframes. There are new smart eyeglasses out from Bosch. What is different about these glasses, is they use tiny lasers to beam images directly onto your eyeballs. You will need to be custom fit for them to make sure they hit your retina in the correct place.

They have a way to integrate with your corrective glasses. It is the smallest most lightweight product that can turn any set of glasses into smart glasses. A smart phone can be paired to it but you should not have to look at the smartphone to see what you want.

Meet a New Personal Robot

There’s a new personal robot ready to help you. It’s called Ballie and is made by Samsung. It was introduced at CES2020.

It is a small rolling robot that reacts to your needs. In the video, you can see some of the capabilities. From waking up and opening your drapes, helping you with your exercises, your pets, connecting its camera through an app, turning on the TV for your pet, knowing to clean the floor with the vacuum.

Passwords…Again!

Yes, they are a pain. All the requirements to have minimum characters, numbers, symbols, lower case, upper case, where does it all end? Well for now it doesn’t. The Portland, Oregon division of the FBI has recommendations for passwords and security.

Some people seem not to care about passwords and just make a simple one to get them into a site. They reuse passwords for multiple sites without changing them. Sometimes there are a couple favorites they just use over and over again. If they are asked to change them out, they just rotate the same ones around.

So back to the recommendations of the FBI. They recommend using passphrases. This would be three or four totally unrelated words strung together. You still may need to add special characters or numbers or capitals with some sites like banks, but you can slip in between words if that makes it easier for you. If you need help, try out this passphrase generator.

Read the full FBI article

Malwarebytes 2020 Report

We talked about Malwarebytes a few years ago. Back then, it was mostly PC users that worried about malware and exploits. Well, in their latest reports–surprise, surprise–Malwarebytes reports that in 2019, they saw a 400% rise in MAC exploits! That is a significant change from previous years.

Many of the malware items are called PUPs-Potentially Unwanted Programs. Many of them need to be quarantined. Malwarebytes scans for those as well as PUMs-Potentially Unwanted Modifications. For a PC, PUMs could be found either in the registry or in a browser setting.

Read the report (PDF)

Source

Spy Games

A game show in similar format to Big Brother, Bravo has a new show called Spy Games. The people live together in a house and are given secret dossiers and some notes to try to figure out who each of the secrets is about. There are also alliances set up just like Big Brother.

The contestants are given tasks to do, some physical, some technological, and some mental. Some of their tasks are things like infiltrating a black tie gala (after surviving a trek through the woods), lock-picking out of a room, break into a spy house and downloading secrets while being sabotaged. One person’s dossier is stolen.

Some of the secrets they have to figure out are things like – who is called Dr. Death, who is accused of racketeering, who lived in Qatar, just to name a few. If you are interested, you can catch this on Monday nights at 10:00pm on the Bravo network.

Avast Caveats

Do you use Avast antivirus programs? It has come to light that they harvested user data and sold the information collected to a firm called Jumpshot who in turn sold to other companies: Google, Microsoft, Intuit, to name a few. This pertains to both PCs and Macs. This includes both free and premium services. So while you are trying to protect your privacy and data, Avast is going behind your back and selling your data and privacy.

To be fair, you have the option to opt-in to allow some user data to be collected, but you are not really told how or what is being used. The data collected includes location lookups, searches, YouTube video listings, Google Maps, LinkedIn, and various others.

Think twice before you download a free or even paid software. Don’t allow them to collect information.

Source