Atlas Robot

Boston Dynamics has a few projects they are working on in robotics. Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by MIT. In 2013, they were acquired by Google X which later became Alphabet, Inc. In 2017, Boston Dynamics was sold to SoftBank (remember Pepper?). We have previously discussed Spot also developed by Boston Dynamics.

Atlas is a 6-foot robot that is more humanoid with 2 legs. It was unveiled to the public in 2013. It has slowly been evolving. It now can do parkour (similar to military obstacle course training):

Google turned 20

Google recently had it’s 20 year anniversary. We found this interesting video of where it got its start. It was uploaded by Google’s sixth employee, Harry. It shows the garage where they got their start in 1998. At the end you will see Larry Page, one of the founders.

Larry Page is no longer CEO of Google as he has become CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Logging into any Google service logs you into Chrome

As of version 69, the Chrome browser will log you in and sync when you visit any Google site like Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc. For whatever reason, you may not want to be logged in, or you may not want them to keep track of everything you do. They are not giving you that choice anymore.

There was a discussion on Twitter about it with Adrienne Porter Felt, a Chrome engineer and manager.

Apparently after these discussions and feedback, Google is going to back down and make some changes come version 70 coming out in mid-October. They will allow sign-in without syncing. If you want to sync between devices, you will need to turn sync on. Signing into a Google owned website will not sign them into Chrome at the same time.

Facebook Breach

By now you’ve heard about last week’s Facebook breach in which 50 million user’s accounts were impacted. This time, attackers had the ability to directly take over user accounts. Facebook logged out 90 million users from their accounts – the 50 million affected and 40 million more that may have been. They also announced that other sites could be affected if you use your Facebook credentials to log into them.

The persons responsible, who haven’t been found yet, were able to get to the access tokens, kind of like session hijacking. The problem was found in the video uploader page. Find out more about it from How-to Geek.

Get Ready for Windows 10 October 2018 Update

In October, Microsoft will be rolling out a major Fall update. With the update rolling out in the next few weeks, you may need to do some preparing for the update. According to some rumors from some different places, it will require anywhere from 10 to 20GB free space. If you do not have enough space, the update will fail.

In case you didn’t know, it will be easy to rid your machine of unnecessary files if you previously received the April 2018 update. Here is what you do: Go to Settings >> System >> Storage. Under Storage Sense, you can click the link that says “Free up space now”. Once you click it you will see a list of files you can clean up such as Windows upgrade log files, Windows update cleanup, thumbnails, temporary files, temporary internet files, your recycle bin, and a few others.

Halt and Catch Fire

In computing, Halt and Catch Fire is a mnemonic for HCF, a code instruction to stop operation. The machine would then need a restart.

Halt and Catch Fire is also the name of a series that ran on AMC. It was a depiction of the how the World Wide Web grew in the 80s and 90s. A fictional series, it follows several characters and their struggles along the way trying to outpace others in development and ideas. Some of the struggles were with hardware and others were with software. It really is fun to see how far we’ve come when we see some of what happened and see some of the hardware that was used then.

It aired for 4 seasons. You can catch all four seasons on Netflix. Here is the trailer for the first season:

Remember the Y2K issue? There’s another issue coming!

The Y2K problem, or bug, or just Y2K refers to when the year 2000 hit, there was a scare put into some people as computers weren’t set up for the rollover from the year 1999 to 2000. All sorts of rumors went around that time. Some thought there would be no electricity and that the power grids would come down. Many went into survival mode and bought gold, canned goods, and other commodities they thought they would need in the case they needed to barter for goods.

So this leads us to what the next “crisis” that is looming. The year 2038. We have plenty of time to prepare for this crisis but here is the gist. When digital systems started, they began with the date of January 1, 1970. So having it as 32-bit binary integer, time cannot be implemented after 03:14:07 UTC on January 19, 2038. Strings for storage are limited to 2147483647 and that would be the same as that time in January 2038 in bytes in a 32-bit system. 20 years from now, you would hardly still be running a 32-bit system you might still be running today.

Rare Apple-1 Computer up for auction this month

This is your chance to own an original Apple-1 computer from 1976. It was restored in June and is up for auction. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made 200 of these computers.

The auction will be held by RR Auction where you can register to bid on this item. The auction begins September 25, 2018 at 1:00 PM ET. You can bid by phone or online at https://www.invaluable.com/

Tech Mystery Box

$250 for $1,932 worth of tech! So the Victor crew came across this YouTube video of someone opening up 2 boxes filled with tech returns to Amazon. It shows him unboxing 2 big boxes of tech products from Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, headphones, car speakers, and a lot of other miscellaneous products. Some of the items were clearly used and ready for the trash but some could be resold on eBay or Craig’s list. Some items were worth more than the $250 he spent on it.

So we were wondering how to purchase something like this. It turns out there are liquidators that get these types of items and sell them to people that go back and resell them again (even on Amazon). (See links below for more info.)

https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-amazon-customer-returns-pallets-online/
https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-resell-amazon-customer-return-pallets-electronics/

Traveling this summer?

If you have spent anytime in an airport, you see many people congregating by the outlets so they can charge their devices. Well, there seems to be some new pranks going around airports this year. People are putting fake outlet stickers in various places around the airport. Some of these outlet stickers even have a worn-out look to them.

Some people go even farther and put in fake outlet covers with double-stick tape.

You can see some people’s reactions to them on twitter.
Mashable has an article about it

Here is a YouTube video of a fake outlet for April Fools day

Here is one with fake outlet stickers:

Does Google know more than you want them to know?

Google services on Android or iPhones can store your location data, even when you try to prevent it through your device settings.

Google Maps can make a timeline of your movements, for example. It works so well that last year a warrant was served by police in North Carolina to Google to find devices near a murder scene. You can turn off your location history so the places you go will not be stored.

If you are logged into Google, go to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb to see your timeline or whether it is even on. You can turn the tracking of your history on or off here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols/location?hl=en&gl=US

This may not keep Google from tracking your movements through nearby towers but it is something more you can do to make it a little more difficult for them.

Source

Chrome browser

Did you know there are a lot more settings and pages to your Google Chrome browser than you find just in your settings? To find them just type into your address bar “chrome://about” (without the quote marks) and you will find a list of pages you can access.

You will find you are actually on the first page: chrome://about. If you click it there won’t be a change. chrome://chrome will give you the update page. Some of the other pages may or may not look familiar. I clicked on chrome://dino to see what that was – it’s the dinosaur you see when you don’t have an internet connection.

The chrome://flags page will allow you to access some experimental items; chrome://bookmarks will let you see all your bookmarks. Just use caution if you make any changes to the browser.

Vertical Videos

In the past, if you uploaded a video to YouTube with a video taken from your phone, you would see the black bars on either side of it with the video in the center, tall and slim. YouTube has conceded that vertical videos are here to stay and have adapted their site to accomodate them.

YouTube makes this move on the heels of Instagram introducing IGTV, a longer form of video you can create through Instagram or with their standalone app, IGTV. Instagram itself limits you to just one minute but IGTV allows you to make a video up to an hour long. Initially that will only be available to popular uploaders but will be rolled out to evveryone eventually.

Sources:
https://www.makeuseof.com
https://productforums.google.com/forum/

Chrome Extension: PassProtect

There is a Chrome extension to help you pick better passwords. It is called PassProtect by okta. It will tell you right away if your password is in a list of data breaches. It doesn’t necessarily mean your username/email and password combination are in that list but if your password is already in a list of compromised passwords, you might want to rethink that password. You can add it to your Chrome browser.

They do not store or collect any information from you, they simply use the HaveIBeenPwned.com API to check against the list of known breaches. If you want to check a password on your own, you can check it here as well manually to see if it is in the list of breached passwords, because it is the same list. Hackers that have collected passwords will often use them to breach a site and try to guess people’s logins and if you are using a password from a breached list, and they know your email or username, you may find yourself hacked.

PassProtect

Robot Guards

A company based in Singapore, Oneberry Technologies, has developed RoboGuard. If you need surveillance, you can get a robot to do it. You would still have to man the system and watch whatever the robot found but this is an interesting concept in robotics and in surveillance.

Keyboard fixes for MacBook and MacBook Pro

A few weeks ago, Apple announced it is finally offering to repair MacBook keyboards … for free. The problems they say they will cover are:
when letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
when letters or characters don’t appear
or when keys feel sticky and do not respond consistently

After examining the keyboard, the service type will be determined and they may replace a key, keys, or the entire keyboard.

Eligible models are MacBook 12-inch 2015, 2016, and 2017; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with two Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with four Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016, 2017. No other MacBooks are part of this service program.

If you have this problem, you can find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store, or mail your device to the Apple Repair Center. Be sure to back up all your data before you take any of these steps.

If you have previously paid to have this problem fixed and want a refund, you can contact Apple for a refund.

Here is a funny video about the problem:

Pepper the Robot

Pepper is a humanoid robot. It is able to recognize emotions and interact with you. Pepper can move around, recognize your face, speak to you conversationally. Whether you dance or chat, Pepper is ready for you. Pepper is 1.2 meters tall.

Pepper is capable of performing customer service. He can interact with customers, help with appointments, direct to where they need to go.

Pepper is a product of SoftBank Robotics. He says she was born in Paris. SoftBank Robotics has offices in Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco and Shanghai. They also have previously developed a smaller robot called NAO about 58cm high.

With its open SDK you can enhance him as well.

Here is Tech Insider’s experience with him:

Here is SoftBank’s promo:

Find out more

Say Farewell to StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon has been around since the early 2000s. In the early days it was a fun site to just be taken to a random site. Until June 30, 2018, you can still do this. If you go there now, they will encourage you to Join Mix. Mix is a related service. You can join Mix with your Facebook or Google account or with an email address.

You can use StumbleUpon.com before it goes away this week. But you’ll have to remember your old login. Assuming you may have joined at one time and no longer use it.

How it worked is, you would go to StumbleUpon.com and join, then slick on a button to find a random cool webpage. The company that owns Mix.com, Expa, wants to take Mix.com to the next level and combine social and semantic personalization to the user experience. They want to make it easy to organize your content into collections. They will be transitioning StumbleUpon accounts over to Mix.

Some other companies under the Expa umbrella are Uber (driver service), Haus (helps you sell your own house and keep more of the money than through a broker), Prefer (a way to grow your business through referrals), Ando (food delivery service), Spot (a way to find things to do based on referals), Operator (a way to find what you are looking for). These are a few of Expa companies.

Funny how things never change…

The Victor crew happened upon a an article about an article. TheVerge.com showed a clipping of a news article from a 1996 copy of the Wall Street Journal. The clipping shows that even back in 1996, there were privacy concerns.

Concerns with privacy about such things as cookies, encryption, junk email. We recently wrote about the blast of Terms of Service you’ve been seeing. Most of them address all these issues within them.

The only way to truly protect your privacy is to be aware of what is being collected. Don’t just shrug off all those terms and privacy legal pages. Read them. If they want something you don’t want to give, then just stop using that service, app, website, etc. If the site or app has privacy settings, go into them and limit your exposure. Limit who can see your posts, photos, or information. Sometimes you can even set it so you need to approve who can friend or follow you.

View the original full Wall Street Journal article here.

Need Ideas for Father’s Day?

What dad doesn’t like tech! The Victor crew thought they would look for ideas that are out there just in time for Dad’s special Day this week. This list is not exhaustive but maybe it will spur something you hadn’t thought of.

TV streaming device:
Roku
Apple TV
Chromecast

Headphones/Earbuds

eReader:
Nook
Kindle Fire
Kindle Paperwhite

AI device:
Google Home
Amazon Echo
Apple HomePod

Fitness Tracker

Video games

Charging dock for all his gadgets

Subscription service:
Amazon Prime
Spotify
Sirius XM
Pandora
Hulu
Netflix

Does 2-Factor Authentication Keep You Safe?

Not always. The Victor crew found an article/video that demonstrates how you have to be very careful even if you use 2-factor authentication in place. The trouble can occur when a user clicks a link sent in a phishing attack. The email may look legitimate but it may have the real site name misspelled.

The most important take away it to stop and think before click a link even if you think it comes from a legitimate source. If you receive a message from a major site, most likely you can just go to that site, log in, and see any notifications someone may have sent rather than looking at emails that are generated.

You can see how it 2-factor authentication is bypassed in this demonstration by Kevin Mitnick from KnowBe4.com.

BattleBots

“It’s robot fighting time!” That’s what you hear at the of BattleBots. People make robots and fight each other in an arena.

The show started on Comedy Central in 2000 and ran for five seasons ending in December 2002. It was briefly revived in 2015 for six episodes on ABC. It ran for a seventh season in 2016. It then found itself on both Discovery Channel and Science channel for its eighth season just this month.

Many of the robots are back again. They are run by engineers, MIT students, plumbers, just to name a few. BattleBots is an offshoot of Robot Wars. When Robot Wars disappeared, some of the robot builders left behind started BattleBots, Inc.

Just like other matches, there are weight classes. Lightweight is about 60 pounds, Middleweight is 120 pounds, Heavyweight is 220 pounds, and Superheavyweight is 340 pounds. They last three minutes per round and are done in a 48′ x 48′ glass box. Not only do the robots battle each other but there are a few obstacles in the arena as well such as a sledgehammer in the corner, spinners and spike strips and in floor, augurs that roll around on the sides that opponents try to push the robots into.

Some contestants have mini-bots that roam around too. Sometimes you will see sparks, flames, smoking, or even tears (from the drivers.) It’s a fun watch so try to see it sometime.

Terms of Service

It seems we’ve all been just bombarded with Terms of Service. They may be from credit card companies, banks, apps, or anything else you may get emails from or are signed up to. So why so many and why now?

The answer is most likely GDPR. This stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This is something that the EU (European Union) has adopted for web directives to protect its citizens’ data. This is going into effect May 25, 2018.

When you give personal data, it is their right to know what is collected, why, for how long. It also gives the user to withdraw their consent at any time. That means they may ask a company to delete their information or stop using it.

This all applies to any company whether they are in the EU countries or not. EU countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

Find out more here:
ec.europa.eu/

The New Gmail

Gmail rolled out the new Gmail recently. We thought we’d give it a try. It didn’t really look any different once we set it up. Until we wanted to check in our contacts. We no longer could just click on the name Gmail on the top left to get to our contacts. This meant a Google search to try to find it.

Here is where it is – on the top right is the app grid. Find contacts in there. You may need to move it up to the top so you can access them quickly. If Contacts icon doesn’t show, click More at the bottom of the first page and you should see it on the second. You can simply grab it and move it to the top.

The first image shows the grid without the Contacts app. The second image shows it on the second page under More. The third shows the Contacts app on the top right.

Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid

Another difference we found is that Labs was missing. Labs were experimental addons you could enable to try different things.

Blast from the Past

Websites have changed over the years. The Google.com of today isn’t quite like the one of yesteryear. Same with Amazon.com or Netflix.com or Facebook.com and many others. A video editing company by the name of Kapwing has been curating websites for their Museum of Websites. You will also find Reddit.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Twitter.com, and Pinterest.com and more!

They have a section within their website with a gallery of how famous websites have changed over the years. They are slowly working on getting more and more. The oldest one is Yahoo!, which has been around since 1995.

Somehow, we don’t think the earlier craigslist.org will show much change over time. It seems its retro look hasn’t changed much since the first time we’ve seen it.

You can join the email list to know when they put new ones up