This Week in Tech News

Congress Tells Facebook to Respect User Privacy

Facebook

Episode 1654

This week, Senators sent a letter to Facebook telling them to respect user privacy, especially when they request not being tracked. Turns out, even if users opt-out of being tracked, Facebook has been doing it anyway. Leo says that while he chooses to opt-out of having his online activity tracked, he understands that Facebook is a free service and they do have to pay the bills with targeted ads. But shouldn't they respect when someone doesn't want to be included?

Best Gift for a Geek is...

NewEgg

Episode 1654

Leo says that the best gift for the technology geek in your life these days is a gift card. If they are really geeky, make it a NewEgg gift card, but Amazon is generally the safest. For gamers, a PS or Xbox gift card is ideal, or maybe even one for STEAM.

Apple Sets Sales Record for AirPods

AirPods

Episode 1652

With the launch of Apple's new high priced AirPods Pros, a sales record of over $4 BILLION dollars for the recent quarter was announced. Not the year, mind you. BUT THE QUARTER. It's a good holiday for Cupertino. 

Meanwhile, Samsung tried to brag that they had sold over a million Samsung Galaxy Fold phones, but when called on it, they pulled the number back. Embarrassing.

Hacker Uses Ring Camera to Pretend he's Santa, Talking to a Child

Ring

Episode 1652

This is creepy. A hacker managed to hack into a ring camera placed in the bedroom of an 8-year-old girl, and then pretended he was Santa Claus talking to her. RING said it wasn't a breach in Ring's security, but was due to the parent not using a unique user name and password. She used the same one as for other things, making it really easy to breach. Leo says that hackers can read a unique signature for internet enabled cameras and then can use that login to brute force it open. Leo says to stop reusing the same password. That's a recipe for calamity.

5G Phones are expensive and service is non existent

5G

Episode 1651

A recent article talks about the benefits of 5G and seeks to dispel any myth of what 5G service is. Leo says that he's not recommending 5G phones right now because they are expensive, you have to pay more for 5G service that doesn't really exist now, and it is handled by a group of varying services that will require far more cellphone towers, which haven't been built.  You also need to be within line of sight, which means you won't be able to use your phone in a building.

FBI Office Determines Refrigerators are an Online Security Risk

FBI

Episode 1650

Looking at Internet of Things phenomenon, the Portland FBI issued a blog post talking about how connecting your computer to the same network as your internet-enabled refrigerator could pose a security risk. They advise changing the device password settings from the default, make them as long as possible and unique. Leo says that it's not practical to have a separate connection for your IoT devices. But regularly updating your devices and giving them a good password is a good idea.

Black Friday Numbers Indicate A New Sales High, but ...

Black Friday

Episode 1649

The sales numbers are in from Black Friday. Although sales hit a new high, they were below expectations, according to Adobe. $7.4 Billion in online shopping, half of which were for smartphones. Sales of which were up 20%.

Top toy sales were for Frozen 2, LOL Surprise, and then Paw Patrol. Best selling video games FIFA, Madden 2020, and the Nintendo Switch system. Apple Airpods, Macbooks, and TVs topped the electronics list. And over $2.9 billion made on smartphones, constituting 60% of all online traffic. Leo suspects that next year, smartphones will be the #1 way to shop. 

Is Big Tech is Destroying Our World?

Amazon

Episode 1648

Leo says that many are complaining that big tech is far too intrusive and is destroying our privacy. But Leo says that this is largely overblown with people acting like "privacy puritans." A lot of it can be mitigated by Big Tech keeping our data secure and coming out with an accurate and truthful privacy statement for all to see. If we give up some data privacy for free services, Big Tech should treat it as a public trust, and give customers the right to opt-out. 

 

Elon Musk Announces Tesla Cyber Truck

Tesla Cyber Truck

Episode 1646

This week, Elon Musk announced the angular CyberTruck, for $39,000, due in 2022. Leo says that while Elon thinks out of the box, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Leo says it's a crazy design that looks like the Army would buy it. And there was a mishap with the so-called 
"bulletproof" glass, which promptly shattered when tested. But Leo likes Elon Musk because he throws his hat over the wall and believes there's no limit to his imagination. And Leo respects that.