In This Episode: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is scheduled for its first flight tomorrow, and attempt to soft-land all three rocket cores: will it land in three pieces, or millions? Amazon has set up some interesting tech to keep Alexa from responding when they don’t want it to (and users have figured out other interesting hacks). Youtube to label propaganda items as “state-sponsored” — and that includes PBS?! How ads work on Youtube — and most web sites. Microsoft removes a useful backup capability from Windows. And an update on cell phone safety.
This Week’s Hosts
- Randy Cassingham, founder of This is True and the Internet Spam Primer.
- Leo Notenboom, “Chief Question Answerer” at tech education site Ask Leo!
- Gary Rosenzweig host and producer of MacMost, and mobile game developer at Clever Media.
- Kevin Savetz, web site publisher and Computer Historian at Atari Podcast.
- Longer Bios on the Hosts page.
- Watch the Falcon Heavy launch at SpaceX web site, scheduled for a 3-hour launch window which opens at 1:30pm EST on February 6. There’s a nice article on the rocket at Space.com.
- Update: The launch was successful. Both boosters landed intact, simultaneously right on target. And the center booster? Unclear if it successfully landed on the “drone ship” in the Atlantic. Yesterday, Musk said that the Heavy would not be used to take humans to Mars, in favor of an even bigger rocket under development: the BFR, or “Big …uh… Freaking (or, in official documentation, Falcon) Rocket”. The Heavy, however, is apparently still slated to take human passengers to moon orbit. Human flights to the space station will use the smaller Falcon 9.
- Kevin talked about Amazon’s Alexa not responding to its name by design when Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial was on, based on this article on Bloomberg.
- Kevin’s Terrible Nerd book, that he joke-ordered from Randy’s Alexa.
- Gary talked about the reports he saw that Youtube will label PBS news reports as being “state-funded,” even though only a tiny fraction of PBS’s budget comes from tax money. (Ars Technica, TechCrunch)
- Related to that, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia charges that Russia “manipulates” Youtube search to show its propaganda to Americans (CNet).
- Speaking of Youtube, its latest statistics are mind-boggling: FortuneLords.com reports that 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute, Youtube serves up about 5 billion videos every day, and more.
- During the discussion of how ads end up on web sites, Randy noted he pulled his ads when Google repeatedly warned him about talking about real news stories they found objectionable (sex! gasp!), yet posted very sexually suggestive ads on the same site. See the examples in his blog.
- Leo talked about Microsoft removing an important backup option from Windows 10’s upcoming Fall Creators Update: “system image backups” (their announcement here), so he has released a new book, Backing Up in Windows 10 to help people safeguard their files.
- In an update to TEH 006, Randy talked about the reassuring reports coming out next month on cell phone safety, available in draft form now from the NIH (note: not only big, but filled with highly technical medical jargon).