Want to Convert your Flower Pots into Drones? Ask Siri!

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With technology you can buy a flowerpot that’ll keep your plants alive, steal drones from the police, and even turn air into water. The Geeks discuss these and many other stories on this week’s episode of GeekSpeak.

Photo of chicks in studio during show

4/4/16 = Square Root Day

Square Root Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on days when both the day of the month and the month are the square root of the last two digits of the year.1 For example, the last Square Root Day was March 3, 2009 (3/3/09), and the next Square Root Day will be April 4, 2016 (4/4/16). The final Square Root Day of the century will occur on September 9, 2081. Square Root Days fall upon the same nine dates each century.

Self-watering Smart Flower Pot Makes It Impossible to Kill Plants.

Pot’s sensors detect whether plants have enough light and fertilizer. It will also automatically water them as needed, said the Paris-based firm. Pot can hold about 2 liters of water which provides about a week of water.

Priced at $99, the Parrot Pot has sensors that measure light, moisture, temperature, and the level of fertilizer, ensuring that the plant always gets what it needs.

FCC’s “nutrition labels” for broadband show speed, caps, and hidden fees

The Federal Communications Commission today unveiled new broadband labels modeled after the nutrition labels commonly seen on food products. Home Internet service providers and mobile carriers are being urged to use the labels to give consumers details such as prices (including hidden fees tacked onto the base price), data caps, overage charges, speed, latency, packet loss, and so on.

ISPs aren’t required to use these labels. But they are required to make more specific disclosures as part of transparency requirements in the FCC’s net neutrality order, which reclassified Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC recommends that ISPs use these labels to comply with the disclosure rules and says use of the labels will act as a “safe harbor” for demonstrating compliance. However, ISPs can come up with their own format if they still make all the required disclosures in “an accurate, understandable, and easy-to-find manner,” the FCC said today.

Hacker reveals $40 attack that steals police drones from 2km away

IBM security guy Nils Rodday says thieves can hijack expensive professional drones used widely across the law enforcement, emergency, and private sectors thanks to absent encryption in on-board chips.

Rodday says the €25,000 (US$28,463, £19,816, AU$37,048) quadcopters can be hijacked with less than $40 of hardware, and some basic knowledge of radio communications.

Flytrex Sky Internet Drone

Introducing the world’s first cloud connected drone and the ultimate platform for hobbyists and drone enthusiast. Powered by the most advanced technology yet super simple to use. Fly for fun, deliver goods with dedicated app and collaborative piloting, revolutionary control over 3G and optional receiver/transmitter, FPV and GoPro ready, dual battery support and more!

The White House Finally Got Color Printers

So what technology does the White House now boast? Well, employees have new computers with “fast, solid-state drives and modern processors,” according to the newspaper, along with color printers. There’s a new phone system and many staff now tote iPhones. (Obama still uses a secure BlackBerry.) The wi-fi has been upgraded, so it’s now fast enough to live-stream video. And security has been increased too, with a new software system for managing visitors and a chip-based card system which is used by staffers instead of passwords.

Self-filling bottle turns air into water

A new, portable invention which generates water from thin air could benefit water-scarce areas worldwide.
Currently in the development phase and seeking crowdfunding, the Fontus water bottle takes in moisture and turns it into water using a condensation system and solar power.

Reddit removes “warrant canary” from its latest transparency report

Reddit has removed the warrant canary posted on its website, suggesting that the company may have been served with some sort of secret court order or document for user information.

Angola’s Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing the Problems With Digital Colonialism

Wikimedia and Facebook have given Angolans free access to their websites, but not to the rest of the internet. So, naturally, Angolans have started hiding pirated movies and music in Wikipedia articles and linking to them on closed Facebook groups, creating a totally free and clandestine file sharing network in a country where mobile internet data is extremely expensive.

It’s an undeniably creative use of two services that were designed to give people in the developing world some access to the internet. But now that Angolans are causing headaches for Wikipedia editors and the Wikimedia Foundation, no one is sure what to do about it.

Siri Now Understands Questions About Sexual Assault After Study Critiqued Automated Responses

Siri received a much-needed update this month, just days after researchers noted that four popular smartphone digital assistants had lackluster responses to questions about sexual assault and other personal emergencies, according to Apple.

As of March 17, Siri understands the phrases “I was raped” and “I am being abused.” In response, Siri puts iPhone users one click away from the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

Apple worked with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), which operates the hotline, to craft this response.

Kaggle: The Home of Data Science

Kaggle is the world’s largest community of data scientists. They compete with each other to solve complex data science problems, and the top competitors are invited to work on the most interesting and sensitive business problems from some of the world’s biggest companies through Masters competitions.

Linear Digressions

A Podcast About Data Science and Machine Learning Hosted by Ben Jaffe and Katie Malone.

Mouse Taxidermy Kit

If you’re not phased by a small (roughly mouse-sized) amount of blood and gore, then why not join the fastest growing trend in London – Taxidermy!

Based on traditional techniques dating back to Victorian times, this thoughtfully put-together kit contains everything a budding taxidermist needs to transform that stone cold rodent into an exquisite ornamental mouse. From surgical gloves and long-nosed pliers, to galvanised wire and tanning solution. Naturally the kit doesn’t include a mouse but it does have an extensive list of ethical suppliers to source your rodent from.

Ubuntu’s bash and Linux command line coming to Windows 10

Microsoft built a Linux subsystem for Windows for Project Astoria, its system for running Android apps on Windows 10 Mobile.

But in February the company confirmed that Astoria was dead, as it rather undermined the Universal Windows Platform concept. At the time, we speculated that portions of Astoria might live on, as portions of it had mysteriously started showing up in Windows Insider Previews. And today, that has come to pass, with Microsoft saying that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will include the ability to run the popular bash shell from Unix, along with the rest of a typical Unix command-line environment.

Your Life in Weeks


This Necklace Counts Calories by Listening to You Chew

University at Buffalo computer scientist Wenyao Xu got the idea for what he thinks will be the next craze in wearable technology—a choker-style necklace that monitors how much food you eat, by listening to you chew—when he was teaching a class full of students.

Episode 14 Season 16