GeekSpeak for 2015-06-20

Lastpass takes Hyperloop to Private Conference

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That battery thing was over-blown, Google IO, WWDC, NodeConf, tech diversity, some changes to iOS and much more geek news.

Plus an interview with Neil Stevenson about his new book, “Seveneves.” If you plan to read it, wait on listening to the interview because it contains spoilers.

Correction: The Batteriser Explained

The Batteriser is a really neatly designed product (apart from the shorting issue), I love the miniturisation technology in it, and I’ll be buying some once it goes on sale to check out how they have done it. And yes, it can and certainly will work on some, perhaps many products and get some extra life out of it. But the 800% claims are demonstrably untrue, and unfortunately this is what every media outlet ran with. They took a blue sky marketing estimate and ran with it because it made a great story. There was no basic fact checking. All the electronics engineers who immediately questioned the claims were right in doing so, it’s trivial to prove there are issues with even the most basic of engineering due-diligence. There are just way too many downsides and unanswered questions on this product. I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see until they start shipping so we can get one and actually test it.

I’m genuinely baffled as to why Batteroo would need to resort to claims like 8 times life. This thing would still sell like hot cakes if they claimed realistic practical figures. 50% increase in your battery life? – great, countless people would still buy it at the super low price point it’s at. You watch their Indiegogo campaign go gangbusters.

Batterisr highlights the importance of being skeptical though. Check out the May 17, 2008 episode of GeekSpeak where Steven Novella, host of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe , joins the Geeks to talk about the importance of skeptical thought.

iOS 9 lets app developers make ad blockers for Safari

Ad blocking extensions have been possible on Safari for Mac for a long time, but plugin architecture for Safari on iOS is much more limited. With iOS 9, Apple has added a special case of extension for ad blockers. Apps can now include ‘content blocker’ extensions that define resources (like images and scripts) for Safari to not load. For the first time, this architecture makes ad blockers a real possibility for iOS developers to make and iOS customers to install and use.

Also take a look at the PCMag article about iOS9 add blockers.

LastPass Hacked

Bad news first, folks. LastPass, our favorite password manager (and yours) has been hacked. It’s time to change your master password. The good news is, the passwords you have saved for other sites should be safe.
LastPass has announced on their company blog that they detected an intrusion to their servers. While encrypted user data (read: your stored passwords for other sites) was not stolen, the intruders did take LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes. The latter is what’s used to tell LastPass that you have permission to access your account.

It's Official: SpaceX Is Building Elon Musk's Hyperloop

SpaceX is building a hyperloop, Elon Musk’s fantastical, futuristic transport tube capable of moving people and freight at speeds of 760 miles per hour.
The company is building a one- to three-mile-long hyperloop test track outside its Hawthorne, California headquarters with plans to test the technology within a year, according to documents obtained by Motherboard (embedded below). It’s the first time that Musk, who conceived of the hyperloop, has been involved with any concrete plans to actually build it.

The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling

A new report into U.S. consumers’ attitude to the collection of personal data has highlighted the disconnect between commercial claims that web users are happy to trade privacy in exchange for ‘benefits’ like discounts. On the contrary, it asserts that a large majority of web users are not at all happy, but rather feel powerless to stop their data being harvested and used by marketers.

Soft robot tentacle can lasso an ant without harming it

The soft robot, developed by Jaeyoun Kim from Iowa State University and colleagues, can curl itself into a circle with a radius of just 200 micrometres. This is thanks to its microtube structure, fabricated from a kind of polymer called an elastomer. Existing robots inspired by animal tentacles are larger, since it can be tricky to reproduce the spiralling motion at a small scale. The smallest designs are currently centimetre-sized.