Tech Beat by Namecheap – 6 January 2023
How many times have you picked up something today? Your car keys, milk from the fridge, or cutlery for your dinner. For humans, it’s a routine task that we take for granted. But for robots, it’s a monumental task. In this week’s feature, learn more about how Amazon is taking on the challenge of developing a robot with the dexterity of a human hand.
In other news
- Major hack on LastPass just before Christmas. During an attack on LastPass password management software two days before Christmas, hackers were able to access a backup of customer vault data, according to Gizmodo. If they’re able to correctly guess users’ passwords then they will have full access to password collections and other data. However, LastPass says that it is highly unlikely hackers will be able to do this where the company’s default settings and best practices are followed. But this may not be the case for those with weak passwords. Many experts say LastPass is still safe, but if you’re not convinced, ZDNet offers tips on how to get your passwords out of LastPass.
- FCC calls for a $300 million fine for robocall campaign. Following a robocall operation that made 5 billion pre-recorded calls between January and March 2021, US regulators have recommended a staggering fine of almost $300 million, according to The Register. The campaign has been sourced to a company registered in Panama, and they begin with inquiries about the recipient’s car warranty. The calls violate multiple laws, such as not identifying the caller and using tactics to make the caller ID appear local, when the calls were actually made from abroad. The calls have also made false or misleading statements and misrepresented what they are offering.
- FTC fines Epic Games $520 million. Gizmodo reveals that the Federal Trade Commission has fined the games provider of Fortnite more than half a billion for poor business practices concerning user interfaces. These include privacy violations, particularly where children are concerned. Regulators have been looking more closely at potential manipulation of digital design, and this is reflected in new regulations, such as the Age Appropriate Design Code of California and the UK. As part of the settlement, Epic Games has agreed to make changes, such as turning off voice chat for minors and introducing an instant purchase cancellation system.
- Stanford’s smart bandages accelerate wound healing in preclinical tests. Researchers from Stanford University have successfully invented “smart bandages,” which, when tested on mice, were found to heal wounds 25% faster than standard sterile dressings. A paper published in Nature Biotechnology and reviewed by MedTech Dive discussed a flexible bioelectronic system that can detect and stimulate wound sites to advance the closure, create more blood vessels, and promote skin regrowth. The possibility of applying smart bandages through wearable devices to observe chronic wounds in real time and to encourage healing has captivated many research teams.
- Group behind ransomware attacks on SickKids has offered an apology. The LockBit ransomware group has made a decrypter available at no cost to the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) after one of its members broke the rules by launching an attack against the medical facility. On December 18th, the SickKids hospital in Toronto was attacked with ransomware which had an impact on internal and corporate networks, hospital phone lines, and the website. Nevertheless, LockBit’s ethical standards still permit the taking of data from any medical institution.
Tip of the week: Keep your fingers agile with simple exercises
Machines taking the jobs of humans has been a fear among labor forces since the Industrial Revolution. But robots have yet to eliminate the need for skilled human labor, and the most common way that we mortals interact with technology is through our fingers. That’s why, for maximum efficiency (and, dare we say it, job security) it’s a good idea to keep your hands and fingers strong and flexible.
Tapping away all day on computer keyboards and touchscreen devices can lead to fatigue and muscle strain. To improve finger dexterity and increase your hand strength, Harvard University offers some specific techniques such as finger stretches, wrist stretches, and wrist and forearm stretches that can be performed during small breaks during the day.
Additionally, you can also use a squeeze ball to strengthen your grip and the muscles that move your fingers. When your fingers are feeling stiff, you can warm them up with a gentle soak or heating pad. And inexpensive hand braces that immobilize your thumb can also help recover from late-night gaming before the aches turn into something much worse.
Of course, if you are experiencing any chronic or sharp pains, it’s best to speak to your doctor.