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Tech Talk Tuesday: Smartphone Crime Rings and More

Updated: Tuesday, February 18 2014, 01:34 PM MST
Tech Talk Tuesday: Smartphone Crime Rings and More story image

By Lonnie Valencia

In todays Tech Talk, I’ve got gadget thieves, new video games to blow your mind, and Star Wars like prosthetics.  Stop what you're doing, learn to use the force, and grab a controller as we dive bomb this Tuesday with techie goodness.

There is a shadow organization working against you.  They lurk in the corners ready to slip past you when you least expect it.  Thieves organized to take your most valuable tech and make thousands of dollars off of it.  What am I talking about?  Organized smartphone crime rings!  That’s right, you read that correctly.  Thieves are making tons of money off of your stolen smartphone.  Whether they sell them for parts or take them overseas, one iPhone can be worth up to $1,130 in places like Italy.  So don’t think for a second that your stolen phone was taken by some punk kid.  Your phone could be on its way to get stripped for parts or taken to another country.  Another alarming fact is that more than 100 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute here in the US.  That is an outrageous amount of smartphones that are stolen, if you asked me and I’m not alone in my way of thinking.  Four US senators are trying to pass, what is referred to as, the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act.  This Act would force carriers to put a permanent kill switch into each smartphone.  In the event of a theft, the user could call the carrier and brick the phone rendering it worthless, stopping the theft from happening from the start.  As any good debate will go, the carriers don’t like the plan as they say it would lead to more sophisticated hacking and it would continue the cycle.  Some would say the carriers are just rejecting the solution so they can continue to charge customers billions of dollars in insurance premiums.  No matter how this turns out, it's a problem I’d like to see a solution to, whether it’s this Smartphone Theft Prevention Act or something else.

Moving on to a lighter note.  Tonight I’m not going to get much sleep. Why you ask? I’ll be up playing Titanfall on my Xbox One.  If you haven't seen the trailers or the gameplay, check it out here.  This game is made for the next level console and it shows.  If you have an Xbox One and you haven’t downloaded the open beta, do so now.   You are missing out!  The reason I bring this up at all is due to the fact that it was a closed beta that you had to be invited to participate in previously.  This weekend the creators of Respawn decided to give everyone a chance to try it out.  

Do you remember playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band?  I use to have all of the guitars, drums, and keyboards.  Well, Harmonix is now doing a first person shooter game (fps).  Did I mention the musical component?  Confused?  I am too!  Harmonix is making an fps music game called "Chorma."  This game is still in the alpha testing phase but they hope to have it ready sometime in the Fall.  All I can say is if it is anywhere near the caliber of the other games released by Harmonix, it should be good enough to check out.

Last on the techie news front, researchers at Darpa have made a prosthetic that can give the amputee the ability to feel.  This is right out of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke gets a robotic hand. You know the scene where the robot doc is testing the fingertips for feeling.  Is this real life mimicking sci-fi?  Are we now catching up to the technology of a long time ago in a galaxy far far away?  I can’t answer those questions.  I bet Yoda would say, “Cloudy, the future is.”  All I do know is that this is totally awesome!   The prosthetic was tested with the amputee blindfold and was handed various objects that soft or hard.  The amputee was able to determine through the prosthetic the correct answer.  Holly Chicken Nuggets!  How did Darpa researchers make this possible? They used targeted muscle re-innervation (whatever that means).Check out this article by GIZMODO for more info.

That does it for this Tech Talk.  Let me know if you’ll be playing Titanfall or if you like the Darpa, Star Wars prosthetic.  As always we would love your feedback/suggestions for this or our next edition, so feel free to send your comments to our resident Tech Guy Lonnie Valencia.

Tech Talk Tuesday: Smartphone Crime Rings and More
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