In The News 03-18-2016

Hackers Infiltrate Power Grid

This is the stuff you usually see in action movies, but it’s happening in real life. In December of last year, hackers managed to not only infiltrate Ukranian power utilities, but actually damage the power grid.

Nearly 1.4 million people had their power cut, at least temporarily, after three power companies were attacked. The Ukraine suspects that Russia is behind the attack.


The method of attack was the BlackEnergy trojan virus. It’s also been used to attack other government entities within the Ukraine.  Hackers got into the system sending a fake office document that appeared to be from the Ukrainian government. These days a virus can be as potent and destructive weapon as explosives.

Amazon Echo Gets Siblings

The Echo, Amazon’s voice activated smart home companion that can play music, read books aloud to you and answer your questions , has a couple of younger siblings, Tap and Dot. While Echo costs $179, Tap is only $129. However, tap is not an always-on device listening for your command. As the name implies, you need to tap it to activate.


Tap will also stream music, allow you to access the Alexa virtual assistant and access compatible apps. Plus, it is completely wireless, where Echo needs to be plugged in. Tap is rechargeable.

The Dot skips the large speaker of the other two items, but you can connect to other speakers via an audio cable or Bluetooth to play music. Like its big sisters, this device can control your smart home, play music and provide news and information. Dot retails for $89.

Coolest Cooler Struggles To Make Good On Kickstarter Promises.

It’s one of fasted-funded projects in the history of the Kickstarter crowd-funding site. The Coolest Cooler is not only a cooler, but it converts into a fully functional, solar-powered workstation for your tailgate or outdoor event, complete with a blender.


Kicksarter backers loved the idea, with $60,000 of them offering more than $13 million dollars in a month. But the company has not been able to deliver all the promised coolers to their backers. A problem with the blender led to delays and to the company selling the coolers for $500 each on Amazon to raise more money. So, the coolers were getting delivered to new customers, but not to the ones that had already paid a premium to have first-access to the coolers.

The folks behind the cooler say they’re still working hard to make sure everyone gets their cooler and to find new sources of funding.

This instance points out the catch with crowd-funding. As with any investment in a product that’s not yet on the market, it may be successful or it may fail.

~ Cynthia

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