Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 2/2/24: Taylor Swift is not giving away Le Creuset

No free French cookware 

Here’s a news flash: Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift are not giving away Le Creuset cookware at too-good-to-be-true prices. But according to Mashable, some trusting individuals have been tricked by deepfakes of celebrities into signing up for expensive, unwanted subscriptions. If you think you’re going to get that $200 casserole for $9.96 in shipping costs, remember that Taylor and Selena are not Ellen.

The best of CES 

Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (aka CES) offers a showcase for new and aspiring products – some of which will actually come to market. And tech reporters are eager to catalog their top picks. Variety’s favorites include a transparent TV and a budget-friendly alternative to Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro, while The Verge is highly impressed with a Hyundai that can turn on its axis. Goodbye, parallel parking woes.

“You gotta beat the mice to the cheese” 

So says a convicted iPhone thief, explaining to Wall Street Journal tech reporter Joanna Sharpe in a video interview how he stole passcodes and thousands of dollars from his victims. Her story led Apple to add new anti-theft protection rolling out this month, according to The Verge. TL; DR: Don’t hand your phone to strangers bearing drugs.

Spend five more minutes to save the planet 

Insomniacs might disagree, but a study by scientists at McGill found that the average human spends 9.1 hours asleep each day. What we do with the other 14.9 hours is illustrated in a pie chart published by Scientific American. We spend most of our waking time taking care of ourselves, they found, and very little time–about five minutes–taking care of the planet. Even a few more minutes a day could make a meaningful difference, they believe.

Hey, hackers, back off libraries 

Two massive public library systems were hit by hacker attacks in October. The Toronto Public Library is currently storing returned books in 12 tractor trailers off site as they wait to be checked back in, according to the CBC. Meanwhile, Euronews reports the British Library’s catalog came back online in January after an attack took down its entire website. In both cases, the hackers attempted to auction off patrons’ information on the dark web; both libraries are still considered crime scenes.

Flip phone rebel 

Chicago high school principal Seth Lavin, writing for the LA Times, reflects on his experience swapping his smart phone for a flip-phone. Despite the scorn of students and family, he spends less time scrolling and more time connected to his world. Though he admits he does have to print out directions now.

Hashtag Layoff 

Tempting as it might be to discredit your employer after being laid off, experts agree it’s probably not the smartest career move. Yet a current trend among tech workers who have recently lost their jobs is to film themselves as they’re being fired online and then post the dismissal on social media. As the BBC asks, what could possibly go wrong?

The robot with the wrinkled nose 

It’s no secret that robots can be made to look like humans–Disney did it decades ago. But if you want to see something a bit unnerving, watch the humanoid robot Ameca appear to amuse herself making faces in a mirror. This Laughing Squid article includes videos of Ameca reflecting on her best day and getting some bad news about the destruction of the planet, which doesn’t seem to scare her much. But then, she’s not a squishable human.

Cold weather stalls cool cars 

The cold snap last month brought a rude awakening to some Tesla drivers who discovered that battery-powered vehicles don’t do well in frigid weather. The New York Times chronicled the woes of drivers facing long lines at charging stations or needing to be towed when their battery died. Despite billions of federal money earmarked for more charging stations, a robust charging network is still pretty far down the road.

Convenient, yes. Secure, not so much. 

Google’s Password Manager does make life more convenient, remembering and auto-filling your passwords when activated, but wants us to put a few safeguards in place. After logging all the ways a hacker can access your passwords (disturbing), they advise putting a password or PIN on your account and adding two-factor authentication. Convenience vs. security – you decide.