It was only a matter of time

We hate to bring you bad news on a Friday – or any day, for that matter – but as you’ve likely heard by now, hackers gained access to personal information at credit reporting agency Equifax, one of the largest such agencies in America – or the world. Equifax CEO Rick Smith was quick to respond to the revelation via a YouTube video in which he apologized for the breach, which is thought to have affected 143 million Equifax users.

Smith went on to say they are still looking into the incident and that it appears that no one’s credit scores have been tampered with, but the bigger problem is that the hackers made off with sensitive information including the holy grail of personal data, social security numbers. With that information, criminals can open fake bank accounts, apply for credit cards and essentially ruin a person financially. Smith said the hack took place over the summer.

Equifax is offering those affected an assistance package of tools and credit monitoring, all at no charge. There’s a special website you can visit to check if your data has been compromised, and we strongly suggest you take Equifax up on their offer of credit monitoring and other help.

A marriage of convenience

While everyone is waiting with baited breath for the big reveal this coming Tuesday of the next Apple iPhone, Google is apparently making moves behind the scenes to shore up the supply line for their expected Pixel 2 smartphones, which are due out next month. According to a story by Chinese publication Commercial Times, Google is interested in buying the company that makes their new smartphone. That company? HTC.

That’s right, the same company that makes the popular HTC Vive virtual reality headset. However, the Commercial Times does note that if the deal goes through, the Vive operation may not be included in the deal, which is kind of a bummer. HTC and Google go way back, all the way to 2009 when HTC made the Nexus One for the search giant. They’ve been working together at some level pretty much ever since.

But despite that partnership, HTC is having some tough times financially, with revenues down a staggering 54 percent from this time last year. Making smartphones is a low-margin, cutthroat business in China, and HTC’s offerings, while certainly competent, have not been market winners, and that struggle may be making it a tempting takeover target for Google. We’ll let you know when we hear more about a potential deal. The Pixel 2 phones go on sale in late October.

Raise your (three) hands

Ever feel like you could use a third arm to gather up all the laundry, kids toys, and that ham sandwich? Hey, us too, which is why we love that researchers at Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a robotic third arm that you wear… on your arm.

And the robo-arm isn’t limited by our pathetic human bio-mechanical design either: It can swing around 120 degrees, extend itself to grab stuff, and even brace that pesky 2×4 you’re trying to drill into. Researchers say they are looking into making the arm autonomous, but we think controlling it with our thoughts is much more exciting. And why just one arm? We think 5 or 6 more would be truly useful – just ask Doc Oc.

We talked to the researchers about their efforts and we gotta say, if they can make it really work, our future productivity – and our super villain potential – would get a major boost. Make it so, third arm.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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