Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooks

October 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

cyber crime 300x223 Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooksHalf of the UK have been victims of cyber crime! According to a new report.

Well, they say ‘half’, but based on a survey of 2000 web users, 51% said they’d been affected by online scams, phishing, ID theft or some pesky virus.

The report by the Get Safe Online organisation, also said that many victims are left emotionally scarred by the experience.

Which is about right. You DO feel a bit vulnerable and freaked out that some arse has buggered your online-scene up.

Half of the victims said they felt violated by their ordeal and rued clicking on that link for free glans/baps (delete as appropriate). Only 14% of the affected felt they’d achieved any kind of redress after the matter either.

Also, a report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, released to coincide with Get Safe Online Week, claimed that online scams raked in £670m between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.

However an upshot of all this, has meant that those who have been violated then got heavy with web protection and not being so free and easy with their online behaviour.

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online reckons this, by saying “Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’, and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished.”

“The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Meanwhile Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude threw his weight in and said the figures underlined the importance of doing everything possible to shore up the UK’s cyber defences, saying: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80bn a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good, but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year.”

“We have an £860m Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement’s response to cybercrime, and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.”

Twitter introduce Digits

October 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Twitter Logo1 Twitter introduce DigitsTwitter have announced a new thing called Digits. The service will allow users to log in to third-party apps using their phone number as a unique identity rather than a password.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have long enabled customers to sign into third party apps and websites using their existing login information, rather than creating a new login account specifically for that website.

The idea behind Digits, is that it simplifies logins, and providing demographic information to web developers.

Digits allows users to login to mobile apps using their phone number alone. After downloading an app, the user simply has to enter their phone number, and the app will verify it by sending a text message to that number and reading it automatically.

According to CEO, the never not funny Dick Costolo: “This is an entirely new native mobile sign up service that makes mobile-first sign-up frictionless, and creates an identity relationship entirely between you and your users,”

“We power it – we make it easy for you to communicate with your users – but that identity relationship is between you and them, not some third party. We power it and then we get out of the way.”

Digits is part of Twitter’s new development program Fabric, aimed at giving developers the tools to develop apps that can hook up with Twitter. The technology will be available in 216 countries and 18 languages, and will be free for developers to use.

Amazon Fire TV, available for £79

October 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

amazon fire Amazon Fire TV, available for £79Amazon Fire TV and gaming gadget is available in the UK for £79 – they’re serious about challenging Netflix, Apple TV and Co aren’t they?

If you buy it, you’ll get a host of apps including Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Vevo and Sky News. Others will be added before the year is out.

As for gaming, the launch titles include Minecraft, The Walking Dead and the Android versions of Grand Theft Auto games. You might need a controller for certain titles, which will set you back an extra £34.99.

Amazon reckon that Fire has three times the power of an Apple TV and it has a number of nifty things. The remote, for example, has a microphone built-in, which means you can bark instructions at it to find your favourite shows or whatever.

Another thing it used is the Amazon WhisperSync function, which means that, if you’ve been watching something on your tablet, Fire will pick up where you left off if you’d rather watch it on the big screen. It works in the other direction too. One great idea is the Amazon ASAP function which pre-loads content for you if you have trouble with buffering.

You can pick one up at Amazon here if it sounds like the kind of thing you’d like.

Apple admit that iCloud has been compromised

October 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

apple icloud 300x260 Apple admit that iCloud has been compromisedApple have ‘fessed up about iCloud accounts being compromised by fake log-in pages. This follows an incident wherein Chinese users’ account names and passwords were requested by suspect looking web pages.

After all that celebrity nude action a couple of weeks ago, Apple came up with a two-password verification system to try and increase security.

Alas, reports of organised password phishing syndicates harvesting user information via fake iCloud pages emerged, and Apple had to come clean and say it’s a thing.

A statement released on Apple’s support page has confirmed that these phishers were stealing accounts and passwords, but that remained the dimensions of it. There was no further information as to when these happenings occurred or the severity of them.

Apple have helpfully told users to only use sites if there’s a padlock handy. On the site’s address bar, not around your neck.

They said: “We’re aware of intermittent organised network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously. These attacks don’t compromise iCloud servers, and they don’t impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser.”

“The iCloud website is protected with a digital certificate. Users should never enter their Apple ID or password into a website that presents a certificate warning.”

Last month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook admitted that Apple could do more to inform users how to make their iCloud accounts more secure, but was too pre-occupied with flogging new tat than being helpful.

Nokia now goes by the name of Lumia

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

nokia lumia logo 300x168 Nokia now goes by the name of LumiaAfter reporting that the Microsoft looked like they were offing Nokia, it’s now official.

Microsoft could keep hold of the name for another ten years, but obviously thought “no, that’s it, you’re dead to us!” and will now be known as the not-at-all catchy ‘Microsoft Lumia’.

The Nokia brand had been visible on recent smartphone launches such as the Lumia 930 and Lumia 735, but Microsoft has not mentioned it in any press on marketing junk.

The Windows Phone apps have also been re-branded to Lumia, and the firm hasn’t even been referring to Windows Phone in advertising, instead using just Windows instead.

The rebranding will roll out across various countries in due course, however it is unclear what branding Microsoft will decide to use on future smartphones and tablets.

Existing devices carry the Nokia logo on the front and back so it will probably be a little while for new devices all branded and sexed up to arrive.

Still. No more Nokia! The name of a mobile giant is chucked in the bin just like that. We’ll be playing ‘Snake’ all night and crying while seeing if it is possible to actually break a Nokia 3310 without the use of nuclear weapons.

The car seat that detects heart attacks

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

old driver car The car seat that detects heart attacksAll hail the car seat that detects heart attacks! The motor company Ford has unveiled a car seat that can detect when the driver is having a heart attack, therefore allowing the vehicle to come to a safe stop.

Heart attacks are clearly a thing in Fords, so this is an issue that obviously needs sorting.

Using ‘electrocardiograph’ (heart-monitoring) sensors in the seats to detect an irregular heartbeat, combined with an in-car camera that detects when the driver slumps in his seat, the car can activate automated steering and braking systems to bring the car to a stop safely when there’s a problem.

It can then ring the emergency services for you if you’re so inclined. Or not, if you’d prefer to simply perish in your automobile.

Ford’s Research Centre director, the splendidly named Pim van der Jagt, told the FT that the technology is developed for when “100-year olds driving cars will not be abnormal in the future. About 30% of people above 65 have some kind of heart irregularity. And with the number of older car buyers set to rise dramatically this is an area of concern.”

Ford is yet to reveal when exactly this technology can be made available, as there’s no actual date of release yet, but Mr van der Jagt believes it will be in all new models within the next few years.

illegal downloading1 269x300 Google to crack down on illegal downloading sites. Again. Google are planning on making changes to its search engine in a bid to crack down on illegal stuff happening.

The engine will direct users away from sites where they can half-inch content, pushing them towards less dodgy sites.

Google have caved in to pressure from the entertainment industry, who have been campaigning for the search engine to do something, while they carried on rearranging deckchairs.

Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page, but if legal sites want to appear in the slot, they will need to pay Google for placement, something music trade group BPI has a problem with.

BPI made 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results in 2013 – the U.S equivalent group, the RIAA, made 31.6 million and Google removed 222 million results from search because of copyright issues

Google’s Content ID system, which detects copyrighted material, scans 400 years-worth of video every day, which they then offer the music labels the choice of having the content removed, or monetising by having advertising placed there.

The report said: “Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply,’ the report said.

As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services.”

It’s unlikely that this will have a massive turnaround in the entertainment industry’s favour, who are missing the days where everyone was on champagne and cocaine breakfasts, but people will find a way around it. They always do.

However, with Google directing people to Google Play, making money through advertising on YouTube adverts and other schemes to ‘combat privacy’, it looks like they might be having the breakfast of a ’70s record company executive, so not everyone is a loser in this. We never said they were unscrupulous.

Microsoft to launch new smartwatch for Christmas

October 20th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

new microsoft logo 300x110 Microsoft to launch new smartwatch for ChristmasFirst Apple announce theirs and suddenly everyone’s launching a smartwatch. Microsoft are the latest to get in on the wrist-action and it is rumoured they’ll have a smartwatch due to launch within weeks.

While there’s no word on an exact date as yet, reports suggest that Microsoft would like it out before Christmas. And, ideally, before Apple.

There’s also rumours that the device will offer a two-day battery life, which shades the Moto 360 and Samsung Gear 2′s everyday charging needs.

The Microsoft smartwatch will also have compatibility for multiple operating systems, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and Forbes claims it will also be the first wearable to feature an always-on heart rate sensor, making use of Microsoft’s Kinect technology.

According to a report: “When it comes to battery life, Microsoft may benefit from its historic expertise in software, allowing it to create sensor integrations that boost the device’s power train efficiency.”

Microsoft has yet to comment on the speculation. They’re just offering us “GO AWAY” at the moment.

Careless: Whisper

October 17th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

whisper Careless: Whisper Whisper is the app that reckons you can share secrets with, without it being retraced back to you… except it’s not particularly good at it.

According to a Guardian report, the service is tracking people who don’t want to be tracked, and there are some issues around privacy which are a little alarming.

It transpires that Whisper are apparently sharing information with the US Department of Defense and is retaining user’s posts in a searchable database.

The Guardian claims that four days after learning about the report, Whisper changed its terms of service, allowing the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s location feature.

According to Whisper: “Even for users who opt into geolocation services, the location information that we do store is obscured to within 500 meters of their smartphone device’s actual location.”

This is at odds with the temporary, anonymous selling point of the app, where users might have thought that anything they post would soon disappear into the ether

The Guardian report suggests “data, which stretches back to the app’s launch in 2012, is being stored indefinitely.”

Whisper’s response: “Whisper may retain posted content for a brief period of time as stated in our terms of service, however, the internal database contains no personally identifiable information and is secure/access-audited, and not publicly accessible”

Hmmm. So what you thought was secret isn’t. Who knew!

HBO to come to you direct?

October 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Game of Thrones Season 4 Second Trailer 570x293 300x154 HBO to come to you direct?HBO, peddlars of fare such as that Game of Thrones, are to launch a streaming service in the US.

Thus providing fans of the slightly OTT dwarf-based romp with an alternative to subscribing to expensive cable packages.

The broadcaster’s CEO, Richard Plepler, on Wednesday said the move would remove all the barriers to those who want HBO, in a move which may cut down on piracy by providing consumers inexpensive access to the content.

That’s currently about the dimensions of the announcement at the moment, but it’s unlikely to win HBO many chums in the cable world.

James McQuivey, an analyst at tech-research firm Forrester, told The Drum that HBO’s announcement will put the fear into US satellite TV providers said: “Their worst fear has come true: HBO has announced it will give customers direct, over-the-top access to its hit TV shows without requiring a cable or satellite subscription.”

“This move was inevitable from the moment that people started streaming TV shows online as HBO has some of the most prized content on the TV screen and it appeals strongly to the young, affluent, educated demographic that is most likely to cut the cable cord in the next five to ten years.

“While Pay TV operators are certainly furious today, other cable programmers like Viacom and A&E are thrilled that HBO is shining a light down a path they may all have to contemplate in the future.”

McQuivey added: “None of them will have as easy a time as will HBO, but they all know they need an escape hatch for that moment when the current, bundled TV model begins to collapse.”

If all goes well, it’s likely that HBO will fancy doing something similar in the UK.

The whole landscape of TV and programming is morphing before our eyes. All we can do is watch. Man.

Voice search: The kids are alright about it

October 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

girls texting 300x200 Voice search: The kids are alright about itA recent study by Google, into the voice-search habits of Americans, reckons that if you still type in your search request, then you are like, really old and should book Dignitas immediately granddad.

The Mobile Voice Study found that while teenagers are all fine and everyday about using voice search daily, only 41% of adults use it.

And out of that lot, 56% of the adults feel like a nob doing so.

Google also spotted that teens are happy just to use voice search willy-nilly. Right there. In front of you. Making anyone over the age of 20 wish they were dead. They don’t care.

Shall we gander at some of the other findings? You may be quizzed on it later, so best to be prepared.

40% use voice search to get directions;
32% use voice search to initiate phone calls;
39% use voice functionality to dictate text messages;
38% use voice search while watching television;
41% wish voice search could tell them where the TV remote was located;
23% use voice search while cooking;
51% of teens and 32% of adults use voice search ‘just for fun’;
27% use voice search to check the weather;
22% of teens use voice search in the bathroom.

Scott Huffman, Google’s Vice President for Conversational Search in a press release that accompanied the blog post, said: “Voice search is a key feature of the Google app that’s becoming ever more important as people spend more time on their mobile phones,”

“We wanted to learn more about how people of all ages use Google hands-free on their phones. We found that for teens, voice search comes as naturally as checking social media and they’re getting very creative about how (and where) they use it. The study gives us great ideas about new ways we could help people – maybe even help them find their keys and other elusive objects.”

We Really Want… an invisible umbrella

October 16th, 2014 8 Comments By Mof Gimmers

All the best gadgets are the ones that are thoroughly pointless. You don’t need a tablet. You could easily live without remote controls. So with that, let us get excited about the fancy, but ultimately pointless invisible umbrella.

Even though trad. arr. umbrellas work pretty fine on their own, there’s a Kickstarter project that has developed an umbrella that replaces waterproof fabric for a force field. You heard. A force field.

And it has already raised and surpassed its $10,000 goal by three times.

If you can’t be bothered watching the video, basically, the umbrella is a rod that comes in three models, which basically are different from each other due to battery life and length.

“It’s a real ‘invisible umbrella,’ which takes advantage of the air flow as shelter from the rain,” the campaign page says.

It’s basically a plastic rod with a motor inside that sucks air in one end and blows it out at the other, creating an air blade that redirects the rain away from you, and onto anyone walking by.

Now for some sentences with double entendres: Model A is designed for women and will be 12 inches long and last for 15 minutes. Model B will be 20 inches long and will blow stuff out of the end for half an hour. Model c is extendible to 32 inches and will give you 30 minutes of satisfaction while you grip the shaft.

Thing is, this is quite heavy and probably quite noisy, so why have all these people coughed up their money to fund it? Have they spotted another use for it? Maybe you can make a bong out of it or something sex related?

Or is it just a case of people being tired of drying umbrellas indoors or they’ve had enough of them blowing inside out on wet, windy days? Or is the funding propelled by tall people who are tired of getting an umbrella in the eye?

One thing’s for certain – they have some design work to do as currently, it looks really very ugly.

air umbrella 500x246 We Really Want... an invisible umbrella

If you want to find out more about it, visit the Kickstarter here.

More video messaging solutions courtesy of Qik

October 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

qik 300x285 More video messaging solutions courtesy of QikJust in case you weren’t keeping up to date with video messaging, along comes Qik. Qik was originally an app that came as part of the deal with Skype, but now Microsoft is trying to big it up as a separate thing.

According to Dan Chastney and Piero Sierra on Skype’s Big Blog: “A small team of Skype designers and developers recently took up the challenge to build a new app to run alongside Skype and provide an ongoing form of video chat.”

“They knew they had to create something mobile and lightweight, as spontaneous as messaging but as intimate as calling. And it had to be fun and easy to use. What they created was Skype Qik.”

Qik works on Google Android, Apple iOS, and Windows Phone gadgets. You can do 43 seconds of video footage to share over the internet, and then two weeks later it’s deleted. Like Snapchat, but with a longer tail.

The videos can be sent to multiple people simultaneously, who can reply in kind if they have Qik installed. If not, they get a text message with details about how to download it

Users can also records five-second GIFs, dubbed Qik Flik, to use if they are offline, but this can be only used on Android and iOS.

Skype bought Qik back in 2011 for $100 million and marketed it as a simple video chat app. But as Snapchat and a host of other firms started having success with short-lived picture and video apps, Microsoft decided to get in the game with this new software.

mobile phone 300x225 Mobile connectivity aint all that on London trainsMobile connectivity is a right state on London’s commuter routes.

That’s according to the findings of a study by Global Wireless Solutions, who tested the ten most popular commuter routes to discover that that one in three mobile internet tasks and one in seven voice calls on commuter trains fails.

The networks EE, O2 and Vodafone all rely heavily on their older 2G networks and ‘half-rate codecs’ for the commuters, but this means that call quality can be poor and many data packets are dropped.

The study found that 23% of 3G data packets and 37% of 4G data packets travelling across the networks of the four major UK operators do not make it to their intended destinations.

Basically, the best network on which to chat on is 3, while Vodafone’s subscribers get best 3G data service and EE subscribers get the best 4G data service.

In a statement that suggests he needed it written for him, Paul Carter, chief executive of GWS said: “Leaves on the track, the wrong kind of snow, having to stand up all the way to work and back – commuters have enough to contend with without the kind of mobile connectivity problems we’re revealing today,”

“It’d be great to see networks, rail operators and station-masters taking the lead on improving connectivity for commuters – rather than having to be dragged into the 21st Century kicking and screaming.”

Bless him. Shall we look at the Top Ten worst stations then?

Station / Average number of voice and data failures

1. St Pancras (99)
2. Radlett (53)
3. Kentish Town (43)
4. Upminster (42)
5. Elstree & Borehamwood (36)
6. Hendon (33.5)
7. St Alban’s City (33)
8. Cricklewood (27.5)
9. Kidbrooke (27)
10. Ockenden (26)

will.i.am to launch smartwatch this week

October 14th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

william 261x300 will.i.am to launch smartwatch this weekPopular music irritant will.i.am is to launch his new smartwatch affair on Thursday, barging right into competition with the Apple Watch.

The watch will have Bluetooth capability for wire-free internet connection, and doesn’t need to be linked to a mobile phone like Apple’s.

It is capable of making and receiving calls without a supplementary phone.

However what is of interest among all this folly, is that will.i.am has used UK firm 7digital to deliver the music aspect of the gadget.

The company’s shares went up by 44% as a result of being associated with the Black Eyed Pea.

The device stores music, which can be updated via its internet connection, and there are rumours that using will.i.am’s clout, 7digital have made deals with a variety of labels and hope that each artist is treated equally.

Which will make a change for an online music service.