Author Archive: Matt

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.

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By January 21, 2015 Read More →

Security: stop your business from being hacked

It is a well known fact that hackers are becoming increasingly intelligent when it comes to hacking into businesses IT systems. In fact experts are now warning that over 50% of UK businesses could be hacked in just one hour – a pretty worrying thought!

After the vicious attack on Sony in 2014 which took the entire world by storm, it has become evident that hackers really do know what they are doing – and the results are potentially dangerous. This scam also highlighted the fact that very few of us are protected against these criminal offences and much more needs to be done in order to combat these criminals.

It is well known that attacks on both small and medium sized (SME’s) companies are extremely common due to the less sophisticated security software they have in place. Hackers are also aware of this hence why these are the businesses that are often targeted – security is a huge problem for all firms, but it is the SME’s that are truly under threat.

 

Protecting your business

Here are some of the highly recommended tips to securing your business:

 

Education

One of the most important things any business can do in their plight to remaining secure is to educate their staff on their role in security. Your employees really are the frontline of defence when it comes to the security of your business, whilst this isn’t the only way, if staff are vigilant it means hackers will have a much harder time.

 

Endpoint Security

Many companies are also introducing Endpoint Security into their business in order to remain as safe and secure as possible. Endpoint Security is an information security method for protecting a corporate network through the focus of endpoints. Software, authentication and authorisation are each monitored carefully to ensure maximum security. This software will include antivirus, anti spyware and firewall protection.

 

Encryption

It is also recommended by experts that all business data is encrypted to ensure safety if any data is stolen. This works to ensure that if the data is stolen, the thief cannot read the data – only you can. This is one of the best security techniques out there.

 

Mobile

Now, it is no surprise that mobile is becoming huge – we are constantly on our phones, emailing or talking. So, it is important to set up mobile network security due to more and more members of staff working away from the office at home. Therefore it is vital to ensure that any wireless mobile connectivity is as secure as possible.

With these tips in mind, you will be able to protect your business for years to come from the infamous hackers.

By January 15, 2015 Read More →

Buying Suitable Storage Devices – A Guide

storage(1)The use of computing devices has increased exponentially. There are a lot of things nowadays that require the use of computers. With this increasing demand in computer use, there has also been an increase in the demand for storage. There are a lot of ways to store data from a computer. There is hardware that has been designed especially for storing information. A computing device has internal storage as part of its structure. Sometimes, its internal storage is not enough. This is why people buy external storage devices. These devices are also useful for backing up data. With an external storage device, one would not have to worry even if they lost the information on the primary storage.

There are a lot of places where one can buy quality storage devices. If you are looking for one, then check out VoucherBin. This is one of the options you have for buying storage devices. There are several choices when it comes to storage devices. Here is a look at some of them.

Discs – These are the most common ways of storing information. A disc can be CD-ROMs, Blu-Ray, DVD, CD-R, DVD+R to name a few. Discs are a type of optical storage which uses lasers to write and read the data on them. People use discs for storing all kinds of information from files to music to videos. Movies can also be burnt on to a disc from a computer.

Hard drive – this is another method that people use to store information. A hard drive is a type of magnetic storage. The best thing about hard drives is that the memory capacity can be expanded to a lot more. They are very effective for someone who needs to store a lot of information. They come in different sizes so a user can get what suit them.

Flash memory – this includes flash drives, memory sticks, memory cards or SD cards. This type of storage device is also very popular. It is convenient because it is portable. A memory stick can be carried around pretty much anywhere. It is light in weight and small in size. Memory cards are used in phones. A smart phone can do a lot of things that a computer can. Smart phones also come with expendable memory. This means that external memory can be added to increase storage capacity. Information can also be transferred from a computer to a memory card.

All these are options that one has when looking for storage devices. Ryman is one of the stores you can look at when in need of storage devices. There are a lot of options for computer users. If you are not sure what kind of storage device you want, then you can ask for help. Find out what works where. Compatibility is a key factor to consider when buying memory storage devices. It is also important to consider the performance of the device. In some cases, storage devices with more capacity may present some problems. It helps to know which type of storage device would be most suitable for your use. You should also consider the amount of information that you need to store. When you have decided which storage device you want, go for VoucherBin for options.

By January 13, 2015 Read More →

Scientists Use Poker to Improve Robot’s Decision Making

A couple of scientists working in their laboratory.Whether they’re serving us drinks on a cruise ship or parking our cars for us, robots are learning new tasks at what feels like an extraordinarily rapid pace. Driving that point home is a new study out of the University of Alberta in Canada that demonstrates the incredible decision-making capabilities of one particular robot.

According to NPR, researchers at the university developed a program that can beat any human opponent at a variant of Texas Hold’em poker. It’s known as Heads-up Limit Texas Hold’em, a version of the game that only features two players and capped betting. Despite being more limited than other variants, the research team still found there are “10 trillion different decision points in the game.” And one of those can apparently be used to win no matter what the other players is doing, which is interesting considering the act of bluffing is crucial to any version of poker.

But lead researcher Michael Bowling said that no matter how good the human player is, the computer will win. It took him and his team many years and the power of some 5,000 computers to figure it all out, with one researcher claiming it took nearly “a thousand years of computation” to reach these results.

Despite this program’s obviously strong skill set when it comes to this poker variant, Bowling said that online players won’t have to worry about it dominating virtual poker rooms. For one, it’s playing a variant that isn’t terribly popular among poker players at large. That being said, Bowling noted that there are indeed bots out there that players should look out for—just not his. For Bowling, it all comes down to improving the robot’s ability to make decisions when facing uncertainty, not clearing out the bank accounts of rival players.

Of course, if they did want to make the robot’s decision-making processing even that much more incredible, the scientists could look to a slew of other poker games to test it out on. According to online platform betfair poker, there are a number of variants out there including one close to what the robot was taught to play. That’s the multi-player Texas Hold’em, perhaps the most popular version of the card game thanks to its boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That all being written, these more complicated games could prove exceedingly difficult and likely impossible in terms of programming. Can you imagine the number of variables at play here? Again, this is especially true when noting the very “human” factor of bluffing, a major component to play any form of poker.

For those interested in reading more about this poker-playing robot study, head to the Cepheus Poker Project. With this type of decision-making programming in place, it’ll certainly be interesting to see where other, similar studies can make advancements—and how they can be applied to real-life situations.

By January 5, 2015 Read More →

HTC Announces the HTC DESIRE 320

V01_3V_White2014Nov25HTC COMBINES AMAZING VALUE AND ALL-ROUND PERFORMANCE WITH THE HTC DESIRE 320

HTC packs all the smartphone essentials into one entry-level phone, with super-fast processing power, HTC BlinkFeed and Video Highlights

 

LONDON, 5th JANUARY – HTC Corporation (“HTC”), a global leader in mobile innovation and design, has today announced the HTC Desire 320. As the successor to the HTC Desire 310, it is packed with all your everyday essentials and delivers a smooth browsing experience, seamless multi-tasking and the ability to create quick, personalised videos. The latest addition to the HTC Desire family has been designed for the entry-level market and delivers a quality user experience in an affordable handset, offering real value for money. 

“Marrying super-fast processing with premium HTC features in a compact form, the HTC Desire 320 delivers a quality experience for the budget conscious well beyond its entry-level model status” said Peter Frølund, UK and Nordics General Manager, HTC. “Following on from the success of the HTC Desire 310, it boasts enhanced power and memory to enable more people to benefit from a quality smartphone experience that delivers the perfect balance between smart essentials and value.”

 

Seamless experience

Behind the slick operation of the HTC Desire 320, which runs on Android™ 4.4, is a fast Quad-core 1.3 GHz quad-core processor capable of handling an array of tasks, from watching videos, playing the latest games to juggling your favourite apps, delivering a smooth experience every time.

 

Packed with features

For an entry-level handset, the HTC Desire 320 is packed with features. Whatever your pace of life, the 5MP camera ensures you’re able to capture every key moment as it happens, in still or video format, brought to life on its stunning 4.5” screen. Furthermore, the HTC Desire 320 allows you to get creative with mini movies using HTC’s Video Highlights functionality. Simply take your favourite photos and videos, select a sequence and a favourite track, to create an impressive show reel in seconds, ready to share with friends and family. 

 

The HTC Desire 320 also brings you the renowned HTC BlinkFeed for up to the minute news, perfect for those who like to stay connected and keep up with the latest action as it happens. Combining content from your favourite news and social media sites into an easily digestible feed on your home screen, personalised updates are brought straight to you at a glance. Wherever you are, you can catch-up on the latest articles with Offline Reading mode. Simply download and add articles to your reading list when connected to Wi-Fi to access and enjoy at a later date, perfect for those who enjoy reading on the move.

 

Availability

The HTC Desire 320 comes in Vanilla White and Dark Gray. UK availability will be announced in the near future.

Posted in: Press Releases, Printers
By December 8, 2014 Read More →

iMend smartphone repair review

IMG_1542No matter how careful you are, at some point many of us end up dropping their mobile phone. Sometimes you get lucky and end up with just a little scratch but other times the damage can be a little more catastrophic. Generally your choices are to get a new phone or to get the phone repaired. The former can be rather costly and the repair route typically involves sending the phone away for a week or so. 

If you reply upon a mobile phone for your business then being without it for any amount of time may be less than ideal. That’s where the relatively new service from iMend can come in very handy. 

iMend provides a phone repair call out service. Simply put, they come to you and fix your phone and they can often do that same-day.  iMend can deal with a variety of common phone issues from cracked screens to faulty buttons, water damage, battery replacement and more. Currently they can deal with all iPhone models, iPad’s and Samsung Galaxy phones. They are also adding more devices soon.

My colleague, Simon, was unfortunate enough to break his phone a few weeks ago. Having dropped it climbing out of the car the screen shattered to the point that several bits of the glass fell off! Remarkably the phone and the touchscreen still worked, just, but the phone clearly needed to be sorted out. The issue for Simon was that his mobile phone is critical to his business so the idea of sending it away for repair was unthinkable. He was on the verge of buying a new phone when I told him about iMend.

We called iMend and spoke to them about the problem. They said they could get an engineer out to us the same day but we opted to have the repair carried out the following day. We were given a time window of between 10AM and 11AM and sure enough, at a few minutes past 10 there was a knock at the door.

In walked a very nice young man, Vil, with a couple of briefcases full of tools and parts. We gave him a small work area to carry out the repair and he confidently said that the repair would take less than 30 minutes. Part way through the repair, Vil noticed that the power button wasn’t working properly. A fact that Simon was aware of; the button hadn’t been working for a few months. Vil asked at that point if we would like him to swap the button at the same time. This seemed like a good idea so we agreed. 

After about 45 minutes, it took little longer because of changing the power button, Vil  declared that the phone was fully fixed. Sure enough Simon’s iPhone 5 looked brand new and even had a nice screen protector stuck on too. A nice touch!

All in all, the service from iMend was amazing. Punctual arrival on the date and time promised and at a time and location that suited us. The quality of the work was second to none and even comes with a 12 month warranty. 

The cost to replace the screen on the iPhone 5 was £59 which is comparable to many of the send-away services available but the convenience is invaluable. I would absolutely recommend iMend to anyone in need of a smartphone repair.

Please visit the iMend website for a full list of phones covered and their repair price list.

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
By December 2, 2014 Read More →

Sports Tech: Using data to shape your team’s tactics

Your team’s star centre-forward pops his Achilles tendon in training – season over. The starting QB dislocates his shoulder a week before the SuperBowl, missing the biggest game of the season. The scrum-half pulls up with a torn hamstring ten minutes into rugby union’s Heineken Cup final; his team struggle without him.

Injuries can disrupt a match or change the entire course of a season, and certainly spoil that pre-game sporting wager you might have placed with betting website like Vernons – hot favourites can instantly find themselves at a disadvantage when their leading goal scorer or most prolific wicket taker pulls out the day before the fixture.

Bad luck, eh? Well… maybe not. New intelligence and the increasing use of data means that clubs are no longer prepared to play a game of chance with their highly prized and valued assets. Their players, in other words.

Using data to shape a team’s strategy is not brand new. The book Moneyball, published in 2003, covered the project embraced by the Major League Baseball outfit Oakland Athletics. The A’s general manager, Billy Beane, had the second lowest payroll in baseball and needed to build a team capable of competing with more illustrious opponents. He has turned Oakland into regular contenders by statistics and data to identify previously unheralded players to bring to the club. Recently, in an interview with the Guardian, he discussed whether he could translate that approach to football.

Germany, winners of the 2014 World Cup, used data to feed player intelligence and tactics in the build up to the tournament. The German Football Association developed an application called Match Insights – in partnership with a software company called SAP – which, according to The Telegraph, ‘analyses vast amounts of data about members of the German team and their opponents, based on their on-field performance.’

Player performance is analysed using eight cameras surrounding the pitch, and data is used to measure a range of key performance indicators. One example of how this  data was translated practically can be demonstrated by the Germany national team improving their passing speed; reducing average possession time from 3.4 seconds in 2010 down to 1.1 second earlier this year.

Technology can also be used to forecast injuries, which can have a serious impact on the performance of a team. This article discloses that: ‘Major League Baseball teams spent $665m last year on salaries for both injured players and their replacements, NBA teams lost $358m last season; $44m alone by the injury-ridden Los Angeles Lakers. And in the NFL, where the average salary is about $2m, starters missed a record 1,600 games in 2013.’

So, that’s huge! Anything teams can do to mitigate these losses can be of major benefit. As such, the industry of performance analytics is a fast-growing one and data can anticipate that an athlete is likely to be injured before it actually happens.

There is more detail about such analytics here. The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have invested a reported $1m on technology (a fraction of the cost of the average salary bill). Players wear monitors that measure agility and acceleration, allowing coaches to identify when performance begins to decline; heart rate monitors that create post-workout recovery reports to indicate when athletes are physically ready to handle more training; a system that captures data on fatigue, stress and aerobic capacity and more.

Last season, the Eagles were the second least-injured team in the NFL, with 14 players who started every regular season game. They had a 10-6 record and won the NFC East division. That compares favourably with a 4-12 record the season before.

Posted in: Editorial
By December 1, 2014 Read More →

Award Winning Android Apps of 2014

 

Data from 2014 shows that 84% of time on mobiles is spent using Apps, compared to 14% on the mobile web. The App industry therefore continues to become an important area for IT recruitment growth; reportedly creating more than 500,000 jobs and becoming a $25bn economy in the US alone already.

 

As we wait to see which Apps will prove the most innovative and useful in 2015, we look back to the best of 2014:

 

1.       Learn Languages: Rosetta Stone

 Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 16.52.35

This Android Education app won the “2014 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award” and the “2014 Tabby Awards Winner” as well as the “Users’ Choice pick.” What makes this language learning app special is the extensive access to 24 different languages, of which the first lesson is free to access. It boasts voice recognition and the app creators have additionally pioneered interactive software to improve language learning. Nowadays, international travel is common and ambitious professionals may need to learn a language to expand opportunities to work internationally. This could be the perfect app if The Wall Street Journal is correct: “Rosetta Stone may be the next best thing to living in a country.”

 

2.       Hotel Tonight  

 Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 16.52.43

 

Hotel Tonight carries the motto ‘Plan Less. Live More.’ and scooped the Best Android App at 2014’s Tabby Awards in the Lifestyle category. The App provides guaranteed best rates at hand-picked, top-rated hotels, which you can then ‘book in 10 seconds with 3 taps and a swipe.’ The hotels are grouped into categories such as Basic, Hip and Luxe as well as ‘themed playlists’ that will tell you which hotels have great pools, for example. The Top 3 reasons why each hotel has been selected is also provided to enable users to understand the benefits with a quick glimpse. And to cap it all off, the App is backed by real people offering 24/7 customer service.

 

3.       Marvel Puzzle Quest

 Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 16.52.57

 

This App is another Tabby Awards Winner, in the category of, ‘Game: Puzzle, Games & Family.’ This game combines all of the famous Marvel characters such as Captain America, Spider-Man and Hulk on different gameplay puzzles that give you the options of: player-vs-player tournaments; unlocking new characters; collecting comics; fighting against the Marvel enemies; and reading epic original story lines. Players gradually unlock different characters by collecting comic covers, which in turn strengthen associated skills. Users can improve their gaming puzzle skills anywhere, on their mobile or tablet.

 

“An intricately crafted, remarkably deep experience — Marvel Puzzle Quest doesn’t merely meet the expectations of its name, it exceeds them.” – IGN.com (Editors’ Choice Award).

 

2015 should produce some innovative and truly engaging Apps, as well as an increasing need for both freelance and permanent app developers. This article was provided by The IT Job Board, who currently have hundreds of App developer jobs available on their site.

 

 

Posted in: Apps & Games
By November 24, 2014 Read More →

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 hands-on video

SM-T800NTSABTU-353218-0In the battle for thin, Samsung may well be the sinner with their Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. This 10.5″ tablet boasts a gorgeous hi-res Super AMOLED display and 8 cpu cores but packs it all in to a form just 6.6mm thick.

In the video below you’ll see me fondling this little beauty. We take a look at the hardware before looking closer at the OS and UI.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is available now from Currys.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 specification:

  • 2G Network:     GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network:     HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • 4G Network:     LTE 800 / 900 / 1800 / 2600
  • Micro-SIM
  • Dimensions:     247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm (9.74 x 6.98 x 0.26 in)
  • Weight:     467 g (1.03 lb)
  • Display:     Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 2560 x 1600 pixels, 10.5 inches (~288 ppi pixel density)
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Card slot:     microSD, up to 128 GB
  • Internal Storage:     16/32 GB
  • 3 GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth:     v4.0, A2DP, LE
  • Infrared port
  • microUSB v2.0 (MHL 2.1)
  • Primary Camera:     8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, dual camera, panorama, HDR, 1080p@30fps video
  • Secondary Camera:     2.1 MP
  • OS:     Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat)
  • Chipset:     Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
  • Exynos 5420
  • CPU:     Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 (S800), Quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 (Exynos 5420)
  • GPU:     Adreno 330 (S800)
  • GPS:   A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
  • Battery:           Non-removable Li-Ion 7900 mAh battery
By November 13, 2014 Read More →

Online security: stay safe

symantec_padlockIt is important to know how to stay safe when you are using the internet. You should never give out any personal information about yourself to anyone online that you do not personally know; no matter who you think you’re talking to.

There are thousands of sites on the internet that allow you to communicate with just about anyone, anywhere in the world and get an instant reply. There are also hundreds of forums available for you to ask questions and get advice within the hour. However, it is important that you keep in mind that anyone can pretend to be someone they are not on the internet. Here are a few top online security tips to keep in mind when browsing the web safely.

Chat room safety

Chat rooms have become increasingly popular with their ability to allow you to talk to just about anyone about anything you like. However, it is vital that you remember not to give out any personal information to strangers, including your full name, address or phone number.

Websites asking for personal details

If you are doing a bit of online shopping, you may have to give out some personal information, such as your credit card details. Of course this is perfectly normal in order for you to make a purchase. However, you should always ensure it is a reputable business and a trusted website.

You can check whether it is a trusted website by the look of the URL: if it is ‘https’, has a green URL box or a locked padlock symbol it means that the website has an SSL certificate – this is a safe website. If however, it has none of the safety signs highlighted, you should rethink about inputting your card details.

Online threats

Protecting yourself and your computer from online threats is really important and therefore the simple answer to this is to ensure you are always using up to date firewall software. By ensuring you update your anti-virus software you are protecting your computer and yourself from viruses and hackers. There is a reason why companies update their software – you must update it also.

By being vigilant when you are online, you can ensure you are safe and protected from any threats.

Posted in: Editorial
By November 10, 2014 Read More →

HTC Nexus 9 hands-on video

N9-grid1-1600A few weeks ago HTC held a small press conference and announced the new HTC Nexus 9.

The Nexus 9 is one of the first devices featuring the latest Android 5.0 Lillipop. This new OS version breathes new life in to Android and unusually for HTC, the Nexus 9 has no HTC Sense overlay so there is a nice clean feel to the UI.

It has been quite some time since HTC produced a tablet and we have high hopes for the Nexus 9. In the video below we start with a short unboxing and then go hands-on with the hardware and a look at the OS and UI.

 The HTC Nexus 9 is available now from Currys. Our thanks to them for the for the review device!

 

 

HTC Nexus 9 specification:

  • 2G Network:     GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network:     HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • 4G Network:     LTE
  • Dimensions:     228.2 x 153.7 x 7.9 mm (8.98 x 6.05 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight:     425 g (Wi-Fi) / 436 g (3G/LTE) (14.99 oz)
  • Display:    IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors,   1536 x 2048 pixels, 8.9 inches (~281 ppi pixel density)
  • Protection:     Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Stereo loud speakers
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Internal memory:      16/32 GB, 2 GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth  v4.1, A2DP, apt-X
  • NFC
  • microUSB v2.0
  • Primary camera:     8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, 1080p@30fps, stereo sound rec.
  • Secondary camera:     1.6 MP, 720p
  • Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)
  • Chipset     Nvidia Tegra K1
  • CPU     Dual-core 2.3 GHz Denver
  • GPU     Kepler DX1
  • Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Battery:  Non-removable Li-Po 6700 mAh battery
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