Science & Technology

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 December 23, 2014 Read More →

Inateck Bluetooth Audio Receiver Unboxing

vlcsnap-2014-12-21-14h33m26s217Inateck have provided me with a Bluetooth Audio Receiver to have a play with. This portable  Bluetooth streaming device allows you to connect a device without Bluetooth and stream your music and podcasts. Very handy for in the car, or so I thought. Whilst this device is a lot cheaper than others of it’s type at £14 you need to have a car that incorporates an auxiliary connector on the stereo. Many cars do, however both of mine do not (or at least require a £40 modification to install one.)

The unit itself is light, quick to set up and looks quite pretty, considering the price. Given that you could up to £80 for a similar unit Inateck’s variant sits at an attractive price point. Once I decide if I am changing my car for one with an AUX, or perhaps just go with the modification I will add a video showing the operation.

 

 

By December 12, 2014 Read More →

Samsung’s Gear VR in sight with 11 games

downloadSamsung’s virtual reality headset, the Gear VR, is now available for purchase. You can pick it up for roughly £160 without a gamepad or £190 with. Alone side the release of this new virtual reality device, comes a list of games that are available for its launch.

In total 11 games will be available for download when you get your new Gear VR headout set. Using the marketplace from the Oculus Rift right now and they are all free!

Here is the list of games you can expect to see:

  • Anshar Wars
  • Bombsquad
  • Darknet
  • Dreadhalls
  • Esper
  • Herobound
  • Ikarus
  • Minotaur Rescue VR
  • Proton Pulse
  • Romans from Mars
  • Viral

Of course these are just the games and doesn’t include applications that will also be available for use with the Gear VR as yet. With this device becoming available and a rather attractive price point you can expect more games and applications to hit the Oculus Rift marketplace quite quickly.

By November 29, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Archos Activity Tracker and Connected Scales

vlcsnap-2014-11-24-14h40m28s186Gareth unboxes the Archos Activity Tracker and Connected Scales. These now budget fitness accessories cost £50 a piece and promise to enhance your fitness tracking.

The Activity tracker is a simple pedometer that connects, by bluetooth, to your smartphone, Apple or Android. An app collated the information and presents you with targets and results from your daily activities.

The Connect Scales are another simple addition. To keep you weight loss (or gain) in check the scales can differentiate between four different people can record results to the same app as the activity tracker.

By November 5, 2014 Read More →

Cruise ships take a Quantum leap forward

QuantumJust last week Royal Caribbean International took delivery of their newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, from Meyer Werft Yard.

Now you may well be wondering why we’re talking about a cruise ship, and to be honest, when Royal Caribbean invited us aboard a few weeks ago, I too wondered

But Quantum of the Seas is all about technology and is the most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean say it’s the world’s first Smart Ship, with “boatloads of bandwidth” which allow the cruise line to offer unprecedented connectivity – 500 times more than any other cruise ship; easy-to-use systems that expand guest choices and simplify schedules, plus, RFID technology that speeds up the boarding process and allows guest to track their luggage every step of the way.

Tracy and I were able to spend two nights on Quantum, to experience all of this technology for ourselves. This equated to two days of liberally using words like ‘Awesome’, ‘Amazing’, ‘Incredible’ and ‘Brilliant’.

So let’s starts with a few facts and figures…

  • Registry: Nassau, Bahamas
  • Built at Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany
  • 168,666 GRT
  • 1,141 feet (348 meters) long
  • 136 feet (41 meters) wide
  • 28 feet (8.5 meters) draft
  • 22 knots cruising speed
  • 16 guest decks
  • 18 total decks
  • 16 guest elevators
  • 4 bow thrusters with 4,694 horse power each  
  • 4,180 guests (double occupancy)
  • 4,905 guests total
  • 2,090 of Royal Caribbean’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever
    • 375 Virtual Balcony staterooms — interior staterooms offering expansive real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations through virtual balconies
    • Up to 16 Family-Connected staterooms — perfect for multi-generational families or groups of friends, these staterooms provide separate bedrooms and bathrooms for all 
    • 12 new Studio staterooms with balconies and 16 Studio Interior staterooms, both for single travelers  

  

The use of technology starts before you even step aboard

About 10 days before we were due to set sail, Royal Caribbean sent me my “reservation number” and asked if we would complete the online check in. This process is very similar to online check in for an airline where they go through and take all your relevant information including passport and visa details. Although, as we were going on a cruise-to-nowhere, a visa was not required.

During the process you are also asked to take or provide a headshot which is then used as part of the boarding process. If you were going on a cruise which stopped at other ports the photo is used to identify you when you leave and board the ship as they scan you in and out with your WOWband or smart card. If you are not happy providing your own photo they can also take one at the port as part of the check in process. The last part of the online check in was to set up your onboard charging account. Once you have this set up it means that once onboard just a quick scan of your band and you can pay for anything!

The other big part of the pre-planning Royal Caribbean have introduced comes from their change from a traditional main dining room to their new ‘dynamic dining’ system. Once I was checked in I could then go and make restaurant reservations for our 2 nights along with entertainment reservations for the shows. The system will also handle the shore excursions and spa appointments in the future. What’s really nice is once you have something booked it tells you if you are going to have a clash and you can view everything in the really well laid out planner. Once onboard all these reservations will then transfer to your Royal iQ app and will also save guests from standing in lines and trudging from place to place on the first day of the cruise. As Royal Caribbean say, ‘you get the first day of your vacation back’.

Royal Caribbean guests can go from “sidewalk to ship” in 10 minutes with no check-in counter, no forms to fill out and no lines to stand in. The average check in time on the day we boarded was just 7 minutes!

 

RFID Technology

WOWBand

WOWBand

RFID technology is becoming more commonplace and Royal Caribbean are certainly using this to its advantage in a number of key ways.

During the boarding process, RFID tags are placed upon your luggage. This allows guests to track their luggage in real time on their smartphones and monitor their bags’ progress through key points en route to the stateroom.  On departure, the process is reversed.   

Quantum of the Seas also has new RFID ‘WOWband’ wristbands, which can be used as your room key or can be used to pay for onboard purchases, make reservations, find your photos in the onboard photo shop etc.

Simplicity and efficiency are also at the heart of two new apps that put guests in charge of their cruise choices: Cruise Planner, which allows guests to research and book dining reservations, shore excursions, spa appointments and more before their vacation begins; and Royal iQ, available as a downloadable app and provided at freestanding iQ stations around the ship.  Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of their program, and keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.

 

WiFi onboard

Connectivity on cruise ships has always been hit or miss and bandwidth is a big issue. This is set to change with Quantum of the Seas though, as Royal Caribbean International teamed up with O3b Networks, a global satellite provider, who developed a new technology. This new satellite network delivers “fiber-optic bandwidth.” Quantum of the Seas features O3b fiber-like Internet service which will provide more than 500 times the bandwidth that you’d experience from a regular on-board connection.

The O3b fiber-like Internet service was first piloted on Oasis of the Seas in December 2013 and has also been since introduced on Allure of the Seas. The new system fitted to Quantum of the Seas will provide O3b coverage as the ship approaches the east coast of the United States.

Royal Caribbean International is now testing a variety of pricing. While the prices are highly subject to change, the current pricing offers guests $29.95 per hour, $99.95 per day, and $189.95 for unlimited usage on a 7-night cruise for one device.

You may read elsewhere in the press that there was ‘no Wifi coverage’ on Quantum during the inaugural sailing but that’s just sensationalism. There was indeed WiFi on board but there isn’t O3b satellite coverage in Europe as yet. This will be ready in time for the launch of the next Quantum Class ship, Anthem of the Seas, when she commences service from Southampton in April of 2015.   A fact that was made clear to members of the press both before and during the inaugural sailing.

 

 

Ripcord

Ripcord by iFly is just awesome! This offers guest the chance to experience skydiving in a wind tunnel and is the first of such to be installed on sea-going vessel.

Following a short briefing video and time with an instructor, guests are provided with a jumpsuit, goggles, helmet and ear protection. Your group is then taken to the wind tunnel where you get to take it in turns to experience what it’s like to freefall skydive.

With a series of hand gestures and physical guidance from an instructor it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of the basic positions but it looks like a lot of training would be needed to get really good at it. Fortunately, you’ll be able to buy packages to give you a certain number of training sessions with an expert.

I’d recommend keeping each session fairly short to begin with though, it takes a lot out of you!

DSC_0233 IMG_5406 DSC_0281

 

North Star

If skydiving seems a little bit too energetic for you then there’s another way to experience some sights aboard Quantum of the Seas with North Star.

North Star is “an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean”. Guests board a large glass capsule at the end of a large boom arm and are then hoisted high in to the air for unique views of both the ocean and the ship itself.

Here you can take some exceptional photographs and I’m sure it will be even more amazing to be able to take photos of some of the cruise destinations and North Star is able to operate both at sea and in port.

 

DSC_0229 DSC_0245

IMG_5415 IMG_5518

 

Sea Plex

So heights may not be your thing but if you’re still looking for some fun then there’s plenty to be had at Sea Plex.

Sea Plex offers the largest indoor active space at sea and is a distinctive and flexible sporting and entertainment venue offering more first at sea experiences, guests can experience a circus school with flying trapeze, or play basketball on a full-size regulation basketball court. By night, the first-ever bumper car and roller skating offerings deliver fun and excitement. Or, guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth which hovers above the activity below.

 IMG_5400 IMG_5401 

 

Bionic Bar

One of the coolest additions to Quantum of the Seas are the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar.  

These masterpieces of technology can create and pour your favorite mixed drink in just a few seconds right before your eyes. Tablet computers allow patrons to select their desired drink for an extensive list while electronic screens at either side tell you how long you’ll have to wait for your drink and where you are in the queue.

Unfortunately the Bionic Bar was plagued with teething problems during our time on Quantum of the Seas but we were able to see it operational on a number of occasions and it certainly is a talking point. It also ensures that you get your turn to order from the bar fairly and the robots don’t ask for tips!

Quantum of the Seas launch photos

 

Of course, it takes far more than a bionic bartender and skydiving to make a truly smart ship and items mentioned in this post are just a few of the more obvious, customer-facing innovative technologies that you’ll find aboard Quantum of the Seas. Below the surface there’s plenty more to talk about from the on-board waste reclamation to the air-lubrication system…

Tracy and I were lucky enough to see much of what goes on behind the scenes on Quantum of the Seas and spent some time with Captain Patrik Dahlgran, Capt. (Felix) Srecko Ban, Captain Gus Andersson and Richard Pruitt (Vice President of Safety and Environmental Stewardship).  But that’s all for another post!

 

By October 14, 2014 Read More →

The most hackable luxury cars of 2014

8856128220_21eef475e1_zTechnology always seems to come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Recently the media has been reporting on ‘hackable’ cars, not in terms of being physically hacked into, but technologically. The ability to hack into a car may not yet be fully possible, but is it only a matter of time?

Does the thought of buying a new luxury car seem less appealing due to the fact that there is a chance that it may be ‘hacked in to’ in the future? This may make it more appealing to buy a second-hand luxury car but, from the study, “A Survey of Remote Automotive Attack Surfaces” some older cars may still be at risk.

We’re all aware of the drawbacks and data security risks of modern technology, but one industry where we don’t tend to think in terms of cybersecurity is the motor trade. “Connected cars” are becoming standard; new vehicles come laden with GPS, Bluetooth and there’s a general trend towards software based management systems. This has led to the study above attempting to highlight the ‘most hackable cars’ on the market.

‘Hackability’ was judged in terms of three key areas: Network Architecture, Attack Surface, and Cyber Physical Features. Roughly, the network architecture is the location, build and design of each of the computers within a car.  The attack surface is any location where a hacker can try to modify, alter or enter anything into the system, such as any accessible ports, or points where malicious code can be entered.  Cyber physical features include how the computer networks, and interacts or measures its environment, such as in collision detection within cars.

The 2006 Ford Fusion illustrated how anyone interested in older model used cars have far less to worry about in terms of connectivity and ‘hackability’. The 06 Fusion scored double minuses in all categories, but more to the point, this score shows how cars have come on technologically in the last eight years.

The 2006 Prius and the 2006 Range Rover also scored very low, further serving as benchmarks for old car safety. Contrast this with the 2014 Range Rover Evoque and the 2014 Prius which both scored plenty of +’s.

In reality, we tend to err towards technology despite its pitfalls, and it’s not often we’ll get cybercriminals with a laptop invading our car for unknown gain; but the study does provide food for thought. Those who wish to stay on the safe side of technology could probably do well to buy older versions of marks like the Audi A8. A 2005 version of the Audi A8 on Carmony.co.uk can easily sell for a lot less than the 2014 version with very little risk of software malfunction.

 

By October 8, 2014 Read More →

Is your Belkin broken?

F9K1113_AC1200_herowb_116It would appear that for some reason Belkin routers can no longer connect to the Internet. As of midnight EDT many Belkin router owners took to Twitter to all point out their Belkin routers were suffering from some sort of fault or demonic possession. At 9:30am PDT Belkin acknowledged the issue and an hour later, issued a workaround. Belkin has not yet revealed the cause of the mass outage. There are many, many annoyed users out there furious at Belkin and their ugly side can be seen on Twitter. One thing is for sure you can take away power, gas and water but don’t meddle with someone’s internet connection.

Update #2: Belkin says all routers should now be fixed.

We have confirmed that the internet connectivity issue is now resolved.

If your service has not yet been restored, please unplug your router and plug it back in after waiting 1 minute. Wait 5 more minutes and the router should reconnect. If you have any further issues, please contact our support at (800) 223-5546.

We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience to our customers. We are taking a number of actions to eliminate this sort of incident from reoccurring

Update #1: Belkin’s official statement.

 

Starting approximately midnight on October 7, Belkin began experiencing an issue with a service configured in certain Belkin router models that causes a failure when it checks for general network connectivity by pinging a site hosted by Belkin. We know this issue has affected select older Wireless-N Belkin router models including F9K1102, F9K1105, F9K1113 and F9K1116. We are continuing to investigate other possible routers that may have been affected. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Until there is a fix in place, we have identified a workaround for customers that are using the F9K1102 and F9K1105 routers to regain internet connectivity. That work-around as well as ongoing updates can be found at our outage status page for more information:http://www.belkin.com/outage

By June 9, 2014 Read More →

ZX-Uno bringing the Spectrum back

1905-zx-uno-zx-spectrum-hardware-fgpa-cloneWhat is the ZX-Uno?  Essentially it is a fan-made clone of the ZX Spectrum hardware, set to offer retro gamers an alternative to getting their 8-bit game-on.

The ZX-Uno has no release date just yet, the official website shows the hardware is already at quite an advanced stage of development . The FPGA based board not only behaves exactly like a ZX Spectrum, but also offers several new features the micro-computer could only dream of having.

Coming equipped with an SD Card slot, gamers will be able to load .TAP files directly into memory for use on the system – allowing easy access to the likes of Jet-Pac, Manic Miner and just about everything else. Designed to fit inside a Raspberry Pi case, the ZX-Uno also offers a rather snazzy audio-in 3.5mm jack port, allowing those who really want to stay true to the hardware the ability to boot up original cassette tapes.

According to the team behind this device, the ZX-Uno is estimated to cost a mere 30 Euros. So should you be a fan of the British micro-computer or need a good alternative to the dated hardware, keep a close eye on the ZX-Uno.

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