Friday, 7 August 2020

Meanwhile in crazy COVID news: Iowa man breaks into bank - and steals hand sanitiser!


In what may be the least lucrative heist ever, a convicted felon broke into an Iowa bank early and escaped with only hand sanitiser, according to a criminal complaint.

Mark Gray, 39, is locked up on a trio of felony charges after allegedly burglarising three Sioux City businesses, including a Security National Bank branch.

Gray is locked up in the Woodbury County jail on $6000 bond in connection with the string of predawn break-ins. Gray is currently on probation for a 2019 burglary conviction.

Investigators allege that Gray “used a tool to smash the glass door” of the bank around 12:15 AM. He then “entered into the lobby area and stole the hand sanitiser from the bank. He then fled.”

Gray is also charged with burglarising a counselling agency and a restaurant. Post-arrest, he reportedly told Sioux City Police Department officers that he entered the businesses and “searched around for things of value, mainly money that he could steal.”

Gray is next scheduled to appear in District Court on August 14. Court filings do not reveal the street value of the hand sanitiser allegedly stolen by Gray.


Ridley Scott's: Raised By Wolves - coming soon!


When director Ridley Scott does anything, we take notice. When he does something sci-fi, we get excited. And when he directs a sci-fi television show we can watch in a few short weeks? We damn near froth at the mouth.

Scott is taking his big-screen talent to the small screen for the new HBO Max show Raised by Wolves. The show follows androids who attempt to raise children and restart society on a new planet long after war has destroyed the Earth. There’s a lot more to it, but watch the trailer, see for yourself, and be prepared to get super creeped out by The Three Little Pigs.

Scott directed the first two episodes of the series, marking his American TV directorial debut. There are 10 in total and they’ll debut on the new streaming service September 3. That’s so soon! Hooray for having new content to watch during a pandemic!

Danish actor Amanda Collin plays Mother, the android who is protecting all these children, while Travis Fimmel (Vikings, Warcraft) is Marcus, some kind of soldier. They lead a cast of largely unknowns, which should help add to the believability of this burgeoning sci-fi society.


Toshiba formally and finally exits laptop business - now Dynabook


Toshiba has made laptops since 1985 and claims to have been the first to make a mass-market computer in the now-familiar clamshell form factor. By the 1990s the company was producing solid workhorses in the Satellite range and started to make meaningful stretches of mobile work possible with the small, thin and light Portégé range.

Those products saw Toshiba lead the world for laptop market share through the late 1990s and retain that position for much of the 2000s. Even as the PC market consolidated in that decade, Toshiba was often ranked among the top five of all PC vendors despite only ever dabbling in desktops.

As the 2000s rolled along Toshiba devices became bland in comparison to the always-impressive ThinkPad and the MacBook Air, while Dell and HP also improved. Toshiba also never really tried to capture consumers’ imaginations, which didn't help growth.

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Erm, I'll take reliability over gimmicks - any day! In another of my passions - motorcycles - some people criticise Honda as "having no character". Well, if by "character" you mean they don't break down every time there is a "y" in the day - or rust away in front of your eyes - I'll take the Honda!

I have recently updated my laptop. Gone from a Toshiba Portege X30-D-10V (brilliant device - fast, light, all day battery) to Dynabook's flagship model: Portege X30L-G-10J (outstanding device - unbelievably light, unbelievably fast, incredible battery life). 

In the 20+ years that I've been an IT Pro - I've worked on & owned more Toshiba laptops than any other brand, but not because they fail! It's because they keep on keeping on! Many other brands in IT are known for being cheap & not so cheerful. If you want quality - think Dynabook.


Thursday, 6 August 2020

The cost of convenience: wireless phone charging = approx 50% power wastage!


Wireless charging is increasingly common in modern smartphones, and there’s even speculation that Apple might ditch charging via a cable entirely in the near future. But the slight convenience of juicing up your phone by plopping it onto a pad rather than plugging it in comes with a surprisingly robust environmental cost. According to new calculations from OneZero and iFixit, wireless charging is drastically less efficient than charging with a cord, so much so that the widespread adoption of this technology could necessitate the construction of dozens of new power plants around the world. (Unless manufacturers find other ways to make up for the energy drain, of course.)

On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There’s no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. 

Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone’s battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat.

While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren’t aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem.

To get a sense of how much extra power is lost when using wireless charging versus wired charging in the real world, I tested a Pixel 4 using multiple wireless chargers, as well as the standard charging cable that comes with the phone. I used a high-precision power meter that sits between the charging block and the power outlet to measure power consumption.

In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Wanna read something scary? Not Stephen King, but AI generated text that reads like a human wrote it...


When pundits and researchers tried to guess what sort of manipulation campaigns might threaten the 2018 and 2020 elections, misleading AI-generated videos often topped the list. Though the tech was still emerging, its potential for abuse was so alarming that tech companies and academic labs prioritised working on, and funding, methods of detection. Social platforms developed special policies for posts containing “synthetic and manipulated media,” in hopes of striking the right balance between preserving free expression and deterring viral lies. But now, with about three months to go until November 3, that wave of deep-faked moving images seems never to have broken. Instead, another form of AI-generated media is making headlines, one that is harder to detect and yet much more likely to become a pervasive force on the internet: deep-fake text.

Last month brought the introduction of GPT-3, the next frontier of generative writing: an Artificial Intelligence that can produce shockingly human-sounding (if at times surreal) sentences. As its output becomes ever more difficult to distinguish from text produced by humans, one can imagine a future in which the vast majority of the written content we see on the internet is produced by machines. If this were to happen, how would it change the way we react to the content that surrounds us?


Find out more about two of Honda's flagship models: Gold Wing & Africa Twin


Choose an event that suits you and discover everything you ever wanted to know about these flagship models: Gold Wing & Africa Twin - from technical specifications and features to the all-important question ‘what are they like to ride?’

In partnership with Bennetts BikeSocial, the LIVE stream events will be presented by a Honda expert and experienced and passionate motorcycle journalists. The events are interactive so you can ask any burning questions you may have, and all from the comfort of your home.

Register today to guarantee your place on one of our LIVE streams


Friday, 31 July 2020

Cara Dillon's first online concert: Thursday 13th August at 8pm BST on YouTube and Facebook.


From Cara Dillon: Hi Everyone, I have very exciting news! It's been an interesting few months...ups and downs indeed, but thankfully staying safe and sound throughout. Many of you know already that my concerts have all been cancelled due to COVID-19, but rather than dwell too much longer on the disappointment this has brought for all of us, Sam and I have thrown ourselves whole heartedly into recording a very special concert as a gift for all my fans... that means YOU! 

For my first online concert, and with the support of a small and extremely talented crew, I wanted to recreate the experience of a proper performance setting and try as much as possible to capture the essence of one of our more intimate duo concerts: the atmosphere, the sound of the room and the staging and lighting. We've gone to great lengths to capture the concert in the highest quality available for all of you to watch from the comfort and safety of your homes, maybe with a glass of wine and your smartphone on silent and escape the turmoil outside for short while and lose yourselves in the spirit of a live concert.

The concert location is the beautiful Cooper Hall which is the same space we recorded much of "Wanderer" and "Upon a Winter's Night" in and this is no ordinary Lockdown gig; it's a 5 camera shoot with a crew that includes Grammy nominated audio engineer Dom Monks who recorded recent online concerts for Laura Marling and Nick Cave and also filmmakers Simon Whitehead and Brendan Lines.

We hope you'll join us for this special online event “Live at Cooper Hall” on Thursday 13th August at 8pm BST on YouTube and Facebook.