28 July 2017

Archie and Calli. Someone's been to the puppy parlour again!

Here on the left is Archie, a dear little Maltese whose mum & dad are clients of mine in Surrey. Calli looks like a larger (3x) version of Archie!

Calli has just spent the morning with Pam, and has come back pampered & ready for the weekend! Thanks Pam!

Booking.com - where to next?

Established in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com has grown from a small Dutch start-up to one of the largest travel e-commerce companies in the world. Part of The Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), Booking.com now employs more than 15,000 employees in 187 offices in 70 countries worldwide.

With a mission to empower people to experience the world, Booking.com invests in digital technology that helps take the friction out of travel. At Booking.com, we connect travellers with the world’s largest selection of incredible places to stay, including everything from apartments, vacation homes, and family-run B&Bs to 5-star luxury resorts, tree houses and even igloos. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in over 40 languages, offer 1,399,000 properties, and cover 117,785 destinations in 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Each day, more than 1,200,000 room nights are reserved on our platform. So whether travelling for business or leisure, customers can instantly book their ideal accommodation quickly and easily with Booking.com, without booking fees and backed up by our promise to price match. Via our customer experience team, customers can reach Booking.com 24/7 for assistance and support in over 40 languages, any time of the day or night.

This is how Kim & I do most of our adventures: road trips by motorbike or car. We will often have a rough plan of travel and book hotels as we progress. Booking.com makes travel so easy & fun - highly recommended!

To paraphrase Beyonce: if you liked it, then you should have put a LOCK on it!

Oxford OF8 Boss Alarm Disc Lock and Chain - The alarm lock that works!

The Oxford Boss Alarm disc lock combines an extremely tough and easy to use disc lock with a 100dB alarm. Now with a 1.5m Chain.

"Thatcham" vehicle security approved
5 year life cycle tested (by Thatcham)
100 decibels built in alarm
Anti drill gate
The latest semi elliptical key technology
10,000kg bolt cropper cut proof
4500kg anti jack strength
Waterproof, vibration proof, heat proof, and frost proof
Free Oxford Minder cable included

RRP: £159.99
Infinity Price: £84.99
Save 47%!!!

This package is based around the same Oxford Alarm Lock that we use. It's obvious, tough & loud. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Lock your Motorcycle!

Some people shouldn't get nice toys...

A driver lost control of his new £200,000 Ferrari and careered off a motorway before it burst into flames - after owning it for just an hour.

The high-performance Ferrari 430 Scuderia was reduced to a twisted wreck after the smash on the M1 near junction 37 in South Yorkshire on Thursday afternoon.

Police described how the car "went airborne" in the wet conditions.

The driver walked away with just cuts and bruises.

The car went 50 metres down a bank and ended up in a field, where it turned into a fireball and had to be extinguished by firefighters.

In a statement on Facebook, South Yorkshire Police said: "Officers asked the driver what sort of car he 'had' to which he replied 'it was a Ferrari'.

"Detecting a sense of damaged pride he then said 'I've only just got it, picked it up an hour ago'."

26 July 2017

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

I've just had a great meeting with Jackie, who runs the Waterlooville Events TeamJackie & her team are working hard to revitalise Waterlooville town centre: increasing footfall & spend in the local shops & businesses.

There is something that can blights many town centres in the UK: the sad spiral of reduced visitors, closing shops - leading to reduced visitors.

This brought to mind a quote that is often attributed to Edmund Burke - namely:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

In this world, there is so much hand wringing, people saying: isn't it sad that xyz happened.
Do you know what? Do something about it!
If you are tired of the shops, businesses, pubs - closing: give them your business: go there, spend your money, show them how valued their services are.

Very few people can change something large on their own.
If we all work together, we can effect great change.
Read The Starfish Story & reflect. I hope you feel moved to action.

Here, for example, is a great example of citizen action: The Fox & Hounds Pub, Denmead.
This pub would have been lost to housing development: apart from the Community Co-operative that was set up to rescue the building & reinstate it as a pub.
It is now once more a great pub & restaurant - recommended!

Call to action: please support your local villages & towns.
Thanks, rant over!

(Flash) Gordon's alive?! Not for much longer...

Adobe Systems has said that it plans to phase out its Flash Player plug-in by the end of 2020.

The technology was once one of the most widely used ways for people to watch video clips and play games online.

But it also attracted much criticism, particularly as flaws in its code meant it became a popular way for hackers to infect computers.

In recent years, much of its functionality has been offered by the rival HTML5 technology.

One of HTML5's benefits is that it can be used to make multimedia content available within webpages without requiring users to install and update a dedicated plug-in.

25 July 2017

Microsoft confirms it's not killing off Paint after outpouring of support. Horray!

Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app. Amidst today’s commentary around MS Paint we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, clear up some confusion and share some good news:

MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free.

Reading for today: On Forgiveness

We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the CreedI believe in the forgiveness of sins.” I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. “If one is a Christian,” I thought, “of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying.” But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not nearly so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don’t keep on polishing it up.

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.

The Trussell Trust warns of school holiday hunger

As the school summer holidays get under way, food banks are urging people not to forget to donate supplies to their local centres.

The Trussell Trust, which runs over 420 food banks across the UK, says many children risk going hungry over the six-week break from school.

It says demand for emergency parcels for children rose significantly - by more than 4,000 - last July and August.

Figures from the Trussell Trust show 67,506 three-day emergency food supplies were provided for children by its network in July and August 2016, compared with 63,094 in the May and June - an increase of 4,412 parcels.

The trust says nearly half (47%) of those 67,506 parcels went to primary-school-age children and over a quarter (27%) to children aged four and under.

It says, while it welcomes the government's decision to keep free school meals for infants in England, more must be done to help struggling families during the holidays.

Help save Snopes.com!

Snopes.com, which began as a small one-person effort in 1994 and has since become one of the Internet’s oldest and most popular fact-checking sites, is in danger of closing its doors. So, for the first time in our history, we are turning to you, our readership, for help.

Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we've had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.

We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us. 

Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.

As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online. It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can. (Our suggested donation is $10, but if you can give more please consider doing so — every little bit helps.)

We need our community now more than ever, as it is only through your support that Snopes.com can remain the community and resource we all know and love.

24 July 2017

Windows 10 Fall 2017 Creators Update - upcoming changes

Coming to Windows 10: starting with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, these innovative features will further empower your creativity.

Going from Windows 10: This article details features and functionalities in the Windows 10 Fall 2017 Creators Update are either removed from the product in the current release (“Removed”) or are not in active development and might be removed in future releases (“Deprecated”). This list is intended to help customers consider these removals and deprecations for their own planning. The list is subject to change and may not include every deprecated feature or functionality.

OK, glad to see the back of Outlook Express code from Win10, but MS Paint
Come on Microsoft - everyone loves Paint!

21 July 2017

AlphaBay and Hansa dark web markets seized and shut down

The largest marketplace on the Darknet - where hundreds of thousands of criminals anonymously bought and sold drugs, weapons, hacking tools, stolen identities, and a host of other illegal goods and services - has been shut down as a result of one the most sophisticated and coordinated efforts to date on the part of law enforcement across the globe.

In early July, multiple computer servers used by the AlphaBay website were seized worldwide, and the site’s creator and administrator—a 25-year-old Canadian citizen living in Thailand—was arrested. AlphaBay operated for more than two years and had transactions exceeding $1 billion in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The site, which operated on the anonymous Tor network, was a major source of heroin and fentanyl, and sales originating from AlphaBay have been linked to multiple overdose deaths in the United States.

The operation to seize AlphaBay coincided with efforts by Dutch law enforcement to shut down the Hansa Market, another prominent Darknet marketplace that was used to facilitate the sale of illegal drugs, malware, and other illegal services. After AlphaBay’s shutdown, criminal users and vendors flocked to Hansa Market, where they believed their identities would be masked.

Waterlooville Pop Up Cinema: Sully. Thursday 27 July. Doors: 7pm

Sully: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight's passengers and crew. 

St George's church hall PO7 7 Waterlooville
27 July 2017. Doors open 7pm.
Tickets £6 available in advance or on the door. 
Refreshments available.

More details of this event: www.facebook.com

Avast now owns CCleaner after acquiring Piriform. As well as AVG...

Avast has acquired Piriform. Not only does the acquired company make CCleaner, but many other solid programs too. In fact, the rest of Piriform's library -- Recuva, Speccy, and Defraggler -- are staples of the Windows freeware community.

"CCleaner is a leading brand in the market, used by 130 million people, including 15 million Android users. CCleaner has an extensive and extremely loyal community of tech-savvy users, who need to speed up and optimize their PC and Android experience. Avast will maintain the CCleaner brand of products along with Avast’s existing performance optimization products, Avast Cleanup and AVG Tune Up. With the addition of CCleaner, Avast has dramatically expanded its product offerings in the PC and smartphone optimization market reaching customers around the world who demand faster performance," says Avast.

From previous news
Avast Software CEO, Vince Steckler, announces the completion of the acquisition of a majority stake in AVG Technologies.

In July, we announced our plan to acquire AVG Technologies. Today, I am proud to announce the completion of the acquisition of a majority stake in AVG. So we will operate as a single company as of Monday, October 3, 2016. I would like to extend a warm welcome to the AVG team, AVG customers, as well as carrier and channel partners, and I am eager to tell you about our plans for the next few months.

20 July 2017

Please consider supporting Wikipedia

Wikipedia is possible because of a powerful idea: that people, like you and me, can participate in building the world’s knowledge and making it freely available to everyone, everywhere.

Today, thanks to the support of millions of volunteer contributors and supporters, you can wander Wikipedia for hours. With more than 40 million Wikipedia articles and 35 million freely licensed images, Wikipedia can answer almost any question, and take you places you’ve never been.

Your donation supports the creation and sharing of free knowledge in real, practical ways. It helps us make Wikipedia fast, secure, and accessible to everyone in the world. It helps us bring free access to Wikipedia in places where high mobile data costs prevent people from going online. It helps us support people who are digitizing knowledge currently locked away in analog archives. It protects Wikipedia from threats to free knowledge and the open internet.

Your support means that you can find the information you need now, wherever you may be—to settle a bet with a friend at a dinner party, or to understand the world around us.

Wikipedia will continue to evolve, grow, and meet new challenges. We’re excited and eager to meet these and more. Your donation will help us get there. We can’t thank you enough for your support. On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, thank you for investing in our future and taking this journey with us.

19 July 2017

Intel AMT Critical Firmware Vulnerability

Overview: On May 1, Intel published a security advisory regarding a critical firmware vulnerability in certain systems that utilize Intel® Active Management Technology (AMT), Intel® Standard Manageability (ISM) or Intel® Small Business Technology (SBT). 

The vulnerability could enable a network attacker to remotely gain access to business PCs or devices that use these technologies. Consumer PCs with consumer firmware and data center servers using Intel® Server Platform Services are not affected by this vulnerability.

Until firmware updates are available, we urge people and companies using business PCs and devices that incorporate AMT, ISM or SBT to take steps to maintain the security of their systems and information.

We understand you may be concerned about this vulnerability. We have created this page to help you understand the issue, assess whether your system is impacted, and take appropriate action.

18 July 2017

Elon Musk says: regulate AI before it becomes a danger to humanity

Elon Musk’s thoughts on artificial intelligence are pretty well known at this point. He famously compared work on AI to “summoning the demon,” and has warned time and time again that the technology poses an existential risk to humanity. At a gathering of US governors this weekend, he repeated these sentiments, but also stressed something he says is even more important: that governments need to start regulating AI now.

I have exposure to the very cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk told attendees at the National Governors Association summer meeting on Saturday. “I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”

17 July 2017

Inside the cyber-attack on parliament

On 23 June the British parliament came under a sustained cyber attack. In a matter of hours hackers made around 200,000 attempts to get into online user accounts. It was Rob Greig who got the call: "You need to get yourself over there right now." And so battle began.

The attack - which led to officials disabling remote access to thousands of email accounts of MPs, peers and their staff - was first spotted by parliament's security operations centre.

His team fought to keep the attackers out of the system by blocking access to particular services - but then the attackers adapted.

"Their attack vector changed and they came for a different service," says Mr Greig.

"So someone was sat there watching. It wasn't just [an automated] script running. Someone was reacting."

"What I would say is that it doesn't look like to me to be an amateur attack," says Mr Greig.

"My direction of travel in terms of where we are going from this, it looks more like a state activity than anything else."

Apple Malware secretly installs "Signal" as part of scheme to steal users' banking credentials

New Mac Malware is mysteriously pushing the Signal private-messaging app onto victims' mobile devices as part of a scheme to steal their banking credentials.

The threat, which goes by the name OSX/Dok, uses phishing mail laden with a malicious application as its attack vector. Those who crafted this campaign purchase Apple certificates (US $99) to sign their malicious application. Such willingness helps the malware bypass Gatekeeper's ever-watchful gaze.

Upon successful installation, OSX/Dok modifies the OS settings with a shell command that disables security updates. It also alters the local host file so that all communication with various Apple websites, as well as VirusTotal, gets redirected to the local machine. These changes prevent the machine from contacting outside services that the victim could use for detection and recovery.

Read more here: www.grahamcluley.com

Facebook's AI invents it's own language that we can't understand. What could possibly go wrong?...

Bob: “I can can I I everything else.”

Alice: “Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to.”

To you and I, that passage looks like nonsense. But what if I told you this nonsense was the discussion of what might be the most sophisticated negotiation software on the planet? Negotiation software that had learned, and evolved, to get the best deal possible with more speed and efficiency–and perhaps, hidden nuance–than you or I ever could? Because it is.

This conversation occurred between two AI agents developed inside Facebook. At first, they were speaking to each other in plain old English. But then researchers realized they’d made a mistake in programming.

“There was no reward to sticking to English language,” says Dhruv Batra, visiting research scientist from Georgia Tech at Facebook AI Research (FAIR). As these two agents competed to get the best deal–a very effective bit of AI vs. AI dogfighting researchers have dubbed a “generative adversarial network”–neither was offered any sort of incentive for speaking as a normal person would. So they began to diverge, eventually rearranging legible words into seemingly nonsensical sentences. 

“Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves,” says Batra, speaking to a now-predictable phenomenon that Facebook as observed. “Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”

Indeed. Humans have developed unique dialects for everything from trading pork bellies on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange to hunting down terrorists as Seal Team Six – simply because humans sometimes perform better by not abiding to normal language conventions.

15 July 2017

When MCN needs to know - who do they turn to? ;0)

Motorcycle News (MCN) asked the question: 
If you had £20k to spend on a bike, what would you buy (& why)? 
This is my answer:

I have a Crosstourer, which I love, My wife Kim has a Grom, which is brilliant fun!

I often try bikes from the various dealerships that we are Blessed to be surrounded with in Hampshire. I usually enjoy the rides, but only two have left me wanting to own one: Honda’s CB1000R & CB1100RS - the latter wins!

The CB1100RS has a great old school musclebike feel, pulls strongly, rides sweetly, looks incredible, has the whole toy shop thrown at it! Honestly, what’s not to like? PS: you get lots of change from £20k!

As published in MCN 12th July 2017.

14 July 2017

Sainsbury’s: don’t ditch Fairtrade!

Sainsbury's is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK. But they’ve decided to drop the Fairtrade Mark from their own-brand tea and replace it with their own 'Fairly Traded' label instead.

Sainsbury’s has abandoned Fairtrade certification to set up its own pilot scheme, saying they want to secure their supply chain. ‘Fairly Traded’ sounds a lot like Fairtrade, but it doesn’t have the same gold standards. It is self-run by Sainsbury’s but most importantly it takes control away from tea farmers.

The new scheme is untested, unverified and unwanted and the ‘Fairly Traded’ label is likely to mislead customers. This petition was started because we can’t let Sainsbury’s undermine Fairtrade’s incredible impact on the lives of millions of farmers. 'Fairly Traded' is not my cup of tea!

Over 220,000 tea producers are affected by Sainsbury’s decision and their concerns about it have been blatantly ignored. In an open letter to Sainsbury’s, farmers said: ‘We told Sainsbury’s loud and clear: your model will bring about disempowerment. We are extremely concerned about the power and control that Sainsbury’s seeks to exert over us.’

Please read more here & sign the petition. Thank you.

The five C's that kill cybersecurity in business

Why is it that the world is spending more and more on cybersecurity and losses continue far outpace investment?  

Why is it that many, if not most, organizations are failing at part of - or all of - their cybersecurity efforts, particularly any kind of proactive security initiatives?

Here is a theory, let's call it the five killer C's

Conflict of interest

Click here to read this article in full.

13 July 2017

Got a Bupa Global policy beginning with "BI"? Better read this then...

Bupa recently discovered an employee of our international health insurance division (which is called ‘Bupa Global’), had inappropriately copied and removed some customer information from the company. Around 108,000 international health insurance policies are affected.

The information does not include any financial or medical data, and relates to a portion of customers with international health insurance. 

Customers of Bupa’s local (domestic) health insurance businesses are not affected, and not all of the Bupa Global division’s 1.4 million international health insurance customers are affected. 

We are contacting those customers who are affected to apologise and advise them as we believe the information has been made available to other parties. The data taken includes: names, dates of birth, nationalities, and some contact and administrative details including Bupa insurance membership numbers. 

Protecting the information we hold about our customers is an absolute priority and I would like to assure customers that we are treating this seriously and taking steps to address the situation. This was not a cyber attack or external data breach, but a deliberate act by an employee. We have introduced additional security measures and increased our customer identity checks. A thorough investigation is underway and we have informed the FCA and Bupa’s other UK regulators. The employee responsible has been dismissed and we are taking appropriate legal action.

The moving new video from The Dogs Trust: "Little Balloon Doggy"

Little Balloon Doggy tells the story of Paddy waiting for his Special Someone to find him.

With more and more people buying dogs online our hope is to raise awareness of the hundreds of dogs waiting to find a new home at Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres across the country. 

Please do share with friends, family and anyone else for that matter, and let’s see if we can find those special someones for every dog in our care!

Please consider rehoming a dog. Thank you.

Today's Reading: Jesus is Lord!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Read at Bible Gateway
Read all of Philippians 2

Another Donline Milestone: Client Number 500 Today!

Another milestone for Donline:
Today, I have added Client No 500! 
A Donline goody bag to that man!

Trading 11+ years. Established 1st Feb 2006. Professional IT support for small / medium sized businesses, home offices, & home users.

Thank you!!!

12 July 2017

Too hot riding your motorbike in summer? Try this...

It might not last long, but riding in this glorious sunshine for the past few weeks really makes us bikers smile!

What doesn't make us smile is returning home a sweaty mess after wearing jackets without adequate ventilation, so here are some of the best vented jackets available on the MCN Shop. Which would you choose? 

This is the summer kit that I ride with:
Honda Spidi Armoured Mesh Jacket
Honda Spidi Soft MX Gloves
Rokker Revolution Jean

Plus the all year kit:
Daytona NonStop GTX Boots
Schuberth C3 World Helmet

ATGATT: All The Gear - All The Time. 
However, some of the kit is appropriate to the season.
Ride safe & stay cool people!