31 January 2018

Hot & fresh: LibreOffice6 has just been released: download it now!

LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity. 

LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).

If you're a technology enthusiast, early adopter or power user, this version is for you! Available for Windows, Linux, or Mac.

Do you have a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, or theology?

In the past 16 years, the team at www.GotQuestions.org has personally answered over 528,000 questions! On the site, you can search our archive of over 5,600 frequently asked questions, browse through our Top 20 most frequently asked Bible questions, our check out what's new.

Each week the GotQuestions.org team selects one article to highlight with the goal of increasing your biblical understanding or assist in your spiritual growth. To receive this weekly email, please subscribe to our Question of the Week.

Falcon Heavy vs. the classic Saturn V

The first flight of SpaceX's long awaited Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled for January 31. If all goes well, it will be the most powerful operational booster in the world – at twice the capacity of its nearest rival. 

According to SpaceX, it will be able to lift the equivalent of a fully loaded 737 airliner into orbit, but how powerful is the Falcon Heavy overall? To get a sense of perspective, let's see how it stacks up to the granddaddy of all space rockets, the Saturn V.

What is truth? Some people are arguing it should be anything they want it to be!

As the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference reaches a fever pitch, Facebook rolled out a new News Feed alert Monday night. The bulletin told users who followed pages created by Russian trolls that those pages have been removed. And some of the affected users did not like this.

A brief search revealed that numerous people believe that this is an act of censorship by Facebook. Some users argued that they should be allowed to decide what’s “true, fake, or otherwise,” a challenge that’s bound to be a slippery slope in this era of algorithm-based confirmation bias.

Need a reality check? Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. What is Truth?

30 January 2018

The album that got me into rock music: Status Quo - Blue For You

A short version of a slightly longer story...
When I was a kid my dad came home from work & said that sadly one of his young colleagues had passed away. There was some personal belongings and no family to collect them, so they were tasked with disposing of them. Dad said there was a record with some long haired chaps on it, would I like it? I said yes. It turned out to be Status Quo - Blue For You which is still one of my favourite albums, and my gateway to a lifetime of rock music! 

Early Quo is a revelation, before they got all poppy & got started on their annual breakup / retirement...

I couldn't recommend this album highly enough - Enjoy!

Keylogger found on thousands of WordPress based sites, stealing every keypress as you type

A new report from researchers at Sucuri reveals that websites are once again being found infected by cryptomining code – stealing the resources of visiting computers to mine for the Monero cryptocurrency.

Many web surfers almost certainly don’t realise that the reason that their laptop’s fan is running at full blast is because the website they are viewing is tied up with the complex number-crunching necessary to earn the digital currency.

But, in a twist, this particular attack isn’t just interested in mining Monero. While the website’s front-end is digging for cryptocurrencies, the back-end is secretly hosting a keylogger designed to steal unsuspecting users’ login credentials.

With the keylogger in place, any information entered on any of the affected websites’ web forms will be surreptitiously sent to the hackers. And yes, that includes the site’s login form.

29 January 2018

Got TomTom SatNav with "Lifetime Updates"? Well, could be it's life is over...

A number of customers with TomTom sat-navs have been told that their devices will no longer receive map updates.

"Your maps will become out-of-date and as such navigation will be less accurate," the firm told customers. "It has become clear that some of our older generation navigation devices do not have sufficient resources to run the newest maps and software."

A spokesman for TomTom told the BBC the company had been "proactively" communicating with customers.

On its website, TomTom explains that "lifetime" means the "useful life" of a device: "ie: the period of time TomTom supports your device with updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more."

Thy Kingdom Come 2018 - Pledge2Pray

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus.  What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, it is hoped that everyone who participates will deepen their friendship with Jesus, bring other to know Jesus or know him better, and come to know that every aspect of their life is the stuff of prayer.

I cannot remember in my life anything that I’ve been involved in where I have sensed so clearly the work of the Spirit. - Archbishop Justin Welby

Click here to find out more and Pledge2Pray

The Importance of Jesus: One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the son of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he became a wandering preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but Himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was executed by the state. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race, the leader of humankind's progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected human life on earth as much as has that One Solitary Life.

Surely it must be worthwhile finding out more about Him.

Please also see this post: on the importance of Jesus' birth.

27 January 2018

Is the mystery solved? Windows XP intro music: Savage Garden "A Thousand Words"

For 15+ years, something has been bugging me - in a nice sort of way!

When installing Windows XP, there was a lovely piece of electronic music that played, but it is uncredited (and no MP3 tag info) so I never knew who made it. Over the years, people have claimed it was Brian Eno, Bill Brown, and others...

Well, today I have possibly/hopefully found the answer
I'm not 100% sure but the evidence is looking good.

Listen for yourselves & enjoy! Let me know what you think.

UPDATE 19th July 2023: OK, I admit it: I was wrong 😂! The track wasn't by Savage Garden (athough its sounds so very close to "A Thousand Words"), It was actually by a very talented composer: Stan LePard. Thanks for your comments, and thanks to Michael MJD who references this Blog post in his YouTube Vid!.

26 January 2018

Net neutrality? Allow the good people at Burger King to explain why this is a lousy idea: using the magic of "The Whopper"

Net neutrality is the principle that governments should mandate Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to deliver content tailored to the capabilities of a specific device or user, offer free services or to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

The repeal of Net Neutrality is a hot topic in America, but it can be very difficult to understand. That’s why the BURGER KING® brand created WHOPPER® Neutrality, a social experiment that explains the effects of the repeal of Net Neutrality by putting it in terms anyone can understand: A WHOPPER® sandwich.

This effort aims to help people understand how the repeal of Net Neutrality will impact their lives.

The BURGER KING® brand believes the Internet should be like the WHOPPER® sandwich: the same for everyone.

Help keep Net Neutrality safe by signing the petition at Change.org/SavetheNet

Hotmail user? Prepare to pay more for your car insurance!

IF YOU'RE IN the market for car insurance you might want to sign up for a new email address before looking for a quote.

That's because some insurers use your email provider as a proxy for your likelihood of making a claim. A Hotmail address apparently marks you down as a boy or girl racer, in comparison with Gmail users who, insurers seem to believe, live life in the slow lane.

The findings come from an investigation by The Sun. Reporters applied for insurance quotes on price comparison sites using profiles that were identical apart from the email address. One of the UK's largest motor insures, Admiral, was singled out for discriminating in terms of price.

"We found that on comparison website GoCompare, Admiral charged a Hotmail driver £467.04 and a Gmail one £435.68 — £31.36 less," the reporters said.

Admiral admitted that it does use email domains as one variable in its risk estimation algorithm saying: "Certain domain names are associated with more accidents than others."

25 January 2018

Amazon.co.uk - Enjoy £10 off any qualifying order of £50 or more with promo code BIGTHANKS

Enjoy £10 off any qualifying order of £50 or more with promo code BIGTHANKS

This offer ends on 25 January, 2018. One per customer. The offer applies to items dispatched from and sold by Amazon only. It does not apply to items sold by third-party sellers, including items Fulfilled by Amazon.

Google Chrome v64 kills pop-ups and redirects - available now!

Android is getting priority treatment again from Chrome as the stable version of Chrome 64 rolls out here ahead of Mac, Windows and Linux for the second release in a row. The version includes the usual bug fixes, plus a host of features designed to make browsing safer and easier. Malicious auto-redirects are out, with the browser blocking third-party iframes unless you've directly interacted with them, and an improved pop-up blocker will stop shady sites from opening new tabs or windows from accidentally-clicked play buttons and transparent overlays.

The release also brings site-wide audio muting, which should help put an end to frantic searching among tabs to quieten noisy pages. The addition is part of Google's drive for more streamlined media autoplay behavior, and can be activated from a new sound menu, accessed via Settings > Site settings. Android users can get Chrome 64 from the Play Store over the coming weeks.

Cara Dillon 2018 tour: The Wanderer. 9th June = The Spring, Havant!

“Quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice…” Q Magazine

If you don’t know the voice of Cara Dillon, you’re in for a treat. With music that transcends genres and crosses barriers, her unique voice is truly enchanting and reaches well beyond her award winning Irish Folk origins.

In addition to singing songs from her recent album “A Thousand Hearts”, Cara will also perform some of her classics like “The Parting Glass”, “Hill Of Thieves”, “There Were Roses” and “Black Is The Colour”.

She never fails to leave audiences spellbound by the sheer beauty of her voice…not one to miss.

We think Cara has one of the best voices out there.
Have a listen, I'm pretty sure you will agree.

9 June 2018 - The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre, Havant, Hants
I can't wait!

24 January 2018

24 funny Tweets about Amazon Alexa that prove there’s nothing artificial about her intelligence

Technology has evolved to the point where we rely on it regularly in our day-to-day routines, which makes the emergence of virtual personal assistants a natural next step. Alexa, developed by Amazon, is a popular intelligent personal assistant that uses a cloud-based voice service to tend to our daily needs. This innovative and intuitive way to interact with technology has been growing in popularity, and with that, so have the hilarious stories that come from Alexa owners.

Installing a clever voice-based assistant in your home may seem like something straight from a sci-fi film, but the following tweets show how the addition has ended up integrating much more comedy to people’s humble abodes.

Here are 24 funny tweets about Amazon’s Alexa that prove there’s nothing artificial about her intelligence.

In case you're wondering just what Alexa can do - see this list!

Major UK cyber attack is "when, not if", says security chief

A major cyber attack on the UK is a case of "when, not if", says the head of the National Cyber Security Centre.

Speaking to the Guardian, Ciaran Martin said the country had been lucky to avoid a "category one" attack - targeting infrastructure like energy companies and financial services. But Mr Martin said the UK was increasing its defence capabilities.

His comments came after Gen Sir Nick Carter called for more defence spending to tackle the threat. The head of the British Army said the UK needed to protect itself from "cyber-warfare" from Russia.

22 January 2018

Wall Street veteran warns: 90% of bitcoin's value could get wiped out

Wall Street veteran Peter Boockvar predicts an epic crash will hit the cryptocurrency market.

He isn't sure if it'll come to a grinding halt or be a slow and steady drop — but he says it's coming.

Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, is certain crypto is in a giant bubble, and the air is already coming out.

"When something goes parabolic like this has, it typically ends up to where that parabola began," he said on CNBC's "Futures Now."

Boockvar, a CNBC contributor, contends bitcoin is in danger of dropping 90 percent from current levels. He calls it a classic bubble.

"I wouldn't be surprised if over the next year it's down to $1,000 to $3,000," he added.

Spoofed email - messages with a forged sender address

Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address.

Because the core email protocols do not have any mechanism for authentication, it is common for spam and phishing emails to use such spoofing to mislead the recipient about the origin of the message.

So... If you receive an email (at home or work), be aware that scammers are out there. They are after your personal information, bank details & money. Before you open that email: stop & think. Before you forward that email, are you sure it is kosher? Before you open that attachment - Take Five.

Spectre-Meltdown glitches: Intel warns that new PCs, servers also risk unexpected reboots following patces

Computers with newer Intel processors are suffering from random reboots after being updated to guard against the Spectre CPU flaws.

After installing Intel's Spectre-related firmware update on computers with Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and Kaby Lake architecture processors, Intel found the machines suffered from an increase in unwanted reboots.

In spite of these side effects, Intel is not advising computer manufacturers to stop offering the Spectre firmware updates to users.

But Intel says datacenter admins should assess whether the risk of Spectre being exploited in an attack outweighs that of unwanted reboots.

TalkTalk most complained-about broadband provider

TalkTalk has been named as the most complained-about broadband firm in the UK, according to the latest report from regulator Ofcom.

The watchdog received nearly 250 complaints a day about communications services from July to September 2017.

The Post Office came out worst for landline services and Vodafone received most complaints from mobile users.

In response, TalkTalk said closure of customer service centres in India had been partially to blame. "That move, and a radical shift to self serve, is already delivering a material improvement in customer satisfaction and we expect complaint data for 2018 to reduce significantly," the firm said in a statement, adding that it was "disappointed" by the figures.

TalkTalk and BT received the worst customer satisfaction scores in a survey of 12 broadband providers, conducted by Which last year.

21 January 2018

Why did I buy a gadget (kitchen, computer, motorcycle, etc) that I know I'll never use?

Just read this article. It did make me chortle!
I have so much surplus tech stuff, you wouldn't believe...
"Spare mobile handsets", oh yes, several of those.
USB floppy drive? Two of those as well.
Label printers. Lost count of them!
Headphones: don't talk to me about headphones!

Yup, everywhere we look there is clag. 
Office, kitchen, shed, loft, even dare I suggest it: motorcycle stuff!
More sprays, cleaners, and potions than you could shake a micro-fibre cloth at.

Labour saving utensils & tools that seem like a great idea at the time. How did I ever cope without that? Except, when we get said wonder gadget home it gets used once at best & then clogs up a cupboard.

Back in the olden days when I worked in logistics, my boss gave me a very interesting article entitled "Inventory is evil"... How very appropriate. I feel a declutter is overdue...

20 January 2018

Fancy a new BMW? Apple CarPlay user? Prepared to be charged to use a FREE service!

While GM and other manufacturers happily include Apple's CarPlay service for free even on their most attainable models, BMW and plenty of others have levied upgrade fees to enable CarPlay, or bundled the service inside pricey packages of widgets you may or may not want. That, sadly, is par for this margin-rich golf course, but when we learned this week that BMW would change from a single, up-front fee to an annual fee, in my mind that changed everything.

Instead of a one-time, $300 fee, starting on 2019 models BMW will charge $80 annually for the privilege of accessing Apple's otherwise totally free CarPlay service. You do get the first year free, much like your friendly neighborhood dealer of another sort, but after that it's pay up or have your Lightning cable metaphorically snipped.

19 January 2018

How can I increase my spiritual discernment?

Discernment is defined as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; an act of perceiving something; a power to see what is not evident to the average mind.” The definition also stresses accuracy, as in “the ability to see the truth.” Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between truth and error. It is basic to having wisdom.

When a bank hires an employee, he is trained to recognize counterfeit bills. One would think that the best way to recognize a counterfeit would be to study various counterfeits. The problem is that new counterfeits are being created every day. The best way to recognize a counterfeit bill is to have an intimate knowledge of the real thing. Having studied authentic bills, bank cashiers are not fooled when a counterfeit comes along. A knowledge of the true helps them identify the false.

This is what Christians must do to develop spiritual discernment. We must know the authentic so well that, when the false appears, we can recognize it. By knowing and obeying the Word of God, we will be “trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” We will know God’s character and will. This is the heart of spiritual discernment – being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God, to have a sense that “this is right” or “this is wrong.” Spiritual discernment fends off temptation and allows us to “hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

New Monster 821 - That's why #WeLoveMonster

The Monster 821 pays homage to the legacy of the Monster 900, which over 25 years ago revolutionised the motorcycle world, embodying the essence of true naked sport. Simple and sporty, agile and powerful, the Monster 821 combines perfect performance and ease of riding.

Hmmm. Ducati is for me the elephant in the room. Used to ride with a chap who loved all things Ducati and his go to bike was a Multistrada - which he adored. I can see me taking a trip to Snell's of Alton this year to have a look-see...

Intel responds to security research findings

Intel and other technology companies have been made aware of new security research describing software analysis methods that, when used for malicious purposes, have the potential to improperly gather sensitive data from computing devices that are operating as designed. Intel believes these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data.

Recent reports that these exploits (Meltdown and Spectre) are caused by a “bug” and are unique to Intel® products are incorrect. Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices—with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems—are susceptible to these exploits.

Intel is committed to product and customer security and is working closely with many other technology companies, including AMD*, ARM Holdings* and several operating-system vendors, to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively. Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits. The performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and will vary depending on the microprocessor, platform type (client or server), configuration and mitigation technique. Intel believes that for the average computer user, the performance impact should not be significant, although some workloads may see a noticeable impact on performance.

Intel is committed to the industry best practice of responsible disclosure of potential security issues, which is why Intel and other vendors had planned to disclose this issue a week later when more software and firmware updates would be available. However, Intel is making this statement today because of the current inaccurate media reports.

Check with your operating-system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available. Following good security practices that protect against malware in general will also help protect against possible exploitation until updates can be applied.

Intel believes its products are the most secure in the world and that, with the support of its partners, the current solutions to this issue provide the best possible security for its customers.

18 January 2018

The Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show: 16-18th Feb

It's the most exciting bike show in the UK and for 2018 we can promise an amazing range of the very latest bikes, all NEW racing action, star riders, guest speakers and hundreds of exhibitors all offering kit, accessories, motorcycling bargains and their own unique piece of motorcycle goodness!     

All the important 2018 machines
Biking bargains galore
New for 2018 - Michelin Thunderdrome featuring head to head racing
See WSB stars Carl 'Foggy' Fogarty, Chris Walker, Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus in action
Coys Auction
New for 2018 - the John McGuinness Bar
Get up close to racing legends - checkout our Paddock Pass ticket option
Huge custom and cafe racer display
Steve Colley stunt show
New for 2018 - Classic barn find restorations.

IT Security 101: don't put your password on a post-it note!

A photograph, taken by Associated Press back in July 2017, shows Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s operations officer in front of a bank of computer screens at its headquarters in Honolulu. But if you look past the colourful Hawaiian shirt, and zoom in on the computers used to monitor potential hazards, you’ll see a solitary Post-it note - detailing their password!

To be honest, I've seen worse... No names, no pack drill, but years ago a director of a major company passed me a laptop case which had a laptop with installed corporate VPN software. Also in the bag were a smartcard reader, with the smartcard in it & the password on a post-it note stuck to the reader! This is literally everything required to externally breach a corporate network - at director level!

Post-it notes are great, but puhleaze - don't use them for passwords!!! 

The pros & cons of "remote working"

If there’s a phrase likely to get some managers twitchier than ‘remote working’, I’m yet to hear it. Despite 1.5 million people in the UK taking advantage of some form of remote or flexible working, many businesses still aren’t open to it. In the anti-remote work camp is, most notably, Yahoo. CEO Marissa Mayer caused international uproar when she threw the gauntlet down against remote working back in 2013. Big organisations like Reddit and IBM followed suit, creating policies against remote working and calling employees back into the office.

While the headline-hitting moves seem controversial, in reality, they aren’t. 47% of UK businesses don’t encourage any form of flexible working. Yet 4 million UK workers wish they could work at home at least one day a week. And 70% say it makes a job more attractive. So why aren’t more businesses taking advantage of it? Read more here.

Don's got the dreaded lurgy, but it ain't all bad...

I'm not well. Got a cold / dreaded lurg / man flu. Urgh.
Last night I was self medicating with whisky macs. 
Seemed to help / take my mind off it...

While taking my meds, I decided to pop on a film that I've not seen in ages: 

A brilliant film starring: Tom Cruise,‎ Emily Blunt, & the great Bill Paxton.
If you haven't seen this movie yet: do.
If you have seen it before: watch it again!

17 January 2018

Bitcoin the "wonder currency" continues to tank...

Bitcoin plunged to a six-week low Tuesday after comments from South Korea's finance minister renewed worries about a crackdown in one of the largest markets for digital currency trading.

The Cboe and CME bitcoin futures contracts expiring later this month both dropped, with the Cboe contract falling 20 percent to around $11,010 and the CME contract off nearly 20 percent around $11,160 as of 4:01 p.m., ET. Trading in the Cboe bitcoin futures contract was briefly halted in accordance with price volatility rules.

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a radio program interview that "the shutdown of virtual currency exchanges is still one of the options" the government has, according to an English-language report Tuesday from South Korea's Yonhap News.

16 January 2018

'Very high level of confidence' Russia used Kaspersky software for devastating NSA leaks

Three months after U.S. officials asserted that Russian intelligence used popular antivirus company Kaspersky to steal U.S. classified information, there are indications that the alleged espionage is related to a public campaign of highly damaging NSA leaks by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

U.S. investigators “now believe that those manuals [leaked by Shadow Brokers] may have been obtained using Kaspersky to scan computers on which they were stored.”