31 July 2018

Britain's Best Biking Buddies - by Devitt insurance - vote for Calli!

Britain's Best Biking Buddies - the search for four-legged motorcycle fans!

Share top quality photos of your pets biking, dressed as bikers, posing by your bike or other great animal-biker shots for a chance to win a brand new Kriega R20 backpack and Shoei NXR helmet from Sportsbikeshop.

30 July 2018

Fake news 'crowding out' real news, MPs say

The volume of disinformation on the internet is growing so big that it is starting to crowd out real news, the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman has said.

Tory MP Damian Collins said people struggle to identify "fake news".

MPs in their committee report said the issue threatens democracy and called for tougher social network regulation.

27 July 2018

Microsoft Discovers Supply Chain Attack at Unnamed Maker of PDF Software

Microsoft said today that hackers compromised a font package installed by a PDF editor app and used it to deploy a cryptocurrency miner on users' computers.

The OS maker discovered the incident after its staff received alerts via the Windows Defender ATP, the commercial version of the Windows Defender antivirus.

Microsoft employees say they investigated the alerts and determined that hackers breached the cloud server infrastructure of a software company providing font packages as MSI files. These MSI files were offered to other software companies.

One of these downstream companies was using these font packages for its PDF editor app, which would download the MSI files from the original company's cloud servers during the editor's installation routine.

25 July 2018

Quantum computing: Seven truths you need to know

Quantum computers promise to be able to solve tasks that would be impossible using conventional machines.

But those benefits are still theoretical at present, with quantum computers lacking a sufficient number of processing units, known as qubits, and enough stability to do useful work.

Companies are going to huge lengths to build quantum computers, cooling devices to a few micro kelvins above absolute zero. Even then challenges remain, while IBM has a 50-qubit prototype machine and Google a 72-qubit computer, each has their own roadblocks that prevent them from being truly useful devices at this moment.

Here is the expert view on what quantum computers will and won't be able to do, and the challenges we still face.

Want to know more? Learn about Microsoft's unique approach to Quantum Computing: watch the Future Decoded Quantum Computing Keynote Lecture on YouTube (I was there, it's an excellent video - highly recommended!).

Bloodbiker volunteer rider found not guilty after police stop

A volunteer from Devon Freewheelers, Ian Hopkins, 49, from Exeter has been cleared of all charges of breaking the law whilst responding on a blood bike to an emergency call for a hospital in Plymouth at Exeter Magistrates Court today.  He was found 'not guilty' by a District Judge who heard the case and took nearly three hours to reach a decision.

Ian Hopkins was stopped by a traffic officer whilst travelling under blue lights and sirens when he was responding to a 'life at risk' call to the Plymouth Nuffield Health Hospital on the A38 in October 2017. The case which has taken nearly nine months to reach a conclusion was found in favour of the volunteer rider after all of the evidence was presented to the court.

Devon Freewheelers are a team of volunteers who are dedicated to providing a 24hrs a day, 7 days a week service supporting our NHS in delivering essential blood supplies for the purposes of transfusion, blood samples for the purposes of testing, organs and human tissue samples for the purposes of transplant, medication direct to the patient at home in the case of urgent need and Donor Breast Milk (which also comes under the Human Tissue Act) to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units throughout Devon.

24 July 2018

Google Chrome v68 users met with ‘Not secure’ warnings when visiting HTTP sites

If you’re still running a website that is using insecure HTTP then it’s probably too late. Some of your website’s visitors are going to be greeted with a message that tells them that they can’t trust your website to be secure.

That’s the message they’re going to get from Google Chrome which - in version 68 released on Tuesday 24 July 2018 - is changing its behaviour, and will start labelling all sites that continue to use unencrypted HTTP as “not secure”.

And as Chrome is the world’s most widely-used browser, that’s an awful lot of visitors who might feel unsettled visiting your website from Tuesday.

23 July 2018

UK heatwave: What does the law say on employee rights during hot weather?

The hottest day of the decade could be on its way to the UK – with the mercury set to climb to highs of 34 degrees on Wednesday 25 July, according to the Met Office.

But, for employees, the sun’s rays can make the working environment almost unbearable.

Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor in the employment team at East Midlands-based Nelsons Solicitors, explains what the law says on employee rights during hot weather.

Now you know why: SMIDSY - Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You.

UK drivers are being urged to test their eyesight after a DVLA survey suggested 50% of motorists were not aware of the minimum standards needed for a licence.

Drivers must be able to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away.

But the agency's survey found only half of drivers knew about the eye test and used it to regularly self-check, as they are legally required to do.

Those who do not pass the test should visit an optician, a DVLA doctor said.

Learner drivers must pass the eye test as part of their practical exam - and are then legally obliged to ensure their sight remains good enough to drive thereafter.

The DVLA's Wyn Parry warned vision can "naturally deteriorate over time", adding that regular checks to ensure good eyesight were "essential for safe driving".

20 July 2018

Reading for today: On the Lord's Prayer

(On prayer) ...whatever else you say, you will probably say the Lord’s Prayer.

Its very first words are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending. Because, of course, the moment you realise what the words mean, you realise that you are not a son of God. You are not being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centred fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.

Compiled in Words to Live By

19 July 2018

Hackers account for 90% of login attempts at online retailers

Selling stolen personal data is a big business for hackers: Somewhere on the dark web, your e-mail address and a few passwords are probably for sale (hopefully, old ones). Cyber criminals buy troves of this information to try to login to websites where they can grab something valuable like cash, airline points, or merchandise like expensive cheese. Yes, cheese.

Online retailers are hit the most by these attacks, according to a report by cyber security firm Shape Security. Hackers use programs to apply stolen data in a flood of login attempts, called “credential stuffing.” These days, more than 90% of e-commerce sites’ global login traffic comes from these attacks. The airline and consumer banking industries are also under siege, with about 60% of login attempts coming from criminals.

These attacks are successful as often as 3% of the time, and the costs quickly add up for businesses, Shape says. This type of fraud costs the e-commerce sector about $6 billion a year, while the consumer banking industry loses out on about $1.7 billion annually. The hotel and airline businesses are also major targets—the theft of loyalty points is a thing—costing a combined $700 million every year.

What did Jesus mean when He said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life' (John 14:6)?

I am the way and the truth and the life” is one of the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. On the last night before His betrayal and death, Jesus was preparing His disciples for the days ahead. For over three years, these men had been following Jesus and learning from His teaching and example. They had placed their hopes in Him as the Messiah, the promised deliverer, yet they still didn’t understand how He was going to accomplish that deliverance. After the Last Supper, Jesus began speaking about His departure, which led to questions from His disciples.

In John 13:33, Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” This prompted Peter to ask where He was going (verse 36). Peter and the others did not understand that Jesus was speaking of His death and ascension to heaven. Jesus’ response was, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter was still misunderstanding and declared that he would follow Jesus anywhere and even lay down His life if necessary. As Jesus patiently continued to teach His disciples, He began speaking more plainly about heaven, describing the place He was going to prepare for them (John 14:2–3). Then Jesus said, “You know the way to the place where I am going” (verse 4). Speaking for the others, Thomas said they did not know where He was going, so how could they know how to follow Him there? It was in answer to this question that Jesus uttered one of the seven famous “I am” statements.

Read the rest of this excellent article here:

18 July 2018

Google hit with €4.3bn Android fine from EU

Google has been fined a record €4.34bn ($5bn; £3.9bn) over Android.

The European Commission said the firm had used the mobile operating system to illegally "cement its dominant position" in search.

The firm's parent Alphabet has been given 90 days to change its business practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover.

It has said it plans to appeal.

Two Wheels for Life is the official charity of MotoGP™ and the FIM

It's just over a month until Day of Champions, our event which brings you closer to the riders and the GP action! Paddock passes for the day are sold out, but you could win two PLUS Silverstone tickets in our summer prize draw

Both LCR Honda and the Angel Nieto Team are holding auctions for us right now, have a look online to see some great prizes including a chance to meet the riders.

And finally, BT Sport MotoGP™ presenter Suzi Perry stars in our new mini film, giving a glimpse into what's in store for those who take part in Two Wheels events and auctions. 

Thank you! We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Andrea, Donna, Randy & the Two Wheels for Life team

Be aware: new Google sign-in screen launching this week. It's not hackers (at least not this time!)

Last month, Google announced a new look for their sign-in screen. 
Due to unforeseen delays, they are now rolling out the new design this week, with some minor changes.

Going forward, you may notice that when you sign in to your G Suite account, the screen looks slightly different. 

Some of the changes include tweaks to the Google logo and center alignment of all items on the screen. See above for before and after images.

Reading for today: on recognising our own sin

We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. 

On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? 

If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

Thinks the roads are bad while driving a car? Try potholes on a motorbike!

Bikes are “putting their lives at risk” when they drive on Kent’s roads due to the amount of potholes.

That’s according to member of the Kent Advanced Motorcyclists Group, Nicholas Farley, who wrote to the Scrutiny Committee at Kent County Council after discovering that one in seven Kent IAM members had suffered injury and/or motorcycle damage due to hitting a pothole while riding.

His letter, which was read out by Liberal Democrat Councillor Trudy Dean at a meeting on Friday, stated that judgement about road condition was made with cars and larger vehicles in mind, but “what is simply uncomfortable for a car driver, and even unnoticeable to a lorry driver, can cause a motorcyclist to have an accident”. He wrote of how “frightening” and “dangerous” these potholes were to motorcyclists.

Farley also compared the state of Europe’s roads, which he claims are much better kept and “much easier to ride…” because “one is able, in general, to rely on there not being a deep pothole hiding round a corner”.

17 July 2018

Shock Horror! Bitcoin mining rig is branded a "SCAM"!

The company behind a Kodak-branded crypto-currency mining scheme has confirmed the plan has collapsed.

In January, a Bitcoin mining computer labelled Kodak KashMiner was on display on Kodak's official stand at the CES technology show in Las Vegas.

But critics labelled it a "scam" and said the advertised profits were unachievable and misleading.

Now the company behind the scheme says it will not go ahead. Kodak told the BBC it was never officially licensed.

Wow, dodgy hardware & Cryptocurrencies, what could possibly go wrong?

Why spelling is so important in coding: or how to screw up a perfectly good game!

In case you need help selecting an old game to spend the weekend with, it might be a good time to revisit 2013's Aliens: Colonial Marines. In a one-star review written when it was released, Xav de Matos called out the game's AI as a problem and said: "Enemy encounters feature stunningly moronic xenomorphs that show none of the tactical sense seen in the films. There's no tension or challenge to the engagements. The highly intelligent alien race simply leaps or rushes toward the player, exploding in a mist of acidic blood after absorbing enough shots. If any of them fail to combust, they simply fade away."

Why would I recommend a game that only received a one-star review when it was released? Because there's a chance a much better version of the game was hiding within, only to be stymied by, of all things, a single typo:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

should read:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTether

The mistake relates to the alien's "tether" in the code. A tether is the area in the game where the alien is programmed to move in - and how it can exit this "tether" and move to another.

However, a crucial piece of code spelled it "teather", which meant an important part of gameplay simply didn't happen.

Instead, aliens wandered aimlessly around in the game or stood in groups hissing at the player as they pointed weapons at the supposed threat.

I thought Aliens: Colonial Marines was a pretty good, if somewhat buggy game. Worth revisiting: with a tweak to the code!

12 July 2018

Utility Warehouse - Which? Utility Provider of the Year 2018!

Whether you want a telecoms service or an energy provider, Utility Warehouse is a great option. 

It was one of just two companies to achieve a full five-star customer service rating in our latest broadband survey. It also topped our mobile phone provider rankings, with an impressive 85% of customers saying they’d recommend it, and achieved first place in our survey of energy companies. 

See which are the best and worst broadband providers – as rated by real customers.

Have you made the switch yet? 
Ready for better service & smaller bills?
Contact Donline to find about the benefits of switching to The Utility Warehouse!

Microsoft Windows through the ages - which was your favourite?

It all started on 20th November 1985. It was a Wednesday,  Ronald Reagan was in office (possibly watching Rocky IV) and Microsoft released the first version of its new operating system: Windows 1.0. “Interface Manager” was the initial code name, but “Windows” prevailed because windows were precisely what its computing boxes or screens looked like. Bill Gates called it “unique software for the serious PC user.”

Serious stuff. Windows 1.0 required 256 kilobytes, two double-sided floppy disk drives and a graphics adapter card. But seriously user friendly was what it was aiming to be.

Rather than typing MS-DOS commands, users could now move a mouse to click their way through screens. Packed with drop-down menus, scroll bars and icons, Windows also featured Paint, Windows Writer and Notepad. That was not all, there was also a calendar, clock, calculator and even a game (Reversi)! Where to from here?

11 July 2018

Apple bug crashed iPhones when you wrote 'Taiwan'

Many tech companies have to write code to adapt to China's strict rules, including its denial of Taiwan's independent status. However, Apple's approach to it may have been... slightly buggy. Security researcher Patrick Wardle has reported that iOS 11.3 and earlier included a bug that would crash some users' devices whenever they wrote "Taiwan" or used the Taiwanese flag emoji, regardless of the app. While some aspects of the flaw remained mysterious to Wardle, he determined that certain language/region settings would return a "null" code, prompting the crash when referencing the island.

You may have noticed that we're referring to the bug in the past tense -- that's because it's thankfully been fixed as of iOS 11.4.1. And unlike some of Apple's past text-related bugs, it wasn't guaranteed to happen. You could even fix it yourself in an interim fashion by switching back and forth between China and another region. Still, it's not exactly the kind of bug you want to have -- especially not for people who have good reason to talk about Taiwan in regular conversation.

10 July 2018

Microsoft unveils lightweight and portable Surface Go

Microsoft has unveiled its smallest and lightest Surface device, which is designed to be carried and used anywhere.

The two-in-one Surface Go has a 10-inch screen, is 8.3mm thin and weighs just 1.15 pounds. It also boasts nine hours of battery life, is able to run Office apps and is priced from just £379.

The new addition to the popular range was announced by Chief Product Officer Panos Panay on Monday night.

“Many of us play different roles throughout the day, moving from work or school to home and everywhere in between. Our products don’t do just one thing because people don’t do just one thing,” he wrote in a blog post. “Since my two youngest daughters have started using Surface Go, I see them watching movies, reading and drawing on it every day. It’s the perfect device for them. And for me, whether I’m at home, in the office, or on a plane, putting my Surface Pen on the screen and letting my thoughts flow is a necessary step in my creative process. It’s how I work. It’s so easy to carry Surface Go with me so I can capture those moments, instantly.”

Now available for pre-order here.

Blood stocks are low - please donate

O- negative stocks are low. 
Do something amazing off the pitch and sign up to save lives.

We need to make sure that we have enough supplies of all blood groups and blood types to treat all types of conditions.

By giving blood, every donor helps us meet the challenge of providing life-saving products whenever and wherever they are needed.

I'm O+ and am booked in to give: next week.
Do something amazing, save a life: give blood.

09 July 2018

Honda makes commitment to motorcycle security. Fitting FREE trackers to all of its new road bikes.

Honda UK has joined forces with Datatool, to offer tracking equipment free-of-charge for each of its road going motorcycles.

Honda is offering Datatool’s innovative Thatcham-approved tracking solution (TrakKING Adventure system) supplied and fitted at no extra cost to all new road bikes. And if you’ve got an older Honda, then you can get the system fitted at a discount. The only cost involved is the ongoing 24/7/365 monitoring subscription.

Bikers make the safest road users

Insurance broker Carole Nash has found that drivers who also hold a bike licence make fewer claims than those who don’t.

Their three-year study revealed that drivers without a bike licence not only made 11% more claims, but that the average value of their claim was higher too.

Rebecca Donohue, Head of Marketing at Carole Nash, said:
“Statistically speaking, we’ve found that drivers who also ride motorcycles are less likely to have accidents that result in an insurance claim, so we wanted to reward this safety and really shout about it. To us, driving like a biker means having a knowledge of the road, preparing for your journey and being safe and aware while driving. So, DriveLikeABiker.com has been launched to encourage people to drive like one of the safest groups of road users.”

08 July 2018

Calculating Ada Lovelace: The Countess of Computing

Ada Lovelace was a most unlikely computer pioneer. In this film, Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada's remarkable life. Born in the early 19th century, Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an 'enchantress of numbers'. The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance, but blighted by illness and gambling addiction, helped give rise to the modern era of computing.

Hannah traces Ada's unlikely union with the father of computers, Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the world's first steam-powered computers - most famously the analytical engine - but it was Ada who realised the full potential of these new machines. During her own lifetime, Ada was most famous for being the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron ('mad, bad and dangerous to know'). It was only with the advent of modern computing that Ada's understanding of their flexibility and power (that they could be far more than mere number crunchers) was recognised as truly visionary. Hannah explores how Ada's unique inheritance - poetic imagination and rational logic - made her the ideal prophet of the digital age.

This moving, intelligent and beautiful film makes you realise we nearly had a Victorian computer revolution.

06 July 2018

While we Pray for and worry about those involved in the Thai cave, remember, there is hope

Twelve boys and their football coach missing in caves in Thailand for nine days have been found by divers, in a drama that has gripped the nation. They were discovered by two British divers on a ledge in a cavern after a marathon search operation in the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai.

In the face of peril, we have to keep faith, Miracles happen: In 2010, the eyes and prayers of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners were buried alive 200 stories underground by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men.

The 33, a major motion picture (trailer here) about the calamity, starring Antonio Banderas. A gripping story of resilience and personal transformation, the film depicts the Earth’s darkest depths while revealing the spiritual light the men grasped through prayer and reading the Bible to rely on God to gain the necessary courage needed for both the miners and their families.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
 He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in Him.

Please remember in your Prayers: these 12 boys & one adult trapped, and awaiting rescue. May God Bless those who are risking life and limb endeavouring to bring the trapped to freedom. x

Tremonti at The Pyramids Portsmouth - fantastic!

Well, what a brilliant evening! Venue the Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth. Support The Departed, The Fallen State. And of course headliners: Tremonti - who are touring their new album: A Dying Machine.

The two support bands were pretty good, but I was really looking forward to seeing Mark and his band play - and wasn't disappointed! One of the greatest guitarists on the planet (IMHO) who played with Creed, and still plays with Alter Bridge. Interestingly, they don't do encores: just playing the set. Bravo to that, I always find encores more than a bit fake. Instead of that, they just announced that there were 2 or three songs left. The gig ended on a massive high!

At the end of the gig, those of us who purchased merchandise had the opportunity to meet the band & get our stuff signed. Really happy with that!!! A big band who really care about their fans: Thanks guys!

Boy, it was hot in there though: I drank so much water I thought I was going to drown! The only lasting issue is: my ears are still ringing! IT WAS LOUD!

Reading for today: On Love

There are two kinds of love: we love wise and kind and beautiful people because we need them, but we love (or try to love) stupid and disagreeable people because they need us. 

This second kind is the more divine because that is how God loves us: not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but He delights to give.

Compiled in Words to Live By

05 July 2018

Biking or driving in France this Summer? Better read this then: newly reduced speed limits!

Despite months of rife debate in France, a controversial new measure slashing the speed limit on secondary roads from 90 km/h to 80 km/h came into effect on Sunday 1st July 2018 in a bid to curb crash deaths.

The change affects 400,000 km of France’s roads - two-way, one-lane-each roads without medians, or the 40 percent of the French network where 55 percent of road deaths were reported to have taken place in 2017.

Since the move was announced in January, critics have organised demonstrations to fight it. Pierre Chasseray, of the 40 Millions d’automobilistes group that lobbies on motorists’ behalf, has deemed it “useless” and “political”.

France is a great country to bike or drive through. Great scenery & generally good roads. Wonderful food & drink too (but of course not drinking while driving!). Changing the speed limits is likely to cause short term issues: "Around 11,000 speed signs need to be replaced. In the short term some will be covered".

04 July 2018

Over 800 cryptocurrencies are now dead as bitcoin is 70 percent off its record high

Cryptocurrency projects have been popping up left, right and center in the past 18 months, but over 800 of those are now dead, adding to comparisons between the current digital coin market and the dotcom bubble in 2000.

New digital tokens are created via a process known as an initial coin offering (ICO) where a start-up can issue a new coin which investors can buy. The investor doesn't get an equity stake in the company, but the cryptocurrency that they buy can be used on the company's product. People usually buy into an ICO because the coins are cheap and could offer big returns in the future. Or not...

Record number of fake HMRC websites deactivated over past year

As fraudsters continue to target Britain’s micro business community, official figures reveal that a record number of fake HMRC websites were shut down in the last 12 months.

New figures from the tax office have shown that 20,750 malicious sites acting as HMRC were sent requests to be taken down since summer 2017 – an increase of 29% on the previous year.

During the 2017/18 financial year, HMRC responded to almost 1m phishing referrals. Since 2016 it has blocked almost half a billion phishing emails using HMRC in the “from” address.

New technology has contributed to the strong response to scammers, reducing phishing texts by 90%.