29 July 2019

Ransomware attacks on UK businesses soar 195%

The UK has been the biggest target for ransomware attacks for the first half of 2019 with the number rising 195%, as compared to the 59% reduction in attacks of the same kind in 2018, it has been claimed.

SonicWall, which authored the report, said the number of recorded attacks sits at 6.4 million for the first half of the year and has been largely attributed to the growing preference of criminals for ransomware as a service (RaaS), as well as open-source malware kits becoming cheaper and more readily available online.

"Globally, cybercriminals continue to pivot toward new tactics and that's bad news because ransomware-as-a-service allows less programming-skilled actors into the malware game, and some targets are twice-victimised," said Bill Conner, SonicWall CEO.

26 July 2019

Quantum Supremacy Is Coming: Here’s What You Should Know

Quantum computers will never fully replace “classical” ones like the device you’re reading this article on. They won’t run web browsers, help with your taxes, or stream the latest video from Netflix.

What they will do - what’s long been hoped for, at least - will be to offer a fundamentally different way of performing certain calculations. They’ll be able to solve problems that would take a fast classical computer billions of years to perform. They’ll enable the simulation of complex quantum systems such as biological molecules, or offer a way to factor incredibly large numbers, thereby breaking long-standing forms of encryption.

The threshold where quantum computers cross from being interesting research projects to doing things that no classical computer can do is called “quantum supremacy.” Many people believe that Google’s quantum computing project will achieve it later this year. In anticipation of that event, we’ve created this guide for the quantum-computing curious. It provides the information you’ll need to understand what quantum supremacy means, and whether it’s really been achieved...

25 July 2019

Ebola in DRC: Chance for Childhood's Appeal

For almost a year, the Ebola outbreak has been devastating the North Kivu region of DRC. In the last month, it’s got even worse. Ebola has now reached Goma, a city of over one million – putting even more lives at risk. There is also a very high chance that Ebola will spread to neighbouring Rwanda. There have already been three cases in Uganda and the World Health Organisation has now declared it Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Please donate today to help ensure that 3,000 vulnerable children in the Democratic Republic of Congo can urgently access life-saving prevention measures against Ebola (e.g. Ebola education campaign, soap, water).

Synology urges all users to take immediate action to protect data from ransomware attack

TAIPEI, Taiwan - July 23, 2019 Synology recently found that several users were under a ransomware attack, where admins' credentials were stolen by brute-force login attacks, and their data was encrypted as a result. We investigated and found that the causes of these attacks were due to dictionary attacks instead of specific system vulnerabilities. This large-scale attack was targeted at various NAS models from different vendors; therefore we strongly recommend users check network and account settings to protect data from ransomware.

"We believe this is an organized attack. After an intensive investigation into this matter, we found that the attacker used botnet addresses to hide the real source IP," said Ken Lee, Manager of Security Incident Response Team at Synology Inc. "After collecting admin account passwords with brute-force attacks, the attack was launched on July 19 and caught users off guard. We therefore informed TWCERT/CC and CERT/CC immediately of this matter in hopes of accelerating the collaborative efforts to resolve this incident."

Since this attack is not related to system security vulnerabilities, it is recommended that Synology users utilize built-in network and account management settings to enhance system security level, preventing malicious attacks from the Internet.

"We urge all Synology users to take immediate action to protect their NAS from the ransomware attack," said Hewitt Lee, Director of Product Management at Synology Inc. "Users' data security is always our priority. For those who are not using Synology NAS, we still recommend you take corresponding actions to protect your precious data."

Synology are a great company with fantastic NAS devices. However, any piece of IT is only as secure as it's weakest link. Use a trivial password & expect to lose control of your device and data! ALWAYS use complex passwords & never reuse passwords!

23 July 2019

Reading for today: religion -or- a life of faith?

The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practices to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one’s attention fixed on God and on one’s neighbor in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn’t the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from outside.

22 July 2019

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MCN reviews the Harley-Davidson Livewire

On paper the Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorbike may appear heavy, lacking battery range and short on power and torque, but riding it tells a different story. It accelerates with the ferocity of a superbike, sounds like a fighter jet and even throbs like a pounding heartbeat at a standstill.

It has an un-Harley-like passion for corners, is well-built, comfortable, smooth and easy to ride. It’ll keep going for longer than some sportsbikes and takes an hour to fully fast-charge. It’s expensive, lacks a petrol engine’s drama and will never please the purist, but if this is the future we’ll all have to face one day, things really won’t be so bad.

21 July 2019

A prayer to mark 50 years since the moon landing

The Church of England is marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with the publication of a special prayer, as events take place around the world to celebrate the event.

The prayer, which is being shared on social media, speaks of man’s drive to “explore the mysteries of creation” and the need to cherish our world.

O God, 
who made the universe and all that is in it
we thank you for the skills and talents
that enable us to explore the mysteries of creation. 
Give us the will to cherish all that you have made, 
and to use the riches of our own world
for the good of all, 
through Jesus Christ our Lord

19 July 2019

First meal on the moon: how Buzz Aldrin took communion (and why NASA hushed it up)

Almost everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to stand on the moon. Almost everyone knows what Armstrong said: 'That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.' But how many know what Buzz Aldrin did before they stepped out on to the moon's surface? 

Aldrin was a convinced Christian and an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Before the flight he had wondered about how to mark the landing. He wrote in an article for Guideposts magazine in 1970 that his pastor Dean Woodruff had told him 'God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life' – like bread and wine. Woodruff gave him a silver chalice to take with him on the flight, and there was just enough gravity for him to be able to pour the wine from a plastic container. 

He wrote in Guideposts: 'In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.'

He also read from John 15.5: 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.'

Before he took communion, he radioed back to NASA: 'I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.' NASA kept quiet about what he was actually doing, though. It was bruised by the activities of atheist campaigner Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who had fought a series of court battles – all of which she lost – against it because the crew of a previous mission, Apollo 8, had read out the creation story from Genesis during their orbit. She thought it violated the constitutional division between church and state. 

The Bible and the moon have a lot more history besides all that, though. Three hundred microfilmed King James Versions were carried on the Apollo 14 mission at the instigation of the Apollo Prayer League, 100 of which went down to the moon in the lunar module with astronaut Edgar Mitchell. 

There's also a paper Bible still on the moon; it's on the dashboard of an abandoned lunar rover and was left there by Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott.

Author: Mark Woods, 20 July 2019

17 July 2019

Slashdot poll: what web browser do techies use?

A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for accessing information on the World Wide Web. Each individual web page, image, and video is identified by a distinct Uniform Resource Locator (URL), enabling browsers to retrieve these resources from a web server and display them on a user's device.

As of March 2019, more than 4.3 billion people use a browser, which is about 55% of the world’s population. The most popular browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.

Slashdot is one of the most popular sites for techies. This poll gives some indication of what web browser us techies use. BTW - I use Chrome most of the time, then Edge & Firefox for testing. 

Real vs fake motorcycle crash helmets

Fake helmets are always a hot topic, especially when the fakes are becoming increasingly harder to distinguish from genuine helmets. It’s recommended that you always purchase your motorcycle crash helmets from recommended retailers with an approved SHARP rating.

Research conducted by SHARP found that up to 50 lives could be saved if motorcyclists wore the safest helmets available to them.

In recent years there was been a massive crack down on those who have been dealing with selling fake helmets. Not only is it illegal but it could seriously impact a riders life if there were to be any injury from a crash.

Although there are currently no plans for SHARP to begin testing other motorcycle garments such as leathers, jackets and boots, or that there is any other organisation testing these materials either, it would make for interesting findings if they were.

A recent survey conducted by Devitt Insurance found that 96% of motorcyclists would continue to wear a helmet even if it wasn’t necessary by law.

If the deal sounds too good to be true - it usually is... These things are life savers - not fashion accessories! Don't take the risk: buy a decent lid from a "bona fides" retailer such as my two favourites: Infinity Motorcycles & Motolegends

15 July 2019

But my files are saved in "The Cloud". Oh no they aren't!

From a great article on The Register - about people taking responsibility (or lack thereof) for their own data & files:

...The user began the demonstration, fired up Word, and "started typing... and then promptly closed Word (ignoring the 'Are you sure?' prompt)."

Jason queried the user: "Why didn't you save the file?"

"Why do I need to do that?"

"Because you have to – if you don't save the file then... you haven't saved the file."

"I don't have to – it's in The Cloud."

"OK, where in The Cloud is it?"

"How should I know? We were told that everything would get saved in The Cloud."

Erm... The moral of this story, is save, save & save again. 
Oh, and backup as well!

Microsoft changes terms to convert "valued partners" to cash cows!

The upcoming changes to the Microsoft Partner Network taking effect from the 1st of August is a war on Microsoft Partners and those who have been loyal to the company. Here are the changes summarised:

From July 1st 2020: Microsoft will be updating the terms of use for product licenses to remove the internal use association for partners. This means the applications you where previously allowed to use in your business as part of your membership will now have to be purchased under commercial arrangements. Changes to IUR (July 1st 2020): https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/membership/internal-use-software

From August 1st 2019: Microsoft is retiring the on-premises product support incidents currently included with Silver and Gold competencies and in the Microsoft Action Pack, effective when partners renew their existing competency or subscription beginning August 2019. Changes to Partner Support Incidents (August 1st 2019): https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/2987884/microsoft-partner-network-technical-benefits-summary

From October 1st 2019: The core product licenses included with competencies will be specific to the competency you attain. Meaning core products which where previously part of all memberships we now have to pay for in full. For some partners this is going to cost them thousands of dollars a month extra. Example of this is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement which a lot of IT companies now use as part of their business. To ask a company using 15 x Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement licenses to now pay $160 each for them doesn’t sit right. That’s $2400 a month you now have to start paying if you where using 15 x Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement licenses under Small and Mid Market Cloud Competency. Changes to Core Benefits (October 1st 2019): https://assetsprod.microsoft.com/en-au/preview-product-licenses-included-with-competencies.pdf

This is really shabby Microsoft! Your partners have helped to build you to be one of the biggest companies on the planet. So how do you reward them? By using them as a cash cow! Fortunately I stopped using the Internal Use Rights some time ago & pay commercial rates for the services that Donline uses. However this is going to hit some fellow Microsoft partners hard.

UPDATE: from The RegisterMicrosoft tells resellers: 'We listened to you, and we have acted'. Software-snatcher backs down on licence plans. HORRAY!

The modern Web is like Black Mirror, says Tim Berners-Lee

Nastiness, misogyny and hate speech” are pushing us towards a dystopian future, says Web founder Tim Berners-Lee has said today's World Wide Web is heading towards a dystopian vision, characterised by the TV series Black Mirror.

Berners-Lee, who was speaking at OpenText's Enterprise World event in Toronto, invented the web 30 years ago.

Comparing today with the early days of the web, he said: "It's not just we've lost all the value of the content; we've lost the spirit that everybody is creating this together, we need to we need to get that back.

"We have issues with nastiness, with misogyny, with hate speech and free speech, and the right to be able to say what you like, pushing against people's need to be respected on the web."

He continued: "If you need a sign of the Zeitgeist, measure the fact that Black Mirror is a thing. There is a TV series based on a completely different dysfunction of humanity."

Berners-Lee described social media platforms like Facebook as "well-intentioned, well-designed systems" but "after the analysis comes in, many, many years later, they realise that a social network does enable people to keep up with the family, but it also polarises people".

12 July 2019

Video: God’s Wonderful Animals

There are at least six million species of animals and each is a masterpiece of biological design, engineering and artistry.

Reflect upon the brilliance of God’s creative power in this unforgettable celebration of life on Earth.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail, snow and clouds,
    wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all livestock,
    small scurrying animals and birds,
kings of the earth and all people,
    rulers and judges of the earth,
young men and young women,
    old men and children.

Calli has just had a brilliant summer trim!

Calli was struggling in the heat: looking like a mini Old English Sheepdog!
But as always Pam has worked her magic, & Calli is a much happier pup!

Tinnitus: Warning for music fans attending concerts

Young music lovers are being warned about the dangers of loud noise at concerts and festivals which could cause permanent hearing damage.

About one in 10 people in the UK have tinnitus and Cardiff-based audiologist Sonja Jones said it was important to wear hearing protection at loud events.

She said ear plugs - offered by many venues - were seen as "uncool" by some.

Musician Nathaniel Ernest, 26, from Cardiff, struggled to sleep after getting tinnitus when he was 18.

He and a friend went to a gig in 2011 - neither wore ear plugs and both came out with ringing in their ears.

Mr Ernest said he had ringing in his ears after gigs and nights out before, but it always went away. This time it didn't.

Yup, that's me. Too much rock n roll, and motorcycling (wind noise) has left me with tinnitusIt's pretty much always there but gets worse at times. If I go to a very loud gig, I can end up with ringing in my ears for a day afterwards! I bought a pair of Senner MotoPro for use on the bike - which work pretty well & attenuating the harmful frequencies out, while are fairly comfortable to wear. I suspect their cousins: Senner MusicPro might end up in the Amazon basket before long...

10 July 2019

The laptop formerly known as Toshiba: Dynabook!

Dynabook Europe has announced two new laptops, the Portégé X30-F and the Tecra X40-F, to mark ‘dynabook Day’, which celebrates 30 years of dynabook heritage.

The devices are the first to be dynabook-branded in Europe following the rebrand of Toshiba’s computer business in April of this year.

The new laptops feature Modern Standby, the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processor (Whiskey Lake), and newly-added Intel Optane Memory. They also boast new upgrades including a hardware precision touchpad (PTP) with wake on fingerprint capabilities, and a newly-designed fan to improve airflow and cooling by lowering fan noise.

“The 9th July marks ‘dynabook Day’ in Japan, celebrating 30 years of the dynabook brand: we thought it would be a fitting time to launch the first dynabook-branded laptops in Europe,” said Damian Jaume, president of Dynabook Europe GmbH.

“As Toshiba, the company launched the world’s first laptop computer in 1985 (the T1100) and followed it up with the world’s first notebook computer – the DynaBook J-3100 SS001 in 1989.

“Now, as dynabook Europe we are launching two new laptops that continue the trend for excellence expected of the dynabook brand, epitomising our rich heritage of over 30 years of innovation in mobile computing whilst signifying our renewed commitment to investment and our enhanced scale. The launch of these new devices demonstrates that our obsession with quality, security, and innovation remains strong.”

The latest models of the Portégé X30-F and the Tecra X40-F are equipped with Windows 10 Modern Standby, an evolution of the Windows 8.1 Connected Standby power model that enables the smartphone power model on a PC, which in partnership with the ‘wake on fingerprint’ feature provides the instant on/off experience.

08 July 2019

Use a VPN to securely access data? You might need to reconsider that...

Nearly a third of top VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are secretly owned by Chinese companies, while other owners are based in countries with weak or no privacy laws, potentially putting users at risk, security researchers warn
Almost a third (30%) of the world’s top virtual private network (VPN) providers are secretly owned by six Chinese companies, according to a study by privacy and security research firm VPNpro.

The study shows that the top 97 VPNs are run by just 23 parent companies, many of which are based in countries with lax privacy laws. Six of these companies are based in China and collectively offer 29 VPN services, but in many cases, information on the parent company is hidden to consumers.

05 July 2019

Updated Outlook on the web is coming to Office 365 customers starting this month

An updated Outlook on the web is rolling out to Office 365 customers starting this month. Microsoft has been testing the new Outlook on the web since last year. Users have been able to opt to use the new version for the past eight months. Now, Microsoft is taking the new Outlook on the web out of testing and rolling it out to Office 365 customers.

The new Outlook for the web will look familiar to those that use the new Outlook.com. But there are several features that are available on Outlook for the web to Office 365 customers. The majority of these features centre on productivity such as jumping into meetings from peek view.

What you need to know:
The new Outlook on the web is rolling out to Office 365 customers starting this month.
The new Outlook on the web has been available to users who opted in for eight months.
The update includes a fresh interface and features aimed at improving communication and scheduling.

04 July 2019

03 July 2019

Stranger Things 3 starts tomorrow! 4th July 2019 = 1985

One summer can change everything.

It's almost time: Stranger Things 3 premieres 4th July 2019, and to get you ready, Stranger Things cast Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink tell you everything that happened on the show so far, in an epic recap of seasons 1 and 2.

Watch the official trailer for Stranger Things 3. Only on Netflix

In other news: At Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee, Scientists are trying to open a portal to a parallel universe. OK, what could possibly go wrong there?

01 July 2019

Question: "What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)?"

Answer: Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in Him. If we truly find satisfaction and worth in Christ, Scripture says He will give us the longings of our hearts. Does that mean, if we go to church every Sunday, God will give us a new Rolls Royce? No. The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly rejoice or “delight” in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to parallel His and we will never go unfulfilled. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you as well.

Many delight in wealth, status, material possessions, and other temporary things of this world, but they are never satisfied. They never truly get what they want, hence the reason they are always wanting more. This is the lesson King Solomon learned in his pursuit of earthly treasure: “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). On the other hand, delighting in the Lord is true treasure indeed: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

First John 2:15–17 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” We will never be deeply fulfilled or “happy” with the things this world has to offer. If we place our joy and hope in God first, He will meet all of our needs. He will even grant our wants, as our hearts’ desires begin to match up with His will. If we truly place priority on the Lord, chances are our heart’s greatest desire will not be a brand new Rolls Royce, but eternal treasures in Christ.

This world can never satisfy our deepest longings, but if we choose to delight in God’s way, He will always provide above and beyond our expectations. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

What would Jesus tweet? Church of England hands down commandments for Anglicans on social media

The Archbishop of Canterbury has used a Facebook Live interview to launch a "digital charter" to provide guidelines for how Anglicans should use social media.

In the interview, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Archbishop Justin Welby said it was obvious why the guidelines were needed. "Just look at any article and then look at the comments below, and very quickly you find stuff which is just poison."

Welby said a good starting point was to treat others as you would like to be treated.

The voluntary pledge calls for people to ensure what they post on social media is true and "fair and factual". Welby said there was no such thing as an alternative fact and that social media users should go not for the person but the issue.

He also said people should be welcoming not try to shut out others. On its own social media feeds the Anglican church calls on people to take responsibility for what they post and be aware that it can be both public and permanent, whatever your privacy settings.

It notes that personal and professional lives can easily become blurred. The guidelines also call on people to "disagree well".

Great IT advice from Sheryl Crow!

Crow told BBC News she was devastated when she learned her tapes had been destroyed, and expressed her shock at the lax backup procedures that had been put in place to protect them.

"I can't understand, first and foremost, how you could store anything in a vault that didn't have sprinklers," she said. "And secondly, I can't understand how you could make [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what's the point?"

For IT professionals, this incident highlights the importance of data protection's cardinal rule: always keep your backups separate to the original version. The simple reason for this is that, if disaster strikes, only one of them will be lost. A sensible and obvious safety precaution, one might think, but clearly one that's easy to overlook – after all, one of the world's biggest music conglomerates forgot to follow it when it came to protecting hundreds of thousands of priceless historical recordings.

Text to switch: it's never been simpler to switch mobile network

Mobile customers will be able to leave their network by sending a simple, free text message from Monday 1st July 2019, under new Ofcom rules.

Currently if you want to switch mobile network and keep your phone number, you usually need to call your provider to ask for your porting authorisation code (PAC). This is the number you need to give to a new provider for the switching process to take place.

However, when calling their provider, customers can be frustrated by their unwanted attempts to persuade them to stay.

Our new ‘text-to-switch’ process makes it quicker and easier to leave your mobile company, by giving you more control over how much contact you have with your existing provider.

This is how it works:
To switch and keep your mobile number – text ‘PAC’ to 65075
To switch and get a new mobile number – text ‘STAC’ to 75075

So... Ready for better service & lower prices? 
Contact Donline to find out why the Utility Warehouse is a truly great provider.