30 June 2020

MOTs set to resume in England, Scotland and Wales from 1 August

On 30 March, drivers were granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testingLockdown restrictions are easing, and all drivers with an MOT due from 1 August are being urged to book an MOT test. This is a legal requirement.

Drivers who have an MOT test due before 1 August will still be granted the 6-month extension. For example, if your MOT is due on 31 July, it’ll be extended to 31 January 2021.

But even if your vehicle is exempt, you should take it to the garage immediately if you notice something wrong. You can still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle. A few garages UK-wide remained open during the outbreak to conduct essential repairs. Now, 90% of garages are open across the country.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1 August MOT testing will again become mandatory. Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”

If you’re vulnerable or self-isolating and your car needs a repair or your MOT is due, contact your local garage. They may be offering safe pick-up and drop-off services.

Check out our MOT checklist for some tips to keep your car roadworthy. If you’re not sure when your MOT is due, take a look at our MOT checker.

29 June 2020

Ex-Norton CEO ordered to repay £14 million

The former CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Stuart Garner, has been ordered to repay approximately £14 million to three pensions funds he controlled in a ruling by the Pensions Ombudman. 

As the BMF has previously reported, Mr Garner failed to appear at a public hearing held by the Pensions Ombudsman on February 13th to investigate complaints made about the three pension schemes – the Commando 2012 Pension Scheme, Donington MC Pension Scheme and Dominator 2012 Pension Scheme – which were affected by the collapse of Norton. It is understood that money belonging to more than 200 savers was lost. 

The Pensions Ombudsman upheld a number of complaints, and ruled that Mr Garner “acted dishonestly and in breach of his duty” and that maladministration had occurred. He was ordered to pay the money back with interest, and payments to recognise the “distress and inconvenience” of the applicants who brought the complaints were also ordered.   

This is not the first ruling the Pensions Ombudsman has made regarding Mr Garner. In an earlier ruling about the Commando 2012 pension scheme, the Ombudsman sharply criticised Mr Garner as being in “dereliction of his duties as trustee” and said that “I find his behaviour inexcusable.”  

25 June 2020

Olympus quits camera business after 84 years

Olympus, once one of the world's biggest camera brands, is selling off that part of its business after 84 years. The firm said that despite its best efforts, the "extremely severe digital camera market" was no longer profitable.

The arrival of smartphones, which had shrunk the market for separate cameras, was one major factor, it said. It had recorded losses for the last three years.

Surely everyone had an Olympus Trip, and "lusted" after an OM-10
A sad day for photography buffs :0(

Amazon (finally!) establishes new Counterfeit Crimes Unit

Amazon is launching a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit, dedicated to bringing counterfeiters attempting to list counterfeit products in its store to justice. The global team, made up of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts, will support the company's substantial efforts already underway to protect its store from counterfeits.

Amazon’s primary focus continues to be in preventing a counterfeit from ever being listed in its store. In 2019, Amazon invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud and abuse, including counterfeit. Amazon’s efforts have blocked over 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale and blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019. However, it’s critical that Amazon, brands, and law enforcement also go on the offensive and hold counterfeiters accountable for their crimes.

"Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located," said Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon. "We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, and we applaud the law enforcement authorities who are already part of this fight. We urge governments to give these authorities the investigative tools, funding, and resources they need to bring criminal counterfeiters to justice because criminal enforcement—through prosecution and other disruption measures such as freezing assets—is one of the most effective ways to stop them."

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit enables Amazon to more effectively pursue civil litigation against suspected criminals, work with brands in joint or independent investigations, and aid law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters. Amazon welcomes the partnership of brands and law enforcement in the shared objective of stopping counterfeiters and holding them accountable.

24 June 2020

Reading for today: on living a good life - as an end in itself

The idea of reaching “a good life” without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up “a good life” as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. 

Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are “done away” and the rest is a matter of flying.

22 June 2020

Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption free to everyone

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announced in a blog post Wednesday that Zoom is extending its end-to-end encryption (E2EE) offering to all Zoom account holders.

Zoom released the first draft of its E2EE plan in late May as part of a response to criticism of its security flaws, which became public as Zoom signups skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial plan for end-to-end encryption on Zoom was reserved to paid customers only, a choice that Zoom explained as allowing it to cooperate with law enforcement investigations into fraudulent free accounts.

Pressure on Zoom hasn't let up: More than half a million accounts have been found for sale on the Dark Web, a third of Zoom users have concerns over privacy issues, and Zoom faced criticism for recently blocking the accounts of Chinese Zoom users holding memorial vigils for the Tiananmen Square massacre despite the fact that the users were located outside of China (the accounts have since been unblocked).

An Android Auto Issue Is Wreaking Havoc on Vauxhall / Opel Cars

If you drive an Vauxhall / Opel and Android Auto no longer works, you’re not alone. As it turns out, the latest update for Android Auto breaks down the app completely on Opel car models, and sticking with an older version is no longer an option.

More specifically, Opel owners are now complaining that due to Google’s major Android Auto overhaul that is now being forced on everyone they’re no longer able to use the app at all.

And it’s all because using the latest Android Auto version on an Opel car apparently requires a software update from the dealership, only that this one comes with a pretty big price.

“Since today I'm forced to update Android Auto to the latest version, while I was happily using v4.6 before to prevent issues with an Opel Corsa 2016 model. In later versions, issues arise and can apparently only be solved by a software update from Opel. Would've happily done the software update for the car, but this costs an outrageous 90 euros,” someone says on Google’s Android Auto forums.

The problem has already been confirmed on Opel and Vauxhall Corsa and Astra, but there’s a chance other models are affected as well.

Some users claim they’re being told by the dealership there’s no new software update for their head units, which means fixing Android Auto is pretty much impossible at this point.

20 June 2020

Samsung Blu-Ray Players Suddenly Stop Working Worldwide

The last two days have seen a variety of Samsung Blu-ray players worldwide suddenly cease working. The symptom is that they turn on when power is applied, whereupon they reboot themselves every few seconds endlessly. The power and eject buttons are ignored and all attempts at resetting them fail. After many owners contacted Samsung support and were told they needed to send their players in for hardware repair, Samsung appears to have admitted there is a common problem, not individual player failure. As they are all out of warranty and the reboot cycle precludes the normal software update process, we are awaiting a solution from them.

A community post has hundreds of users confirming the issue across various models.

What does the Bible have to say on slavery?

There is a tendency to look at slavery as something of the past. But it is estimated that there are today over 27 million people in the world who are subject to slavery: forced labor, sex trade, inheritable property, etc. As those who have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, followers of Jesus Christ should be the foremost champions of ending human slavery in the world today. The question arises, though, why does the Bible not speak out strongly against slavery? Why does the Bible, in fact, seem to support the practice of human slavery?

The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

The slavery of the past few centuries was often based exclusively on skin color. In the United States, many black people were considered slaves because of their nationality; many slave owners truly believed black people to be inferior human beings. The Bible condemns race-based slavery in that it teaches that all men are created by God and made in His image (Genesis 1:27). At the same time, the Old Testament did allow for economic-based slavery and regulated it. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.

In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing,” which is what happened in Africa in the 16th to 19th centuries. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8– 10).

Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. The Bible often approaches issues from the inside out. If a person experiences the love, mercy, and grace of God by receiving His salvation, God will reform his soul, changing the way he thinks and acts. A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong. He will see, with Paul, that a slave can be “a brother in the Lord” (Philemon 1:16). A person who has truly experienced God’s grace will in turn be gracious towards others. That would be the Bible’s prescription for ending slavery.

19 June 2020

25 years of Toshiba (now known as Dynabook) laptops in one room!

When you get 25 years worth of laptops in one room, this is what it looks like. Well, you can't really see it all, but it's a massive ring of notebooks; from the T1100, which was released in 1985, to 2008's super-light Portege R500. This setup was part of Toshiba's 25-year anniversary celebration onboard the Starship in Sydney's Darling Harbour, and it brought together many of the company's most important notebook models. In this gallery, we've attempted to bring you all the old models that were on show, as well as some of the brand new models (such as the Libretto W100) that are part of Toshiba's 36 new notebook offerings for this year alone. It's amazing how far we've come in such a short time, all due to the miniaturisation of the transistor.

Donline has exclusively used Toshiba (now known as Dynabook) laptops in-house since 2012. The most reliable brand of laptops that I have used & worked with in over 20 years!

Dynabook are a dynamic, entrepreneurial new business, built on the foundations of our wonderful Toshiba heritage.

As an industry leader, Toshiba launched the world's first laptop computer – T1100 in 1985 and followed it up with the world's first notebook computer – the dynabook J-3100 SS001 in 1989.

These two portable computing innovations allowed people to safely and securely work anywhere they wanted and defined today's mobile computing market. Ever since, Toshiba has always delivered award winning innovative products and services that integrate the latest technology and design, whilst delivering outstanding quality and reliability.

Sharp Corporation obtained 80.1% of Toshiba's computer business in October 2018 and as of April 1st 2019, this business will be known globally as 'dynabook'.

Our brand is more than a name or logo, it is the embodiment of our culture and our values. These remain consistent and strong in Dynabook Europe through our highly skilled and knowledgeable people, our award winning products, our obsession with quality, security, and innovation, and our emphasis on trust and building long standing partnerships.

18 June 2020

UK virus-tracing app switches to Apple-Google model

In a major U-turn, the UK is ditching the way its current coronavirus-tracing app works and shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google. The Apple-Google design has been promoted as being more privacy-focused. However, it means epidemiologists will have access to less data.

The government now intends to launch an app in the autumn, however it says the product may not involve contact tracing at that point. Instead the software may be limited to enabling users to report their symptoms and order a test.

Baroness Dido Harding - who heads up the wider Test and Trace programme - will only give the green light to actually deploying the Apple-Google technology if she decides it has been made fit for purpose, which is not the case at present. It is possible this may never happen.

Germany, Italy and Denmark are among other countries to have switched from a so-called "centralised" approach to a "decentralised" one.

Motorcycle Action Group plan to include motorcycles in the COVID lockdown exit plan.

The Motorcycle Action Group are demanding immediate action by Government to include motorcycles in the COVID lockdown exit plan.  Amid press reports of rocketing demand for motorcycles and scooters, MAG is demanding that Government support this common-sense approach to commuting challenges.  MAG claims that three demands will cost not one penny of additional spending to implement yet will have a significant impact.

The demands are as follows:
1) Specifically recognise and encourage the role of motorcycles and scooters as a socially distanced, congestion busting and sustainable transport mode for post-COVID transport in all Government transport messaging.
2) Mandate all local authorities to immediately allow motorcycle and scooter access in all combined bus and cycle routes.
3) Mandate all local authorities to immediately provide emergency secure two-wheeler parking facilities that can be used by both motorcyclists and cyclists.

17 June 2020

The Second Coming - by W.B. Yeates

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

10 June 2020

HP Instant Ink - save money on printer ink & never have to worry about running out!

Save up to 70 percent on ink using HP Instant Ink! No more running to the store for ink, your printer orders ink when needed so you get ink delivered to your door before you run out, shipping and cartridge recycling are included.

No commitment, no annual fees, you can upgrade, downgrade or cancel your plan at any time

Only valid for UK customers using a compatible HP Instant Ink Printer, such as the HP Envy Photo 7830 (which comes complete with a 4 month InstantInk trial).

At these difficult times, we need something uplifting: Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity on the ISS

On 12th May 2013, after handing over command of the International Space Station, but before returning home, Commander Chris Hadfield released a music video recorded on the ISS of a modified rendition of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. Enjoy!

08 June 2020

NEC Bike show: 2020 Motorcycle Live show postponed until November 2021

Motorcycle Live organisers have this morning announced that the 2020 show has been postponed until November 2021, following coronavirus safety concerns for visitors and the industry workers at the event.

Taking place annually at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the 2020 show was due to take place between November 21 and 29. This has now been pushed back to 20-28 November 2021.

Speaking in a statement, event Managing Director, Finlay McAllan, said: "Motorcycle Live is all about audience interaction, meeting with friends, climbing onto all the latest machines and trying on the all latest gear.

"Many of us use it as an annual pilgrimage to meet with friends and family and enjoy a great day out together. And it’s not just the public who join us each day – we, alongside our industry colleagues - look forward to the event every year too," he continued.

"Therefore, as you can imagine, the decision to postpone this year’s show has not been taken lightly. Our concern for the safety of our visitors, exhibitors and industry colleagues is at the heart of this decision. 

"As with any hard decision, we looked at it with a number of different perspectives and factored in various scenarios and restrictions that could be imposed," the statement added.

Smart home devices - just say no!

Over the past decade, an increasing number of appliances have offered internet connectivity, allowing users to remotely control them via a mobile device, or engineers to remotely diagnose problems. Some devices like Samsung's Smart Fridge Freezers include large touchscreen displays, allowing users to do tasks that would otherwise be performed on a smartphone or computer.

These devices are, obviously, vastly more expensive. A smart fridge typically costs £855 more than one without a Wi-Fi chip whirring inside. Smart dishwashers are £259 more on average, while smart tumble driers (don't laugh, they're a thing) command a premium of £190.

For consumers, that ambiguous (if not outright short) lifespan raises the possibility they could be forced to replace their expensive white goods before they otherwise would. According to the consumer watchdog, fridge-freezers typically last 11 years.

If a manufacturer decides to withdraw software support, or switch off central servers, users could find themselves with a big, frosty brick in their kitchen.

What's a great way to commute during these days of COVID? A motorcycle of course!

The safest way to commute is in isolation, and the most isolated way of travelling is on two-wheels. Get where you want to go safely and economically.

Your age, along with a car driving licence that you may already hold, will determine what you can ride, and what you need to gain before riding on the road.

Getting on a motorcycle or scooter up to 125cc is probably easier than you think. If you have a full car licence issued before Feb 2001 then you can already take to the road on a moped.

Whether you choose a moped, an automatic scooter or a geared motorcycle, the CBT course gives you all the basics you'll need to take to the road. At 16 you will be riding a 50cc moped and if you're 17 years old or above, it’s up to 125cc / 11kw. The course can often take as little as a day to complete. You will start riding on a safe off road area and you'll finish up by getting at least two hours tuition on the road.

To ride on the road, you’ll need the correct licence, CBT, road tax, valid insurance and a helmet. However, it is always advisable that you get yourself decent motorcycle gear: protective jacket, quality motorcycle gloves and sturdy footwear. Your local training school or motorcycle dealer will help you make the right choices, always look for the CE approval label on the clothing you buy.

Why getting a dog might be the best thing to do for your health

Perhaps it was the realisation that we need more companionship or just that it’s nice to go for a daily walk around the park, but lockdown has made vast numbers of us go dog-crazy. 

Data from marketing company Propellernet for the Dogs Trust found that Google searches for “buy a puppy” and “adopt a puppy” rose by 120 per cent and 133 per cent respectively in the first month of lockdown. 

Buying or adopting a dog in lockdown is possible and legal, according to regulations created by the Kennel Club and signed off by DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). If you're buying from an accredited private breeder you can arrange a collection to pick up your puppy. The same goes for rehoming centres, Dogs Trust, for example, have profiles of dogs up for adoption online. If you find one that looks like the right fit for you, you can arrange a socially distanced collection. 

And far from just being a cute and cuddly companion, there are several reasons a dog will improve your health too. Read more here.

If you are considering bringing a furry friend into your home & family, PLEASE consider rehoming / adopting.

06 June 2020

Why would God leave the 99 to find 1?

Both Matthew 18 and Luke 15 record Jesus’ parable about a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the fold to go in search of one that had wandered away.

Perhaps in this day & age, the metaphor above looses something in translation - so let's put it another way:

A father and his five children are asleep in their home when the smoke detectors go off. The father awakens to find his house filled with smoke and the sound of flames and crackling timber coming nearer. Panicked, he races to his children’s bedrooms and begins to rouse them. Calling to some and carrying others, he stumbles down the stairs and out the front door. He deposits the sleepy children on the grass a safe distance away and then turns. Gasping for air, he squints through the smoke to count kids: “Tim, Sally, Angel, Jojo—where’s Lilly!” He is missing his youngest, three-year-old Lilly. Four children are safe, one is not. What will this father do?

In these gospel passages and other parables, Jesus strives to get across the message that God loves & cares for every single person: individually - not just humanity in general. The Good News is that you are loved by God!

03 June 2020

Apple warns looters with stolen iPhones: You Are Being Tracked...

Apple stores have recently been attacked or damaged in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia, with looters stealing whatever products were accessible at the time. But this being Apple, there is a sting in the tail for anyone stealing a boxed iPhone from one of those retail stores.

It has long been known that Apple operates some form of proximity software that disables a device when it is taken illegally from a store. Until now, though, little had been seen of that technology in action. Well, thanks to social media, we can now see the message that greets a looter powering up their new device: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked,” it says. “Local authorities will be alerted.”

Looks like Apple will co-operate with law enforcement to retrieve products looted from their stores - fair enough. Shame that Apple won't co-operate with law enforcement to decrypt data on iPhones that belong to terrorists...

COVID contact-tracer spoofing is already happening. Watch out for scam artists!

British people will soon begin receiving random phone calls from so-called "contact tracers" warning them about having been in close proximity with potential coronavirus carriers. One of many problems with this scheme is it's dangerously easy to pose as a government contact tracer.

As detailed by the NHS, contact tracers will phone up and text people who report coronavirus symptoms to the government and demand lots of personally identifiable information – including information on other people.

What safeguards are in place? Er, not many. They'll call from a published phone number – 0300 013 5000 – and, bizarrely given the context, UK.gov promises its hired call centre won't "disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts".

Such a scheme bears all the hallmarks of cold-calling scammers, and indeed has already been used for that exact purpose. More to the point: publishing a phone number really doesn't guarantee that the caller is who they claim to be.

SMS and caller line identification (CLI) information is straightforward to spoof if you know how, and with UK.gov publishing the number its callers will be using, there's now an increased level of risk; for the non-technically-adept, a call coming from a published government number is more likely to be taken at face value.

02 June 2020

Introducing Microsoft Editor - bring out your best writer wherever you write

Bring out your best writer anywhere you write with Microsoft Editor, your intelligent writing assistant. Many of us are working or attending school remotely, and with so much communication happening through writing it is more important than ever that we communicate clearly. Microsoft Editor, an AI-powered service that enables you to write with confidence in 20+ languages, can help. Write polished prose, craft impressive emails, and post on your favorite sites like LinkedIn, Gmail, Facebook, and more.

Anyone can access the essential Editor capabilities, such as spelling and basic grammar across Word, Outlook.com, and the web for free with a Microsoft sign-in. However, Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers have access to advanced grammar and style refinements. Clarity, conciseness, formal language, vocabulary suggestions, and much more are included with your subscription.

Optimized for where you write most, Editor will be available in three main places: documents (Word for the web and desktop), email (Outlook.com and Outlook for the web), and across the web (through our new browser extension). While Editor will be available to help everyone with the basics for free, for Microsoft 365 users there are some additional powerful features that vary by endpoint.

01 June 2020

Amazing Grace with Matt Redman and Friends

Watch this special rendition of Amazing Grace, recorded by Grammy Award-winning Matt Redman and ‘friends’ for Thy Kingdom Come prayer movement.

The line-up includes worship leader Pete James, Gospel Choir Sounds of New Wine, singers from a variety of different churches / networks across the UK including L’arche and Makaton signers.

"As we sing Amazing Grace, we sing not only with joy and amazement in our hearts at the grace that has been poured upon us, but praying that those for whom we pray, may come themselves, to sing in praise of our gracious and faithful God whose steadfast love endures forever." Archbishop Justin Welby.