27 August 2020

Nigerian Christians say “our lives matter” in protest against Fulani militant killings outside London High Commission

Nigerian Christians and church leaders gathered outside the Nigerian High Commission in London, on 20 August, to demonstrate against Fulani militants’ slaughter of Christians in Kaduna State, before submitting a letter protesting the relentless attacks on communities by Fulani militia.

The peaceful protestors carried banners stating, “Stop the Killings,” “Enough is Enough,” and “Justice for South Kaduna Christians”, as they chanted “It’s not a conflict, it’s a genocide” and “Our lives matter”.

The letter, submitted under the umbrella of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Diaspora (SOKAPDA), accused the international media of “a conspiracy of silence” regarding the deadly spate of violence that spiked this year resulting in the loss of more than 200 lives in Kaduna State since the beginning of July. The group called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the Fulani militia a terrorist organisation.

Elon Musk promises demo of a working Neuralink device on Friday 28th Aug 2020

Elon Musk has said that his secretive neurotech firm Neuralink will demonstrate a working “device,” presumably a brain-machine interface, at 6PM ET on Friday. Musk has spoken repeatedly about his belief that BMI devices are needed to help humans keep up with AI by supplementing our brainpower, but right now, his goal is much simpler: to create an implantable device that lets people control phones or computers with their mind.

Musk initially announced the August 28th “progress update” back in July, and has now offered more details on what will be shown. He says the update will include the unveiling of a second-generation robot designed to attach the company’s technology to the brain, and a demo of neurons “firing in real-time,” though it’s not clear exactly what is meant by this.

26 August 2020

Another revised date for my Plummet for Parkinson's - now 8th May 2021!

I’m so disappointed to advise but Guildford Cathedral have informed us that they are regrettably having to cancel the planned abseil on 22 August 2020. We really appreciate your patience, having already postponed the event from it’s original date of 16 May.

The abseil provider had been working hard to adjust arrangements for the day to ensure compliance with current government guidelines but cleaning requirements for shared use of equipment mean that we cannot go ahead. You matter. Your health and your support is important to us.

Lockdown has changed all of our lives. And for many people with Parkinson’s, symptoms have got worse over the last few months. Parkinson’s didn’t stop for coronavirus, and neither did we. We’re supporting people in the ways they need us to right now. And we’re rapidly adapting our pioneering research so that we can develop new treatments.
This is why your commitment is so important.

The date for our Guildford Cathedral abseil next year is 08 May 2021.
I have requested to be added to this date - so fingers crossed / third time lucky? Would you like to sponsor me to raise finds for Parkinson's research?

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The true cost of cheap phones (part2): credit stealing Malware - preinstalled straight out of the box!

When Mxolosi saw a Tecno W2 smartphone in a store in Johannesburg, South Africa, he was attracted to its looks and functionality. But what really drew him in was the price, roughly $30 (Donline says: beware of cheap phones!)— far less than comparable models from Samsung, Nokia, or Huawei, Africa’s other top brands.

“They’re very attractive and appealing to your eyes,” Mxolosi, who asked for his last name not to be used to protect his personal safety, told BuzzFeed News. “Honestly, I was a Samsung fan but I said, ‘Let me try this new product.’”

It was another sale for Transsion, the Chinese company that makes Tecno and other low-priced smartphones, as well as basic handsets, for the developing world. Since releasing its first smartphone in 2014, the upstart has grown to become Africa’s top handset seller, beating out longtime market leaders Samsung and Nokia.

But its success can come at a price. Mxolosi, an unemployed 41-year-old, became frustrated with his Tecno W2. Pop-up ads interrupted his calls and chats. He’d wake up to find his prepaid data mysteriously used up and messages about paid subscriptions to apps he’d never asked for.

“It was expensive for me, and at some point I ended up not buying data because I didn’t know what was eating it up,” he said.

He thought it might be his fault, but according to an investigation by Secure-D, a mobile security service, and BuzzFeed News, software embedded in his phone right out of the box was draining his data while trying to steal his money. Mxolosi’s Tecno W2 was infected with xHelper and Triada, malware that secretly downloaded apps and attempted to subscribe him to paid services without his knowledge.

25 August 2020

Petition: Save "Rule Britannia" and "Land of Hope and Glory" from Last Night of the Proms exclusion

The singing of two rousing patriotic anthems, "Rule Britannia" and "Land of Hope and Glory", has been part of the programme of The Last Night of the Proms for many years. But their performance is now threatened with cancellation by the forces of political correctness.

Various BBC sources have been quoted in the press as saying that this is because of Black Lives Matter. If so, this is the worst kind of tokenism. 

Few can be offended by the words of these patriotic songs, while for many of us they are a vital element of our heritage and have sustained us in moments of national peril. The annual singing of these songs on The Last Night of the Proms, which is broadcast on BBC Television, has become a much-cherished ritual. They are sung with pride and sentiment, but also with a degree of joshing humour and wry self-mockery that is characteristically British.

If the BBC excludes these songs from The Last Night of the Proms, the lives of patriotic Britons of all colours and creeds will be diminished by this insensitive act of cancellation. 

We believe that patriotic songs matter and we call upon the Director General of the BBC and the head of BBC Music TV Commissioning not to betray our patriotic heritage.

Read more & sign the petition here:

24 August 2020

Be aware: phone spear phishing attacks are on the rise

Andy Greenberg at Wired has published an interesting article, describing how there have been a spate of “phone spear phishing” attacks since celebrity accounts on Twitters were very publicly compromised last month.

You will remember that Twitter confirmed that members of staff were rung up by scammers, who then socially engineered their victims into handing over credentials which gave the hackers access to Twitter’s internal tools. Those tools, which should have only been available to authorised personnel (and perhaps, in retrospect, not 1000+ employees and contractors) could then be used to reset passwords and disable two-factor authentication.

According to New York-based security outfit Unit 221b, which has been helping the FBI with its investigation into the Twitter hack, the same “voice phishing” techniques have been used against banks, web hosts, and cryptocurrency exchanges, in recent weeks.

Major Adam Jowett tells of the seige of Musa Qala

When Major Adam Jowett walked out into no man’s land to stand face to face with the Taliban fighters who had killed three of his men, hoping to agree a truce, he knew any small misjudgement could result in him being killed or taken hostage.

“In my whole time in Afghanistan,” he says, “it felt like the stupidest thing I’d ever done.”

Fortunately he was able to bring to an end the Siege of Musa Qala, where Jowett’s platoon of 88 men had been tasked with defending the town centre amid the carnage of the war in Helmand Province.

For 56 days in the summer of 2006, he and his Easy Company unit of Parachute troops and Royal Irish Rangers, had held off the insurgents in an operation likened to the British Army’s against-all-odds defence of Rorke’s Drift in 1879, portrayed in the film Zulu.

When an uneasy truce was agreed, it resulted in the bizarre situation of the UK soldiers mixing with their enemy for a month before they could finally leave.

I've just finished listening to the Audible version of Major Adam Jowett's book: No Way Out: The Searing True Story of Men Under Siege. I read many military books, fiction & non fiction. This incredible story tells the true tale of Major Adam & his troops, & their ferocious battle against the Taliban in Musa Qala (Helmand Province, Afghanistan). Highly recommended.

21 August 2020

What do techies think of cryptocurrencies?

Bill Gates on crypto currencies: "The main feature of crypto currencies is their anonymity. I don't think this is a good thing. The Government's ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing. Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long."

20 August 2020

Petition: Anyone guilty of killing an emergency services worker to be jailed for life

Lissie Harper started this petition to UK Government. We are calling for #HarpersLaw. The creation of this law - spearheaded by Lissie Harper, the widow of hero PC Andrew Harper - would mean anyone found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, prison officer or paramedic would be jailed for life.

When emergency services workers are killed on duty, then it hits right at the heart of our democracy.

We ask police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors, prison officers and paramedics to go out there and keep the Queen’s peace on behalf of society. We ask them to save people’s lives. We ask them to protect us.

So society must offer the greatest protection for those dedicated public servants who are killed protecting it.

That is what Harper’s Law would provide. An appropriate deterrent and a suitable punishment.

The law must be changed.  We want to work with the Government, politicians of all parties and the fantastic British public on this.

We must protect the protectors. That is why we need Harper’s Law.

19 August 2020

All-rounder rubber! It's the best motorcycle sports-touring tyres

Welcome to MCN’s 2020 sports-touring tyre test. This is the rubber that promises the best of everything; handling performance, allweather grip and thousands of miles of life. In fact, apart from trackdayers and off-road riders, sports-touring tyres should be all the tyre most of us ever need. The current crop of sports-touring tyres handle like a  dedicated sports tyre, grip like a racing wet in the rain, and offer the longevity of traditional touring rubber. A good set should also offer great confidence from the off, damp out rough road conditions and work in all temperature ranges.

With strong offerings from all the major manufacturers, there’s no doubt that we’re living in a golden age of tyre tech. But rather than splitting seconds on a full-on track test, we wanted to know which feel the best for normal road riding. To find out, we tested six of the best-selling sets on the market (Avon failed to get involved) on a typical sports tourer — the BMW R1250RS — and put them head-to-head in a blind test around our gruelling 22-mile road route taking in fast, flowing A-roads, bumpy B-roads, a motorway stint, plus urban riding over a variety of surfaces.

Best sports touring tyres for motorbikes:
Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE
Dunlop Roadsmart III
Pirelli Angel GT II
Continental Roadattack3
Michelin Road 5
Bridgestone T31

I've tried various makes & models of tyres over the years & my favourites on the Crosstourer were Michelin (Pilot) Road. I've used 4s & 5s (5s were best but both varieties were great) - good feedback, lovely & sticky & wore sensibly. On the new bike I have the stock Dunlop SportMax D214 Tyres & so far they are working out well: really sticky - can get some great lean on them :0).

When you need some new rubber for your bike, where should you go?
www.russmotorcycletyres.co.uk - Portsmouth, PO3 5SX

Another reason to beware of "Connected Cars" - when your own vehicle grasses you up!

Toyota has expanded its collaboration with Amazon Web Services in ways that will see many of its models upload performance data into the Amazonian cloud to expand the services the auto-maker offers to drivers and fleet owners.

Toyota already operates a “Mobility Services Platform” that it says helps it to “develop, deploy, and manage the next generation of data-driven mobility services for driver and passenger safety, security, comfort, and convenience”.

That data comes from a device called the “Data Communication Module” (DCM) that Toyota fits into many models in Japan, the USA and China.

Toyota reckons the data could turn into “new contextual services such as car share, rideshare, full-service lease, and new corporate and consumer services such as proactive vehicle maintenance notifications and driving behavior-based insurance.”

Good Lord forbid that I should fall foul of the law... However if I did, I wouldn't want the chief witness for the prosecution to be my own vehicle!

18 August 2020

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650: a cracking bike for the money

The first in a series of long term reviews I hope to produce over the next couple of years. So far so good, the bike has certainly fared better than the Triumph T120 did in the first few months!

"Don't leave home"! Dido (Harding) to head UK's Institute for Health Protection

Baroness Dido Harding, head of the UK's COVID-19 Test and Trace organisation and former CEO of TalkTalk, is set to lead the National Institute for Health Protection, the agency being created by the government to replace Public Health England.

The appointment appears to be a ringing endorsement of Harding's track record leading the contact-tracing programme, which launched a glitchy website without the promised phone app.

Harding, who was dubbed "Queen of Carnage" on The Register for her role in TalkTalk's 2015 mega-breach, went on to excel as the decision was taken to abandon the centralised COVID-19 contact-tracing smartphone app in favour of the distributed system proposed by Apple and Google in April.

Sir Tom Moore's extraordinary life story & love of motorcycles

Lockdown hero Sir Tom Moore has revealed the history of his life in an upcoming ITV documentary.

The 100-year-old became famous after raising more than £30 million for NHS charities during the height of the coronavirus lockdown. His laps of his garden became something of a national icon which was celebrated across the country during the crisis. For his actions, he was knighted by the queen.

In the documentary which will be broadcast on ITV on Thursday night, Sir Tom reveals the story of his life for the first time.

Sir Tom goes into detail about how his uncle Billy had a great influence on him and inspired his life long passion for motorbikes: He said: "My first motorcycle, I found in a barn, and I bought it for half a crown. Its tyres were flat, it was covered in dust and didn't run. I was 12, and not boasting or anything, I had been brought up with motorbikes and on my own, without anybody's help, I got it running and ran it in the field. Nobody came and gave me help, they just assumed I would do it, and I did it."

The Life And Times Of Captain Sir Tom first aired on ITV at 9.15pm, Thursday 13th August 2020. Catch up on the ITV Hub HERE.

14 August 2020

How do the bad guys "hack" into systems and accounts? Simples: patches, passwords, policies!

The continued inability of organisations to patch security vulnerabilities in a timely manner, combined with guessable passwords and the spread of automated hacking tools, is making it pretty easy for miscreants, professionals, and thrill-seekers to break into corporate networks.

This is according to the penetration-testing crew at Positive Technologies, which pored over the results of its 2019 client audits and found that 71 per cent of the time – 20 out of 28 pentest contracts – its red team was able to get into their target using tools and tricks available to script kiddies and newbies.

11 August 2020

Sign this petition to ban the import of farmed puppies. Looking for a furry friend? Why not adopt a stray instead?

Plenty of dogs from rescues need homes. Transporting young pups from foreign puppy farms - long distances is often stressful, before being sold for ridiculous prices to unsuspecting dog-lovers. Government must adjust current laws, ban this unethical activity on welfare grounds & protect these poor animals ASAP.

The recent tragic case of a puppy dying just 6 days after being delivered from Russia has exposed a completely legal but immoral route to market for pups bred hundreds of miles away & sold away from their mums. Who’s actually inspecting these breeders & transportation conditions? Selling imported pups like this is cruel & appears to contradict the Government’s own advice to always physically “see puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth” as with Lucy’s Law in England.

Sue Deeth who runs Healing Paws Animal Rescue (Zakinthos, Greece), does such wonderful work, bring love and hope to animals whose life at best would be miserable, and at worst: well, you probably don't want to know...
Please consider supporting Sue's wonderful work. If you are considering bringing a furry friend into your home & family, PLEASE consider rehoming / adopting.

Sign this petition:

07 August 2020

Meanwhile in crazy COVID news: Iowa man breaks into bank - and steals hand sanitiser!

In what may be the least lucrative heist ever, a convicted felon broke into an Iowa bank early and escaped with only hand sanitiser, according to a criminal complaint.

Mark Gray, 39, is locked up on a trio of felony charges after allegedly burglarising three Sioux City businesses, including a Security National Bank branch.

Gray is locked up in the Woodbury County jail on $6000 bond in connection with the string of predawn break-ins. Gray is currently on probation for a 2019 burglary conviction.

Investigators allege that Gray “used a tool to smash the glass door” of the bank around 12:15 AM. He then “entered into the lobby area and stole the hand sanitiser from the bank. He then fled.”

Gray is also charged with burglarising a counselling agency and a restaurant. Post-arrest, he reportedly told Sioux City Police Department officers that he entered the businesses and “searched around for things of value, mainly money that he could steal.”

Gray is next scheduled to appear in District Court on August 14. Court filings do not reveal the street value of the hand sanitiser allegedly stolen by Gray.

Ridley Scott's: Raised By Wolves - coming soon!

When director Ridley Scott does anything, we take notice. When he does something sci-fi, we get excited. And when he directs a sci-fi television show we can watch in a few short weeks? We damn near froth at the mouth.

Scott is taking his big-screen talent to the small screen for the new HBO Max show Raised by Wolves. The show follows androids who attempt to raise children and restart society on a new planet long after war has destroyed the Earth. There’s a lot more to it, but watch the trailer, see for yourself, and be prepared to get super creeped out by The Three Little Pigs.

Scott directed the first two episodes of the series, marking his American TV directorial debut. There are 10 in total and they’ll debut on the new streaming service September 3. That’s so soon! Hooray for having new content to watch during a pandemic!

Danish actor Amanda Collin plays Mother, the android who is protecting all these children, while Travis Fimmel (Vikings, Warcraft) is Marcus, some kind of soldier. They lead a cast of largely unknowns, which should help add to the believability of this burgeoning sci-fi society.

Toshiba formally and finally exits laptop business - now Dynabook

Toshiba has made laptops since 1985 and claims to have been the first to make a mass-market computer in the now-familiar clamshell form factor. By the 1990s the company was producing solid workhorses in the Satellite range and started to make meaningful stretches of mobile work possible with the small, thin and light Portégé range.

Those products saw Toshiba lead the world for laptop market share through the late 1990s and retain that position for much of the 2000s. Even as the PC market consolidated in that decade, Toshiba was often ranked among the top five of all PC vendors despite only ever dabbling in desktops.

As the 2000s rolled along Toshiba devices became bland in comparison to the always-impressive ThinkPad and the MacBook Air, while Dell and HP also improved. Toshiba also never really tried to capture consumers’ imaginations, which didn't help growth.


Erm, I'll take reliability over gimmicks - any day! In another of my passions - motorcycles - some people criticise Honda as "having no character". Well, if by "character" you mean they don't break down every time there is a "y" in the day - or rust away in front of your eyes - I'll take the Honda!

I have recently updated my laptop. Gone from a Toshiba Portege X30-D-10V (brilliant device - fast, light, all day battery) to Dynabook's flagship model: Portege X30L-G-10J (outstanding device - unbelievably light, unbelievably fast, incredible battery life). 

In the 20+ years that I've been an IT Pro - I've worked on & owned more Toshiba laptops than any other brand, but not because they fail! It's because they keep on keeping on! Many other brands in IT are known for being cheap & not so cheerful. If you want quality - think Dynabook.

06 August 2020

The cost of convenience: wireless phone charging = approx 50% power wastage!

Wireless charging is increasingly common in modern smartphones, and there’s even speculation that Apple might ditch charging via a cable entirely in the near future. But the slight convenience of juicing up your phone by plopping it onto a pad rather than plugging it in comes with a surprisingly robust environmental cost. According to new calculations from OneZero and iFixit, wireless charging is drastically less efficient than charging with a cord, so much so that the widespread adoption of this technology could necessitate the construction of dozens of new power plants around the world. (Unless manufacturers find other ways to make up for the energy drain, of course.)

On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There’s no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. 

Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone’s battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat.

While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren’t aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem.

To get a sense of how much extra power is lost when using wireless charging versus wired charging in the real world, I tested a Pixel 4 using multiple wireless chargers, as well as the standard charging cable that comes with the phone. I used a high-precision power meter that sits between the charging block and the power outlet to measure power consumption.

In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.

04 August 2020

Wanna read something scary? Not Stephen King, but AI generated text that reads like a human wrote it...

When pundits and researchers tried to guess what sort of manipulation campaigns might threaten the 2018 and 2020 elections, misleading AI-generated videos often topped the list. Though the tech was still emerging, its potential for abuse was so alarming that tech companies and academic labs prioritised working on, and funding, methods of detection. Social platforms developed special policies for posts containing “synthetic and manipulated media,” in hopes of striking the right balance between preserving free expression and deterring viral lies. But now, with about three months to go until November 3, that wave of deep-faked moving images seems never to have broken. Instead, another form of AI-generated media is making headlines, one that is harder to detect and yet much more likely to become a pervasive force on the internet: deep-fake text.

Last month brought the introduction of GPT-3, the next frontier of generative writing: an Artificial Intelligence that can produce shockingly human-sounding (if at times surreal) sentences. As its output becomes ever more difficult to distinguish from text produced by humans, one can imagine a future in which the vast majority of the written content we see on the internet is produced by machines. If this were to happen, how would it change the way we react to the content that surrounds us?

Find out more about two of Honda's flagship models: Gold Wing & Africa Twin

Choose an event that suits you and discover everything you ever wanted to know about these flagship models: Gold Wing & Africa Twin - from technical specifications and features to the all-important question ‘what are they like to ride?’

In partnership with Bennetts BikeSocial, the LIVE stream events will be presented by a Honda expert and experienced and passionate motorcycle journalists. The events are interactive so you can ask any burning questions you may have, and all from the comfort of your home.

Register today to guarantee your place on one of our LIVE streams