28 May 2021

Bitcoin - the ideal currency for criminals!

A suspected Bitcoin "mining" operation illegally stealing electricity has been found by police who were searching for a cannabis farm.

Officers had been tipped off about the site on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell, and raided it on 18 May, West Midlands Police said. Instead of cannabis plants they found a bank of about 100 computer units.

The force said the cryptocurrency "mine" had stolen thousands of pounds of electricity. Inquiries with network operator Western Power Distribution found the electric supply had been bypassed.


24 May 2021

UK Computer Misuse Act convictions declined last year despite pandemic explosion in online criminal activity

Prosecutions under the UK's Computer Misuse Act (CMA) dropped by a fifth in 2020 even as conviction rates soared to 95 per cent during the year of the pandemic, new statistics have revealed.

This week's conviction statistics also showed that the most common CMA crime taken to court was the offence of "unauthorised access to computer material", accounting for 33 of the year's total of 45 prosecutions under the Act. Just 5 per cent of court prosecutions during 2020 resulted in a not guilty verdict.

A spokesperson for the CyberUp campaign to reform the CMA told The Register: "How can it possibly be that Computer Misuse Act prosecutions have gone down during the last year?

"We are all aware of the way cyber criminals have sought to capitalise on people's spending more time online during the pandemic, with incidents of cyber crime and fraud going through the roof."


Top Tip: use Windows 10 Magnifier to make things on the screen easier to see

Windows Magnifier makes part or all of your screen bigger so you can see words and images better. Ideal if you are running presentations!

To quickly turn on Magnifier (in Windows 10), press the Windows logo key  + Plus sign (+) . 

To turn off Magnifier, press the Windows logo key + Esc .  


21 May 2021

Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon

Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon - is an intimate look at movie star Steve McQueen's reckless life of fast cars, women, and drugs all the way up to his dramatic life-change and terminal cancer diagnosis.

Join Greg Laurie as he takes a cross-country drive in his 1968 Highland Green Ford Mustang 390 GT through the canyons of Malibu, the alleys of Hollywood, the wide and open roads of the Midwest, and the streets of New York as he traces the woolly geography of actor Steve McQueen's life, relationships, career, and spiritual journey. This iconic muscle car was the vehicle McQueen drove in his most raucous and enduring film, Bullitt

In the 1960s, McQueen was, according to box office receipts, the biggest movie star of his generation and one of the coolest men to ever walk the planet. Greg Laurie was a teen at the time and an ardent fan of "The King of Cool," first mesmerized by McQueen in 1963's The Great Escape. Like millions of cinema fans, Greg developed a lifelong fascination with the actor. Now he has a chance to tell McQueen's story. 

McQueen was a complex, contradictory man who lived the same way he drove his motorcycles and cars: fearlessly, ruthlessly, and at top speed. After a lifetime of fast cars, women, and drugs, McQueen took a surprising detour. 

In this book, Laurie thoughtfully interviews Steve McQueen's friends, co-stars, associates, widow, and pastor to tell of the dramatic life-change for the actor in the spring of 1979 - six months before McQueen was diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

What were the critical steps that led McQueen to make such a life-altering decision? Perhaps more importantly, why is that part of his story so rarely told? This book answers these questions. 

Greg Laurie will follow the seeds of Christianity that were sown throughout McQueen's improbable life where a Light finally shone into the darkness of his troubled life. These seeds miraculously germinated, allowing McQueen to see that redemption through Jesus Christ is a lasting truth more glittering and real than any magic of the entertainment industry.


Pentecost: the ‘birthday’ of the Church

‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1.8, ESV)

This Sunday the Church in the West celebrates Pentecost. It’s inspiring to read the account of Jesus’ followers receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and spilling out into the streets of Jerusalem, declaring ‘the mighty works of God’ and being understood by speakers of every language (Acts 2).  

It’s a great reminder that believers today have the same gift of the Holy Spirit and no matter how stony the ground might appear to be, we too have the power to witness to others about ‘the mighty works of God’. This is a gift we have as both individuals and as a body of believers, the Church. 

In fact, Pentecost is often described as the birthday of the Church – but is that correct? Digging in to the history and significance of Pentecost, this is something Neil Rees considers in his interesting article, 'Was Pentecost the birthday of the Church?'


20 May 2021

296 people donate organs in first year of new consent law

In the last year, the organs of 296 people have been donated under a new law which makes all adults in England potential donors unless they opt out.

This accounts for 29% of all donors (1,021) since 20 May 2020 and resulted in a total of 714 organs being transplanted.

Max and Keira's Law has been in force in England for 12 months.

The 'opt-out' system has been in place in Wales since 2015 and in Scotland since March this year.

Under the law in England, people are presumed to have consented to their organs being donated after their death unless they had opted-out, although relatives are consulted and can still block organ donations.


Craig Federighi (Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering): "we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable"


Remember that oldie but goldie: "Macs don't get viruses" - yeh right! Apple's software supremo Craig Federighi on Wednesday condemned the security of macOS in an astonishing attempt to defend the walled garden that is the iOS App Store.

It's the latest twist in the ongoing Epic v Apple bench trial in which Cupertino is accused of illegally monopolizing app distribution and payments for iPhones and iPads. Federighi took the stand to argue that because Apple does not control the availability of software on macOS to the extent that it controls what applications are available from its iOS Store, Macs suffer as a consequence. He said the level of malware on Macs is unacceptable, and criticized the security protections in the desktop operating system.

..."And as I say, today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable and is much worse than iOS. Put that same situation in place for iOS and it would be a very bad situation for our customers."...

Federighi's statement may seem shocking, particularly to those who bought Apple's Mac laptops and desktops on security grounds. The Mac's operating system isn't totally insecure, and is a cousin of iOS. iOS isn't bug or malware free, either. However, the argument appears to be that macOS is more open, it isn't as locked down as iOS, and thus it's more vulnerable to malicious software that can take over the computer.


19 May 2021

Microsoft is finally retiring Internet Explorer in 2022

Microsoft is finally retiring Internet Explorer next year, after more than 25 years. The aging web browser has largely been unused by most consumers for years, but Microsoft is putting the final nail in the Internet Explorer coffin on the 15th June 2022, by retiring it in favour of Microsoft Edge.

“We are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” says Sean Lyndersay, a Microsoft Edge program manager. “The Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10.”


Bitcoin plunges in crypto selloff - don't say I didn't warn you!


Bitcoin crashed by as much as 30pc today after China banned financial services firms from providing cryptocurrency services, dragging down other major cryptocurrencies at the same time.

The latest drop left Bitcoin approaching $30,000, a level not seen since January, and well below its April high of $65,000. The downturn quickly infected other cryptocurrencies, with Ethereum sinking by over 36pc and Dogecoin tumbling an even greater 41.5pc.

Losses for the entire cryptocurrency sector are now approaching $1trillion. 


Windows 10X product is axed - tech to be rolled into standard Win10

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10X, its somewhat streamlined operating system initially designed for a new wave of dual-screen mobile PCs, is being killed off.

It appears the Redmond giant doesn't want the OS's features to languish on whatever dual-screen slabtops are or become available, and so it will put some of its better ideas into the mainstream Windows 10, and shut the rest of the project down. It was supposed to launch this year.

"Following a year-long exploration and engaging in conversations with customers, we realized that the technology of Windows 10X could be useful in more ways and serve more customers than we originally imagined," John Cable, veep of program management at Windows Servicing and Delivery, buried at the end of this blog post.


18 May 2021

BMW are working with Hans Zimmer to create the soundtrack for electric cars (bikes next?)

BMW has enlisted the help of Hans Zimmer to compose the evocative sounds emitted by their electric vehicle range - initially it will be for cars only, but no doubt motorcycles and scooters will follow. 

German-born Zimmer will work with the Bavarian automobile manufacturer to bring life to the whine of an electric motor - and as mentioned in the short video, BMW want to continue the full audible experience that an M sport motor can evoke, but for electric owners. 


14 May 2021

Thy Kingdom Come, day 2. Does God "need" worship and praise?

In Christian worship there is lots of praise. Christians often tell God how brilliant God is. What sort of God needs this, is often the response from those who are new to the Christian faith? God must be very insecure, they think.

But we don’t praise God because God needs it, but because we do. When we praise God we put ourselves in perspective. We acknowledge that God is the source and origin of every-thing, even the breath that we’re taking right now. Without God, there is nothing. 

There is no one who doesn’t need to know that.

The way of life which is the way of Jesus Christ is a way of abundant, appreciative joy. Even in the darkest hours, we believe in the light. 

We praise him. And from the perspective of his light pray for others.

Faithful God, help me to understand myself, so that even in the most difficult times I may know your presence with me and may sing your praises, defiantly praising your goodness even when there is so much that is wrong. And today, help me show others the good things I receive in Christ and show the world his way.


Is Bitcoin bad for the environment? Spoiler: YES!!!

The BBC's Ros Atkins looks into Bitcoin's affect on the environment after Tesla suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin due to climate change concerns.

After CEO Elon Musk's tweet, Bitcoin fell by more than 10% after the tweet, while Tesla shares also dipped.

Tesla's announcement in March that it would accept the crypto-currency was met with an outcry from some environmentalists and investors.

The electric car-maker had in February revealed it had bought $1.5bn (£1bn) of the world's biggest digital currency.


11 May 2021

Calli has been to Pam for her Summer trim!


Calli has had her regular wash & trim by Pam today - she looks fab & ready for the warm weather. If only we had some warm weather!

Harley-Davidson spins out LiveWire as its own electric motorcycle brand


LiveWire, the first electric motorcycle from Harley-Davidson, will now become its own standalone brand. The Milwaukee-based company announced that it would be spinning out its electric motorcycle division as its own company with a distinct lineup and a tailored retail experience. Harley-Davidson plans to unveil the “first LiveWire branded motorcycle” on July 8th to coincide with the International Motorcycle Show.

It’s a shift from how the company approached its current LiveWire model, in which the Harley-Davidson logo is front and center, while the LiveWire brand is practically nonexistent. And it’s a sign that going forward, Harley-Davidson is interested in letting its electrified models stand on their own terms.

“With the mission to be the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world, LiveWire will pioneer the future of motorcycling, for the pursuit of urban adventure and beyond,” Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president, and CEO of Harley-Davidson, said in a statement. “LiveWire also plans to innovate and develop technology that will be applicable to Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles in the future.”


Amazon “seized and destroyed” 2 million counterfeit products in 2020

Amazon "seized and destroyed" over 2 million counterfeit products that sellers sent to Amazon warehouses in 2020 and "blocked more than 10 billion suspected bad listings before they were published in our store," the company said in its first "Brand Protection Report."

In 2020, "we seized and destroyed more than 2 million products sent to our fulfillment centers and that we detected as counterfeit before being sent to a customer," Amazon's report said. "In cases where counterfeit products are in our fulfillment centers, we separate the inventory and destroy those products so they are not resold elsewhere in the supply chain," the report also said.

Third-party sellers can also ship products directly to consumers instead of using Amazon's shipping system. The 2 million fakes found in Amazon fulfillment centers would only account for counterfeit products from sellers using the "Fulfilled by Amazon" service.

The counterfeit problem got worse over the past year. "Throughout the pandemic, we've seen increased attempts by bad actors to commit fraud and offer counterfeit products," Amazon VP Dharmesh Mehta wrote in a blog post yesterday.

The above sounds like a good thing - you'd think... However: Amazon regularly ships their own stock knowing full well it isn't what it's meant to be! See the image above / these reviews... I and many others have complained about these Hard Drives - to no avail. Amazon seem happy to go after other vendors (good) - but not so happy to put their own house in order - Physician, heal yourself! 


10 May 2021

Interesting world population statistics - by Worldometer


World Population:

has reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011.

is projected to reach 8 billion in 2023, 9 billion in 2037, and 10 billion people in the year 2055.

has doubled in 40 years from 1959 (3 billion) to 1999 (6 billion).

is currently (2020) growing at a rate of around 1.05 % per year, adding 81 million people per year to the total.

growth rate reached its peak in the late 1960s, when it was at 2.09%.

growth rate is currently declining and is projected to continue to decline in the coming years (reaching below 0.50% by 2050, and 0.03% in 2100) .

a tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history up to the year 1800 for world population to reach 1 billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in 30 years (1960), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), the fifth billion in 13 years (1987), the sixth billion in 12 years (1999) and the seventh billion in 12 years (2011). During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.

by Country & UK Population through the years


NFU calls for national ban on sky lanterns


The NFU has written to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow as part of a coalition of 18 farming, environment, animal and fire organisations to explain how the government’s approach to sky lanterns is now significantly out of date.

The group is calling on the government to act now to make the use of sky lanterns illegal. The letter details how in other countries the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside.

By enacting Section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Secretary of State can prohibit or restrict the importation, use, supply or storage of injurious substances or articles, such as sky lanterns. So far, 152 local councils have already banned the release of sky lanterns on council property but with no national legislation in place, the countryside and farms remain unprotected.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “Though sky lanterns might look pretty in the sky, they pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife.

“Sadly, many people are unaware of the potentially deadly consequences the release of sky lanterns can have for animals. Not only are they a serious fire hazard but the RSPCA has had reports of suffering animals through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky causing terrified animals to bolt and harm themselves.

“We know many people are already aware of the dangers sky lanterns pose to animals and we are pleased to work in coalition with the National Farmers' Union and others to raise awareness within the UK government of our concerns.”


Christian Aid Week. The climate emergency is one of the greatest injustices we face. Together we stop this climate crisis.

This climate crisis hurts us all. But people living in poverty fight the worst of it every day.

From drought to flooding, climate change robs people of control over their lives. Extreme weather means people like Rose are struggling to survive without a reliable source of water.

Your gift could help a community build an earth dam, so when the rains do come, they will have the water they need to live. A reliable source of water will help families withstand long drought or relentless rainstorms.

Every envelope. Every gift. Every challenge can change lives. Together we stop this climate crisis.


07 May 2021

Like a nice cookie? Of course you do! Better check this out - for the best handmade cookies!

Mike Hall (one of my bikey mates & owner of the excellent Mike Hall Carpentry Services) presented me with the most superb box of handmade Terry's Chocolate Orange cookies. Beautifully presented, delicious, and a wonderful gift. Well done The Cookie Dough Club - these are a truly superb treat!

Freshly baked cookies or bake yourself cookie dough in a huge range of flavours.

We’re based in Waterlooville, Portsmouth. Offering a collection & delivery option. 

Postal bakes coming soon!


Microsoft is finally ditching its Windows 95-era icons


Microsoft is finally preparing to refresh its Windows 95-era icons. The software giant has been slowly improving the icons it uses in Windows 10, as part of a “sweeping visual rejuvenation” planned for later this year. We saw a number of new system icons back in March, with new File Explorer, folder, Recycle Bin, disk drive icons, and more. Microsoft is now planning to refresh the Windows 95-era icons you still sometimes come across in Windows 10.

Windows Latest has spotted new icons for the hibernation mode, networking, memory, floppy drives, and much more as part of the shell32.dll file in preview versions of Windows 10. This DLL is a key part of the Windows Shell, which surfaces icons in a variety of dialog boxes throughout the operating system. It’s also a big reason why Windows icons have been so inconsistent throughout the years. Microsoft has often modernized other parts of the OS only for an older app to throw you into a dialog box with Windows 95-era icons from shell32.dll.

All of this work to improve the consistency of Windows is part of Microsoft’s design overhaul to Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley. The visual changes are expected to appear in the Windows 10 21H2 update that should arrive in October. Microsoft has not officially detailed its Sun Valley work, but a job listing earlier this year teased a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.”


06 May 2021

Millions of people in the UK at risk of using unsecure routers

Millions (potentially up to 7.5 million) around the UK could be at risk of using routers with security flaws, a Which? investigation has found.

In December 2020 we conducted a survey of more than 6,000 UK adults, asking them which routers they’re using at home. We found millions could be using devices over five years old, that are no longer being supported with firmware updates

We sent a selection of the most commonly used old devices to security specialists, Red Maple Technologies, to find out just how secure they are, and discovered issues with more than half, from ISPs such as Virgin, Sky, TalkTalk, EE and Vodafone.


IT & Motorcycles (& cars) - why there is a shortage of new models at the moment

If you’ve had even just a side-eye on the global newsfeeds in recent weeks you will know that there is a crisis brewing in the motoring industry that is bit-by-bit consuming all of the top manufacturers - the ‘global chip shortage’.

While this may not seem terribly important to your Average Joe, these chips can be found in everything from cars to motorcycles and everything in between, such as ABS, smart keys and ECUs. In short, they have a literal part to play in every single new model that rolls off the production line.

It is a crisis that has already affected some of the biggest names in the motoring industry; JLR, Mini, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have already scaled back production to ease the strain on the supply chain issues, and now Yamaha has gone on record to explain why it’s is now falling behind on orders.

There is a positive reason as to why this is occurring. Demand for motorcycles has bounced right back from the lulls of 2020 when we were gripped in the COVID-19 crisis, but it was during this period that suppliers saw orders cancelled in anticipation of a steadier return to full production capacity.


05 May 2021

Excellent, informative, free (if a bit geeky) training: LOCTITE®XPLORE

LOCTITE®XPLORE is a new e-learning platform designed for Assembly, Maintenance and Vehicle Repair Pros – to help you make informed decisions within your area of expertise.

The content is based on the accumulated knowledge of more than 65 years of practical experience – and it’s 100% free, quick and certified. All you have to do is pick a topic and start improving your skills – 15 min at a time. Quick gratification is as easy as that!

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it! Sign up HERE.


04 May 2021

BlackBerry has built the iOS of cars, and it's taken over the automotive industry

It might be running in your car right now, but you'd never know it because there's no "Intel Inside"-like badge. And that's just how BlackBerry likes it.

BlackBerry QNX is the de facto standard for in-car operating systems. If a car were a smartphone, QNX is iOS or Android. It's what connects all the bits of vehicle hardware so that the "apps" — everything from the speedometer to the tire pressure monitoring system — can talk to each other securely and reliably.

Modern automobiles are wildly complex, with countless sensors, electronic control units (ECU), buttons, inputs, connectivity and more. And they're all built by different suppliers but still need to communicate. That's where QNX comes in.

Grant Courville, BlackBerry's vice president for products and strategy — aka one of the guys in charge of QNX — puts it this way: "The consumer won't ever see our logo. They won't ever see our software... but we provide the safe and secure plumbing in the car."