19 August 2021

Chip shortage: Toyota to cut global production by 40%

Toyota is to slash worldwide vehicle production by 40% in September because of the global microchip shortage. The world's biggest carmaker had planned to make almost 900,000 cars next month, but has now reduced that to 540,000 vehicles.

The Covid pandemic boosted demand for appliances that use chips, such as phones, TVs and games consoles.

Volkswagen, the world's second-biggest car producer, has warned it may also be forced to cut output further. On Thursday, Volkswagen, which cut output earlier in the year, told Reuters: "We currently expect supply of chips in the third quarter to be very volatile and tight. "We can't rule out further changes to production."

Toyota's other rivals, including General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Daimler, BMW and Renault, have already scaled back production in the face of the global chip shortage.


Windows 10 21H2 preview is now available - if you would like to play...


Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing 21H2 Build 19044.1200 (KB5005101) to the Release Preview Channel.

This update will be offered automatically for Windows Insiders already on Windows 10, version 21H2 in the Release Preview Channel. For Insiders not yet on Windows 10, version 21H2 – this update is offered via our “seeker” experience in Windows Update and ONLY to Insiders who were moved from the Beta Channel to the Release Preview Channel because their PC did not meet the hardware requirements for Windows 11. This means these Insiders will need to go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and choose to download and install Windows 10, version 21H2.


T-Mobile says at least 47M current and former customers affected by hack

T-Mobile has confirmed that millions of current and former customers had their information stolen in a data breach, following reports of a hack over the weekend.

In a statement, T-Mobile, which has more than 100 million customers, said its preliminary analysis shows 7.8 million current postpaid T-Mobile customers had information taken in the data breach. The carrier said that some personal data was also taken, including customer names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver’s license information for a “subset” of current and former postpay customers and prospective T-Mobile customers.

The company also said that 40 million records of former and prospective customers was taken, but that “no phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, passwords, or financial information were compromised.”

But the company warned that approximately 850,000 active T-Mobile customer names, phone numbers and account PINs were in fact compromised, and that customer names, phone numbers and account PINs were exposed. T-Mobile said it has reset those customer PINs. T-Mobile said it was “recommending all postpaid customers” to proactively change their account PIN, which protects their accounts from SIM-swapping attacks.


5 urgent ways you can pray for Afghanistan


Afghanistan is now held by the Taliban, whose fighters entered the capital city Kabul with ease, taking the reins in the Presidential Palace, and declaring an end to the 20-year war. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country over the weekend, reportedly to prevent further bloodshed.

"It’s a heartbreaking day for the citizens of Afghanistan, and an even more dangerous time to be a Christian,” says Brother Samuel, Open Doors Field Director for Asia (whose name has been changed for security reasons). “It’s an uncertain situation for the whole country, not just for secret believers. Our hearts are broken. We knew this could happen. We are not surprised but this does not make the pain any less.”

Afghan citizens are in a frenzy – lining up in banks in a last-ditch attempt to withdraw their savings and flocking the Kabul airport to flee the country. Many locals who have spent the last couple of years helping the US forces are now applying for visas to leave.

Though the Taliban promises a more modern and reformed approach to government, fears remain as to how they will impose Sharia (Islamic law) in the days to come.

Brother Samuel adds, “Secret believers in Afghanistan are especially vulnerable. Prior to Taliban rule, they already had a very difficult time living out their faith, as they had to keep it secret from their families for fear of being shunned, or worse, killed. Now that the Taliban is in power, their vulnerability increases tenfold. It would be almost impossible to be a follower of Jesus in this country. We are monitoring the situation, but this is the time for us to ask God to have mercy not only on His people, but on this country as a whole.”

Five ways to pray for Afghanistan today

* Please pray for the small group of Christians in the country. They are walking on eggshells and are uncertain who to trust. Pray that they find strength, wisdom, and supernatural peace in God’s promises.

* Pray for the displaced. A new wave of refugees is expected to come from Afghanistan to many parts of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Pray for God’s protection and provision over them in their journeys.

* Pray for the women. Many women fear that the Taliban rule would mean they would be stripped of opportunities for education. Women involved in education during the past years could also be at risk – pray for their protection.

* Pray for the sick. Though underreported in international media, Covid-19 cases are spiking in the country and hospitals are limited in what they can offer. There is no certainty as to how the healthcare system will be able to sustain itself with the new Taliban government. Pray that the healthcare system will not collapse.

* Pray that the country will not be a haven for extremists. The Taliban government of 20 years ago are known enablers of extremist Islamic organisations. With their newfound control over Afghanistan, the country could be host to a new generation of terror groups.


18 August 2021

The Social Dilemma is currently available on YouTube for free

The Social Dilemma is free on YouTube until Sept 30! The film has already helped an estimated 100 million people globally understand the harms and misaligned incentives of persuasive technology. Imagine what’s possible now that 2.3 billion people have access to the film.

The film’s impact is significant: It has shaped congressional hearings and legislation worldwide, helped concerned technologists take action within companies, and sparked action at schools everywhere. Millions are waking up to the harms of the technology they use every day — and they are taking action.


17 August 2021

Don rides: The Honda Africa Twin CRF1100D2-L DCT Adventure Sport.


I rode Ariel up to Doble Honda (Coulsden) today for her first annual service. Seems like every time I go to Doble it rains! Fortunately, it was only light drizzle today. That notwithstanding: an absolutely cracking ~150 miles of wonderful riding was had :0).

While at Doble I had a chat to Paul & Mike bemoaning my lack of a touring bike. I really miss Holly the Crosstourer - we had some fab trips on that bike. As incredible as Ariel is - she just isn't a bike one would want to tour on. OK, technically it's possible to tour on anything (Matt and Reece circumnavigated the globe on a scooter with a sidecar back in 2015 - God Bless 'em!). But for me, taking a light & dynamic sportbike & lathering her in luggage seems like heresy! Never mind two up!

So, today I took out Doble's demonstrator Honda Africa Twin CRF1100D2-L DCT Adventure Sport. Its for sale, and very tempting too...

Mike wheeled it out front of their showroom, The CRF is a sizeable beast, but that said, legover was easy, and both feet flat on the ground (seat turned out to be in the low position). The engine note is quite soft (for a parallel twin 1100), and the bike has a Dual-clutch transmission (automatic in layman's terms). I have actually ridden this bike's predecessor for a couple of days back in 2016 and enjoyed it. In all honesty I wasn't expecting the new CRF to be as good as the Crosstourer - I was wrong: it's a fantastic bike! From walking speed to motorway - comfortable & really easy to ride. Looks like a big bike, rides like a small bike. Lots of power with plenty of rapid pickup. Great wind & elements protection. Comes complete with superb luggage & bike protection. Proper abilities in the mud. Yup this would absolutely work as a Crosstourer replacement! 

Wouldn't ever want to say goodbye to Ariel the CB though. I found that Holly was a bit too big for a quick run out & scratching about - but perfect for touring / holidays. Need one bike for  everyday & one for special occasions. So what's needed is one CB & one CRF - sorted!


Sonos gets early patent victory against Google smart speakers

Sonos scored an early victory in its case against Google Friday, when the US International Trade Commission ruled that Google infringed five of Sonos' smart speaker patents. The ruling is preliminary and subject to a full ITC review, but it could lead to a ban on Google smart speakers.

In January 2020, Sonos brought a patent infringement case against Google targeting Google's smart speakers, the Google Home, and later the Nest Audio line. Sonos is the originator of Internet-connected speakers that easily hook up to streaming services, while Google speakers combine a similar feature set with voice-activated Google Assistant commands. To hear Sonos tell the story, Google got a behind-the-scenes look at Sonos' hardware in 2013, when Google agreed to build Google Play Music support for Sonos speakers. Sonos claims Google used that access to "blatantly and knowingly" copy Sonos' audio features for the Google Home speaker, which launched in 2016.

However you want to measure it, Sonos is a tiny company compared to the tech giants it regularly battles. The 19-year-old company only has products in the connected speaker market, and it has a $5 billion market cap. Its competitors—Google, Amazon, and Apple—are some of the world's biggest companies, each with a market cap above $1.5 trillion. To make matters more complicated for Sonos, the company relies on both Google and Amazon to do business in search, advertising, and retail sales, and it worried about retaliation from the two giants. Plus, once Amazon and Google entered the market, Sonos was forced to adopt support for both voice assistants in order to compete. Back in 2020, Sonos said Amazon also seemed to be using its technology, but it would focus its legal efforts on Google.


16 August 2021

Parcel delivery texts now the most common con-trick


The majority of "smishing" fraud attempts have come through the blitz of parcel delivery texts sent out during the Covid crisis. Smishing is a technique that criminals use to target consumers with texts impersonating trusted organisations.

Millions of mobile users have received the texts that claim a small payment is needed for a package delivery to be completed.

But the texts are a front for fraudsters attempting to steal personal banking details.


14 August 2021

2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity

What dangers lurk in technology’s ubiquitous and unrelenting encroachment in our lives? What are the perilous spiritual implications of artificial intelligence, bioengineering, facial recognition, and other hi-tech applications we’re accepting into our daily world with little concern? What does the Bible say about it all?

In response to recent popular accounts, scientist and philosopher John Lennox offers a Christian perspective on humanity's future, the problems raised by AI and the atheist conception of what it means to be human.

"2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity" by John Lennox is the perfect introduction to where AI and technology are going in our lifetime.


13 August 2021

Warner Bros uses personalized Deepfakes for its latest movie "Reminiscence". Here's one I prepared earlier!


Hollywood is embracing deepfakes, and we all can be a part of it: Warner Bros. has tapped synthetic media startup D-ID to promote its new movie "Reminiscence." A new website allows anyone to upload a photo, which D-ID's AI then turns into a moving deepfake video sequence in a short video clip promoting the film.

Reminiscence,” stars Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton. Nick Bannister (Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae's disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?

This is clever stuff! This (albeit relatively simple) Deepfake was generated from this one image - very quickly. Try it yourself here.


2B! Hamlet as you've never seen it B4!


From the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon: a stellar cast, including Paapa Essiedu, Tim Minchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Harriet Walter, David Tennant, Rory Kinnear, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and the HRH the Prince of Wales discuss what they think to be the correct way of saying 'To be, or not to be, that is the question'.


Yearning for the "freedom" of the open road? Mandatory speed limiters on new UK cars (bikes too eventually) from 2022...

All new vehicles sold in Europe – including the UK – will be fitted with a mandatory speed limiter from 2022 to keep cars within the UK speed limits and boost road safety.

• From 6 July 2022, all newly launched cars will legally have to be fitted with a speed limiter

• European Commission reached a provisional agreement in 2019

• The UK is likely to adopt the new speed limiting rules, even after Brexit

The European Commission has reached a provisional agreement that all new vehicles sold in Europe will be fitted with a speed limiter as a legal requirement from 6 July 2022. The 2019/2044 regulation also mandates all new cars that have already launched be fitted with an Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) by 7 July 2024.

While it hasn’t been decided, the UK will likely obey the new road safety regulations despite leaving the EU as even after Brexit, the UK has retained most EU laws for new cars. Following this agreement also helps in standardising the car manufacturing process for different markets.

Using speed limiters successfully would also be a step forward in developing self-driving cars in the UK.

The speed limiter technology, called Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA) uses GPS data and/or traffic-sign-recognition cameras to determine the maximum speed allowed in an area. The system then limits the engine’s power and the vehicle’s speed to that limit.

Have a watch of this excellent video by Stuart Fillingham - and get a terrifying glimpse of what is round the corner: speed limiters & data loggers... I don't want the chief witness for the prosecution to be my own vehicle! Like Uncle Stu said: George Orwell was right, he only got the year wrong: not 1984, more like 2024! I confidently predict that sales of new vehicles will plummet, and demand/price of quality used cars & bikes will increase. Oh look: it's already happened


12 August 2021

Motorcycle Live 2021 tickets are now available!


4 - 12 December 2021 @ the NEC Birmingham!

The UK’s biggest motorcycle show offer brand new features, entertainment and the latest models - brought to you by world leading manufacturers.  It’s the only place you’ll need visit to place you firmly in the middle of all things biking.

With many opportunities to ride bikes across dedicated feature areas, and hundreds of chances to try them for size and get a feel for what’s right for you, there’s nowhere else in the country where you are so truly spoilt for choice with products, services and expert advice for visitors of all ages.

There’s no better feeling than being out on your bike, or looking at bikes, or sitting on bikes, or tinkering with bikes or talking about bikes or planning your rides..

So whether you’ve got the bug yourself, or a friend or family member is new to, returning to or never left biking then fan those flames, ignite that passion and make Motorcycle Live a date in your diary for 2021.


Antivirus news: NortonLifeLock and Avast PLC to merge in $8.4 billion transaction

Antivirus vendor NortonLifeLock this afternoon said it will merge with Britain's Avast PLC in a transaction combining cash and stock in two different options, totalling between $8.1 billion and $8.6 billion in stock.

That value is roughly equivalent to the value in U.S. dollars of Avast's enterprise value, which takes into account its cash and debt, of £6.5 billion, based on the closing price of Avast stock tuesday of £5.68 on the London Stock Exchange. NortonLifeLock shares rose 2.5% in late trading.

The two companies said in the joint press release that their respective boards of directors see an opportunity to "create a new, industry-leading consumer Cyber Safety business, leveraging the established brands, technology and innovation of both groups to deliver substantial benefits to consumers, shareholders, and other stakeholders."


11 August 2021

Broadband rollout trial to target hard-to-reach homes through UK’s water pipes

Fibre broadband cables could be fed through the country’s water pipes as part of the government’s plan to speed up the nationwide roll out of lightning-fast broadband and mobile coverage in rural areas.

Four million pounds is available for cutting-edge innovators to trial what could be a quicker and more cost-effective way of connecting fibre optic cables to homes, businesses and mobile masts, without the disruption caused by digging up roads and land.

Civil works, in particular installing new ducts and poles, can make up as much as four fifths of the costs to industry of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks.

This new scheme could turbocharge the government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit plan to level up broadband access in hard-to-reach areas as well as the £1 billion Shared Rural Network which will bring strong and reliable 4G phone signals to many of the most isolated parts of the country.


10 August 2021

Why the Global Chip Shortage Is Hard to Overcome


A global chip shortage is affecting how quickly we can drive a car (or bike) off the lot or buy a new computer

The Wall Street Journal visits Global Foundries fabrication plant in Singapore to see the complex process of chip making and how one manufacturer is trying to overcome the shortage. 


The slow collapse of Amazon’s drone delivery dream


Well over 100 employees at Amazon Prime Air have lost their jobs and dozens of other roles are moving to other projects abroad as the company shutters part of its operation in the UK, WIRED understands. Insiders claim the future of the UK operation, which launched in 2016 to help pioneer Amazon’s global drone delivery efforts, is now uncertain.

Those working on the UK team in the last few years, who spoke on condition of anonymity, describe a project that was “collapsing inwards”, “dysfunctional” and resembled “organised chaos”, run by managers that were “detached from reality” in the years building up to the mass redundancies.


05 August 2021

Coming soon: Google Chrome to no longer show secure website indicators


Google Chrome will no longer show whether a site you are visiting is secure and only show when you visit an insecure website.

For years, Google has been making a concerted effort to push websites into using HTTPS to provide a more secure browsing experience.

To further push web developers into only using HTTPS on their sites, Google introduced the protocol as a ranking factor. Those not hosting a secure site got a potentially minor hit in their Google search results rankings.

It has appeared to have worked as according to the 'HTTPS encryption on the web' of Google's Transparency Report, over 90% of all browser connections in Google Chrome currently use an HTTPS connection.

Currently, when you visit a secure site, Google Chrome will display a little locked icon indicating that your communication with the site is encrypted, as shown below:

As most website communication is now secure, Google is testing a new feature that removes the lock icon for secure sites. This feature is available to test in Chrome 93 Beta, and Chrome 94 Canary builds by enabling the 'Omnibox Updated connection security indicators' flag. With this feature enabled, Google Chrome will only display security indicators when the site is not secure.


What is Google Workspace?

Google Workspace is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere and on any device. It's simple to set up, use and manage, so that your business can focus on what really matters.

These are some highlights:

Business email for your domain: Look professional and communicate as you@yourcompany.com. Gmail’s simple features help you build your brand while getting more done.

Access from any location or device: Check emails, share files, edit documents, hold video meetings and more, whether you're at work, at home or on the move. You can pick up where you left off from a computer, tablet or phone.

Enterprise-level management tools: Robust admin settings give you total command over users, devices, security and more.

Sign up using my link and get a free 14-day trial, and message me to get an exclusive discount when you try Google Workspace for your business.

Google Workspace