31 March 2023

Infographic: What Happened During Holy Week, Day-By-Day

Holy Week” in the Christian church calendar commemorates the chronology of Jesus’ triumphal entry, last supper, betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.

As Holy Week plays out, the story’s breadth and depth makes it somewhat complex. To help you understand the events, places, and people of Holy Week day-by-day, Bible Gateway has prepared this Infographic that visualizes each of the different facets of the Easter story as they lead to Resurrection Sunday.


The Metaverse Is Completely Falling Apart

Between mass industry job cuts and a trance-like shift toward generative AI, it's a strange time for the tech world. And as often happens during widespread changes and reorganizations, some efforts get lost in translation — one of those efforts being, it seems, the huge rush toward the metaverse after Facebook-turned-Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg rebranded the entirety of Facebook around the concept.

According to reporting from The Wall Street Journal, both Disney and Microsoft, two big-name companies that had skin in the game, have made big moves to wind down their metaverse operations, with Disney slashing its entire division and Microsoft shutting down a VR organization that it had acquired in 2017.


30 March 2023

Online fraud – how to protect yourself

Latest research shows that around nine in ten people have seen content online they suspected was a scam or a fraud. So, it’s important to think about how to protect yourself from potential risks.

Online fraud takes many forms, but there are some basic tips that could help to protect you from a range of methods.

Wait - is it too good to be true? - When it comes to online fraud, the phrase ‘too good to be true’ is often accurate. Often, fraudsters will tempt you in with goods or offers that seem better than anything you’ll find elsewhere. It’s this temptation of a bargain or a great deal that could lure a potential victim. If you’re offered a deal that sounds too good to be true, that’s your signal to be extra vigilant and double-check that it’s legitimate.

Double-check their identity - Confirm the identity of the person or organisation you’re dealing with – especially if they’ve contacted you out of the blue. Impersonation fraud is when criminals claim to be from legitimate organisations, with the aim of gaining your trust. Take time to find out more about who you’re in contact with – can you confirm whether they represent a certain company or organisation, for example? You can search for information on the Financial Conduct Authority website.

Don’t give out personal information - In some cases, online fraudsters don’t want you to hand over money straight away – they might not be asking you to buy something in an online transaction, for example. Instead, they want you to provide your personal or financial information. If they have access to these details, they’ll be able to use your identity fraudulently, or can use your financial information to get access to your money via your bank or building society account  . Also be careful about what personal information you share in your profiles and posts on social media, as this can also be seen and misused by others.

Don’t trust unknown attachments or links - Sometimes fraudsters can get hold of your personal or financial information even without your knowledge. They can do this by sending you attachments or links via email or text message. These can contain malware, which is malicious software that can allow them to get access to your device. Once they’ve done this, they can also access information and data that can enable them to steal your identity or get to your finances. Don’t click on any attachments or links that you can’t verify – especially if you haven’t been able to confirm the sender’s identity. Also check whether you h  ave anti-virus software installed on your device, as this can protect against some types of malicious software – and if you do, make sure it’s up to date with any updates installed.

Use a protected payment method - If you’re paying for something, use a payment method that offers protection for customers. Don’t transfer money direct to anybody – use a verified money transfer or online payment service, or make a transaction using your bank or building society account, which will require the person you're paying to provide their details. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases, and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. If you’re unsure whether a payment or transfer service offers this sort of protection, contact them to find out before you go any further. Action Fraud offers more information on this.

Report it immediately - If you think you’ve fallen victim to some sort of online fraud – or even if you’ve spotted a fraud but not been caught out by it - report it straight away. Tell your bank or building society   (or online payment or transfer service if you’ve used one of those), as they might be able to stop a payment being made if you report it quickly enough. Or, they might be able to recoup some or all of the money that you’ve lost. You can also report it to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime. Also, if you see content online that you think relates to a fraud, report it to the platform so they can investigate and remove it.


Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter

AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs. As stated in the widely-endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.

Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable. This confidence must be well justified and increase with the magnitude of a system's potential effects. OpenAI's recent statement regarding artificial general intelligence, states that "At some point, it may be important to get independent review before starting to train future systems, and for the most advanced efforts to agree to limit the rate of growth of compute used for creating new models." We agree. That point is now.

Therefore, we call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.

AI labs and independent experts should use this pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean a pause on AI development in general, merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities.

AI research and development should be refocused on making today's powerful, state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy, and loyal.

In parallel, AI developers must work with policymakers to dramatically accelerate development of robust AI governance systems. These should at a minimum include: new and capable regulatory authorities dedicated to AI; oversight and tracking of highly capable AI systems and large pools of computational capability; provenance and watermarking systems to help distinguish real from synthetic and to track model leaks; a robust auditing and certification ecosystem; liability for AI-caused harm; robust public funding for technical AI safety research; and well-resourced institutions for coping with the dramatic economic and political disruptions (especially to democracy) that AI will cause.

Humanity can enjoy a flourishing future with AI. Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an "AI summer" in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt. Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society.  We can do so here. Let's enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall.


29 March 2023

Try life on two wheels in a safe and friendly way: the Honda Ride Free Experience

Take to two wheels on a Honda motorcycle under the guidance of a Honda Approved Motorcycle Training Instructor. You’ll be taken through the first stages of motorcycling in a safe off-road area with your instructor alongside you all the way!

You'll be given specially selected motorcycles from our 125cc range and all the clothing and safety equipment that you’ll need. Ride Free Experience events will be taking place across the country throughout the year and will be held either at our Honda Approved Training Dealerships or at their partner training schools.

Booking a Ride Free session could not be easier. Click on the link below where you will see a list of our current events. Simply select a location and then pick your session time from the list. Completing the booking form is easy and then you are done! CLICK HERE TO BOOK


Yeh, we've seen this movie & know how it ends: ChatGPT can now access the internet and run the code it writes

OpenAI has allowed its ChatGPT AI to reach out into the world with staggering new powers. It can now access the internet, run its own code to solve problems, accept and work on uploaded files, and write its own interfaces to third-party apps.

Language model AIs teach themselves the arts of communication and problem solving based on a limited set of training data. In the case of GPT-4, that data is quite out of date, with the cutoff being late 2021. That's where all of ChatGPT's "knowledge" has come from up to this point, and its only output – at least in the service the public can use – has been text. Now, with today's launch of a plugin ecosystem, GPT levels up again with some impressive new abilities.

First of all, it's now got access to the internet, meaning it can go surf the Web looking for answers if it determines you need up-to-date information that's not in its knowledge base. To do this it formulates relevant search strings, sends them to search engines and databases such as Bing, Google, GitHub and many others, looks at the results, then goes and reads links it deems worthy until it decides it's got a good answer for you. You can watch exactly what it's up to while it does this, and when your answer comes back, it's neatly annotated with links you can click on to go and examine the relevant sources yourself.

Belgian intelligence puts Huawei on its watchlist

Belgium's intelligence service is scrutinizing the operations of technology giant Huawei as fears of Chinese espionage grow around the EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to confidential documents seen by POLITICO and three people familiar with the matter.

In recent months, Belgium's State Security Service (VSSE) has requested interviews with former employees of the company’s lobbying operation in the heart of Brussels’ European district. The intelligence gathering is part of security officials' activities to scrutinize how China may be using non-state actors — including senior lobbyists in Huawei’s Brussels office — to advance the interests of the Chinese state and its Communist party in Europe, said the people, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The scrutiny of Huawei's EU activities comes as Western security agencies are sounding the alarm over companies with links to China. British, Dutch, Belgian, Czech and Nordic officials — as well as EU functionaries — have all been told to stay off TikTok on work phones over concerns similar to those surrounding Huawei, namely that Chinese security legislation forces Chinese tech firms to hand over data.


28 March 2023

Finally: common sense breaks out! Plans for Royal Mint produced NFT dropped

Plans for a government backed non-fungible token (NFT) produced by the Royal Mint have been dropped, the Treasury has announced.

Rishi Sunak ordered the creation of a "NFT for Britain" that could be traded online, while chancellor in April 2022.

NFTs are "assets" in the digital world that can be bought and sold, but which have no physical form of their own.

The Royal Mint announced it was "not proceeding with the launch" following a consultation with the Treasury.

NFTs have been touted as the digital answer to collectables, but some sceptics fear they could be a bubble waiting to burst. They have been used as speculative assets and some have sold for millions of dollars.


Do techies use Artificial Intelligence (AI)?


ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models (LLMs) and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

Slashdot (sometimes abbreviated as /.) is a social news website that originally billed itself as "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters". It features news stories on science, technology, and politics that are submitted and evaluated by site users and editors. Each story has a comments section where users can add online comments.

We see here that 2/3rds of us techies have little time for this rubbish. 


Price Increase: Microsoft Local Currency Pricing Changes

Effective from 1st April 2023, Microsoft will change GBP and EUR currencies to align to USD

Currencies around the globe have been impacted by the macroeconomic environment, affecting their exchange rate compared to the US dollar.

Starting 1st April 2023, pricing for Microsoft Cloud products will be adjusted to realign globally to create consistent pricing that reflects the exchange rate of the local currency to the US dollar (USD).

The following adjustments will be made to prices based on the currency:
GBP: +9% increase
EUR: +11% increase

Please note: Any existing orders that are subject to price protection will not be affected until the end of their subscription term. However, prices for new product additions or purchases will be determined by the pricelist at the time of order.

Poor Microsoft. They can barely rub two beans together - so are having to raise their prices LOL <sarcasm>! Perhaps I should buy them one of these ;0). FYI Microsoft are the 3rd biggest company on the planet based on market capitalisation.


27 March 2023

China crisis is a TikToking time bomb


As country after country bans TikTok from official systems, it’s fair to ask what’s so dodgy about a social network filled with dance crazes, makeup advice and cats.

You can understand why selling the Middle Kingdom state-of-the-art EUV lithography gear might be a bad idea, but this? Is it the xenophobia China often blames for Western reticence? Plain old trade barriers? Cold war cultural imperialism? No, it really is a security matter, and one that’s far more serious than it looks.

State security and national intelligence can look like, and often is, a proxy for political machinations. This is not that. It’s not a matter of morality or the ethical superiority of democracy. The West can bug, spy, infiltrate and deceive with the best of them. The CIA secretly owned Crypto AG, a Swiss cryptography company, and most certainly snaffled a ton of data from unsuspecting organisations as a result.

There’s no equivalence here between the East and West, no two sides of the same coin. The difference is the extensive legal framework protecting Western citizens and companies from state security overreach. Imperfect and constantly stretched as it is, the law is on our side. The NSA or GCHQ cannot compel cooperation - they can ask, but even so within limits. Apple and Google can and do tell the FBI to get a warrant or go swivel. Xiaomi and Vivo don't have that option.

Chinese law, specifically Article 7 of the National Intelligence Law compels all citizens and organisations to act as covert arms of state security on demand, even if overseas. There is no saying no. There is no even admitting it’s happened. Chinese owned technology companies can deny this as much as they like, in fact they have to, but the law is clear. The TikTok CEO can offer all the safeguards, promises and firewalls he likes; he is required by law to secretly bypass all those on command.

This is before the obscure and impenetrable intermingling of state, military and private funding and governance for Chinese companies. The People’s Liberation Army is a major source of funding for enterprise: if you think private equity funding comes with strings in the West, wait until it comes with nuclear missiles and aircraft carriers. Then there’s the disconcerting disappearances of top executives who displease Beijing. All Chinese technology is under the direct control of Chinese state security, and all Chinese technology companies are kept in line by whatever means necessary. Read more...


23 March 2023

Israeli Politicians bid to criminalise speaking about Jesus

Two members of Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset, have introduced a bill that would outlaw telling people about Jesus in the Jewish state, and jail everyone who does.

The authors of the legislation Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher are ultra-Orthodox members. They are important figures inside the 64-seat governing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

If approved, the punishment for having spiritual conversations with Israelis of any religion would be one-year imprisonment if with an adult, but two years if with someone under 18.

David Parsons is senior spokesman and Vice President of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. He told Premier’s News Hour that this is not the first time Gafni has proposed such a ban.

“He's made a habit every year, every time he gets re-elected in the Knesset to introduce a bill like this. And it never goes anywhere.

“He introduced one back when Netanyahu was prime minister for a couple of years in the late 1990s, because a book translated into Hebrew that was preaching the gospel through the book, was mailed to a million Israeli homes, and there was no way to collect them and throw them away. So he was alarmed and Moshe Gafni introduced a bill that actually would have banned the New Testament in Israel and criminalised possession of the New Testament. That bill got shot down.”

Parsons says that although the bill is concerning, it’s unlikely to go anywhere.


Windows 11 Snipping Tool hit by major privacy flaw


We’re all familiar with the Snipping Tool, a handy utility that comes pre-installed on Windows 10 and Windows 11 that can be used to take screenshots and even to screen record.

It’s reported that it has been hit by a major privacy flaw that lets hackers retrieve sensitive data cropped out of screenshots without the user’s knowledge. This flaw is quite similar to aCropalypse, which has recently affected Google Pixel’s screenshot tool.

As it happens, when you are editing a screenshot you’ve taken using the tool and overwrite the original image by saving the newly edited image under the same name as the original file, the Snipping Tool apparently doesn’t get rid of the image’s original information from the file.

While it might not be as obvious to any user, the cropped-out details are still part of the newly edited screenshot as spotted by Chris Blume, a Software engineer on Twitter.

The user’s findings indicate that the Snipping Tool is also vulnerable to aCropalypse, meaning hackers can easily retrieve sensitive content that has been cropped out of an image using the utility.


Another reason not to plug random USB drives into your computer: explosives!

Letter bombs were sent to at least five journalists working in TV and radio stations in violence-plagued Ecuador Monday, one of which exploded without causing serious injury, Interior Minister Juan Zapata said.

The prosecutor's office said it had opened an investigation into the crime of terrorism, without stating why the news stations were specifically targeted, or by whom.

The interior minister said the envelopes were sent from the town of Quimsaloma, in the coastal province of Los Rios. Three were sent to Guayaquil in the southwest and two to the capital Quito.

The "device is indeed the same in all five places," Zapata told reporters.

In the port city of Guayaquil, journalist Lenin Artieda of the Ecuavisa private TV station received an envelope containing a pen drive which exploded when he inserted it into a computer, his employer said.

Artieda sustained slight injuries to one hand and his face, said police official Xavier Chango. No one else was hurt.

Chango said the USB drive sent to Artieda could have been loaded with RDX, a military-type explosive.

Things were bad enough when plugging a USB Flash Drive into your PC could have infected it with malware - but now a bomb! Be careful out there folks.


22 March 2023

IT Support - it's enough to drive you to drink LOL!


Donline delivers professional IT support for small / medium sized businesses, home offices, & home users.

Donline specialises in bringing true enterprise class IT support to those without their own IT department, and in supplementing existing IT teams where additional skills or resources are required.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) - ain't so smart...

Above is an image taken from Google maps showing my local pub: the Harvest Home, Denmead.

Appended to the image - is a question that Google Maps sent me to update their records about this fine establishment. Honestly, what can you say?... Sorta lost for words LOL!

Next questions:
Do bears poop in the woods?
Is the Pope a Catholic?


21 March 2023

Calli has been to the Puppy Parlour again!


Calli last had a visit to the groomers in early Jan & was really in need of a haircut! She's much happier now!

Well done Sammy's perfect pets - see you again soon!


20 March 2023

An alert - about an upcoming alert! Public emergency alerts to be sent to all UK mobile phones

A siren-like alert will be sent to mobile phone users across the UK next month to test a new government public warning system.

It allows the government and emergency services to send urgent messages warning the public of life-threatening situations like flooding or wildfires.

The test is expected to take place in the early evening of 23 April.

Phone users will have to acknowledge the alert before they can use other features on their devices.

A message will appear on the home screens of people's devices during the test, with vibration and a loud warning sound that will ring for about 10 seconds, even if the phone is set to silent.


17 March 2023

The Official DVSA Highway Code - app is now available


The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency has launched a brand-new Highway Code app. It will provide a fun and easy way to stay up to date with all the Highway Code rules to make sure you’re being a better and safer road user.

The app includes:  

Instant access to the very latest version of the Official Highway Code while on the move, on tablets and on mobile devices.

Study cards, quizzes and timed challenge features, that help users check their knowledge of the Highway Code and track their progress.

A voice over option enabling users to listen as well as read.

So wherever you are on the driving or riding journey: starting, learning, improving or advanced training - this app will ensure that the information you need is always with you.

Apple App Store

Google Play Store

15 March 2023

Microsoft's latest layoffs could be the beginning of the end for ‘ethical AI’

The entire ethics and society team responsible for guiding the artificial intelligence organization in product production has been sacked as part of Microsoft’s recent layoffs. This move comes at a time when AI ethics discourse is at an all-time high with the increase in global popularity of bots like ChatGPT and could spell trouble in the very near future. 

Microsoft still has an active ‘Office of Responsible AI’ which is responsible for creating rules and principles to guide AI initiatives, and says there is still a committed investment in ethical development despite a considerable downsizing in staff in the area. 

The ethics and society team was at its highest capacity in 2020, with about 30 employees consisting of engineers, designers, and philosophers. The variation in expertise and skills on the team provides a larger, more varied bank of knowledge to draw from when deciding on the ‘rules’ and principles that will be reflected in future AI products. As part of a reorganization, the team was sliced down to just seven people, who have now been laid off. 


14 March 2023

Tiny data centre used to heat public swimming pool

The heat generated by a washing-machine-sized data centre is being used to heat a Devon public swimming pool. The computers inside the white box are surrounded by oil to capture the heat - enough to heat the pool to about 30C 60% of the time, saving Exmouth Leisure Centre thousands of pounds. The data centre is provided to the council-run centre free of charge.

Start-up Deep Green charges clients to use its computing power for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Founder Mark Bjornsgaard said the company would also refund the leisure centre's electricity costs for running the "digital boiler" - and seven other England pools had signed up to the scheme.

The concept, developed over five years, is relatively straight forward - the hot oil is pumped into a heat exchanger to warm the water in the pool.


08 March 2023

Going grey as the years progress. Not me (this time) but cars & bikes!

A quarter (25.7 per cent) of the new cars bought in the UK last year were grey, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The next most popular colours were equally unexciting: black (20.1 per cent) and white (16.7 per cent). These three colours, along with silver, account for more than 80 per cent of cars sold globally.

Readers of The Telegraph have noticed and have been steadily writing letters since February wondering why – is grey paint cheaper, does it not show dirt, or is it a reflection of our grey moods?

Of course, the raw statistics don’t tell the whole story. Yes, they reflect the mass market trend of the past couple of decades for more neutral colours, but scratch the surface (something you should obviously never do with an actual car’s paintwork) and there’s a lot more going on in the world of automotive colour. ...Read more @ The Telegraph


03 March 2023

ChatGPT - probably ain't the technological "solution" that you've been waiting for


“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” These were the words that introduced most people in my generation to the concept of an AI gone rogue; HAL 9000 in the classic science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, eventually went insane singing the lyrics of Daisy, Daisy as it slowly blinked its ominous red eye before finally shutting down permanently.

To be clear, HAL 9000 is not the only AI ever to go rogue in popular science fiction - literature is littered with such stories, but there was a certain relatability and poignancy in the HAL 9000 scenario as throughout the movie HAL had been not just useful but one could even say friendly, and was as much part of the cast as the real actors. For me, the scene will never be forgotten because of the sense of disbelief that an AI would cause or attempt to cause harm to a human - after all, we had heard of Asimov’s laws of robotics, and assumed AIs would be safe because they would follow those laws.

The problem is, just as HAL 9000 was science fiction, so were Asimov’s works and as such relying on fictional laws in the context of the real world and how robotics and AIs are being developed and deployed, is folly. We cannot assume that real-world models are being trained based on such fictional laws and the reality is, they are not.

Towards the end of 2022, OpenAI opened up its non-intelligent, response-predicting large language model known as ChatGPT to the general public, and it quickly became an internet sensation due to its uncanny ability to mimic human speech and nuance.

However: It not only told everyone I died but tried to fake my obit. Are we ready for this machine-driven future?  Why ChatGPT should be considered a malevolent AI – and be destroyed.

Here's a quote from one of my favourite books - Dune by Frank Herbert


01 March 2023

Utility Warehouse - prepare to save a bundle!

The simplest way to save on your household bills! Bundle your energy, broadband, mobile and insurance into one great value bill - the more services you take, the more you save.

There are many elements that make UW what it is today. So, to find out more [YouTube] our brand ambassador, Ben Fogle, headed up to the UW Woodland with new customer Rachael to help plant her tree.