17 May 2024

Cops developing Ghostbusters-esque weapon to take out e-bike thugs


British police officers are setting their phasers to stun in response to an explosion in scooter and electric bike-based crime.

In the wretched hives of scum and villainy that are the UK's large towns and cities, petty crooks are increasingly upgrading to the nimble vehicles to better snatch phones or other belongings from the hands of oblivious innocents.

It's legal to ride an e-bike without a license in the UK if it's pedal assisted, has a maximum power output of 250 watts, and is capped at 15.5 mph (25 kph). It's this very silence and speed that makes them the getaway of choice for robberies. The problem is now so prevalent that London's Metropolitan Police has issued guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Likewise, e-scooters have been involved in 20,000 crimes over the past three years. Unlike e-bikes, though, privately owned vehicles are illegal to ride on public highways and byways – a fact seemingly lost on the parents who zip their kids to school on them. Nevertheless, there are some 750,000 in sheds and garages around the UK.

So how does the plod intend to combat this growing menace? We find it hard to imagine that even London's finest could reach and maintain sprinting speeds in excess of 15.5 mph.

According to The Guardian, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) is working with the government's Defence Science and Technology Lab (Dstl) to develop a weapon of sorts that would disable the vehicles with electromagnetic pulses.

To deploy another hackneyed '80s movie reference, the device is being likened to the backpacks worn by the Ghostbusters.

NPCC chair Gavin Stephens told media: "Basically, it interferes with the electric motor, to trick the electric motor into thinking it is overheating. It sends a signal to confuse the electric motor. All these electric motors apparently have an inbuilt safety system that if it thinks it's overheating, it shuts down. At the minute, it's like a ginormous backpack."


15 May 2024

Christian Aid Week 2024

Aline felt the full force of extreme poverty when an early marriage ended in abuse and violence. Separated from her six children, she was forced to sleep on the streets of Burundi. With no home, healthcare or security, Aline was pushed to the brink of survival. But Aline transformed her life with a little help from Christian Aid and partners.

Aline was able to nurture a small income that in time enabled her to buy and grow nutritious food, build a home to call her own, and return her children to her side. Aline was determined to push back against the inhumanity of poverty, driven by hope, faith and the love of her children.

Together we can make this the best Christian Aid Week ever and work towards a world where families can escape the trap of poverty and fulfil their ambitions.

Please donate this Christian Aid Week, thank you


13 May 2024

Sales of new petrol-fuelled motorcycles to end by 2040 under proposed green crackdown

The sale of new petrol-fuelled motorcycles is set to be banned from 2040, under plans due to be announced by ministers as part of the Government’s net zero crackdown. 

The move would affect all vehicles classed as “L3” and upwards, including scooters and light, medium and higher-powered motorcycles. There are around 1.3 million motorcycles registered in the UK.

It is expected to be revealed soon, according to industry sources, although it is not clear whether Downing Street has signed off on the policy yet.

The change would also be accompanied by a plan to ban sales of new petrol-fuelled mopeds earlier, from 2030.

That reflects the already-high numbers of electric mopeds being sold. They accounted for roughly half of UK moped registrations last year.

By contrast, the market for electric motorcycles is far less developed and represented less than 2pc of total sales in 2023. 

They also suffer from some of the same “range anxiety” issues as electric cars, with many e-motorcycles currently limited to ranges of less than 100 miles while not all are compatible by default with electric car charging stations


10 May 2024

Over 1,200 battery fires in bin lorries and waste sites across the UK in last year

A new “Stop Battery Fires campaign” from Recycle Your Electricals and the National Fire Chiefs Council is raising awareness of the importance of electricals and battery recycling as new research shows lithium-ion batteries thrown in household rubbish bins have led to over 1,200 fires in the waste system in the last 12 months, compared to 700 in 2022. A survey of local authorities across the UK has also found that 94% of them said that fires caused by batteries in the waste stream were an increasing challenge.  

  • Battery fires in bin lorries and at waste sites in the UK have reached an all time high – over 1,200 in the last year, an increase of 71% from 700 in 2022
  • 1.6bn batteries were thrown away in the last year, over 3,000 a minute – including over 1.1bn electricals containing hidden lithium-ion batteries
  • National Fire Chiefs Council says “fires involving lithium-ion batteries are a disaster waiting to happen”
  • Battery fires cause air pollution levels to spike in local areas, breaking WHO limits, affecting the health of local communities
  • Cost impact of battery waste fires could also be significant – Zurich UK has seen some insurance claims range up to £20 million 

With the steep rise in the number of portable electrical items containing lithium-ion batteries comes significant fire risk if they are binned instead of being recycled. With billions of electrical items now containing lithium-ion batteries, Phil Clark from the National Fire Chiefs Council said that: “Fires involving the incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries are a disaster waiting to happen. Fire services are seeing an increasing number of incidents, but they are preventable by correctly and carefully disposing of electricals.”

Lithium-ion batteries are hidden inside many everyday household electricals, from laptops, mobile phones and tablets, to electric toothbrushes, vapes and earpods. These batteries can become crushed or damaged in bin lorries or waste sites if they aren’t recycled and can lead to fires at waste centres and in bin lorries across the UK. When crushed or damaged lIthium-ion batteries can be dangerous to the public, waste operators and firefighters as they cause fires that are especially challenging to tackle. They can lead to explosions and chemical exposure, but they create their own oxygen, which means they can keep reigniting, prolonging incidents with smoke and fumes affecting neighbouring areas and communities for long periods of time of up to a week.


09 May 2024

Dell discloses data breach of customers’ physical addresses

Technology giant Dell notified customers on Thursday that it experienced a data breach involving customers’ names and physical addresses.

In an email seen by TechCrunch and shared by several people on social media, the computer maker wrote that it was investigating “an incident involving a Dell portal, which contains a database with limited types of customer information related to purchases from Dell.”

Dell wrote that the information accessed in the breach included customer names, physical addresses and “Dell hardware and order information, including service tag, item description, date of order and related warranty information.” Dell did not say if the incident was caused by malicious outsiders or inadvertent error.

The breached data did not include email addresses, telephone numbers, financial or payment information, or “any highly sensitive customer information,” according to the company. 

The company downplayed the impact of the breach in the message.

“We believe there is not a significant risk to our customers given the type of information involved,” Dell wrote in the email.

When TechCrunch reached out to Dell for comment, asking specific questions such as how many customers were impacted, how the breach occurred and why the company considers that a breach of physical addresses does not pose “a significant risk” to customers, the company responded with a boilerplate version of the email it sent to affected customers. 


07 May 2024

Bennetts British Superbikes at Oulton Park 4th-6th May 2024


Well that was fun! 

Day 1 Mike & I set off riding from my place early on Saturday, and arrived about 11am @ Oulton Park, what a great circuit! The 1st day was practice & qualifying. Weather was overcast, cool, no rain :0). We stayed for the weekend with a pal (thanks Byron!) who lives in Runcorn (very nice) about 30mins ride from the circuit. We went out for a great meal at Ego Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar, Stockton Heath.

Day 2 was qualifying & racing. Weather was sunny & warm. Lots more folks this day. This was when we got our goodies - a Safety Car lap (really fast - brilliant!), a Pitlane tour, and access to the viewing platform. We rounded off the day with a few beers, nosh up & pub quiz at The Stag at Walton :0).

Day 3 was the big day! Serious racing and a huge turnout. Overcast again but no rain while we were there - not bad for a Bank Holiday, eh? We left early afternoon to beat the rush / bank holiday traffic. Rained during the second half of the trip but our Scott rain gear did it's job, and kept us dry.

Each day the local Lions were running a "helmet & leather" (and luggage etc!) secure storage area - which was a real blessing as lumping all that stuff around for three days would have been grim!

Mahoosive thanks Bennetts - a truly excellent compo win & superb weekend! We usually go to Thruxton BSB each year, first year at Oulton Park - excellent venue but a bit of a trek from Denmead! Motorcycle racing - what a fantastic sport! These riders are sporting heroes & truly straddle the line between genius & crazy. May God Bless & protect 'em all x

The photos from our our trip are here - enjoy!


03 May 2024

Dogs Trust: Is your dog trying to tell you something? Take part in the National Dog Survey


Help us support dogs and their owners through the cost of living crisis. Take 10 minutes to fill in the National Dog Survey and let us know how your dog is doing.  

By taking part, you're helping form a picture of dog ownership across the UK, and of what support is needed keep dog-human relationships healthy and fulfilled. 

From the pandemic to the rising cost of living, the past few years have been a difficult for all of us, including our dogs. By taking part you're helping us to do all we can to support the nation's pooches and their owners. 

It only takes 15 minutes! Last year, 244,478 incredible dog lovers took part, telling us about 348,533 dogs. Will you help us make this National Dog Survey even bigger? 

Keep an eye out for the results! We’ll let you know what we found out about the nation’s dogs, including the most popular breeds and names, and insights into the issues that matter most to their humans. 

The more people tell us about their best friends the more we can tailor our work to ensure we're making the biggest impact to dogs and their owners. So, next time you’re on your walkies, tell everyone about the National Dog Survey!  


02 May 2024

Microsoft says April Windows updates break VPN connections

Microsoft has confirmed that the April 2024 Windows security updates break VPN connections across client and server platforms.

The company explains on the Windows health dashboard that "Windows devices might face VPN connection failures after installing the April 2024 security update or the April 2024 non-security preview update."

"We are investigating user reports, and we will provide more information in the coming days," Redmond added.

The list of affected Windows versions includes Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2008 and later.


Oh dear: Windows 11 loses market share, Win 10 on the up!


Last month, Statcounter reported a notable decrease in Windows 11's market share, and the trend continued in April 2024. After reaching its all-time high of 28.16% in February 2024, Windows 11 plummeted below the 26% mark.

According to Statcounter, in April 2024, Windows 11 lost 0.97 points, going down from 26.68% to 25.65%. All those users seemingly went for Windows 10 since the OS, which will soon turn nine, crossed the 70% mark for the first time since September 2023, gaining 0.96 points.

It is interesting to see Windows 11 losing quite a significant chunk of users in the middle of its cycle. Even Windows 8 and 8.1, universally considered not great versions of Windows, only went down after the release of their successors. True, Statcounter is not 100% accurate in its estimates, but an almost 3-point decline for a product with over 1 billion devices is too big to dismiss.

Some argue that Windows 11 still offers little to no benefits for upgrading, especially in light of Microsoft killing some of the system's unique features, such as Windows Subsystem for Android. Add to that the ever-increasing number of ads, some of which are quite shameless, and you get an operating system that has a hard time winning hearts and minds and retaining its customers.


01 May 2024

Bacterial enzyme strips away blood types to create universal donor blood


Using enzymes produced by a bacteria that almost everyone has in their gut, researchers have removed the antigens from red blood cells that determine blood type, putting us within reach of producing universal donor blood.

There’s a global shortage of blood supplies needed for life-saving transfusions due to factors that include an aging population with a higher demand for it and a lack of volunteer donors. However, even if there was an ample blood supply, it’s not as simple as just giving blood when it’s needed.

Each blood group (A, B, or AB) or type is identified by the presence of A and B antigens attached to sugar (oligosaccharide) chains on the surface of red blood cells. Blood cells in group O carry no antigens. When a blood transfusion is given, the donor and recipient's blood groups need to match. Otherwise, the immune system will attack and destroy the donated blood cells, causing a potentially fatal reaction.

Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Lund University, Sweden, have used enzymes produced by a common gut bacteria to remove the A and B antigens from red blood cells, bringing them one step closer to creating universal donor blood.

“For the first time, the new enzyme cocktails not only remove the well-described A and B antigens, but also extended variants previously not recognized as problematic for transfusion safety,” said Maher Abou Hachem, co-corresponding author of the study and scientist at DTU’s Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine.