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New processor to enable ‘net capable appliances

by James Meikle

Semiconductor research and design company Arm Holdings has just released details of its latest innovation: the world’s most energy efficient microprocessor design. They hope that these new chips will lead to a technology revolution and pave the way for a generation of internet enabled appliances from traffic lights to fridges and stethoscopes to light switches.

The new Cortex-M0+ chips (codenamed: flycatcher) are tiny; measuring less than 1mm squared, but still allow 32-bit processing power meaning they could handle much more sophisticated tasks than their predecessor; the Cortex-M0. They also use only two thirds of the power when running processor intensive tasks.

While the power use stats of the chips when in use are impressive, it’s another feature which should allow the chips to run off a small battery for years. The chips have been designed with a small piece of logic which controls how they access flash memory, meaning significant power savings through only accessing flash when they need to. The other main efficiency feature is that while in sleep mode they draw virtually no power.

Oh, and by the way, they will cost about 20 cents to manufacture.

When it comes to enabling a plethora of different devices to connect to the net all this lovely efficiency, processing ability and cheapness should open many hitherto closed doors. It’s very likely that you’re soon going to see loads of random devices connecting to the net, but is this necessarily a good thing?

If you’ve read many of my posts you may have noticed that I get a little worried about the prospect of AI and robots turning on humanity and attempting to wipe us out. So when I got to thinking about the prospect of damned near all the electrical appliances I have connecting to the net, I was not a happy tinfoil-hat-wearing bunny. Basically it raises the prospect of an advanced form of artificial intelligence (i.e. Skynet) conspiring to kill you through the use of seemingly innocuous devices. Here are just a few of the scenarios that were running through my addled mind:

Traffic lights, all green = major carnage.
You’ve got a potentially life threatening illness which could be easily remedied if treated early, but the bloody stethoscope tells the doctor you’re tickety-boo.
Your fridge just keeps ordering chocolate ice-cream online, then when you’re so fat you can barely walk your mobility scooter drives you off a cliff.
This may seem like nonsense to you at the moment and you can laugh all you want, just don’t come crying to me when you’re butt-naked being chased around the house by your robot vacuum cleaner.

Can you imagine any scenarios where seemingly innocuous internet connected appliances could try to kill you? If so, we’d really like you to warn us in the comments section.

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The Technology That Will Transform Our Bodies

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How to identify phishing emails

by Igor Termenon

Phishing emails have become popular during the past few years. The term phishing is used for defining a type of crime based on email messages that are designed to steal your identity. These messages claim to be from a company you trust, most of them say they come from organisations like eBay, PayPal or the most common banks.

These emails have often the same aspect as the ones you receive, for example, from your real bank. The criminals use the same logos, colours and design so these messages look like a legitimate email marketing message. They ask for personal and financial data that can be later used to either withdraw money from your accounts or to commit identity theft.

We’ve prepared these tips to help you identify phishing emails and deal with them.

What does a phishing email message look like?

On the surface the sender address usually looks like an email address coming from a real institution and most of the times it even has the same domain, but don’t be fooled! Criminals know how to fake the addresses in order to make them look completely legitimate.

In most phishing emails the recipient address won’t correspond to your address, this is a great way of knowing if the message you have received is fake. Most organisations send their messages individually to their clients, so if you receive an email that contains multiple recipients then it might not be real.

The subject of the message can be a clear indicator of its legitimacy. Most phishing emails include words like “warning”, “urgent” or “important” on their subject. The person who the email is addressed to can also be a good way of knowing if a message is real. Your bank will use your name when addressing you, and not “Dear Customer”.

Bank Safe Online have an updated phishing email database on their site with a list of banks and the most common scam emails for each of them.

What are the most popular messages?

These are some of the most common topics in phishing emails:

“Verify your account”: A company won’t ever ask you to send your personal information or account details via email. If you need to change your password or update your information you can do it on their site. Never share any personal information in an email. Your bank will never, EVER, ask you disclose your password and account info to ANYONE – even their staff. This should be an immediate indicator that the email is a fake.
“If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed”: Social networks or email servers won’t close your account for no reason, this is one of the most popular phishing emails.
“You have won the lottery”/”My client left you £4,567,890 in his will”: We honestly wish these emails were true but all these messages offering you money in exchange of your personal data are unfortunately fake.
There are so many different types of email scams and most of them are quite funny and might make you wonder who can actually believe they are true. Scamorama collects some of the most hilarious phishing emails around the web.

What happens if I click on the email link?

If you click on the link contained in the email you will be redirected to a fake site that looks really similar to the one from your institution. The addresses of websites from financial institutions or any kind of site in which you are required do a payment or provide personal information start with https instead of http, although most criminals nowadays can also fake their addresses so they look like a secure connection.

These websites will ask you for personal information such as your card PIN or passwords, your bank will never ask for this kind of information so keep it in mind in case you’re redirected to a site requiring this type of data.

If you’ve entered your details, first thing you need to do is contact your bank or organisation immediately and ask them to freeze your account until they can investigate if there have been any fraudulent transactions.

This game by Scam Detectives is a good way of training you on scam emails, you have to decide whether the shown messages are real or fake and then click on the option you think is correct. Once you have made your decision it shows you the real answer and some tips to identify scammers.

Have you been a victim of email scam? What’s your advice for detecting phishing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Le web to be available in the Channel Tunnel before Olympics open

by Rose Adams

Passengers on the Eurostar are set to enjoy a seamless internet browsing experience thanks to a deal between Eurotunnel and French telecom operators to install 2G and 3G networks.

To begin with, only travellers coming from France into Britain will be able to use the service. Operators Bouygues Telecom, Orange SFR and Free have agreed a deal with the French government and Eurotunnel for the €14 Million installation, which should be completed before the London Olympic Games.

Those taking the London to Paris, or London to Amsterdam trains will not be equipped for internet browsing until after the summer, so passengers leaving the UK will still have a break in their connectivity as they pass through the tunnel.

Some people like to have a break from the internet whilst travelling, they like to get away from emails, Facebook, etc. for a time so for those people, this might not be so popular. However, as we continue to rely on being connected to the internet more and more, business travellers in particular will no doubt appreciate an uninterrupted wifi service.

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The broadband phenomenon

by Lisa Brigham

Every now and again there is an invention or movement that catches on and stays well on top of ever changing trends for longer than its contemporaries. Looking back I remember logging on to my first PC and spending well over an a month just marveling at simple interactive software like paint programs and virtual card games.

Years later and I am finally giving up my capped, slow and musty account and giving into the pressure of having a ‘super fast Internet connection’. I’m looking to purchase my very own broadband connection and that familiar sensation from using a computer for the first time all those years ago comes rushing back; but why?

Giving way to this phenomenon that people ‘just cant live without’, I’m looking at broadband. The reasons for it’s popularity and the areas within everyday life it has changed dramatically…

Where did broadband come from and what is it?

Broadband is a form of Internet connection which differs to other forms of connections by possessing high bandwidth capability. This means that information can be sent much quicker to and from your computer’s modem; meaning the ‘load’ button you see when you open up a new page on line won’t be there that long, probably not even long enough for you to realize it’s loading.

According to ask.com, the demand for a new form of Internet connection, now known as broadband, was in demand long before it emerged at the start of the new millennium:

“When the Internet first came out, the dial- up modems linked to personal telephones were utilized to obtain Internet access.The Internet access through dial-ups was very slow. It was really in the 90′s that Internet use actually took off. And as technology become more modern and advanced, the broadband Internet was developed and has gained popularity. Then, it became the most preferred way of accessing the Internet. “

If you want to better understand the difference between broadband and dial up, watch the video below for a great explanation.

Why is broadband so popular?

Broadband has introduced an evolved web experience and we now have super fast connections that allows us to do anything we want on line without having to wait a moment for the thoughts to go from our heads to our keyboards and into ‘the matrix’.

The reason for it’s popularity is the range it gives a web user to consume information, most identifiable in two areas:

Cost effectiveness: Getting a phone and broadband package is cheaper than you may think and one of the reasons for it’s popularity. Packages like this normally mean you know exactly how much you’re spending as opposed to limited speed and capacity of previous connections that prevent you getting your money’s worth. You can also make ‘old fashion phone calls’ at special rates while exploring the web at the same time.
Time and capacity: you can now do a variety of things all at once, depending how fast you can keep up with the speed of your connection and work between tabs on your Internet browser. This connection has gained popularity because it makes people more productive with their time, allowing them to balance work with personal life. You can now make on line payments instead of spending time standing in line in the bank and you can send custom found birthday gifts from shopping websites with great deals on hand, rather than waste a morning away blindly crawling through the local mall for the ultimate gift.

How as broadband changed every day life?

Love: According to a recent study, more single people are looking to find love on line than ever before. Broadband allows you to stay on line all day, checking back to see your messages on on line dating sites and have a cheeky snoop around a few profiles you are VERY interested in.

People now have to be warier about how they date and here are a few common tips that people are now following to ensure they quick date isn’t a terrible one.

If you venture on to on line dating then perhaps you should follow these tips from Love, by broadband:

Before you start online dating, make sure your computer is secure and you’ve picked strong passwords – please don’t use your birthday, a pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name or any passwords you’ve used to protect your online banking, shopping or email accounts.
Don’t give out your personal details too quickly. While you’re building up trust, don’t give out your telephone number, mobile number, address, instant messenger or Facebook details, as con-men could use these to steal your identity or even to find and burgle your home.
Be wary of clicking on URLs that potential dates might send you – fraudsters sometimes use fake URLs to phish for data which they can then use for identity fraud.
Work: More than any other arenas, the main sections of business that have been affected by brandband is undoubtedly expansion and Human Resourcing Departments:

“Businesses need broadband to compete on a global level, and seek out high speed broadband access when choosing to grow their business. When it comes to finding jobs, or applying for jobs, broadband Internet access is essential. The FCC recently estimated that 80% of Fortune 500 companies only advertised for positions on line. High speed access accelerates business development, and provides new opportunities for innovation, expansion, and e-commerce.” About.com

Lifestyle: In terms of lifestyle changes brought about by broadband, the extreme shortening of distance and time have changed dramatically given the way high speed Internet can assist us in communicating at any time, in virtually any setting. This has allowed us to:

Have high definition, virtual face-to-face conversations with our friends over IM free call software programs from all the way across the world
Shop for groceries on line before we go to sleep and have them delivered to our door within 24 hours
Communicate over a variety of social networking sites while having consistent access to the latest news and information making us more up to date than ever
When I get my broadband connection it’s now going to be that much sweeter knowing why it’s so talked about. The broadband phenomenon is quite justified given the reasons for its popularity and way it’s changed our everyday lives. Tell us how you use your broadband or how it’s changed your everyday lifestyle in the comment box below!

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Research In Motion co-CEO’s resign

by Mhairi Steele

Blackberry maker Research In Motion’s co- CEO’s have announced they will BOTH be stepping down in an attempt to re-think the companies strategy.

Following growing speculation of a company shake-up, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are resigning. They will be replaced by former Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins.

Heins is a former Siemens executive who joined the company in 2007 and has been coming up through the ranks ever since he started.

The company has been struggling in a difficult market and was in need of a change. Mike Lazaridis, founder of RIM, has said:

“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim [Balsillie] and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now.”

The news comes following a very poor 2011 with massive outages and blunders throughout the year such as announcing the new name for their combined OS, only to learn they didn’t actually own the rights to the name.

Billions of dollars have been wiped from its’ market value and shares have crashed 75% over the past year as the company struggles to compete with Apple, Samsung and Google.

Commenting on the change of the companies leadership, Ed Snyder, Charter Equity analyst, said:

“It’s the first positive thing that they have done in months”

Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984 will now become vice chairman while Balsillie will sit on the board but not have an operational role. Hopefully this marks the start of Blackberry’s come-back.

What do you think of the announcement? Too little, too late? Let us know in the comment section below…

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Getting to grips with networks

by Lisa Brigham

Networks are something we make use of every day but very few people know exactly how they work or how they can be used for personal or business use. Today I’m peeling back the layers and helping you get to grips with networks…

Networks

Watch this video below to help you understand networks and how they function along with various elements and operating systems and how they contribute to a network. Given the fact that most people are setting up their own networks to run home businesses now, effective network management is a must.

Understanding networks

Networks are made up of various components that can change the way a network functions or which can be customized for a certain set of needs. This flip book below will cover:

What are networks?
What type of networks are there?
What characterizes one network from another?
How are networks used?
What components are needed for a network?

If you have any more questions about networks let us know! Or tell us: how do you use your network if you have one?

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How to keep your online bank account secure

by Igor Termenon

Although your bank has an obligation to safeguard all your personal financial details, there are constant security threats that can affect your bank account. Online banking is convenient and can save a lot of time in your transactions, on the other hand, illegal access to bank accounts is one of the fastest growing crimes nowadays. As a costumer, most of the responsibility for keeping your account safe relies on you, so take a look at this little guide and discover how you can protect yourself from online banking fraud.

1.Log in to your account on a regular basis

Make sure you check your account at least once a week, even if you haven’t made any transaction. Go through all the information in the last few days and check that everything is correct, if you see that there’s a discrepancy in your balance then contact your bank immediately.

2.Use your own computer

Avoid using public computers to access your bank account. Public computers may contain software as keystroke loggers which can monitor what you’re typing on the keyboard. If you use another computer then make sure you delete the temporary internet files and clear all your browsing history.

3.Protect all your password information

Do not store your passwords or PINs on your computer, if you have problems remembering them write them down on a piece of paper and keep them somewhere safe. Remember not to share this information at any time and to change PINs and passwords at least every three months.

Never save this information on your internet browser, even if you are using your own computer. When you finish checking your online private banking account, make sure you click on the ‘log out’ button to terminate your session.

4.Maintain your computer’s security

Make sure you have an updated security software installed on your computer. Anti-virus, anti-spam and spyware software are essential for those who engage in online financial transactions.

5.Check for secure connections

Never access your account through an emailed link or a link outside the bank’s site. Most internet users receive phishing e-mails that look like they come from their bank, these e-mails require the recipient to log in through a link in order to acquire information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details.

Always access your account through your bank’s site and make sure that the page your visiting starts with ‘https’, the ‘s’ means that the URL is on a secure server.

Just remember to follow these tips and stay informed about new improvements on financial fraud security. New threats are emerging every day, so if you see something suspicious while using your online bank account then make sure you contact your bank and tell them about it.

Have you been victim of an online financial fraud? Do you want to share your tips on online security? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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SOPA – What’s the big deal?!

by Emma Dunn

So I comes into work this morning, and I find a strange thing has happened to the internet. Some of my favourite sites, like Reddit and Wikipedia, have gone down. But this isn’t a technical glitch – this is a form of protest that we have never seen before online. It turns out that the people behind these sites are protesting about American bills SOPA and PIPA.

Now these bits of legislation had been drifting at the edges of my radar for a while, but because it was an American issue, I never really paid them much attention. But Wikipedia and Reddit have decided to shut down their entire English-speaking operation. So now I can’t do my ill-informed homework or waste my afternoon away reading rage comics?! Now I’m really mad!

For those who don’t know, the Stop Internet Piracy Act (or SOPA for short) is a US bill designed to stop online copyright infringement.

‘So what’s wrong with that?!’ I hear you cry – well, nothing. The problem is that the bill has a lot of ‘rough edges’ that will cause a lot of collateral damage to innocent websites.

Take sites which are based on user contributions, for example. I’m talking anywhere that users can post content, images, videos or whatever (think Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, WordPress, or another gazillion sites all over the internet). Now, all it would take is for one user to post a copyrighted image on the site, and US officials would be granted the power to direct internet traffic away: in effect, censoring the site.

The bill would put a huge amount of pressure on sites to ‘police’ user generated content, and if they don’t do this properly, the punishment would be severe. As a result, people will be more apprehensive about creating new sites and startups will become more and more uncommon.

And don’t even talk to me about the scary Orwellian-type free speech censorship it could facilitate.

Even though I am not a US citizen, I still feel like the issue affects me because US traffic, although I hate to admit it, dominates a sizable part of the online community. So anything that affects them will probably have a knock-on effect on us.

So the internet has spoken. SOPA = Bad. Read up, educate yourself and if you can, take action. Here are some decent places to start:

http://www.reddit.com/r/sopa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

http://americancensorship.org/infographic.html

And notable mention has to go to:

http://theoatmeal.com/sopa

Do you think that SOPA will affect you? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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What’s making tech waves in 2012

by Katelyn Chisholm

The Consumer Electronics Show was held last week, giving consumers a sneak peek into the trending technology that will grace shelves in 2012. Attendees say they weren’t particularly surprised by the products on the show floor, though the popular vote is that the conference was still bustling with exciting updates of your favourite gadgets, smartphones and operating systems.

Gadgets

Laptops/Tablets

Ultrabooks
It seems that in 2012, “ultrabooks” will be the new laptops. The slim, light weight notebooks are set to be replacing common laptop designs over the next few years. While the Macbook Air is a strong example, competitors are releasing newer models and have managed to keep the weight down while still finding space for a DVD player.

iPad 3
Apple is adding the iPad 3 to their ever-growing list of tech updates and gadgets. The new iPad will have higher resolution and a lighter weight along with added features and an updated operating system. The new lighter weight battery will last longer, but will be a pricier replacement if the need should arise.

Windows 8
Microsoft’s Windows 8 is designed to be an operating system that is compatible with both regular PCs as well as touch-screen technology. Boasting faster speeds, more user-friendly interfaces and easy navigation, Windows 8 is touted as Windows’ best version yet. Granted, the speed of the online interface will rely on the availability of a good broadband connection. Regardless, Windows 8 offers another year of decent competition for Apple’s popular Mac operating systems.

Smartphones

iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 will finally grace consumers worldwide in 2012. After the disappointed reception to the iPhone 4S release, Apple lovers are waiting diligently for the latest iPhone update. Apple reps are tight-lipped about the specs of the iPhone 5, but rumours about a 4-inch screen and waterproof hardware have been swirling technology circles as of late.

Samsung Galaxy S3
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is rumoured to join in the waterproof trend, also offering higher resolution and updated features. The smart phone also comes with a higher-powered camera and runs Android 4.0 which is heavily debated to be as good as –some even say better than- the iPhone’s mobile technology.

Gaming

Consoles

Wii U
The updated Nintendo Wii console, which uses a similar remote control technology, is now something of a Wii-iPad mix. The new remote boasts a built-in touch screen, giving users a new dimension in gaming. The new remote allows users to play strategy games on the TV screen and access inventory from the remote, easily transfer images from remote to TV screen, or play with the remote Wii without the TV screen at all. This new addition gives the Wii the versatility it lacked in comparison to the release of the Xbox Kinect.

PSP Vita
This latest handheld console released by Sony’s Playstation offers new features in a culture that argues the relevance of dedicated handheld systems may be fading. The PSP Vita tackles those concerns by adding features to enhance your gaming experience in a way a smart phone won’t. It boasts a 5 inch screen and a touch-sensitive touch pad on the reverse, adding another dimension of signals from your fingertips to the movements on screen.

Games

Some of the most highly anticipated games surfacing in 2012 are extensions or sequels to existing series. Game designers and producers have worked tirelessly edition after edition adding quality, contexts and conceptual layers to these games, and the more they build over time the more we want to play.

Halo 4
Halo 4 is among hundreds of games being released in 2012 but is touted to be among the top 5 most anticipated releases. The franchise’s latest addition is the first in a new trilogy of Halo games, paving the way for more highly anticipated releases over the next few years.

There were hundreds of gadgets showcased at CES; check out Wired’s list of favourites. With The Next Web conference in April and E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) following closely in June, we’re bound to see more releases pop up over 2012 and more in-depth reviews of current releases.

Which piece of technology are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below.