3 More Future-Tech Newsbites

It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for some of the big tech giants of the internet.

Still, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the most important news stories will be less publicised than, say, Kanye’s new trainers…

I always like to keep at least one (but preferably two) beady eyes on global tech news, so I’m ahead of the trend when World War III begins. I’ve got a survivalist bunker under my house and I’m determined to use it before 2025!

This week in the news – Uber massively screws over the world [again]; a new sleek, terrifying invention is unveiled and Google is watching you [if you know someone who owns a Pixel]:

You know Uber right? That super-friendly ride-app that pays it’s ’employees’ super fairly? Yeah – them: the California based company that rakes in over 6.5bn dollars last year but still operates at a loss in order to expand like a cancer across the face of the Earth.

Sorry – I think I temporarily lost control of my objectivity.

Anyway, those guys, fresh from their sexism controversies have rushed headlong into another – the defining difference being that this controversy is guaranteed to piss off pretty much every Uber user in the world. It was revealed earlier this month that Uber had concealed a data hack which affected 57 million customers (and drivers) all across the world. The breach in security is one thing, but the hiding of the hack is another altogether.

From a user’s point of view this is a clear sign to stay well clear from an app that is not safe or secure to use. Despite the handiness of Uber, I know I’m going to be avoiding it for as long as possible and simply calling a cab instead.

In other news – Google Lens is coming, effectively turning every Pixel and Pixel 2 into a walking eye for the bots to learn with.

Well – that’s probably exaggerating a little bit – still, the tech powerhouse is promising that it’s Lens tool, originally introduced as an update to the Photos function in the Pixel and Pixel 2, will be rolled out as a baked in feature of the Google Assistant.

Lens allows users to use the cameras in their Google phones to analyse and save information about  real-world objects in real-time. The applications of this kind of tech are endless: you can scan written addresses into Google Maps, get more information about landmark or even learn about books by scanning their covers .

At the moment, Lens is still in learning-phase, however the more objects it scans and learns about, with the help of its users, the more it will be able to recognise: not scary or portentous at all…

Loot Crates Under Attack Once More

There’s been a growing furore over the use (or misuse) of Loot Crates in video games, most notably after the release of EA’s hotly anticipated sequel, Battlefront II.

The argument that some politicians are making around the world is that the Loot Crate system used in this game and a few others, is essentially gambling and should not be made available to children. EA’s new game is based on the Star Wars franchise, a property that appeals today to as many children as it does adults, if not more.

Whilst both the UK’s Gambling Commission and the US lawmakers have stated that loot crates do not constitute gambling (based on the grounds that the player does not win any ‘real’ property) many others have argued that the introduction of in-game reward systems is normalising gambling habits and taking advantage of young players, who might seek an in-game benefit by endlessly spinning an arbitrary roulette wheel at the cost of themselves or their parents.

Too Much Tech!

We’ve all seen the hoarders on TV.

A few years back there was a freak show epidemic on Channel 4.

Sympathetically told stories of good people who’ve are stuck with terrible conditions: the man with no skin, the woman with a second head that hates her – you get the picture. Amongst the litany of unlucky individuals there were the hoarders.

From the outside there were relatively normal people. A little rough round the edges or perhaps a touch edgy, but not really that strange – until you step inside their homes. The middle class presenter of the show tip toes into the apartment of the poor individual and then spends the next hour of the program attempting to hide their shocked sensibilities.

Cardboard boxes, stuffed and stacked to the ceiling, threaten to crush the camera crew whilst the occupant crawls through make-shift tunnel systems, underneath the detritus of his life that he’s accumulated over the years, unwittingly building the mountain of tat, that now threatens to become his mausoleum.

As the dirty, dishevelled individual talks in front of the camera – trying to explain how the breakdown of his marriage and loss of custody of his kids really have nothing to do with the hundreds of children’s toys and women’s dresses, that have built the foundation of his crummy fortress of solitude, he starts to cry. Within an hour of well edited television, he confronts his problems, gets a professional organiser and declutterer over and the place is spick and span: happy endings all round!

kitchen-appliances

I recently had a team of professionals around to sort out the sorry state that is my house.

I’ve not had a bad year, I’m yet to be divorced by my non-existent wife, or separated from my fictional children – I just love buying stuff.

It’s simply really. Once you get to a certain age, and if you’re fortunate enough to own a home (or be on the way to paying one off) then you’ll find that you have a bit of expendable income on your hands. Now, for a man who’s spent a large portion of his life as a penniless student, the notion of being able to just spend cash with no thought of the consequences was like walking into a dream.

Suddenly all the useless middle-class gadgets, that I’d watched my friends buy over the years, were within my reach. A walk through John Lewis was no longer a useless trek through a swamp of consumer electronics that were out of my reach. Every item was within my price range and no item was too outrageous. Of course there was no way that I was going to use all of them – who was I kidding?

bread-maker

Bread makers are fun to have, but they’re also really big.

Storing them in your kitchen, when you’re not using them is just a waste of space – so it goes into the garage. Although you might have loved Great British Bake Off when it was on, it turns out that your lust for baking mysteriously disappeared after the season finale – that can slot in next to the juicer, smoother and espresso machine.

If you were feeling even slightly entrepreneurial, you could open your own cafe – but you don’t, you stack one piece of expensive tech onto another – until the only option is to call in a professional to sort out the mess.

OK, so maybe I wasn’t crawling through tunnels built of my own sadness. However, I was a little sad to see the ice-cream maker go – I was looking forward to using that.

Gearing up for IOT World Forum 2016 in London!

It’s conference time and I need a new car!

internet-of-things

Around 15 years or so ago, when the web design game was still in it’s infancy, conferences and conventions were thin on the ground. Mostly attended by small time companies and amateur developers – these little gatherings were held in sad little conference centres and roadside hotels. Now that technology companies have become the dominating force behind every major corporation, our conferences have stepped up somewhat in stature. 

I like to attend at least one or two conventions a year and, thankfully, there’s now a huge wealth of options to go to within and outside of the UK. This year, I thought I’d mix it up somewhat and head into the capital for something a little more left field.

What is the Internet of Things?

Although it may seem like one of those things that has just crept into existence, The Internet of Things (or IoT) has actually be knocking around for a good deal of time. It’s a general term given to the concept of physical items sharing data via computer network. Although it might seem a little early to be discussing the idea of your fridge talking to your phone – consider that the first ‘smart’ toaster was revealed at a tech-conference back in the late 80s.

smart-fridge

In today’s world the IoT is covering everything from consumer electronics to home heating – however the concept does have larger, grander ideals. Imagine automated refuse services or crops of fields that tell the farmer when they should be harvested. We’ve only just glimpsed the exciting future of the Internet of Things – that’s why I’m heading to the World Forum this November, to get ahead of the game, and see if a ‘smart’ kettle is really the answer to my problems.

Who’s Going To Be There?

IBM, Huawei and AT&T are just a handful of the big players who are making their way to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel for the Forum this year. Unlike the smaller developers conferences that I attend around Europe, these bigger conventions can often come off more like show-boating than anything else. However, at nearly £800 per ticket (the prices rise to the astronomical cost of £1395 if you buy a few weeks later) I’m expecting to be sufficiently dazzled by the technology and speakers on display.

mo-nasser

Amongst the telecommunications veterans such as Emmanuel Routier (Vice President of Machine2Machine for Orange) and Deon Newman (Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Wastson Internet of Things) – I’m most looking forward to seeing Mo Nasser, General Manager of Sprint. An innovator in Wireless Communications, he’s well known for his lively stage presentations and tantalising insights into future technologies.

My ticket’s booked – but there’s one thing missing…

I’ve been in this game a while now and, as much as I don’t really need a car for travel, I feel like the time’s come to for me to upgrade my vehicle. There’s a good few hundred miles between myself and the capital – and I don’t quite fancy making the journey in my battered Corsa. Plus, if I’m going to be rocking up to the Millenium Gloucester, a 4-Star Hotel in Kensington where you’d be lucky to find a room for less that £100 a night, I should probably be driving something a little swanky.

porsche-911

Although I’ve always taken a great interest in consumer electronics, cars have never been something that have interested me. I just know that a suave car salesman is going to take advantage of me – but I just don’t care.

My tux has been bought, my hotel room is through the roof – I’m getting wheels to match.

Tech News Update – November

3 Tech-News Updates That You Should Read

tech-nes

Every week a whole raft of news stories are published. Some of them signal seismic shifts in the way our business works, whereas some are just…guff. 

Here are the 3 most interesting articles that I’ve found in the last week, make sure to click through to check out the full articles:

Wi-Fi Hotspots Just Got More Dangerous – You’ve Been Warned!

hackers_2Most people are aware of the threat that Public Wi-Fi Hotspots pose to Phones and Laptops using them.

The controversial use of Stingrays to mimic cellphone towers, granted law enforcement agencies, as well as well funded cyber-criminals, with the means to trick users into connecting to them – intercepting calls and internet usage.

Stingrays weren’t easy or cheap to setup, but Researchers Piers O’Hanlon and Ravishankar Borgaonkar from Oxford have found a new method of attack that requires far less effort and financial backing. Masquerading as a reputable Wi-Fi Network, attackers can fool smartphones into connecting automatically and intercept Wi-Fi calls to steal the unique identity number (known as the IMSI number), allowing a person’s internet activity and identity to be stolen.

Google Showcase Phone (That Might Make Them Money This Time)

google-techRemember all your friends who bought Google Nexus phones when they were released?

No? That’s because no one bought one. Google has been trying (and failing) to get their smartphone devices into the hands of more people, but now they’ve finally decided a change of tack might well be the best plan.

Instead of selling low to medium range smartphones at next to no profit, the tech giant is now moving to muscle in on the high-end market. They’re selling their new phone for just under $750, the same price as Apple’s iPhone 7 (they’re even releasing a premium version, at the same cost of the Plus). Maybe this will be the tipping point for Google’s hardware sales – if not, they can always take a gamble on the huge range of other products that they’ll be pushing out over the next few years.

India Is Not Ready For Cyber Attacks

cyber-attackerOh dear, India.

Although hundreds of companies in the world out-source their telemarketing, programming and security offices to one of the world’s fastest developing countries, their cyber-security is yet to catch up with the rest of the world.

This was proven as the websites of Indian Embassies in seven different countries were successfully hacked – with hackers leaking personal details of Indian citizens currently living abroad.

Security testers going by the names of ‘Kapustkiy’ and ‘Kasimierz’ claimed responsibility for the attacks, in communications made with The Hacker News, the duo insisted that they did not perpetrate the attack for ‘the lulz or something’. They were, instead, hoping to highlight the weaknesses in India’s cyber-security, in the hope that it could be improved in the future.…