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The Raspberry Pi gets smaller

April 26, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Computers, Customer Service, Dr Search, Google, internet, Personal Security, Search Clinic, Uncategorized

The raspberry Pi launched in Feb 2012 with modest ambitions to give young people a small cheap programmable device.

The raspberry Pi launched in Feb 2012 with modest ambitions to give young people a small cheap programmable device.

Now Raspberry Pi is getting smaller and cheaper – and has become Britain’s most successful homegrown computer.

The latest edition is the Raspberry Pi Zero. It is slower than the full-size version (though faster than the original Raspberry Pi) and has fewer ports, but its main selling point is that it is so cheap.

The Zero, which like its predecessors is being manufactured in Wales, will sell for £4. And subscribers of the Magpi, a Raspberry Pi magazine, will find a Zero attached to the cover of the magazine – possibly the first time that a computer has been a free giveaway.

“We still meet people for whom cost remains a barrier to entry,” says Eben Upton, the man behind the whole project. He says driving down the cost of hardware has always been a key aim of the project, and he now expects more people to be able to get involved in computing.

The hope is that the whole Pi project can be clear about its mission

But it looks more likely that existing users will snap them up as extra components in computing projects. Upton sees it being used in “internet of things” or robotics projects, where a smaller device may be needed, or as a media player.

Throughout its history, Raspberry Pi has found a bigger audience amongst middle-aged hobbyists rather than the school children who were its original target. That is likely to be the case at first with the Zero, though school computing clubs may may find it a useful addition to their projects.

With more than seven million Raspberry Pis sold so far, and 270,000 in October alone, there is no doubt that it has been a commercial success. The challenge for those behind the project is to keep on remembering that the aim is to enthuse and inspire young people about computing, not to maximise profit.

By putting Eben Upton in charge of the commercial operation and appointing Philip Colligan as chief executive of the charitable foundation, the hope is that the whole project can be clear about its mission.

Meanwhile however, there are rival cheap computing devices, from the Arduino to Beagle Black, which also seek to get young people interested in coding. And the Raspberry Pi Zero has raced ahead of the BBC’s Microbit device, which will now be delivered to all Year 7 pupils in the UK early next year.

The Raspberry Pi was the right device at the right time, catching a wave of enthusiasm for improving understanding of computing. Now, in an increasingly crowded field, it will have to keep on innovating – while making sure that schools, teachers and children retain their enthusiasm for all things Raspberry Pi.

Cost concerns over web spying proposals

February 13, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Computers, Customer Service, data security, Dr Search, Google, internet, Personal Security, Search Clinic, Uncategorized

Disentangling data can be difficult and costly, say net experts.

Disentangling data can be difficult and costly, say net experts

UK MPs are investigating what it will cost ISPs to meet government proposals to log where Britons go online.

The House of Commons Science and Technology committee is looking at whether gathering data on net-using citizens is even feasible. It also wants to look into the potential impact that logging browsing will have on how people use the web.

The consultation comes as questions mount over the money the government will set aside to support monitoring.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill) was unveiled last week and it attempts to update the way the state, police and spies gather data to fight crime, terrorism and other threats.

One of the most contentious aspects of the IP Bill obliges ISPs to record information about the services, websites and data every UK citizen uses. These “Internet

The Science and Technology committee has said it wants to look more deeply into this and its potential cost.

In a notice announcing the inquiry, the Committee said it wanted to find out if it was possible for ISPs to meet the IP Bill’s requirements. The text of the Bill asks ISPs to log where people go but not what they do when on a site or using a service.

MPs also want to find out how easy it is for ISPs to separate data about a visit to a site from what happens once people log in, because more stringent rules govern who can discover what people do on a site as opposed to the sites they use.

The Committee will also look at how much it might cost the providers to do this.

The government has said it will provide £175m to ISPs over 10 years to pay for data to be gathered and stored.

ISPs watch the flows of data across their networks to help manage traffic, he said, but they typically only sample these streams because they deal with such massive quantities of information every day.

How to protect your online brand against cybersquatters

February 02, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Computers, Customer Service, Cyber Security, Google, internet, Uncategorized

Cybersquatting is buying up website addresses, or domain names, that sound very similar to existing well known brand names.

 

When Google recently launched its new parent company Alphabet, and the abc.xyz web address, there were more than 20,000 registrations by people attempting to take advantage, registering names like googlefiber.xyz or googledocs.xyz.

And in January, eBay won one of the largest cybersquatting cases, winning the ownership of more than 1,000 domains that had used its trademark.

Protecting your brand name online is of critical business importance for smaller companies as well.

The potential for cybersquatting has grown since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the international body responsible for co-ordinating all these addresses – began issuing hundreds of new generic top level domains (gTLDs), such as .xyz, and .nyc, as well as controversial ones like .sucks and .porn.

When ICANN proposed allowing these new generic top level domains, the trademark world was not receptive to that idea because they were so concerned about cybersquatting and poaching. Those concerns would appear to have been justified.

People were “just overwhelmed” by the number of gTLDs becoming available.

In the distant history you had .biz or .info and things like this coming online in a small round of five or six new gTLDs. Now the burden of protecting your brand online is potentially much higher as more extensions become available.

So how do you protect your brand online?

Registering it as a trademark is a good first step as it gives you more rights over related web addresses.

Under ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) rules, a domain registry must provide a “sunrise period,” during which trademarked brands registered in the TMCH can buy domains before they are publicly available.

Simply buying up lots of addresses that are variations of your brand name is one option. But this can get expensive for a small business, as domains can vary in price from 99p to several thousand pounds.

GoDaddy, a web hosting company, says: “Really, nobody has to go out and buy hundreds of domain names across their brands and keywords to protect themselves. Be thoughtful about the handful of names that are most important to you and think about registering those – ones that if you saw in the hands of your closest competitor, you wouldn’t be happy about it.”

If you think a cybersquatter has bought a domain name that infringes your trademark, you can go through ICANN’s uniform domain name dispute resolution (UDRP) system to have your case heard by a panel of experts.

“The UDRP keeps people out of court,” says the WIPO. “If you’re sitting in the United States and there’s somebody in Vietnam that’s squatting on your brand, you don’t have to go a local court.”

Another option is the uniform rapid suspension (URS) system, which is a “lighter version.”

At the end of the UDRP process, I get the domain back in my portfolio and keep it out of the hands of other infringers. Under the URS though, it just gets suspended or taken down for the duration of the registration period.

The brand owner then has the choice of trying to obtain the domain in the future or waiting to see if anyone takes it again.

The cybersquatting issue is likely to keep lawyers and dispute resolution panels busy for years to come.

Big banks consider using Bitcoin blockchain technology

October 07, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Blogs, Customer Service, Google, internet, Search Clinic, Uncategorized

The basic technology underpinning the Bitcoin virtual currency could be used by some of the world’s biggest banks.

The basic technology underpinning the Bitcoin virtual currency could be used by some of the world's biggest banks.

Nine banks, including Barclays and Goldman Sachs, may adopt the blockchain system that logs who spends which virtual coins in an ever-expanding computer equivalent of a ledger.

The banks want to use the blockchain method because it is hard to fool – making fraud more difficult.

It could also speed up trading systems and make deals more transparent.

The project to test blockchain-like technology is being led by financial technology firm R3 which has signed nine banks up to the initiative.

The other seven are JP Morgan, State Street, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, BBVA and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Technical meetings with the banks had prompted discussion of how it could be used within banks’ trading arms.

For Bitcoin, the blockchain acts as a globally-distributed ledger that logs transactions. Everyone involved with the virtual currency contributes to the way the blockchain verifies each deal. The sheer number of people involved makes it very hard for one bitcoin user to get fraudulent deals verified and approved.

Despite this, Bitcoin has been hit by a series of scandals and thefts although most of these came about because hackers exploited weaknesses on exchanges where coins are traded or in digital wallets where they are held.

The banks were most interested in the technical architecture underpinning the blockchain that could be adapted for their own ends. The first place the blockchain was likely to find a role was as a log of who bought which stocks or shares, he said.

By adopting the technology banks could cut the cost of reporting transactions and working out who bought what and when, he added.

No timetable has been given for when technical trials of the blockchain-like technology might begin.

Facebook has a billion users in a single day, says Mark Zuckerberg

September 25, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Browser, Computers, Customer Service, Facebook, Google, internet, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

For the first time over a billion people used Facebook on a single day, according to company founder Mark Zuckerberg.

For the first time over a billion people used Facebook on a single day, according to company founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The “milestone” was reached when “1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family”, he said in a post.

Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion users who log in at least once a month, but this was the most in a single day.

The company gained its billionth user in October 2012. It was founded in 2004 by Mr Zuckerberg while he was a Harvard student.

In his post on Thursday, he predicted that Facebook’s reach would continue to grow.

“This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote.

In July, Facebook claimed that over half of the world’s online users visited the site at least once a month.

It was only back in October 2012 when Facebook first announced it had one billion users using the site at least once a month – and now, just under three years later, the site has managed to pull in that many in a single day.

The question is how can it continue to grow? Surely it will plateau at some point, right? Yes – but we’re a long way off that.

In Facebook’s headquarters in California on the wall a map of the world highlighted the countries with lots of Facebook users.

Sure, the US, Europe and India are almost at peak Facebook. But there are huge gaps – Africa, much of Asia, some of Latin America. That’s where Facebook is focused on now.

One billion in a day? No big deal.

Can technology keep us safe from nuisance drones?

September 15, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, Google, Personal Security, Uncategorized

A minority of irresponsible users has been flying drones too close to aeroplanes and helicopters; wandering into restricted military airspace; spying on neighbours; disrupting sporting events; and even injuring people.

A minority of irresponsible users has been flying drones too close to aeroplanes and helicopters; wandering into restricted military airspace; spying on neighbours; disrupting sporting events; and even injuring people.

Regulators and law enforcers are struggling to cope with the growth in their popularity, increasing the likelihood that heavy-handed legislation could stifle innovation in a sector that has great commercial potential for businesses large and small.

Drones are already being used extensively by farmers to monitor the health of their crops and livestock. Multi-spectral cameras can analyse the level of moisture in the soil, plant health, and spot areas of blight or insect infestation. This saves them time and money and can help improve crop yields.

Advanced drones equipped with high-definition rotatable cameras, anti-shake technology, and the ability to track fast-moving action, are offering spectacular aerial photography and film-making capabilities for the news and creative media sectors.

Drones can reach places that are difficult and dangerous for humans to get to, and this is proving very useful in industry. Drones are now inspecting oil rigs, gas pipelines, electricity networks, chimneys, wind turbines, nuclear facilities, roofs – even underwater structures and cables. They are also useful for creating 3D maps of rural and urban landscapes.

The latest drones also allow users to specify the geo-fence area, reducing the chance of inexperienced pilots losing control and flying their drones into people or buildings.

While “return-to-home” and geo-fencing features are a step in the right direction, the proliferation of drones in our skies is likely to need a more comprehensive approach to policing and safety.

In the US, Nasa (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is co-ordinating the development of a traffic management system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that fly below 500ft (152m).

When there are hundreds of low-flying drones carrying out a range of duties, from deliveries to traffic monitoring, disaster relief to building inspections, we are going to need “sense-and-avoid” systems so they don’t crash into each other, as well as flight corridors similar to those used by passenger aircraft.

Such a system will also need bang up-to-date terrain maps, dynamic route planning and weather data integration. Not surprisingly then, Nasa thinks a prototype of its traffic management system will not be ready before 2019.

But how do you police drone use effectively?

The CAA regulations are clear: the operator of a hobby drone must keep the drone in sight at all times and not fly it above 400ft. If it’s a surveillance drone, you cannot fly it over or within 150m of any congested area or organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 people.

But given that the latest, most sophisticated drones have a range of up to two miles and can be programmed to fly automatically along prescribed routes, enforcing such rules is no easy task.

Only a few irresponsible drone users have been prosecuted so far around the world, and no-one has yet been sent to prison.

Until the police have the means to identify drones remotely, and access to a central database of owners, it is hard to see how they will be able to catch the growing number of miscreants.

Android’s biggest update ever to fix security flaws

August 24, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Cyber Security, data security, Google, Hackers, mobile phones, Samsung, Uncategorized

Last month a major bug was discovered in the Android software that could let hijackers access data on up to a billion phones.

Last month a major bug was discovered in the Android software that could let hijackers access data on up to a billion phones.

Samsung, LG and Google have pledged to provide monthly security updates for smartphones running the Android operating system.
Manufacturers have been slow to roll out a fix because many variations of Android are widely used.
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One Android expert said it was “about time” phone makers issued security fixes more quickly as Android is the most widely-used mobile operating system

Android has been working to patch a vulnerability, known as Stagefright, which could let hackers access a phone’s data simply by sending somebody a video message.

“My guess is that this is the single largest software update the world has ever seen,” said Adrian Ludwig, Android’s lead engineer for security, at hacking conference Black Hat.

LG, Samsung and Google have all said a number of their handsets will get the fix, with further updates every month.

Android is an open source operating system, with the software freely available for phone manufacturers to modify and use on their handsets.

The Google-led project does provide security fixes for the software, but phone manufacturers are responsible for sending the updates to their devices.

Some phones running old versions of Android are no longer updated by the manufacturer. Many companies also deploy customised versions of Android which take time to rebuild with the security changes.

Apple and BlackBerry can patch security problems more quickly because they develop both the software and the hardware for their devices.

BlackBerry’s software is reviewed by mobile networks before being sent to handsets, while Apple can push updates to its phones whenever it wants.
Some phone-makers add their own software to Android

“The very nature of Android is that manufacturers add their own software on top, so there have been delays in software roll-outs,” said Jack Parsons, editor of Android Magazine.

“In the US it’s even worse because mobile carriers often add their own software too, adding another layer of bureaucracy holding up security fixes.

First 3D printed pill approved by US authorities

August 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Blogs, Computers, Google, internet, Search Clinic, Tablets, Uncategorized

In a world first, the US Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for a 3D-printed pill to be produced.

First 3D printed pill approved by US authorities

3D printed pills could pave way for bespoke medicines for individual patients. The FDA has previously approved medical devices – including prosthetics – that have been 3D printed.

The new drug, dubbed Spritam, was developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. The company said that it planned to develop other medications using its 3D platform.

Printing the drugs allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages.

A separate technology developed by the firm, known as ZipDose, makes high dose medications easier to swallow.

Printing the drug meant it could package up to 1,000 milligrams into individual tablets.

The 3D-printed pill dissolves in the same manner as other oral medicines.

Being able to 3D print a tablet offers the potential to create bespoke drugs based on the specific needs of patients, rather than having a one product fits all approach, according to experts.

“For the last 50 years we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals and for the first time this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient,” said Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire.

It would mean that medical institutions could adjust the dose for individual patients with just a simple tweak to the software before printing. Previously, such personalised medicine would have been extremely expensive to produce, said Dr Alhnan.

3D printing works by creating an object layer by layer. In the case of medicines, printers are adapted to produce pharmaceutical compounds rather than polymers which are more usually used.

Such methods are already proving very useful in healthcare with doctors using the system to create customised implants for patients with injuries or other conditions.

And dentists, for example, use 3D printers to create replica jaws and teeth as well as other dental implants.

Spritam will launch in the first quarter of 2016, according to Aprecia.

Google profits increased by PPC sales

April 25, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Google, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Advertising, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Results, Uncategorized

Google has reported a 4% increase in profits to £2.38 billion, as strong PPC advertising sales helped boost the firm’s accounts.

Google reported a 4% increase in profits to £2.38 billion, as strong advertising salesGoogle said advertising sales for the first three months of 2015 were £10 billion, an 11% increase from the same period a year earlier.

Total revenue also increased by 12% to £11.53 billion, but like other US firms, the company was hurt by the strong dollar.

Shares in the firm rose more than 3% in trading after markets had closed.

There had been fears on Wall Street that profits would be weaker due to investment in new businesses and weaker advertising revenue as more people access Google via mobile devices, where advertising rates are lower.

But the fears turned out to be unfounded – a fall in the average price of an advert was offset by an increase in the number of adverts.

In a statement accompanying the results, chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said the company continued “to see great momentum in our mobile advertising business and opportunities with brand advertisers”.

However, Google did suffer from the stronger dollar. Taking out the impact of currency movements, Mr Pichette said revenue grew by 17% in the quarter compared with a year earlier.

The results also showed the firm continued hire new staff at a high rate, with employee numbers up 9,000 over the past year.

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websites

April 20, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, search engines, SEO, smart phones, Uncategorized

Google is launching “mobilegeddon” by making changes to the way its search engines ranks websites.

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websitesGoogle regularly changes its algorithms as it battles with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists who try to understand the system on behalf of their clients and ongoing technical changes.

But this is a big change – dubbed “mobilegeddon”- which is designed to prioritise websites that are optimised for the mobile internet.

Google gave plenty of warning, telling developers about the change in a blog post in February and providing a simple tool to check whether sites were mobile friendly.

The search firm is trying to reassure website owners that this won’t be an earthquake which turns their businesses upside down but quite a subtle evolution.

But SEO specialists say this looks like the biggest change since 2011 – and for some that will unearth some unpleasant memories.

For any online retailer, appearing on page one of Google’s search results can make all the difference between a profitable business and one heading for the scrapyard

Google’s move to make mobile capabilities more important in search rankings seems eminently sensible as our smart phones and tablets become the key route to finding goods and services online.

But over the next few weeks we can expect cries of pain from those whom the all powerful search algorithm has deemed less worthy.

And, coming just days after the European Commission accused Google of abusing its dominance, it will be another illustration of just how important a role the Californian company plays in every corner of the global economy.

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