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Online trolls really are losers

August 04, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Dr Search, Gaming, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

New research has found that men who harass women online are actual losers – at least when it comes to video games.

Online trolls really are losersTwo researchers analysed how men treated women while playing 163 games of Halo 3.

Men who performed poorly in the games responded by being hostile to female players- and were more likely to bully female players.

The male winners were mostly pleasant to other players, while the losing men made unsavoury comments to female players.

“Low-status males that have the most to lose due to a hierarchical reconfiguration are responding to the threat female competitors pose,” the researchers, from the University of New South Wales and the Miami University in Ohio, write. “High-status males with the least to fear were more positive.”

In Halo 3, players are anonymous and only interact with each other by voice a few times during the game. Most Halo players are men.

When performing poorly, players increased negative statements toward women and submissive statements toward the men who were winning.

“As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance,” the researchers write.

Male players were thrown off by hearing female voices during the game. The researchers think their results suggest that young males should be taught that losing to women is not “socially debilitating”.

The results also suggest that video games may be reinforcing gender segregation and potentially promoting sexist behaviours, especially troubling since so many “gamers” are teenagers.

Microsoft releases program to spot abuse images

July 27, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cloud Computing, Dr Search, Microsoft, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by users.

Microsoft has released a free program that lets website owners spot when images of child abuse are being shared by usersMicrosoft said that it had made the PhotoDNA tool available to tackle the 720,000 abuse images uploaded to the net every day. Many large social media networks are already using PhotoDNA to police uploaded images

Police forces, anti-abuse organisations and large social networks have been using the tool for some time to dig out the illegal images.

Microsoft said the online tool was for small firms that lack the resources to do image-checking themselves.

Spotting abuse images among the 1.8 billion pictures uploaded to online services every day was an almost impossible task, said Courtney Gregoire, a senior lawyer at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in a blogpost outlining the initiative.

While many large social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Flipboard were already using PhotoDNA, before now it had not been available to smaller online services, she said.

“We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst-of-the-worst images,” said Ms Gregoire.

The PhotoDNA system has been used to analyse and classify images of child sexual abuse held by Interpol, police forces and the US National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

The technology generates a signature or hash for each image that can be compared with any new image to see if there is a match. It can spot images it has seen before even if they are cropped or otherwise manipulated to avoid detection systems.

Many of the images shared online have been seen before and spotting people trading them can help police forces unearth abusers previously unknown to them.

The free service puts PhotoDNA in the cloud and lets websites check images uploaded by users.

Should BT be split?

July 14, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BT.

Ofcom has suggesting that its highly lucrative Openreach division could be sold off from BTOpenreach is the “utility” bit of BT- which is the delivery mechanism for broadband to millions of customers.

Think Network Rail owning the railways bit of the train network, or National Grid owning the electricity grid which delivers power to our home.

Openreach is virtually a monopoly service, with Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin and others obliged to pay BT for access to the broadband “pipes”.

And as such it is heavily regulated already- although according to John Fingleton, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading- the “enormously profitable” Openreach would be likely to perform better as a standalone company.

Mr Fingleton argues that a separate Openreach would be likely to invest more in improving broadband connections.

As an example he cites Worldpay, a former division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Worldpay operates a “plumbing business” for banks – providing payment services for card transactions and mobile phones.

Since RBS sold it, as a condition of the bank’s taxpayer bailout in 2008, its new private equity owners, Bain and Advent, have significantly increased investment.

Many believe that Openreach would travel the same route, and the amount invested in it as a standalone business would be more than the present £1 billion BT provides each year.

It could also mean accelerated investment in changing the network from the older copper network to “super-fast” fibre.

To enforce a sale, BT’s ownership of Openreach would probably need to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority which has more muscle in this area than Ofcom.

Mr Fingleton agrees this is the best route to decide whether Openreach would be better out of BT’s hands.

Sky – of course a major competitor to BT – concurs, calling this morning for a referral to the CMA.

It says that BT’s performance on broadband delivery leaves a lot to be desired, and that under investment means that appointments to connect its customers to broadband are often missed and that faults regularly remain unfixed.

Sky and BT don’t like each other very much, particularly since the latter took a healthy portion of Sky’s lunch by piling into sports television and winning the rights to broadcast Premier League matches.

There are dark mutterings that BT uses the vast profits from Openreach to fund its incursion into television, a claim the company hotly denies.

BT insists that Openreach’s service has improved, with 2,500 engineers added in the last year and 700 more coming this year. It says it reaches or exceeds all of the 60 service targets set it by Ofcom.

And that it is only because of BT’s large and healthy balance sheet that so much investment has been made in upgrading the network to super-fast broadband.

What won’t be superfast is the Ofcom process. This is just the latest stage in a far wider review of the UK’s digital market which will take months to conclude and years to implement.

More UK people using internet

June 01, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistics.

More people are using the Internet in the UK- according to official statistisIn the first quarter (Jan to Mar) 2015, 86% of adults (44.7 million) in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months (recent users), an increase of 1 percentage point since the quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014 estimate of 85%.

11% of adults (5.9 million) had never used the internet, falling by 1 percentage point since quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014.

The South East had the highest proportion of recent internet users (90%) and Northern Ireland was the area with the lowest proportion (80%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015, the proportion of adults who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (68%), compared with those that were not disabled (92%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015 the proportion of adults aged 16 to 24 years who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (95% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (99% recent users).

The proportion of adults aged 75 years and over who were recent internet users was also lower for those that were disabled (27% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (40% recent users).

Moral of the story is that if you are a business, you want more business- and you are not on the Internet you are missing a trick.

So if you need help with making money online then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

FBI warns on airline hacking threat

May 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Hackers, Search Clinic, Technology Companies

The USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a formal alert warning airlines to be on the lookout for hackers.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a formal alert warning airlines to be on the lookout for hackersIt follows an onboard tweet from security expert Chris Roberts, who joked about being able to hack into a United Airlines plane’s wi-fi network.

A terrorist could theoretically take over systems that fly a plane by compromising equipment at their seat as an increasing number of airlines are offering onboard wi-fi to customers.

The FBI and the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said they had no information to support claims a plane’s navigation system could be interfered via its onboard wi-fi kit, but added that they were evaluating the evidence.

In a private industry notification posted on its website and reported by Wired magazine, the FBI advised airlines to:

  • report any suspicious activity involving travellers connecting unknown cables or wires to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system
  • report any evidence of suspicious behaviour following a flight, such as IFE systems that show evidence of tampering or the forced removal of covers to network connection ports
  • report any evidence of suspicious behaviour concerning aviation wireless signals, including social media messages with threatening references to onboard network systems, automatic dependent surveillance systems (ADS-B), aircraft communications addressing and reporting systems (ACARS) and air traffic control networks
  • review network logs from aircraft to ensure any suspicious activity, such as network scanning or intrusion attempts, would be captured for further analysis

In his tweet, Mr Roberts suggested that he might be able to deploy the oxygen masks on the flight.

Chris Roberts’s tweet:

On arrival at Syracuse airport, Mr Roberts – who is co-founder of security company One World Labs – was taken in for questioning by the FBI, and his laptop and other devices were seized.

A few days later, he was prevented from boarding a flight to California.

He had previously given a number of interviews, explaining the possible weak points in airline systems, telling CNN that he could connect to a computer under his seat to view data from the aircraft’s engines, fuel and flight-management systems.

Security experts have warned for some years that airlines are a possible target for hackers.

Planes including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus 350 and A380 have a single network that is used by both pilots to fly the plane and by passengers for their wi-fi connections.

Although there were currently no publicly known vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit, such an attack remained “theoretically possible” because all networks were inherently insecure.

Wi-fi is now common on many airlines, and most have relaxed the rules surrounding the use of gadgets during flights.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costs

April 23, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Pay Per Click, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies

Facebook shares fell after the company reported slower revenue growth, while research and development costs ate into profits.

Facebook reports slow growth and higher costsThe social networking company said profit in the first quarter of 2015 was £341 million, down 20% on a year earlier.

While revenue rose 42% to £2.33 billion- that was slightly below analysts’ forecasts. A bright spot was the rise in monthly active users, up 13% from a year earlier to 1.44 billion.

Notably, for those investors concerned about the firm’s efforts to appeal to younger users who access Facebook on their smartphones, monthly mobile users increased by 24% to 1.25 billion, a majority of the site’s users.

Facebook has been particularly adept at channelling that growing mobile user base into advertising dollars.

The company said that during the quarter, revenue from mobile ad sales made up nearly three quarters of total ad sales.

“This was a strong start to the year,” said founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a statement.

Investors have been worried about slowing revenue growth, as well as increasing costs at the company. Facebook has been spending more on research and development as it moves beyond its original social networking operation.

Spending on research and development jumped to £377 million from £120 million a year earlier.

The company has warned that those costs are set to increase, as it looks to expand some of its acquisitions including photo-sharing site Instagram, messaging service WhatsApp, and virtual reality firm Oculus Rift.

The trends are all going in the right direction. The cost rise is one thing that can derail this story. The question is, can they keep costs under control and what will be the new revenue streams around video, Instagram and virtual reality around Oculus?

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.

So if you need help with optimising my website then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

Moores Law still stands- after 50 years

April 10, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Computer chips are both the most complex things ever mass produced by humans and the most disruptive to our lives.

It noted that the maximum number of components that manufacturers could "cram" onto a sliver of siliconSo it’s remarkable that the extraordinary pace they have evolved at was in large part influenced by a three page article published 50 years ago this month.

It theorised that the maximum number of components that manufacturers could “cram” onto a sliver of silicon – before which the rising risk of failure made it uneconomic to add more – was doubling at a regular pace every two years.

Its author, Gordon Moore, suggested this could be extrapolated to forecast the rate at which more complicated chips could be built at affordable costs.

The insight – later referred to as Moore’s Law – became the bedrock for the computer processor industry, giving engineers and their managers a target to hit.

Intel – the firm Mr Moore went on to co-found – says the law will have an even more dramatic impact on the next 20 years than the last five decades put together.

Although dubbed a “law”, computing’s pace of change has been driven by human ingenuity rather than any fixed rule of physics.

“Moore’s observation” would be a more accurate, if less dramatic, term. In fact, the rule itself has changed over time.

Mr Moore’s article predicted a time when computers would be sold alongside other consumer goods.

While Moore’s 1965 paper talked of the number of “elements” on a circuit doubling every year, he later revised this a couple of times, ultimately stating that the number of transistors in a chip would double approximately every 24 months.

For most people, imagining exponential growth – in which something rapidly increases at a set rate in proportion to its size, for example doubles every time – is much harder than linear growth – in which the same amount is repeatedly added.

Moore retired in 1997, but Intel still follows his lead.

In 2013, the firm’s ex-chief architect Bob Colwell made headlines when he predicted Moore’s Law would be “dead” by 2022 at the latest.

The issue, he explained, was that it was difficult to shrink transistors beyond a certain point.

Specifically, he said it would be impossible to justify the costs required to reduce the length of a transistor part, known as its gate, to less than 5nm (1nm = one billionth of a metre).

In simple terms, a transistor is a kind of tiny switch that is triggered by an electrical signal. By turning them on and off at high speeds, computers are able to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power, making it possible for them to carry out the calculations needed to run software.

Computer communication encryptions are a problem for police

March 30, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Encrypted communications are the biggest problem for police, says Europol’s police chief.

Computer communication encryptions are a problem for policeThe European police chief says the sophisticated online communications are the biggest problem for security agencies tackling terrorism.

Hidden areas of the internet and encrypted communications make it harder to monitor terror suspects, warns Europol’s Rob Wainwright.

Tech firms should consider the impact sophisticated encryption software has on law enforcement, he said.

There is a significant capability gap that has to change if we’re serious about ensuring the internet isn’t abused and effectively enhancing the terrorist threat.

Mr Wainwright said that in most current investigations the use of encrypted communications was found to be central to the way terrorists operated.

“It’s become perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism,” he explained.

“It’s changed the very nature of counter terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn’t provide that anymore.”

Mr Wainwright, whose organisation supports police forces in Europe, said terrorists were exploiting the “dark net”, where users can go online anonymously, away from the gaze of police and security services.

But he is also concerned at moves by companies such as Apple to allow customers to encrypt data on their smartphones.

And the development of heavily encrypted instant messaging apps is another cause for concern, he said. This meant people could send text and voice messages which police found very difficult or impossible to access, he said.

“We are disappointed by the position taken by these tech firms and it only adds to our problems in getting to the communications of the most dangerous people that are abusing the internet.

“Tech firms are doing it, I suppose, because of a commercial imperative driven by what they perceive to be consumer demand for greater privacy of their communications.”

Mr Wainwright acknowledged this was a result of the revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed how security services were conducting widespread surveillance of emails and messages.

He said security agencies now had to work to rebuild trust between technology firms and the authorities.

The extent of the challenge faced by security services is shown in the scale of social media use by IS.

The programme also found evidence that supporters of ISIS are using encrypted sites to radicalise or groom new recruits.

Mr Wainwright revealed that ISIS is believed to have up to 50,000 different Twitter accounts tweeting up to 100,000 messages a day.

Europol is now setting up a European Internet Referral Unit to identify and remove sites being used by terrorist organisations.

Mr Wainwright also says current laws are “deficient” and should be reviewed to ensure security agencies are able to monitor all areas of the online world.

“There is a significant capability gap that has to change if we’re serious about ensuring the internet isn’t abused and effectively enhancing the terrorist threat.

“We have to make sure we reach the right balance by ensuring the fundamental principles of privacy are upheld so there’s a lot of work for legislators and tech firms to do.”

Smaller broadband companies are better

March 18, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Customers of smaller broadband companies are much happier than those of the big three BT, Sky and TalkTalk according to the consumer group, Which?

Smaller broadband companies are betterThe three largest providers received customer satisfaction scores below 50% in a survey.

Smaller broadband companies such as John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet had customer satisfaction rates over 70%.

Which? is campaigning for greater clarity in the broadband speeds companies are allowed to advertise.

The consumer campaign group says most of the internet service providers in the survey received scores of three stars when people were asked to rate their broadband speed.

TalkTalk customers were least happy, giving their provider two stars for speed.

Which? is campaigning against rules which it says allow providers to advertise broadband speeds that only 10% of their customers actually receive.

Broadband companies should give customers the speed and service that they pay for, the consumer group Which? has said.

A survey carried out on its behalf claimed that 45% of customers suffer slow download speeds. Over half of those customers said they experienced slow speeds frequently or all the time.

Ofcom already has a voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds in place that it says ensures customers are protected.

Providers who have signed up to it must give customers a written estimate of their broadband speed at the start of a contract and must allow them to leave a contract without penalty if they receive speeds significantly below the estimate.

A mystery shopping exercise carried out by Ofcom revealed that the code was working effectively. However, there were areas where it could be improved and a revised code of practice would be published in the coming months.

Which? said in practice it supported the code but it was voluntary, not compulsory and providers needed to go further. Rather than providing an estimated speed range that a customer could expect to receive, providers should pinpoint a more accurate speed that customers can expect at their home address and provide this in writing.

This written confirmation should be accompanied by information explaining what consumers can do at different speeds – what they could download and how long it would take – and how to test their speed, Which? said.

According to the survey of 2,000 people, a quarter of those who had reported a loss in service said they had had to wait two days to get it fixed, with one in 10 waiting a week or more.

Twenty per cent said they had contacted their internet service provider at least three times when trying to resolve a problem with their broadband connection.

Which? is calling for broadband companies to fix connections as quickly as possible and refund customers for any loss of service.