Articles

31 articles, 2016-03-20 12:02

 

 1 

Users of older Lumia phones can finally upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile (2.00/3)

Microsoft is at last rolling out Windows Mobile 10 to older Lumia handsets, 16 weeks later than originally planned. 
So the rumours were true:  the latest version of Microsoft's Windows mobile operating system is available for users of older Lumia devices to download now.
Over on its official blog , Microsoft tells us to click a link to see which devices have been lucky enough to receive the update, but a hyperlinking error takes us to instructions on how to install Windows 10 Mobile. Good work, Microsoft. 
The Verge has the full list of devices, though, which is as follows: Lumia 430, Lumia 435, Lumia 532, Lumia 535, Lumia 540, Lumia 635 (1 GB RAM), Lumia 640, Lumia 640 XL, Lumia 735, Lumia 830, and Lumia 930. The update, naturally, will arrive on network unlocked devices first.
Microsoft notes that not all devices will be receiving the bump to Windows Mobile 10, admitting that it likely won't do much good for the performance of older devices.
"This list includes a limited set of Windows Phone 8.1 devices and does not include some devices that are currently running Windows 10 Mobile in the Windows 10 Mobile Insider programme.
"As Windows 10 delivers significant new innovations, many older devices are not able to successfully upgrade without an impact on the customer experience," Microsoft adds. "Our goal is to only offer the Windows 10 upgrade to devices that we are confident can continue to deliver a good customer experience. "
To check if Windows 10 Mobile is available on your handset yet, you'll need to download Microsoft's dedicated "Upgrade Advisor" app from the Windows Store. 
Once installed, Windows 10 Mobile will bring with it a number of new features, including improvements to Cortana, which is now more closely aligned with its desktop counterpart, and improvements to Microsoft's own Office and Outlook apps.

 

 2 

Putting machine data to work

Machine-generated time-series streams of ones and zeros is one of the most rapidly growing categories of data. Unstructured and fast moving, it is also the hardest type of data from which to extract value. The imbalance between quantity and utility is set to become even more pronounced as machine-to-machine communications proliferate with the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT). Nevertheless, machine data can be a gold mine of useful information, if only you can work out how to get to it.
That was the message of Matt Davies, head of marketing EMEA at analytics provider Splunk, who ran through a range of use cases for machine data during a presentation at the Computing Big Data Summit 2016 yesterday.
"The data we know about is the data we see," he said. "Everyone's generating masses of machine data that they're not using, but that data actually has many uses. It can be used for security, for IT operations, for customer experience, in IoT analytics and also to find out how a product is doing. "
IT operations
The practice of turning large volumes of messy machine data into something useful is part of a process known as operational intelligence. An obvious use case for this is to provide a real-time view of what is going on across IT systems. So, for example, machine data can be used to increase visibility, detect anomalies and pin down the root causes of problems with networking and storage infrastructure and cloud services. It can also be used to gain visibility into the application stack, as with Tesco.com, which deployed Spunk to ingest and analyse logs from operating systems and applications in order to improve the performance of its e-commerce site and deal with problems more quickly.
In another example, the bank Credit Suisse analysed data from trading systems to find out who was using its grid computing resources and managed to realise substantial savings by getting this under control.
Security
Anomaly detection is key to anti-fraud interventions. Behaviour analytics is deployed to identify suspicious activity in real-time, and this depends on machine data. Firewall logs may be combined with custom monitoring solutions to raise an alert.
Machine data is used at security vendors in a similar way. Davies mentioned Sophos's Security Operations Centre, which integrates Splunk to gain real-time security intelligence. He also namechecked online retailer Net-a-Porter, which analyses machine data to identify threats from both outside and inside the business.
Customer experience
Sorting out IT and security issues will tend to lead to better customer experience and also promote operational efficiencies in other areas.
"John Lewis started off trying to fix problems with dropped sales when transactions never came back from the payment provider, and then moved on to real-time checkout analytics," Davies said. "That also gave the marketing department a good idea of what action to take based on machine data. So don't discount that sofa because we have 400 of them in people's shopping baskets right now. "
IoT analytics
Another obvious application of machine data is in the automotive sector which is increasingly software-driven, with sensors attached to every major component.
"VW have trialed electric cars. They can get all the data from those cars and plot a heat map showing battery life, when the doors were open, when the lights were on. You can see on a map where the speed cameras are because everyone slows down. And you can see the heart rate of the driver who saw the camera first go up as he got flashed by the camera. "
In another case Davies mentioned a rail equipment supplier New York Air Brake that was able to use sensor data to identify potential savings totalling $1bn on fuel and other efficiencies across the US railroad network.
Product analytics
The music discovery app Shazam uses machine data to improve understanding of the effectiveness of TV campaigns.
"It uses machine data to say people are using Shazam to check a song on the ad break for a particular car," said Davies.
It also uses the data for A/B product testing.
"If we put a new feature in the top left, how does that compare with putting it in the the top right? "
Lots of companies have now reached the stage where they are using machine data for operational visibility and real time insight, Davies said.
Computing's Internet of Things Business 2016 summit takes place in May. Attendance is free for most delegates, but places are going fast so register today

 

 3 

TfL CIO Steve Townsend on the Internet of Things, Big Data, chief digital officers and reporting into marketing

‘Customer experience' is the main theme mentioned time and again by Transport for London CIO Steve Townsend throughout an interview at TfL's offices in Victoria, London.
So important is customer experience,...

 

 4 

Exasol shrinks its in-memory database onto an Intel NUC for proof-of-concept analytics work

Analytics software specialist Exasol has created an eye-catching way for potential customers to run proof-of-concept pilots for nascent big data projects - by offering a free version of its ExaSolution in-memory database that can run on a machine as small as an Intel NUC mini PC.
Available to download now, the free trial version of Exasol's database is restricted to a single node rather than a cluster of servers. This means that potential customers can use it for proof-of-concept projects on a single system without having to invest in costly infrastructure before they are ready to deploy.
It could also prove attractive as a way for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) to dip their toes in the water with big data analytics at relatively low cost, while big data projects are still largely the preserve of large organisations.
The free edition appears to be offered as a virtual appliance, and requires a 64-bit operating system (Windows, Linux or Apple OS X) with at least 4GB memory and a virtual machine player such as VirtualBox, VMware Player or KVM.
Exasol also advises that customers will get the best results with data volumes up to 100GB in capacity, while about 10 to 20 percent of the data should be kept in memory, which is limited to 10GB in the free edition anyway.
Atheon Analytics, a specialist retail analytics consultancy partner of Exasol, has deployed the free single-node edition onto an Intel NUC mini PC in order to power its proof-of-concept data visualisations.
Dubbed "Exasol-in-my-pocket", the demonstration unit proved capable of crunching through 250 million rows of trading data from a large supermarket, analysing statistics around waste reduction and stock control.
"Customers are often surprised when we tell them that this device is our database server, but this mini PC is a great talking-point and ice-breaker as well as being the perfect tool to do our work," said Atheon Analytics managing director Guy Cuthbert.
"We can bring in more data to our visualisations while at the client site and this allows us to create better proof of concepts. Additionally, by running the full Exasol database it takes no further effort to scale up to a multi-node cluster when the customer wishes to progress to a full implementation," he added.
Exasol chief executive Aaron Auld said: "When talking about scalability we often talk about the ability to scale up to large clusters that can handle huge amounts of data, but to have a powerful analytic database that can scale down to a device that you carry around with you in your pocket is just as important for smaller scale implementations. "
Join us for Computing's Big Data & Analytics Summit on Thursday, March 17th. Attendance is free to qualifying end-users , book your place now!

 

 5 

CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch's ambitious plan to bring FTTP to 100 UK towns and cities - and beat BT in the process

The telecoms landscape has been dominated in the past few months by calls from the likes of Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone for Ofcom to force BT to turn its wholesale Openreach division into a separate entity....

 

 6 

Five things to expect from Apple's imminent iPhone launch

On 21 March Apple is expected to launch its long-rumoured iPhone 5SE - as well as unveiling a host of other new products and product updates. 
Taking place at a grand unveiling in Cupertino, California, not far from the technology giant's HQ, there's also expected to be a new iPad and refreshed Apple Watch models on offer, following months of speculation surrounding Apple's rumoured smaller, cheaper iPhone.
We've rounded up five features you can expect from the incoming handset.
Metal design
Apple's last 'mid-range' iPhone, the iPhone 5C, was encased in brightly coloured plastic, but the iPhone 5SE is expected to look more like the iPhone 5S.
It'll also have a bit of iPhone 6S about it, according to leaks showing that the iPhone 5SE will feature a curved glass front similar to that seen on Apple's latest smartphones. Apple's event invitation ( above ) also suggests that the handset will be available in the same colour options as the iPhone 6S. 
Four-inch screen
Of course, the iPhone 5SE's standout feature will be a pint-sized 4in display, similar to that seen on the iPhone 5C before it. There's no word yet as to whether it will feature a boost in resolution, but speculation points to a "2.5D" display with curved edges that improves the tactile sensitivity of finger swipes. However, it apparently won't offer 3D Touch functionality. 
A9 processor
Early rumours pointed to the iPhone 5SE having an A8 processor, but more recent leaks suggest that it will have the same A9 internals as the iPhone 6S.
This means, in theory, that the smartphone will support Apple's Live Photos feature, and should match the firm's flagship devices when it comes to overall performance.
Beefy battery
The iPhone 5C had a fairly lacklustre 1,500mAh battery, but the iPhone 5SE will reportedly up the ante with a 1,715mAh unit.  
Affordable-ish price
Apple will never make a cheap smartphone, but the iPhone 5SE, much like the iPhone 5C, will be more affordable than its iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus siblings.  
Prices for the iPhone 5SE will start at $450 for a 16GB model, the same as the iPhone 5, according to reports.

 

 7 

LinkedIn being used as a 'front door' to phishing attacks

LinkedIn is now being used by hackers to make contact with potential victims, in order to encourage them to open their malicious emails, and click on their links.
This was one of the revelations from Computing 's web seminar today titled 'Are you a phish or a whale?'
Abby Ewen, IT director at law firm BLM, explained that her organisation has recently experienced a determined phishing attack.
"We have had both via an email and telephone an attempt to extort money by someone purporting to be the CFO. It was intercepted both times because we have some very vigilant people trained to spot things that don't look right. We had one this week, a scam email passed to me by a partner, and the person who sent [the scam mail] had connected with the partner on LinkedIn prior to sending the email.
"LinkedIn was used as the front door into the scam," she said.
Phishing is now seen as the top threat to businesses in the UK, above more well-known and headline-grabbing criminal activities such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
This was one of the key findings of Computing 's latest research into IT security, presented during the webinar.
Phishing is the art of acquiring sensitive information from a target by offering them bait, which could be a fake message from a friend or colleague, an invitation to an important meeting, or even a tempting shopping bargain. Click on the message or link, and your machine is infected with malware that scoops up your personal data.
Whaling is exactly the same process, only with higher profile enterprise targets.
Phishing is becoming increasingly prevalent because of its simplicity, said Orlando Scott-Cowley, cyber security specialist at Mimecast (pictured).
"We use phishing to mean all the types of attack you see in email. Email has become the threat vector of choice because it's easy, there are no skills needed, and you can attach a pre-built piece of malware to your message. It has become far easier than the classic network or IP-based attacks we're used to seeing," said Scott-Cowley.
One of the problems, he added, is that people trust their inboxes, and this misplaced trust is exploited by cyber criminals.
"The problem is we trust our inbox too much, we feel like we're protected behind that infrastructure. Cyber criminals use that trust against us to trick us into clicking their links, wire transferring large sums of money to fraudulent accounts. "
Ewan gave the example of a fake email which purported to come from vehicle registration and licensing body the DVLA, which appeared at BLM recently.
"One day we had 2,500 copies of same email in 10 minutes, which purported to come from the DVLA. The email had a specific car registration number, and people still clicked on it [despite the registration number listed not being their own]. One person clicked who didn't even have a car! It's because people are very busy, and the default is to click on things. "
BLM's Ewen described the protections she has put in place.
"We now sandbox all attachments, and we receive around 35,000 per week, and we check all URLs that come in. We see between five and 10 malicious attachments per week. Of the 6,500 URLs clicked per week, about 10 go to malicious sites. It's interesting to see how messy the internal environment would be if we didn't have that protection," she concluded.

 

 8 

Budget 2016: Osborne announces moves to boost broadband, coding, 5G and driverless cars

Yesterday's Budget may have been light on major technology-related initiatives but it did feature initiatives that indicate the government is still keen to pursue the digital objectives it set out in...

 

 9 

Microsoft SharePoint 2016 and Project Server 2016 released to manufacturing

Microsoft has officially released the latest version of its SharePoint platform for collaboration, file sharing and content management, adding new hybrid cloud capabilities alongside enhancements for users and administrators, as well as the latest version of Project Server that is now fully integrated with it.
SharePoint Server 2016 this week hit release to manufacturing (RTM), meaning that the product is code complete, but Microsoft is currently offering for download only the release candidate (RC) version it made available in January. The full version will be generally available in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center from early May, the firm said.
Also hitting RTM was Project Server 2016 , the latest version of Microsoft's project and portfolio management (PPM) tool. This is now effectively tied into SharePoint, with the Project Server 2016 installer fully integrated into SharePoint 2016 so that a separate installer no longer needs to be run.
SharePoint Server 2016 builds on the foundations of previous SharePoint releases, but further emphasises Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy with extended hybrid cloud support, such as cloud hybrid search allowing on-premises content and information held in the cloud to be returned from the one search result, the firm said.
In fact, SharePoint Server 2016 has been developed with a common core platform shred with the cloud-based SharePoint Online, making it easier for customers to take advantage of SharePoint on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid scenario.
Microsoft also said that SharePoint Server 2016 offers better deployment flexibility, enhanced data security, a unified development experience across server and cloud, and improved mobile access to content.
"Billions of documents are stored on SharePoint sites-making it the centre of content management and collaboration for over a decade. Whether enabling students to work together or helping a company transform its entire intranet, we have continually evolved SharePoint to meet the changing needs of the digital workplace," said Seth Patton, general manager for Microsoft's SharePoint and OneDrive team, announcing the RTM on the firm's SharePoint blog.
Meanwhile, Project Server 2016 includes anew capability known as Resource Engagements, intended to help project managers and resource managers align with each other on the amount of work and time periods required for resources associated with a project.
Resource Engagements are an evolution of the old Resource Plan feature in Project Web App, Microsoft said, and so all of a customer's existing Resource Plan data will be converted to engagements as part of the upgrade process.

 

 10 

‘Don’t buy big data tools from incumbents,’ warns investment firm

Firms shouldn't buy big data tools from traditional enterprise vendors, according to Alpesh Doshi, managing partner at investment and finance boutique Redcliffe Capital.
Doshi, who was speaking at a panel session at Computing 's Big Data & Analytics Summit 2016, suggested that firms should steer clear of legacy vendors and look at some of the newer technologies that are around such as Spark and Storm.
He said that even technologies such as Hadoop had been bettered in recent years.
"Five years ago everything was a Hadoop problem; right now there are so many technologies you can do things better with than Hadoop. Most architectures are a blend of different technologies; whether it be text analytics, AI or something else - the challenge isn't just looking at vendors such as IBM, Microsoft or HP, it's a lot more complex," he said.
But Ben Hutt, CEO of global recruitment firm The Search Party, took issue with Doshi's advice. He said that his firm had looked at the likes of Hadoop (for which the firm uses Cloudera), and subsequently Spark, but added that it was much easier - and perhaps more logical - for a huge corporate organisation to stick to one vendor - usually a traditional company.
Doshi, though, referenced an IT decision-maker at an airline that uses Oracle end-to-end. The airline has issues with scalability and analytics, and Doshi said that newer vendors could solve that problem for a quarter of the cost of an Oracle solution, but that the IT-decision maker didn't believe that could be the case - and suggested that he couldn't switch to another vendor.
"This is why large vendors still have relationships with huge corporate companies," said Doshi.
But being an Oracle customer hasn't stopped Specsavers from using big data technologies from other companies.
Nick Hough-Robbins, global data programme director at Specsavers, said the firm was implementing MapR along with visualisation technology from Tableau, and is also exploring what to do with its structured data.
He said the company needed different tools depending on the types of data, the department the data comes from and the different business scenarios.
The best-of-breed approach is being used at construction firm Arup too, where Peter Edwards, associate director at the company, said they opt for open-source technologies where possible. Edwards said that the ability to unplug from certain products when they wanted to was vital as technology was evolving so rapidly.
Luke Scanlon, head of fintech propositions at law firm Pinsent Masons, said that his organisation takes the same approach - he said it would be impossible for the company to do what it wanted to do with data by just using traditional vendor tools.

 

 11 

Rural Payments Agency chief: GDS and Defra didn't listen to warnings that CAP project was failing

The chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Mark Grimshaw, has suggested that senior chiefs at the Government Digital Service (GDS) and Defra did not listen to his fears about failings in its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programme.
The CAP programme was aimed at developing new systems and processes to support the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in England. It was established in 2012 to address previous failings in how CAP payments were delivered by the Agency.
Earlier this month, MPs slammed senior leaders at the RPA, GDS and Defra for what they described as a "childish turf war" , which involved "dysfunctional and inappropriate behaviours" that were "inexcusable and deeply damaging" to the £154m programme.
It led Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier to say that it was "frankly embarrassing to learn of senior and highly paid civil servants arguing to the detriment of hard-pressed farmers".
RPA chief Grimshaw gave evidence on the scheme to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. He suggested that there was an element of truth in the PAC report, but claimed that the language used had been sensationalised.
"I am certainly not in the position of accusing the committee of being inaccurate and if those are the words I used then I will recant them here and now," he said.
Grimshaw said he regretted being unable "to get over to the programme the requirements of the business from a delivery and functional perspective" - claiming that this was "a concern that will live for me for many years".
"As a personal failing I was not able to communicate, and not able to get senior people to recognise, that the programme was in difficulty," he said. "I was not in a position to have my opinion prevail," he added.
Grimshaw suggested that "all four senior officers" who had been given responsibility for the programme should share the blame for its failings.
He also claimed that "almost all" outstanding 2015 payments will be made by the end of the month.

 

 12 

Candy Crush maker King to move to EXASOL system four times the size of its existing 200TB set-up

Candy Crush maker King is to move away from its existing EXASOL system to a new one that is quadruple the size, in order to handle increasing data volumes.
The mobile phone game maker is currently housing 200TB of data in its EXASOL in-memory database, but Dave Shuttleworth, principal consultant at EXASOL suggested that because the firm is collecting more and more data every day, it needs an even bigger EXASOL solution going forwards.
Shuttleworth, speaking at Computing 's Big Data & Analytics Summit 2016, explained that King has a big Hadoop data lake environment with many petabytes in there, and that the company has "never thrown any data away" since it started about eight years ago.
As Vincent Darley, VP of data analytics and BI at King Digital Entertainment, explained at last year's Big Data & Analytics Summit, the London-based firm started by storing data on a standalone Hadoop cluster, but decided to use EXASOL to be able to better exploit the data it had.
According to Shuttleworth, the success of Candy Crush on iOS and Android devices meant that data volumes "went through the roof", and they realised they needed something alongside Hadoop to do complex analytics, but also to scale up.
"They collect event logs from every game played; they get 1.8 billion games per day worldwide, and in each game they collect between 10 to 15 event records, so typically around 30 billion a day, and that's what's going into their EXASOL system and their Hadoop data lake," Shuttleworth said.
"So they use EXASOL for the ‘hot data for analytics' and then they're doing analytics on the games being played because they want to find out, for example, if there is a bottleneck in a certain level in the game so they can tweak it to make sure the right number of people get through - they don't want to make it too difficult so that people get bored and go away because they make their money from in-game purchases," he added.
And this is why the firm, Shuttleworth said, is attempting to optimise the environment for its customers.

 

 13 

Nine out of 10 UK CIOs 'concerned' about EU's new data protection laws

A whopping 87 per cent of UK CIOs are concerned that their organisation might be exposed under the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new report has found.
The report, commissioned by Egress Software, asked 200 UK CIOs how concerned they are about the new regulations, which will become law in 2018. Only 13 per cent said they were not concerned at all by GDPR, but the majority (61.5 per cent) said that they were ‘a little concerned', and more than a quarter (25.5 per cent) said they were 'very concerned'.
The GDPR represents a major change in the way that personal data must be managed for any organisation that does business in, or with, the EU.
They will need to make sure they are able to delete all of a consumer's personal data quickly and completely from their systems, on request. There will also be mandatory reporting of serious data breaches and organisations will be expected to know what data might have been affected - within 24 hours, if possible.
And organisations found to be in breach of the regulation face hefty fines of up to four per cent of global turnover.
The findings from Egress's research chime with the conclusions of a report commissioned by software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider Intralinks at the end of last year. It found that more than half of global companies expected to be fined for non-compliance with GDPR , and that two-thirds of worldwide companies would review their business strategies in EU countries in the next year.
Last month, Computing carried out an online poll of about 100 medium-to-large organisations and found that only 20 per cent were well prepared for GDPR, with a further 26 per cent stating that they have just started preparing for the regulation.
Surprisingly, a total of 44 per cent were unaware or only vaguely aware of the new rules.

 

 14 

If you have less than a petabyte of data you don't need Hadoop

Hadoop is unnecessary for smaller projects, and most firms should avoid using it unless they have to.
That's according to Vincent de Lagabbe, CTO of Kaiko, a company that offers real-time tracking of bitcoin exchanges.
"Considering the volume that we are dealing with Hadoop would be overkill. It was fancy technology for the time and people started using it for everything, but most things you can do without it. From experience, it's better to try to do without Hadoop - I mean use it when you need it but when you don't, don't bother," he said.
Kaiko pulls in transaction data from the Bitcoin blockchain and also monitors the major exchanges to see who is buying the crypto-currency in order to track its price in real-time and provide additional information about the market. While speed and being able to handle unstructured data is important, volume is less of an issue for the firm.
"If you've got less that a petabyte of data Hadoop is probably overkill," de Lagabbe said.
Instead of Hadoop, the company is deploying DataStax Enterprise (DSE), a commercial distribution of the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database, to perform storage duties.
"We didn't know what we were going to be putting into the database and we wanted something that could be flexible. Cassandra seemed like a pretty good solution to our requirements. We tried several other things but they weren't as stable for our usage. So Cassandra is our main data store. We store everything in it - blockchain data, exchanges data, everything else. "
So why not opt for the free community version?
"We chose DSE because we found it was more stable than the version we were using before, maybe because the builds are more carefully monitored, but I don't know," de Lagabbe said.
"Then there's the extensibility, so you can easily have a Spark cluster on it to do further analysis. We have not deployed such cluster yet but we plan to do that for real-time streaming and in-memory map reduce jobs.
"The support from DataStax has been helpful," he added.
Recent research from Computing has found that Spark is catching up with Hadoop as a primary general-purpose big data platform - although the two are most frequently used together.
Join us for Computing's Big Data & Analytics Summit  on March 17th. Attendance is free to qualifying end-users, so book your place now before they all go

 

 15 

The 404 Show 1654: The weird Internet; 10 Cloverfield Lane, Julie Rubicon, VR (podcast)

Justin Yu is back again this week to give us a spoiler-free quick review of 10 Cloverfield Lane. We're getting weird this week with a strange Facebook story called Julie Rubicon, which we quickly follow up with predictions of a dark Black Mirror future. Plus, Justin provides some show and tell, with a live demo of the Here Active Listening earbuds.
Subscribe to our wonderful program:
Follow everyone on Twitter!
Here Active Listening
Julie Rubicon

 

 16 

Microsoft takes blame for 'dancing schoolgirls' at Xbox party

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.
At Microsoft's official Xbox party on Thursday night at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, dancers entertained in tight bra-like tops and fishnet tights. Their short plaid skirts suggested a sort of comely schoolgirl look.
That didn't sit well with some attendees, watchdogs and even company officials who note the display runs contrary to the company's said efforts to be more inclusive and to help elevate women in their careers in technology.
Microsoft didn't say who hired the dancers and even Aaron Greenberg, head of Xbox games marketing, was apparently unaware of what the night had in store.
The company later took full responsibility.
"We represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values," Xbox head Phil Spencer said in a statement, referring to the party. "It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I'm personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future. "
The Twitterverse, of course, was not as formal in its response to the party's entertainment.
But this was Microsoft, the same company that had, earlier in the conference, sponsored a "Women In Games" lunch.
Microsoft isn't alone in knowing it should address such attitudes. But then someone goes and spoils it all.
I suspect that someone might be dancing on hot coals today.

 

 17 

Fighting the ‘fortress mentality’ at DWP – my search for the truth about Universal Credit

In spring 2012, along with investigative journalist and former Computer Weekly executive editor Tony Collins , I submitted freedom of information (FOI) requests to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for four key documents about its controversial IT-enabled welfare reform programme, Universal Credit. Little did either of us know then that, four years later, we would still be fighting for their release.
The documents – a risk register, an issues log, a milestone schedule and a project assessment review (PAR) report – could potentially reveal the truth about a high-profile government project that was already rumoured to be in trouble .
I submitted my request because there was obviously a gulf between the scale of what was being promised by the programme and the published completion date of October 2017. To add insult to injury, the DWP had opted to use agile development , even though it had no experience of the methodology and it had not been proven in government on this scale and scope.
I am not anti-agile by any means, but trying something new purely because it is perceived to be the only way to meet the department’s challenging timetable is not sensible.
Anyone familiar with government departments and FoI requests will not be surprised to hear that the DWP refused to release the documents. After complaining to the information commissioner, who agreed that everything but the risk register should be disclosed, our case proceeded to a tribunal hearing in January 2014. This unanimously decided that all four documents should be released.
The DWP was not happy and appealed on a legal point to the Upper Tribunal (UT), where it won. Despite the same UT judge suggesting that, given the age of the information by this time, the DWP should consider releasing the documents, the department insisted on the expense of yet another oral hearing. This took place in February this year and the result was exactly the same as in 2014 – that the DWP should hand over the reports.
After nearly four years, we now have to wait another 28 days to see if the DWP finally discloses the information or tries to appeal once again. The legal costs for the taxpayer associated with this marathon must comfortably exceed £100,000.

 

 18 

Why we should worry about Domino's delivery robots

We can't let robots be in charge of our food. (It'll only make their uprising that much easier.)
CNET Update delivers the tech news you need in under 3 minutes. Watch Bridget Carey every afternoon for a breakdown of the big stories, hot devices, new apps and what's ahead. Subscribe to the podcast via the links below.
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 19 

Is Google's Project Fi right for you?

In this edition of Ask Maggie I explain the ins and outs of Project Fi, Google's wireless service that runs off of the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. I also highlight why some people might want to think twice before ditching their old carrier to join Google's mobile revolution.
Dear Maggie,
Thanks,
Confused About Wireless
Dear Confused,
The short answer to your question is a big "maybe. " Project Fi could definitely save you some money, both domestically and abroad. But there are a few limitations you should be aware of before you jump ship.
Project Fi is Google's attempt to shake up the wireless industry with cheaper plans. The service uses a combination of cellular coverage from T-Mobile and Sprint and local Wi-Fi networks. A key aspect of Project Fi's service is technology that determines which network offers the best connection, allowing it to seamlessly switch among these networks if one connection weakens.
The biggest benefit of Project Fi is its low cost. Users in the US pay $20 a month for unlimited calls and texts. Adding data costs $10 for each gigabyte used. If customers don't use their allotted amount in a month, they get a credit for unused data the next month. If you go over your data allotment, you're charged for the additional data. This is appealing to a lot of people, because you truly pay for what you use.
The great news for international travelers is that you can still get unlimited text messaging and Project Fi doesn't charge roaming rates for data usage in more than 120 countries. This means it still costs $10 per gigabyte of data. This is a huge benefit considering that Verizon charges $2.05 per megabyte of data. (Keep in mind that voice service is charged on a per minute basis, and prices vary depending on the country you're visiting.)
Because Project Fi is always looking for the best network connection and the service tries to connect you to a Wi-Fi signal, you may actually use less data than you would on a traditional cellular carrier, which will reduce your costs even more. (Wi-Fi is not counted against your monthly data usage.) For your protection, Project Fi uses a secure connection even over public Wi-Fi networks.
The other potential downside is that when you're in the US and Wi-Fi isn't available, you'll be roaming on either Sprint or T-Mobile. Their networks aren't as widespread as Verizon's, so this means that depending on where you live and work, you may get spotty coverage when Wi-Fi isn't available. But if you live and work in an urban area, you may not notice the difference in coverage, since both Sprint and T-Mobile work pretty well in most big US cities. Both have been steadily improving with their 4G speeds as well.
If you plan to travel outside the US often and you live in an area where Sprint and T-Mobile coverage isn't an issue, switching to Project Fi and getting a new Nexus 5X, which is now only $199 when bought with Project Fi service, might be the way to go. You'd definitely save money on your trip and you'd likely save money at home.
Ask Maggie is an advice column that answers readers' wireless and broadband questions. If you have a question, I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put "Ask Maggie" in the subject header. You can also follow me on Facebook on my Ask Maggie page.

 

 20 

Study Finds Most Software Vulnerabilities Have Patches Within One Day

In any given year, myriad vulnerabilities are found in software products from multiple vendors across the IT landscape. In 2015 there were a total of 16,081 vulnerabilities in 2,484 products from 263 vendors, according to the Vulnerability Review 2016 report from Secunia Research at Flexera Software. The 2016 report looked at fewer product and vendors than the 2015 report (reflecting the year 2014), when 3,907 products from 514 vendors were evaluated. The decline in the number of vendors and products examined is a methodology issue as Secunia Research refocused the study to monitor only the systems and applications in use in the environments of customers of Flexera Software's Software Vulnerability Management product line, according to the researchers. Despite the reduction in the number of vendors in the study, there were still 25 products that had zero-day vulnerabilities. According to the study, the number of vulnerabilities saw a 77 percent increase over five years and a 47 percent increase in the past year alone. eWEEK examines key takeaways from the report.

 

 21 

Countdown to doomsday: Apple, FBI face off in court Tuesday

If you've been reading the headlines about Apple's fight with the FBI, you know it's easy to assume we're all doomed.
Either law enforcement will lose the ability to thwart terrorist plots, or we'll be forced to live in a police state. Neither of those outcomes is exactly what you'd call appealing.
Tuesday will be the first chance for both parties to make arguments before Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym. This could drag on for a while, even years. Judge Pym won't make a ruling immediately, and her decision faces appeal, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court.
"Because technology is moving at warp speed, we don't have two to three years to wait for a solution here in this particular case or in the boatload of cases after it," said Ed McAndrew, a former federal cybercrimes prosecutor and now a lawyer at Ballard Spahr.
While we wait it out, let's look at those worst-case scenarios from each side.
"Before these devices came around, there was no closet, basement or drawer in America that could not be entered with a judge's order," he said. Privacy is important, Comey said, but so is stopping murder, violence and pedophilia.
A loss in this case could also hurt the FBI's ability to get info from other tech companies, like Facebook.
Apple counters the government's warning by saying the FBI shouldn't be fixated on what it can access but realize there's a "mountain" of information that now is available because of technology.
And experts say law enforcement has to find a way to fight crime in a world with strong encryption.
"The cost of maintaining a free society is that sometimes criminals won't be caught," said John Hasnas, a professor of ethics at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. "Sometimes there are bad things we can't prevent. "
Apple says the government is asking for a back door into all iPhones. If the FBI is able to get access to one phone, it'll ask for access to more, the company said. There's also no way to guarantee that the loophole won't fall into the hands of criminals. It would become a top prize for hackers, and Apple undoubtedly would face attacks.
"Where does this stop? " Cue said. "In a divorce case? In an immigration case? In a tax case with the IRS? Someday, someone will be able to turn on a phone's microphone. This should not happen in this country. "
Then there are the international implications. No foreign government has a back door into Apple's products, but if the US government is successful, you can bet other countries, such as China, will come knocking too.
The FBI counters by saying that Apple helped it gain access to devices in the past without causing a loss of privacy and freedoms. Stacey Perino, an FBI electronics engineer, argued in a declaration that even if Apple didn't destroy the new software and criminals got access to it, they couldn't use it to hack all iPhones. That's because the code would run only on an iPhone if it had Apple's unique digital signature, Perino said.
Apple disagrees.
Even the American public is split on the issue. According to a poll by CNET sister publication CBS News and The New York Times, half of Americans believe Apple should unlock the phone, while 45 percent think it shouldn't. More than two-thirds of Americans think unlocking the phone will make it at least somewhat likely that other iPhones are more vulnerable to hackers, and 58 percent of Americans remain concerned about losing some privacy in the fight against terrorism.
Some are hoping to find common ground.
Apple has recommended that a commission set the parameters for tech's interactions with the government. Two US lawmakers, Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, and Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, agree and say they want Congress to form a commission charged with addressing issues on digital security that have put authorities and private companies at odds.
"Both the FBI and Apple are taking absolutist positions and in many ways are talking past each other," Warner said in an interview on Wednesday. "I do believe there are technology solutions that can protect encryption and not lead to back doors. "
Warner hopes to have a commission approved within a couple of months and to see the group issue a full report in about a year.
Even if the US comes to some agreement, it won't matter much if other countries have conflicting policies.
In the end, all it could take is one more attack for everything to change.
"We know there will be another catastrophic attack on the homeland," said a former counterterrorism official at the White House who didn't want to be named. "When that happens, the privacy-security pendulum will swing wildly back toward the national security side. The public will forget about encryption and will be very willing to give up some of their privacy for enhanced security. "

 

 22 

9 crazy things we learned about Pluto in the past year

Everything we know about the iPhone 7 right now
We'll dive into the iPhone 7's rumored design, dual lens camera system, lack of headphone jack and wireless "Air Buds" so you can sound like a smarty pants.

 

 23 

More chargers than gas stations? It's a reality in Manhattan

Remember when electric vehicles started hitting dealerships and early adopters bemoaned the lack of supporting infrastructure? We've come a long way since then, and it's becoming easier every day to get your EV juiced up. On the island of Manhattan, it's already easier than going to the gas station.
In fact, the Post points out that, as of this week, 68 garages feature Tesla chargers, so we've already passed the point where gas stations are straight-up outnumbered. But whereas most chargers up until this point have been installed at hotels and the like, the company is now starting to make a push for installing chargers in parking garages.
That's some good timing, considering the company is just about to unveil its next vehicle, the significantly more affordable Model 3 sedan .
Sadly, its new chargers won't be the super-fast Superchargers that Tesla loves to tout. They'll be what Tesla calls "destination chargers," slower chargers near points of interest that allow owners to juice on the go. They add about 60 miles of range per hour plugged in, so while you won't get a full charge while out on the town, it's better than nothin'. Even better, most of them will be free for Tesla owners.

 

 24 

Steve Wozniak and Palmer Luckey think VR is great, but AR is way behind

"I'm old school. I like Superman. But there are new super heroes out there in the real world today, people like Palmer Luckey who are creating technology we never thought could exist. "
That's a humbling remark regardless of whose mouth it comes from. When it comes from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, however, it means just a little more.
Steve Wozniak and Palmer Luckey met on stage at Silicon Valley Comic Con earlier today to talk about their childhood heroes, virtual and augmented reality, and the newly minted Woz's Law of Robotics.
The overall tone of the argument was one of optimism as both the well-spoken 23-year-old entrepreneur and iconic Apple founder believe that the future of technology is a bright one.
"Even the content Hollywood is creating is built by game engines that have been built for virtual reality. You're going to see people who work in the game industry start popping up in all new places like education, Hollywood and more," Luckey said.
"The idea I'm really excited about is telepresence. That's not something you can get from communication technology in its current form. Virtual reality is going to be better and more convenient than going to a real live meeting at some point. "
Wozniak agreed to most of it. He thinks that video games are what will drive adoption, and that as long as there's content, he's a firm believer in VR. After all, Wozniak said, historically games are what drove PCs 30 years ago to become faster and more powerful.
As for the future, however, it's not room scale VR that Luckey's concerned about. It's world scale he's after.
When asked by Kara Swisher, Executive Editor at Re/Code and moderator of Saturday's discussion, what exactly "world scale" meant, Luckey answered that the next step for content and hardware creators would be a more immersive, untethered experience that not only matches the real world around us but in many ways improves upon it.
The problem, according to Luckey, is that the technology just isn't there yet. We'd need more powerful hardware than the current flagship cell phones to get there.
Swisher then changed the subject to augmented reality, something that neither of the two have worked on directly, but saw potential in.
Wozniak's go-to device was Google Glass , he said, because he hopes that a future device might be able to recognize faces and spit out information like their birthday, their school information or personal history would help him carry on more insightful conversations.
Palmer Luckey didn't think so.
"Google Glass isn't augmented reality. It doesn't know where it is in the world," Luckey said. "Augmented reality is far behind virtual reality but, in the future, you'll have devices that do both VR and AR and people will become the new norm. However, as long as we're tied to other devices that are expensive, adoption is going to be limited. "
Swisher's suggestion to get the ball rolling? Virtual reality or augmented reality porn.
"Porn users don't have powerful computers," Luckey said.
"Porn users, you need to upgrade," Swisher countered.
"You said it, not me," said Luckey.
The trio talked about the next five years at length – the technology that would drive it forward, who would be the one to do it (Elon Musk was mentioned a few times) and what the world would look like after it was all over.
Naturally, this lead to a discussion of robots taking over the world.
"You have to look to science fiction about some ideas on technology, but most of the time it's more fiction. In reality, the future of technology is a lot more boring," Luckey said. "I think when we have perfect AI, it's going to be a lot more boring than people expect. Sci-fi writers are going to have to keep creating fantasies. "
Surprisingly, Wozniak had a similar thought back when he was first starting Apple, but over the years concluded that perhaps PCs are getting smarter and could develop a culture of their own one day.
"Isaac Asimov introduced his Law of Robotics that said no robot can knowingly hurt a human. I've come up with Woz's Law: No human should ever hurt a machine that feels. "
Hopefully the robot overlords will remember that sentiment on Judgment Day.
Swisher concluded the conversation with recent events. She asked Wozniak to clarify where he stood on the FBI's recent desire for a backdoor into Apple devices.
Wozniak had come prepared. He said that most people feel that they need to take a side on the debate, that they're either pro-government or pro-civil liberties. The answer isn't so cut and dry. "Cybersecurity is one of the greatest threats we face," Wozniak said. Only by giving the government some control while keeping them out of businesses' private data, he said, could we be both safe and free from privacy invasion.
Palmer Luckey took a more … patriotic approach to the question. "I love my country. I'm a proud, flag-waving nephew of my Uncle Sam, but I don't love everything my country does. I think they're wrong here. It's an extension of the civil liberties argument we've been having for years, and I think they made the wrong hill to make a stand on. "
But the best answer might've come from Swisher herself: "If defeating ISIS comes down to unlocking an iPhone, we're f***ed. "
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 25 

GTA 5 Online's next event offers double RP, discounts, and more

First, Rockstar will offer double GTA$ and RP for partaking in certain playlists, missions, and modes. These will change on a daily basis and are listed below.
You can access these missions and modes on your own or find them through a special playlist that will be available from the GTA Online launch screen for the duration of the event. You will earn double GTA$ and RP however you access them.
Also as part of this promotion, players can save on garage properties, ammo, and motorcycles. Additionally, discounts (75 percent off) on customization options for the Benny's autobody shop will be available.
GTA Online Discounts Include:

 

 26 

How LawBreakers plans to stand out from Overwatch, Battleborn

"As our game began to evolve throughout 2015, so did our game's identity," Boss Key said. "We were discovering what pillars represented Lawbreakers and how to translate those pillars into the game. "
Here is a recap of the major changes, as written by Boss Key:
Additionally, the size of some of LawBreakers' weapons have been scaled down, while the color palette has been altered and some map elements tweaked to be more functional. Check out the comparison images below to get a better idea for how things have changed.

 

 27 

LG G5 launch date and price details

The official release for LG G5, is set for two weeks from today, Friday April 1, and it won’t cost you nearly as much as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
In the US, the LG G5 price is around 630 USD (2,124,360 UGX) if you pay full retail. T-Mobile breaks that down into 26.25 USD (88,515 UGX) a month over 24 months, and US Cellular is doing the same for 26.50 USD (91,044 UGX)a month.
Verizon, AT&T and Sprint haven’t announced their delivery date or price for the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow phone, but expect one to appear in an updated news story soon.
In the UK, the phone retailers will sell an unlocked LG G5 for an even 563.40 USD (1,899,784 UGX), though, be warned: Amazon has the release date backed up by a week: April 8.
To sweeten the deal, some carriers and retailers are offering early adopter incentives. T-Mobile, for example, is throwing in an LG 360 Cam and an LG Battery Bundle for free.
[ Tech Radar ]

 

 28 

Why did your Startup fail? Let’s find out

According to research, over 51% of businesses will fail in their first five years, and even 25-30% of venture-backed businesses fail.
Being an entrepreneur is a risk which needs to be taken. How can one reduce that risk of failure for your next startup?
The infographic below from presitely.com shows the top 20 reasons why startup fail, and if the insights are used well to evaluate your own startup strategy, your are reducing the risk of failing.

 

 29 

Minesweeper Universe released for iOS and Android

LITE Games on Friday was thrilled to announce the release of Minesweeper Universe 1.6 for iOS and Android , a fabulous remake of the computer game classic. Beware! This new version adds more than one twist to the well known game and will get you hooked instantly.
The tension is palpable in the young adventurer’s face. Just one false move could set off the sticks of dynamite. Luckily, through skillful calculation, she knows where the danger lurks. She wins, gathers the valuable treasures, and moves on to the next task.
Players can now experience this adventure for themselves – LITE Games reinvents the famous Minesweeper concept for the mobile era. Among other things, new daily tasks, a wide range of power-ups, four exciting worlds, and much more ensure an innovative gaming experience.
“In Minesweeper Universe, we have preserved the well-known game concept from the PC era and refined it with innovative approaches,” comments Christian Twellmann, CEO of the Hamburg-based mobile games publisher LITE Games.
Originally, the Minesweeper game was only available for PC gamers, but now, mobile users on the Android and iOS platforms can also enjoy solving these tricky tasks. Players will need to think logically in order to mark the hidden bombs on the playing field. If they manage to do so, a mystical treasure awaits them at the end of the round.
Everything at a glance – Minesweeper Universe for Android and iOS offers:
Device Requirements:

 

 30 

Top iOS news of the week: Safari vs. Chrome, Apple employees may quit, new FBI witnesses

Apple believes that a last minute request by the FBI to call new witnesses in its case against Apple means the case is not rock solid. The request for an evidentiary hearing means witnesses can be called by both sides in the battle to open a terrorist's phone.
Source: Computerworld
Apple's Safari has long been trailing Chrome use for web browsing, especially on the iPhone. That may be changing according to a study by Adobe, finding that Safari usage jumped 34 percent last year while Chrome only increased 19 percent.
Source: TNW
If the court case between the FBI and Apple over breaking into a terrorist's iPhone doesn't end well, Apple's encryption engineers may be in trouble. The NYT reports that the engineers say they will refuse to comply if ordered to create a backdoor into the iPhone, even if it means quitting Apple.
Source: NYT
Apple will be having a major press event next week, and that means new products. What those might be only Apple knows, although rumors are all over the web. ZDNet has gathered the juiciest of the rumors and brought them together to see what you think we might see.
Source: ZDNet

 

 31 

Google now lets you put stickers on Maps

As you may know, you can label your Home and Work places on Google Maps for easy access to them. Thanks to an update rolling out now to the Android app, you can also add custom stickers to these locations - just in case you want to mark your house with a yellow submarine.
First, you need to designate these locations in Google Maps, which you can do by pulling up a card for somewhere and then picking Label. Type in "home" or "work" and you then get the option to add these markers to the places you've picked.
Once a place is labelled, you can choose from a range of preset icons (there's no way to add your own yet). Google says it's so you can make Maps "a little more you", but it does help in spotting your home or office from a distance.
Google also points out you can add all kinds of custom labels - school, gym, Uncle Ted's and so on - to make using Maps more convenient. These place nicknames will show up in Maps to save you having to enter addresses each time.
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Total 31 articles. Generated at 2016-03-20 12:02