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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 19th Mar 2018

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Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix has spoken of the firm's intricate data

Facebook and a US data firm, Cambridge Analytica, have been accused of "misleading" Parliament.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said both firms must answer more questions over claims that details from 50 million profiles were gathered without consent.

Facebook suspended the US company, saying it breached its policies.

Cambridge Analytica said it does not hold or use any Facebook data. Both companies deny any wrongdoing.

The data firm is primarily known for its role in US President Trump's election campaign, where it provided details on American voters.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital Culture Committee, said comments by Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix at a Commons hearing last month must be explained.

Mr Collins said reports by the Guardian and the Observer made it "clear that he [Mr Nix] has deliberately misled the committee and Parliament by giving false statements".

Cambridge Analytica has denied allegations that Mr Nix misled that committee.

Facebook claims Cambridge Analytica, among others, did not destroy all the data it obtained, which breached its policies.

'Avoided questions'

The claims against the company rose to prominence after a former employee told the Guardian about his time at Cambridge Analytica.

Mr Collins also criticised Facebook, saying his committee had "repeatedly" asked the firm about how companies accessed user data from the website and if information had been taken without users' consent.

He claims that the firm "deliberately avoided answering straight questions" from the committee by sending witnesses who claimed not to know the answers.

"This also creates a false reassurance that Facebook's stated policies are always robust and effectively policed."

He also claimed Facebook had failed to supply evidence of the relationship between the social media platform and Cambridge Analytica.

"The reputation of this company is being damaged by stealth, because of their constant failure to respond with clarity and authority to the questions of genuine public interest that are being directed to them.

"Someone has to take responsibility for this."

A spokesperson for Facebook said that the data collection was not a hack or a breach.

"People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked," the company said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 19th Mar 2018

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Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker best known for passing on information that led to the arrest of Chelsea Manning, has died aged 37.

In online messaging conversations, Manning confided in him, describing confidential military material Manning had sent to Wikileaks.

Wikileaks published the video of a US helicopter strike that killed seven people, including a journalist working for the Reuters news agency.

The cause of Lamo’s death, confirmed to the BBC by the Sedgwick County coroner in Kansas, has not yet been made public.

On Facebook, his father Mario wrote: “With great sadness and a broken heart I have to let know all of Adrian's friends and acquittances [sic] that he is dead. A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone, he was my beloved son.”

Lamo's own record as a hacker included some high-profile targets, such as Microsoft and the New York Times.

'Thrust upon me'

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper in 2011, Lamo described his decision to give up Manning as “not one I decided to make, but was thrust upon me”.

Lamo said he would have "lasting regret" if Manning was handed a long sentence.

Manning, known at the time as Bradley Manning, was eventually sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, President Barack Obama later commuted her sentence and she was released in May 2017.

She is now attempting to become the Senator for Maryland, her home state.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Friday described Lamo as a “petty conman and betrayer of basic human decency”.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 19th Mar 2018


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Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is facing intensified calls to appear in person at investigations into the social network's conduct.

His company has been accused of failing to properly inform users that their profile information may have been obtained and kept by Cambridge Analytica, a data firm widely-credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook said on Friday it had blocked Cambridge Analytica from Facebook while it investigated claims the London-based firm did not, as promised, delete data that was allegedly obtained using methods that were in violation of Facebook's policies.

Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny any wrongdoing.

Despite pledging that in 2018 he would "fix" his company, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has managed to avoid engaging with the site's growing number of critics - instead sending lawyers or policy bosses to various committee hearings.

The 33-year-old's recent remarks on some of Facebook's controversies have been communicated in the relatively safe space of a blog post or video message published on his Facebook page.

With the building row over how Facebook data may have been used to fuel highly-targeted political propaganda, several influential figures on both side of the Atlantic this weekend said it was time for Mr Zuckerberg to step up to publicly defend - or at least justify - his creation.

Some called for investigations into whether Mr Zuckerberg's company may have violated laws governing disclosure of a data breach - and also rules on properly obtaining a user's consent to collect personal information.

"This is a major breach that must be investigated," demanded Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

"It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I've called for more transparency and accountability for online political ads. They say 'trust us'."

She added: "Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary."

'High on themselves'

That sentiment was backed by Adam Schiff, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating social media manipulation in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.

"I think it would be beneficial to have him come testify before the appropriate oversight committees," he told the Washington Post.

"And not just Mark but the other CEOs of the other major companies that operate in this space."

On Sunday morning TV, Florida senator and former presidential hopeful Marco Rubio told NBC's Meet the Press he felt technology companies acted as if they are "above" regulations.

"Their growth has been a lot faster than perhaps their ability to mature institutionally from within on some of these challenges that they're facing," he said.

"I think another part about it is sometimes these companies grow so fast and get so much good press, they get up high on themselves that they start to think that perhaps they're above sort of the rules that apply to everybody else."

Skip Twitter post by @alexstamos

Alex Stamos✔@alexstamos

Replying to @alexstamos

There are a lot of big problems that the big tech companies need to be better at fixing. We have collectively been too optimistic about what we build and our impact on the world. Believe it or not, a lot of the people at these companies, from the interns to the CEOs, agree.

6:01 PM - Mar 17, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @alexstamos

The man in charge of Britain's investigation into Russian meddling in the democratic process said he too wanted to press Mr Zuckerberg on the issue.

"I will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he or another senior executive from the company appear to give evidence in front of the committee as part our inquiry," said Damian Collins MP.

"It is not acceptable that they have previously sent witnesses who seek to avoid asking difficult questions by claiming not to know the answers."


Media captionIn the age of big data, is our democracy open to manipulation?

Mr Collins also said he would be recalling Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix to parliament to answer more questions.

"It seems clear that he has deliberately misled the committee and parliament," Mr. Collins said.

Cambridge Analytica and Mr Nix have denied any wrongdoing.

Deleted tweets

In an attempt to get out ahead of a story in the New York Times and Observer newspapers, Facebook made an announcement late Friday night, California time, that it was blocking Cambridge Analytica from using Facebook while it investigated claims the inappropriately-obtained data had not been deleted as promised.

This was followed by remarks from Alex Stamos, the firm's chief security officer, who wrote and then deleted a series of tweets. He objected to the word "breach" being used to describe how data from as many as 50 million peoples' user profiles may have been obtained without explicit user consent.

"I have deleted my tweets on Cambridge Analytica," he later wrote.

"Not because they were factually incorrect but because I should have done a better job weighing in."

Christopher Wylie, a Canadian data analytics expert who worked with Cambridge Analytica, revealed how it and its partners harvested data belonging to mostly US voters. Over the weekend, he announced he had been suspended from Facebook.

Skip Twitter post by @chrisinsilico

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Christopher Wylie@chrisinsilico

Suspended by @facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for 2 years.

11:37 AM - Mar 18, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @chrisinsilico

On top of its initial statement, Facebook on Sunday said it was conducting a "comprehensive internal and external review" into whether the data, gathered via an app created by Global Science Research (GSR), still existed.

GSR was set up by University of Cambridge associate professor Aleksandr Kogan and his colleague Joseph Chancellor. According to the Guardian, Mr Chancellor was given a job at Facebook as a researcher just months after GSR carried out the data-gathering exercise that Facebook now says violated its policies.

Facebook has not commented on the calls for Mr Zuckerberg to appear in front of the several committees expressing a desire to hear from him.

But one analyst warned that this controversy is a direct threat to Facebook's business model, and therefore Mr Zuckerberg will be expected to put investors at ease, sooner rather than later.

"This has potential to grow into something a lot more onerous," said Daniel Ives from GBH Insight.

"So he has to get ahead of this storm before it turns into a hurricane."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Mar 2018

March 9, 2018 from Liz  Mobile Phone & Tablet

Twitter has regained its importance since Donald Trump’s election as the president of the USA.  The US president likes to spread his opinion and often uses the social media platform, Twitter to do it. So that you don’t ever miss any of his ( and other important ) tweets ever again, there is now Twitter bookmarks.

With the new bookmarks feature, you can save tweets and read them later. Read on to find out how this works and what benefits it has. 

The message service Twitter has been around for almost 12 years. The service has been under enormous pressure for just as long, due to profit issues. In the battle for user numbers, Twitter had repeatedly made changes. Recently, the number of characters was doubled from 140 to 280 – with success. The message service achieved its first quarterly profit at the end of 2017.

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Thanks to Twitter Bookmarks you will now find tweets better.

Twitter bookmarks to tag tweets

Twitter keeps you up to date with the latest news. If you’re not online all the time, you may lose track of the news. Twitter bookmarks will now help against this. With them you can easily save tweets and read them later in peace.

Until now, you could only mark tweets with the public “Like it” button and save them for later retrieval. However, you don’t automatically like everything you want to read, so many users were not satisfied with this form of tagging.They needed a more private way to store messages. With the new Twitter Bookmarks this is possible. In contrast to the “Like” button, the author of the tweet will not get a message if you set the new Twitter bookmark.

Twitter bookmarks – how does it work?

One question remains: Where do you find the Twitter Bookmarks and how can you save tweets with them? First you have to update Twitter to make the bookmarking function possible.

If you want to save a tweet, click on the newly introduced “Share” icon in the selection “Add tweet to bookmarks”. You will find the “Share” icon on the right underneath the tweet. As soon as you have time to read your marked messages, you will see your personal list. There you will find all tweets saved with Twitter Bookmarks. And best of all, this list is only accessible via your user profile. This means that it is not open to the public, but your very own private reading list.

Favourites used as a bookmark feature

Until this update, which Twitter has now rolled out to all users, you could only save tweets with an asterisk under the “favourites”. However, the author of the tweet received a notification. Nevertheless, many users use this option as a bookmark function to find tweets and read them later. Recently when Twitter turned the star into a heart, many users asked themselves whether they marked a message with the heart for later reading only or whether the heart is equivalent to a “like”.

In order to clarify the situation, the message service is now introducing the Twitter bookmarks. These are available for the iOS and Android versions of Twitter, Twitter Lite and  mobile.twitter.com, say Twitter in its company blog.

If you need help setting up your smartphone, make sure you come to your local TrustATec partner and we can help you with our Android Smartphone set up service

Source: trustatec.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Mar 2018

For the last four weeks, I've been living in an Orwellian nightmare. One in which I have to watch every word I say because "they" are always listening. And by "they", I mean Alexa, Siri and Google.

It seemed like a good idea - get seven smart speakers and test them in a real house to see how they affected our listening habits and daily routine.

At times, they've been pretty helpful. If we're running low on biscuits, one of us can bark, "Hey Siri, add Hob Nobs to the shopping list" and a reminder appears on our phones.

During Storm Emma, Google kept me up-to-date on train cancellations, while our kids amused themselves for hours by asking Alexa what noise a cat makes.

Thankfully, none of the devices started spontaneously laughing in the middle of the night - but they were all prone to bouts of madness.

I once asked Alexa "what's the weather in Yemen" and got the reply: "'Das wetter' is German for 'the weather'."

And when I told Google to "play music in the kitchen", it responded by streaming Lee Brice's Songs In The Kitchen to a speaker in the dining room (congratulations, Lee, on your new royalty stream).

To find out which smart assistant was the smartest, I put each of the speakers to the test - posing 50 random questions on music, sport and general knowledge. Like all good quiz show hosts, I only accepted their first answer.

Alexa fared best, with 37 correct answers, followed by Google on 32, and Siri, which scored a lowly 27.

Apple's assistant was hobbled by its lack of integration with other apps - meaning it couldn't read my calendar or look up recipes.

When it came to music-related queries, however, Siri had more success.

For instance, the HomePod was the only speaker that could parse the command "play the James Bond theme next". Its competitors all tried to find a song called "James Bond Theme Next", failed, and gave up.

You can find the full list of questions, and how the speakers responded, here.

As you'll see, none of them are perfect - but smart speakers look set to replace the smartphone as the tech giants' biggest growth products.

Choosing the right one can be tricky. So here's our guide to the speakers, and how they might fit into your lifestyle.

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Apple HomePod (£319)

Apple has arrived late to the smart speaker market, but not through laziness.

The HomePod has been in development since 2012, and boasts a unconventional design - with seven tweeters (the speakers that produce treble) arranged in a circle to project music into every nook and cranny of your house. The bass is also punchy and well-balanced, even at low volumes.

I found it worked better with acoustic, singer-songwriter material. Playing Regina Spektor's Samson, the HomePod championed the singer's vocals without losing the detail in her piano work. On a busier song like Stevie Wonder's Superstition, however, it struggled to pick out the star's intricate drumming.

It's also an incredibly insistent speaker - demanding your attention with a very "forward" soundstage. We found that was great in the hustle and bustle of a family kitchen, but less attractive when listening to music in bed at night.

One important note: You can't set up the HomePod unless you have an iPhone or an iPad. The speaker is then tethered to that device and certain functions, like updating your shopping list, only work when they can "see" each other.

HomePod is also completely loyal to Apple Music. You can't ask Siri to stream from Spotify or Deezer - although you can access them on your phone and beam them to the speaker.

Best for: Apple enthusiasts; audiophiles

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Amazon Echo Plus (£139)

If you want a speaker that comes with a free light bulb, then Amazon's Echo Plus is your only choice.

The speaker aims to be a "home hub", controlling all sorts of connected devices, from your lights to your kettle. I wasn't able to test those abilities, though, as the BBC budget didn't stretch to buying me remote control curtains.

As a music player, the Echo Plus is competent but unspectacular - but it'd make an ideal replacement for a kitchen radio.

Alexa will happily stream from Spotify and Deezer, as well as Amazon's own Music Unlimited service - which you get at a discount if you purchase an Echo device.

It's particularly good at finding the music you want, even if you have a terrible memory. I managed to get Alexa to cue up Girls Aloud's Love Machine by asking, "What's the song that goes, 'Let's go, Eskimo?'"

One word of warning: Amazon's streaming service doesn't have a parental filter, so you're stuck with the explicit versions of the songs in their catalogue.

And now that Amazon has leased Alexa to other speaker manufacturers, there are better devices in a similar price range.

Best for: Casual listening, smart assistant abilities

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Ultimate Ears Megablast (£199)

The Megablast is a long, tall cylinder of fun, available in a range of colours (our review unit was a lurid yellow, which I became weirdly fond of).

It gives out a bassy, fulsome sound; which goes up really, really loud without losing any finesse. You can use Alexa to play songs from Amazon Music Unlimited (but not Spotify yet), or simply use it as a bluetooth speaker to stream music directly from your phone.

Best of all, you can unplug it and take it to a party, with a generous battery life that means you won't be left tuneless when the clock strikes midnight. And it's waterproof, so it won't go kaput if you spill your drink.

On the downside, the microphone is poor at picking up your voice commands - especially when music is playing. And the charging port is awkwardly placed at the bottom of the speaker, meaning it has to be laid on its side when its plugged in, ruining the sound. (Ultimate Ears sells a separate charging dock, pictured above, for £35 if this is a deal-breaker).

Best for: Portability, volume

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Sonos: One (£199)

presentational grey lineSonos are masters of multi-room audio, but the One is their first foray into smart speaker territory.

There's an intriguing set-up, where you're asked to wave your phone around the room while the unit emits a series of sci-fi bleeps and bloops.

This helps the speaker adapt to its environment and, to be fair, it performed admirably in our cluttered bedroom, with a weighty, dynamic delivery that belied its tiny size.

Superstition, which confounded Apple's HomePod, sounded bright and lively, with a deep, funky bass and plenty of breathing room for Stevie Wonder's vocals.

Best of all, Sonos welcomes all music streaming services - with 49 currently available in the UK, including Apple Music (not all of them can be controlled by Alexa, though).

You can also chain two Sonos speakers together to get stereo, while the Sonos app is the only one that allows you to tweak settings like treble and bass to tailor the music to your tastes. And if you buy multiple units, you can scare your family by playing ghost noises in the attic while you're in the kitchen.

One small niggle: Sonos has programmed Alexa to speak over the start of your music, so you constantly miss the first five seconds your favourite album.

Best for: Stereo, choice of streaming services, multi-room audio

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Google Home (£129)

It looks like an air freshener. An air freshener on the Starship Enterprise, but an air freshener nonetheless.

Still, I was quite enamoured with the Home's sleek, matte white finish and the easygoing, friendly voice of its virtual assistant.

It transpires that her dialogue was written by Emma Coats, a former Pixar employee who drew up the film studio's 22 rules of storytelling - which explains why Google feels more engaging than its competitors.

There are a few neat touches to the AI, too. When you ask Google to "flip a coin", for example, you hear the sound of a coin being tossed before learning the result. Even better, the Google Home enables you to make voice calls to any UK landline or mobile number - for free.

Sadly, though, the device isn't up to much as an actual speaker. It had the worst sound of all the units we tested, and was prone to distorted bass even at low volumes.

Best for: Personality, design

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JBL Link 300 (£249)

Luckily, fans of Google's voice assistant have some alternatives. Sonos are promising a Google-enabled speaker later this year and JBL will release their Link 300 in the next couple of weeks.

It's a chunky little device that works best on pop and hip-hop, with an eloquent sound that emphasises the low end thanks to a circular resonator on the back that pumps out the bass.

One neat feature is a wi-fi light that shows the strength of your internet connection (something I'd like to see on more devices, given the patchy wi-fi in our house).

In the end, this became our go-to speaker in the living room and kitchen, despite an infuriating five-minute fight to make it play the Hamilton soundtrack.

It turns out you had to say "OK Google, play 'Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording'" - a command that's as intuitive as a lead wetsuit.

Best for: Google smarts with better sound.

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Amazon Echo Show (£199)

The Echo Show has a 7-inch screen, which displays song lyrics while you listen. It's a bit of a gimmick, but it was a big hit with our kids.

The device also came in handy in the kitchen, where we used it to display recipes and set timers without having to touch the screen with our sticky fingers.

All this functionality comes at the cost of sound quality, though. Don't expect anything beyond your average clock radio.

Best for: Karaoke night

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Mar 2018

Auction being kicked off earlier than expected

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Ofcom has confirmed plans to start its 4G and 5G wireless spectrum auction next week

The auction, which will see Ofcom offer up 40Mhz of frequency in the 2.3GHz band (which will be immediately available for 4G services) and 150MHz in the 3.5GHz band (which will be used for 5G services), will begin on 20 March, ISPreview reports. 

The auction will run for "a number of weeks", Ofcom has confirmed, after which it'll be able to confirm which of the six bidding operators - BT-owned EE, O2, Three, Vodafone Hull-based ISP Connexin and Airspan Spectrum Holdings - have been successful. 

This 20 March start date is earlier than expected, with Ofcom last month announcing that the auction would go ahead in April.

This confirmation came after Three failed in its last-ditch attempt to force a change to the bidding rules. The operator had called for Ofcom to impose a 30 per cent spectrum cap, slamming the watchdog's 37 per cent cap as "meaningless" and bad for competition. 

BT-owned EE, which owns 43 per cent of available spectrum at present, also launched legal action in the direction of Ofcom in an attempt to stop it from imposing the same cap on the 3.4GHz 5G band.

Ofcom confirmed at the end of last month that it will impose a cap of 255MHz on the "immediately usable" spectrum, which means that BT-owned EE will not be able to bid for any.

A cap of 340MHz has also been placed on the overall amount of mobile spectrum a single operator can hold as a result of the auction.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom's spectrum group director, said last month: "We're pressing ahead with the auction to make these airwaves available as quickly as possible.

"This will benefit today's mobile users by providing more capacity for mobile broadband use. It will also pave the way for 5G, allowing operators to launch the next generation of mobile technology." 

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Mar 2018

Rumours that PlayStation 5 will be launched in 2020, with developers already working on new games

Games designers may already have access to the PlayStation 5 development kits, according to high-profile industry insider Marcus Sellars.

Sellars is famed for leaking high-profile information about games hardware and software companies. He now believes that Sony has officially released the PS5 developer kits to third-party companies.

Writing on Twitter last week, the analyst said: "PS5 dev kits went out early this year to third-party developers". However, he has not released any more details about the kits or who may have have received them.

Although Sellars did not publish any evidence to back-up his claims, he is widely seen as a reputable source of inside information in the games industry. For instance, he leaked details about the Nintendo Switch Port of 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4'.

2020 is what I have in my forecast. The data suggest there's no need to do it earlier

In the past, he also confirmed the existence of Metroid Prime 4. The latter is a game that is being made by gaming giant Nintendo and Bandai Namco.

Whatever the case, this is not the first time that rumours about the PlayStation 5 have emerged, despite the fact that Sony has worked to keep the console under wraps.

Last month, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella claimed that Sony is likely to unveil its next generation games console within two years.

"2020 is what I have in my forecast. The data suggest there's no need to do it earlier. But I've been surprised before so I'm as interested in this as anyone," he said, without divulging details about the source.

Piscatella is not, by any means, the first person to talk about the PlayStation 5. Grab Games creative director Harold Vancol believesthat the console could be bundled with a VR headset.

"Buying a new console is a big undertaking for a lot of people, and buying the headset that I think people want to see in the future of PlayStation can almost be like buying a new console," he claimed in February.

"So having these purchases separated gives each thing its own time to shine. However, PlayStation 5 and PSVR [PlayStation VR] should be considered essential together."

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 12th Mar 2018
Image result for work smarter remain productive at work

Executives should ditch meetings, quit multitasking and learn how to delegate to maximise productivity in the office, experts have warned.


A new list of tips and advice has been compiled by the experts at a commercial property firm to encourage workers to ditch bad habits and achieve benchmark levels of productivity at work.


From jazzing up your workplace, to improving your email etiquette, adopting these surprising habits will help to enhance brain function and improve concentration to keep you performing at an optimum level all throughout the day.


Chris Meredith, CEO at LondonOffices.com commented:

“If it feels as though you’re constantly busy and you regularly struggle to see tasks through to the end, these could be signs that you should be taking measures to up your concentration levels and ensure you’re working as productively as possible.


“Being more productive at work isn’t rocket science, but it does require making considered decisions and generally being more organised with your time.

“These tips and snippets of advice are all easy to follow and carry out – it’s just all down to putting them in to place effectively and sticking to them.”


Here are 15 ways to remain productive at work:

  1. Take regular breaks

Research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance, while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance. So, schedule short, regular breaks throughout the day to up your concentration.

  1. Say “no!” to meetings

Meetings are one of the biggest drainers of time, yet we all continue to book them, attend them and complain about them. Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals via email, phone, or a web-based meeting through Skype or something similar, as you could save yourself oodles of time.

  1. Hold standing meetings

If a face-to-face meeting is absolutely essential, then a standing meeting could be the best option for you. By standing, team members will be reminded to keep the meeting short and sweet, whilst also increasing their own levels of attention and involvement.

  1. Improve your email etiquette

Email can be a productivity killer and a distraction from tasks that actually matter, so try not to fall into this productivity trap. You might be guilty of copying-in multiple people in emails to get the workload off of your plate, but this can distract everyone else by creating disruptions against their own jobs.

If you receive an email where many people are CC'd, do everyone a favour by BCC’ing them on your reply. If your email chain goes beyond two replies, then it’s time to pick up the phone!

  1. Tackle your toughest tasks when you’re most alert

If you’re a morning person, tackle your toughest project over your first cup of coffee and be done with it. That way it won’t be looming over your head all day, distracting you from other tasks.

Similarly, if you perform best after lunch when you’ve refuelled, save the difficult or menial tasks until then. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you and working around it.

  1. Sleep

Early-morning commutes, long work hours, and countless responsibilities at home means that increasing numbers of people aren’t getting the shuteye they need – and it only takes one night of sleep deprivation for us to suffer!

This could have a damaging effect on your performance, as lack of sleep will decrease your concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, seven to nine hours a night is what you should be aiming for between the ages of 26-64.

  1. Quit multi-tasking

People often think that the ability to multitask is an important skill for increasing efficiency, but in fact attempting several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity.

Instead, commit to a single task and complete it before moving on to something else.

  1. Take advantage of your commute

This goes for any unexpected extra time you might find on your hands from day-to-day too. Instead of trawling through your social media accounts, use that time to clear your inbox, create your daily to-do list, or do some general brainstorming.

  1. Give yourself something nice to look at

According to research, decorating your office with pictures, candles and plants can increase productivity by up to 15%!

  1. Turn off notifications

During work hours, turn off your notifications and build in allocated time to check your emails and messages instead.

  1. Delegate properly

By delegating properly, you will have more time to spend on your own work. The key is to assign the right task to the right person – a person you know has the skills to do the job and that you can trust to get it done – and then leave them to it.

  1. Prepare a to-do list for the next day each night

To-do lists are invaluable when it comes to optimising productivity – they get you organized, provide a clear focus and being able to check off things you’ve done is super satisfying.

  1. Break up work with exercise

Physical activity enhances brain function, which will in turn lead to increased levels of productivity, so it makes sense to try and squeeze some exercise in each day.

Whether it’s a brisk walk during your lunch break or a few impromptu desk workouts throughout the day, the enhanced brainpower will give you improved concentration, more creativity, and faster learning!

  1. Find your perfect noise level

Some people can only work in absolute silence, while others need some kind of background noise to hone in on difficult tasks efficiently.

If you can, experiment with different environments and noise levels until you find what helps you to be most productive, but remember to be courteous of your neighbours too.

  1. Develop a routine

Whilst routines are often confused with being stuck in a rut or becoming complacent, developing a routine at work will actually help you pinpoint effective methods and techniques to increase your day-to-day productivity.



Source: bbpmedia.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 12th Mar 2018

asteroid day asteroid hitting earthAlthough there’s a very small chance it could happen, a large asteroid impacting the Earth would be a worldwide catastrophe. Government scientists have developed a plan for such an eventuality — blow it up (or deflect its trajectory) with a nuclear weapon.

According to BuzzFeed News, a joint venture between NASA, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and weapons labs from the Energy Department has resulted in designs for a spacecraft capable of saving the planet. Dubbed HAMMER (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response), the 8.8-ton craft would be able to alter the orbit of an incoming asteroid, either by crashing into a small one or detonating a nuclear device on a large one.

“Smart people are taking this seriously and thinking carefully about what might be done,” MIT impact expert Richard Binzel told the website. “These are reasonable ideas — well thought out.”

As outlined in the science journal Acta Astronautica, the more time we have to prepare for such an eventuality, the more likely the chance of success: “To use a kinetic impactor for successful deflection of an NEO [near-Earth object], it is essential to minimize the reaction time and maximize the time available for the impulse delivered to the NEO by the kinetic impactor to integrate forward in time to the eventual deflection of the NEO away from Earth impact.”


Scientists are using an asteroid named Bennu for a case study. According to calculations, there is a 1 in 2,700 chance it will strike the Earth in 2135 — on September 21, to be precise. Launched in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently on its way there. Later this year, it will scoop up a sample from the surface of Bennu in a “touch-and-go” maneuver before it returns to Earth.

Bennu is about one-third of a mile wide and weighs 174 billion pounds. If it struck the Earth, it would trigger a 1.13-gigaton blast, more than 20 times larger than the biggest hydrogen bomb ever tested. It was chosen for the impact scenario mainly because it’s been studied exhaustively as part of the OSIRIS-Rex mission.

“If the asteroid is small enough, and we detect it early enough, we can do it with the impactor,” physicist David Dearborn told BuzzFeed. “The impactor is not as flexible as the nuclear option when we really want to change the speed of the body in a hurry.”


It’s difficult to map the exact trajectory of these giant rocks hurtling through space, as they are subject to various gravitational forces and buffeted by solar winds. Strapping nuclear weapons to giant rockets and launching them on a collision course is hardly a sure thing, so the sooner scientists can identify possible threats, the better.

Detection of potentially dangerous NEOs needs to remain one of NASA’s priorities, said Bizel. “Time is the most important factor,” he added. “If you have more time, this problem gets much easier.”

Source: digitaltrends.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 12th Mar 2018

The Government Minister overseeing HS2 has told businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire they will benefit from the new line.

You can benefit from HS2, businesses in Coventry & Warwickshire told

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani was in the West Midlands to meet business leaders from the region’s Chambers of Commerce including Martyne Manning, policy manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

They were told that the projected benefits of the new line included 104,000 new jobs, 2,000 apprenticeships, £14bn worth of additional economic input and connectivity improvements around the region.

Martyne said that it was vital for companies across Coventry and Warwickshire to make sure they benefit from HS2.

She said: “It was great to meet Nus Ghani with colleagues from Chambers across the West Midlands.

“We all know about the history of HS2 but, whatever the different viewpoints on it in the past, it’s absolutely vital now that businesses recognise that this massive infrastructure project is happening and look to benefit from it.

“For some, that means getting involved now at this stage and seeing if they can be part of the development of the line and deliver some of the work involved.

“In the vast majority of cases, however, it is looking at HS2 and seeing if its arrival can make a difference to your business in the coming years. Can it connect you to new customers, suppliers or staff?

“The Minister told the meeting that there will be a whole range of benefits to the region and now it’s up to all of us to make sure that we make the most of it.

“Improved and modernised infrastructure is something the Chamber continues to call for and we will be updating members through our branch network on the progress of HS2.

“Also, we are working with individual businesses via our business support programme to advise them on where information can be found on the tender process. We are helping businesses to be at the forefront for contracts for HS2 as it develops.

“This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects for a generation and it is vital that it makes a huge positive economic impact on our region.”

We would welcome any feedback on how you see HS2 impacting your business please email martynem@cw-chamber.co.uk

Source: cw-chamber.co.uk
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