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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 18th Sep 2018

Soylent

Meal replacement drink Soylent will launch in the UK on Thursday with a different formula to its US equivalent.

The firm has replaced seven ingredients and adjusted the mineral and vitamin content to comply with British regulations.

Soylent was withdrawn from Canada in 2017 after the Food Inspection Agency found it did not meet their standards for "meal replacement".

The firm said it was working with Canadian authorities to reinstate it.

A food bar version was also recalled in the country in 2016 following reports that it made some people ill.

The Silicon Valley start-up became the largest crowd-funded food project when it launched in the US in 2013.

It was marketed at busy professionals and the company originally suggested the product could replace meals regularly.

It is named after a fictional artificial food called soylent that was featured in the 1966 sci-fi novel "Make Room! Make Room!".

In the 1973 movie version - Soylent Green - it was revealed that soylent was made from dead people.

'Food void'

However the firm has now rebranded it as a more occasional meal, to replace what it calls "food voids" - times when a conventional meal is not possible because of time, logistics or money.

CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper recently revealed that he was trying to replace all of his meals with Soylent drinks.

Soylent chief executive Bryan Crowley said he had faced criticism from nutritionists about the product.

"Nutritionists have a tough job, their usual response is we would rather they eat fruit and veg," he told the BBC.

"But we've been saying that for years and it isn't working.

"We're not trying to replace the meals you have with family and friends, weekend brunch - we're not trying to compete in that area. What we're saying is, we cant change how busy you are but we can provide you something nutritious to consume when you are that busy."

What does it taste like?

If you like your drinks to taste slightly chalky with a hint of porridge then this could well be a lunch option for you.

The main ingredient - after water - is genetically modified soya protein, so the drink unsurprisingly tastes like a protein shake from the gym.

Of the three launch flavours - original, cacao and cafe mocha - cacao is probably the most recognisable as it's a bit like a chocolate milkshake... if you try not to think about it too much.

Does it fill you up? It did for a bit. At 400 calories per drink, it's a bit heavy to be classed as a snack, but my liquid lunch companion was running for the nearest sandwich bar after two hours and while I've resisted that temptation, I'm not sure I could face another one for dinner.

Competition

It is Soylent's first foray into Europe but it already faces competition from others such as Huel, a UK-based product that launched in 2015.

Kris Ringer replaces two meals per day with Huel and said he felt the balance of his diet had improved.

"I don't think I could go to a full replacement though - by the end of the day I'm longing for real food that I can actually chew," he said.

"I'm quite happy with Huel so don't think I'd make a switch [to Soylent] unless it turned out to be as effective and cost less."

Soylent will be sold in ready-to-drink form via Amazon, retailing at £39.99 ($52) for 12 bottles.

The minimum order of Huel powder is sold online for £50 and provides 28 meals.

Bryan Crowley said that having competition was healthy.

"People ask me about competition - we have the advantage that we are the original," he said.

"This was founded five years ago on the crazy concept of a life food hack. It started to create a movement, and to build any new behaviour you need a lot of brands coming on board and raising awareness."

'Food is key'

Dietician Priya Tew said meal replacements can be useful but should not be relied upon.

"Eating whole food is always better when possible as there is an element to the chewing and digestion process that is important to our systems and psychologically food is key for us too," she told the BBC.

"Food is a package of nutrients many of which we are not even aware of. Things like antioxidants and phytochemicals will not all be in the meal replacements, so eating a range of colourful food is the best way to nourish our bodies long term."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 18th Sep 2018

Image result for birds riding bikes

Google wants pictures of bicycles and birds that can defeat image-recognition algorithms, as part of a contest launched to improve the technology.

While it is easy for humans to tell the difference between birds and bikes, computer systems can struggle to do so.

Prize money will be awarded for pictures that can fool image-recognition algorithms, or for new code that cannot be easily fooled.

But pictures of birds riding bicycles will not be allowed in the contest.

Google said it hoped the competition would lead to systems that make fewer errors.

How will the contest work?

People entering the contest as an "attacker", attempting to fool the system, must create an image of a bird that image-recognition algorithms think is a bicycle - or they can create an image of a bike that is misidentified as a bird.

The image can be digital art, a 3D rendering or a photograph. But the image must be easily identified by a human as either a bird or a bike.

Ambiguous images, such as a bird riding a bike, are not allowed.

People can also enter the contest as a "defender" by writing code that does not fall for any of the attackers' images.

If the algorithm misidentifies any of the images submitted by attackers, it is deemed "broken" and eliminated from the competition.

The first algorithm to remain unbroken for 90 days wins a quarter of the total prize fund - although Google says it has not yet decided how much that will be.

How can you fool image-recognition software?

Image-recognition software can be tricked by "adversarial noise" that tricks the computer into seeing something that is not there.

In January, Google revealed a psychedelic pattern that could be printed out and placed in any scene to make a computer think it was looking at a toaster.

Hiding a complex pattern in a bird's plumage is one method that might fool an image-recognition system into thinking it was looking at a bike.

"The objective of this contest is for defenders to build models that will never make confident mistakes," Google said in its announcement.

It said the contest would continue for several months until the prize money was claimed, rather than having a fixed end date.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Sep 2018

The BBC's weekly The Boss series profiles business leaders from around the world. This week we speak to Jamie Beaton and Sharndre Kushor, founders of online tutoring company Crimson Education.

Image result for personal tutor

When Jamie Beaton and Sharndre Kushor were seeking investors for their business, the fact that they were teenagers caused some confusion.

"We'd sit down in these boardrooms, and everyone would be triple our age, lots of white hair and beige," says Jamie, now 23.

"We'd turn up and they'd think we were the assistants or the interns."

Thankfully for all concerned, boyfriend and girlfriend Jamie and Sharndre were not there on work experience, or to pour the coffees.

The New Zealand couple are instead the founders and bosses of Crimson Education, which they launched when they were both 18.

Aimed at high school students around the world, it links them with tutors and mentors to help them get into the best universities in the US and the UK.

Crimson aims to help students around the world get into top UK and US universities, such as Oxford, pictured

When the couple started the business in Auckland in 2013 they were finishing their final year at school.

With no money to advertise, they instead reached out to friends and teachers, and put up notices on Facebook, to secure their first students and tutors. A year later Crimson gained its first $1m (£770,000) in funding, and it started to grow steadily.

Fast forward to today, and the company has reportedly secured a total of $37m in investment, which values it at $160m. And it claims that more than 20,000 students around the world now use its network of 2,400 academics and career advisers.

Jamie and Sharndre started dating when they were two of 18 Kiwi students chosen to attend a Model United Nations event in The Hague, Netherlands. Model UN is a global scheme in which children and young adults learn about diplomacy and international relations by role playing as delegates to the United Nations.

"Our first date was at a Starbucks in a train station in Germany, while on the trip," says Sharndre, also now 23. She says she was impressed by Jamie's "do-or-die focus".

Most of Crimson's students come from New Zealand, Australia and across Asia, including Seyoon Ragavan from Sydney, who got into Princeton University

At the time Jamie had been accepted by Harvard University in the US to study applied mathematics. Given his academic achievements it is not hard to see why - in his final year at school in Auckland he sat and got top marks in 10 British A-levels (students usually sit only three or four).

He had actually applied to 25 of the world's highest-ranked universities, and all had said yes.

Sharndre, a youth ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, was also a high achiever. But she hadn't thought to apply to top-tier universities outside New Zealand.

So chatting about their futures, the new couple came up with the idea for Crimson.

"New Zealand universities are wonderful," says Jamie. "But generally, ranking-wise, the US and UK do a lot better in many areas.

"By the end of the trip [to Europe] we started to conceive some sort of coaching service."

The couple have a relationship that is often very long distance

Launching the business, they soon had to juggle running it with keeping up with their university studies - and the fact that they were in different countries. While Jamie was at Harvard, Sharndre did a degree in population health at the University of Auckland.

Today Sharndre spends half the year in Auckland at Crimson's head office, and the other six months visiting its offices in 23 other cities around the world. Meanwhile, Jamie divides his time between Auckland and California, where he is doing a masters in education at Stanford University.

Crimson's mentors and tutors range from teachers and lecturers to former university admissions staff who can advise on the best ways to fill out application forms and how to conduct yourself in interviews.

The company says that students are not randomly connected to a mentor, and instead it uses a compatibility algorithm devised by J Galen Buckwalter, former chief scientist at dating website eHarmonMost Crimson students currently come from New Zealand, Australia and countries in Asia - Singapore, China, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

The company now plans to break into the US market, where there is plenty of competition from longer-established tutoring rivals such as Kaplan and Princeton Review.

Peter Zamborsky, a business lecturer at the University of Auckland, cautions that these larger businesses have flexed their muscles to take on Crimson in the online sphere.

"If these bigger firms see the market that Crimson is trying to tap as profitable, they can - and already did - step up their digital efforts," he says.

Princeton Review, better known for its in-person tutoring, is increasingly moving into the online sphere to compete with the likes of Crimson

While Crimson won't reveal an exact annual turnover figure, it says it is now "in the large eight figures".

Jamie, who is chief executive, and Sharndre, who is the chief operating officer, are reported to still own 45% of the business. This makes their stake worth $72m.

Sharndre says that while "the rule book" says you shouldn't be dating your business partner, for them it works well. "It's been the biggest blessing because you're working with someone every day that you really trust."

However, Jamie admits that the couple try to prevent perceptions that they might always agree by "overcompensating" in work meetings.

"Some of the boldest debates fly in the boardrooms between us two," he says.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Sep 2018

Amazon is investigating claims that its employees accepted bribes in exchange for leaking confidential sales data.

Image result for amazon

Independent sellers were also allowed to delete negative reviews and restore banned accounts for payments of between $80 (£61; €69) and $2,000, according to allegations in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal said the practice was particularly "pronounced in China".

Amazon said it had "zero tolerance" for abuse of its systems and that it was conducting a "thorough investigation".

"We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," an Amazon spokesperson said.

They added that the company would also take "swift action" against sellers on its site who had "engaged in this behaviour... including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action".

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon's investigation began in May when the firm was tipped off about the practice in China.

The Journal said independent brokers had used Chinese messaging service WeChat to connect independent sellers with Amazon staff.

Around half of the items sold on Amazon now come from third-party sellers, which means the online giant is able to offer a wider variety of items for sale.

Such sellers need to compete with Amazon's own products to get noticed and compete directly with the online giant to get their items higher on search results pages.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Sep 2018

Image result for jeff bezos

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos has been criticised by President Trump for paying "little or no taxes"

"Great fortunes," the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie is reported to have said, "are great blessings to a community."

No doubt the beneficiaries of multibillionaire Jeff Bezos's new philanthropic fund will agree.

The richest man in the world announced on Thursday that he would give $2bn (£1.5bn) of his fortune to finance a network of preschools and tackle homelessness in America.

But far from being universally applauded, the Amazon founder's pledge was met with fierce criticism.

James Bloodworth, a writer who went undercover to expose working conditions at the company's fulfilment centres, said there was "something slightly ironic" about Mr Bezos's plan.

"There have been credible reports of Amazon warehouse workers sleeping outside in tents because they can't afford to rent homes on the wages paid to them by the company," he told the BBC.

"Jeff Bezos can tout himself as a great philanthropist, yet it will not absolve him of responsibility if Amazon workers continue to be afraid to take toilet breaks and days off sick because they fear disciplinary action at work."

The treatment of Amazon's employees has been highlighted by several politicians, including Bernie Sanders

Accusations of hypocrisy flooded in on social media, with many pointing to Amazon's efforts to reduce its tax bill in the US and abroad.

Others highlighted Amazon's recent successful attempt to quash a law in Seattle - the home of the online retailer's headquarters - that was designed to raise millions of dollars to alleviate the city's homelessness crisis.

For his part, Mr Bezos, who is thought to be worth in excess of $150bn, did little to distance his philanthropic efforts from the business model of his company.

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"We'll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon," he said in the statement announcing his fund.

"Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession.

"The child will be the customer."

The Carnegie legacy

Yet the idea that business titans should apply the principles of their boardrooms to the public realm is hardly new.

It was first presented by Andrew Carnegie in 1899, in an essay entitled The Gospel of Wealth.

Andrew Carnegie

Image captionAndrew Carnegie is estimated to have parted with 90% of his fortune

The magnate - himself once the world's richest man - outlined what he saw as the moral duty of the super rich: "To consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer."

Businessmen, Mr Carnegie argued, were best placed to do said administering.

"The man of wealth thus becoming the sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren," he wrote, "bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer - doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves."

By the time he died in 1919, Mr Carnegie was estimated to have parted with 90% of his fortune, using it to fund scientific research, pay teachers, build schools and establish more than 2,000 public libraries.

The first Carnegie Library, in Dunfermline, Scotland

His doctrine became the model for donations by fellow tycoons, including John D Rockefeller, who saw no conflict between their approach to business - in which they built monopolies and crushed labour unions - and their philanthropic work.

It is a model that laid the path for the modern-day benefactions of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg - whose charitable causes are distinct from the way they run their companies.

At this year's annual meeting of his firm Berkshire Hathaway, Mr Buffett could not have been clearer.

"I do not believe in imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses," he told assembled shareholders, when quizzed on whether he would divest from gun manufacturers.

Warren Buffett has drawn a line between his business practices and his politics

'Don't put a Band-Aid on cancer'

But according to Anand Giridharadas, Mr Carnegie's approach helped give rise to mass inequality.

Mr Giridharadas, whose book Winners Take All tackles the so-called "charade" of modern philanthropy, characterises Carnegie's approach as "extreme taking followed by extreme giving".

The super rich, he argues, stop short of "transforming the system atop which they stand".

While Mr Bezos's donation is admirable, he says, it does not tackle the "deep and complex root causes" of homelessness and poverty in the US - which include Amazon itself, as the firm has been a beneficiary of the new world of precarious employment.

A good motto for the likes of Mr Bezos, he suggests, would be: "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what you have already done to your country."

Basketball star LeBron James recently announced he was setting up a school, and would pay graduates' college tuition

The approaches taken by the super rich, says Mr Giridharadas, are less bold than the companies they helped create.

"If you want to wade into public policy, you have a moral responsibility not to put a Band-Aid on cancer," he says, adding that Mr Bezos could work to influence policy instead.

One way in which he could do so is by fighting for a change in the law when it comes to companies' responsibilities to shareholders, and the bottom line - paving the way for corporate structures which sacrifice some profits in pursuit of social good.

Seattle, the home of Amazon's HQ, has seen a rise in homelessness

Matt Kilcoyne, of the free market think-tank the Adam Smith Institute, disagrees.

"Quite frankly Bezos's greatest act of philanthropy is Amazon itself," he argues.

"Lower prices, more choice and competition have delivered billions for Bezos and billions worth for the hundreds of millions of customers he serves."

What's more, Mr Kilcoyne dismisses any talk of the super rich's moral responsibility to give in a certain way.

"Jeff Bezos has a right to spend his own money as he pleases.

"Armchair commentators might like to say that they know better than Bezos what he should spend his money on, but they'd do better to try and convince him of their philanthropic cause than chastise him for his choice."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 12th Sep 2018

Image result for apple

Apple has given the Oval Office a run for its money in the past few weeks – we’ve had an unprecedented number of leaks ahead of the firm’s annual product launch.

So, barring any surprises – a Steve Jobs-esque “one more thing” – we have a pretty good idea of what to expect when Tim Cook heads out on stage on Wednesday. He’ll do it as the chief executive of the first US company to reach a value of $1tn (£768bn). To keep it that way, Apple will be building on past successes rather than introducing anything dramatically new.

We’ll likely see three new iPhones, a revamped Apple Watch, and maybe some new iPads. Later in the year, rumour suggests a budget laptop may be on the way.

What we won’t see, however, are some of the innovative leaps being promised by some of Apple’s competitors.

Samsung plans a device with a flexible display by the end of the year. OnePlus said its next phone will have a fingerprint sensor built into the screen. Huawei, which recently overtook Apple in global smartphone sales, has said it is working on a flexible device of its own.

But, of course, Apple’s strength is in ignoring such emerging technologies until they feel the time is right to build it into their products. As far as they see it, there’s no point in technology for technology’s sake – a philosophy that has been validated year after year.

"Right now the iPhone franchise is so strong that it feels like it's almost untouchable," says Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight.

"Even at a time when rivals such as Samsung are having to push the envelope on developing new technology such as folding screens."

Last year, it was the iPhone’s 10-year anniversary, and fans were expecting a reinvention of the device. What they got was the iPhone X – Ten – that, while not revolutionising the range, did at least push it into something of a new design phase.

It also brought the iPhone into a new price bracket: $999.

Anticipation is not nearly as high this time around. This is what is referred to as an “S” year, when Apple doesn’t make any major changes to its device, save for some internal improvements – and tacks an “S” to the device name to make it clear.

So, in keeping with that theme, we’re expecting an iPhone XS. As well as that, leaks suggest another, larger version – one which may make $999 the “cheaper” option of the two. That bigger version might be called the XS Max, a name which to me sounds more like a muscle-building powder supplement, but hey - I’m not a marketer.

Apple’s stock price went up dramatically when the company revealed the average selling price of an iPhone was going up. Some had been concerned - Apple was very much testing the water with its iPhone X’s $999 price point last year, its most expensive phone ever. Twelve months on, the answer to “will people spend that much on an iPhone?” is, according to sales figures, an emphatic “yes”. With the XS Max we’ll see how far Apple can push it.

Beyond the XS and XS Max, completing the set in 2018 may be a budget version of the iPhone X. If so, that would mean the home button, the circular button that made the iPhone instantly recognisable, will be no more.

While the iPhone remains Apple’s bread and butter, accounting for the vast amount of the firm’s profits, a growing part of its business comes from other areas, such as the Apple Watch. The device hasn’t seen the blockbuster sales some might have expected since its launch in 2015 but it’s comfortably the biggest-selling smartwatch on the market.

Leaks suggest we may see a new Apple Watch with a slightly bigger screen and more sophisticated heart-monitoring capabilities. Three years since the original, I predict the Apple Watch being a big seller this Christmas – early adopters are primed to upgrade, and those who held back might now be tempted.

Apple Watch sales are good for Apple’s wider business – it only works with the iPhone, naturally.

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 12th Sep 2018

Image result for brexit ireland border

A hard border on the island of Ireland can be avoided by using "established" technology and "modifying" existing arrangements, Brexiteer Tory MPs say.

The European Research Group said the issue had been allowed to "frame" the talks but need not block a trade deal.

They call for "effective co-operation" between Belfast and Dublin to address smuggling concerns and extra customs forms to be included in VAT returns.

The EU has insisted on a "backstop" to ensure the single market is protected.

Both the UK and the EU want to avoid a return to physical checks at the Northern Ireland border, but have yet to agree how this can be achieved.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said the ERG's answer to the problem of the Irish border seemed to be that "there isn't really a problem".

He said the group was citing the example of the "invisible border" between Norway and Sweden as a precedent for how post-Brexit arrangements might work.

Speaking at the launch of the ERG's report in London, former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Patterson said he and other MPs were trying to "help the European Union and the UK government" by "giving an answer" to a problem which has risked derailing the Brexit process.

What will become of the Irish border when the UK leaves the European Union?

He insisted there was "absolutely nothing new" in what the group was proposing because the solutions already exist to deliver "an ordered border".

He said there was already a tax, VAT, excise and currency border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which was maintained by "administrative and technical tools".

This should continue after Brexit, he said, supplemented by a range of mechanisms to ensure customs checks are conducted away from the border, such as trusted trader schemes.

"We absolutely believe there is no need for new physical infrastructure at the border and it can be handled by current means," he said.

Two former Northern Ireland secretaries were among Tory MPs endorsing the proposals

The report acknowledges a range of new checks will be needed on goods passing across the 310 mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, including extra customs declarations and declarations of origin as well as sanitary, phytosanitary and product compliance procedures.

Among the proposals put forward in the document to deal with these are:

  • Extra customs declarations should be incorporated into existing system of VAT returns
  • Simplified customs procedures for the majority of cross-border trade
  • Trusted trader-type schemes for large companies
  • Equivalence of UK and EU regulations for agricultural produce
  • Declaring the island of Ireland a Common Biosecurity Zone

The report concluded: "The proposals can be realised within the existing legal and operational frameworks of the UK and EU, based on the mutual trust on which regular trade depends.

"They do nothing to alter the constitutional position of Northern Ireland and do not violate the principle of consent of the enshrined in the Belfast Agreement."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 11th Sep 2018

Image result for BA

A cyber-security firm has said itPublish Item found malicious code injected into the British Airways website, which could be the cause of a recent data breach that affected 380,000 transactions.

A RiskIQ researcher analysed code from BA's website and app around the time when the breach began, in late August.

He claimed to have discovered evidence of a "skimming" script designed to steal financial data from online payment forms.

BA said it was unable to comment.

A very similar attack, by a group dubbed Magecart, affected the Ticketmaster website recently, which RiskIQ said it also analysed in depth.

The company said the code found on the BA site was very similar, but appeared to have been modified to suit the way the airline's site had been designed.

"This particular skimmer is very much attuned to how British Airway's payment page is set up, which tells us that the attackers carefully considered how to target this site instead of blindly injecting the regular Magecart skimmer," the researcher wrote in a report on the findings.

"The infrastructure used in this attack was set up with British Airways in mind and purposely targeted scripts that would blend in with normal payment processing to avoid detection."

Hacks like this make use of an increasingly common phenomenon, in which large websites embed multiple pieces of code from other sources or third-party suppliers.

Such code may be needed to do specific jobs, such as authorise a payment or present ads to the user. But malicious code can be slipped in instead - this is known as a supply chain attack.

In BA's case, hackers stole names, email addresses and credit card details - including the long number, expiry date and the three-digit CVV security code.

"As this is a criminal investigation, we are unable to comment on speculation," said BA in a statement.

A spokesman for the UK's National Crime Agency said it was aware of the RiskIQ report but would not be commenting at this time.

Data grab

RiskIQ said the malicious script consisted of just 22 lines of code. It worked by grabbing data from BA's online payment form and then sending it to the hackers' server once a customer hit the "submit" button.

The cyber-security firm added that the attackers had apparently been able to gather data from mobile app users as well because the same script was found loaded into the app on a page describing government taxes and carrier charges.

"The page [in the app] is built with the same... components as the real website, meaning design and functionality-wise, it's a total match," the RiskIQ report noted.

British Airways' chairman and CEO says affected customers will be 100% compensated

RiskIQ recommended that BA customers affected by the breach get a new debit or credit card from their bank.

The firm pointed out that whoever was behind the attack had apparently decided to target specific brands and that more breaches of a similar nature were likely.

"There is a very clear emerging risk where the weakest link in payment processes is being actively targeted," cyber-security expert Kevin Beaumont told the BBC.

"And that weakest link in the chain is often by placing older systems or third-party code into the payment chain."

Andrew Dwyer, a cyber-security researcher at the University of Oxford added that the attackers appeared to have gone to "extraordinary lengths" to tailor their code to the BA site.

According to RiskIQ, they also acquired a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate - which suggests to web browsers, not always accurately, that a web page is safe to use.

If this was indeed how the attack worked, he added, there are ways of preventing third-party code taking data from sensitive web pages.

"BA should have been able to see this," he told the BBC.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 5th Sep 2018

Image result for james dyson awards 2018A turbine that can capture wind from any direction has won the UK's 2018 James Dyson Award.

 

The O-Wind Turbine aims to capture inner-city wind and turn it into electricity in cities struggling to produce enough renewable energy for increasing populations.

The portable, low-cost device can be attached to the sides of buildings.

The two inventors said they hoped the energy produced could be plugged into the home or the electricity grid.

Wind power currently produces 4% of the world's electricity. But wind farms can only capture "horizontal" wind and tend to be located in rural areas because of this.

In cities, where wind is more multi-directional because of large buildings and other obstructions, such systems are complex to use.

The inventors, Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani from Lancaster University, set out to solve the problem.

"If we could find a solution that caters for the half of the world's population who live in cities, we could give these people an opportunity to generate their own energy and contribute to the environment," explained Mr Noorani.

Mr Orellana took his inspiration from Nasa's Tumbleweed Mars rover, which was designed to roll across the planet's surface to measure atmospheric conditions but which ultimately failed because it could not cope with the challenging conditions.

He had his eureka moment when he realised that "wind energy technology currently can only capture horizontal wind".

Early pioneers

The O-Wind turbine is a 25cm spherical device which sits on a fixed axis. The geometric structure of its vents means that it spins when wind hits it from any direction.

This wind energy turns the device which triggers a generator, which, in turn, converts the wind energy into electricity.

The next stage of its development will focus on finding ways to build it so it will be cheap enough for anyone to buy.

"Current wind turbines are expensive to set up, meaning they are often only bought and owned by private companies," said Mr Orellana.

"Using low-cost and sustainable materials like recycled plastic we hope to produce the O-Wind Turbine at a low cost, allowing it to be sold at a price accessible to everyone."

The annual UK James Dyson Award rewards young engineers with innovative projects, offering £2,000 to kickstart their product development.

From there, the team can progress to the international stage of the competition where they can compete for a £30,000 prize.

Sir Kenneth Grange, the chairman of judges said: "I was captivated by the simplicity of the design, relative to the enormous ambition of competing in the renewable energy sector.

"Developing ways to embed sustainability into society is an important challenge which will puzzle engineers for centuries, and these innovators show promise as early pioneers."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 4th Sep 2018

Image result for sony playstation 2

Sony has ended its repair service for the PlayStation 2, more than 18 years after it first went on sale.

The console was first released in Japan in March 2000 and remains the best-selling games console ever produced.

Manufacturing of the device ended in 2012, six years after the follow-up PS3 console had been released.

Sony said it was no longer able to offer repairs because it was running out of replacement parts for the ageing console.

In a statement, the company thanked customers for their "continued patronage".

Gamers seeking repairs will now have to try their luck with unofficial services.

More than 150 million PlayStation 2 consoles have been sold.

The latest model, the PS4, has sold about 80 million units.

Rival console-maker Microsoft no longer reports sales figures for its Xbox One console. But the consultancy IHS Markit estimates more than 40 million have been sold.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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