'Like many businesses we are increasingly dependent on our IT systems and it is therefore essential that our IT supplier is one we can both trust and rely on. Discus Systems have been our preferred partner for over ten years since... Phil Hyden, Harwoods Accountants - Lichfield
Happy Ed Balls Day! Who knew that five years ago, a Twitter fail would still be remembered.
And now Ed Balls and his family are joining in the celebrations. It all started on 28 April 2011 when Ed Balls was shadow chancellor. He was urged by his aide to look on Twitter for articles mentioning his name, but instead of doing a simple search he tweeted his own name in error.
Since then on 28 April every year Twitter rejoices in the madness of the internet gaffe and marks Ed Balls Day.
As Ed Balls Day draws to a close, his wife MP Yvette Cooper has been urging him to join in. We've insisted he bake a cake. How else would you celebrate #EdBallsday?@YvetteCooperMP
Finally after thousands of tweets Ed Balls himself responded to his Twitter fans with a photo of a cake to mark the occasion. Good grief...but how could I say No? RT @YvetteCooper We've insisted he bake a cake. How else would you celebrate #EdBallsday?@edballs/Twitter
The hashtag #EdBallsDay has been the top trend in the UK and has been used over 26,000 times.
Seagate is joining the helium-filled hard drive trend before the opportunity floats away. The company is shipping 8 terabyte and 10TB 3.5-inch drives for the enterprise market, called Seagate Enterprise Capacity drives. There’s no official MSRP yet, but a drive is listed on Amazon for $695, which may or may not reflect official pricing.
Western Digital started selling helium-filled drives to the consumer market earlier this year, two years after WD subsidiary HGST started selling such drives to the enterprise market. Seagate, Western Digital’s primary competitor, has been absent from the helium market until now. While prices aren’t specifically known, but these drives will likely be the most expensive that Seagate sells, Anandtech is reporting.
It may sound silly, but filling a hard drive’s enclosure with helium reduces friction. This reduces wear and tear, and also slightly lowers energy usage. Spread over tens of thousands of drives in a data center, these savings add up, but this technology requires drives be hermetically sealed in order to work.
Seagate is aiming squarely at the server market with its helium-filled Enterprise Capacity line. The drives will feature a 256MB multi-segmented cache and platters that rotate at 7200RPM. Seagate claims burst transfer rates will be up to 600 megabytes per second; sustained transfers max out at 243MBps.
These specs are all in line with HGST’s offerings, but there’s one notable problem: energy usage. Seagate edges out HGST while idle, with 4.5W of usage compared to HGST’s 5W, and while reading, with 6.5W to HGST’s 6.8W. But Seagate’s drive uses 8.5W while writing, compared to HGST’s 6.8. That’s going to hurt the drive in a server environment.
Seagate’s drive, like HGST’s, is warrantied for five years.
Seagate is in on the helium game now, and that competition will surely prompt new innovations. And the research done at the enterprise level is likely to trickle down to consumers eventually, in the same way HGST’s offerings eventually came to the market as a Western Digital consumer drive. Users have a lot to look forward to.
The data, held by AI subsidiary DeepMind, includes patient HIV status, recorded overdoses and abortions.
Google knows more about some British citizens than previously thought.
A formerly undisclosed data-sharing agreement between Google and the UK's state-run National Health Service was revealed in a document published Friday by New Scientist. Under the agreement, vast swaths of data regarding 1.6 million patients at London hospitals are passed to Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind as part of a research program.
The program focuses on designing a kidney analysis tool. Three London hospitals provided DeepMind with information about patients that also included data on HIV status, recorded overdoses and abortions. It also includes the results of some pathology and radiology tests.
The data can't be used to identify individual patients but raises questions about the privacy of medical and health records. The agreement between Google and the three London hospitals, all run by the Royal Free NHS Trust, will likely stoke a wider debate on the safe handling of medical and health data as technology's role in predicting and monitoring illness expands.
"The problem comes back to the details of process," Phil Booth, a coordinator at health privacy organization medConfidential, said in a statement. "It's possible to do this well, safely and without public concern; it's also possible to be creepy."
The NHS said the data was handled confidentially.
"No patient-identifiable data is shared with DeepMind," a spokeswoman for the Royal Free NHS Trust said. "The information is encrypted and only the Royal Free London has the key to that encryption."
She said all NHS patients can write to their physicians to opt out of having their data submitted to the Secondary User Service, which provides the historical data to DeepMind.
Google acknowledged DeepMind's relationship with the NHS in February, when it announced the AI company was building an app that would help medics monitor patients with kidney disease.
DeepMind is creating an app called Streams, which reviews blood tests to identify patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury.
DeepMind is only using kidney data in its program but received other health information from the hospitals because of the way the forms are structured.
The data can legally be shared with DeepMind in accordance with strict governance rules that also apply to 1,500 other third-party organizations that have access to NHS records.
DeepMind is forbidden from sharing data with any other part of Google and will be compelled to delete all data once the agreement comes to an end in 2017.
It's sometimes said that there are more mobile phones than light bulbs in Uganda - where did this idea come from, and is it true?
In 2009, journalist Dara Kerr wrote about Uganda as "a place where cell phones could outnumber light bulbs". This appears to be the first time such a comparison was made.
It's worth noting, however, that in her article for CNet technology magazine, Kerr only said that this could be the case. Over time, as people have repeated the idea, the word "could" seems to have been lost. Now it's often stated as fact - even by Vodafone.
"The first time I heard about this was at the e-learning conference in Kampala in 2014," says Ugandan lawyer, Gerald Abila.
"This intrigued me." So he decided to find out if it was true and started gathering statistics.
According to the Uganda Communications Commission there are 22.6 million mobile phone numbers registered in the country.
But that doesn't mean there are 22.6 million phones - it just reflects the number of Sim cards, says Calum Dewar of GSMA Intelligence, a research group that provides mobile phone data.
The number of Sim cards is "not a very good measure of mobile usage or ownership," he says. It is "above 100% of the population in many countries and it's actually above 200% in some".
In Uganda's case, people who own a mobile phone have, on average, 1.5 Sim cards, he says. They are swapped in and out of phones to take advantage of deals on different networks.
With that in mind, Dewar thinks the number of mobiles in Uganda is likely to be closer to 16 million.
Technically Incorrect: In an illuminating Twitter conversation, Apple's Phil Schiller says you should never pluralize Apple product names.
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.
You're in a meeting, everyone's fooling around on Facebook, and the table is covered with MacBooks.
No, it's not.
You're out to dinner, no one's talking, everyone's texting, and the restaurant is full of iPhones.
You just think it is.
This, you see, is the sort of breaking news that might break lesser humans than the readers of Technically Incorrect.
I am here to tell you that you should never, ever pluralize Apple product names.
I've discovered this thanks to a Twitter conversation involving Apple's executive vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller.
Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans had suggested, some might think pedantically, that he'd been discussing "iPads Pro" on a podcast. You know, it's like "attorneys general" rather than "attorney generals."
Up popped Schiller to illuminate the plurality of famous humans who'd participated in a discussion of Evans' odd pluralism.
"One need never pluralize Apple product names. Ex: Mr. Evans used two iPad Pro devices," Schiller tweeted.
Some, though, might want to.
Some, in fact, might have a deep desire to say "iPhones," just as they describe a collection of corporate spokespeople as "shillers."
Apple, however, is known for having its precious side.
Schiller explained in a second tweet: "Really! Words can be both singular and plural, such as deer and clothes."
It's heartening to get grammar lessons from the company that brought you 'Think Different."
But Schiller wasn't done. He added, "It would be proper to say 'I have 3 Macintosh' or 'I have 3 Macintosh computers.'"
Proper? Did he really say proper? In ancient English vernacular, he might have sounded to some like a proper Charlie for suggesting this level of uppity decorum.
Of course, it's likely Schiller was teasing the important types in this Twitter thread. After all, he's known for enjoying humor of a sort -- especially if it's about Windows PCs.
Apple didn't respond to a desperate request for clarification.
In the interim, if you're an Apple fanperson, please confine yourself to the Schiller Strictures. Just in case, you understand. You don't want to lose your credentials, do you? (Or should that be credential?) You don't want to sound singularly stupid.
You have 2 iPad Pro devices. You have 16 Macintosh. You have four iPhone, um, phones.
The government will establish a data science ethics council at the Alan Turing Institute after a recommendation by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee earlier this year.
The recommendation was contained in a report into the government's use of big data, released in February, and is designed to overcome "public distrust over data sharing".
"The government should establish a Council for Data Science Ethics in the Alan Turing Institute as a way to address the growing legal and ethical challenges associated with balancing privacy, anonymisation, security and public benefit," the report said.
In response, the government accepted the need for such a body and will work out how best to incorporate it into the Institute.
"The government agrees with the committee's proposal for independent oversight and will consider how a Council for Data Science Ethics should be established," the committee said in a document entitled The big data dilemma (PDF).
"This body would address key ethical challenges for data science and provide technical research and thought leadership on the implications of data science across all sectors.
"The Alan Turing Institute is well placed to play a leading role and to be a convening power. Clarifying and providing guidance on ethical, legal and technical issues will allow data science to develop more quickly and appropriately, giving the UK an opportunity to gain a global advantage."
The Cabinet Office will develop the framework for government data science and publish it "in the next few months". Given that the Alan Turing Institute has signed a deal to share data with GCHQ the move to include ethical oversight of how data is used at the facility will no doubt please privacy and human rights campaigners.
The Alan Turing Institute was founded in 2015 to drive advances in computer science, mathematics, statistics and systems engineering.
Entrepreneurs should draw inspiration from all walks of life to improve their business ambitions, and that includes the football pitches of the Premier League.
Leicester City’s achievement in winning the league this season is truly outstanding and should inspire entrepreneurs The current football season has been one of the most unpredictable on record as Leicester City have been crowned champions for the first time in its history as the big boys trail in their wake.
Pop into the Pimlico Plumbers canteen on a Monday morning during the last few months and one of the most common debates over the bacon sarnies has been how Leicester has gone from relegation certainties to Premier League Champions. They chew over results and tactics like Sky Sports’ pundits, but I think there are also some lessons from Leicester’s exploits that apply to the world of business as much as they do in the beautiful game.
I’m not a big football fan, to be honest, and I wouldn’t recognise most of the Leicester team if they called me up to fix their plumbing, but perhaps that’s part of their success. They caught the opposition by surprise with a plan of action that has delivered results. And, like the best businesses they haven’t reinvented the wheel, they’ve just done things differently than others in their marketplace and caught the establishment by surprise.
Comparing football clubs with businesses would usually put the manager or coach in the role of entrepreneur. But, in the case of Leicester’s boss, Claudio Ranieri, I would instead suggest he is more like a business mentor than a business owner. He’s been around the block, managed 15 clubs across Italy, England, Spain and France and coached the Greek national team. His experience and knowledge has allowed him to look at the market, in his case the Premier League, and come up with the best strategy that he has shared with his club to carve a strong position in a very competitive field where some have infinitely more resources than his club.
Mentorship is key to achieving business success. In football as in business, bravado and sheer determination will only get you so far. Yes you need talent, but you need that little something extra that only those who have tread a similar path before can help you with. A similar theme is shared with how they’ve assembled the lads on the pitch. They have matched those with experience of playing at the top level, albeit with little previous success, with some real gems, most notably Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, who they didn’t have to break the bank to bring in. This has created a cocktail of skill, determination and results that has other clubs looking on in envy.
Small business can do the same when recruiting. Adding to a nucleus of experience with young and hungry apprentices and, as we have also done at Pimlico Plumbers, looking beyond our standard geographic boundaries to bring in skilled engineers, who are helping to take our business forward, delivers the desired combination.
Most of all, bringing this all together, has enabled Leicester to have belief. Belief in their colleagues and belief in how they do things. It’s allowed them to become the equivalent of a start-up firm with a killer idea and disrupt a market that has been dominated for years by the same big players. Of course, good results breed confidence, but its nurturing that team spirit to keep it as a constant through the season or, in business terms, 52 weeks a year. Ranieri is credited with building belief and spirit by using the personal touch, most notably by treating his players to pizzas at a local restaurant as a reward for not conceding a goal for the first time in the season.
It’s this type of thing that tightens bonds between colleagues and helps them work towards their shared aims. It’s why we have our aforementioned canteen with its wide range of meal choices at Pimlico Plumbers along with our on-site gym, access to a personal trainer and regular massage at work sessions.
Leicester City’s achievement in winning the league this season is truly outstanding and should inspire entrepreneurs. Don’t accept the status quo, do things differently and better and the big boys of your business world will soon be looking over their shoulders.
After £450,000 worth of shares in London-based football team Tottenham Hotspur were traded on 21 April, at their highest price since the club de-listed from the stock market, a market capitalisation of £426m was achieved.
Slow recovery from disasters or other downtime handicaps organisations' ability to respond to unforeseen events, and less than a quarter of companies are confident of making a "full recovery to agreed timescales", according to research commissioned for the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Summit.
Peter de Vente, a systems consultant and business continuity specialist at Dell, suggested that organisations need to make sure that disaster recovery plans include prioritising systems, databases and data so that IT staff can focus on getting the most valuable IT assets up and running first.
"It's a good question. How much time do you need for your restore? And you have to put that against how much data you need to restore. Then it becomes another story," he said.
Vente suggested that organisations ought to look at how much raw data they store and then scale up to take account of how much data they are likely to store in 10 years' time in order to build an enduring data recovery and back-up strategy.
"I always joke that in 10 years' time I won't have a job anymore, because if you look at the pace of data growth and how we deal with data protection, it simply won't work anymore when organisations have hundreds of petabytes of data. You can't do that in the old-fashioned way," he warned.
One of the challenges many organisations face when disaster strikes is that staff supposedly working to bring up the same systems don't communicate and work together effectively.
"In a lot of companies, I see different admins: someone is responsible for data and data protection, and another person for the application. As long as they do back up, it works. At the point of restore, though, they need to work together. It's not that they can't, but that suddenly they need to talk to each other," said Vente.
"They need to ask each other: 'How does this relate to our backups? How can I know what version is what?'. There's sometimes a language difference, too. The database administrator wants 'this', but the back-up administrator only has 'that'."
Vente was speaking in a Summit panel debate entitled 'Identifying the cost benefits of a strategic approach to enterprise backup and recovery' alongside Andy Boura, senior information security architect at information company Thomson Reuters.
Boura pointed out that, while building and maintaining a backup and recovery infrastructure does cost money, the cost in terms of lost business is even greater, as reflected in the Computing Research among CIOs and other IT leaders.
"The average for a Fortune 1000 company would be $100,000 per hour. If you have a day's outage, that's an awful lot of revenue," said Boura.
The research also noted a big difference between the time IT leaders think it would take to recover data in the event of a disaster, and the time it might take to bring applications back online. "There's pressure to keep that [time] down, but I'm not surprised that it is expected to take longer to restore applications than data because there's a lot of additional complexity with applications," said Boura.
"You have dependencies - potentially external dependencies - versioning, and you have the risk of partial or incomplete processing of data [when the application went down]. You may even have corruption of data that you have to deal with and that can mean an awful lot of high-adrenaline work."
Restoring data, he added, is typically more straightforward than getting an application back up and running, provided backups are up to date and easily accessible.
Wearable technology is playing a growing role in sport all over the world, from the UK's football Premier League, worth more than £5bn ($7.1bn; €6.3bn) in global TV rights alone, to Aussie Rules Football, the first to pioneer the use of location-tracking GPS devices in 2004.
Analysis of data transmitted to the cloud from increasingly sophisticated sensors is helping teams keep their players at the peak of physical fitness.
Leicester City Football Club, for example - currently clinging to the English Premier League's top slot against all odds - has also had the fewest injured players over the season, a fact that may have a lot to do with the club's clever use of technology. Players wear Catapult Sport's OptimEye S5 device, which collects data relating to acceleration, direction, position and, crucially, the impact of collisions. These sensors can collect 800-900 data points per second.
Scott Drawer, formerly Rugby Football Union's performance manager and now with cycling's Team Sky, says: "It may be that they have been using the data in a much smarter way to rest, rotate and recover players appropriately.
Players wear their own personalised trackers during training and live games "Fundamentally, they are able to have their best players available a lot more, so there is no doubt some of their processes are helping them to do that."
Rival club Southampton FC makes its players wear GPS units during training, and Alek Gross, the club's head of sports science, says players have experienced fewer soft tissue and overuse injuries since introducing the tech.
And Richard Byrne, business administrator at StatSports, another tracking device manufacturer, says: "One of our biggest European clients recently reported having only 20 muscular injuries last season once they started using [wearable] technology, compared to 44 the previous season," he says.
Scrum down Rugby has also been a big convert to this type of analysis.
Every club in UK rugby union's Aviva Premiership - and a number of international sides - has adopted the tech, with players wearing GPS units between their shoulder blades to measure speed and distance covered while training and playing.
All teams in rugby union's Aviva Premiership have embraced wearable tech
Australia's Wallabies rugby players fix tracking devices to each other "Heavier rugby players often find that if they run over a certain distance in a week they can inflame an Achilles [tendon], so some want to spend more time off their feet to maintain fitness and minimise injury risk," explains Corin Palmer, head of rugby operations for Premiership Rugby.
"Wearable technology is able to monitor that load on a day-by-day basis to ensure those players are not just injury-free but in peak condition for competition," he adds.
When it comes to American football, NFL team the Cincinnati Bengals uses Viper Pods - monitoring devices made by StatSports - for GPS data collection during on-field training sessions.
Players also wear Polar heart rate monitors during conditioning sessions and circuit weight training, to monitor response to the training load.
Catapult's Adir Shiffman says algorithms can measure the impact and velocity of tackles
A Cincinatti Bengal player crunches into a Pittsburgh Steelers catcher "Anytime you can quantify what you are doing, it allows you to see the results in concrete terms," says Chip Morton, the Bengals' strength and conditioning coach.
"Having the data from wearable technology has helped the head coach to make positive adjustments to our weekly practice schedule. The data can also alert us to the recovery and preparation needs of the individual athletes."
Data insights But while wearable tech provides reams of data, it is what you do with it that counts.
Bill Gerrard, professor of business and sports analytics at Leeds University Business School, has worked with the Saracens rugby team and with baseball's Oakland Athletics, whose executive vice president of baseball operations, Billy Beane, was made famous in the film Moneyball.
Mr Gerrard believes the ultimate goal is to combine data from wearables with other data sets, such as tactical analysis of previous games and opponents' playing styles.
Would Franz Beckenbauer (right) or the late Johann Cruyff have benefited from data tracking? "That is where the cutting edge is - pulling tactical and physical data together to optimise training workloads on an individual basis."
But can too much data mean you lose sight of the ball?
"Our greatest asset is that we coach players and not spreadsheets," Mr Gross reminds us. "If you don't understand the context in which the numbers were found, they don't mean an awful lot."
And it's not just about fitness, he suggests.
Revered football players like Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer "read the game so incredibly well," he says, "they didn't need to sprint to get into position."
Too much, too little
But if you don't have that degree of natural ability - and you're a bit lazy, frankly - the data will catch you out. Andrew Gray, physical performance manager at Australian rugby league club, Cronulla Sharks, says data gathered from wearable devices during training makes it easier to manage the under-training player.
"Providing these athletes with a clear picture of their performance at training compared with what is required in competition at the highest level can be a real eye-opener for them and helps them to gain a more complete understanding of what is required to perform at their best," he says.
Cronulla Sharks rugby league players celebrate, but are some under-training?
Southampton FC's Mr Gross observes that under-training increases the risk of injury.
"If a player hasn't hit a certain percentage of high speed runs during a given week, for example, they are more susceptible to a hamstring injury.
"The GPS data has been useful because when we individualise training programmes we can see if people drop below or above a certain point."
Coming to you, live
This kind of data is also used real-time analysis during matches by some Premiership and international rugby teams, including England and Ireland, helping to inform their decisions about when to make changes.
"You can see the coaches with laptops in the stands; they have a constant live feed on each player, their fatigue index, collision load, distance covered et cetera," says Mr Byrne.
Pitchside coaches can monitor performance data in real time
"This can allow them to make in-game decisions regarding substitutions or injuries."
Premiership football teams are also now allowed to use wearable devices during games, although the data gathered can't be applied in real-time. Yet.
In this data-saturated age, sporting purists may take some comfort from the fact that natural born skill still matters.
Companies that cold call customers will no longer be able to hide or disguise their phone numbers, under government plans to target nuisance calls.
The new measure will force firms registered in the UK to display their phone numbers, even if their call centres are based abroad. The government says the move will make it easier for consumers to report nuisance callers.
But the Fair Telecoms Campaign said the move would not stop cold calling.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport is expected to announce the amendment to existing legislation on Monday. The changes will take effect from 16 May.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister for data protection, said the change will send a "clear message" to rogue companies. "Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society." The government was committed to tackling the problem, she said.
'Range of options' John Mitchison, from the Direct Marketing Association - the UK marketing trade association that represents official telemarketing firms - said displaying phone numbers had been its recommendation to companies for "many years".
"This change will make it easier for consumers to identify the legitimate companies and report the rogue operators to the relevant authorities," he added.
However, the Fair Telecoms Campaign - which campaigns for consumer rights - said the move will not stop rogue firms. David Hickson, from the campaign, said: "It's absurd to think that seeing a number that you don't recognise is any different from not seeing any number at all.
"What they should be doing is taking action where they can to prohibit the whole practice of making unsolicited telephone calls and see that consumers have a good range of options on their telephone networks to help protect them from this nonsense."
Last year, the government introduced changes to make it easier to impose fines on the companies behind cold calls and nuisance text messages.
In February, Brighton-based firm Prodial was given the largest ever fine by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - £350,000 - for cold calling.
It was responsible for making more than 46 million automated nuisance calls.