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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th May 2016

Parenting retailer Kiddicare has suffered a data breach that exposed the names, addresses and telephone numbers of some of its customers.

The company said it had emailed 794,000 people who may have been affected by the incident.
It said the data had been taken from a version of its website set up for testing purposes.
Security researchers have warned that the details could be used by criminals to try to scam those affected.
The firm said it had reported itself to the UK's Information Commissioner.

Suspicious messages
UK-based Kiddicare is a baby and child specialist that trades online and from its flagship store in Peterborough.
The company said it became aware of the data breach after customers reported suspicious text messages that had not been sent by Kiddicare.

It was then contacted by a security company with further information and was able to link the breach to a "test" website it had been using in November 2015.

The company has not detailed the breach on its website
"Kiddicare used real customer data on its test site," said security researcher Graham Cluley in a blogpost.
"It shouldn't be forgotten that this was a test site and things are expected to go wrong."
The company stressed that payment details such as credit card information, which can easily be changed, had not been stolen.
However, customers' names, postal addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers had been exposed and that information could be used by scammers.

Mr Cluley criticised the company for neglecting to post details of the breach prominently on its website, although they have answered some questions on the subject.
"There is currently no mention of the data breach on the Kiddicare website's homepage or on its Twitter account," he wrote.
"I'm not sure that's offering the best service for customers who, through no fault of their own, might now be at risk.
"One clear risk is that Kiddicare customers might be contacted by fraudsters pretending to be the baby specialist retailer, in an attempt to trick unsuspecting consumers into handing over payment information."
The company apologised to customers in a statement sent to the BBC.
"We are very sorry for the potential stress and anxiety this incident may have caused our customers," it said.
"We want to reassure everyone that the problem has been fixed, increased security measures have been implemented and we have a dedicated team to here to help with any further concerns."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th May 2016

Uber began as a luxury product, making a black car available at the press of a button.

Now six years later, the company has decimated the taxi industry and may have a new target: public transportation.

On Monday, Uber announced that it was changing how its carpooling product, UberPool, works in New York City.

The typical UberPool ride means a driver will pick a passenger up wherever they are and drop them off at their final destination — the difference being that along the way, the driver might be picking up and dropping off other riders during a trip.

Starting Monday in a pilot phase, New York City's new version of UberPool is keeping the carpool aspect, but instead moving the pick-up and drop-off points to street corners. Instead of showing up right in front of your doorstep, the app will direct you to a corner nearby to wait for your ride.

During peak commuter hours (7-10 am and 5-8pm, Monday through Friday), Uber will only charge $5 for these UberPool rides starting and ending in Manhattan. And that price will never increase from surge pricing.

On nights and weekends — the corner pick-ups are only between 7am-8pm — it will revert back to dropping you off at your door.

It's a lot of changes, but if you add together the low-cost flat fare pricing and ushering riders to stand together on corners, the UberPool changes start to sound a lot more like a private bus line.

And it should. The same team that worked on the project also built Uber's practically-identical-to-a-bus product, UberHop. In Seattle, Manila, and Toronto, UberHop runs fixed, low-price routes for commuters.

The only difference between UberHOP and the new pilot in New York City is that New Yorkers don't have to follow a fixed route.

At $5 a ride, it's almost double the cost of a $2.75 bus fare in New York, but to some New Yorkers, the extra $2 may be worth a semi-private and mostly direct ride to work.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th May 2016

Facebook has launched its facial-recognition-powered photo-sharing app in the EU and Canada.

The program - Moments - was released in some countries in 2015, but withheld elsewhere because of local data privacy rules.

The company has created a different version of the software to get around these restrictions.

But it acknowledged the new edition required "a little bit of work" for users to get the most out of it.

Moment's core features are that it automatically groups together photos featuring the same friend or friends, and then makes it easy to share the pictures with them if they have installed the same app.

In the original version, the snaps are automatically tagged with people's names, because Facebook is able to match them to other photos in its wider database.

But data protection watchdogs in the EU and Canada had expressed concern their citizens would have no way to opt out of the process.

To address this, the adapted app now links together photos of similar-looking faces but requires the user to identify who they are.

Moments is not the only app to use facial recognition to sort images.

Google Photos is the most popular alternative to do so.

But the search giant has yet to extend the facility to Europe, to avoid falling foul of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

EU and Canada-based users will have to manually identify each of their friends

'Private' sharing

Facebook has not disclosed how many people have signed up to Moments since its release on the US's iOS and Android stores 11 months ago.

However, the company has said more than 600 million pictures have been shared via the app so far.

"Our primary purpose is to solve a problem that we know that people have, where they never get the photos that their friends take of them," the app's product manager Will Ruben told the BBC.

"We view that as a pretty different type of sharing than might happen on Facebook, where people share photos more broadly with a large group of friends or even publicly.

Moments allows its users to keep track of whom they have shared their pictures with

"Moments is closer to the type of sharing that might happen these days on Whatsapp or other [private] messaging apps - but it places the photos together into a collection."

Users decide which photos are shared with the people labelled in them, and can withdraw access at a later point.
They can also use the app to turn selected photos into slideshows that can be shared to their Facebook wall and elsewhere.

Local matches

The technique - which Facebook refers to as "facial clustering" - still relies on some processing being done beyond the user's handset, but Facebook said it had taken great lengths to comply with the EU and Canada's privacy rules.

Google's Photos app also identifies different friends - but the facility is not offered in Europe

"A cropped low-resolution of the photo is uploaded [to the cloud] so that your phone gets a numerical representation of that face," Mr Ruben said.

"But that number is not stored anywhere on our servers, and it is only used to compare against the other photos on your phone.

"No comparison is being done on the server."

Copies of the images are, however, stored at Facebook's data centres as soon as they are shared with someone else.

"Facebook has notified this office of the Moments app and advised us that within the EU version of the Moments app they do not control or initiate the use of any feature recognition technology," said a spokeswoman for the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.
"Consideration of this development is ongoing and we will more closely look at the technical details of the app following its release."

Limited labelling

Mr Ruben said Facebook believed the original version of Moments remained the "best version" but the new edition was still "easy to use. "You don't need to label all the faces on your phone," he said. "The idea is to share with the people closest to you, so usually it's just the top 10 people or so."

Moments allows its users to keep track of whom they have shared their pictures with.

One industry-watcher said the lack of auto-tagging might slow the app's adoption.
"Any additional effort that people have to put into a service creates a barrier," said Ben Wood, from the tech consultancy CCS Insight. "The seamless experience in other markets is therefore more compelling. "However, once people invest a little time, they will see the benefits, and it could catch on, on that basis."

Facebook's use of facial recognition has, however, caused controversy in the US.
Last week, a US judge refused to block a class action case in which it is claimed the technology violates Illinois's Biometric Privacy Act.
The law states biology-based identifiers - including facial maps and fingerprints - cannot be collected without their owners' explicit consent.
Google is also being sued over the matter.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th May 2016

Online retail giant Amazon has launched an online video service to rival Google's YouTube.

Amazon Video Direct will allow users to post videos and earn royalties.

Viewers can rent and buy content or watch it for free with adverts. An ad-free version is offered to Amazon Prime members - a subscription service with other benefits.

Initially, videos will be viewable in the US, Germany, Austria, Japan and the UK.

The firm already offers access to professional TV shows and films via Prime Video, a rival to Netflix.

It also streams user-generated clips about video games via Twitch.

"There are more options for distribution than ever before and with Amazon Video Direct, for the first time, there's a self-service option for video providers to get their content into a premium streaming subscription service," said Jim Freeman, Vice President of Amazon Video

"We're excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content."

The news comes barely a month after online talent firm Fullscreen launched its own subscription video platform.

Previously the firm had published content on free platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

YouTube offers an ad-free subscription service of its own - YouTube Red - which costs $10 per month.

There's no shortage of places to watch video online, and Amazon is already a major player.

But what it's trying to do here poses a lot of questions.

How is this new idea different from YouTube? How do you beat the world's biggest video site at its own game without, on the face of it, offering any extra incentive to post or view content?

Unless, of course, Amazon does.

It may need to woo big name content creators over to the new platform with lucrative offers. But that's an expensive proposition and one that will take a long time to come to fruition, if at all.

Vimeo, Ted, Vine, Funny or Die and other popular video sites have found success by attacking a niche. It's hard to see what Amazon Video Direct's is here.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 4th May 2016

The co-founder of SoundCloud has told Newsbeat that launching a subscription service is the streaming site's "biggest achievement".

Eric Wahlforss said creating SoundCloud Go has been a "huge step" but admitted it hasn't been easy.

He said one of the biggest challenges was getting major labels to sign up after rows over artist payment.

"It's taken many hundreds of conversations across many different companies over a couple of years."

Users will have the option to keep using the site for free or pay £9.99 a month for features including access to the full range of 125 million tracks as well as ad-free and offline listening.

Some tracks by bigger artists will only be available for preview in the free version.

"It's great for us to be able to do the next important step which is all about revenue for artists," said Eric.

In May last year, Sony pulled all its music from the site after accusing SoundCloud of not providing enough options for it to make money from the music it hosts.
It took until March this year to agree a deal with Sony.
"If I'm an artist and I have a lot of followers, I want to be able to make a living doing what I do and that's what we're solving here," said Eric.
"That's been a long conversation."

The site also has deals with two other major labels, Warner Music and Universal, as well as hundreds of independent labels.
DJ Target

With SoundCloud being a key destination for music discovery, Eric suggested these new deals mean SoundCloud Go "captures the full range of music culture" from established artists to DJs and up-and-coming talent.

But with anyone able to upload content, copyright infringement is another issue SoundCloud has had to face.
"We take copyright very seriously," said Eric.

"We've given them [labels and artists] flexibility to be able to put stuff in the free or paid tier.

"We want the creators and rights holders to be in control over their content and they should be able to decide what can stay up on the platform and what can't.

"What we broadly agreed with the industry is the fact that generally something like putting up a DJ mix or remix is something that's great and addictive."

The new features are important improvements for current users, said Eric.

Despite music fans signing up to the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, he thinks there is "room for a couple of different streaming providers".

"We're not focused on trying to get people to move from other services. We already have a very large user base [an estimated 175 million].

"We are at the very early stages of streaming.

"In 10, 15, 20 years, we're going to see everything probably moving over to streaming and SoundCloud will be one of the driving forces in that transition."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 4th May 2016

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.

Some have even tried to start their own trend.

Others are happy to share the love.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd May 2016

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.

Source: digitaltrends.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd May 2016

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.

Source: cnet.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd May 2016

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.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd May 2016

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.

And you have to learn English all over again.

Source: cnet.com
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