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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th May 2016

The UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is working on a smartphone version of its driving licence.

Chief executive Oliver Morley tweeted a photo showing a "prototype" using Apple's Wallet app on an iPhone.
He says it will be an "add-on" to the plastic card rather than a replacement.

Wallet already stores boarding passes and credit, debit, gift and discount cards. Payment information is encrypted end-to-end and authorised with the user's fingerprint or passcode.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said: "Security has taken a significant step forward to support digital payments on phones, so the framework is in place for other secure applications, such as a digital driving licence.
"There are not many people in the UK that do not carry a smartphone with them every day, so it is a logical next step."
Chris Green, technology analyst at the business consultancy Lewis, said digital wallets were "a massively underrated and under-exploited resource".
"People are getting more and more used to the technology because of e-ticketing," he said.
"People are far more comfortable with the concept of keeping key information on their smartphone."

Paperless passes
DeLaRue, which prints British banknotes and passports, has already said it is working on a paperless passport.
And the NHS has announced a £4bn plan to move to a "paperless" platform.

British passport
Morpho Trust, a US security company that provides driver's licences, has been piloting a digital licence product in Iowa since August 2015.

It says it:

allows users to change their address, details, and whether or not they are an organ donor without visiting the state's motor vehicle agency
makes it easier for residents to have their licence updated when they reach the legal drinking age of 21
And in Australia, the New South Wales government has announced the introduction of digital licences, which it says will eliminate the need for a physical card.

The first licences issued under the new system are for fishing, the purchase of alcohol, and responsible gambling.
A driver's licence is due to be available in digital format by 2018.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

The UEFA 2016 Championships kick off in just under a month with the opening match between France and Romania in Paris.

And just as the coaches and players gear up for the big event, hoping that their tactics and training will lead them to glory, so do the teams behind the scenes, not least those in the IT function who play a vital role in delivering the event.

V3 spoke to Daniel Marion, head of ICT at UEFA, to find out more about how the organisation has prepared for the event and how much has changed since 2012.

“In 2012 we were just seeing the rise of tablets and mobile content. This has obviously grown massively in the last four years so we’ve upgraded lots of our apps for mobile devices,” he said.

“Four years ago people were accessing content on their phones but not for long periods of time. But that’s changed now as people can spend hours on their phone. So we design a lot of what we offer for the mobile first.”

Marion explained that this work is not just for fan services that provide information on matches and player stats, but for staff, such as for match day volunteers and event staff so they know their shift times and where they will be based.

He added that it has proved a lot easier to provide this information via apps on iOS and Android devices than on old desktop-based platforms.

“When you have a tablet or phone app it’s very easy for staff to get accustomed to using it, far easier than back-office software, so that’s a real change from last time [2012],” he explained.

UEFA is also set to trial a technological first for the UEFA Championships during the event by allowing fans in Lyon and the Stade de France in Paris to order food and drinks from outlets directly from their phones or tablets.

UEFA uses a private cloud environment to host these services, which is maintained by Interoute via data centres in Geneva backed up in Amsterdam.

“Working in this way gives us the flexibility we need. We are more comfortable with our own private cloud platform [than public] and we can still allocate resources as we need,” Marion said.

One development in the relationship between Interoute and UEFA since the last tournament has been the ability to ‘scale’ the service level agreements on certain aspects as and when required.

For instance, the SLA on its main website can be scaled to the top-level platinum on match days when maintaining availability is critical, before scaling it back to gold or silver during non-match days and the evenings.

However while UEFA prefers the use of a private cloud for its core systems, front- and back-end, it is experimenting with a public cloud for a new ticketing software-as-a-service platform run from a public environment.

Marion added that UEFA is not averse to using a public cloud in other ways in the future, although only when it is comfortable with integrating it into the organisation's operations.

“We don’t have the experience of running our core systems in that way, so it may be more for training and staging for development that we can use [public cloud] more," he said.

Another notable change in 2016 is that the tournament has been extended from 16 to 20 teams. This means using 10 rather than eight stadiums, adding more sites for the ICT team to maintain.

Marion said it has not proved too much harder in terms of time and effort, but has increased the need for skilled staff who are not always easy to find, a common problem for all organisations.

“Having two extra venues does make it more challenging because we need good people and they are scarce, so this was a challenge to find them because we have to be as resilient as possible,” he said.

However, everything is on track for the big launch, and when football fans turn to their TV, tablet or phone, or appear at the match itself, it'll be thanks in no small part to the efforts of the UEFA ICT team managed by Marion.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

Tens of millions of usernames and passwords for Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo email accounts have been hacked and details traded online, according to a security expert.

Data from around 97 million accounts have been stolen as part of a huge cyber attack that is thought to affect around 272.3 million users worldwide, said Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security.

In one of the biggest data breaches in years, the information is being traded in Russia’s criminal underworld for next to nothing, it has been claimed.

It is thought that credentials from around 40 million Yahoo Mail accounts, 33 million Hotmail accounts and 24 million Gmail accounts have been accessed.

But the majority of the usernames stolen are from Russia’s most popular email service Mail.ru

Holden, who was speaking to Reuters, has previously uncovered huge data breaches affecting millions of users at at AdobeSystems, JPMorgan and Target.

His latest discovery is said to come after researchers found a young Russian hacker bragging in an online forum that he had collected and was ready to give away a far larger number of stolen credentials.

Mysteriously, the hacker asked just 50 roubles – just over 50p – for the entire trove, but gave up the dataset after Hold researchers agreed to post favourable comments about him in hacker forums, Holden said.

He said his company’s policy is to refuse to pay for stolen data.
‘This information is potent. It is floating around in the underground and this person has shown he’s willing to give the data away to people who are nice to him,’ said Holden.

‘These credentials can be abused multiple times.’

A Microsoft spokesman said stolen online credentials was an unfortunate reality. ‘Microsoft has security measures in place to detect account compromise and requires additional information to verify the account owner and help them regain sole access.’

Yahoo and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

A Mail.ru spokeswoman said it was checking whether the email combinations match those still actively in use.

Source: metro.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

Launched out of his i.am+ business, musician-cum-entrepreneur will.i.am has unleashed his Dial “smart band” on the UK market. Impressively, it works independently without the need for a mobile to be connected – ideal for on-the-go leaders.

The reliance smartwatches have on connecting to smartphones to work, like the Apple Watch and iPhone, has been a common complaint for users.

As such, it’s meant that growth of that particular wearable sector has been stunted with people claiming they’re unsure there’s a need for an extension of their phone.

will.i.am is looking to change that with his Dial wearable, which is dubbed a “smart band” rather than the commonly used term of smartwatch. Fitted with its own sim card, Dial provides the ability to make calls, text, send emails and so on without a mobile in the vicinity.

Available to pre-order exclusively from Three, the gadget comes complete with a music streaming service boasting over 20m tracks. Not only is the platform ad-free, there isn’t an extra charge attached to accessing it in the same way that there are costs for Spotify, Tidal and so on.

Additionally, the mobile network says all music streaming and downloads on Dial plans will be free of data charges.

The band has been designed to blend wearable technology with fashion and comes complete with artificial intelligence (AI) feature AneedA, which has been produced to recognise usage so responses can be tailored to customers.

Functions supported by AneedA include track selection, playlist customisation, news updates, restaurant discovery, social media, taxi and flight bookings, photos and more.

The particular feature would probably be of interest to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who is eagerly working on developing tech witnessed in the Iron Man films from Marvel.

Lianne Norry, director of brand and marketing communications at Three, said: “We are really excited about the launch of dial and its new music service, is a step towards a new and exciting mobile experience for our customers.

“We pride ourselves in being ahead of the curve and identifying future mobile technology trends and felt that zero-rating all related music to this device gives our customers the freedom to enjoy music whenever they want.”

All devices come completed with Bluetooth-enabled EP headphones from i.am+, while other Dial features include 3G, WiFi, GPS, 1.63-inch screen, 2MP front-facing camera, and 32GB of storage.

On a 24-month contract, Dial prices start at £22 a month with a £49 upfront cost or £25 a month with a £19 upfront fee.

Source: realbusiness.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

Should governments step in to regulate work emails and so rescue harassed staff from the perils of digital burnout?

The answer in France appears to be "Yes". President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party is about to vote through a measure that will give employees for the first time a "right to disconnect".

Companies of more than 50 people will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours - normally in the evening and at the weekend - when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

Much mockery was made in the foreign press when the proposal was first mooted, with images of hawk-eyed work inspectors snooping on the industrious.

But the French government says the problem of permanent connection is universal and growing - and that intervention is needed.
"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," Socialist

MP Benoit Hamon tells me.
You're at home but you're not at home, and that poses a real threat to relationships
Linh Le, management consultant
"Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash - like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails - they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down."

The measure is part of a labour law - named after Labour Minister Maryam El Khomri - many of whose other provisions have sparked weeks of protests in France. The "disconnection" clause is about the only part on which there is consensus.

Few - in France or elsewhere - would disagree that work-home encroachment is a troubling by-product of the digital revolution.
"At home the workspace can be the kitchen or the bathroom or the bedroom. We shift from a work email to a personal WhatsApp to a Facebook picture to a professional text - all on the same tool," says Linh Le, a partner at Elia management consultants in Paris.
"You're at home but you're not at home, and that poses a real threat to relationships," she says.
Le says the businesses she advises are increasingly aware of the dangers to staff. The most extreme threat is so-called burnout which she describes as "physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest".

But apart from wishing to spare their suffering, companies also need employees to be creative. And this is less likely, says Le, without regular downtime.

She applauds a US insurance company that has given workers sleep monitors and pays them a bonus if they get 20 consecutive nights of good sleep.

"It shows how good companies recognise the importance of not harassing workers at home.
"Here in France we speak of the two types of time, as defined by the Greeks: chronos and keiros. Chronos is regular, divisible time. Keiros is unconscious time… creative time.

"Keiros is essential for productive thinking, and good employers know they need to protect it."

At PriceMinister - an online marketplace run from central Paris - chief executive Olivier Mathiot has instituted "no-email Fridays", to encourage employees to resort less to digital messaging.
Sales manager Tiphanie Schmitt says this idea is fine - it helps to get people to talk - but she would resist any government interference in the way she does her job.

In my company we compete with Indian, Chinese, American developers - we need to talk to people around the world late into the night

Gregory, software writer
"I do sales. I like doing sales. It means I use email late into the evening, and at the weekend. I don't want my company preventing me from using my mail box just because of some law," she says.
Similar views can be heard expressed at the Bowler pub near the Champs-Elysees, a hang-out for financial and computer workers.
"I think [the right to disconnect] is wonderful for improving the human condition but totally inapplicable," says software writer Gregory.
"In my company we compete with Indian, Chinese, American developers. We need to talk to people around the world late into the night. Our competitors don't have the same restrictions.
"If we obeyed this law we would just be shooting ourselves in the foot."
Olivier Mathiot of PriceMinister says the issue should be addressed by education rather than legislation.
"In France we are champions at passing laws, but they are not always very helpful when what we need is greater flexibility in the workplace," he says.
And according to Linh Le at Elia Consulting, the law will be very quickly made irrelevant. "In a few years' time emails will have ceased to exist," she predicts. "We'll have moved on to something else."

Even cheerleaders such as the MP Benoit Hamon admit that the impact of the law will only go so far - as presently drafted there is no penalty for violating it. Companies are expected to comply voluntarily.

But almost everyone in France agrees that the subject of communications overload is one that needs to be on every employer's agenda.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

Shrinking transistors have powered 50 years of advances in computing—but now other ways must be found to make computers more capable.

Mobile apps, video games, spreadsheets, and accurate weather forecasts: that’s just a sampling of the life-changing things made possible by the reliable, exponential growth in the power of computer chips over the past five decades.

But in a few years technology companies may have to work harder to bring us advanced new use cases for computers. The continual cramming of more silicon transistors onto chips, known as Moore’s Law, has been the feedstock of exuberant innovation in computing. But it looks to be slowing to a halt.

“We have to ask, is this going to be a problem for areas like mobile devices, data centers, and self-driving cars?” says Thomas Wenisch, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. “I think yes, but on different timescales.”

Moore’s Law is named after Intel cofounder Gordon Moore. He observed in 1965 that transistors were shrinking so fast that every year twice as many could fit onto a chip, and in 1975 adjusted the pace to a doubling every two years.

The chip industry has kept Moore’s prediction alive, with Intel leading the charge. And computing companies have found plenty to do with the continual supply of extra transistors. But Intel pushed back its next transistor technology, with features as small as 10 nanometers, from 2016 to late 2017. The company has also decided to increase the time between future generations (see “Intel Puts the Brakes on Moore’s Law”). And a technology roadmap for Moore’s Law maintained by an industry group, including the world’s largest chip makers, is being scrapped. Intel has suggested silicon transistors can only keep shrinking for another five years.

The computers in our pockets will probably feel the effects later than other types of computing devices, Wenisch guesses. Mobile devices are powered by chips made by companies other than Intel, and they've generally been slightly behind in transistor technology. And mobile processors don’t make full use of some design techniques well established in more powerful processors for non-roving machines, he says.

“You probably have a generation or two more runway in mobile,” says Wenisch.
However, many useful things that mobile devices can do rest on the power of billion-dollar data centers, where the end of Moore’s Law would be a more immediate headache. Companies such as Google and Microsoft eagerly gobble up every new generation of the most advanced chips, packed more densely with transistors.

Wenisch says companies such as Intel, which dominates the server chip market, and their largest customers will have to get creative. Alternative ways to get more computing power include working harder to improve the design of chips and making chips specialized to accelerate particular crucial algorithms.

Strong demand for silicon tuned for algebra that’s crucial to a powerful machine-learning technique called deep learning seems inevitable, for example. Graphics chip company Nvidia and several startups are already moving in that direction (see “A $2 Billion Chip to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence”).

Microsoft and Intel are also working on the idea of running some code on reconfigurable chips called FPGAs for greater efficiency (see “Microsoft Says Reprogrammable Chips Will Make AI Smarter”). Intel spent nearly $17 billion to acquire leading FPGA manufacturer Altera last year and is adapting its technology to data centers.

Horst Simon, deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says the world’s most powerful calculating machines appear to be already feeling the effects of Moore’s Law’s end times. The world’s top supercomputers aren’t getting better at the rate they used to.

“For the last three years we’ve seen a kind of stagnation,” says Simon. That’s bad news for research programs reliant on supercomputers, such as efforts to understand climate change, develop new materials for batteries and superconductors, and improve drug design.

Simon says the coming plateau in transistor density will stir more interest in redrawing the basic architecture of computers among supercomputer and data-center designers. Getting rid of certain design features dating from the 1940s could unlock huge efficiency gains (see “Machine Dreams”). Yet taking advantage of those would require rethinking the design of many types of software, and would require programmers to change their habits.

Whatever kind of computer you’re interested in, the key question is whether the creative avenues left open to computing companies can provide similar payoffs to Moore’s Law after it ends, says Neil Thompson, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan School. “We know that those other things matter, but the question is, are they of the same scale?” he says.

One reason to think they might not be is that companies will have to work together in new and complicated ways, without the common heartbeat that used to keep the industry’s product and R&D plans in sync.

“One of the biggest benefits of Moore's Law is as a coӧrdination device,” says Thompson. “I know that in two years we can count on this amount of power and that I can develop this functionality—and if you’re Intel you know that people are developing for that and that there's going to be a market for a new chip.”

Without that common music to dance to, advances in computing power that benefit all kinds of companies, not just ones with mutually strong incentives to collaborate, could be less common.

Source: technologyreview.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th May 2016

The first of Amazon’s new private-label brands could start appearing online in the coming weeks. 

Amazon.com Inc. in the coming weeks is set to roll out new lines of private-label brands that will include its first broad push into perishable foods, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new brands with names like Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear will include nuts, spices, tea, coffee, baby food and vitamins, as well as household items such as diapers and laundry detergents, these people said.

The first of the brands could begin appearing on Amazon’s namesake site as soon as the end of the month or early June, said one of the people.

Amazon has been working to develop the new private-label lines for several years and had approached branding consultants and manufacturers including TreeHouse Foods Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported last year.

Consumers have warmed to private-label brands since the days of generically named products sold in plain white packaging. Today, retailers from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Sephora to Dean & DeLuca sell a range of in-house brands that some may even view as higher quality.

Store brands reached $118.4 billion in U.S. sales last year, up about $2.2 billion from the prior year, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

Amazon’s latest lineup is aimed at winning sales in niches with generally higher profit margins, as well as giving the Seattle retailer a potential edge in crafting new products ahead of its own vendors.

“Amazon is ‘carpet-bombing’ the market with new products,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of brand consultancy Brick Meets Click. “Private label allows them to test out new prices and distinctive flavors with less risk.”

Mr. Bishop said private-label goods boast higher profit margins than name brands because companies save costs on marketing and brand development. And with Amazon’s rich trove of data, it may better predict which products will sell well to its customers.

Amazon only will offer the private-label products to members of its $99-per-year Prime membership, this person said, potentially giving the program a boost.

The retailer has been spinning out new private labels for years, including its Pinzon linens and towels and Elements baby wipes.

Its AmazonBasics line features hundreds of items such as cellphone cases, computer mice, batteries, dumbbells and dog crates. Recently, it has begun selling its own fashion lines such as Lark & Ro dresses and North Eleven scarves.

Amazon’s new brands will include the Happy Belly line of food stuffs including nuts, trail mix, tea and cooking oil, the people said. The Wickedly Prime brand will feature snack foods.

While the full lineup couldn’t be ascertained, Amazon previously applied for trademark protection for foods including pasta, granola, potato chips and chocolate, as well as razors and air deodorizers.

Amazon’s plans also include the Presto! line of household products such as laundry detergent and the Mama Bear brand for baby products like diapers, baby-food jars and gentle detergent, these people said.

It wasn’t clear how Amazon might price its new food and household goods products relative to brand names.

Food production carries particular risks. For its new brands Amazon will depend on manufacturers that may have varying quality controls. Any health-related recalls could damage Amazon’s reputation.

Amazon has stumbled in private labels before. Its Elements line, which promised greater transparency about where and how goods were made, initially included diapers, but Amazon pulled them weeks after launching in late 2014, citing design flaws.

It also has discontinued a tool line and cookware endorsed by a Seattle chef.

In a twist, Amazon may graduate some of its coming products to the Elements label based on a formula including ratings and sales, suggesting it plans to make it a premium line, one of the people said.

The Elements private label has been sold only through Prime since it was released in late 2014. Despite the restriction, its Elements wipes represent about 9% of all baby-wipes sales on Amazon.com, according to analytics firm One Click Retail.

Amazon occasionally designates some products for special discounts available solely to Prime members. For instance, some customers were surprised last month to find certain videogames such as Assassin’s Creed Syndicate could only be purchased by Prime members.

By some estimates, Amazon has 50 million or more Prime members. The company covets them because they spend more on the site on average and may watch streaming videos such as its “Transparent” TV series.

In addition to bolstering its Prime service, the new lineup of private-label products may feed Amazon’s Fresh grocery delivery business, which is available in several U.S. cities.

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

"If I can hack my lights I can probably do the same for my neighbour's room..."

Purism CTO Zlatan Todorić: 'The Internet of Things is really horrible'

Hacking a website is so 1990s. Today, hacking Internet of Things (IoT) devices is where the cool hackers are hacking.

And, in many cases, it's almost an open door. A short while ago, while staying at a London hotel, security developer Matthew Garrett hacked the light controls in his room, then blogged about it.

He's not the only, though. "I did the same thing," said Zlatan Todorić, chief technology officer at Purism, a developer of laptops and open source software, speaking to V3.co.uk sister publication Computing at the Privacy Advantage event in London last week.

"I noticed that there was this sort of smartphone to control all the lights and I thought 'ah, this is some sort of IoT device'. If it can send and receive signals it must have a network interface, and if it has a network interface then awesome, it's exploitable."

With a little effort Todorić hacked the system and succeeded in controlling the lights in his room from his laptop.

"Then I thought, if I can hack my lights I can probably do the same for my neighbour's room and I gave him a special light show and I could hear him shouting and complaining ‘what the hell's going on?'" he laughed.

"So, then I thought let's take it to the next step. The servers must be on the same network, so I looked around and found them in the clear, unprotected. So I hacked their servers and then I went down and told them what I'd done and said 'you really need to change this'."

So far, so geeky hi-jinks, but what this shows is just how vulnerable such systems are to those with a bit of technical know-how if they are not properly secured. As "smart" devices proliferate, they open up a huge range of potential entry points for hackers.

"The Internet of Things is really horrible," Todorić said. "Everyone's excited by their toaster being smart, but it's not smart, it's stupid. There's no such thing as a smart device. [A human being] creates software that says computationally how that thing will work, and that's all it does. It's stupid.

"Don't give information to your fridge. Don't give your information to a toaster. If I hack your toaster and it's connected to your phone I'm going to hack your phone. If I hack your phone I can get to your inbox and I can create fake data about you if I want to."

In Computing's latest research, device and data security (or the lack thereof) and a need for proper data protection and privacy frameworks were found to be the chief impediments to the wider adoption of connected IoT devices

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th May 2016

At least this was better than the comedy meeting in which his chair collapsed

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our Friday folly in which readers share stories of their professional adventures.

This week, we bring you the tale of reader “Kelly” who encountered a previous On-Call titled Outsourcer didn't press ON switch, so Reg reader flew 15 hours to do the job.

“I see you that story,” wrote Kelly, “and raise it with 'I was flown to Hong Kong for a week to do nowt'.”

That's got us interested, Kelly. Do tell more.

“This was back in the late 80's,” Kelly wrote. “ I was in the third line support team for a Mainframe DBMS based in the UK. We had a customer in Hong Kong who were running a business critical system based on this DBMS and I'd been in part responsible for the successful commissioning of that system the previous year when I'd flown out and helped diagnose a fault that was preventing the user acceptance test from being completed.”

“So, when they hit a hard fault that was stopping a critical job from running they fired off the distress flare and I found myself being fast tracked through an international trip authorization and was climbing onto a 747 on a Saturday morning.”

Kelly was a bit worried about the job, because “the fault they were hitting exhibited the same symptoms as one for which a fix was already available, and I'd already pointed this out and been assured that the fix in question was already in place.”

“This must be something new,” Kelly told himself after landing at the “late and not much lamented Kai Tak Airport”* and enduring “the customary wait on the plane while the ground crew presumably removed all of the laundry that had been collected during the final approach from the leading edges.”

Upon landing Kelly says “I was met by an old mate who'd been flown up from Melbourne to look into the same problem (did I mention that this customer had some clout?), who greeted me thus:

"You were right. They were loading the code from a library that didn't have the fix applied that you've been telling them about since Thursday. I spotted it about the time you were taking off yesterday. Shall we go to the Pub?"
Kelly got to stay there for a week: his cheap flight could not be rescheduled “and so I spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel, never quite getting overt the jet lag, and generally doing bugger-all.”

That wasn't Kelly's only pointless work journey. In recent years he says he was flown to Hanoi from Kuala Lumpur for a meeting in which it was thought his expertise would come in handy.

It didn't. “I spent a three hour meeting on Monday morning trying to stay awake while a bunch of guys discussed a network roll-out in Vietnamese,” Kelly wrote. “My only contribution to the meeting was having my chair collapse underneath me, which added some light relief.”

Source: theregister.co.uk
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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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