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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th Apr 2018

Image result for whatsapp

Popular messaging service WhatsApp is banning under-16s from using its platform in the European Union.

Users must currently be at least 13, but the firm is changing the rules ahead of the introduction of new EU data privacy regulations in May.

The app, which is owned by Facebook, will ask users to confirm their age when prompted to agree new terms of service in the next few weeks.

It has not said how the age limit will be enforced.

At present, WhatsApp does not ask users their age when they join, nor does it cross-reference their Facebook or Instagram accounts to find out.

About a third of all UK-based 12- to 15-year-olds active on social media use WhatsApp, according to a 2017 report by the media regulator Ofcom.

That made it the fifth most popular social network with the age group after Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.

Data privacy

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, will give people much more control over how companies use their information.

They will also have the right to have personal data erased.

It also includes specific rules to protect children from having their personal data collected for marketing purposes, or to create user profiles.

WhatsApp, which has faced scrutiny for its data sharing practices in the past, said its move would help it meet the "new high standards of transparency" in the EU.

However, the app plans to keep its age limit at 13 in the rest of the world.

Skip Twitter post by @bellabo

Gavin Blair@bellabo

@rachelburden casually mentioned that WhatsApp are changing their their T&C and under 16's being banned from the platform to my teenage daughter. Massive sobs and snot bubbles for the last 1/2hr

7:12 AM - Apr 25, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @HellyB1972

Helen Buchanan@HellyB1972

Very pleased today to hear WhatsApp is raising the age of use from 13 to 16. At last someone is doing something to protect teenage minds & self esteem. Come on Facebook get your act together

8:43 AM - Apr 25, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @HellyB1972

Skip Twitter post by @julietb3

JulietB3@julietb3

Replying to @ckkrisshnakumar and 5 others

All very valid points but my 13 year old daughter is part of a form WhatsApp group where they check in with how they are feeling and also what lessons they have, homework that's due, they help each other with homework. So increasing the age limit would be detrimental for her.

8:27 AM - Apr 25, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @julietb3

Most social media apps - including Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Musical.ly and Reddit - are restricted to those aged 13 and over.

This is in part because a US law - the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule(Coppa) - bans online services from collecting personal information about younger children.

Facebook did, however, launch Messenger Kids, which is targeted at children as young as six, last December. It is an ad-free service designed to be compliant with Coppa.

Different approach

WhatsApp will also be allowing all users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them as part of its new terms of service.

That could include the make and model of the device they use, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.

Facebook, which has also been criticised for its handling of personal data, is taking a different approach to younger users on its main service.

To comply with GDPR, the social network is asking those aged 13 to 15 to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform.

If they do not, they will not see a fully personalised version of the platform.

In a related development, Facebook's Instagram service has also launched a "data download" tool that provides a file containing the photos, comments, archived Stories, contacts and other personal data a user had posted to the service in the past.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 24th Apr 2018

 

coolest eco friendly technology frieght farms tech

Freight Farms

We love when technology gives us new gadgets or entertaining features, but it’s even better when scientists get together and use technology for more noble pursuits… like saving the planet. That’s right: From biodegradable bullets to robot bees, today’s eco-friendly creations are literally changing the world for the better.

If you need a more optimistic look at the future, check out these promising pieces of modern tech, each of which is greening up everyday activities and fixing a problem we once thought unsolvable.

A SEA NET DESIGNED TO CLEAN UP THE GPGP

ocean clean up garbage patch cleanup boylan slat

For those who don’t know, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a giant collection of trash — one made primarily of plastics and other materials that don’t disintegrate in water — that’s currently adrift in the middle of the Pacific. If you want to get technical, it’s called a marine trash vortice, and it’s larger than many countries.

Ocean Cleanup is an organization dedicated to finding innovative waves of getting rid of the GPGP before it gets even worse. Do you remember those floating, connected markers at the public pool? Ocean Cleanup has devised a heavy-duty version of those lines, except each float is actually a polyurethane trash collector that filters out and captures pieces of the GPGP.

The goal is to attach these lines to sea vessels and have them pass in and out of the garbage patch to help clean it up. Simulations show that this could reduce the GPGP’s size by almost 50 percent in five years, thus reducing its impact on aquatic life.

A GRAPHENE FILTER THAT MAKES SALT WATER DRINKABLE

The severe water shortages facing many parts of the world could be solved if there was an easy way to filter salt out of seawater and make it drinkable. Desalination plants do exist, but they are complex, expensive to build, and can’t be used everywhere. Now a team of scientists in the U.K. thinks it has a solution that could transform the world’s water needs.

Enter a carefully designed graphene filter made from a single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal lattice. This type of graphene layer can do all kinds of cool stuff, but scientists are currently using it to develop a graphene oxide sieve that could filter out salts — and can do it far more effectively than current desalinization plants, at a fraction of the cost.

THE U.S. ARMY’S BIODEGRADABLE BULLETS

darpa self guiding bullets exacto bullet

In addition to all the other problems with war, bullets are actually really bad for the environment; they can leach toxic metals into the soil that can kill plants, harm animals, and build up in nearby communities, eventually causing medical problems.

Enter the U.S. Army’s plan to create biodegradable bullets. Basically, they want to use bullets made out of composite materials that can act as much like real bullets as possible, and can be fired using current weaponry. This will allow soldiers posted around the world to conduct typical training regimens without worrying about the impact of the bullets on the surrounding environment.

Even better, the final bullets chosen for the project may include hibernating seeds, which are designed to take root in the soil months later and sprout into environmentally-beneficial plants. How crazy would that be?

A CHIMNEY THAT GETS RID OF POLLUTION

China has been hard at work trying to reduce its sizable pollution problem and make cities safer to live in for years now. This involves traditional solutions such as solar and wind power, along with more innovative approaches — like this 200-foot chimney in Xi’an.

The chimney’s genius design uses solar heating to warm pollution particles drawn in at the chimney’s base, forcing them into a network of filters housed within the shaft. The particles are then trapped as the warm air continues to rise, creating a healthy cycle that pushes clean air into the city. The chimney can currently handle particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which is particularly impressive for this kind of project. If the creation is deemed a success, these towers could appear in cities around China.

A PLANE POWERED VIA FUEL CELLS

Fuel Cell Plane

Here’s a crash course (no pun intended) on the fuel cell: It creates an electrical current by utilizing a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Stack enough of these fuel cells together, and they become powerful enough to operate larger machines, including vehicles. The only byproduct of a fuel cell is, famously, water.

The problem is that fuel cells are difficult and expensive, at least when you’re dealing with larger vehicles. Plus, you need a handy source of hydrogen gas to keep the vehicle powered. That’s why you don’t see too many fuel cell cars on the road, though, there are a handful of car manufacturers that offer fuel cell variants.

All this makes this German plane even more impressive, because it manages to carry several passengers while running on nothing by fuel cells. In many ways, this four-seater is more suited for fuel cells than cars are, especially when it comes to refueling. The creators are hopeful that these planes could be used as eco-friendly taxis between nearby cities.

THE “LEAFY GREEN MACHINES” NASA WANTS TO PUT IN SPACE

Freight Farms

Freight Farms, by themselves, are already impressive eco-friendly constructs; these little grow rooms are manufactured using recycled freight crates with advanced hydroponics that allow them to grow racks of farm-fresh produce even in the middle of the city. Companies like Freight Farms are currently mass producing these “Leafy Green Machines,” providing cities that receive little daylight or currently face produce shortages with a better method for growing crops.

That’s already cool, but it gets cooler! NASA has given Freight Farms and Clemson University a grant to study how the Leafy Green Machines could be used in space travel. Basically, NASA wants to take these freight gardens to the next level and see if they can become entirely independent. If they can run on renewable energy and produce enough food to support humans, they may be ideal for growing in-flight produce.

A STREETLIGHT POWERED VIA USED CAR BATTERIES

The Reborn Light

Electric cars are becoming more and more common, but there are some issues when it comes time to replace their batteries, which often need to be swapped out while they’re still operational. Note: Electric cars require their batteries to be in peak condition in order to operate correctly.

Rather than let these batteries go to waste, Nissan decided to do something with them, and created The Reborn Light project. The project’s aim is to take used batteries from electric cars and attach them to LED-equipped streetlights, allowing them to run for years with little maintenance. Early reports say they can provide the same sort of visibility as traditional streetlights, though, they capitalize on a planet-saving approach we can all get behind.

THE BEST SOLAR ROOF ON THE MARKET

top tech stories tesla solar roof header

Quick! What’s the big problem people have with installing solar roofs? For the average homeowner, the short answer is either “installation” or “appearance.” Most people simply don’t want a cumbersome solar panel on their roof, especially when it comes with additional structural concerns.

Thankfully, Tesla has developed a more discrete type of solar roof. The intuitive design utilizes tiles that look like shiny, ultra-modern versions of the same clay or stone tiles luxury homes have used for decades. Not only do these solar panels protect your roof from rain, pests, and so on, they are also great at producing energy. In fact, they are more efficient than the average solar panel that’s often marketed toward consumers, and they’re cheaper than a normal roof.

Although Tesla’s solar panels are only available under limited conditions in a few markets, there are plans to expand into new territories in the near future, and to offer a greater variety of tile appearances.

THE MACHINE THAT REDUCES CARBON EMISSIONS (PERMANENTLY)

Reykjavik Energy geothermal power plant

The biggest problem with greenhouse gases is that once they’re out and about, it’s really hard to do anything about them. Carbon capture and storage is, at least currently, notoriously difficult and often temporary. Luckily, a startup called Climeworks and an Icelandic project called CarbFix have teamed up to change all of that.

Together, these researchers have developed a machine that has been attached to the Hellisheidi Power Station, which is being hailed as the greenest power plant in the world. In addition to using geothermal energy, the plant now takes in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injects it into the basalt rocks beneath the plant. CO2 and basalt combine to form permanent carbonate rocks, which will house the carbon permanently. It’s still something of a prototype, though, so here’s hoping larger versions can be developed soon!

A BACTERIA STRAIN THAT GENERATES ENERGY FROM SUNLIGHT AND CO2

Cyborg Bacteria

Yes, the field of “cyborg bacteria” is now a real thing. The term essentially refers to bacteria that have been engineered to coat themselves with nanocrystals. These nanocrystals are grown from cadmium and cysteine that scientists feed to the new bacteria, and they function as little solar cells that turn sunlight into energy.

The bacteria, in turn, use this solar energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into acetic acid, which they can use as a food source. Not only is this process more efficient than the chlorophyll-based method used by plants, it also shows great potential as a new C02-removal system, one that could help scrub our atmosphere and oceans. Scientists are also looking into ways to use the bacteria as a major energy producer, which, down the line, could lead to some exciting advancements in the solar field.

ROBOTIC BEES THAT ARE DESIGNED TO POLLINATE

B-Droid

If you’re up to speed on your ecology news, then you’re probably already aware that bees are dying off at an unprecedented rate. Whether the cause is a changing climate, new diseases, pesticides, or a combination thereof, it’s bad news for anyone who depends on bees for pollination.

The good news is that this has led to some serious innovation, including the development of robotic bees, aka B-Droids. These robots aren’t just lab drawings, either. Prototypes were developed and launched in 2014, and more advanced versions of the B-Droid have continued to appear in the years since. The latest version functions like a mini quadcopter, and has successfully pollinated both garlic and strawberries via a set of cameras and algorithms that coordinate flight paths between flowers. Thanks for saving the planet, robots!

 LEATHER THAT DOESN’T RELY ON ANIMALS

Modern Meadows Leather

Human fabrics are rarely eco-friendly — leather, in particular. Unlike cotton or wool, animal skin isn’t exactly renewable, which means it takes a serious ecological toll to produce. And anyone who has tried cheap pleather products knows that the synthetic version isn’t exactly satisfying, especially in the long term.

Thankfully, Modern Meadow’s has developed a new solution. After years of research and millions of dollars in investment, the company has officially created a biofabrication technique that results in animal-free leather. How does this miracle work? It uses yeast cultures that are engineered to create collagen, the biological material that skin is formed from. Scientists then take that collagen and process it into leather, basically in the same way that real leather is created.

Not only is the new leather poised to revolutionize the clothing industry, it also apparently feels and acts just like the real thing. Scientists can even switch up the processing method to create different colors, new textures, or entirely new fabric types that rely on cotton and other materials.

LEGOS MADE FROM BIODEGRADABLE MATERIALS

Lego plants sugarcane plastic

At first, “bioplastic” sounds like an oxymoron: How can plastic be biological or eco-friendly when it’s famously not? That said, Lego has found a way. The iconic company — you know, the one behind those colorful blocks you always step on in your living room — has just introduced a new line made entirely from biodegradable materials.

The secret is a new process that turns sugar cane into a plant-based plastic, one that acts like traditional plastic with a few advantages. The new Legos are eco-friendly and just as durable as the older models, for instance, and they’re softer to the touch.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Apr 2018

Image result for Android texting

Google’s effort to come to grips with Android’s messaging problem has arrived via “Chat,” a consumer-friendly name for the Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging standard.

RCS, which we’ve looked at before, is an evolution of SMS. It introduces many features that have previously been unavailable through texting: Better group messaging, read receipts, typing indicators, animated stickers, and more — things that have long-been available on Internet Protocol apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple’s iMessage. Chat isn’t a new app from Google, rather the technology based on the Universal Profile for RCS. It will be supported in Android Messages, the default texting app on many Android phones.

Chat, first reported by The Verge, is a carrier service. That means Google worked with more than 50 carriers around the world and almost a dozen manufacturers to support the standard. Sent messages will be inked to your data plan instead of your SMS plan, and charges — set by the carrier — should be minimal.

The idea is for Chat to offer modern messaging features to the default texting app on all Android phones. So it doesn’t matter if you use AT&T, Verizon, or Samsung’s messaging app, you’ll still be able to see read receipts, typing indicators, and more with someone using Android Messages. All these messaging apps will be on the same platform, so everyone will (hopefully) have a modern, seamless experience.

Google is so serious about moving ahead with Chat, that it has suspended development of Allo.

Google expects the Chat standard to be switched on for most Android users some time this year, though the precise timing will be decided by each carrier and region. It already works between Sprint users, and T-Mobile said it will flip the switch on in the second quarter of this year.

If you send a message to someone without Chat enabled, or a non-Android user, the message will be sent as an SMS. The sooner carriers turn on Chat, the better for everyone. It won’t work with iPhone users until Apple supports Chat. At the moment, The Verge reports Google and a group of mobile operators are in talks with the Cupertino company to support the platform.

Google is so serious about moving ahead with Chat, that it has suspended development of Allo, a messaging app it launched two years ago. The team is now focusing exclusively on Android Messages. The default texting app will get a web version very soon, so you can send and receive messages from a desktop. Then expect the Android Messages app to gain a host of features, including Smart Replies, Google Assistant, Google Photos integration, and more.

The drawback is Chat or Android Messages won’t be end-to-end encrypted, therefore it won’t be as secure as iMessage or Signal.

Google’s interest in persuading carriers to turn on Chat is obvious. Its Allo messaging app has failed to build a user base that can compete with the likes of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, so the company has switched the team to focus on incorporating the app’s best features into Google’s Android Messages, which is preinstalled on most Android devices and has more than 100 million active monthly users.

Anil Sabharwal, the executive leading the team and whose track record includes Google Photos, points out that Android Messages is where all the users are, so it makes perfect sense to divert its efforts toward the app.

The bottom line is that Chat hopes to banish the limitations of SMS to give users a much more enjoyable messaging experience, with support for a wide range of features at little to no cost. What does that mean for Hangouts? Google intends to turn it exclusively into a corporate messaging service — a competitor to Slack — and it’s likely that Allo will be put on the chopping block in the future.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Apr 2018

Image result for martin lewis

 "Any advert with my name and face in it is fake"

Consumer campaigner Martin Lewis is to launch UK High Court proceedings in a bid to sue Facebook for defamation.

The MoneySavingExpert founder says at least 50 fake ads bearing his name have appeared on the social media platform, causing reputational damage to him.

Many of the adverts show his face alongside endorsements that he has not actually made, and often link to articles carrying false information.

Facebook says misleading ads are not allowed and any reported are removed.

On Monday, Mr Lewis is due to lodge court papers at the High Court for a defamation case against Facebook.

He is seeking damages but has pledged that any money he receives will go to anti-scam charities.

Several of the adverts tout schemes with titles such as Bitcoin code and Cloud Trader which, according to Mr Lewis, are fronts for binary trading firms outside the EU.

Binary trading is a form of financial transaction which the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned consumers against.Martin Lewis said he found at least 50 fake adverts featuring himself

Mr Lewis is a high profile campaigner who has used his own prime-time show on ITV to take on banks and utility companies among others.

His legal action is significant not only because of the high degree of public attention it is likely to win, but because it shows him turning his sights against big technology firms.

The Advertising Standards Authority has previously upheld Mr Lewis' complaints against adverts saying the promotions made it falsely appear as if the expert had endorsed the advertised services.

When I spoke to Mr Lewis last week, he made clear his belief that this is a widespread phenomenon on Facebook, where celebrity endorsements are often seen on adverts, even though the celebrities have not consented.

Martin Lewis said he found a fake version of a BBC article which was created and posted on Facebook

Facebook denies that, saying: "We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights, and they will be removed."

The company adds: "We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our advertising policies had been taken down."

That's not how Mr Lewis sees it.

Martin Lewis is the founder of MoneySavingExpert and often appears on TV to offer advice

He says that the company's response has been consistently ineffective, and that he is only taking legal action after repeated demands for more to be done.

Legally, there are several issues at stake here. One is the perennial issue of whether Facebook has legal responsibility for the content that appears under its banner - whether it is a publisher or a platform.

Another question concerns the legal jurisdiction in which Facebook operates.

Mark Lewis, the campaigner's solicitor, says: "Facebook is not above the law - it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable."

Doubtless Martin Lewis, who was awarded an OBE for his remarkably effective campaigning, calculates that the publicity around his case will alert some Facebook users to the fact that these false adverts are rife on the social network.

It's been a difficult few months for Facebook. Now Martin Lewis is about to give them another big headache.

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Apr 2018

Related image

Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, displays a mud sample extracted from the depths of about 4,000 metres (13,123 ft) below the Pacific ocean surface where rare earth elements were found, at his laboratory in Tokyo July 5, 2011. 

  • Scientists found a deposit of rare-earth minerals off the coast of Japan.
  • It could be a huge boon to the country's economy. 
  • Because China has tightly controlled the world's supply of these minerals — which are used in everything from smartphones to electric car batteries — the discovery could be a "game-changer" for Japan, according to an analyst. 

Researchers have found a deposit of rare-earth minerals off the coast of Japan that could supply the world for centuries, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Nature on Tuesday, says the deposit contains 16 million tons of the valuable metals.

Rare-earth minerals are used in everything from smartphone batteries to electric vehicles. By definition, these minerals contain one or more of 17 metallic rare-earth elements (for those familiar with the periodic table, those are on the second row from the bottom).  

These elements are actually plentiful in layers of the Earth's crust, but are typically widely dispersed. Because of that, i t is rare to find any substantial amount of the elements clumped together as extractable minerals, according to the USGS. Currently, there are only a few economically viable areas where they can be mined and they're generally expensive to extract.

China has tightly controlled much of the world's supply of these minerals for decades. That has forced Japan — a major electronics manufacturer — to rely on prices dictated by their neighbour.

A new finding that could change the global economy

The newly discovered deposit is enough to "supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world," the study's authors wrote in the study. 

There's enough yttrium to meet the global demand for 780 years, dysprosium for 730 years, europium for 620 years, and terbium for 420 years.

The cache  lies off of Minamitori Island, about 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo. It's within Japan's exclusive economic zone, so the island nation has the sole rights to the resources there.

"This is a game changer for Japan," Jack Lifton, a founding principal of a market-research firm called Technology Metals Research, told The Wall Street Journal. "The race to develop these resources is well underway."

Japan started seeking its own rare-earth mineral deposits after China withheld shipments of the substances amid a dispute over islands that both countries claim as their own, Reuters reported in 2014.

Previously, China reduced its export quotas of rare earth minerals in 2010, pushing prices up as much as 10%, The Journal reports.  China was forced to start exporting more of the minerals again after the dispute was taken up at the World Trade Organization. 

Rare-earth minerals can be formed by volcanic activity, but many of the minerals on our planet were formed initially by supernova explosions before Earth came into existence. When Earth was formed, the minerals were incorporated into the deepest portions of the planet's mantle, a layer of rock beneath the crust.

As tectonic activity has moved portions of the mantle around, rare earth minerals have found their way closer to the surface. The process of weathering — in which rocks break down into sediment over millions of years — spread these rare minerals all over the planet. 

The only thing holding Japan back from using its newly found deposit to dominate the global market for rare-earth minerals is the challenge involved in extracting them. The process is expensive, so more research needs to be done to determine the cheapest methods, Yutaro Takaya, the study's lead author, told The Journal. 

Rare-earth minerals are likely to remain part the backbone of some the fastest-growing sectors of the global tech economy. Japan now has the opportunity to control a huge chunk of the global supply, forcing countries that manufacture electronics, like China and the US, to purchase the minerals on Japan's terms.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Apr 2018

Image result for revising for exams on laptop

Can you really revise for exams at the same time as conducting multiple simultaneous conversations on social media?

Have teenagers really developed such skills of multi-tasking that they can respond to Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram, answer texts, and watch funny videos of pets on YouTube, at the same time as studying?

It's peak season for revision for exams in schools and universities, and parents will be trying to give their own advice, confident in the knowledge that whatever they say is likely to start an argument.

And high on the list of easy ways to get a door slammed in your face is to suggest, ever so carefully, that they should just switch off the mobile phone for five minutes and focus on the text books.

'Myth' of multi-tasking

But are young people really able to respond to so many different stimulations at the same time? Wouldn't Pavlov's dog be dead with exhaustion if it had to keep responding like this?

Young people are showing "addictive behaviour" when it comes to using smartphones

Tom Bennett, a teacher, parent and the UK government's adviser on behaviour in school, says it's a complete "myth" that teenagers can multi-task between social media and online entertainment and still keep studying.

Mr Bennett is the director and founder of the ResearchEd group, which spreads education research among the teaching profession, and he says all the evidence points to online distractions harming learning.

Revision needs focus and concentration, he says, but this is going to be scuppered by the relentless, attention-seeking demands of social media.

"It's a very serious concern for educators and parents," he says.

Teenagers can have an "addictive response" to smartphones, says Mr Bennett, constantly checking for updates and responses.

Phone bans

Schoolwork is one casualty, alongside disrupted sleep and anxiety from an online culture that never switches off, says Mr Bennett.

"The children affected most are already likely to be the furthest behind," he says.

It's peak revision season - but can students avoid the distractions as they work on their laptops

There is international research to back his concerns.

A study of pupils in the Boston area, carried out by a research team including academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found "a link between greater media multi-tasking and worse academic outcomes in adolescents".

US academics also found similar results when they looked at achievement in schools in England that had banned mobile phones and so created at least part of the day away from messaging and social media.

Louis Philippe Beland, from Louisiana State University, and Richard Murphy, from the University of Texas at Austin, concluded that "not only does pupil achievement improve as a result of a ban, but also that low achieving and low income pupils gain the most".

An earlier study at Stanford University indicated that bombarding people with multiple online distractions didn't make them quicker to react, it made them less productive and lowered performance in memory tests.

'Don't just tell them to turn off'

But is that going to make any impression on a tech-addicted teenager who would need to be surgically detached from their mobile?

Part of the problem is that when a student is revising online, work and play are a click away from each other.

Tensions will be rising as the summer exams are approaching

Social media is waiting on the same screen as the revision. The playground and library are in the same place.

YouTube might be a soundtrack for putting off working, but it must also be one of the biggest unofficial revision services on the planet.

Google can be a starting point for websites stuffed full of free educational materials and online tutorials.

Dr Sandra Leaton Gray, senior lecturer in education at the UCL Institute of Education, says it's a mistake for parents to barge in and just say "turn it off".

"The clever way round it is to say, 'How are things going online?' Ask them if they're being distracted," she says, suggesting that teenagers need to be cajoled rather than confronted with the dangers of online time-wasting.

'Evil and wonderful'

They might be mixing up chat about exam revision with socialising, she says, so it's not always a clear separation between studying and responding to the next social media message.

But she also sees the constant diet of social media as adding to stress, rather than offering a relaxation during the exams.

She likens it to a "fast-food mentality", with an instant reward and then a longer-term sense of "dissatisfaction" and pressure from having to fit in with the "tribalism" of other teenagers.

This online culture is both "evil and wonderful at the same time" for teenagers, says Dr Leaton Gray.

But media habits have changed. An annual report this year indicated how much of children's media time was now spent alone and through a computer device.

Tom Bennett says parents are still trying to catch up with such changes.

But he says there is a growing awareness of the problems of too much time spent online - which is brought into sharper focus during the high-pressure weeks approaching exams.

"Maybe we're reaching a turning point," he says.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Apr 2018

Image result for facial recognition

Facebook says its face-matching tech is a way for users to learn if they are in a photo even if not tagged

Facebook has started asking European and Canadian users to let it use facial recognition technology to identify them in photos and videos.

Facebook originally began face-matching users outside Canada in 2011, but stopped doing so for EU citizens the following year after protests from regulators and privacy campaigners.

The new request is one of several opt-in permissions being rolled out in advance of a new data privacy law.

The move is likely to be controversial.

The company is currently embroiled in a privacy scandal related to the use of its members' personal information by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The social network is also facing a class-action lawsuit in the US for deploying the facial recognition technology there without users' explicit consent.

"Biometric identification and tracking across the billions of photos on the platform exacerbates serious privacy risks to users," commented Silkie Carlo, director of UK civil liberties group Big Brother Watch.

"Facebook now has a duty to prove it has learned how to respect the law, not to prove it can take its surveillance capabilities to new depths."

Users outside the EU and Canada will be prompted to review a similar set of privacy controls in the coming months, but they will continue to be subject to facial recognition unless they opt out of the system.

Presentational grey line

Facebook's face-matching tech

The facial recognition facility works by assigning each user a unique number called a template. This is calculated by analysing the way they look in their profile photograph and other images they have already been identified in.

Untagged faces are then represented in a similar manner and compared to the database of templates.

When a match is found, Facebook prompts both the person posting an image and the people appearing in it to apply the relevant name tags. In addition, it uses the tech to detect when a scammer is attempting to use a stolen photo as their profile picture.

It also helps Facebook to offer new "friends" suggestions.

When new connections are made, users have more reason to spend longer on Facebook's app and website.

This lets the firm show them more adverts while also helping it learn more about their interests, which in turn lets it better target future ads.

Pre-ticked boxes

The new settings are being deployed ahead of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May.

The law tightens existing privacy rules, forbids the use of pre-ticked boxes for consent, and increases the amount organisations can be fined for non-compliance.

Users can either agree to face recognition with a single button press or click through other pages to be given the choice of refusing

Under the new system, users click a single button saying "accept and continue" to turn on face recognition, but have to delve deeper into the "manage data setting" options to confirm they want it turned off.

As has previously been the case, Facebook will not include under-18s in its face-matching database. And it has said that if users opt in but subsequently change their minds, it will delete their face templates, making further matches impossible.

Even so, the data watchdog involved has yet to sign off on the proposal.

"There are a number of outstanding issues on which we await further responses from Facebook," Ireland's data protection commissioner told the BBC.

"In particular, the Irish DPC is querying the technology around facial recognition and whether Facebook needs to scan all faces - ie those without consent as well - to use the facial recognition technology.

"The issue of compliance of this feature with GDPR is therefore not settled at this point."

Sensitive data

Facebook will initially present the new settings pages to EU citizens before rolling versions out worldwide

Facebook will also be asking for the following consent to meet its new obligations:

  • if a member has added information about their religious views, political beliefs or sexuality, they will be asked whether they agree to continue allowing that information to be displayed to others and whether they permit Facebook to use the data to target ads and provide other personalised recommendations
  • users will be asked if they authorise data gathered from elsewhere - including third-party websites and apps - to be used to pick which ads are shown to them on Facebook and Instagram

Under GDPR, children are also afforded added protections, which the EU's members can decide to limit to those under 13 or extend to those under 16.

Facebook already bans under-13s from being members.

But in affected countries, it will now ask under-16s for the permission of a parent or guardian to:

  • show adverts based on their interests
  • include their religious and political views in their profiles
  • allow them to express their sexuality by registering whether they are "interested in" men, women or both

To do this, the firm will either require them to send a permission request via Facebook itself or provide an email address that the older party can be reached at.

In the case of the latter, the company has confirmed that it will rely on the youngsters to provide an accurate address and does not plan its own identity checks.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Apr 2018

I emailed you about hacking a few days ago, here’s another great example of the bad guys getting smarter – a client of mine had a cheeky email, that I’ve copied and pasted below:

I nеed you to аrrаnge a £9,901.00 fаster pауmеnt for thе nеw suррliеr.

Sort code: 30-62-15
Acс. number: 10798361
Payee: Lillу Ward

I will forward the paperwork onсe I'll sort out mу stuff.

Lеavе а reply whеn the oреration is сomрlеtе or in саse you gеt аny problem whilе sеtting it uр.

The email is a great example of “phishing”.

It’s disguised so it looks like an internal email, from the MD to the FD, or the sales manager to the bookkeeper.

It’s clever, and I bet it works.

Copy it, send it to your finance team, educate them about phishing.

Don’t let the worst happen.

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Apr 2018

Current understanding of the effects of blue light from digital device screens on your sight or your child's sight

What is Blue Light?

Sunlight is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. When combined, it becomes the white light we see. Each of these has a different energy and wavelength. Rays on the red end have longer wavelengths and less energy. On the other end, blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy. Light that looks white can have a large blue component, which can expose the eye to a higher amount of wavelength from the blue end of the spectrum.

Where Are You Exposed to Blue Light?

The largest source of blue light is sunlight. In addition, there are many other sources:

  • Fluorescent light
  • CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs
  • LED light
  • Flat screen LED televisions
  • Computer monitors, smart phones, and tablet screens

Blue light exposure you receive from screens is small compared to the amount of exposure from the sun.  And yet, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure because of the close proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them. According to a recent NEI-funded study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens.

Related link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21600300?report=abstract

What Are The Benefits of Blue Light?

Blue light is needed for good health:

  • It boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood.
  • It regulates circadian rhythm – the body's natural wake and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthful circadian rhythm. Too much exposure to blue light late at night (through smart phones, tablets, and computers) can disturb the wake and sleep cycle, leading to problems sleeping and daytime tiredness.
  • Not enough exposure to sunlight in children could affect the growth and development of the eyes and vision. Early studies show a deficiency in blue light exposure could contribute to the recent increase in myopia/nearsightedness.

Related links:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25535358
www.arvo.org/webs/am2015/abstract/275.pdf

How Does Blue Light Affect the Eyes?

Almost all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. This light may affect vision and could prematurely age the eyes. Early research shows that too much exposure to blue light could lead to:

parts of the eye
parts of the eye

Digital eyestrain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast leading to digital eyestrain. Fatigue, dry eyes, bad lighting, or how you sit in front of the computer can cause eyestrain. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.

Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Eyes from Blue Light?

If constant exposure to blue light from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens is an issue, there are a few ways to decrease exposure to blue light:

Screen time: Try to decrease the amount of time spent in front of these screens and/or take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest.

Filters: Screen filters are available for smart phones, tablets, and computer screens. They decrease the amount of blue light given off from these devices that could reach the retina in our eyes.

Computer glasses: Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease computer digital eye strain by increasing contrast.

Anti-reflective lenses: Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare and increase contrast and also block blue light from the sun and digital devices.

Intraocular lens (IOL): After cataract surgery, the cloudy lens will be replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL). The lens naturally protects the eye from almost all ultraviolet light and some blue light. There are types of IOL that can protect the eye and retina from blue light.

Talk to an eye care professional about options about ways to protect your family and your eyes from blue light.

Blue Light Information to Download and Print

You can right-click this link to download, print, copy and share our free information on the effects of blue light.

Source: preventblindness.org
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th Apr 2018

 Image result for Jack Dorsey twitter

  • A group of Twitter shareholders is urging the company to prepare a report on the steps its taking to combat fake news and other abuses of its service.
  • The shareholders are also urging the company to include in the report the financial and other regulatory risks it faces from such abuses.
  • The request comes in the form of a shareholder proposal; the company’s board of directors opposes the measure, saying the company is already doing and disclosing enough, concerning such fake news and other abuses.

Arguing that Twitter isn't taking the problems of fake news and hate speech seriously enough, a group of the company's shareholders are urging it to report back to investors on what steps it's taking to combat misinformation and other abuses of its service.

The New York State Retirement Fund and Arjuna Capital have filed a shareholder proposal that would encourage Twitter to put together a detailed report about how well it's doing enforcing its social network's terms of service, the company disclosed in a regulatory document on Wednesday. The shareholders are also urging the company to include in the report the possible financial and other risks it faces from fake news and similar controversies.

"Shareholders are concerned that Twitter’s failure to address these issues proactively has created regulatory, legal, and reputational risk," the investors said in their proposal. "We believe Twitter has an obligation to demonstrate how it manages content to prevent violations of its terms of service. Yet, disclosures have been inadequate."

For its part, Twitter's board of directors urged the company's investors as a whole to reject the proposal. The company has not only made numerous updates to its service and policies over the last year or so to address and reduce abuses, it says, it's been transparent about disclosing them. Providing more information to the public about such efforts could give "a roadmap for those bad actors who are seeking to evade abiding by our terms," the board said.

"Our board of directors believes that this proposal is not in the best interests of Twitter or our stockholders, and unanimously recommends that you vote 'against' this proposal," the board said in its written response to the shareholder proposal in the regulatory document.

Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, has been in the sights of regulators over the last year, following reports that Russian-backed groups hijacked those companies' services to spread propaganda and other misinformation in an alleged attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. Twitter has also come under criticism for the abundant amount of hate speech posted on its service, and the numerous cases of harassment of particular users.

In their proposal, the retirement fund and Arjuna Capital listed some of the more notable incidents, and quoted both regulators and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself saying the company wasn't doing enough to battle offensive and illegal posts. The company hasn't seemed to be able to get ahead of the problem, they said.

Twitter's "content policies appear reactive, not proactive," the said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., is among those policymakers who has scrutinized Twitter and other social networks over the Russian-linked propaganda campaign.Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

As a result, they noted, regulators are stepping in — or threatening to do so. Germany has already put in place a new law that threatens to fine social networks if they don't quickly remove illegal posts, and US lawmakers are considering new regulations themselves, the proposal noted.

For its part, Twitter's board said that compared with last year, the company is "taking action" on 10 times as many accounts that violate its policies is suspending thousands more accounts each day than before. It's also provided regular updates to the public and policymakers about its investigation into the abuse of its service during the 2016 election, the board said.

"We [...] believe in being transparent with respect to our rules and how we enforce them, and have made significant progress in reporting out to all of our users on our progress," the board said.

In addition to the shareholder proposal, Twitter's regulatory document revealed that it paid Dorsey $0 last year. He didn't receive a salary, bonus, stock-based compensation, or any other compensation.

Instead, he "declined all compensation," according to the report.

However, the company paid Ned Segal, its new chief financial officer, $14.3 million in total compensation. Segal, who took the job in August, received a pro-rated salary of $165,385; a signing bonus of $300,000; a restricted stock award worth $13.8 million; and $1,500 in contributions to his retirement account.

Meanwhile, the document revealed that the median Twitter worker makes $161,860 in total compensation, including salary, bonus, stock grants, and retirement account contributions.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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