Gadget Man Episode 128 – The World Wide Web turns 30!!

It only seems like yesterday when I was talking about the World Wide Web turning 25 years old and now before we know it, it’s now 30 years since the first HTML web page was authored and published by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

The Web is, without doubt, the greatest invention of all time. It has made our planet smaller, brought together people from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe. It has made the world a much more accessible place, we can reach out to our idols and they can communicate back to us. We can transverse the globe and watch sunrises on opposite sides of the planet as they happen.

It truly is a modern wonder of the world. Cheers, Sir Tim!!

Sir Tim arriving at the Guildhall to receive the Honorary Freedom of the City of London - Image Credit - Paul Clarke
Sir Tim arriving at the Guildhall to receive the Honorary Freedom of the City of London – Image Credit – Paul Clarke

To find out how Sir Tim Berners-Lee is working towards a better Internet, visit his website.

To find out how CERN is celebrating, visit the World Wide Web at 30.

With the wonders of the web brings ‘Smart Assistants’, they are on our phones, computers and now independently as ‘Smart Speakers’, another true wonder borne from the internet, serving our every need and answering the answerable. These ubiquitous electronic pucks offer a gateway to enormous artificial intelligence-driven knowledgebases that are themselves learning as well learn from us, Machine Learning is driven by millions of users.

Of course, every now and then our assistants flicker or make strange noises, we might wonder if these are simply glitches or the first sparks of self-awareness?

I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about both Smart Speakers and the 30th Anniversary of the Web. Listen in above and don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!!

Gadget Man Episode 127 – What happens to my passwords after I’ve gone?

Who would have believed that at the dawn of the World Wide Web 30 years ago that almost all of our lives would be controlled via logins and passwords exchanged over the internet?

Whilst it is incredibly convenient to be able to access our bank accounts, insurance policies, email, social networks, discussion forums and many many other services. It is also very important to remember that ALL of the services require user names and passwords.

So, what happens when suddenly the owner of all these credentials passes away or becomes unable to continue to access the services independently?

On this episode, James Hazell discusses just that with both myself and a solicitor to explain what can be done to avoid all of our lives being locked away indefinitely.

You can tune in to the podcast above or subscribe via your favourite Podcast app. If you enjoy what you hear, don’t forget to Like, Share and Subscribe and I will see you next time!

Gadget Man – Episode 126 – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were DOWN!!!

For the last 24 hours, there has been collective panic across the digital world! Was this panic caused by the continued disaster that is the Brexit negotiations and repeated House of Commons votes?

No, it was because the worlds largest Social Networks were failing all around us. Literally MILLIONS of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users were panicking at the loss or at least interruption of their services.

There are many reasons for these failures, Facebook has denied DDoS attacks, but there is a myriad of other reasons, software corruption, network failure or hardware issues. There has even been the discussion of AI being involved in the problems!

** UPDATE – 14/03/19 21:59 ***

Facebook has now officially explained the reasons for the issues suffered over the past 24 hours as follows:-

Facebook Datacenter - Image Credit: Facebook Inc.
Facebook Datacenter – Image Credit: Facebook Inc.

Currently, we haven’t had an explanation and as soon as we do (see above), I will post it on this blog, until then, you can listen in to me talking to James Hazell at BBC Radio Suffolk about the problem.

Before I go, make sure you watch The Truman Show, in particular watch the very end, as the show draws to an end, everyone goes back to their normal lives. Maybe, we should too.

Don’t forget to Like, Subscribe and Share using the appropriate buttons.

Keeping Customer Data Safe In Your Business

You’ve got a business, and you’ve got plenty of customers milling in and out of it every day you’re open and operating. Even when you’re closed, you’ve got an ecommerce website that allows people to order what they want from you whenever they want, allowing you to ship out products or services as soon as you’re next able to. It’s a great element to have to your business, and increases your exposure, outreach, and potential sales from these by tenfold.

But that means you’ve got a lot of data to keep track of at the same time. And this data is very important, so you need to keep it safe. So here’s just a couple of details to remember about storing customer data, in the safe and right ways.

 

Always Give Customers an Option

Whenever a customer comes through your ecommerce site, give them plenty of choice over how their details are used. Let them know how their information will be used whilst they’re on the site. Let your customers know they have the option to store their credit or debit details when they use your site, and that they also have the option for the system to forget all about their card. After all, it’s completely up to the person shopping with you whether or not you have their details on file, and you shouldn’t want it any other way.

Move On From Physical Storage

If you’re using physical storage to keep a track of your customer details, you might be missing a trick here. Not only do things like hard drives, USB sticks, and filing cabinets all have a maximum capacity to them, but they’re also quite hard to sort through. Flash drives alone have a huge risk to them, in that the data stored on them can be lost at any moment, and pieces are chipped away every time you log one in and out of your computer. And then you’ll have to look up a guide like https://setapp.com/how-to/usb-data-recovery.

So use cloud storage, or server based storage, instead. There’s a lot more room for expansion, and you can invest in private storage that only you have access to. End to end encryption, as well as the ability to search for the right files in seconds – it’s a real upgrade to have a look into at least.

Keep Outside Connections to a Minimum

If you’re looking to stay safe and secure in the modern day and age, you need to be sure as few people as possible have access to your company files. Especially the customer details you have stored for ease of access on both sides of the screen. So make sure only a select few people have the passwords or keys to the storage, and make sure only secured WIFIs have access.

Customer data is a priority. Security is a big part of maintaining business longevity, so it needs to be something you prioritise in your quest to take your company higher.

Top Surveillance Gadgets for Small Businesses

We are living in an increasingly technological age and there are all sorts of different gadgets that you have probably already considered incorporating into your business. But for now, let’s focus on surveillance gadgets! Sure, Orwell might have foretold that we’d end up living in an age where “Big Brother” is always watching – but surveillance gadgets have proven indispensable for small business owners time and time again. Here are a couple you might like to consider investing in.

CCTV

Top of the list when it comes to surveillance gadgets, of course, is CCTV. CCTV stands for “closed circuit television” and is a form of surveillance camera system that has become commonly used by small business owners, large business owners, and even domestic households alike. Now, CCTV can be used in a very obvious way. It can be placed outside of your commercial property to prevent would-be vandals from defacing your store front, smashing glass, or causing other damage to your commercial property’s exteriors. It can also be placed inside your commercial property, reducing theft (people have been found much less likely to steal when they feel they are being recorded) and general shoplifting. But CCTV can have other benefits too! Studies have determined that many business owners, unfortunately, lose profit from staff theft. So, you could place CCTV in important areas such as stock rooms or overlooking cash registers too. This, again, deters crime, but can also be used as evidence if you find yourself in the sad situation of having to prove a staff member’s guilt. Finally, CCTV can be used to draw up footage if there is ever any incident in your commercial premises. If someone is hurt, the footage can determine whether it was an accident or whether someone was at fault. This could come in extremely useful during court cases. If this interests you, you can find facts about security cameras here.

Voice Recorders

Of course, you can’t just record people without their permission. You really will have to have consent to record conversations that you hold with anyone. But voice recorders can come in extremely useful when you are conducting important meetings with members of staff. Employees, of course, have rights, and it’s extremely important that you meet requirements when dealing with them. But it also serves well to have a recorded copy of important issues that have been discussed in meetings with HR. These can include one to one meetings where progression is noted and targets are set out, meetings where concerning behaviour is brought up, or any other formal discussion that you might need to refer back to at a later date. Just make sure any recordings are stored confidentially.

These are just two different surveillance gadgets that you might want to consider when it comes to running a small business successfully. Having footage of particular scenarios can serve you well in the long run! So, don’t hesitate to look further into these options that you have and invest where you need to!

Technology And Cyber Security

Crimes that are associated with cybersecurity are from being problems created by the digital age as some would have you believe. Things like fraud and identity theft both existed long before the first computer was invented and criminals were finding ways of evolving their plans without the use of the internet. However, it is fair to say that now they have moved their operations on to the digital landscape it is time we are all prepared.

With that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the tech options available to you so that you can stay safe and secure.

Understanding The Threat

The first thing you should do when it comes to cybersecurity is to build up your knowledge of what the threat actually is. That means learning what the different types of attacks are that might come your way and what form they are going to take. Before we look into these areas it is important to note that while the threat might seem extreme, there will always be people creating tools to help you combat these problems and sometimes common sense is your best line of defense.

Two of the common types of cyber attacks are listed below and the way they are used is also given as a brief description, this information will be critical to your success in staying safe online and in the digital world:

  • Malware

This term refers to malicious software such as:

  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Worms

Usually these types of software breach a computer’s security due to the user clicking on a link or downloading them without knowledge. This is where common sense will be a big factor in your security. To avoid having your information stolen through your PC or having malicious software break your home network, don’t click on links from unknown sources.

  • Phishing

This might be one of the terms you are most familiar with. Phishing refers to the practice of sending out communications that are fraudulent such as from a bank or government official that asks for private information. The aim is to steal sensitive data or payment details by posing as a trustworthy source. Once again you should use your own initiative to avoid these attacks where possible.

Software To Help

So, now you know some of the threats you are facing, what can you do? Well, there are some great basic tools that you can use to prevent falling victim to these attacks. The first is to ensure that you have a secure antivirus installed on your device. Companies like McAfee and Norton have been working tirelessly for years to provide you with software that will fight off malware that finds its way onto your computer.

However, sometimes you can get a data breach through alternative methods due to the fact that phishing scams can be highly evolved. Something you can do is sign up to protection services such as https://budgetboost.co/lifelock-cost-review/ that will look for breaches of your private information and secure it up.

Gadget Man – Episode 125 – What to do if you are involved in a car chase

Some 30 years ago, I was inexplicably drawn into a high-speed car chase across my home town of Hitchin.

When I left The Bird in Hand in Gosmore on that rainy night in 1987, I had no idea that the following 10 or so minutes would stay with me until now.

In my case, I managed to ‘lose my tail’, but it has always troubled me how the Police would have viewed my plight at the time. Back then, we didn’t have mobile phones in order to call the authorities, so I took it upon myself to try and outrun my potential assailant. If the same had happened now, I would have driven to the nearest Police Station whilst calling them on the way.

Suffolk Police Officer
Suffolk Police Officer

Now, thirty-two years later, I have my answer (sort of), in the form of a Police Inspector from Suffolk.

In the above audio, you can find out what happened to cause the chase, how I evaded them and what the Police’s view is three decades later.

Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and COMMENT, see you next time!!

Thanks to James Hazell for chatting to me about the chase and for contacting the police about it!!

Matt
The Gadget Man

How The Television Has Changed

Are you someone who loves to sit down in front of the telly on a Saturday night and binge watch all the programming saved specially for the weekend? Maybe you like to watch midweek daytime TV, and you’ve always got the channel tuned into the regular opinion programs that play at this time? Maybe you only tune in to access services like BBC iPlayer, or Netflix, which you’ve had enabled for the past couple of years now? And because of this, you realise you’ve stopped watching normal TV, and you don’t quite know when you did.

The TV has always been a centre point of the household, for as long as it’s been around. But in recent years, say the last twenty years or so, our television sets have changed, and so have the way we use them. A lot of us like to use them to just load up a DVD we know and love, some of us have a Smart TV that allows us to connect to the internet, and then some of us don’t even turn the screen on anymore. But it’s still there in the middle of the room, just in case we need it.

So to try and explore this change, whether you think it’s been a gradual or fast paced rise into the modern day, here’s some of the main ways our new technology has revolutionised the TV set and all its uses. And why some of us may have no use for a TV anymore.

It Started with the Radio

The radio has been around since the late 1800s, with the first radio waves sent and received in about 1895 in Italy. And radio is still around today, with an established presence across the world – we listen to it in our cars, we have it on the background when we clean the house, it’s playing in most of the stores we walk into when we’re out shopping. But if you asked someone what kind of entertainment mediums they turn to, radio would probably be the last of the list.

But that’s not to say it isn’t a popular option anymore. Simply, it has different forms and different names in the modern day and age. And a lot of the time, people no longer tend to look to radio personalities for funny quips and stories of the day. Maybe you like to listen to the breakfast show whilst you’re on your way to work, joining in with the back and forth the presenters have between them, but at least two or three people around you are just waiting for the next song to come on.

The shift from radio to TV happened quite a few years ago, with the TV growing fast in popularity because of its visual medium – humans like to have something to watch, and it’s a great way to keep your brain occupied. And the fact that you can access radio channels via the TV as well means the two mediums often go hand in hand, and rely on each for exposure.

From Analogue to Digital

Analogue TV is something we don’t hear too much about anymore. It used to be that you could access analogue channels, such as the BBC and Channel 4, without an aerial. And if you didn’t have much use for a TV, or you couldn’t afford to upgrade, it was a fine yet limited selection to have at hand. But since 2013, that’s not been the case – no longer do we see analogue television sets, nor the ability to access analogue channels – as everything is now broadcast in digital.

And whilst on the one hand that increases the want and need for digital aerials, in order to receive the freeview channels at the very least, it also represents a shift in access to the TV and how it can become more and more limited down the line. Back in the early and mid 2000s, only those with the budget had the option of taking out a digital line, but now it’s a necessity. And seeing as your wifi, phone line, and TV channels are often bought out as packages or bundles, a lot of people like to cut the expense of the premise by leaving out the latter.

Television is a Little Too Expensive for Some

As we began to talk about above, television can get a little too expensive for some people. Hundreds of channels at your disposal, yes, but little want or need to watch more than ten to fifteen of them. And then, with many providers requiring you to pay more each month if you want music or movie channels as well, the whole premise of needing to pay for satellite service becomes too much.

The television service in the UK is often described as being one of the most expensive in the world, as you need to pay for a licence to even switch on the TV. The cost of a TV licence has gone up in the last year, and now you are required to pay £3.50 more per year for use of your television. And when most channels are sponsored in the own right, such as every channel outside of the BBC, there’s been quite a lot of debate around this matter.

Mostly, whether the cost is worth it, considering all the alternatives available to us thanks to the internet. When you have streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and a one time payment per month for access to their entire database whenever the fancy takes you, you can save yourself a lot of money. Of course, in order to compete with this kind of availability, prices of traditional TV viewing do have to go up (as well as adjusting for inflation), but that can still leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouth.

Then Came Internet Access

As mentioned above, the internet has removed a lot of the use behind owning and being able to operate a TV, what with free streaming services like Youtube available, and then bigger companies such as Amazon Prime allowing you to buy and download any TV program straight to a device you have linked. You don’t even need a television set – computers, laptops, tablets, and mobiles all have this kind of viewing capability.

And traditional TV itself has sat up and taken notice of this. Many networks have now moved their rights and availability to the online world, such as BBC Three and parts of NBC in America. This allows traditional TV a new medium – they become part of the new streaming world, and any loyal viewers can watch the TV programs they know and love whenever they want.

Many people can see the bonuses of this: get some old classics downloaded to your phone, and watch them whilst you’re on the bus into work, or settle down at night with your tablet in hand, if setting up a TV in your bedroom was just a little too expensive for you. Of course, there’s still some complaints over this kind of change, what with the idea of ‘revolutionsing TV’ not sitting well with someone, but it can save both TV executives and the avid consumer themselves hundreds and thousands, and even millions in the long run.

Some People See a Lack of Interactivity

The final point we have here about the change of our use of the TV in the past fifty years is that many people see the television as having a lack of interactivity, and it no longer satisfies them because of it. What with online streaming, in both official and personal standards, and the use of other social media, people can feel more and more isolated from having to rely on the TV for their entertainment alone.

People can now talk directly to the personalities they know and love, with apps like Periscope and Twitch opening up direct channels between ‘celebrities’ and their fans. Video games are becoming more and more of an artform, with VR capability and the choice to pick the direction a game’s storyline can go in. And then comes the role of social media – you can tweet your favourite TV personality directly, engage in conversation with them, open up groups of fans similar to you and speculate about upcoming episodes, and even vote in polls about what you want to see a program do next. And all in all, isn’t that just a lovely idea to think about? You certainly wouldn’t have minded it when you were younger.

So, TV Has Changed

The TV has changed a lot since its inception, and it will continue to change as our habits and our technological capabilities do to. Being able to watch this change, and adapt with it, is one of the highlights of modern life, and finding new and interesting ways to put yourself to use within it can mean a great career is ahead of you. Make sure you’re never discounting this ability.

Gadget Man – Episode 124 – Keyless Car Theft Explained and How to Stop it

How many of us own and drive a vehicle with a keyless entry system? Well, it appears that many thousands of us that do have woken up this morning to a very worrying report from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC),

In order to unlock your keyless entry vehicle, you simply need to carry your key-fob. As you approach the vehicle, it recognises the encrypted signal transmitted from the fob. This, in turn, instructs the vehicles central-locking system to unlock the doors when you either touch the door handle or press the button on the door-handle. There is no requirement to insert the key into the ignition as the car is fitted with a start/stop button. If you own a car with both keyless entry and start/stop system, you aren’t alone, they are now widely used in hundreds of models or cars and in some cases motorbikes.

Now for the bad news. A recent study by the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) has discovered that the technology is far from secure in all but THREE cases and in fact the method of stealing a keyless vehicle is extremely simple.

In order to steal a keyless vehicle, a thief simply employs a rudimentary transceiver which takes the relatively weak signal transmitted and received from the fob to the car and amplifies it, it is then possible for the signal to reach from the fob to the car and hey presto, the car is unlocked and can (in most cases) be started.

Once the car is running, the need for a key is obsoleted and the car can now be driven until it is depleted of fuel. In most cases, the cars are taken abroad and the retrofitted with standard locking and start systems. As long as the car does not stall, it will run for as long as the fuel tank will take it.

NO AMOUNT of hacking or decryption is needed, it is reliant solely on the amplification of the already transmitted signal!

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC.
Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC. Image Credit: ADAC

Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC, said “The ADAC demands that vehicles be protected against any kind of manipulation and illegal access. For the affected vehicles, there must be solutions put in place to improve the security.  All new  vehicles should also be equipped with a methodologically that ensures secure safety solutions which also withstands neutral side checks”

Which cars and manufacturers were affected?

Unfortunately, it would appear that EVERY manufacturer tested has at least one model which could be stolen using the method above.

Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, KIA, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, MINI, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Skoda, SsangYong, Suzuki, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and motorcycles from BMW, Ducati and KTM. 

The following vehicles could NOT be opened using this method but if already open it was STILL POSSIBLE to start and drive the cars.

BMW i3 (2014)
Infiniti Q30 (2016)
Mazda 2 Skyactive 90 Kizohu (2018)
Volvo XC60 T5 (2017)

The following vehicles could NOT be opened or started using this method.

Jaguar i-Pace (2018)
Land Rover Discovery (2018)
Land Rover Range Rover (2018)

The vehicles above are currently immune from this method of attack. This is because they employ a variation of the keyless system by broadcasting using ultra-wideband frequencies. Basically, the equipment used to amplify the signal is ‘currently’ unable transmit or receive at the radio frequencies used in these models of cars.

Jaguar-Land Rover filed the patent for this method of keyless access in 2017. We can now only hope that they freely license these patents to other car makers or a comparable technology can be developed.

What Now?

All too often our deep-rooted human needs to be ‘waited upon’ result in solutions which in the first instance appear to solve a problem that really didn’t exist, but in real-world use turn out to have a sting in the tail. In the case of the study by ADAC, it would appear that there are very urgent questions to answer and drivers should be aware of the security issues surrounding their vehicles.

Faraday Cases?

Prior to speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, many listeners talked about using Faraday Cases or Bags to house their keys. The theory behind this was to block the signal completely whilst the car isn’t in use (ie. whilst the keys were stored in the home or place of work).

Faraday Bag for Keyless Fobs from Amazon

I personally believe that keeping the keys away from the car or placing them in a container which COMPLETELY blocks radio signals is the only way to avoid the potential theft of vehicles using this method. However, radio signals can travel through types of metal, so be ABSOLUTELY confident that anything you purchase to secure your fobs, does indeed work as described.

Immediate Steps to Take

If you are concerned about the security of your keyless car fob, contact your car’s manufacturer as soon as possible and ask them what steps they have taken to secure your car? Ask them if there are software updates to improve security? Ask them if these systems can be deactivated until such time as they can be completely secure?

Listen in!

This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the use of Faraday Cage technology to try and reduce the chances of Keyless entry cars being stolen. Listen in to the stream above. If you like what you hear or read, don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!

Matt
The Gadget Man

I previously spoke about this topic a while back, you can read and listen at this link Gadget Man – Episode 113

Gadget Man – Episode 123 – The Demise of the Yellow Pages

Earlier in the week, I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the demise of the Yellow Pages directory.

The Yellow Pages was always sat alongside the equally large Phone Book, but had gradually declined over the years since the introduction of the Internet and increasing dominance of search engines such as Google which has made searching for and finding businesses much easier and informative.

Having rebranded as Yell.com many years back and diversifying it’s business interests as an ‘Internet’ brand, the directory has had a long and some might say “painful” death. In the way the Phone Book died in part due to privacy concerns, the Yellow Pages has died due to lack of interest. In our fast-moving world, there is no longer a place for archaic, expensive and out of touch printed directories. The internet now provides so much more. We will just need to find something else to keep the kitchen table from rocking!

You can listen to the on-air discussion we had about the Yellow Pages by clicking the link above. Don’t forget to Like, Share and Subscribe to the Podcast using your favourite Podcast service including iTunes, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and more!

See you next time!

Matt
The Gadget Man

Header Picture Credit: Comedy Nose – https://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/

Technology and Gadget Reviews on air, online, in print and in person

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