For the last few weeks, I have been testing the ASUS Transformer Mini, a device which can be a laptop and tablet depending on your mood.
The idea of a tablets with keyboards is not a new one, these were generally add-on keyboards for iPads or Android tablets which worked well, but seemed out of place on a device that was designed to be operated without one. There have also been laptops with detachable keyboards which in turn felt out of place running software which was designed for one.
The key change is the introduction of Windows 10 which can seamlessly transform itself from a keyboard and mouse centric operating system into a touch and swipe based tablet and back again, simply by detaching and reattaching a keyboard,
ASUS have been in the ‘transforming’ tablet market for some time and the Transformer Mini T102H brings a very useful addition to the table with a 10.1″ LED backlit HD screen which uses ASUS’s ‘Splendid’ and ‘Wideview’ Technology to give great viewing angles.
Powered by the Intel® Atom™ x5 Processor and 4 GB of RAM. The hard disk is in fact Solid State memory and gives your 64GB of silent running. Everything on board is low power and there didn’t appear to be any internal fans to cool the device.
The graphics are fast and snappy helped by the integrated Intel HD Graphics processor and there’s also an inbuilt 2 megapixel webcam for Skype or other video chat applications.
The great thing about Windows tablets is the number of connectors, the Transformer has a 3.5 mm combo audio jack, USB 3.0 and Micro USB ports, a micro HDMI socket, Fingerprint reader for login, volume controls and micro SD card slot.
The detachable keyboard was really easy to use and attaches using a powerful magnet and always seemed to line up properly and was responsive to use with the inbuilt trackpad. My Transformer also came with a stylus which is battery powered and looks and feels like a real pen, it was great for drawing and painting using the bundled apps and can also be used to write on-screen sticky note.
I really enjoyed using the Transformer and it makes a great device for people who are comfortable with tablets, but also need a real keyboard for their work, possibly an idea for students? At £449 it is reasonably price too.
Another weekend in the UK and Facebook users are both being SWAMPED and are SWAMPING the web with fake voucher codes AGAIN!
Despite repeated warnings by supermarkets and trading standards across the country, there seems no let up in the social sharing of these codes along with the very high chance of having identities stolen or at the very least being added to email spam lists.
The method of sharing these scams are by using ‘Social Engineering’, ie. Friends and Family share them and add legitimacy to an other wholly illegitimate fraud.
By clicking on these fake vouchers and accepting what appears to be a vaguely official looking terms and conditions, people are effectively handing over their personal details in return for absolutely nothing…
So, what are the giveaways?
The vouchers contain an expiry date in US date format
The barcode is the same for each voucher, these would need to be unique.
The issuing store is ALWAYS Greenhithe.
It can ONLY be redeemed with your original receipt
All of the vouchers seem to mention ADSA Direct rather than the store they are supposedly issued under.
The domain name is suspicious to say the least, The URL has not relation to Morrisons other than a VERY DUBIOUS domain name.
All of these would lead me to be extremely suspicious of the validity of the offer. So let us look at the domain name morrisons-f50f83o.grabinn.us
For starters I see no logical reason for any large company to be using such a cryptic URL for anything, but lets look at where this website lives. We do this by using a common command call ‘ping’.
PING morrisons-f50f83o.grabinn.us (184.108.40.206): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=31.111 ms
64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=1 ttl=49 time=31.736 ms
64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=2 ttl=49 time=32.421 ms
64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=3 ttl=49 time=30.546 ms
We are returned an IP address, this is the physical address that this voucher code lives at, in the case of this voucher code it resolves to 188.8.131.52
We can then lookup the IP using domaintools.com and it gives the following results
The host (or computer holding the web site is located in France. This makes the tracing of the owner much more difficult as it requires international law enforcement cooperation
This shows that 30 other websites are located on the same server. I would suggest these are probably variants of the web address, possibly other store names.
This is the ‘abuse’ contact for this IP address, in this case it is email@example.com . This is the email address people should contact to report unlawful behaviour. Worth noting.
We now have the contact details of the host in order to report unlawful behaviour.
OK, we can now lookup the domain name to find out it’s owner. In this case it is using subdomains, so we can comfortably ignore the morrisons and hieroglyphics and concentrate on the TLD or Top Level Domain grabinn.us
GRABINN.US is the domain name used to host the voucher
NAMECHEAP is the registrar (or company holding the domain name)
Lisa Alex is the registered owner of the domain (probably a fake name)
This is the registered address of the domain owner (probably fake too), it doesn’t look like a valid address and the telephone and fax numbers are also fake looking.
So, by the look of everything, we have a domain name that cost 99p to register using a LOW COST registrar, hosted on a server that charges £1.60 per month on a LOW COST server by a fake name at a fake address in Pakistan (supposedly).
Now, YOU need to ask yourself the following question,
Would a multinational company employ a person to run it’s national voucher system whilst sitting behind fake credentials on low cost hardware? Or would they use their own existing IT infrastructure?
Why not spend the time you might have spent being duped by reporting these people to the ‘abuse’ email address and help STOP this kind of thing from continuing.
If you live in Suffolk or Norfolk, we now have our own Cyber & Serious Crime Department which can be contacted by dialling 101. I have spoken to several officers working in this division and they are all very professional and take cyber crime very seriously.
I sit here after reading debate after debate on the need for BST or British Summer Time and it has brought back some fond memories with my own personal battle with time keeping aged 17 – 22 years.
In 2016 there is no reason to EVER be late for anything. We have electronic gadgets to remind us by phone, text, email, popup reminders and our wrists now buzz with the wide variety of wearables. Simplicity is supposed to be the key, we can now set alarms then pause (or snooze) or even postpone them completely. Of course everything is now synchronised on all manner of electronic equipment connected by WiFi, 4g, 3g and bluetooth, it now seems we don’t have any excuse to be late anymore, we can even ask our gadgets to do things without actually physically interacting with them. With the advent of a new generation of ‘smart speakers’ such as Amazon Echo and Google home we won’t even need to remember when it’s time to go to work because these devices will already know. It truly is the dawn of artificial intelligence and machine learning. We are now standing on the precipice of self aware technology.
Now… let us take a step back 30 years to 1986 where things were oh so different.
Smartphones? What the hell are they?. Bluetooth was a long lost King of Denmark and email was something people at Berkeley University used to send to each other between classrooms. Calendars hung on walls, normally fixed on one particular month if you happened to own the 1986 Sam Fox Official Calendar.
The master of timekeeping was sitting next to your bed, a wonder of technology who’s sole purpose was to ease your from sleep to awake in an instant, an efficient mechanism which could wake your either brutally with a ear piercing beeping noise or with the assistance of DJ Mike ‘Smithy’ Smith (Rest in Peace) gently coaxing you from your golden slumber, easing you into realities of Monday mornings.
What ‘Gadget’ do you speak of? What mastery of 80’s technology could this be?
Of course this invention was the ‘Digital Clock Radio’.
Mine was your ‘bog standard’ affair, equipped with Radio or ‘Beep’ alarm with the addition of snooze. An amazing invention to be ignored, paused and sworn at for many years until 1993 when lack of sleep and long hours of work forced be to put my fist through it early one Sunday morning!
There was however a big problem with my digital clock radio, a VERY big problem.
The device only only allowed one alarm to be set at any one time of the day. This would work fine if every morning you had to rise at 6:50am. During the weekend you would switch the alarm button to OFF, allowing you a short lay-in on a Saturday or Sunday morning (what are they???) and making sure the switch was placed in AUTO on Sunday evening to avoid that ‘Where the HELL are you? call at 10.50am from your boss the next day!
However, my work hours weren’t regular back then. Sometimes a project needed completing early and the alarm would need to set a couple of hours earlier for the next day. The radio didn’t allow for setting the alarm back a hour, it required repeatedly clicking one button whilst holding the other in order to advance the alarm 22 hours to set it from 7am to 5am, the buttons were never that comfortable or ‘ergonomic’ thus 22 hours of clicking would mean a cricked thumb and sore fingertips. Setting the alarm forward two hours was obviously much less painful. Things got more frustrating when you ‘missed’ an hour whilst cycling past it in haste, causing yet more endless clicking until the desired hour was found (lets not even get on to minutes!).
it was while advancing the alarm through this 22 hour period that it suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightening!! A solution found my accident, by the slip of a thumb, an accidental advance of time rather than alarm! There was no need to go through this tedious task at all! Setting the alarm back 2 hours was easily achieved by simply advancing the main clock forward 2 hours and leaving the alarm where it was, 8pm became 10pm, then the alarm would be shifted forward an hour, the ‘real’ time remaining still, time adjustment was always achieved by setting alarm or time forward, there was not tediously clicking needed anymore.
Thus on that fateful day in 1986, MMT was born, but this wasn’t the internationally recognised Myanmar Mean Time, no this was my personal time zone named Matthew Mean Time, a constantly moving time zone designed to allow me to get into work on time without sore fingertips!
The nonsensical mess of time displayed on my Digital Clock Radio that mean’t so much to me, the protector of timekeeping, the barrier from verbal and written warnings for repeated lateness at work mean’t absolutely nothing to visitors who remained confused and befuddled by the meaningless number displayed on my bedside clock. Some would bring the ‘error’ to my attention even offering to correct it for me. On one occasion a friend adjusted the time to GMT for me whilst I was out of the room and thus cause the alarm to sound at 2.30am the next day! But still MMT continued until 1991 when it travelled with me to live in Harrow but was deemed unacceptable by my partner and it’s use immediately ceased.
Whilst I sit here writing this article, the day after the clocks have ‘gone back’, the end of British Summer Time 2016, with the inevitable drag of darker, colder evenings, I lament at the demise of MMT and it’s five year reign in my life, along with the repeated “What the HELL is wrong with your clock Matt?” and it’s proud reply…
“Oh that? Don’t worry, that’s just Matthew Mean Time”
Happily the need for such amateurish horology related hokum is unnecessary in todays world. Altering your alarm time is now as simple as uttering the words ‘OK Google’ and crossing your fingers.
Today we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek which first aired in 1964! Amazingly the series only ran for 3 series before being cancelled NBC. The show was an instant hit with a core group of fans now called ‘Trekkies’ or ‘Trekkers’. Star Trek went on to be shown on repeats or reruns many times over the years.
Star Trek went on to spawn 13 motions pictures starting in 1979 with ‘Star Trek – The Motion Picture’ and 5 subsequent televisions series including The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise. As well as the ‘Animated Series’ and a planned ‘Discovery’ planned for 2017. Along with all of this visual entertainment comes an enormous library of novels, audiobooks and reviews and in depth analysis of all of the above, it’s almost breathtaking!
Star Trek is now surely etched in science fiction folklore possibly (and arguably) only surpassed in popularity by the monolithic and multi billion pound Star Wars franchise
What makes Star Trek so attractive is it’s almost prophetic vision of gadgets of the future. Today in the 21st century we can make use of gadgets and technology first shown a half a century ago.
From sliding doors, universal translators, natural language conversations with computers, tablets computers, personal communicators, virtual reality to food replicators and more!
So, what do we have to look forward to in the next 50 years?
Well, personally I can’t wait next movie instalment and next years TV series, but moreover, I REALLY looking forward to Warp Drive, Matter Transporters and Interstellar Space Travel.
In the words of Mr Spock (and spoken in the language of Mr Worf:-
qaStaHvIS yIn ‘ej chep
(“Live Long and Prosper” in Klingon)
Earlier I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about how these devices now form an integral part of our lives, so listen in don’t forget to comment below.
On Friday, I spoke to Mark Murphy on the Morning Show on BBC Radio Suffolk about the breaking news story concerning the massive data breach at Yahoo, possibly converning over 500,000,000 user accounts and by far the largest leak in history.
Listen to the short interview where I explain what I think happened and what Yahoo users should do to ensure their accounts are kept safe and secure from now on.
Yahoo has released a statement concerning the breach, we can be read here