Daily Telegraph: Companies need to be more active in dealing with cyber security threat

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Too many companies take a compliance based view when it comes to IT. Rather than dealing with the potential cyber security threat, they are more concerned with putting in controls to protect their assets.

This needs to change, James Hatch, Director, Cyber Services, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence told me in a recent interview for The Daily Telegraph. He says that businesses, especially large businesses, need people in place who think more like attackers and the potential damage they could cause.

“We are still dealing with the same problem of how to protect the things we value in life,” he reckons. “People still want to want to steal from us, copy from us or disrupt our lifestyles; it’s just that technology has enabled them to do it more easily at scale.”

You can read the full interview here

 

Underwater MP3 player reviews – now published

swimmer2Remember a little while ago I told you about some underwater MP3 players I’ve been testing in time for the summer? Well now they’ve been published on Tech Radar here.

Personally I prefer the Finis design (pictured above) which you don’t have to put in your ears – it uses bone conduction technology to transmit the audio across your cheekbones.

It’s more comfortable to wear and doesn’t move out of position which can be a problem if you are wearing earbuds. The downside is that it’s a little more expensive than some of the others at around £80 (see here).

Most of the designs work surprisingly well underwater providing you give them a bit of a clean after swimming. I recommend a spray like Muc Off to get rid of any excess water and for cleaning out the charging points which can become corroded over time.

One question that people always seem to ask me about these devices is ‘can you listen to audiobooks on them while swimming?’ The short answer is no. Many people have tried but most report disappointing results when listening to dialogue.

However, for music these devices are great and some of them are very cheap (not much more than £25). Although I would definitely recommend the Finis, it can only be used in the water – it’s not suitable for land use. If you want something that can be used for running or cycling, then perhaps look at a model like the i360 instead which does both jobs very well.

You can buy the Finis Duo here

10 things I remember about swimming in the 1970s

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What else to do on a rainy Bank Holiday Monday than reminisce about the 1970s when swimming meant burning your skin off with Vosene Shampoo, ducking each other’s heads under the water and throwing yourself off the 10m diving board without bellyflopping. Oh and public information films. Who remembers this one below about Dave who shamefully couldn’t swim and lost his ‘bird’ as a result? You can read the full feature here.

 

Furbo treat tossing dog camera! Of course

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I love gadgets. I love dogs. So what isn’t there to love about a treat tossing dog camera. Yes you did hear me right. The wonderfully named Furbo has come up with a gadget that lets you toss treats via the smart phone app to your furry friend.

So you could be sitting in a meeting bored out of your tiny mind when you decide to chuck a treat to your pet. Or if your dog is barking you can talk to him/her via the two-way audio provided.

Warning, at first the dog will freak out at the noise of the Furbo, but pretty soon they’ll get used to it. Also, the gadget does sometimes randomly spit out two or three treats so best to avoid if your dog is on a diet! Apart from that it’s great.

You can see my YouTube review video below.

‘Going back to nature’ in Nissan’s X-Trail SUV?!

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‘Let’s offroad’, said no one in a Nissan X-Trail, ever

Yesterday I ditched my 21st century gadgets and reverted to my inner caveman. I left the comfort of my warm home office and instead found myself learning how to use a type of fungus to light my own fires on an exceptionally cold day in Sussex (I think I’m still thawing out now.)

Only I didn’t. Not really. Basically it was all an elaborate, tongue-in-cheek publicity stunt to link Nissan’s latest 2 litre X-Trail SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) to the concept of Adventure with a capital A. Nevermind, that the biggest adventure this particular 4×4 will face is probably a trip to the admittedly quite steep Marks and Spencer’s car park in north London’s Muswell Hill.

The idea is that this is a vehicle for rugged, bearded, check shirt wearing, adventurer types who love nothing better than foraging for their own food and slinging a bit of roadkill on the back seat for supper. Not (of course) a relatively cheap and cheerful SUV which people will buy for the higher driving position and large amounts of legroom (as well as the fact there is the possibility of a dog-friendly edition for pet owners. See here).

OK I get it. But I must say that really I would much rather sit inside in front of a warm log fire, lit quickly with a Zippo, than rummaging around for bits of twigs and getting my hands dirty in dark bits of fungus that look suspiciously like sheep poo. In the same way as I would much rather make a call on my mobile than tie two bits of string together and put a tin can on either end.

Given the age we live in though, it’s perhaps not surprising to hear that there are even companies that specialise in these ‘back to nature’ excursions, including the one we were with: Hunt, Gather, Cook. A kind of culinary paintball for angst-ridden Londoners.

Founded around seven years ago by a guy who left a chef’s job in the capital and who described himself as a ‘fire enthusiast’ (don’t we call them arsonists), it specialises in taking people into the wilderness where they can learn different animal slaughter techniques. Nice.

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For a man who had to hide in the bushes with three quarter length trousers and no socks in virtually sub-zero temperatures, the ‘bearded hipster’ was a surprisingly cheerful chap!

Thankfully as a vegetarian, I was spared having to kill any innocent creatures to satiate any primal needs. Instead, the biggest challenge I faced was finding a ‘bearded hipster’ in a farmer’s field, see picture above, and making a fire so that he could have a much needed soya cappuccino. It’s all in day’s work!

But the day wasn’t just spent larking around the countryside making fires and rescuing pretend, stranded hipsters. As well as genuinely taking the X-Trail off road – albeit on the nursery slopes compared to the black runs intended for more serious SUVs – I also interviewed a guy who is setting off in a modified Nissan Leaf on the 10,0000 mile Mongol Rally with only his wife for company. Now that’s a brave man.

You can read the story about the Mongol Rally here: http://www.techdigest.tv/2017/04/adventurer-chris-ramsey-to-undertake-10000-mile-mongol-rally-in-nissan-leaf-electric-car.html. Full YouTube video to follow. 

 

I test out some of the best pet gadgets for ShinyShiny

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I really don’t need much of an excuse to write about pet gadgets. But as it’s #NationalPetDay in the US tomorrow, I thought I’d put together a feature on ShinyShiny, showcasing some of the best and most interesting out there.

What’s great is that thanks to the IoT (Internet of Things) any product can now become ‘smart’, whether that’s a dog collar or a camera so it’s now possible to monitor your pet more closely than ever before.

For example with a smart collar, available from a company like Nuzzle, you can track on a map exactly where your furry friend is. Furbo, on the other hand, takes things a little further, allowing you to talk to your dog via a two-way audio connection, view what they are getting up to in high definition video, even dispense treats from a machine!

Other smart devices for pets though I’m not so sure about including the Pellet which is basically a doorbell for pets. The idea is that the dog presses a big buzzer which sends an alert via an app to their owner that they want to go outside to play or go to the toilet! Sounds a little more hassle than its worth to me.

Testing out swimming gear for the summer

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When I’m not teaching in secondary schools or writing freelance tech pieces I’m often swimming, usually during the Winter in the outdoor HEATED pool at David Lloyd in North Finchley.

But in the summertime I like to venture a little further afield and swim in lakes and the sea.

Sometimes I combine journalism with swimming (though not at the same time as the Mac gets a bit wet). So this month I’ve been testing out some new Arena gear I’ve been sent which you can read about on my swimming blog, Goggleblog here.

Next week I’ll also be testing out some underwater MP3 players or SwiMP3 players for gadget website, Tech Radar, now that I’ve finally got enough players that actually work! Watch this space.

Now you can ‘photoshop’ your own selfies in seconds – thanks to ‘beautification’ mode

The camera doesn’t lie. Or does it? For years we’ve been talking about ‘photoshopping’ models to make them look thin or remove their blemishes, but it’s now easier than ever before to do it with your own smartphone.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing with the latest Huawei P10. Although I’ve got massive reservations about the latest Android 7 platform after being so used to Apple iOS, I must admit that this phone is quite impressive – at least as far as the camera is concerned (I’m less impressed with the battery life but I’ll come back to that another time).

Like the iPhone 7, it’s got a dual lens camera system on the back which is great for creating arty pictures with a beautiful depth of field. One is monochrome (20 megapixels), the other colour (12 megapixels). What’s more both lenses are produced by Leica which is renowned for its high quality camera gear.

Another useful feature is the portrait mode which Huawei claims can track 190 points on a face. Handy if you want to airbrush a few of your imperfections in a few seconds!

Using the beautification tool, you can enlarge your eyes, whiten your teeth, even narrow your face. In addition you can improve your complexion and top up your tan at the same time.

Above you can see my before (left) and after (right) selfies. The effects are quite subtle and the picture is a little soft, but I especially like the teeth whitening feature which makes me look a bit more healthy. The bronzing feature works well too.

OK it hasn’t exactly turned me into Brad Pitt, but you can see some subtle improvements. Who knows with a bit more time in the editing suite, I may even look presentable!

And below here’s a shot of my little puppy Poppy without beautification mode switched on – because she doesn’t need it. I do think this camera is very, very good for a smartphone.

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Switching from iPhone to Android – why does it have to be THIS difficult?

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Who would have thought that trying to transfer everything from an iPhone to one of the new Huawei phones above could prove so difficult

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m a big fan of my iPhone 6S. It works and it does everything I want from a phone. It’s a little on the chunky side now and of course the battery life could be better, but apart from that no real complaints.

However, just recently my head has been turned by Android, particularly the latest models from Huawei, including the P10 pictured above. In part, it’s because I was given one in Barcelona last week at an MWC event, but it’s also because many of them look quite nice, especially in the different colours.

Also I felt it was about time after being an Apple evangelist for so long to see what the opposition is up to so I could put together a rational argument when it comes to debating the merits of Apple iOS v Android down the pub (yes I have interesting friends).

I was given a dazzling blue Huawei P10 and it’s a classy looking number with a good sized screen, slim and very lightweight. If I was going to make a sexist comparison on the day after International Women’s Day I would say it’s like trading in the wife for a younger, slimmer model. But of course I wouldn’t say that – at least not out loud.

There’s just one big problem: switching from iPhone to Android. Honestly, I think getting a divorce would be less painful than this, especially if you are trying to switch using an Apple Mac rather than  a PC. Of course if you have a Gmail account it’s a massively help, especially with syncing your contacts, but for everything else you are kind of on your own (Huawei does have software to help with the process but of course it’s PC only).

Transferring images was the first problem. For this I used the excellent Send Anywhere app that enabled me to send large images from my iPhone to the Huawei P10 once I’d keyed in an activation code. I have to say it worked very well, although timed out on me a couple of times when I was trying to send particularly large batches of images.

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Above: The Huawei P10 in dazzling blue. It comes with a great dual lens camera system, courtesy of Leica

Text trauma

However, this was nothing compared to the problem with transferring text messages. I’ve had a few issues with texts before, but nothing quite like this. Thanks to an article here on Tech Republic, I was able to start the process after figuring out how to backup my iPhone in iTunes without the encryption switched on. It turns out this meant having to delete all of my existing profiles within iTunes in order to switch the encryption off!

But as if that wasn’t tricky enough, the next step was even harder. I had to find a file called improbably 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28 and then load that into another app called iSMS2droid to begin the process. Certainly not easy when the only way I could find of transferring the file to my new Android phone was to download some software to my Apple Mac called Android File Transfer which displayed the Huawei’s folder on my desktop.

Once I’d found a folder on the phone to put the text message file into, I was able to start the lengthy process of transferring text messages. It’s fair to say that iSMS2droid isn’t the friendliest app around but then it is free and it did do the job. So began the lengthy process of transferring 20,000 text messages from my iPhone to my shiny new Huawei P10!

One of the things I love about the iPhone is iMessage which enables you to send message to other iPhone messages free of charge (what my mother-in-law calls ‘blue messages’, because they are shown in the colour blue in Messages rather than green). However, another advantage is that you can control all of your text messages (including green messages from Android devices) via your Apple Mac – useful if, like me, you’ve got big hands that frankly struggle with a small smartphone keyboard.

Unfortunately there’s just no way of fully recreating this experience with Android. There is a clever little app called Android SMS for iChat that does at least allow you to send and receive text messages via Messages on the Mac via a platform called Jabber. However, the main downside is that if you want to send more than five messages a day then you will have to pay for the Pro version of the software which will cost you a hefty $9.99 a month or $4.99 a month if you commit to 12 months. What’s more it uses quite a bit of power so will take its toll on your battery life.

What next? iPhone or Android 

So how’s it been so far? OK but not great. Like a messy divorce, I’m still coming to terms with everything that’s going on. In many ways the Huawei P10 phone is really good (the screen and the camera seem much better than the iPhone and it’s nice and slim too), but I’m not sure I can go the distance with Android.

I do like the flexibility of the platform (I’m running the latest Android 7.0 Nougat) but it’s just not as slick as the iPhone. Graphics don’t seem as sharp and one of the main frustrations at the moment is that it doesn’t seem possible to prioritise WiFi networks – something that was possible with earlier versions of Android – without downloading yet another app (this one is called WiFi Prioritizer and does what it says on the tin).

That’s really annoying when you’ve got BT Infinity in the house and it keep defaulting to the awful BT WiFi with FON all the time which rarely works.

Finally, another problem I seem to be experiencing is poor battery life. I’m quite surprised because one thing that Android fans always tell me is how much better battery life is on Android phones than iPhones. But this actually seems much worse. Unless I’m in Ultra Battery mode when just about everything  I need to use is switched off, it runs down in about half a day with normal use. Charging up also seems to take an age compared to the iPhone.

It’s still early days of course. But maybe the grass isn’t greener after all.

A full review of the Huawei P10 will follow on ShinyShiny next week.
You can read my interview with artist Chris Levine about his collaboration with Huawei here. 

 

 

 

Let’s forget the Nokia 3310. The future is much smarter and more interesting

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Artist and photographer Chris Levine (left) appears in a selfie with me at Huawei’s launch of its latest P10 smartphone at the Metronom gallery in Barcelona

While all the hype may be around the relaunch of an old favourite, the Nokia 3310, which I’m already completely bored hearing about, for those of us who prefer to look forwards rather than backwards, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona offers an exciting glimpse into the not too distant future.

Thanks to Huawei (pronounced Waa-Wey, though I’m still not sure how), I was privileged enough to get a brief glimpse into this future in Barcelona at the weekend.

From the minute I landed at the city’s fabulously named El Prat airport where literally hundreds of different companies all holding name boards had descended to meet their guests, I could sense the anticipation and excitement around the latest hi-tech products, about to be unleashed at Mobile World Congress.

Ostensibly, I was there as a guest of Huawei to meet various artists at Barcelona’s Metronom gallery . The one thing they have in common? They’ve all used the latest Huawei P10 smartphone to compose the images displayed in a pop-up exhibition that runs until March 2nd.

And while the Chinese smart phone manufacturer which is, believe it or not,  the third biggest in the world after Apple and Samsung, isn’t the first company to collaborate with the artistic community in order to gain kudos and credibility, it is the first one I’ve seen which has done a really convincing job.

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I was simply blown away by the quality of some of the images which I’d expected to offer good resolution, but which also seemed well lit too, thanks to various post production facilities within the cameraphone.

Talking to light artist and photographer Chris Levine, who is perhaps most famous for taking pictures of the Queen with her eyes closed (here he is above with one of those images), you could see that he was genuinely excited about the quality and potential that new smartphone technology offers photographers.

Sure, he hasn’t quite ditched his iPhone 6S completely yet, but he told me that the Huawei P10 provides the best quality for photography he’s seen from a smartphone yet, thanks to its Leica dual lens system. Is he telling the truth? I think so judging from what I’ve witnessed, but I’ll let you know when I test out the dazzling blue P10 (which doesn’t seem so dazzling to me) which they gave me to keep!

You can read the specs of the Huawei P10 here on my tech blog Tech Digest here. My interview with artist Chris Levine will follow later this week on ShinyShiny.

Above: Some photographs taken by Chris Levine using the Huawei P10 smartphone. 

Below: Andrew Garrihy, Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer Technology, Huawei Technologies, talks about the strategy behind the Huawei P10 launch including its collaboration with colour company Pantone and camera manufacturer Leica in this YouTube video below.

Apologies it’s a little shaky – I would like to say it’s because of all the glasses of champagne at the launch but I wasn’t even drinking at the time!