Mini Jammer,Portable Mobile Signal Jammer,Cell Phone Jammer.

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Surface Pro, Ms Schmidt in north Korea, 4Ks challenge, and more

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A quick burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Sophie [Schmidt] In North Korea

Sophie has a famous father:

Bill Richardson, former Governor, US Ambassador to the UN and backchannel freelance diplomat extraordinaire, was planning his 8th trip to Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea. He invited my father Eric, who invited me.

It’s a marvellous travelogue.

Why I’m not trading my Surface RT for a Surface Pro >> ZDNet

Mary Jo Foley:

The Surface Pro – from reports from those who were granted limited hands-on time with the device at the Consumer Electronics Show – has a higher-resolution display, better magnetic connector for powering up, and, of course, the ability to run existing Win32 apps. It also only has half the battery life of a Surface RT, so in the five-hour or so range. (From all accounts, it is not going to include the lower-power but higher-battery-life-enabling version of Intel’s core i5 processor, contrary to some reports.)

It’s not the price difference that’s going to keep me away from the $$899/$999 Surface Pro. It’s the fact that it is really a PC in tablet’s clothing. I am interested in buying a new Windows PC this year. But I want one with excellent battery life. (I am totally indifferent if my next PC has a touch screen. I don’t need one, as long as I have a touch-enabled mouse, like the Logitech one I’ve been testing out lately.)

Again, for me – and your mileage likely will vary – use of the Surface RT has shown me that the lack of Win32 (and even Metro-style) apps is not a big deal. I am spending about 99% of my time on the Surface RT in the Metro environment. I have found very few Metro-style apps I consider worth downloading. Instead, many of the things pinned to my Start Screen are web sites.

Sounds good.

This, by the way, is a big problem for Microsoft.


I’m one of the lead devs on the Chrome Windows sandbox… >> Hacker News

Justin Schuh says XP is a dog – a dead one – when it comes to security:

Seriously, I’ve spent many weeks trying to wring every last bit of security I can out of XP, and I really do think that Chrome does the best anyone possibly could on that front. But in the end XP is just an OS that’s far past its security expiration date, and running it at all means taking a big risk.

Are you still using it? (Via Ed Bott)

Huawei creating 50 jobs in Ireland >> The Sunday Business Post

Leading Chinese information and communications technology company Huawei is to create 50 high skilled research positions with the opening of a new research and development centre spread across two sites in Cork City and Dublin.

Initially the centre will focus on supporting Irish and international telecom operators who use the company’s customer experience management product, SmartCare. But future expansion at the sites will extend R&D functions to cover a wider range of IT software projects, said a statement from IDA Ireland, which is supporting the project.

July 2012: Android, Nokia smartphone security toppled by NFC hack >> Ars Technica

By exploiting multiple security weakness in the industry standard known as Near Field Communication, smartphone hacker Charlie Miller can take control of handsets made by Samsung and Nokia. The attack works by putting the phone a few centimeters away from a quarter-sized chip, or touching it to another NFC-enabled phone. Code on the attacker-controlled chip or handset is beamed to the target phone over the air, then opens malicious files or webpages that exploit known vulnerabilities in a document reader or browser, or in some cases in the operating system itself.

The attack can work against Jelly Bean too, to drive the phone via NFC to a specific web page with an exploit. It’s a dilemma: have NFC enabled so it’s convenient, or have it disabled so you have to turn it on to make use of it only when you want (which implies having to unlock your phone and drill down through the settings to activate it).

The end of ragequitting >> Coding Horror

Jeff Atwood on Aaron Swartz, activism, and the struggle the latter implies.

NEC says two phone screens are better than one with Medias W >> The Verge

Originally teased close to a year ago, the Medias W is NEC’s attempt at a dual-screen folding Android smartphone. It’s not an entirely new idea — the Kyocera Echo and Sony Tablet P have done similar things to middling results — but can NEC be the first to get it right?

Questions to which the answer is ‘no’, because there’s no getting this design idea right.

High-definition TV: ne plus ultra >> The Economist

So far, only a handful of feature films have been shot with cameras capable of 4K, including "The Amazing Spider-Man", "Prometheus" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". That is hardly surprising given the amount of work involved. Insiders reckon making a full-length digital feature in 4K is equivalent to producing six ordinary 2K films.

Even so, some 17,000 cinemas around the world now have digital projectors capable of showing 4K films. So, if and when Hollywood upgrades wholesale to the new video standard, cinema-goers will be able to decide whether 4K is worth the premium they are bound to be charged.

The recent flood of 3D films largely failed that test. The lacklustre sales of 3D television sets suggest they are now doing the same. Will 4K suffer the same fate? It is far too early to say. But, for sure, 4K television–far more than 4K cinema–faces some formidable challenges.

Apart from anything, we all tend to sit too far from the screen to discern the difference. An excellent primer on why not to hold your breath for 4K – even if it is going to happen.

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on Pinboard. To suggest a link, either add it below or tag it with @gdntech on the free Delicious service.

Categories: rcplaneau

The life of OReilly

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The annual O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2005 kicked off with workshops today in San Diego, California. The bad news is that it’s starting to look more serious and more corporate, rather than being the splendid geek-fest of old. Nokia has appeared as the Diamond Sponsor and is hosting a reception tomorrow evening. AT&T, Yahoo!, Microsoft Research and Apple Developer Connection are the Platinum Sponsors, so the multibillion multinational corporations are emerging in force.

A quick skim through the list of attendees also suggests the mainstream press will be here, too. The names include Reuters (Eric Auchard), The Washington Post (Ed Holzinger), Newsweek (Steven Levy), The New York Times (John Markoff), Forbes (Victoria Murphy), and Fortune (Fred Vogelstein), plus people from Ziff and CNet. Hmm, what happened to The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and The Economist? Keeping their attendance secret, or asleep at the wheel?

Still, there are probably enough of the right sort of speaker to maintain the proper flavour. Examples include Stewart Butterfield of Flickr, Tom Coates from the BBC, Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing), Danny O’Brien (NTK), and Clay Shirky (that’s in alphabetical order). Plus the inestimable David Weinberger to blog the whole thing at Joho (see link, left, under People).

Categories: fly plane

Myst comes to the iPhone which shows how far weve come

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Admission time: I have never played Myst. Yes, I know, today of all days (it’s Star Wars day: May the fourth be with you!) that’s something of a surprising admission. Didn’t everyone play Myst at some time in the 1990s? Well, I guess I was busy.. doing something. Playing Starship Titanic, perhaps – which I understand is sort of like Myst with a sardonic, Douglas Adams-style twist.

But now people like me, and people who never quite got over the fun of .. whatever else it was we were doing can now get Myst – because it has been brought back, completely, faithfully, to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Operated by fingers rather than a mouse, obviously.

Here’s what I find interesting about it, though: the price.

The original Myst cost $600,000 and took two years to produce;it appeared on CD-Rom, and helped drive adoption of the format; CD-Rom, because it was so blooming big – hundreds of megabytes, because the designers took so much trouble about including textures and detailed visual information to make the experience as close to natural as possible through screens that were, at the very best, 1024×768 (but much more likely 16-bit, 800×600). And the original game was only in 8-bit colour anyway.

Be that as it may, Myst in its CD-Rom form cost around $30 – which would be quite a bit more in today’s money (what with inflation over the past 16 years).

The price now? $5.49, or in the UK, ?3.49. And it’s 729MB of downloading: if you’re on a broadband supplier with one of those download caps, you might want to think about other places you could download it directly.

Even so, that’s a dramatic shift. In 16 years we’ve gone from a game that required an external, expensive piece of hardware, and external storage, which pushed the limits of systems, to something that can be done in the palm of your hand. There’s Moore’s Law for you – though the bandwidth limit question shows how we haven’t quite got around it all. (Then again, if you’d wanted to download it in 1993, you would have been doing it, at best, at 9600baud – that’s 9.6kbps.)

There’s more about the background of Myst at Wired. And all over the web, in fact. Including the question I’d not thought of: is Myst playable if you’re deaf?

Oh, and when is someone going to port Starship Titanic to the iPhone/iPod Touch, eh?

There is a video for Myst on the iPhone. I tried many times to include it here but – in a video game entirely of its own making for a bank holiday – the system wanted to show you a rerun of the Kentucky Derby. Now if only they’d thought of doing that in Myst…

Actually, there’s a question: what do you think, if they – or you – were writing Myst now, would you include? Internet connectivity to YouTube? To Wikipedia? Be creative..

Categories: fly plane

Better Late Than Arrogant

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"Welcome to my first attempt at blogging. Admittedly, I’m three years behind the bleeding edge, but I had to get over the inherent arrogance of blogging: that people would give a shitake about what I have to say," writes marketing guru, author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki on his new blog. His amusement value is evident from the definition on his masthead: "Blogger. n. Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do."

Providing a bit of 1980s history, Kawasaki writes: "When I saw what a Macintosh could do, the clouds parted and the angels started singing. For four years I evangelized Macintosh to software and hardware developers and led the charge against world-wide domination by IBM." He left Apple in 87 but returned in 1995 for a stint where he writes: "My job on this tour of duty was to maintain and rejuvenate the Macintosh cult."

Guy more than anyone was responsible for turning the Mac into a pseudo-religious cult, for marketing purposes, and, via his Evangelist mailing list, for mobilising the True Believers who hounded journalists. Have your "errors" exposed there and you got mailbombed by loonies. (Not that it ever happened to me, of course.) Whether all this did more harm than good is another matter, but after Kawasaki, many other companies hired evangelists with far less insight, charm and wit.

Categories: fly plane

mobile v native apps, iPlayer on Android, artists v Spotify, and more

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A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Why mobile web apps are slow >> Sealed Abstract

Drew Crawford:

I’ve had an unusual number of interesting conversations spin out of my previous article documenting that mobile web apps are slow.  This has sparked some discussion, both online and IRL.  But sadly, the discussion has not been as… fact-based as I would like.

Everyone has been pointing to this post, with good reason: it’s highly detailed and very useful.

BBC iPlayer App on Android: Update >> BBC Internet blog

David Berlin, senior product manager:

Since the Android app launched in February 2011, tablets larger than 7.1" have been able to install BBC iPlayer from the Android Market/Google Play.  However, when you tapped on the icon on your device home screen, it launched the BBC iPlayer mobile website.

With requests from tablets now making up around 20% of total iPlayer video requests each month, and larger tablets making up the majority of those requests, we wanted to focus on supporting these devices first.  We know that more and more of you are using your tablet like a personal TV – and want the benefits that an app can bring (such as mobile downloads – coming later this year) on these devices.  That’s why, a month ago we released an update to remove the website link and delivered the BBC iPlayer app to all Android phone, tablet and phablet device sizes (more than 3,000 different models).

The Android team is three times as large as the iOS team.

The internet of things may drive you nuts before it makes things better >> Gigaom

Stacy Higginbotham:

The scariest thing anyone has ever said to me about the internet of things wasn’t about the NSA spying on my gadgets or that someone might hack my connected door locks. Instead, it came from Bob Dahlberg, VP business development at Arrayent, who told me last week, "Right now big appliance makers only have contact with a buyer once every ten years or so, but with connected devices they could make that three to four times a week."

The idea of my fridge, my dryer and my dishwasher all conspiring to provide me updates several times a week in some attempt to keep in touch on behalf of Samsung, Bosch or Whirlpool makes me want to run screaming from the internet.

i’m Watch Tech Specifications >> i’m Watch

Here’s another "smart watch" contender, costing ?219 from this Italian company. Let’s look at one of the key specifications…

Power and battery
? Built-in rechargeable Li-Po 450 mAh battery
? Charging from USB to computer system or via power adapter
? Standby time without Bluetooth? connection: up to 48 hours
? Standby time with Bluetooth? connection: up to 24 hours
? Time for generic use: up to 5 hours.

Given that the Pebble will do the same but lasts up to seven days and costs less, this fails on at least two metrics.

Yo…: Music Royalty Statement Exposed – 0.020p per stream! >> Rapids

Another band weighs in on the Spotify/royalties point:

Thanks to Thom Yorke for commencing the Spotifight. His recent tweet about Spotify not supporting new bands really sums up the general view of music service by smaller artists.

Music streaming sites pay artists very nearly nothing. Spotify is a vehicle for promoting the more well known acts of its record label owners. Therefore its purpose is to promote the more commercial artists e.g. Rhianna, rather than supporting new bands

Music streaming sites such as iTunes and Spotify WILL kill music. Cash cows like The Rolling Stones won’t be around forever. How can new artists break though when they’re earning, at best 0.22GBP per play. The royalty statement below shows Rapids!’ earnings at the height of their career – a total income of 400 quid.


Babak Radboy, interviewer:?Kuwait is a crazy mix: a super-affluent country, yet basically a welfare state, though with a super neo-liberal consumer economy.

Fatima Al Qadiri:?We consume vast amounts of everything. Instagram businesses are a big thing in Kuwait.

BR:?What’s an Instagram business?

FQ:?If you have an Instagram account, you can slap a price tag on anything, take a picture of it, and sell it. For instance, you could take this can of San Pellegrino, paint it pink, put a heart on it, call it yours, and declare it for sale. Even my grandmother has an Instagram business! She sells dried fruit. A friend’s cousin is selling weird potted plants that use Astroturf. People are creating, you know, hacked products.

A billion-dollar business, except Facebook doesn’t get any of it. (Other items for sale on Instagram: sheep.)

Lawyer: Apple should protect me from my porn addiction >> Above the Law

The plaintiff, Chris Sevier, is an attorney in Nashville. A news report of his arrest last month on unrelated charges of stalking country music star John Rich (the guy whose obnoxious song mars my weekly viewing of College GameDay) states that Sevier’s 36, though his Model Mayhem bio says he’s 26. For someone mad about porn on the Internet, he’s already adopted its first cardinal rule: models always lie about their age.

Sevier’s complaint makes a simple request: Apple should sell all products with an installed filter blocking all internet porn. If the buyer, over the age of 18, wishes to unlock the Internet, he or she is free to contact Apple, sign a form acknowledging the ills of pornography, and receive a code to remove the filter.

So Sevier already has a ton of Googlejuice for his name, linked to being a lawyer/attorney, and "porn" and "addiction". Also "Apple". In a while he can drop the lawsuit, laugh it off to future clients, and he’ll still be in all the search engines when someone searches for "porn" "addiction" "lawyer". Postmodern SEO?

Twitter / MrBastounis: My friend bought an Apple iWatch … >> Twitter

Yup, this looks totally legit. It’s got a logo and everything! Spotted in Thailand. Any readers there?

Samsung Galaxy S3 explodes, turns young woman into ‘burnt pig’ >> The Register

According to a report in the French-language Le Matin of Lausanne, Switzerland, 18-year-old Fanny Schlatter was on her job as an apprentice painter, loading paint cans into her boss’ truck, when her smartphone exploded in her trousers.

"All of a sudden I heard a sound of explosion-type firecracker," Schlatter said (according to Google Translate), "then I felt a strange chemical smell and my work pants began to catch fire."

"Burnt pig" was Schlatter’s own phrase for the smell from her injured leg. A lithium-ion battery fire, apparently. (Thanks @Smurfuhrer for the link.)

You can follow Guardian Technology’s linkbucket on Pinboard

To suggest a link, either add it below or tag it with @gdntech on the free Delicious service.

Categories: fly plane

Tech City – believe the hype

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Since the Coalition came to power in May 2010, the Tech City initiative has had significant money, PR and industry support thrown behind it. Tech City is often trumpeted as the saviour of the UK’s flagging economy and the ultimate replacement for a broken financial services industry by capitalising on two of the UK’s greatest, but underexploited, strengths – science and innovation. But how much innovation is actually taking place in Tech City? And what about other burgeoning tech clusters in the UK?

When Cameron announced in November 2010 that the UK government would be throwing its weight behind Tech City, he was clear about what he wanted to achieve.

"Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make east London one of the world’s great technology centres," he said. "[We want to] Help to create the right framework, so it’s easier for new companies to start up, for venture capital firms to invest, for innovations to flourish, for businesses to grow."

Fast forward two years, and the announcement of a ?50m fund to help regenerate Old Street roundabout attracted similarly grandiose words from the prime minister, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the then incoming CEO of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), Joanna Shields.

"Tech City has become a thriving hub of tech-based enterprise and creativity," said Shields. "We have a vibrant community here, full of exciting emerging businesses that are growing alongside some of the world’s most respected tech companies."

You might assume from these comments that Tech City is presently Europe’s most dynamic, innovative and fast-growing tech cluster. The fast-growing part is at least true. In 2008 there were just 15 media and technology companies registered in Shoreditch. In 2013, according to the Tech City Map, there are 1,340.

But how many of these startups are actually technology businesses creating innovative products?

Number crunch

Slow movers? An audit by the Guardian found that of the 1,340 companies in Tech City, only 137 are tech companies. Photograph: Barcroft Media/

The Guardian audited every company listed on the Tech City Map, which was set up with the blessing of the government to help analyse their influence, and found that of the 1,340 companies, 137 are tech companies, 700 are PR or design agencies and 482 are "miscellaneous" – which includes charities, pubs, cafes and fashion boutiques. The remaining 21 companies were either entered more than once or entries with no information or link to an external site. So just 10% of companies in Tech City actually do technology, 53% are PR or design agencies, and 37% are "miscellaneous".

Such a low concentration of tech companies raises the question of why the Government has thrown its weight behind Tech City. Is the initiative a cynical PR campaign, with London acting as a figurehead for a wider drive to diversify the economy? Or is there a genuine ignorance to the makeup of Tech City that’s yet to inform policy?

The Guardian asked Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of TCIO, a public body that was set up to help grow and promote Tech City, about the figures. "The Tech City Map is a great resource, but we don’t recognise this precise split in terms of companies that make up the businesses based in the cluster," he said.

"Equally, one of Tech City’s strengths is the interplay between what people have historically called ‘creative’ and ‘technical’ industries. We at Tech City believe that these distinctions are less relevant in an increasingly integrated world."

Southworth argues that "tech should not be siloed into being only one thing". He says: "At Tech City, our focus is to nurture, support, and celebrate the development of entrepreneurs, the go-getters and business builders determined to strike out and succeed on their own."

Regional ascents

Yet other tech clusters, some with a higher concentration of tech companies, exist elsewhere in the UK without the same industrial and governmental support. Cambridge is well known for its roots in hard tech such as biotechnology and engineering; its cluster currently houses 1,535 companies; 12 tech companies in Cambridge have achieved $1bn (?642m) valuations in the past 15 years, and the combined turnover of the entire cluster was recorded at ?11.8bn in 2011. This makes it one of the biggest, oldest and most successful tech clusters in Europe. Yet politically, Cambridge goes largely unnoticed.

Mauro Ciaccio, founder of, a Cambridge technology news and company listing website, thinks the Tech City initiative is partly a PR exercise: "I would say the majority of Cambridge tech companies are innovative companies and that continues to evolve. In the past, it was the [processor design company] ARM’s and hardware manufacturers, the second big one that came was the inkjet printing, and now there’s a whole thing of biotech. It’s seen as the next big sector to explode in Cambridge."

Stewart McTavish, director of Idea Space, a startup enterprise accelerator, says Cambridge has more innovators because "there’s a real experience base of people that have started and succeeded in Cambridge who are able to help people out. Repeat entrepreneurs and investors are part of the ecosystem and they’re willing to spend their time to help develop business ideas."

Further afield in the north-west, Manchester also has an established and growing tech cluster. Trade association Manchester Digital believes digital content and ICT industries account for 45,800 jobs in the Greater Manchester area and generate about ?2bn annually in economic output.

Shaun Fensom, founding director of Manchester Digital, explains: "Manchester has the most significant internet exchange outside London. There is a large concentration of data centres offering hosting and co-location. These attract carriers and major ISPs – they’re all here – and transit costs are similar to London. Growing clusters of digital, tech and media activity are helping to accelerate this."

Manchester had a thriving games industry years ago with names like Ocean Software, Fensom says: "it mostly collapsed. Now, with mobile apps, it’s back and thriving again."

Newcastle ignited

There are 30 to 40 tech startups in Newcastle, with accelerator programmes helping develop the industry. Photograph: Doug Hall/Alamy

Take a short trip east and you’ll find two sides to the north-east tech scene. First is the small but concentrated tech cluster developing in Newcastle, which is still in its early stages. It’s estimated there are around 30 to 40 startups operating out of Newcastle and accelerator programmes such as Ignite 100 are helping develop the scene.

Paul Smith, director of Ignite 100, has personally helped more than 30 tech companies through his accelerator programme. He says the north-east is the "rational choice" for a tech startup because of the better quality of life and lower cost of living.

The other side is the more established and growing clean tech programme that’s creating new technologies such as Nissan’s electric car initiative and SMD developing renewable energy technology.

Although the cluster is small, there is a trend emerging of the type of tech company planting its roots in Newcastle. Paul Rawlings, founder of Screach, one of the best known local startups, explains that there is more emphasis on innovation and product development than providing services.

"This is the advantage of these accelerator programmes. There are 10 teams on an accelerator and they’re all creating a product so there’s people to talk to about tech. It’s happening down south too, but up here it’s moving more towards product creation than service offering. A lot of companies are starting to realise there’s more money in product than service."

Brighton rocks

Brighton, too, has an established tech cluster. It’s less hard tech than Cambridge and Manchester, instead focusing more on the creative adaptation of existing technologies. Phil Jones, director of Wired Sussex, a members’ organisation for digital companies in Brighton, told the Guardian that "In this city, no idea is too off-the-wall not to be treated with respect. This is key in these new industries where disruptive thinking is in their DNA."

Wired Sussex, alongside Manchester Digital, Bristol Media and the South East Media Network formed an alliance called One Digital in 2009 to represent the UK’s tech clusters outside of the capital. Jones says: "Brighton, Bristol and Manchester formed the One Digital alliance because we recognised that all three tech clusters could benefit from sharing our individual experience, expertise and knowledge."

Unlike Tech City and TCIO, all are funded by their member companies. "It does need to be recognised that rapidly growing clusters like ours in Brighton that successfully fuse creativity and technology have much that Tech City could learn from," says Jones.

So Is TCIO too London-centric? "We recognise and support the other technology clusters around the UK, and we are looking at ways we can take what’s happening in Tech City and use this to help establish, nurture and support a community of ideas and innovation around the country," says Southworth. "In the coming months, we will be collaborating with other technology clusters from around the country to share ideas, thinking, resources and learnings in order to build on our collective success."

Categories: fly plane

Microsoft support centre scam continues, and takes turn for worse

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The scam whereby people in Indian call centres ring up and insist that they are calling from "Microsoft Windows Support" and that they have been alerted – by Microsoft, or your ISP – that "your computer is running slowly because of viruses" – is still going on.

And they’re still charging people for their fake "help", and people are still falling for it: I get a few emails a week confirming it (and that of course is only the people who realise they’ve been had). If you need confirmation, Microsoft’s Answers system is stuffed with people asking about it

Until now, it has been a relatively harmless process: the call centre workers didn’t leave anything (such as malware) on your computer, because that could involve the police internationally, and even in Kolkata (Calcutta as was), where the criminal gang that’s behind this is based, the police might take notice. Nor have I seen any evidence that they steal details such as bank information. You got scammed for a couple of hundred pounds, but if you realised what had happened, you could get the payment reversed.

But something has changed: they seem to have started trying to install software. That takes the scam into new territory altogether, because it means that the scammers are now changing the setup of the computer, and while it’s still fraud, it also now strays into fields such as the Computer Misuse Act.

The confirmation came in an email a few days ago from a man called Steven, based in Manchester, who was called from a company claiming to be "Windows Service Centre" based in East London (on the phone number 020 3318 3026).

"She advised that there were numerous error reports that had come through and that my computer was badly affected and running slow (which sounded true)," says Graham Steven. "I was taken through various screens, which induicated numerous warnings and alerts and it was suggested that as my computer care warranties had expired, I should purchase a new one."

Being wary, he called them back in case the phone number was fake. But of course the phone number worked: it’s a VOIP line back to India.

The cost? ?199 – which included the installation of Kaspersky Antivirus. With tax, it came to ?240.

The scammers were careful, though: they used his card details to make the purchase. It was only afterwards that Steven realised his mistake: "I received an Invoice from "SWREG" [Digital River, a download service in the US] for the service and thought nothing of it, until I checked the possible frauds page that you have. I phoned my credit card company, who confirmed that the transaction had gone through, so I immediately cancelled my card. A friend came round and uninstalled all of the Kaspersky and other applications. I do not know for sure that this is a scam, but strongly suspect that I have been conned."

Unfortunately it is a scam, and he has been conned. But he may be able to get the money back.

If you, or someone you know, falls victim to this scam, then do three things:
1) contact your card issuer and get the transaction reversed
2) report what happened to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. It has its own page on Microsoft-related scams, as does Microsoft itself.
3) contact the police so you can get a crime number.

If you do a search on the phone number given, you find that it appears on a number of sites – including one calling itself YTech Solutions (, which looks like another standard template for the scam; the sites are set up by the dozen, and as soon as police get one taken down, six more are ready to spring up – with similar misspellings, "privacy policies" and so on. YTechltd hides its ownership details behind a domain proxy – hardly what you’d expect from a reputable company.

People are still getting these calls – often multiple times. The clue though that there is a single gang behind all this – rather than multiple people trying their luck – comes from the fact that I’ve never come across anyone who has been phoned twice once they’ve taken out this "support". That suggests that they are keeping some sort of database – but the other question is, where do they get their database of people to call?

Updated: Corrected name – victim’s name is Steven, not Graham. Added third thing to do – contact police. Misspellings corrected.

Categories: rcplaneau

Tell us your best geek jokes

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It’s been an awfully long time since we got together as the weekend approached and got our hands dirty with a Friday Afternoon Question or two. But hey, it’s the end of the week… it’s gone midday. What better time to get stuck in?

And what better question to ask today than one to raise our spirits? After all, the world is going to hell in a handcart and everybody looks so miserable. Just the other day I woke up and discovered that doom is now a more valuable currency than the pound. Gah!

So, to raise a smile why not tell us the answer to the following:

What’s your best ever geek joke?

Your chortlisms, chucklebuster, rib-ticklers and classic groaners welcome. Cheer us up – the best joke gets to hold the title of Official Top Commenter. At least until next week.

Categories: rcplaneau

Microsoft to test automated PC tune-up service

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"Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a test version of an all-in-one subscription service that aims to protect computer users from viruses and spyware and give them tools to make machines speedier. The Redmond-based software company is distributing Windows OneCare to its 60,000 employees this week. It plans to run a larger invitation-only test this summer, then launch a full-scale test by year’s end," reports AP.

"Microsoft hasn’t set a price for an annual subscription, but … said it would include unlimited phone, e-mail and chat support."

Comment: Can’t be cheap if it includes telephone support, since one "incident" will probably cost more than the OEM price of Windows.

Categories: fly plane

BBC puts shows on net and mobiles

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"The BBC is to accelerate plans to broadcast programmes and entire channels on the internet and on mobile phones, using popular shows such as Doctor Who in a series of pilots designed to assess public demand," reports The Guardian.

"Ahead of the Media Guardian Edinburgh Television Festival, which begins today, the BBC’s director of television, Jana Bennett, said she was asking programme makers, commissioners and schedulers to get to grips more rapidly with the evolution in technology. She said consumers were ahead of broadcasters in their take-up of new technology."

Categories: fly plane