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January 5, 2020

Messaging app WhatsApp has stopped working on a range of dated smartphones today, the company has confirmed.

Facebook said users of Microsoft operating systems had not been able to create new Whatsapp accounts since earlier this year, after Microsoft announced it intends to kill off its phone software.

Do you use WhatsApp? Have you found it will not work? Maybe it’s because you are using Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Since December 31, WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, will no longer work on Microsoft's Windows Phone and all smartphones running on Windows Mobile software as the company no longer develops for Windows mobile platforms. You will need to switch to Android or iPhone. Also, as apparently reported in the Daily Mail, Android versions 2.3.7 and older, and iOS 8 and older will lose support for the messaging service on February 1.

Each year WhatsApp removes support for older devices it says do not, "offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future".

(Some sup...

December 21, 2019

Wishing all the readers of this blog a Very Merry Christmas and may you have lots of computing fun in 2020 without any viruses or hoaxes.

December 19, 2019

A married friend of mine recently told me he had made a new friend, "Alexa". (For those of you who may not know, Alexa is a voice operated computer aid.) However, be warned!

According to an article in the New Zealand Herald, a prominent privacy expert has warned others to ban Amazon's voice assistant Alexa in their bedrooms.

Hannah Fry, a mathematician with expertise in the algorithms tech companies use, has confirmed people's worse fears that smart speakers are listening to their conversations.

The 35-year-old said she keeps Amazon's voice-activated assistant in downstairs rooms only and that families should consider doing the same, the Independent reports.

Amazon has previously denied that its Echo devices are eavesdropping on people's conversations, but then admitted earlier this year that employees listen to customer voice recordings in order to improve speech recognition.

It was also revealed that recordings of personal moments were inadvertently caught up after the smart speaker was t...

November 17, 2019

Do you like working with two monitors? I do and of course our popular webmaster does also, so wouldn’t  it be nice to have a cell-phone with two screens? Samsung tried to introduce a foldable phone but it was not successful. Will Microsoft, who is planning to introduce a foldable phone next year, be more successful? This phone operates on the Android system and similar to other Microsoft products is confusingly called the Surface Duo. It has two 5.6-inch screens that unfold to 8.3 inches. The two screens can be used separately or as one screen. It is very durable and when Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, was demonstrating the phone, he threw it on the ground to show that it could not be broken. It has a 360 degree hinge which makes it very versatile and its slimness enables it to sit comfortably in one’s pocket. Microsoft have partnered with Google, so The Surface Duo will be able to run apps from Google Play Store.

I have not yet heard what it is likely to sell at and wi...

October 24, 2019

The following are extracts from an article written by David Yaffe-Bellany as quoted on the NZ Herald website.

Over the last seven months, McDonald's has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire technology companies that specialise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. And the fast-food chain has even established a new tech hub in the heart of Silicon Valley — the McD Tech Labs — where a team of engineers and data scientists is working on voice-recognition software.

The goal? To turn McDonald's, a chain better known for supersized portions than for supercomputers, into a saltier, greasier version of Amazon.

In the coming years, the company's machine learning technology could change how consumers decide what to eat — and, in a potentially ominous development for their waistlines, make them eat more.

At some drive-thrus, McDonald's has tested technology that can recognise license-plate numbers, allowing the company to tailor a list of suggested purchases to a customer's pre...

September 3, 2019

I have believed for some time that one day everyone will have a chip implanted in them which will eventually be able to do just about everything we want it to do. For example, mobile phones and watches will be surplus to requirements. The forerunner is here!

It has been reported that Wellington man Ryan Wolstenholme has joined the "biohacker" or "grinder" craze that's picking up steam worldwide, merging man (or woman) and machine.

The Xero software developer implanted an RFID (radio frequency ID) chip into the webbing of his left hand.

He uses it to store his smartphone's address book. Hover your phone over his hand, and it offers to add him as a contact.

But the chip also supports the NFC (near-field communication) standard used for Paywave, so he hopes to one day use it for contactless payments too, or instead of a HOP card for tapping on to public transport.

The way of the future!

May 29, 2019

My thanks to the NZ Herald website for the following article.

You're waiting at the airport, your phone vibrates in your hand — but it's not a text. "Low Battery — 20% of battery remaining" pops up on your screen.Your charger is wrapped up in your check-in luggage, and the last thing you want to do is fork out airport prices for a new adapter. So, you track down the nearest free charging station and refuel your dwindling device. But, it turns out that decision might cost you more than a few extra minutes on social media before you board, 

You should avoid public charging stations because cyber-criminals can modify those USB connections to install malware on your phone. An expert in the US says plugging into USB power charging stations in the airport may come with a cost you can't see. Caleb Barlow, vice-president of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, says these stations can be modified by cyber-criminals to install malware on your phone or download information without your know...

May 20, 2019

The short answer is, "No".

Dr Michelle Dickinson who is a well respected science and engineering researcher is quoted on the  NZ Herald website as saying:-

"With every new mobile phone release comes renewed concern around the effect of this technology on our health, and fears surrounding mobile phone use and the possible effect of radiation on the human body are ongoing. This isn't helped by the World Health Organisation declaring that mobile devices are a "Class 2B carcinogen", which really sounds scary. To put things in perspective, however, other items in the 2B category include coffee, pickles and being a carpenter.

"The WHO says that about 25,000 scientific articles have been published on non-ionising radiation over the past 30 years making scientific knowledge of the technology more extensive than for most of the household chemicals we use day-to-day. Current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields from mob...

May 12, 2019

We have had Big Brother is Watching, but now, Beware! You are being recorded.

 I didn't know who or what Alexa was, but I am very aware now. It is a smart speaker or if you like, an intelligent speaker and I don't mean a person. Read on, but there is a lot to absorb. To précis,  not only Alexa, but other devices or systems are recording what is going on in your home to a great extent, whether you like it or not. Big Brother may not be watching but "he" is listening and recording. If you don't have Alexa speakers but have Windows 10 on your computer you might like to jump to the last few paragraphs. However, the article refers to Apple and Google also, so is probably worth reading the whole article.

(This article appears to be mainly designed for American readers, but we should nevertheless be aware.)

A writer, quoted on the NZ Herald's website reports, 'Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, "Are you crazy?"

'Yet that's...

April 17, 2019

NZ Herald reports on an in-vehicle camera technology that analyses the slightest drooping eye or swaying head could be a lifeline for Kiwi truckies nodding off behind the wheel.

A pioneering brand of Australian driver fatigue alert systems is aiming to have about 4000 units on New Zealand roads by the end of the year.

However, some are questioning to what extent such technological advances actually address the underlying working conditions in an industry that saw 75 truck deaths in 2016.

The Guardian in-cabin infrared cameras detect "microsleep" events using a computer algorithm of the human face, and within 1.5 seconds of shut eyelids issues a beeping alarm and vibrates the driver's seat.

In the last 12 months, Guardian has issued 86,057 fatigue interventions on roads globally. The infrared cameras can detect facial expressions and eye patterns in the dark, and through sunglasses. They also alert "distraction" events if a driver's eyes wander from the road for more than 4 seconds.

Chief ex...

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