June 28, 2020

Do we really need the following on our cellphones?

According to the website Stuff, “The preview of the next version of the iPhone's operating system, known as iOS 14, was highlighted at Apple's annual conference for computer programmers and mobile app makers. In recognition of the pandemic, Apple's next iPhone operating system will include an option to put a face mask on a personalised emoji. Upgraded software for the Apple Watch will also detect when wearers wash their hands.”

What next? Check that you’ve been to the toilet today?

April 17, 2020

Contact tracing is one of the main issues facing the science and health sectors in New Zealand while trying to eliminate the scourge COVID-19.

There have been a number of suggestions as to the best way to go about contact tracing, in the event someone gets the virus. One suggestion is an app on smart-phones which talk to other phones in their vicinity. Singapore has been experimenting with this. There are several drawbacks to this such as, not everyone has a smart-phone; the phone has to have the app installed; there have apparently been some issues with i-phones and a high percentage of people have to have such a phone with them for it to be effective. Some people also feel there are privacy issues using samrt-phones

A very good possibility, in my humble opinion, is what is being called a CovidCard, Every person in NZ would be issued with one of these credit card sized cards which would be bluetooth enabled and each would have a unique number. Each card would record the numbers of those...

March 25, 2020

The UK Office of Communications, that country's communications regulator, has promulgated the following to help to eliminate the slowing down of broadband speeds.

"Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wi-fi signals?" Ofcom asks.

"So don't use the microwave when you're making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online."

It suggests positioning your internet router as far as possible from other devices that may interfere with the signal.

Those devices include: cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors.

March 21, 2020

Spark has announced that because of COVID-19 it will help its customers stay connected as they transition to new ways of working, learning and connecting through the initiatives below:

  • Removing overage charges for customers who are on data-capped broadband plans so they won’t have to worry about paying extra to stay connected. This applies to both small and medium business and consumer customers;

  • For the next 60 days Spark will waive late payment fees and will not terminate service for customers experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.  If our customers are experiencing hardship, they should call 128 to discuss their individual circumstances and available options.

These measures will be introduced on Monday 23 March 2020 for an initial 60 day period to ensure Spark customers stay connected.

Vodafone NZ and 2degrees have now also removed data caps on all residential, small and medium business plans until the end of June as it joins its peers in responding c...

March 9, 2020

Corona virus is certainly making the news, but has anyone, like me, been wondering where the name Covid -19 comes from? I must be getting slow, as, as a person who likes cryptic crosswords I should have worked it out.

Here is the official explanation. "On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named this novel coronavirus, COVID-19. COVID is short for coronavirus disease. The number 19 refers to the fact that the disease was first detected in 2019, though the outbreak occurred in 2020." In other words:-

co for corona

vi for virus

d for disease

19 for the year 2019

And I thought it was some wonderful scientific name!

Covid-19 is just one of a number of corona viruses. Others include the common cold, flu. SARS etc.. But, 'Why "corona" ?' you might ask. Well corona means crown and the viruses apparently have what look like crowns on them.

We live and learn.

February 8, 2020

Are you planning on visiting Houston, Texas in the near future? If so, don’t be surprised if you see a driverless vehicle go past when you are there.

The first self-driving vehicle designed without basic human controls has been granted permission to test on US roads.

The company designing this vehicle is Nuro, an American robotics company based in California,  and it is the company’s second generation of its vehicles. It is called the R2 and it is to be tested in Houston, Texas.

This is the first exemption to a rule requiring vehicles to have controls for human operators.

Up until now, most of the rules for testing vehicles require features that allow a driver to safely take control of them, but this vehicle will have no humans on board.

The US transport secretary Elaine Chao explains that as the vehicle's top speed is capped at 25mph (40kph), previous requirements no longer make sense.

How long I wonder, before we see something similar in NZ?

(My thanks to the BBC for alerting me to this new...

January 21, 2020

The unemployment rate in the United States has been gradually falling and as at last October was 3.6%. The rate in New Zealand is not too dissimilar at 4.6%. I cannot but wonder how this is so and will it continue with evermore sophisticated technology replacing employees?

Correspondent Aimee Shaw, as reported in the NZ Herald, says that walking into a shop and walking out with an item without needing to stop to check out will be the norm in shops all around the world within the next 10 years, quoting the founder of one of the United States' leading tech start-ups.

Standard Cognition, which uses artificial technology and machine vision technology to enable autonomous shopping, allows customers to shop and pay without any scanning, stopping to check out or waiting in line, is deployed in three stores in the United States and two in Japan.

Its technology will be deployed to a further seven US-based stores in the first-half of the year, and the company, founded in 2017, has bold plans to rol...

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...

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