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Silicon Valley lashes out at Trump ban

For months, Silicon Valley seemed to be heeding the advice of one of its most powerful figures, billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who said President Trump should be taken "seriously, but not literally”.

Microsoft set to maintain its over $1 billion annual investment on Cyber Security

The rise of the new threat of cyber-attack on the world is one that perhaps can no more be ignored by government or private institutions, especially in an era when about everything is ran by information. In what might be received in several quarters as staggering, Microsoft Corporation has reasserted its place as one such companies with an aggressive response to the threat with a plan to maintain its over $1 billion annual investment on cyber security research and development over the next few years.

US city hit by malware attack

It may now be taken for granted that, in this 21st century, not only the rules but likewise the battle ground for attacks have changed; whether it be on individuals, private institutions or governments. A notable example is the recent Malware attacks on Libraries across the city of St Louis in Missouri state of the United States.

Neutrality fear over Trump appointee

President Donald Trump has chosen Ajit Pai as the new head of the US Federal Communications Commission, the government agency which regulates telecoms issues.

What Could this mean for medical science? DNA-analyzing smartphone attachment created

While efforts continue to mount-up globally in providing sustainable access to testing, drugs and treatment for cancer and other debilitating diseases that now possess great challenge to the world, especially in ‘third-world countries’ scientists have developed a DNA-analyzing smartphone attachment that is hoped to cost only 'a fraction' of a lab-based kit.

Tech Tent: Tech gets ready for Trump

Source: BBC

It's safe to say that in Silicon Valley tech companies big and small you'd struggle to find many people who owned up to voting for Donald Trump last November. But an industry which tends to have an optimistic view of the world is already adapting to a political landscape very different from the one it expected.

Google confirms end of internet drone project

Source: BBC

Google has confirmed it has closed its internet drone project Titan, three years after it bought the business.

The drones were designed to bring the internet to remote rural areas, complementing its Loon project - a similar initiative using hot air balloons.

However, the solar-powered vehicles have faced technical difficulties and funding challenges.

On Wednesday, blog 9to5 Google revealed Titan had actually shut in early 2016.

A statement from X, the Google division responsible for Titan, confirmed the news.

"Titan was brought into X in late 2015. We ended our exploration of high altitude unmanned aerial vehicles for internet access shortly after," it said.

"By comparison, at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world."

Google acquired Titan Aerospace in 2014, reportedly fending off a bid from Facebook, which has also been trialling internet-providing drones.

A Project Loon ballonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionGoogle said it was focusing on Project Loon, another project to bring the internet to remote areas using hot air balloons

At the time Google said it was "early days", but that "atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation".

However, after test flights began in 2015, reports alleged that Titan was facing technical difficulties and was running out of money.

In mid-2015, the Titan team also experienced a crash in the Arizona desert which was later linked to a wing fault.

The statement added that "many" Titan staff had been reassigned to different parts of the business, including Project Loon and Wing, a division dedicated to providing drone-based deliveries.

Facebook's internet drones have also faced problems.

The firm's Aquila drone crashed during a test flight in June, prompting an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, and an explosion destroyed one of its satellites earlier in 2016.

Raising the bar on ‘Cyber-attack’

Reports from investigation into a power cut that rocked a part of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, last December has been alleged to be a cyber-attack.

Popular Indian YouTuber in a dilemma over 'prank' kissing

While we don’t entirely have control over what runs in ‘cyber-space’ except and unless you live China, we indeed take responsibility for them. Such is the case of an Indian YouTuber Sumit Verma whom after posting a video featuring him randomly walking up to women in public places, kissing them and running way, lands himself in trouble.

'Aliens' spotted in Elite Dangerous space game

Source: BBC

After years of waiting, a player of the Elite Dangerous game seems to have encountered its mysterious aliens.

Gamer DP Sayre recorded a video of his encounter with a massive, flower-shaped organic craft late on 5 January.

Other players of the space exploration and trading game have grabbed videos of similar meetings in deep space.

The encounter ends a three-year hunt by players for signs of belligerent aliens known as Thargoids that featured in the game's earlier versions.

Hidden hints

Hints about the eventual appearance of Thargoids have been dropped regularly since the game launched in 2014. Strange objects floating in space and structures found on isolated moons and planets have revealed clues about the location of the aliens.

 

In an official statement, Elite creator Frontier Developments said: "We are currently investigating reports of unusual sightings around the Elite Dangerous galaxy, but we are otherwise unable to comment on galactic rumour and speculation."

DP Sayre's encounter took place when he was travelling between star systems using hyperspace. His ship was pulled out of hyperspace with all its instruments and weapons rendered useless. As he was drifting in space a massive organic shaped ship appeared, scanned his vessel and then jumped to hyperspace.

Attempts by Mr Sayre and others to follow the ship proved fruitless. Other Elite players who shot at the ship when they encountered it got no response.

Many of the ships that met the alien vessel appear to have been carrying "unknown artefacts" as cargo. These objects are thought to be the work of non-human species and were rarely seen during the early days of the game.

The artefacts have been appearing with more frequency in the game and analysis of what they do links them to a star system called Merope which in Elite's lore is considered to be the home of Thargoids.

Elite Dangerous is a space trading and fighting game set in a massive simulation of the Milky Way.

Is your child a cyberbully and if so, what should you do?

Source: BBC News

Parents worry about their children being bullied online, but what if it is your child who is doing the bullying?

That was the question posed by a BBC reader, following a report on how children struggle to cope online.

There is plenty of information about how to deal with cyberbullies, but far less about what to do if you find out that your own child is the source.

The BBC took advice from experts and a mother who found out her daughter had been cyberbullying her school friends.

The parent's view

Nicola JenkinsImage copyright Other
Image caption Nicola Jenkins found out that her 12-year-old daughter was posting unpleasant comments online from her teacher

Few parents would want to admit that their child was a bully but Nicola Jenkins has gone on record with her story. You can watch her tell it here.

 

"Nobody thinks that their own child is saying unkind things to other children, do they? I let them go on all the social media sites and trusted the children to use it appropriately.

"Our form tutor phoned me up during school hours one day to tell me that there'd been some messages sent between my daughter and two other friends that weren't very nice. One of the children in particular was very upset about some of the things that had been said to her.

"Her friend's mum spoke to me about it and showed me the messages that had been sent. When I approached my daughter about it, she denied that there had been anything going on. It took a while to get it out of her, but I was angry with her once I actually found out that she had been sending these messages.

"I spoke to her teacher and to the other parents, and between us we spoke to the children to let them know that they can't be saying unkind things and to just make them aware that whatever they do is recorded and can be kept. And they all did learn a lesson from it.

"I removed all the social media websites from her so she wasn't able to access them for a while and then monitored her input and what she's been saying to people.

"But it did make me feel angry and quite ashamed that my daughter could be saying things like that to her friends, but she has grown up a bit since then and she's learnt her lesson.

"You want to trust your children, but they can get themselves into situations that they can't get out of.

"And as they get older, they look at different things. I know my son looks at totally different things to what my daughter does, so it's just being aware of what they are accessing and make sure that they are happy for you to look at what they are looking at as well."

The expert view

Mother comforting daughter near laptopImage copyright Thinkstock
Image caption There is plenty of advice for parents on coping with cyberbullying but less on what to do if your child is the bully

According to not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters, one in five 13-18 year olds claim to have experienced cyberbullying but there are few statistics on how many children are bullying.

Carolyn Bunting, general manager of Internet Matters, offers the following advice:

"First, sit down with them and try to establish the facts around the incident with an open mind. As parents, we can sometimes have a blind spot when it comes to the behaviour of our own children - so try not to be on the defensive. Talk about areas that may be causing them distress or anger and leading them to express these feelings online.

"Make clear the distinction between uploading and sharing content because it's funny or might get lots of 'likes', versus the potential to cause offence or hurt. Tell them: this is serious. It's vital they understand that bullying others online is unacceptable behaviour. As well as potentially losing friends, it could get them into trouble with their school or the police.

"If your child was cyberbullying in retaliation, you should tell them that two wrongs cannot make a right and it will only encourage further bullying behaviour. Stay calm when discussing it with your child and try to talk with other adults to work through any emotions you have about the situation.

"Taking away devices can be counterproductive. It could make the situation worse and encourage them to find other ways to get online. Instead, think about restricting access and take away some privileges if they don't stop the behaviour.

"As a role model, show your child that taking responsibility for your own actions is the right thing to do. Above all, help your child learn from what has happened. Think about what you could do differently as a parent or as a family and share your learning with other parents and carers."

The social media view

Twitter logo and twitter on a mobile phoneImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Twitter's image has been tarnished by trolls

Many critics blame social media for not doing enough to deal with cyberbullying. Abuse is prolific on Twitter and it has pledged to do more, including improving tools that allow users to mute, block and report so-called trolls.

Sinead McSweeney, vice-president of public policy at Twitter, explained why the issue is close to her heart:

"As a mother of a seven-year-old boy, I've always tried to strike the right balance between promoting internet safety and encouraging the type of exploration, learning and creativity that the internet can unlock."

She offered the following advice:

"If you find that your child is participating in this type of behaviour, a good first step is to understand the nature of the type of material they're creating, who is the target, and try to ascertain their motivations.

"If the bullying is taking place on a social media platform, make sure to explain to them why the behaviour is inappropriate and harmful, and to supervise the deletion of the bullying content they have created. If it continues, it may be worth seeking additional advice from a teacher or trusted confidant."

 

CES 2017: Baidu launches digital assistant with screen

Chinese search giant Baidu has unveiled an AI digital assistant.

Xiaoyu Zaijia - or Little Fish - responds to voice commands using a combination of pictures, text and speech. Unlike many rival AIs it is dependant on a touchscreen

It can answer questions, find local services, play music, make video calls and control smart home devices.

Baidu Chief Scientist Andrew Ng said that artificial intelligence is "the new electricity".

"AI has been growing steadily - every year our AI has been 50% better," he told the BBC at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

"Those of us on the inside feel the acceleration now but we have been feeling it for the last decade.

"Just as 100 years ago the electrification of our society transformed industry after industry, I think AI tech has now reached that stage."

Little Fish's hardware has been developed by Chinese robotics firm Ainemo Inc but uses Baidu's AI operating system DuerOS. Existing digital assistants such as the Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant are not screen-dependant but can be used by voice alone. Apple's Siri, however, continues to rely on a display to provide some of its information.

Little Fish will launch initially in China in March 2017 and currently only recognises Chinese languages. Baidu has not yet set a price.

"What we have seen so far in terms of digital assistants and smart speakers is very much first generation and it has all been about voice," said Geoff Blaber, tech analyst at CCS Insight.

"I would certainly expect that over the next 12 months we will see the next iteration of assistants that do integrate a number of different ways of interacting with the device - not just video but also gesture control.

"A richer variety of interaction methods helps bridge the gap in terms of the user experience. When they first start using one, a lot of users find it a steep learning curve."

 

Are drones changing rescue operations?

In what holds the potential to revolutionize rescue operations, the Israeli company working on the project has announced that a passenger drone, which completed its first flight over low terrain last November, is expected to be in use by 2020.

Top five African inventions to look out for in 2017

An electricity grid for the whole village

Problem: A total of 1.3 billion people worldwide currently don't have electricity, according to Yale Environment 360. Getting people in rural areas on to the national grid is proving too difficult and traditional solar panels generate meagre amounts of energy.
Solution: Steamaco makes solar and battery micro-grids which can work for a whole village. They are small electricity generation and distribution systems that operate independently of larger grids.
How it works: Micro-grids are nothing new. The new part is that Steamaco's technology automates the regulation of electricity.
So, if the system detects there will be a surge in demand for electricity, for example on a Saturday night when people want to start playing music for a party, or they see a dip in supply, like when the sun has gone down and so the grid is not collecting solar energy, then the grid automatically stops electricity for people it won't affect too badly.
The system sends an automatic text to all customers on the grid saying that the electricity in houses is about to be cut off so that the hospital can keep on going.
Who is talking about this? In October they featured in the Global Cleantech 100 Ones to Watch list.

 

A jacket that detects pneumonia


Problem: Pneumonia kills 27,000 Ugandan children under the age of five every year. Most of these cases are due to pneumonia being misdiagnosed as malaria.
Solution: Ugandan engineer Brian Turyabagye has designed a biomedical "smart jacket" to quickly and accurately diagnose pneumonia. The Mamaope jacket measures a sick child's temperature and breathing rate. It can diagnose pneumonia three to four times faster than a doctor and eliminates most possibility for human error.
How it works: A modified stethoscope is put in a vest. It is linked to a mobile phone app that records the audio of the patient's chest. Analysis of that audio can detect lung crackles and can lead to preliminary diagnoses.
Who is talking about this: It is shortlisted for the 2017 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize.

 

A tablet that monitors your heart


Problem: It is difficult for people in rural areas to travel to the cities to see heart specialists. There are just 50 cardiologists in Cameroon, which has a population of 20 million people.
Solution: Arthur Zang invented the Cardio Pad - a handheld medical computer tablet which healthcare workers in rural areas use to send the results of cardiac tests to specialists via a mobile phone connection.
How it works: Cardiopads are distributed to hospitals and clinics in Cameroon free of charge, and patients pay $29 (£20) yearly subscriptions. It takes a digitised reading of the patient's heart function. In a few seconds the results of a heart test are sent to a specialist clinic in the capital.
Who is talking about this: It won the Royal Academy of Engineering award for African engineering in 2016 and the Rolex award for Entreprise in 2014. But Mr Zang told BBC Africa that these things take time to develop and it only got approval from the Cameroon authorities in October 2016.
So, it is more likely that people will actually see it in their clinics in 2017.

 

An app for hair inspiration


Problem: A lack of accurate information about how to achieve certain hairstyles and where to find a high-quality stylist.
Solution: Three software engineers - Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo - invented Tress, an app to share ideas about hairstyles.
How it works: It is described by Okay Africa as a kind of Pinterest or Instagram for hair. Once you have downloaded the app, you can follow other people who are sharing their hairstyle. You can search specifically by place, price range and the type of hairstyle your want, from relaxed hair to cornrow.


You can then scroll until your heart's content through people who have uploaded pictures of themselves with that style, tell them how much you like their style, ask how long it took, and even arrange to meet up with someone to style your hair.
Who is talking about this: The three software engineers behind this are graduates of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Accra, Ghana.
They were then selected for the Y Combinator eight-week fellowship programme for start-up companies.
Y Combinator is prestigious - business news website Fast company called it "the world's most powerful start-up incubator". In other words, the school is thought of as really good at finding the next Mark Zuckerberg.


A currency for paying online workers


Problem: There are online workers, specifically web developers, in Africa who people outside the continent would like to employ but it is difficult or prohibitively expensive to get their wages to them. Some don't have passports, and so don't have bank accounts either.
Solution: Bitpesa uses Bitcoin to significantly lower the time and cost of remittances and business payments to and from sub-Saharan Africa.
How it works: Bitpesa uses the crypto-currency bitcoin as a medium to transfer cash across borders. Bitcoin is a system of digitally created and traded tokens and people keep their tokens in online wallets.
It then takes the Bitcoin tokens and exchanges them into money in mobile money wallets - a popular way of paying for things in places like Kenya and Tanzania.
BitPesa is already used to pay online workers - a company called Tunga is using it as a way of getting wages from clients abroad to web developers in Uganda.
Who is talking about it: It won an award for the best apps across Africa in November.

Credit: BBC

Star Wars card firm Topps hit by 'unforgiveable' hack

The maker of iconic collectable trading cards has said hackers could have stolen customers' credit and debit card numbers along with their associated security codes in a recent breach.

Topps' products include Star Wars, Disney's Frozen, Top Gear and the UEFA champion league.

The New York firm told the BBC that the vulnerability had since been fixed.

But a security researcher said he had previously warned the firm about security weaknesses.

Topps declined to say how many people were affected or why the payment card numbers were at risk. In most hack attacks, companies assure users that they do not store such financial data in a form that can be exposed.

 'Unforgiveable'

In an email to customers Topps wrote that on 12 October "one or more intruders gained unauthorised access" to its systems.

"[They] may have gained access to names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, credit or debit card numbers, card expiration dates and card verification numbers for customers [who made purchases] between approximately 30 July 2016 and 12 October 2016," it added.

It is offering one year's worth of free identify theft protection to those affected.

Various customers have posted the email on social media and it is also available on the Sports Collectors Daily website.

Topps is part-owned by a fund belonging to Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of Disney.

other brands by ToppsImage copyright Torante
Image caption Other brands in Topps' portfolio.

"The really unforgivable aspect here is the loss of credit card details," said cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward from Surrey University.

"If this was an external attack, these details just should not be accessible or readable. An obvious question is, was the customers financial data encrypted?

"If not that should attract some heavy attention from the appropriate regulators."

Chris Vickery, a security researcher from Chromatech blogged in June about exposed databases of customer accounts with three of Topps' mobile apps: Bunt, Huddle, and Kick.

He wrote that it was fixed. However, he later found another database containing information about the users of all three apps, and on this occasion was unable to get a response from the firm.

"I can't in good conscience watch this data continue to leak without at least trying to get a warning out," he said at the time.

Source: BBC News

Clash of Clans mobile game 'blocked' in Iran

Iran has put limits on who can play the popular Clash of Clans mobile game.

A government committee called for restrictions citing a report from psychologists, who said it encouraged violence and tribal conflict.

The app could also negatively affect family life if teenagers got addicted to the game, warned the committee that polices cyberspace.

Statistics gathered earlier this year suggested that about 64% of mobile gamers in Iran played the game.

The decision to limit access to Clash of Clans across Iran was taken on 27 December.

 

Fan sites in Iran reported that many players began having problems accessing the title - which requires an online connection - afterwards. Some Iran-based players said local reports had suggested that an age limit would be imposed, but for now all gamers were affected.

They did, however, suggest there were ways to get round the restrictions.

In a statement, Iran's deputy attorney general Dr Abdolsamad Khoramabadi said the "vast majority" of the committee backed the call to limit who could play the app.

Iran has a history of taking action against popular video games. In August, it cut off the Pokemon Go game because of fears about the game's location-based system.

Created by Finnish firm Supercell, Clash of Clans has become a massive hit all over the world. It involves players creating villages and then using troops to protect them or to attack other players' settlements.

Earlier this year, Supercell announced that 100 million people were playing its games every day.

In July, the Chinese firm Tencent bought 84.3% of Supercell in a deal that valued the company at $10.2bn (£8.33bn).

Source: BBC