One way to liven up your running/ cycling during lockdown (beware, it’s addictive)

I really enjoy running but keeping all my running so localised during lockdown can be monotonous.

Here’s one answer: run every street, or as the founder called it, every single street.

The aim is simple – try and run all the streets in your local area, town or city. Instead of running you could skateboard or cycle the routes, or even walk them (but that would take a very long time). Continue reading One way to liven up your running/ cycling during lockdown (beware, it’s addictive)

Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a recent transaction?

Last week my wife told me she’d received this message from our bank:

Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a transaction?

Mrs H then replied with ‘N’, following the instructions.

A few minutes’ later her phone rang, and we put it on loudspeaker on my desk. Continue reading Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a recent transaction?

Would you click on phishing emails like these?

Google Unsafe websites detected per week April 2020
The number of unsafe websites detected per week has increased sharply. Source: Google

There has been an increase in scam/ phishing emails recently. And the biggest challenge is that they are looking increasingly genuine.

Someone in my immediately family clicked on one of the text messages, and we ended up having to change our debit cards.

Here are some that I’ve received in the last couple of weeks.

Stay alert for the following signs.

Creating an emotional reaction

This is the hardest to avoid. When I received the Thrifty phishing email below my immediate response was “I can’t believe I have to pay an overage for a car I rented last Summer“. I was almost tempted. The O2 text message below managed to convince my close family member because we were on holiday at the time and they thought “I don’t want my mobile to be disconnected while I’m away“. These emotional reactions cause us to stop thinking and start clicking.

Here’s how phishing emails create that emotional reaction.

Urgency

Very few companies need an immediate payment. The phrases “Don’t miss out!” and “valid until...” create urgency, which creates the emotional reaction in the point above.

Too good to be true

As always, if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t. This too, creates an emotional reaction for you to stop thinking and start clicking on those phishing emails.

Links in phishing emails

Banks and government agencies usually make a point of not including any links in their email and directing people to their official website. They recommend opening a web browser and making you typing in their web address, not clicking on a link. In the scams below:

  • The Thrifty email links go to a website that is clearly not Thrifty’s
  • The O2 text message is a NOT an O2 website, it is a subdomain made to look like the real O2 site.
  • The Argos link is a shortened bit.ly address.

Always be super, super careful about checking links because there are ways for companies to make a link look genuine to the naked eye.

Please be careful out there!

Recent examples of phishing emails

Phishing email example from Thrifty car rental
A fake Thrifty car rental email. Beware!!

 

Phishing email example from O2 billing
Fake O2 billing text message. Beware!

 

 

Phishing email example from Argos
A fake Argos text message – don’t click on it. Beware!

Life in December 2021

Amazon movers and shakers April 2020
Home video camera sales have increased over 18,500% this month. Why?? And what will happen in December 2021?

Every year I write an article to predict technology changes in the coming year. The article is one of the most read pages of this blog.

Thanks to Jonathan who came up with an idea to write an updated version due to the Coronavirus situation.

When thinking about and writing these types of articles, there are two easy traps:

  1. We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”. Well said Bill Gates.
  2. When thinking of the future, we base it on history. No one (except Bill Gates again) would have factored in Coronavirus when planning 2020. Richard Watson, a futurist author who I’ve mentioned several times on this site, calls these unthinkable unknowns “critical uncertainties”. In February 2020 we thought 2020 would be a great year, with a great economy and record UK employment. In April 2020 it’s easy to fall into the trap of 2020 & 21 being REALLY bad years.

So here goes…

Bob. In December 2021.

Bob’s alarm clock woke him up for work.

“Good morning Bob, it’s Friday 10th December 2021 and this is your morning briefing”.

This new, 5am alarm was still taking some getting used to.

“Here’s your appointments for today” his alarm continued.

“OK Google…” He said loudly, trying to not to wake up his wife. “…shut up.” Continue reading Life in December 2021

Recovering from Coronavirus

I am recovering from Coronavirus, and it’s horrible.

I’ve written this article because when I started feeling better, I struggled to find out how other people were coping and recovering from it. Some background – I am male, 46 years old, usually very active (more than 200 minutes a week of intensive exercise), BMI of 25, no underlying medical conditions.

Friday

Coronavirus consultation over video call
Speaking to the NHS 111 consultant on day three.

My first symptoms were on Friday 3rd April. Until then I had been working from home and exercising at least once a day on Zwift or going for a run outside.

That Friday I worked in the morning and felt fine. At lunchtime I made a sandwich. I felt tired so I brought my sandwich into the living room. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before – I always eat at my desk or in the kitchen. But I just wanted to lie down. My wife suggested I go upstairs so I let some colleagues know that I was feeling tired and went to bed.

I woke up the next morning feeling exhausted. My eyes hurt when I moved them, and although I was drinking water, I didn’t want anything to eat. I ended up not eating anything for about 48 hours. During that time, I simply lay in bed sleeping.

Continue reading Recovering from Coronavirus

Facebook collected data about me from 612 companies including my bank

Off-Facebook data collection
This is where you can see all the data Facebook has collected about you from other companies

Facebook has launched a tool to let users see what data is collected by other organisations, and then shared with Facebook. I used it earlier this week, and it was jaw dropping.

To set the scene, I don’t have a problem with the Internet giants using my data. They provide amazing services in return for me sharing data with them. For example, I can search almost the whole of the Internet on Google, and chat, share images and status updates with anyone on Facebook apps (including Instagram and WhatsApp). Google and Facebook, among several other companies, don’t charge any more than me sharing data with them. I can accept that. It felt like a great deal for both of us.

The Facebook tool lists all the providers of information (aka business and organisations) that collect data about an individual, and then share it with Facebook. Facebook then categorises the data, which ranges from difficult to understand to super-clear. Continue reading Facebook collected data about me from 612 companies including my bank

The future of air travel

I really enjoyed listening to the podcast below from McKinsey on the future of air travel.

There’s a balance in the airline industry between sustainability, profit and convenience.

There’s always a tension between safety and future technology. We have so much data about current materials and designs to help keep safety records extremely low. Should aircraft manufacturers design an entirely new, super efficient aircraft design but the safety data is less mature?

Will the future of air travel be electric (unlikely) or pilot-less (more likely)?

The two McKinsey partners on the podcast provide insight from their previous careers as airline pilots, and now advising airlines.

There are some good “Tips from pilots” at the end (at about 28 minutes), where they describe jet lag, packing less, whether to get a window or aisle seat, and eating on board (or not).

Packing lightly reduces your carbon footprint. Every kilogram removed from personal luggage reduces the aircraft’s carbon footprint.

Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

Trend #7 in my 2020 technology trends, “Apple accepts payments” has come true, enabling small businesses take contactless payments without the need to buy additional hardware or dongles.

The new Samsung XCover-Pro, which comes with MPOS functionality as standard

The product comes from Samsung rather than Apple. Apple is rarely a first mover, so in hindsight I should have called the trend “Samsung accepts payments“.

Among several new features, Galaxy XCover Pro will also have Samsung POS, a mobile-based point of sale (MPOS) solution that has been approved by Visa’s Tap to Phone pilot program.

Continue reading Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Here are my technology predictions for 2020. I try to predict technology trends that are outside the mainstream, and with high expectations. It seems to get harder every year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2019 and work backwards. Hopefully my technology predictions for 2020 will fare a little better!

1. Alerts from voice assistants

Alexa prank to set an alarm at 3am
Alexa practical jokes were invented in 2015

If 2018 was the year of mass adoption of Alexa and Google Home devices, 2019 was the year of releasing a lot more skills. At the end of 2019, the Google Home device in our kitchen started answers requests with more suggestions of other skills. Cross-selling perhaps.

But this is nothing compared to where these devices are heading. I predict that by the end of 2020 these devices will be making proactive recommendations to us.

“Rain is due today, take an umbrella.”

“You still have 30 unread emails, why not deal with some of them?”

“You ordered XYZ from Amazon recently, and it’s due to arrive today”.

2. Wearables beyond your wrist

In 2020 we’ll see many more wearable devices.

In 2019, several devices for pets became available, from activity trackers to GPS trackers to smart collars.

Next year we’ll start seeing many more devices, such as spectacles from Vue or ByNorth (my favourites). With the announcement of the iPhone 12, we’ll probably hear Apple launch a new type of wearable beyond the Apple Watch.

And remember the $2.1 billion Google acquisition of Fitbit? Expect to see a new type of wearable from Fitbit in 2020. Continue reading 2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Review of my 2019 predictions

Time to look back on the 2019 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Galaxy Fold
The Samsung Galaxy Fold. The only commercial folding screen currently available.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was released in the first half of 2019 and is currently (at the end of December) available for sale. For the SIM-free (unlocked) version, it’s only £2,110 including VAT.

For context, the iPhone 11 (64Gb) is currently available for £729 on the same website.

Despite its name, the Motorola Razr 2019 is due for release in Q1 2020.

As for rollable, LG have shown prototypes, but there’s nothing for consumer sale quite yet.

Verdict – 5/10. We only have one folding screen available for sale at the end of 2019, and it costs much more than my Microsoft Surface Pro.

2. Citizen Data Science

I predicted that we’ll find data applications that won’t require a degree in data science to make sense of all their data. Nothing obvious is available yet, although I find Google Maps is becoming ever more personalised with its routing and recommendations. Continue reading Review of my 2019 predictions