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  • TECH

    Seamless synchronicity

    Life, James Hein, Published on 11/09/2019

    » As I was walking to work thinking about this week's column, I did a quick self-inventory. I was listening to On Liberty by John Stuart Mill through my noise cancelling headphones. The audio was being sent by Bluetooth from my Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone that I was also using to play a location-based game, Ingress. This was being fed my position by satellite and receiving information from the internet via my phone's data connection. Occasionally I would pull down the notification tab to see what was on for the day and who had tried to contact me via a number of social-media services.

  • TECH

    Surprisingly, your personal data isn't safe with Facebook

    Life, James Hein, Published on 10/10/2018

    » Facebook has been in the news recently having large numbers of public profiles harvested by marketing conglomerates. Estimates from this incident alone range from 50 to 90 million users and there may be a lot more. The "more" part comes from the user search and account recovery features that may have been abused to scrape up to 2 billion or more accounts. In other words, if you are on Facebook and have any kind of public profile someone has more info on you than you might like. The feature has since been turned off but not before a lot of information went to the marketers.

  • TECH

    Entering the darkness

    Life, James Hein, Published on 03/06/2015

    » You may have heard of the terms "Dark Web" or "Deep Web", then again you may not have. First of all these two terms refer to different things. The first is a series of websites that provide illegal services, such as ordering drugs, and a range of other things typically purchased using Bitcoins. The second refers to all the unindexed sites that exist across the World Wide Web. According to some reports, Google indexes about 16% of the internet, leaving the majority of sites not findable through most search engines.

  • TECH

    Facebook stalking; hijacked smartphones

    Life, James Hein, Published on 24/06/2015

    » I am not a big social media user. I keep my profiles trim and any pictures to a minimum. I don't like Twitter at all for various reasons and I find most of the users of Tumblr focused on social engineering directions I don't agree with. All of that aside then, there is Facebook. Like many others I use Facebook to connect to people I have lost touch with, such as old high school friends whom I have no way of tracking down. In my case my Goodreads account is linked to Facebook to let people know what I am reading or have read. If you like reading and haven't tried it then take a look at www.goodreads.com. For me it also a great way to track what I have read and haven't in, say, a series I like.

  • TECH

    Computing genetic manipulation

    Life, James Hein, Published on 20/05/2015

    » What is the next big thing? Microsoft and some others would like you to believe it is all things cloudy. The problems with that are factors like communication channels between continents, security of information, the reliability of a server somewhere else versus on-site and the army of hackers trying to get into all that information just sitting there. If you have seen the intro to CSI: Cyber you will know what I mean. Another group want it to be virtual reality glasses for all, but as the Google Glass demonstrated, people walking around with even small glasses were not appreciated. At least the VR goggles will mostly be at home. This technology still has quite a way to go.

  • OPINION

    There's no such thing as free tech

    Life, James Hein, Published on 21/01/2015

    » Can hackers really ruin your day? Consider the story a friend of mine recently told me. He has been playing the game Stronghold Kingdoms for a couple of years now. Apparently, as a result of hacking, some players gained points and certain advantages and had their accounts spoofed. 

  • OPINION

    Safe surfing with a VPN

    Life, James Hein, Published on 27/08/2014

    » So how safe is your surfing? Not the water, board and shark kind, but what you do on the web. Sitting in front of your computer you will either have your own internet protocol (IP) address or be assigned one as part of a pool that is doled out by your internet service provider (ISP). Somewhere between you and the rest of the internet will be a domain name server (DNS) that knows how to get a message from out there back to you and vice versa. Or to put it another way, they know where you are.

  • TECH

    Human override here to stay

    Life, James Hein, Published on 10/04/2019

    » Computers are useful tools and they will emotionlessly churn through thousands of operations in the blink of an eye to produce whatever results they were programmed to do. Most of the time the results are welcomed. When it comes to malware the results generate a different reaction, and then there are those spaces in the middle. The situation surrounding the Boeing 737 Max MCAS aircraft and the recent crash is an excellent example. The latest analysis would seem to indicate that the computer engineers made some choices that have had unintended consequences. In this case overriding the wishes of the pilots by assuming the plane was crashing, when it wasn't, and not allowing the human pilots to correct the computer's decisions.

  • TECH

    The problem with censoring social media

    Life, James Hein, Published on 27/03/2019

    » In the aftermath of a recent violent event, there are calls to apply greater censorship to commentary on all social-media platforms. Those living in some Asian nations and elsewhere will already be used to the concept of censorship. That does not mean that others should follow this trend but instead should actively resist, as the ability to freely debate and exchange ideas was the original reason the internet was brought into being. The biggest problem with censorship is perspective. Consider two nation states with completely different cultures and perspectives. Which one and who gets to decide what is a valid opinion when the two are so different? This is the danger that now faces a number of Western nations, and apart from the US, where rights are enshrined in the Constitution, there is little protection. If you live in such a nation, let others know that freedom of speech and debate is a much better option than the alternatives.

  • TECH

    A lot of money for fairly little phone, Apple

    Life, James Hein, Published on 26/09/2018

    » So, the news of the week, or at least as I write this, is the release of the new Apple iPhone range. There are three models ranging from the 5.8 and 6.1 inch models up to the XS Max at 6.5 inches. The latter is a real departure from the early days of Apple declaring that no one needed a large-screen phone. Compared to the latest phone specs across other brands, the features in the new iPhone range are not so special. They do all have very special prices and the bottom of the line starts at US$749 (Thai prices are TBA) and goes up from there topping out at $1449, which would make the whole range easily the most expensive phones per feature on the market today. For this you get no fingerprint reader, no headphone jack, average pixel density and cameras, no expansion memory port but dual SIMs, wireless charging and face detection. Even my most ardent Apple-lover friend will not be forking out their cash for those kinds of prices. I don't expect this range to sell anywhere near as well as earlier models. Seriously, what were they thinking?

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