The BBC Rip Off Britain Pop Up Shop opened its doors at the Dudley Merry Hill shopping centre in June and once again I was behind the counter serving up healthy slices of consumer advice on all things technology and telecoms.
Roaming or using your mobile phone abroad was a recurring theme this year as was dealing with nuisance phone calls – in fact I’ve been investigating nuisance call blocker technology for another of this season’s episodes. Among the other items I’ve shot for this series include a film on safe online shopping and another uncovering the ingenuity of online advertising.
This year in Dudley also I ran two public workshops for the show: one on everyday mobile security and safety, revealing how public Wi-Fi hotspots might not be as safe as they seem, and another on how a lock screen passcode still isn’t enough to stop you getting stung if your smartphone gets lost or stolen.
The new series of Rip Off Britain airs on BBC One in September 2014 – I’ll update here as dates/times are confirmed.
Here’s what we know about Heartbleed (as of today – it’s a developing story) plus some pointers about what you need to do to protect yourself:
What is the Heartbleed Bug? The Heartbleed Bug (or CVE-2014-0160 to give it its official name) is a vulnerability in OpenSSL, the fundamental bit of code used by as many as 500,000 websites to encrypt the data we send online. The upshot is that sensitive data such as our usernames, passwords and credit card details could potentially have been exposed to hackers. It doesn’t matter what device you’re using to connect to the web – a laptop, Mac, Windows, iPhone or Android – the vulnerability is on the web server that you’re connecting to.
Is it serious? Heartbleed is a serious enough vulnerability that it’s forced website owners all over the world to update, to patch their web servers. And we’re talking about the big players, like Yahoo and its services such as Flickr and Tumblr; some banks and even the FBI’s website are impacted too, an estimated half a million sites in total. Some sites such as Google and Facebook managed to patch their services early on or before the vulnerability was made public, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t vulnerable beforehand. And it’s not just websites that use OpenSSL, it’s email and instant messaging services too.
Who has exploited it? Concerningly, even though the Heartbleed Bug has only just been made public (by researchers at Google and Codenomicon) this vulnerability has been around for a couple of years. Perhaps nobody knew it was there until the last week. Perhaps (and this is speculation) some people did know but, having free access to privileged and sensitive data, chose to keep quiet about it. As it’s difficult to trace if and when the vulnerability has been exploited, we may never know.
What can we do? Some of the knee-jerk advice online has been ‘don’t go to work until you’ve changed all of your passwords’, but that might actually put you at more risk until the affected servers get patched with the fixed version of the OpenSSL code. Good advice is to check whether your service was impacted by the bug - this link on Mashable is pretty comprehensive - and as per the advice change your password only when safe to do so. Whatever you don, don’t use the same password for multiple accounts – consider using a secure password manager to keep track of them all. And, as always, keep a close eye on your bank statements for suspicious transactions.
At the Gadget Show Live 2014 I will be hosting the British Invention of the Year event at the Innovation Theatre, an all-new feature for this year showcasing innovation, invention and the entrepreneur.
On Tuesday 8th April – press day at the Gadget Show Live – I’m hosting the awards event where the GSL British Invention of the Year will be announced.
From Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th of April I’ll then be presenting two different live shows throughout the Gadget Show Live public days:
The British Inventors’ Project celebrates the UK innovation and startup scene. Having an idea is one thing – a very special thing – but having the meat to go to market with it and convince others to buy in to it is quite something else. Welcome to the world of the inventor. Featuring interviews with inventors and demonstrations of products ranging from wholly indispensable to the slightly strange, this show is a celebration of the very best of British invention.
The Future Tech Project is your chance to see the future before it hits the shelves! Live on the Innovation Theatre stage we’ll be getting a glimpse at the technology that will make a difference to the way we live our lives, showcasing everything from affordable 3D food printers to solar-powered racing cars.
The Innovation Theatre, in partnership with Wired, runs from 9th to 13th April 2014 in Hall 6 of the Gadget Show Live at the NEC Birmingham. Click here to find out more and book tickets for the Gadget Show Live.
Written by David McClelland for O2 Guru Technology Blog, find the original post here.
Mobile World Congress 2014 has been abuzz with talk of the $25 Firefox Phone, but just what is it and who will want one?
Many will know Mozilla Firefox as a popular and powerful open-source web browser for PC, Mac and Android smartphones.
With more of what we do every day taking place through the web — email, word processing and even gaming — it stands to reason that a web browser on its own might make a solid platform for an operating system. Just ask Google, whose Chromebook laptops run nothing more than the Google Chrome web browser yet accounted for 2 of the 3 best selling laptops at Amazon last Christmas and 20% of all notebooks sold in the US last year.
Firefox OS then is a fully-featured free operating system for mobile phones, tablets and even televisions complete with its own app store.
At Mobile World Congress this year there were several announcements from Mozilla, the not-for-profit organisation which develops Firefox, including availability of 7 new handsets running the Firefox OS.
At the moment the operating system is predominantly used in smartphones destined for developing markets such as India and Africa, seen as a potential upgrade path from the less-functional ‘feature phones’. Aside from the commercial lure for handset manufacturers to expand their business into countries not already saturated by smartphones, affordable devices such as those running Firefox OS can be enablers for individuals, providing easier access to online resources such as banking, learning and retail.
Among the new handsets announced this week is the ZTE Open II. A budget smartphone running the latest version 1.3 of Firefox OS it sports a 3.5-inch display, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 2 megapixel camera and 256 MB of storage. Paltry specifications in comparison even to low end smartphones in maturer markets but, at the right price, it’s an affordable and attractive upgrade from a candy bar feature phone in many countries.
The so-called $25 Firefox Phone unveiled this week is another developing market device, although it won’t be available quite yet. Mozilla has, in collaboration with a mobile chipset supplier Spreadtrum, shown a prototype handset which it claims manufacturers will be able to build and retail for as little as $25. That’s right, just £15 for a smartphone.
Again, the specifications aren’t great — on your 15 quid phone you won’t even be able to download data over 3G networks, but as a relative experience it’s significantly better than the handsets they’re set to replace.
While it’s unlikely we’ll see a £15 Firefox Phone making a splash in the UK any time soon, other handsets running Firefox OS have been a hit closer to home, particularly in some Eastern European countries. And thanks to a partnership with Mozilla, Firefox OS is now set to power a new range of smart TVs from Panasonic Corporation — if only they could cost as little as £15… ^DM
First published 27th February 2014 on the O2 Guru Technology Blog. Articles, features and reviews are reproduced on this site by prior arrangement as samples of my work and remain the property of their respective publishers.
For the last two series of BBC One’s Consumer Affairs show Rip Off Britain I’ve appeared as the Telecoms and Technology Expert primarily offering hints and advice to the millions of mobile phone users in the UK.
This week sees the second season of its successful spin-off show, Rip Off Britain: Holidays, and once again I’m delighted to be on hand to help.
With Britain in the grip of one of the wettest and windiest winters in a generation our thoughts naturally turn to an escape abroad to warmer and sunnier climes.
However, in an increasingly connected society, among the challenges of travelling abroad is how safely to use your mobile phone without getting a nasty surprise from an unexpectedly large bill upon your return home – so-called ‘bill shock’.
This is just a short iPlayer excerpt from a longer item, to see the full shows visit the Rip Off Britain website.
The BBC has also published a downloadable guide featuring my handy hints for taking your mobile abroad which you can download here.
Rip Off Britain: Holidays broadcasts on BBC One at 11am each day from Monday 6th to Friday 10th January 2014, repeated the following weekday on BBC Two at 7am.
With head mounted displays such as Google Glass augmenting spectators’ viewing experiences off the field, and sportsmen and women on the field sporting connected shoes, belts and even gumshields, wearable technology is at the very heart of this sporting revolution.
Fast Forward from O2 Guru TV explores future technology and trends; in previous episodes I’ve been hands on with Oculus Rift for a Next Generation Gaming Special, visited the world’s largest 3D printer store for Future of 3D Special and visited the future at the Future Technology Zone at The Gadget Show Live.
To keep up to date with the latest technology news and features subscribe to O2 Guru TV.
*** LATEST NEWS *** I am joining the presenting team full-time for the all-new Planet of the Apps from summer 2014. Full update to follow.
Planet of the Apps is the top show on television for mobile apps and technology, and I’ve been a regular guest throughout this series.
Hosted by Adam Savage and produced by Ginx TV, Planet of the Apps airs on Challenge (Freeview channel 46) every Sunday at 10am. On Sunday 29th December I’ll be joining Adam on the sofa once again to review all that’s been good and great in tech during 2013.
This season I’ve appeared talking about how the Internet of Things will change our world, flying the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 quadricopter around Wormwood Scrubs and showing off what a professional smartphone filmmaking rig looks like:
Tune in to Planet of the Apps on Challenge on Sunday 29th December at 10am, or watch the repeat at 1am.
Nikki Dean is familiar to many as host of Strictly Come Dancing for BBC online or as regular gadget girl on Something for the Weekend.
However, it was in her alter-ego as a Brand Detective that I caught up with her last month at the Gadget Show Live London at Earl’s Court.
The Brand Detective is a leading gadgets and technology blog run by Nikki and her fellow detective Kelly Allen.
Keep up with The Brand Detectives’ latest antics over at www.thebranddetective.com.