If you’re in any way curious about the world around you then New Scientist Live could be one of the most exciting places in the universe to be this week.
Here in London, Nicki Shields and I have been presenting the New Scientist Live live stream, running around the venue’s five zones to interview some of the biggest brains in science, and get hands-on with as many experiments as we can.
Today I’ve been in conversation with Jim Al-Khalili, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, Bobby Seagull and Dr Rangan Chatterjee – I even spoke with an impassioned Clare Balding about the grandstand role that technology is now playing in sport. Yesterday, Nicki got to sit down and chat with astronaut Tim Peake.
Whether you’re into gene editing and quantum cryptography or good old spaceships and slime, I’m pretty sure New Scientist Live has something for you.
Whether it’s fake news, fake likes or fake adverts, Facebook hasn’t been far from the top of the news agenda over the last few months.
On Monday’s Rip Off Britain: Live (BBC1, 9.15am) I addressed the fake Facebook adverts issue which has recently seen money-saving expert Martin Lewis sue the social network for damages after his face appeared in fake adverts for scam financial products.
The fake Facebook adverts I see generally fall into three main categories:
Fake Celebrity Endorsements
Advertisers have long worked with trusted names to grow reach and sales – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, as Martin Lewis and others have found, it’s a doddle for rogue advertisers to mock up fake celebrity endorsements, fake news reports – even entire fake websites – in an attempt to ensnare unwitting readers into their sales funnel.
MY ADVICE: Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face, or appears to be a news story from a reputable news site, do your own research first.
I’ve been filming some items for Channel 4 prime-time consumer programme, Supershoppers. In tonight’s show, I’m investigating broadband and Wi-Fi speeds.
Is the internet speed you pay for the speed you actually get throughout your home? There are lots of reasons why that may not be the case, one of which is how well your broadband router performs.
The majority of us make do with the router provided by our internet service provider when we sign up. While that’s often the easiest way to get up and running, that bundled hardware may not always provide the best internet experience around the house.
So, we’re testing the kit shipped by the some of UK’s top internet service providers – as well as some after-market options – to see which router works the hardest to send Wi-Fi around your home.
In the show we test:
- BT Smart Hub
- Sky Q Hub
- Virgin Media Hub 3.o
- TP-Link TL-W940N
- Linksys WRT1900ACS
Watch Supershoppers on Thursday 14 June 2018 at 8pm or catch up on All 4.
Rip Off Britain is back with a new series on BBC1 this week.
In one of this season’s films, I talk about how internet-connected doorbells are now being used help to catch crooks.
Think of a connected doorbell as a video intercom – similar to those already popular in flats and offices – that connects your front door to your phone. Not only do they provide peace of mind when your doorbell – or perhaps that of an elderly relative – rings, these smart devices can also record video of who is at the door. Needless to say, they have already been used to help identify criminals.
In another item for the show this series, I take Julia Somerville to a Bitcoin cashpoint to explain what cryptocurrency is and how it works – and how some viewers may have lost substantial sums of more traditional cash to so-called Bitcoin scammers.
This year for the show we’ve also been making some quick advice films for Facebook – here’s me talking about why some viewers’ second-hand smartphone have suddenly stopped working days or weeks after they’ve bought them:
Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1 at 9.15am from Monday 13th June 2018, available on catch-up on BBC iPlayer.
London Tech Week is the UK capital’s annual celebration of technology and innovation.
Once again, I’m hosting the online broadcasts for LTW’s flagship event, TechXLR8, live every day from 9am until 6pm.
We’ll be interviewing tech industry movers and shakers from around the world to learn how 5G, AI, blockchain – even space tech – will converge to have a profound impact on business and society in the next two to three years.
I’ll be speaking with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock; with leaders from Oracle, Microsoft and Nokia, also with the only VC investing solely in space tech, Seraphim Capital.
London Tech Week is also a great platform for start-ups, and we’ll be covering as many as we can, including the Project Kairos start-up pitch-off competition at TechXLR8 on Thursday.
I was back in the BBC Watchdog studio last night for an item on how Nectar card fraud has been leaving some viewers with a decidedly sour taste in their mouths.
Reports of fraudsters targeting the Nectar loyalty scheme aren’t new, but a recent spate of activity has brought it back to the top of the Watchdog mailbag.
Nectar began rewarding shoppers in 2002, and now around 20 million members collect and spend points at a variety of high-street and online retailers. In February this year, Nectar was bought by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which now also owns catalogue chain Argos.
In the fraud, Nectar points are redeemed – often in high street stores – to buy goods. The first victims know is when they try to spend their Nectar balance and find instead that their account is empty. So prolific are the fraudsters that, in some cases, victims have even found they‘be been left with a negative balance.
There are some patterns to the fraud:
- Victims are adamant that their physical Nectar card – which is required to redeem points for goods in store – hasn’t been stolen, mislaid or even in the same town as where the points were redeemed
- Argos appears to be a hot-spot for fraudsters redeeming Nectar points
How does Nectar card fraud work?
That is the million Nectar point question. On the surface, this is very straightforward:
Click to read on
This week I’m at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona reporting for Mobile World Live TV.
Mobile World Congress is where the mobile industry meets. Each spring, over 100,000 visitors swarm into Barcelona to get a first look at the technologies that will feature in our pockets, homes, offices, cars and cities in the coming months.
Mobile World Live TV is the official broadcast channel of MWC, playing on over 100 screens around the Fira, live on the web and to tens of thousands of hotel rooms across the city.
Each day I’ll be hunting down the best start-up stories from in and around 4YFN at Mobile World Congress for my very own 60-minute show on the channel.
What is 4YFN?
Connecting start-ups from around the world, 4 Years From Now is where the firms and technologies we expect to see maturing in, let’s say, 4 Years From Now showcase themselves, speak to investors and network with others who can help take them to the next stage.
4YFN is 20,000 visitors, 650 start-ups, 110 hours of keynotes, workshops and panels discussing how technologies such as 5G, AI, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and Blockchain will continue to permeate our lives in the next 4 years from now.
The first episode of the show broadcasts on Tuesday 27th February at 15.00 CET with repeats each evening at 21.00 CET. Watch live – and on-demand after MWC – on Mobile World Live TV site.
In this week’s Metro, I explore feature film motion capture technology and hear how performance capture artistes are being short-changed on acting accolades.
New Zealand-based Weta Digital is one of the world’s leading VFX and performance capture studios. I interviewed Dan Lemmon, visual effects supervisor on Oscar-nominated War for the Planet of the Apes.
I also spoke with Johl Garling, head of studio at Imaginarium Studios, a dedicated motion and performance capture studio co-founded by Andy Serkis in 2011.
In chatting with Dan and Johl, I realised a distinction – that had escaped me for now – between motion capture and performance capture:
‘Motion capture’ has become ‘performance capture’, a deserved nod to how the myriad cameras, sensors and polystyrene balls now combine to record subtlest nuances of an actor’s delivery
Performance capture a fascinating subject. While I couldn’t cover everything in the feature, there is one story I‘m keen to tell that we didn’t have space for in print:
The head-cam is another important part of believable performance capture. ‘Essentially, these are little video cameras attached to the actor’s head pointing at their face,’ explains Dan Lemmon, VFX supervisor at Weta Digital. ‘We add white markers to the face so we can track how each patch of skin moves, then transform those movements into curves and map them onto a digital puppet.’
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Andy Serkis wore four head-cams to capture the necessary detail to animate Snoke, the Supreme Leader. The challenge in the Planet of the Apes films is that Caesar’s face is so dissimilar to that of Serkis. ‘The nose, muzzle and brow are anatomically completely different,’ says Lemmon. ‘We have to figure out how to make certain facial expressions while respecting the realism of the ape’s anatomy. It requires a carefully trained human eye to make sure it looks right.’
Read more in the Metro e-edition here and take a look at my other visual effects stories in the Metro here