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Inside Telecoms Top 10 Tech Christmas Gifts

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Top 10 Gifts

If you’re stuck for inspirational gift ideas this Christmas, take a look at our Top 10 Tech gifts. From self-lacing trainers to pygmy Polaroid’s, this collection of geek-friendly must-haves has something for every member of the family

Polaroid Mint 2-In-1

Just when you think tech is too advanced for Polaroid, they pull this nifty device out of the bag. The Polaroid Mint 2-in1 camera with printer is as good as any smartphone picture but with the added sentiment of a physical memento. It’s a great accessory for any Christmas party and one of our favourite gift ideas.

The Barisieur Coffee & Tea Alarm Clock

If you hate mornings and you love coffee then this dream machine is for you!!! The Barisieur Coffee and Tea Alarm clock is a Barista in its own right and makes your morning complete with coffee from freshly ground beans or tea from loose leaves. A super classy and efficient way to enjoy your morning cuppa without having to run out the door with a sachet of instant.

Oculus Quest

Last week we wrote an article on the Internet of Senses…… and so here it begins ;). The Oculus quest is a completely wireless virtual reality headset and requires no connection to a PC to work. Just don the device like you’re Robocop and enter a new reality with some of the best VR games available. 

Dyson Lightcycle

After scrapping their electric car earlier this year, Dyson have gone back to doing what they do best…… the small, the simple and the genius. The Dyson Lightcycle is a really rather class lamp that adapts both its colour and temperature depending on what time of day it is. Perfect for your office at home this winter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Supreme/BLU Burner Phone

This Supreme/BLU Burner phone takes us back to the old days when our batteries would last forever. Perfect for any festival – it’s an ingenious mix of retro with a modern twist.

Nike HyperAdapt Trainers

A little extra than your usual pair of Nike kicks, does what it says on the tin.

Cowboy electric bike

This electric bike is designed for any desert dreamer and can manage the most furious of terrains. It’s contains a removable and rechargeable battery, providing up to 43.5 miles of assisted cycling and a top speed of almost 16mph. The cowboy electric bike has the ability to adjust to inclines and is also wonderful for inner-city cyclists with its built-in GPS tracking and app-controlled lock.

Fujifilm X-T3

We think this is one of the best mirrorless cameras. The Fujifilm X-T3 has all the features needed to take perfect picture and then some. It excels at 4K video, is extremely fast and has a near-peerless electronic viewfinder. Definitely the better alternative to a smartphone camera in 2020.

Nintendo Switch Lite

This is the switch but not as you know it (basically, it doesn’t connect to the TV). This handheld console has the same storied lineage as the Nintendo GameBoy and DS. It’s also lighter in price and comes at almost $120 less than the standard switch. It’s also a little bit more durable and responds well to those stressful blue shell moments in Mario Kart.

Top 10 Tech Gifts

Amazon Kindle Oasis (Second Gen)

Otherwise dubbed the fancy Kindle. This latest model also as an adjustable warm light than makes it easier on your eyes.

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Confidence levels among tech startups have been shaken amid health crisis

Inside Telecom Staff

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Confidence levels among tech start-ups have been shaken amid health crisis

The pandemic has impacted industries across the world –with figures showing that almost 40 million people have lost their jobs since the health crisis. It therefore comes as no surprise that business confidence has been shaken. Many aspiring companies set out with a promising vision for a future – that did not include the pandemic.

The sharp drop in confidence levels has undoubtedly been caused by the prevailing and unprecedented impact of Covid-19. Studies have shown that many startups are worried about surviving the pandemic – as many reported having no contingency plans in place. A ‘plan B’ always comes highly recommended in case a company’s initial launch does not meet expected sales figures. Should a primary target not be met, a viable alternative must help diversify channels to help mitigate the impact of potential loss. The formal documenting of policies and procedure for startups, might seem cumbersome but there is a lot to gain from a careful, methodological approach; such information can be of great value when you are in need of clear guidelines to help you in a moment of crisis.

Despite the sharp decline in confidence levels, experts believe that tech startups are the most likely businesses to bounce back from the crisis. Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said that while coronavirus is the biggest challenge faced by businesses today, startups are well positioned to overcome adversity of this scale. “They are nimble, agile and able to respond to the challenges that arise on a day-by-day basis,” he said. “What’s more, demand for technology is higher than ever – consumers and businesses need innovative solutions to the problems they are currently facing. So, there are opportunities for those who can pivot and keep pushing forward.” In fact, many businesses in e-commerce, digital payments, e-learning and med tech have seen positive impact amid the health crisis. But travel and tourism platforms have not been so lucky.

With revenues hard hit in these few months, many small business owners have experienced significant cash flow difficulties. While adaptability is a key characteristic of smaller companies, dried up resources and funding may disrupt plans to move forward post-pandemic. Law360 reports, that “regardless of sector, the inability to generate adequate cash flow jeopardizes the ability to meet obligations to lender, creditors and investors.”

While the pandemic has shaken confidence, reports show that the vast majority of tech startups will plan to hire more staff and hope to raise further investment this year. Businesses need to explore new markets if they are to survive more permanent changes caused by Covid-19. The shift in consumer behavior may even bring about new opportunities for those who started out with an entirely different vision. But, strategies must align with and not fight, new, emerging trends.

 

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A law issued in 1789 may put your iPhone at risk

Ranine Awwad

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A law issued in 1789 may put your iPhone at risk

“We have even put that data out of our own reach- because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business,” said Apple in a statement released in 2016. The company, that has been refusing orders from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to unlock devices seems to be in a pickle.

In 2019, the FBI started investigating the case of Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a military trainee who killed three US sailors and wounded several others in a terror attack on a military base in Pensacola, Florida. Back then, Apple refused to break into his iPhone and claimed that the company provided every piece of information available to it, including iCloud backup, account information, and transactional data for multiple accounts.

On May 18, 2020, Attorney General William Barr and FBI director Christopher Wray had a press conference after they successfully broke into the iPhone – with no thanks to Apple according to Barr. FBI finds out that the gunman ties with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) began in 2015. Barr said that Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security. “We are confident that technology companies are capable of building secure products that protect user information and at the same time, allow for law enforcement access when permitted by a judge,” he said. On the same day, Apple issued a statement saying that “There is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys, the American people do not have to choose between weakening encryption and effective investigations.”

In May 2020, Digital Trends requested a comment from Apple on the incidence as to whether this would force the company to rethink its encryption, or whether the average iPhone user should be concerned. But there was no response from the company.

In 2016, the FBI was investigating the case of Syed Rizwan Farook, the gunman of the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting. Farook is killed and the FBI has a warrant to access information on his phone but they can’t ask him for this unique decryption key and Apple doesn’t have it either. In March 2016, the FBI was able to crack his iPhone 5C running Apple’s iOS 9 mobile operating system.

There was no other way for the FBI to unlock the iPhone but to guess the code. However, Apple designed a security system that can wipe a phone’s data following too many incorrect guesses. The FBI asked Apple to write a workaround that turns this feature off. Apple refused. But the FBI found a way to hack the iPhone. “Apple has attempted to design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data which has been found by this Court to be warranted for an important investigation,” the US attorneys said.

Federal officials refused to identify the person/organization that helped them crack the phone. This came as no surprise. According to The New York Times, Stewart A. Baker, a lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security’s first assistant secretary for the  police said: “The method used is proprietary to the company that helped the FBI so it’s possible that the government won’t reveal the method that allowed them to crack the iPhone”.

Apple engineers have also begun developing new security measures that will make it impossible for the government to open an iPhone. Experts said that the government might have used different methods in order to unlock the iPhone. One of these methods is removing a chip and fooling it. This mechanism blocks password guessing, in order to find the user’s password and unlock the data. Another mechanism used by the government might be the NAND chip. This method could allow the FBI to replace the original NAND chip by another one that has a copy of the content. This procedure mirror’s the phone storage chip and copies it onto another chip.

What is really interesting is that a new iPhone has upgraded a chip known as the A7 with Secure Enclave, a security processor that has a unique numerical key which is essential to the security of information stored on the phone. This numerical key is not known to the company. Thus, new iPhones may be less susceptible to NAND-mirroring. But how was the FBI able to unlock Alshamarani’s iPhone?

In fact, the Silicon Valley company was ordered by a federal magistrate judge in California to help unlock the smartphone. Timothy D. Cook, Apple chief-executive opposed to the order via a public letter he published on February 16, 2016. “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers,” he said.

Cook avowed that this order has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. “The US government is asking us to create a new version of IOS that bypasses security,” he said. This software does not exist today and if so, it would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The US government suggested that this tool can be used on one iPhone. But according to Cook, once created, this technique can be used to crack other iPhones.

What is more important, privacy or security? This is the FBI-Apple debate that would define the future of digital privacy.

In fact, the US government invoked the All Writs Act (AWA) signed by President Georges Washington in 1789. Courts have tended to use this law when there are extraordinary circumstances- which applies to cases such as Farook and Alshamrani. Under this law, federal judges have the power to issue orders to compel people to do things within the limits of the law.

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) already limits the ability of law enforcement agents to dictate design and software configurations. According to the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, CALEA applies to the manufacturer- Apple is the case- and providers of telecommunications services.  According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, CALEA permits the strongest encryption deployed by a manufacturer under the section 1002 (b) (3): “A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer- unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication”. In fact, this act limits court orders written under the AWA.

Neil Richards, professor of law and a privacy law expert at Washington University in St. Louis pointed out that intermediaries’- Apple for example- decisions on our behalf directly affect our civil liberties, including our right to privacy. “Law enforcement demands would be unconstitutional in the physical world and few companies are courageously standing up for the rights of their users,” he said for “The Source”.

It’s completely understandable that the FBI is seeking criminals to Justice. But this might put the user’s privacy at risk. In fact, privacy is secured under the International Human Rights law as well as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Undoubtedly, the Apple and FBI dispute is opening a new debate on digital rights.

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Video Gaming Addiction – Will The Pandemic Cause A Rise In numbers?

Inside Telecom Staff

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Video Gaming Addiction - Will The Pandemic Cause A Rise In numbers

Most of us are familiar with the more conventional forms of addiction – alcohol, substance abuse, gambling. But in the recent years a new type of addiction has been making headlines – gaming addiction, which has been recognized and acknowledged in the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

What is gaming addiction? Gaming addiction is a compulsive or uncontrolled use of video games, in a way that disrupts other areas of a person’s daily life. Video games include computer games, console games, arcade machine games, and even ones on your smartphone. Games can also be found on social networking sites, which makes it all the more convenient for any child to participate.

The stereotypical scene: Parent hovers over child pleading with them to stop playing computer games and get on with homework, dinner or house chores.

Undoubtedly, people are concerned about the long-term effects of video game playing, particularly in children. It can even contribute to disruptive social behavior and sabotage productivity levels. Some researchers have argued that kids who play violent video games may end up showing signs of aggressive behavior over time.

Video games were first available in the form of commercial arcades in the early 1970s. Since then, it has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Adults with gaming addiction are believed to be similar to other problem gamblers, who are experiencing a number of pressures including isolation, stress and unemployment. These compounding factors perpetuate a very negative cycle of addiction which disrupts the inclination to increase productivity levels.

Many experts have expressed concern that the lockdown period may present challenges – as those who are prone to gaming habits might be more vulnerable to addiction. According to Keith Whyte, executive director at the National Council on Problem Gambling, “Every risk factor for gambling addition is spiking right now, and the same is true for internet and gaming addiction,” he says. “There could be a wave of addiction, quite a big wave.”

According to reports, since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, there have been more calls to gambling and gaming support centers. Because of the social restrictions put in place as a result of the pandemic, many gaming software companies released free games as a way of keeping people entertained and connected. While entertainment has been a fundamental part of our happy home life, it may have triggered more compulsive habits in some. However, not everyone who plays has a problem with gaming. Some experts say that it’s harmful to label people who might just be very passionate about gaming.

According to DSM-5 you need to show five or more of the signs (persistently) for one year to be diagnosed with gaming addiction:

  • Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time
  • Feeling bad when you can’t play
  • Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good
  • Not being able to quit or even play less
  • Not wanting to do other things that you used to like
  • Having problems at work, school, or home because of your gaming
  • Playing despite these problems
  • Lying to people close to you about how much time you spend
  • Using gaming to ease bad moods and feelings

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