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Fishy Business

As you may have heard laptop manufacturer Lenovo has been in trouble recently for selling machines with a malware program called Superfish installed. It’s a nasty piece of work that inserts ads into Google searches, which is bad enough, but it also creates dodgy SSL certificates that could allow hackers to break into a secure connection. There are also reports of it using iffy JavaScripts so all in all it is definitely not something you would want on your machine. Apparently this happened between September and December of last year and could have affected up to 16 million machines. Lenovo reacted reasonably quickly with information on how to remove the infection manually, but now it has released a free tool that does the job automatically. Obviously Lenovo laptop owners should use it without delay, but it’s worth everyone checking that their machines as Superfish can turn up almost anywhere.


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Charging Around Ikea

It’s something many of us do, and woes betide anyone who tries it at the weekend or during school holidays. But now there’s a good reason to visit your favourite purveyor of flat-pack furniture and tasty meatballs, from mid April UK stores will be stocking a new range of lamps and tables with built-in wireless chargers. This will be especially relevant to owners of recent-ish devices that support the market-leading Qi technology, and these include models from Apple and Samsung. Even if that’s not you, you can buy adaptors, built into phone covers. If that tickles you fancy then fight your way to the lighting and tables department – preferably on a weekday morning, before the lunchtime rush and look for a selection of not half bad-looking lamps and bedside tables, with prices starting at a quite reasonable-sounding £30.00.


Bumpy Ride For Touchscreens

Some of us, me included, still find it hard going to type more than a few lines on a tablet or smart phone’s touch-screen keyboard. It is probably an age thing and those who grew up – me again -- with mechanical and electrical typewriters often found the transition to soft and mushy PC keyboards equally traumatic. Whilst it seems unlikely that anything can be done to give touch-screen keyboards any semblance of feel or movement, a company called Tactus Technology has gone some way to improving the experience, with a case for the iPad Mini (with iPhone 6 Plus to follow) called Phorm. The case has a transparent film that overlays the screen. When a slide switch on the back of the case is moved to the ‘on’ position, rows of small bumps over each of the keys rise out of the screen, as if by magic. In fact no magic is involved, just oil, pumped into the keybumps by the action of moving the slide-switch. This means it’s entirely human powered, so there’s no need to worry about it sucking the juice out of your device, or having to keep it fed with batteries. The bumps are meant to make it easier for the fingers to find the keys and in theory this will lead to fewer mistakes and the user should get faster as they get accustomed to the keyboard. When the keyboard isn’t needed a quick flick of the slide switch makes them disappear. It will cost $99 plus shipping; Tactus are now taking pre-orders and deliveries are expected to begin in the Summer.



Drone Attack Threat

It’s okay, no need to head for the bunker, not just yet anyway, but it might be worth investing in a hard hat, and keeping a watchful eye on the skies for those small, and not so small hobby drones. They are now in danger of catching their very own malware infection. It’s called Maldrone, and it has the ability to switch control to another operator who can then do what they want with it, from pinching it by flying it away, to crashing it into the ground, or whoever happens to be underneath it at the time. So far Maldrone is just a proof of concept exercise, developed by security expert Rahul Sasi, and unlike previous attempts to hack drones, this one can, in theory, work on any make of model. The only bit of good news is that it appears that a hacker has to get very close to the drone to load the infection, so it’s unlikely to spread throughout the population, but if you have one, just make sure you keep it in sight, and well away from any suspicious looking characters waving tablets, smartphones or laptops in the general direction of your flybot.