Last Week’s Top 8 Tech Stories – 7th Nov

Welcome to this week’s, election free, roundup of the news that caught my attention this week, ranging from self-testing USB sticks, security attacks on Tesco, how Facebook buys passwords from hackers, NFL losing viewers, cramped airlines, Yahoo still dancing with Verizon, to a warning about pervy teenagers in sunglasses.

Welcome to this week’s, election free, roundup of the news that caught my attention this week, ranging from self-testing USB sticks, security attacks on Tesco, how Facebook buys passwords from hackers, NFL losing viewers, cramped airlines, Yahoo still dancing with Verizon, to a warning about pervy teenagers in sunglasses.


  1. USB stick for detecting the HIV virus in blood
    explorer_2016-11-13_10-28-48A company in the UK has developed a USB stick that can detect the amount of HIV in the blood within 20 minutes, with 88% accuracy.  This is a huge improvement on the ‘try-at-home’ mouth swab self testing kits that are currently available.  No hint of availability or cost.

    This is a very controversial space since Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos fame, somewhat shit in the blood test nest for everyone else.  If it does bear out, it will have huge implications for testing in 3rd world countries where access to medical equipment is scant at best.

  2. Tesco Bank, the UK’s largest supermarket, runs foul of cyber thieves as they do a ‘Superman III’ attack
    chrome_2016-11-13_10-42-07Last weekend, cyber thieves managed to successfully siphon off £2.5M from 9000 online accounts.  There is no official how so far, but experts have stepped forward noting their mobile apps had some possible problems, coupled with a potential insider who was apparently selling access in the dark web.

    No amount of security will protect us from the disgruntled employee; every company has that person that knows that little too much.  Apparently they have been sucking off small amounts for months now, but someone got greedy/impatient I imagine, resulting in everything being shut down.

  3. Verizon and Yahoo continue to tease us, with threats Verizon may step away
    chrome_2016-11-13_10-56-35.pngThis one is turning out to be the tech equivalent of will they or won’t they Mulder and Scully love affair.  After discovering a huge data breach (500M accounts) was lost and some inside Yahoo knew this before the deal was signed, Verizon are being very coy and stroking their chins deciding on whether to continue with the $4.8B deal.

    Of course they aren’t walking away, they are just going to lob off a couple of billion and get one of the oldest Internet properties at a steal (ironic eh?).

  4.  Facebook buys stolen passwords on black market to help protect the stupid
    chrome_2016-11-13_11-05-49.pngThis week, head of security at Facebook gave a talk on security noting that the biggest problem facing security today, is that users are still using the same password across all their online properties.  To help them fight this, they have bought password lists from hackers in the dark web to run them against their database to flag such people and have them update accordingly.

    This one has me on the ethical fence; like a movie where the company buys back the painting from the cat burglar to save some bad publicity.  There is no excuse for reusing the same password, we just need to educate people –  LastPass went free for everyone the other week.

  5. NFL ratings tank; who knew that 70 ads per game was too much?
    chrome_2016-11-13_11-16-05.pngOne of America’s most loved sports is in chaos as ratings plunge.  NFL Commissioner has come out and said the game needs to change because people are just not willing to wait anymore.  Continual timeouts, stoppages, ads (70 per game!!) are all adding up to a frustration that are turning people off the game.   The Netflix ‘ad-free uninterrupted experience‘ culture is being blamed.

    Though, if non-stop action is what you are looking for, then take a look at soccer or even rugby (which is NFL without padding) – it may surprise you.

  6. New York to London in 3hrs and for only $2500? Sonic jets are back
    chrome_2016-11-13_11-27-02Ever since Concorde got grounded 13 years ago, we’ve had no way to get around the planet at any faster than 575 mph commercially speaking.  However a new company, Boom Super Sonic has emerged stating they could begin flying us back and forth as early as 2020, for as little as $2500.

    Their technology is promising even faster speeds than Concorde, using less fuel and less noise.  Though we will still have that wonderful boom as the sound barrier is broken.  About time air travel had some real innovation.

  7. BA planes to add 52 seats to existing planes for more capacity
    chrome_2016-11-13_11-36-51.pngTo know love, we first must suffer pain and BA is going to help us with that after reading about supersonic jets.  They plan to add an extra seat to every row, increasing the number of seats in a standard 777 to 332 from 280.

    Assuming the laws of physics are still being adhered to, if the total volume inside the plane isn’t increasing, then we can only assume the already thin seats are about to get smaller.  Where the hell you going to put an extra 52 people and all their carry-on in a 777!?!?

  8. Beware of grinning teenagers wearing cheap looking plastic shades
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-46-33As I’ve noted before, Snapchat is getting into the wearables market with a pair of sunglasses that can record 10 seconds of video for only $140 a pair (compared to the $1500 of the Google Glass experiment).  This week they tested the market with a stealth pop-up kiosk selling the first run of units.

    What makes the Snap glasses different is that they don’t look like glasses with a video camera installed in them; so infinitely more stealthy.  You’ve been warned.


… and this week’s soundtrack is a bittersweet one, with 2016 claiming another victim, as Leonard Cohen was taken from the world at 82 years of age.  So I give you one of my favourite video’s from the gentlemen of music.

Last Weeks Top 8 Tech Stories – 31st Oct

It was the week that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Facebook and GoPro released their quarterly earnings and Samsung find themselves with some more consumer problems.

It was the week that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series (and I had the honor of seeing the team parade the trophy through the streets of Chicago), Facebook and GoPro released their quarterly earnings and Samsung find themselves with some more consumer problems.

  1. FaceBook stocks plunges even though they exceeded all expectations
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-08-48.pngThere seems to be no logic to the stock market at times.  It was Amazon’s last week, now this week it was the turn of FacePaint.  Even with announcing it had blew past last quarters earning numbers by 56%, the investors heard something that made them extremely nervous – they had run out of room to deliver ads – sending the stock down from 130 to 120.

    Though, from the users perspective this could be great news – what you are looking at now, the ads can’t get any worse.   Every cloud eh?

  2. Samsung recalls 2.8 million washing machines as bits start to fly off
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-14-10.pngJust as it is sweeping up the literal ashes of its fire starter Note 7, another safety scandal has beset the South Korean company – its washing machines may have  a tendency to have bits come flying off.  Machines from 2011 and 2016 are being recalled as the number of people to report injury from laundry mounts.

    This couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Quality Assurance seems to be a byword at Samsung.  My concern is that Samsung are also one of the worlds largest ship makers!

  3. NASA completes its Hubble successor, the James Webb telescope
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-28-44.pngCan you believe the Hubble telescope is 26 years old?  So it comes as no surprise that NASA has been spending time (and $8.7B) on creating an update to it, called the James Webb telescope.   This 18 carat gold plated beauty is extremely powerful and makes the current Hubble look like a 1st generation Kodak compared to today’s high end smartphone cameras.

    Though don’t expect to be seeing water on far off planets just yet, they are just going into testing and if all goes well, it will be launched in 2018.

  4. Oracle will close the NetSuite deal this coming Monday
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-44-41.pngIt has taken a while to get this one over the line, but Oracle’s big push into the accountancy SaaS world will be complete this Monday, when it completes the $9.3B purchase of NetSuite.

    It hit a speed bump when it first made the offer back in July when a prominent NetSuite investor thought the share price was under valued.  This is a big piece on the corporate chess board that Oracle has bought.

  5. Trendy camera company, GoPro, has a bad week, shares drop 20%
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-50-22.pngIn another quarterly earnings report, GoPro had a rough week with its investors, as it announced that it is not as bullish on the number of units it expects to sell.  GoPro point towards production problems that are not allowing them to make the volume they want to.

    Investors are not buying that reason though.  It would appear there is only so many sports/active people that want to strap a square camera onto their body.   This is a big upset in the industry of wearables, especially as FitBit faced the same problem a couple of weeks ago.

  6. NetFlix will introduce offline viewing; but not for American’s
    chrome_2016-10-16_11-16-04NetFlix have been talking around the much wanted feature of being able to offline content for viewing in poor-networked areas, on the road and up in the air.  However, before you go running to purchase extra large SSD cards to start downloading, it won’t be for those of us in North America.

    Netflix wants to keep the feature back for those counties that have severe connectivity issues.  Bugger.  Oh well – The Crown will just have to wait until I am grounded.

  7. We finally see Amazon’s Alexa in the flesh; Billy the Fish
    chrome_2016-11-06_14-05-04.pngIs the genius in the physical pairing of the classic Billy Bass talking fish with a Raspberry PI and Amazon’s Alexa?  Or is the genius simply coming up with the idea in the first place?

    If anyone ever doubted the power of the API, then doubt no more.  You will never look at Alexa in the same light again after watching this video of Billy answering Alexa queries.

  8. The future has arrived; bicycle tires that never go flat
    chrome_2016-11-06_14-13-45.pngThere are certain problems you would have thought that should have been solved by now.  The light bulb we never have to change or bicycle tires that never go flat.  Oh wait a minute, scratch that last one, this week we can put a check box against that.

    Nexo Tires have innovated a tire that has the feel of rubber with air, without the air. Therefore it will take thorns, nails and anything else you want to throw at it.  As someone that just last week purchased two new sets of tubes for his mountain bike this couldn’t have been more timely.


… and this weeks soundtrack was courtesy of Twenty One Pilots and one of their earlier albums, Vessel, that features the excellent House of Gold track.