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.

How I travel Part 1 : the hardware

With so much time spent travelling, discover what hardware I carry with me to make me productive.

I do a lot of traveling for my profession. That is the nature of being an operating principal in the world of private equity for ParkerGale — we have to be where our portfolio company is. With that, I spend a lot of time in the air, in and out of airports, trains and cars and of course I am no stranger to the new warrior on the road Uber.

With all this time traveling you would think there wouldn’t be much time for work. Quite the contrary — travel is when I get most of my backlog cleared out.

For this piece, I am going to focus on the hardware side of things with the follow up entry on some hints and tips for handling digital content on the move.

I have my laptop bag (or WGB as my partner-in-crime Jim calls it) that is pretty much my mother’s handbag — in that it has everything for every situation. I travel with all manners of cables, for different situations and countries. But that is just a small part of the tale. I have a whole host of untold treasures here, including a full change of underwear and toiletries should an overnight stay be sprung on me.

But let us talk hardware — what do I travel with technology wise? I am a bit of a Samsung fanboy; but I like to think I cancel out at least one Apple fanboy.

Laptop wise, it is Samsung’s top of the line Ultrabook, with around 8 hrs of battery, touchscreen and SSD. I have recently replaced its battery and it’s been given a whole new lease of life to it. I am of the school of thinking that stickers on a laptop cover is perfectly acceptable and is the modern day equivalent of country stickers on luggage. Each sticker has a story to tell and lovingly assigned a sacred place. Many of those stories will be untold, but I know them and that is all that matters.

a well traveled laptop

Phone wise, Samsung Note 5. With my case protector it looks a little big to the casual onlooker, but with its stylus, large screen and high-end camera, it is a fast sleek work house that is never away from me. I have dropped it more times than I care to put a number on, but the case, has allowed it to bounce energetically across many a tarmac or airport terminal floor unscathed. Function over fashion wins every-time.

Tablet wise, Samsung Tab S2. Every time I pick it up I still can’t believe how light it is. My tablet is with me all the time and is used at times when I want a large form factor to read or do some research surfing.

I also have a Kindle reader, which to be honest, hasn’t been used that much of late. I think that is largely down to the fact the tablet is providing that role for me. I have a number of magazine subscriptions via Kindle and they are best enjoyed on a bigger (color) screen.

Music wise, I have a Bose SoundLink bluetooth USB speaker that also serves as a high quality conference line. It has been used in a number of deal meetings with the attention to high end audio one demands from Bose. Next to that is my faithful, LG around the neck, bluetooth headset.

Naturally one has to travel with a couple of spare battery chargers. I have a small one that is good to recharge the phone a few times and a much larger one that can recharge everything at once a few times.

Network wise, I have a Verizon JetPack MiFi unit that acts as my WiFi hub for my tablet and laptop when at times I need a network. It has got me out of many a situation and works far better than sharing my network via my phone. It shares the same data plan as my phone.

Coincidentally, both the MiFi and Bose devices are backup battery chargers as well. So I am well covered should my phone, tablet or headset crave some power.

The one thing I do have that gets a lot of use, is my Microsoft Bluetoothfoldout keyboard. I absolutely love it. I have it paired with my phone and tablet, and it is my tool of choice when flying.

Instead of getting out the laptop and all the heft that comes with it, nothing beats unfolding the keyboard and start typing into my phone or tablet. I will generally do emails on my phone, so as soon as I land, emails are sent when phone reconnects to 4G. I will use my tablet if I am composing a document or presentation on Google Docs.

Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard

This setup has proved the fastest and smallest. I can crank through a ton, and still have room on my airplane tray for drinks and even a little food should one take the notion. Anyone that travels knows, as soon as the laptop comes out, you have lost all tray real estate.

What is also nice about the Microsoft Keyboard is the feeling of a real keyboard with a hearty responsive click. My fingers are a blur, and with the big screen of my Note 5, I focus on the email in question without eye strain.

I would also recommend a good foldout stand. I have been through a number and my current one, while looks a little big, handles tablet and phone alike and is sturdy enough to handle turbulence and the odd hostess trolley bang without throwing the device it is lovingly cradling to the floor.

Travelling can be a pain and many see it as lost productivity. But with a little planning, careful choice and familiarity with hardware you can make it an productive environment.

In my next entry, I will take you behind the software side that supports this nomadic life style.