Recent Articles By Charlotte Henry [RSS]

The Boy Who Built His Own Prosthetic Arm. Out of Lego.

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LONDON – David Aguilar was born without a forearm. So the Spaniard decided to build his own one. This would be extraordinary enough, but he did out of Lego. He started aged 9 and, aged 19, is now on his 4th iteration of the prosthetic limb. Reuters spoke to Mr. Aguilar and told his amazing story.

Once his favorite toys, the plastic bricks became the building material for Aguilar’s first, still very rudimentary, artificial arm at the age of nine, and each new version had more movement capability than the one before.“As a child I was very nervous to be in front of other guys, because I was different, but that didn’t stop me believing in my dreams,” Aguilar, who is from Andorra, a tiny principality between Spain and France, told Reuters.

Mumsnet Refers Itself to UK Privacy Regulator After Bug

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LONDON – Popular parenting website Mumsnet reported itself to the UK’s Information Commissioner. A bug that meant users’ accounts could potentially be switched was found. This meant people could have access to other’s account details and private messages. The company confirmed to the Guardian that it had reported itself, following the incident.

A botched upgrade to the software the forum runs on meant that for three days, if two users tried to log in at the same time, there was the possibility that their accounts would be switched. Each user was able to post as the other, see their account details, and read private messages. The company doesn’t know how many user accounts were affected, but says that over the three days the bug was live, from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning, about 4,000 users logged in. Of that, only 14 users have reported an issue.

Looking at Angela Ahrendts's Time at Apple

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The news of Angela Ahrendts’s impending departure from Apple came as a surprise to many outside the company. I can only assume the same was true for people on the inside There can be little doubt that the company’s outgoing Senior Vice President Retail has made a real impact during her five-year tenure. AppleInsider provided an incisive look at how Ms. Ahrdents’s came to be at Apple, and the legacy she will leave.

While Apple does also earn money from services and other business activities, the alterations that she’s made in the stores are central to the rise of the company into being the world’s most profitable firm.  These Apple Stores have been lauded as retail successes since their very beginnings, and externally they had appeared to be doing well even before Ahrendts joined. Yet in practice, the years before her arrival were marked with problems.

Huawei Needs 3-5 Years to Address UK Security Concerns

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LONDON – It will take 3 to 5 years for Huawei to deal with security issues raised by the UK’s National Cyber Security Council (NCSC). Reuters saw a letter to British lawmakers from the Chinese firm in which it responded to the NCSC report that found it had exposed the UK’s telecom networks to security risks. The NCSC commented that it was in “regular dialogue with Huawei about the standards expected of their products.”

In a letter to lawmakers last week, Ryan Ding, president of the company’s carrier business group, said it would take up to five years to see results. “Enhancing our software engineering capabilities is like replacing components on a high-speed train in motion,” he said in a letter to the chairman of the British parliament’s science and technology committee.“It is a complicated and involved process, and will take at least three to five years to see tangible results. We hope the UK government can understand this.”

 

The MOFT 'Invisible' Laptop Stand

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MOFT launched what it called an “invisible” laptop stand on Kickstarter in January 2019. The stand is attached to a laptop with an adhesive and folded out wherever and whenever someone wants to work. I think it looks rather slick, and can certainly see how it would be useful for people who work in cafes or at conferences. The product comfortably cleared its Kickstarter goal of $771. At the time of this writing, it had raised $275,026 from 13,111 backers. The MOFT laptop stand currently has an $19 Early Bird offer. It will be on Kickstarter for 30 more days, with shipping expected in April 2019.

The MOFT ‘Invisible’ Laptop Stand

iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 Could be Modified After Qualcomm Patent Win

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Apple suing Qualcomm over patent royalty payments

Apple has looked into the possibility of modifying the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 after losing a patent trial to Qualcomm in Germany. AppleInsider picked up on German media reports that indicated that the components deemed to have violated Qualcomm’s “envelope tracking” patent could be removed and replace.

German-language publication WinFuture, in a report spotted by Foss Patents, that Apple is examining the possibility of creating a slightly modified version of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. Aside from software changes, the models will apparently have an infringing component pulled from the design and replaced with another. The offending components which was the cause of the injunction were produced by Apple supplier Qorvo, and are said to have violated an “envelope tracking” patent held by Qualcomm. This refers to a method of conserving battery power while the modem is active.

Sonos Architectural by Sonance Outdoor Speakers with AirPlay 2 Support

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Sonos revealed a new range of indoor and outdoor speakers today, called the Sonos Architectural. There is a set designed for the ceiling, but the ones that really caught my eye are the Outdoor Speaker Pair. They look slick and should provide good sound quality outside of them, which is still not something to be taken for granted. All the news speakers work with the Sonos Amp, which means they support AirPlay 2. The Outdoor Speaker Pair costs $799 and is listed as “Coming Soon” for the time being.

Sonos Architectural by Sonance Outdoor Speakers with AirPlay 2 Support

Blockchain and AI Might Be a Perfect Match

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Blockchain technology is sometimes presented as a cure-all – a technology that can improve everything from finance to health, and anything in between. While it may not be able to solve all the world’s ills, there is no doubt that it is a hugely powerful technology that can be used for a large amount of good. One field where the blockchain could have a profound effect is in artificial intelligence, as Yessi Bello Perez outlined on The Next Web.

Unlike cloud-based solutions, the data on a blockchain is broken up into small sections and distributed across the entire computer network. There’s no central authority or control point, and each computer, or node, holds a complete copy of the ledger – meaning that if one or two nodes are compromised, data will not be lost. All that takes place on the blockchain is encrypted and the data cannot be tampered with. Essentially, this means blockchains are the perfect storage facility for sensitive or personal data which, if processed with care with the use of AI, can help unlock valuable bespoke experiences for consumers.

AirPods Have Become One of Apple's Most Important Products

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AirPods were somewhat derided when Apple first released them towards the end of 2016.  They looked silly, and surely they were going to fall out of your ear? As it happens, they have been a huge success, selling millions of units. Lance Ulanoff posted his take on the accessory’s success over on Medium, and it is well worth a read. He highlights how central AirPods could be to Apple’s strategy going forward.

Then, somewhere along the way, I started noticing other people wearing AirPods. At first it was just the occasional sighting, like spotting a green parrot in Brooklyn. However, I remember the moment when I stood in a New York City subway car and noticed more than a half dozen people wearing AirPods. Apple’s oddball product had broken through.