Tag: BBC

UK’s Micro heads overseas

3-BACKThe Micro Bit mini-computer is now going to get a worldwide distribution and enthusiasts are to be offered blueprints showing how to build their own versions.

The announcements were made by a new non-profit foundation that is taking over the educational project, formerly led by the BBC.

About one million of the devices were given away free to UK-based schoolchildren earlier this year.

The BBC says they encourage children, especially girls, to code

Beyond the UK, Micro Bits are also in use in schools across the Netherlands and Iceland. But the foundation now intends to co-ordinate a wider rollout.

The foundation’s new chief executive Zach Shelby said the goal is to reach 100 million people with Micro Bit.

“That means [selling] tens of millions of devices… over the next five to 10 years.”

Micro Bits will be available across Europe before the end of the year and currently the outfit is developing Norwegian and Dutch-language versions of its coding web tools to boost demand.

Next year the foundation will target North America and China, which will coincide with an upgrade to the hardware with a more powerful chip and better sensors.

Micro Bits currently sell for about £13, excluding the batteries needed to power them.

BBC under hack attack

Skull and crossbonesThe BBC websites were under attack earlier today, the corporation has confirmed.

Rory Cellan-Jones, a technical reporter for the BBC, said on Radio 4 that the websites were attacked using a distributed denial of service (DDoS).

He said that the BBC was regularly attacked by hackers but had means to tweak its site to recover from the attack.

The attack not only affected the maun BBC web site but also its iPlayer TV and iPlayer radio app.

The attacks started happening around 7AM today, but by 10.30AM everything was working normally again.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Cellan-Jones said the BBC hadn’t received cash demands from the perpetrator or perpetrators.

BBC micro delayed

BBC MicroThe BBC has admitted that the Micro:bit which it was going to give to a one million kids is going to be late.

The Micro:bit was announced in March as a “get kids coding” initiative. Delivery was anticipated to occur in September, so that every 11 or 12 year-old in the UK could be given the computer.

Yesterday, the Beeb admitted that things are off the rails and that delivery can be expected “after Christmas”.

Apparently the problem is the gear’s power supply.

“We’re expecting to start sending them out to teachers before Christmas and to children early in the new year,” said a BBC spokesman

“As a result of our rigorous testing process, we’ve decided to make some minor revisions to the device – getting it right for children and teachers before we manufacture one million units is our priority.”

The Micro:bit is a revival of the BBC’s efforts in the 1980s when it created the BBC Micro and promoted it, and the idea of programming, through radio and television programmes. It worked too and is considered a starter for many kids of that generation.

The thought is that if the power supply does not zap them, kids will be encouraged to save the UK economy by coding.

BBC director general Tony Hall hopes the Micro Bit will “equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy”.

BBC announces school gadget

BBC White City - Wikimedia CommonsThe BBC, in conjunction with Microsoft and other technology companies, has introduced a device aimed at giving school children better insight into computing.

The Micro Bit will be given to a million UK children in October this year and works with computers.

It has an array of red lights, a motion sensor and a couple of buttons and can be used to write simple code programs using a website. The programs can then be transferred to personal computers and to other devices. It also has a Bluetooth chip, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer on board.

It’s powered using a USB cable but can be powered on its own using an AA battery pack. The 1.6-inch by two inch device is aimed at 11 and 12 years old.

The project was started by the BBC but has received support from ARM, Samsung, Microsoft and Lancaster University.

The BBC is comparing the Micro Bit to the BBC Micro, launched in 1981, but it certainly is a heap less versatile than that device, which had a keyboard and lots of other bells and whistles.

BBC remembers pages that Google has forgotten

BBC-blogThe BBC has started saving pages which have been deleted from Google under the EU’s right to be forgotten law.

The pages are from BBC news and the Beeb does not know who asked Google to take them down or why.

Since a European Court of Justice ruling last year, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results.

Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals.

According to the BBC, it is making it clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google’s search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, it will republish the list with new removals added at the top.

“We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find,” a spokesBeeb said.

As you would expect, the vast majority of the google blocks are on elderly court cases. In other cases  we could see why a journalist would want this blocked, but we are not really sure of why Google did it, particularly as literally “just writing boll*cks” should not be enough to get blocked even if the boll*cks concerned were your own.

Hackers go for speech recognition in Chrome

Hackers have worked out a way to use the speech recognition in Chrome to spy on you.

Apparently, the method involves switching on your microphone using bugs in the Chrome browser.

The exploit was discovered by developer Tal Ater who found it while working on annyang, a popular JavaScript Speech Recognition library.

This allowed him to find multiple bugs in Chrome, and to come up with an exploit which combines all.

He reported the exploit to Google’s security team in private on September 13. By September 19, their engineers have identified the bugs and suggested fixes. On September 24, a patch which fixes the exploit was ready, and three days later, his find was nominated for Chromium’s Reward Panel.

But as time passed, and the fix didn’t make it to users’ desktops. A month and a half later, Ater asked the team why the fix was not released. Their answer was that there was an ongoing discussion within the Standards group, to agree on the correct behaviour – “Nothing is decided yet.”

Four months later Google is still waiting for the Standards group to agree on the best course of action, and your browser is still vulnerable.

As it lies, all it takes is a user to visit a site that uses speech recognition to offer some cool new functionality.

Here is a short film of the exploit in action

Macintosh Apple dying out

The Macintosh Apple is about as popular as a dose of the clap, and no one wants to buy it any more according to the normally Apple friendly BBC.

Oddly the BBC appears desperate to use licence payer money to plug Jobs’ Mob by penning an article about how while the Apple computer company is going from “strength to strength” (it isn’t), a species of apple named after John Macintosh is disappearing from the shelves.

“It was 30 years ago this week that a bow-tied Steve Jobs plucked a box-shaped object from a bag. Standing on a stage and accompanied by Chariots of Fire synths, he introduced the world to the first Macintosh computer. What happened next has been well documented,” the BBC wrote.

However less so the real apple which by 1960 made up about 40 percent of the Canadian apple market, according to some estimates. Since then it has been in slow decline.

The McIntosh accounts for just under five percent of US production but has never been seen in the UK.

The problem was that the apple was not crisp enough and apple buyers want a crush. It also looks bad in comparison to the stripier Gala and Braeburn, which between them account for 45 percent of the UK market.

“It’s not clear whether Jobs, who died in 2011, worried about the variety’s demise. But today the Macintosh sounds ripe for one of his black polo-necked relaunches,” enthused the BBC.  Well with the British licence player paying for the not so subtle Apple plug, like it does for the Cupertino based outfit, it might have a chance. One of these days the beeb will realise that propping up Apple is not its core business.

Huawei products do have backdoors

Der Spiegel hack and hacker Jacob Applebaum has found proof that products made by the Chinese outfit Huawei do have backdoors to allow access to spying.

This was the central reason why US Senators banned Huawei from taking US government projects claiming that the company was a tool of the Chinese military.

The only problem was that the backdoors being placed in the Huawei gear were put there because US spooks wanted to spy on everyone and the Chinese outfit was just doing what it was told.

A bit on the nose really to do what you are told by US spooks and then lose your contracts because you are following their security instructions.

Applebaum found that if any company tried to use traditional and reliable US companies, because they feared Chinese intrusion, they would find the same backdoor installed.

Talking to the 30th Chaos Computer Club conference in Hamburg, Germany, Applebaum presented a snapshot of dozens of zero day exploits used to spy on both US citizens and foreigners.

It looks like the NSA can use zero-day exploits to spy on communications passing through the switches and routers of all the world’s largest networking vendors, Dell Cisco, Juniper Networks and Huawei.

Dell and HP servers have a backdoor as well as smartphones of Apple and Samsung.

Applebaum dubbed the companies collaborators with the spooks who had left their customers vulnerable.

“Fuck them for collaborating, and for leaving us vulnerable,” he said. He hoped that by naming and shaming them they would close the backdoors on the spooks.

Apparently the backdoor is in the server hardware systems at the BIOS level.

The NSA’s documents boast that these exploits work across servers running the Microsoft Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and even Sun Solaris operating systems.

This gives away the spook’s cunning plan. After all how many people in Al Qaida are using Solaris? Applebaum asked the crowd.

Dell’s best-selling PowerEdge servers (1850, 2850, 1950, 2950) all feature a vulnerability that allows the NSA to post spyware iton the BIOS using either remote access or via the inserting of a USB drive.

A related NSA exploit, dubbed GODSURGE, uses a JTAG debugging interface in the Dell PowerEdge 1950 and 2950. A JTAG debugging interface is usually used to test the BIOS/firmware for bugs, but it can also be used to reflash the BIOS from scratch.

HP’s Proliant 380DL G5 server can be opened using IRONCHEF, which extracted data from the server using two-way RF communication.

The NSA has also developed an exploit for tapping Apple’s iPhone called DROPOUTJEEP and another for Vole’s Windows Phone called TOTEGHOSTLY, Applebaum said. 

Hacker took over the BBC

Red-faced security experts at the BBC are having to explain how a hacker broke into their systems over the Christmas break.

According to Reutersthe hacker was only revealed after he launched a Christmas Day campaign to convince other cyber criminals to pay him for access to the system.

It is not clear if the hacker found any buyers, but the BBC’s security team responded to the issue on Saturday and believes it has secured the site.

Reuters could not find out if the hacker stole data or caused any damage in the attack. However, they did manage to compromise a server that manages an obscure password-protected website called ftp.bbc.co.uk.

The Beeb was warned about the attack by Hold Security, a cybersecurity firm in Milwaukee that monitors underground cyber-crime forums in search of stolen information.

Hold spotted a Russian hacker known by the monikers “HASH” and “Rev0lver,” attempting to sell access to the BBC server on December 25.

HASH showed files that could only be accessed by somebody who really controlled the server.

The BBC has been targeted by the Syrian Electronic Army, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and other hacker activist groups that deface websites and take over Twitter accounts. 

93% of UK households have a computer

A parliamentary answer has revealed that a staggering 93 percent of households in the UK own a computer.

That’s according to the director general of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), replying to a question from Chris Ruane, the Labour membery for the Vale of Clwyd.

What’s more, the percentage may be greater than this now, because the figures are from 2011.

According to the ONS, 88 percent of unemployed people in the UK have computers.

And, in a debate on the future of the BBC, it was revealed that 40 percent of iPlayer use is through mobile devices rather than desktop computers.