Museum losing millions

Facebook donates £1 million to help save a museum losing millions

Facebook is donating £1 million to Bletchley Park. The UK centre for Allied code breaking during World War II that now operates as a museum. This museum is losing millions of pounds during the pandemic. Rory Cellen-Jones the BBC’s Technology Correspondent takes closer look into this generous donation.

Leaders of the UK’s cultural sector warned the industry is facing possible devastation. A potential loss of more than 400,000 jobs and up to £74 billion in revenue to the end of 2020. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new research from Oxford Economics commissioned by Creative Industries Federation. The research suggested museums are losing millions of revenue. As well as, theatres, galleries, will experience twice as much economic fallout from the pandemic as the overall economy. This also includes the industries of music, film, TV, Architecture and publishing.

Donation helps museum losing millions

The Bletchley Park Trust, a registered charity, announced in August that the site was facing a revenue shortfall of £2 million because of falling visitor numbers caused by the coronavirus. Because of the drop-in revenue (95% of annual income), the park announced it was considering 35 redundancies, constituting a third of its workforce. Facebook’s donation will save some of these jobs, but it’s not clear how many.

Museums lose millions

Former Bletchley Park employee, Jean Valentine, handles part of the Turing Bombe — an electromechanical computer
used to crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during WWII. Photo by Rui Vieira / PA Images via Getty Images

An ongoing legacy

Facebook said it made the donation in recognition of Bletchley Park’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.” The park’s code breakers and mathematicians cracked the Enigma codes used by the Nazis. An achievement that some historians say shortened the length of the war by two to four years. They also made key theoretical and engineering breakthroughs. These include the creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital computer. With the help of Alan Turing’s work, the English mathematician who is seen as the father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence. At its height, the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park included some 10,000 employees, with women constituting roughly 75% of the workforce.

Bletchley Park Quote

 “The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook. We are thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing,” said Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, in a press statement. The UK is Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, home to more than 3,000 employees, with more than half working in engineering roles.

In a press statement, Bletchley Park CEO Iain Standen said the site was “very grateful to Facebook” for its donation. “With this significant support, the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’. It will keep its doors open for future generations,” said Standen.

Helping businesses in these troubled times

Museums are losing millions and all of the creative industries are experiencing difficult times. If ignored, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.

LIS client benefit from support for workers from home. Our team provide remote IT support and make sure your team have the correct access and security to enable them to work as if they were in the office. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can support your company.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technews #bletchleypark #funding #facebook

Google Assistant Features

Google Assistant is a capable helper but adjusting these options will protect your privacy and put you in control. We have put together a short guide of five Google Assistant features you should turn off right now.

Business Insider take a look how to turn off or limit Google Assistant Features, if you don’t want it listening to you all of the time.

Make life easier with Google Assistant Features

You can use Google Assistant Features to set timers, call friends or restaurants for takeout and so much more. It’s certainly convenient to have Google around to answer quick questions. It will even report on the day’s weather or control your smart home. Still, there are some things you might want to disable on your Google smart speaker or smart display. After all, every feature of Google Assistant won’t be a good fit for everyone.

Whether you’re worried about privacy or just want a more natural conversation experience, here are five things to toggle off to get a simpler and safer Google Assistant experience.

Google Assistant Features

One of Google Assistant’s most powerful features is its ability to act as the hub for your connected smart home of office.

Voice recording settings

Google recently announced changes to its voice recording privacy settings. Unless you opt in, Google won’t save your audio recordings or share them with its human analyzers to improve Google’s algorithms. However, if you opted in or have previously saved audio recordings, you can choose how long Google keeps them or manually delete them.

To adjust these settings, visit your Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. There, you’ll land on the You tab. Select Your Data in the Assistant and scroll down to Audio Recordings. Tap to see options for saving, reviewing and deleting recordings.

Continued conversation

Continued Conversation helps Google listen for follow up questions without you having to say “Hey, Google” a second time. While this is handy, the extra listening can sometimes be less than seamless, especially when you don’t have a follow up question or you’re just asking a question of someone else in the room. Luckily, you can turn off this feature.

To turn off Continued Conversation in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab. There you’ll see several options including Continued Conversation. You’ll be able to toggle off Continued Conversation and see which speakers it will affect.

“Hey Google” sensitivity

If you feel like you’re always waking up your smart speakers accidentally, the “Hey Google” sensitivity may be too high. You can adjust how well your Google Assistant responds to its wake word if it isn’t hearing you well enough or if it mistakes other words for its wake word.

To adjust the sensitivity in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab and you’ll see several options including “Hey Google” sensitivity. There you’ll be able to adjust the sensitivity for each individual speaker in your home. Select the speaker you’d like to adjust and choose from five settings from “least sensitive” to “most sensitive.”

Ask Google

You can ask your Google Assistant for info and help with everyday tasks. Ask it questions and tell it to do things.
It’s always ready to help you get things done.

Camera settings

If you use a Google-enabled smart display like the Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display or JBL Link View, you may want to keep your camera disabled when you’re not making video calls. Each display does this a little differently. While JBL and Lenovo offer physical shutter options, you don’t get a built-in shutter with Google’s in-house display, the Nest Hub Max.

Instead, there’s a toggle button on the back of the display to disable the camera and microphone. An indicator light beside the camera lens shows the current status. This is a tough one, because you’ll need to remember to switch it on and off each time you use a camera feature. Still, having the option to make sure your camera is off when it needs to be is important.

Activity controls

Like voice recordings, Google saves information on the sites and apps you use with your Google account. If you’re concerned about privacy, adjusting these settings offers some peace of mind.

In the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. Tap the three dots on the top right of your screen and select Google activity controls. There, you’ll see a page with options for controlling which information Google gathers from your online and mobile app activity. You also can turn on auto-delete and choose how often your data is removed.

Whether you adjust one or all of these settings, personalizing your voice assistant can make the entire experience much more pleasant. If you live in a large household, features like Voice Match and Household Contacts can help everyone live in harmony with the same devices.

“Hey LIS”. How can you help me?

Technology is always changing; upgrades need to be managed and don’t forget about security issues. LIS customers benefit from our years if IT knowledge. We managed their IT systems to allow them to concentrate on their business. Consider us like you PC doctor or Virtual IT PA.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options and found out how easy it is to keep your systems up to scratch.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#GoogleAssistant #ITSupport #Upgrades #Security

Upgrade your software

How Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 Covid tests in England? Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results. Due to the fact that the software has a million-row limit.

The story published yesterday by the BBC written by Leo Kelion (Technology Desk Editor) investigates what went wrong. This highlights that if you upgrade your software and talk to your IT provider, you will avoid nasty surpises. Are you using out of date operating system and software? Upgrade your software to make sure your business operates more efficiently and stays secure.

The data error led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures. In addition, 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and were not told to self-isolate. PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs.

Rapid development of the testing programme has meant that much of the work is still done manually. Individual labs send PHE spreadsheets containing their results. However, the system has improved from the early days of the pandemic and it is still far from automated.

Upgrade your software

More than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers after
15,841 positive tests were left off the daily figures. Photograph: Simon Leigh/Alamy

Excel spreadsheet error caused a huge spike in Covid cases

The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England. Nearly 16,000 cases were left unreported because of a technical error with an Excel spreadsheet.

Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1st October. The equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.

The problem has led to a delay in efforts by NHS Test and Trace to find the contacts of those who tested positive for the virus, in some cases by around a week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to say on Monday morning how many contacts of positive coronavirus cases had been missed.

IT experts ‘surprised’ at PHE use of Excel for Covid-19 data

IT experts have questioned why Public Health England used Excel for a scheme as large as NHS Test and Trace. Once the technical error led to nearly 16,000 cases going unreported. Computing experts and academics said it is “very surprising” that Excel was used for something of this scale and not adequately tested” they said.

“It is very surprising to hear that an enterprise scale system, presumably developed by professional technologists, is expected to run on Excel,” said Adam Leon Smith, fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and chair of BCS’s special interest group in software testing.

“Many large organisations refer disparagingly to Excel-based applications as ‘end-user driven architectures’. They spend lots of time trying to decommission them for reasons relating to security, control and stability”.

“This is mostly because Excel is designed for end-users not complex systems. It has well-known scalability limits. Excel can’t handle unexpected situations in a way that interacting systems will be able to recognise”.

“It sounds like these limitations have manifested in real problems in this case. This is exactly why databases are normally used in enterprise applications”.

“Even if presented with a system that did rely on Excel, one of the first things that should have been identified through a testing process was a limit to the data volume it could process.”

Covid Testing

A sign in Bolton, UK reminds people of the need for testing Credit: Adam Vaughan/Shutterstock

Excel has limitations

Dr Peter Bannister, executive chair for the Institution of Engineering and Technology Healthcare Sector, said limitations of commercial off-the-shelf products such as Excel for medical uses are well-known.

“It’s disappointing to read that a lack of awareness around the limitations of a consumer software product has led to such a negative impact for all those who are relying on the Covid testing programme,” he said.

“It’s widely known within medical device development that the use of commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Excel, requires additional testing to ensure that they are able to meet the stringent requirements of use in a healthcare setting.”

The Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size. New names could not be added in an automated process, he advised. The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.

Consider file size

Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of communications systems from the University of Cambridge, said file size is a “basic consideration”.

“One would think that a software engineer would have considered a worst-case test scenario for any system design – on paper before you even get to writing code – just to make sure it wouldn’t blow up in any way like this,” he explained.

“The limitations of Excel in terms of big data, which is generally a very decent piece of software, are well-known – if you look at how many people are expressing astonishment at this online, you can see that.”

He continued: “There are many big systems in Government (e.g. DVLA’s or HMRC’s) that work at this scale so there’s no excuse.

“Also, a simple sanity check on the data or error checks in the system might have told them when they hit this limit instead of discovering it after the event.

“This sort of thing is standard in sixth form or undergraduate computer science training too.”

Upgrade your software for efficient business

Has your organization been considering an upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 from on premises Office/Exchange? Perhaps you’re holding back because the word, “upgrade” is enough to scare anyone away. Most companies upgrade software when they are forced to. But in the case of Office 365, the benefits you’ll get from upgrading are delightfully easy and without doubt worth the commitment.

Contact the LIS Help Desk about how we can upgrade your software to Office 365. Take advantage of tools like Intelligent Edge, PowerApps and Flow. These tools ensure  your data is tied to the same cloud system. This enables you to access your email addresses without additional setup and configuration, as well as other benefits.

Office 365 Security Package
Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools. The package works continuously on Microsoft Office 365 accounts. They provide genuine protection benefits that EVERY business ought to have. We manage EVERYTHING for you. It’s all in our hands, which is exactly how it should be. However, once we upgrade your software, you will have peace of mind to allow you to focus on your business.

Download our Office 365. A Risky Business? booklet to find our more.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Excel #Covid #Office 365 #ITSupportEssex

Driving test website

Driving test website for England and Wales crashes shortly after reopening. DVSA portal had almost 7 million visits in 12 hours when it reopened after several months of suspension.

Driving test website crashes

The BBC reported millions of people were unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.

Learner drivers will be unable to book a driving test until Wednesday. Urgent maintenance has started on the website after it crashed at a time of unprecedented demand.

Driving test website

The DVSA said 210,000 driving tests had been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Alamy

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said its driving test booking service had almost 7m visits in 12 hours. It reopened after several months of suspension during the coronavirus lockdown.

It said on Saturday that it had taken the service offline until 8am on Wednesday. Increased demand on the site led to essential maintenance to keep the site running.

Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business-as-usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.

“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7m attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. DVSA have closed the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience.”

When will the driving test website re-open?

The DVSA driving test booking service for England and Wales reopened again at 8am on Friday after being closed since 20 March. The service received 7 million visits by 8pm. This left candidates unable to complete their bookings. Users received an error message when attempting to access the bookings page.

210,000 tests had been cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of Covid-19, said the DVSA. Learners whose tests were cancelled during lockdown were first invited to rebook in July.

Driving tests in Scotland are due to restart from 14 September, but people are not yet able to book a slot.

IT does not have to drive you mad

Don’t let your IT system drive you mad. We are the IT recovery service for when your website crashes and/or you experience computer problems. Contact the LIS Help Desk today and our friendly team will be glad to offer you assistance.

We can fix your problems, suggest upgrades and manage your back up solutions. With a monthly IT contract, the benefits are endless. Can you afford not to work with an efficient, reliable and knowledgeable IT company. We are only one click or a phone call away. With our help you can drive towards your goals without tests getting in the way.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Websites #Internet #ITSupport #Security

Realistic robotic pets

The realistic robotic pets are designed to give seniors some companionship, without all the responsibility of an actual animal. Your elderly parents can comfort, cuddle and care for these lifelike cats and dogs. The realistic robotic pets help the elderly battle with loneliness, dementia and mental wellbeing.

Realistic robotic pets

Thanks to built-in sensor technology, the robotic pet responds to petting and motion much like the cats you know and love.

Realistic robotic pets comfort the elderly

Without a doubt, the hardest thing about getting older is watching the people you love get older, too. Your aging parents or loved ones deserve to spend their remaining years with as much love and warmth as possible, especially if they are battling an illness.

That’s why, over the last few years, pet companions have become so popular, particularly for older adults who are feeling lonely or have dementia. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that the interaction between aging adults and animals — whether real or robotic — can help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, reduce feelings of loneliness, and improve overall quality of life. Some nursing homes even offer pet therapy for dementia patients to ease any unintended agitation and aggression.

For these very reasons, more than 1,300 Amazon shoppers have left five-star reviews for Ageless Innovation’s Joy for All Companion Pets. Perfect for dog or cat lovers, these plush animals have built-in sensors, “vibra purr” or “bark back” technology, and brushable fur, making them surprisingly realistic. In other words, they look, feel, and sound exactly like the pets that your loved ones grew up with (minus the litter box or backyard clean up). Insert four batteries, and the cats, which come in four different shades to mimic real breeds, can open and close their eyes, lift their paws, and move their head and body. If you pet them in the right spot — like on their belly or back side — they’ll let out a “purr.”

If your loved one is more of a dog person, you can also buy a stuffed golden puppy, accessorized with a red bandana, that will bark if he’s feeling happy, sad, or needy. At only four pounds, the stuffed pup is easy to play with and won’t weigh down even the most fragile frame.

Is it worth the price?

The price of Ageless Innovation’s toy is steeper than other stuffed animals on the market. Glowing reviews prove that these lifelike robotic pets are worth every penny, especially when gifting them to a loved one. “My family recently had to place my mum in a nursing home for long term care. She has dementia and my 88-year-old father could no longer care for her. We worried about the time she would spend there when no one was visiting. Because of this, I got her one of these cats. I am happy to say that this was one of the best purchases I have ever made. It is truly remarkable what this cat can do. It is very lifelike and although my mother knows it isn’t real, she enjoys it nonetheless,” one Amazon shopper wrote.

One reviewer who has a wife with dementia shared a similar sentiment. “My wife of 72 years has been diagnosed with rapid onset moderate dementia. She always wanted a dog. However, I knew that in our situation a real dog would demand more than we would be able to provide. When searching for robotic dogs as a novelty gift, I came across this companion pet and purchased it, if for no other reason than its realistic appearance. She has since spent hours with it every day since. “It has a heart” she says, reacting to the beating mechanism inside. Anything that can bring such joy and happiness is something to be truly grateful for.”

A company with a human touch

Here at LIS we can guarantee you will not have to deal with robots or automated telephone systems. When you contact the LIS Help Desk you get to speak to an experienced and friendly IT Technician. We are able to help with security issues, cloud-based back-up solutions, upgrades, IT support and telecoms. Call today to arrange your IT audit. It is FREE and there are no obligations to buy.

Realistic robotic pets are perfect for older people in need of companionship. As well as anyone who wants a cat but can’t be bothered with litter trays and tins of cat food. So why not work with an IT company than can give you peace of mind. Allowing yourself more time to focus on your business!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Robotics #Pets #ITSupport #Security