Tesla and the Model U

Lets face it, with over 400,000 preorders and counting for the Tesla Model 3 that was announced earlier in March it is safe to say that the frenzy and attention that is surrounding Tesla and they aren’t going anywhere. In fact its safe to say now that they are no longer in the category of being a start up or fringe auto maker any more. No sir they are a bonified car company and as such they are beginning to announce their long terms strategy in the development of many different types of cars in order to make their presence known across any and every facet of the auto industry. And if they are going to make the big impact they want in the United States and want to break out of just getting love from Berkeley Soccer dads who work at Google they need to get into what Americans want and desire most, and that is the pick up truck. That’s right Tesla is going to make a pick up truck. This is not surprising considering that the Ford F-150 has been the top selling car in the United States for mover 30 years, it is safe to say that the American car buying public knows what it wants.

When it comes to building a pick up truck they are being asked to do something they have never done before, that is to make a truck that has the power range and strength that is expected out of an American working car. Lets face it the Model S isn’t going to be able to take more than a mid sized Costco run so in order to bring the goods with the Model U they have to almost go back to the drawing board and think what it means to be a pick up truck and how they can do so with a power source that is much less powerful than traditional combustion engines.
What Tesla is banking on is something that is nothing short of ground breaking. They realize that they are never going to out truck Ford or Chevy when working within the aesthetics of a traditional American Truck, nor should they try. What they are going to do is make something like the world has never seen, and have it appeal to car buyers of tomorrow, because that is where their fan base lies.

It seems like they are too far out there and we see what happens when you try to enter the truck market with something weird like what Honda did a few years back until they eventually fell on their face. But what is going to make them different is that they are offering something that will blow away the competition in terms of price for fuel. In fact it may even be free if you go to a Tesla Super Charge Station. When it comes to trucks contractors use them for the most part. When it comes to contracting low bid wins. This being they case they could become the new normal of the market within a few years.

A More Biological Take on Home Lighting

Today Phillips Lighting revealed its newest line of home lighting products: the Philips Hue white ambiance connected light bulbs.

Light bulbs designed to create “natural” lighting are not in themselves revolutionary; such products have been around for a while now. However, the Phillips Hue line brings “natural” lighting to a new level.

hue2These lights gradually brighten in the morning, assisting buyers in a more intuitive and natural awakening every morning. The lights are also able to dim gradually at night, helping users to adjust intuitively as bedtime rolls around. The lights could also be helpful for institutions that help people to rest like hospitals and day cares.

The lights also have a variety of settings when it comes to color. They can generate light that ranges from cool daylight to warm white, and users can choose whichever settings fit their mood by using a connected dimmer switch or even make adjustments on their smartphones or tablets using an app.

When or which bulbs produce however much of whichever color can all be determined by programmed routines throughout the day. For example, a user could program a light to act as a nightlight after dark, minimizing their exposure to sleep-cycle-degrading blue light. Come sun up, the bulbs can be set to appropriate lighting for work, reading, relaxing, energizing or unwinding.

“We’re at the start of a phenomenal shift in the industry with Philips Hue lighting system for the home,” stated Chris Worp, current leader of Philips home light business. “It enables consumers to create entirely new experiences… Philips Hue white ambiance is the ultimate white light bulb, offering the full spectrum white light to complement your daily routines, whether it’s to wake you up naturally, feel energized or fall asleep peacefully.”

Starting in Spring, these lights will be available in North America and Europe as a starter kit with two bulbs, a bridge that supports Apple HomeKit, and a Philips Hue dimmer switch.

Philips Lighting claims that its new bulbs’ ability to change in temperature throughout the day constitutes a huge leap forward in the industry of conventional lighting solutions, which traditionally offer only dimming features and some variance in adjustment of brightness.

“LEDs have opened up opportunities in lighting that weren’t available with incandescents or flourescents,” explained Fandall Whitehead, lighting designer of Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions. “We are now able to create tunable light that varies not only in intensity but also in color temperature.”

hue3“What the Philips team has done is give us the ability to align the illumination in our homes with our circadian rhythms,” continued Whitehead. “This is the body’s response to light and darkness and what affects our wake/sleep cycle. The Hue system helps us align our interior illumination with the lighting of the natural world.”

Some believe that proper alignment of one’s activity with one’s circadian rhythm can enable a person to experience better sleep and higher peak and daily energy levels.

“The ability to adjust color temperature means this bulb could help you sleep better,” offered Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “It adjusts gradually to wake you up, but it is also designed to help you at night,” he stated.

Hackers Hold Hospital Computers Hostage

Unfortunately you don’t have to be the NSA Hacker Chief to hack a hospital. Ransomware has been on the rise for years, but this most recent incident might be the most heavily publicized example yet.

ransomwareRansomware is a type of malware that involves hackers locking your computer or keyboard until you pay a ransom. This ransom is generally asked for in the form of bitcoin, the untraceable internet currency that is used legitimately and illegitimately around the world.

Private users and public agencies have seen fit to pay the ransom, although sometimes the hacker is ill-intentioned enough to not even restore access to the user’s computers. I believe an entire district police force once opted to pay the ransom, though if I remember correctly they did end up getting their data back.

The most recent victim of a ransomware attack is a testament to how egregious these hackers’ choices can be; the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles has been forced to have their computers offline for over a week because of their unwillingness or inability of pay the $3.4 billion ransom hackers are demanding.

The attack affects the LA hospital’s computer systems needed for law work, pharmaceutical orders, and, sadly, even the computers needed in the emergency room.

The hospital’s spokesperson has been unavailable to comment as of yet, butt he Hollywood Presbyterian Medial Center’s president and CEO Allen Stefanek told KNBC that the attack was “clearly not a malicious attack; it was just a random attack.”

steefPeople aren’t quite sure what that is supposed to mean, but it can be assumed that it was something to the tune of, the hackers didn’t purposefully target the hospital but instead sent out a larger net of potential attack leads and the hospital became entangled. However, some journalists doubt that targeting a hospital in a wealthy neighborhood would be the result of a random attack, especially since the hackers are asking for such a large sum of money.

Randomware has been around for over a decade, but it’s only recently that the hacking techniques have become so sophisticated. Originally it was only possible to lock down a target’s keyboard and computer, but hackers have figured out how to encrypt an infected system’s files with a private key that only the hacker knows. Anonymous hospital sources have reported that the hackers offered a “key” in exchange for the ransom money, leading observers to assume that this was the case in this incident.

According to Stefanek, patient care has yet to suffer from the attack, though some emergency patients were deferred to other hospitals nearby. Apparently the major issue has boiled down to the inconvenience of forcing hospital staff to write out documentation by hand for about a week straight. There have been a few patients that had to drive to far-away hospitals for medical tests that could only  be conducted with the HPMC’s functioning network.

The demanded ransom is certainly a pretty penny, however. Symantec claims that the total amount of ransomware paid per year is usually around $5 million, so if the hospital coughs up that cash 2016 should be a record breaker. It would also likely inspire copycat attacks, which would be very detrimental to society. Hopefully the government will get involved and figure out who these hackers are.

NSA Hacker Chief Provides Insight

During one of the most highly anticipated forums at the annual Usenix Enigma security conference in San Francisco, head of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Rob Joyce explained how to defend against the snooping procedures of him and his NSA coworkers.

TAOAs he explained to a room full of security professionals and academics, the NSA operates by exploiting the login credentials of network administrators and others with high levels of network access and privileges that can open the door to monitoring private users.

Once inside a network, the NSA tries to find hardcoded passwords in software or passwords that are transmitted by old, legacy protocols.

“Don’t assume a crack is too small to be noticed, or too small to be exploited,” Joyce warned. “If you do a penetration test of your network and 97 things pass the test but three esoteric things fail, don’t think they don’t matter. Those are the ones the NSA, and other nation-state attackers will seize on. We need that first crack, that first seam. And we’re going to look and look and look for that esoteric kind of edge case to break open and crack in.”

Among Joyce’s many revelations regarding the ways that the NSA hacks into private networks were through temporary network openings, Steam games, HVAC systems, and something called the Quantum insert code injection technique, which apparently allowed for the British spy agency GCHQ to hack the Belgium telecom Belgacom.

The number one way the NSA hacks into your device? Packet injection.


“We put the time in …to know [that network] better than the people who designed it and the people who are securing it,” Joyce explained. “You know the technologies you intended to use in that network. We know the technologies that are actually in use in that network. Subtle difference. You’d be surprised about the things that are running on a network vs. the thing that you think are supposed to be there.”

Joyce also listed ways to make the NSA’s snooping a little more challenging. He recommend that users make access to important systems a higher-privilege system so that only those who really need access are given it. He also recommended that users segment networks and important data to make it less accessible for hackers. Patching systems and implementing application whitelisting was said to be another good way to ward off cyberattacks, and hardcoding passwords and legacy protocols that transmit passwords in the clear was also deemed essential.

NSA also apparently hates “out-of-band network taps”, devices that monitor network activity and produce logs that can record anomalous activity. If you’re a smart administrator and you actually read through the logs and understand what they say, you’re likely to be able to identify if someone’s come snooping.

One of Joyce’s biggest surprises? The NSA doesn’t rely heavily on zero-day attacks, mostly because it doesn’t have to:

“[With] any large network, I will tell you that persistence and focus will get you in, will achieve that exploitation without the zero days,” he assured. “There’s so many more vectors that are easier, less risky and quite often more productive than going down that route.”

Gun Control Meets the Dark Web

In a tearful speech that has yielded media attention and an outpouring of arguments, U.S. President Barack Obama outlined a series of new executive actions aimed at curbing the rampant gun violence in America.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch claims that Obama’s actions will help to regulate the increasing number of guns are being sold over the Internet, specifically those being sold on the “dark web”. The dark web refers to heavily encrypted virtual spaces where users can anonymously browse and supply websites, communicates with one another, and buy and sell goods.

obama cryingThe anonymity of the dark web has allowed for a black market to develop in which the proliferation of illegal services are bought and sold. The most notorious of these marketplaces, a website known as the Silk Road, was shut down in 2013. Of course, the hydra-like growth of the internet ensured that multiple copycat websites swooped in to take its place.

Accordingly, illegal weapons are easily traded online using bitcoins, an anonymous and non-government-regulated form of currency that has been around since 2008. The bitcoin has a tumultuous past of sky-rocketing and nose-diving in value, but the need for anonymous trading has kept the currency alive.

Nicolas Christin acts as assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He worked with a team or researchers in a recent deep-dive analysis of sales on 35 marketplaces from 2013 to 2015. According to Christin, weapon sales on the internet are not as prevalent as the Attorney General may think.

“Weapons represent a very small portion of the overall trade on anonymous marketplaces,” he claimed. “There is some trade, but it is pretty much negligible.” The dark web’s black markets are more focused on illegal substance, with marijuana and MDMA sales accounting for around 50% of all trades.

mdma silk roadApparently weapons are lumped in with a hodgepodge of products that fall under the “miscellaneous” category, a group composed of electronics, Viagra, tobacco, steroids and drug paraphernalia that together only make up about 3% of the dark web’s economic activity.

The Silk Road even attempted to launch a sister site known as the Armory in 2012. Only a few months passed by before the Armory was shut down again due to lack of interest.

So why the lack of interest? It turns out that purchasing a gun illegally can actually be more precarious and difficult than just buying one the old fashioned way. Guns are much more difficult to ship discreetly and there are plenty of dark web scammers that are likely to take buyers’ money without delivering the product.

“Why would you go through the hassle of purchasing Bitcoin, logging into an anonymous marketplace, purchasing weapons from an online deals, and potentially going through the further hassle of reassembling various weapon parts chipped in multiple parcels to your house, when you can get these weapons legally, e.g. at a gun show- without much of a background check?” Christin asked.

Nonetheless, Lynch believes illegal sales are a major issue: “The industry is shifting and growing… If it does stop one act of violence, this will be worth it.”

The IoT Opens up the Door for Cyberattacks

The IoT (Internet of Things) is a movement towards what’s expected to be a hugely profitable industry; more and more technological devices will be connected the internet and remotely accessed by mobile devices and computers miles away from the actual source.

There is a lot to be gained from these upcoming services, but many are also worried about the connection of more and more devices to the internet; with the constant stream of terrorist attacks affecting large and often extremely secure companies all over the world, connecting even more devices to the internet makes a larger portion of our lives susceptible to malicious hackers (now called crackers, which I think is sort of an oversight).

According to some projections, by 2016 there will be around 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet. This number will increase by an astounding 5.5 million devices per day, until about 20 billion devices are connected in 2020.

In response to this rapid development, the FBI recently released a public service announcement that the Internet of Thing’s development will indeed make more users more vulnerable to cybercrime.

open garage doorIt listed the following devices as ones which could make civilians vulnerable once connected to the Internet: automated devices that remotely or automatically adjust the lighting or HVAC, thermostats, wearables like fitness devices, and smart appliances like refrigerators and TVs.

According to the FBI PSA, crackers “can use these opportunities to remotely facilitate attacks on other systems, send malicious and spam e-mails, steal personal information, or interfere with physical safety.”

It’s without a doubt a creepy idea; a cracker/burglar that hacks into your IoT network could switch off the lights in your house, open any electrically-powered safes, and start using your personal coffee machine to make him or herself an espresso if he/she sees fit .

Especially creepy: because IoT devices are gradually expanding to include medical devices that dispense medication to people that are ill and tubed up, cybercriminals could even hack into someone’s medical device and mess with their prescribed medicine. Imagine if a murderous cracker were to hack into a patient’s medicine dispenser and give him or her a deadly dose of morphine, for example. That’s terrifying.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington, DC

People have had even more horrible ideas such as criminals hacking into baby monitoring systems at home and in day care centers to watch young children, hacking into automated home devices like garage doors and security devices to gain access to a home, and even hacking into gas pumps that have joined the Internet of Things to “cause the pump to register incorrect levels, creating either a false gas shortage or allowing a refueling vehicle to dangerously overfill the tanks, creating a fire hazard, or interrupt the connection to the point-of-sale system allowing fuel to be dispensed without registering a monetary transaction.”

Plenty of companies have validated these risks by preparing for the potential attacks. Microsoft, for example, has announced new security efforts with its Windows 10 IoT Core, which focuses on offering enterprise-level security to private and public clients that use IoT devices, even those without screens.

How Do You Send a Message in Binary Code?

Everyone is familiar with the internet, but few have a comprehensive understanding of how it actually works. Perhaps you’re aware that the information stored on any electronic device can generally be broken down into megabytes, kilobytes, bytes and bits of binary code, and that that code is what’s transferred from one device to another. But then how is it sent physically?

Well obviously the amount of yes’s and no’s involved in even a single 3-minute song are inconceivable to human consciousness, but a machine can be programmed to take in all that information extremely quickly. Consider a machine that can make a light bulb flicker on and off much faster than any human hand pressing a button.

But how are those on and off orders conveyed in bulk at extremely fast speeds over long distances? We generally use copper wires. Let’s start by addressing a typical ethernet wire. They have a measurable signal loss/interference for these orders even just over the few feet of wire that they provide.

ethernetFor internet to be accessible and fast all over the world, humans need something that moves faster than electricity, so they use light. Using a fibre optic cable, we can send bits via light beams. A fibre optic cable is just a thread of glass specially engineered to reflect light. That means when you send a beam down a fibre optic cable, the light beam bounces up and down the cable until it is received on the other end. Because scientists have figured out how to determine the particular angle from which the bouncing beam of light is being received, we can send multiple beams of light through the cable and know which one is which on the other end.

Fibre optic cables supply by far the fastest and most accurate way of sending information over long distances, but its also extremely expensive and challenging to work with.

radiowavesSo we’ve talked about copper wires and fibre optic cables, but how do we send things wirelessly? Wireless bit sending machines typically use radios to send bits from one place to another. The machines have to transmit 1’s and 0’s into radio waves of different frequencies. The receiving machines then reverse this process, converting the waves back into binary code on your computer.

However, radio signals are prone to interference and cannot travel very far without getting garbled. That’s why you can’t generally listen to your favorite hometown radio station unless you’re in your hometown.

So then how are we constantly using wireless devices? The devices need to be close to either a wireless router which is then connected to the previously mentioned copper or fibre optic cables, or they need to connect to some kind of service providers’ larger-scaled satellite stuff that I don’t really understand.

Regardless, every single thing you see on the internet is made up of binary code, broken down and transferred via the presence or absence of electricity, the presence or absence of light, or the difference in frequency of radio waves. Pretty amazing stuff.

Recovery and Backup Solutions: Frequently Asked Questions

In order to keep your digital data safe you will want to make regular backups of it. Backups are copies of your data which can be used should something happen to your computer, smartphone or tablet. This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions regarding data backup and recovery.

Why Do I Need to Backup My Data?

Should anything happen to your computer, you could end up losing all of your data. Think about all the documents, photographs and music that you may have stored on your computer – all of this could be wiped within a second. By backing up your data you will have another copy of it which you can use in the event of an emergency.

How Can I Backup My Data?

There are several ways that you can backup your data. The most popular ways are to backup your data on CD or DVD, to use a flash drive, to use an external hard drive or to use an online data backup service.

CDs and DVDs provide an affordable way to backup data. You can copy data from your computer to the CD, but this process can take a while to copy depending on how much data you have. A disadvantage of using this method is that CDs and DVDs will only have a limited capacity, plus they can also get damaged easily. Make sure that you store CD and DVD backups in a safe and secure place.

Flash drives are another economical backup option. You can set them up so that data is automatically copied onto the flash drive as a backup. Flash drives come in a large range of sizes, so you can choose the right one for your needs. Flash drives are also small and convenient to transport.

External Hard drives have an extremely large capacity in comparison to DVDs, CDs and flash drives. They are slightly more bulky than the flash drive but they are still easy to transport, plus they are also extremely fast.

Perhaps one of the best options is to go for an online data backup service. This is where all of your data is stored on an off-site server. You can set it up so that all of your data is automatically stored onto the system. Online backup services will require a small monthly or annual fee, plus you will need to have a constant Internet connection.

What Is Data Recovery?

In some instances, such as when your computer malfunctions, you may be able to have some of your data recovered. This is where a specialist recovers the data stored within your hard drive.

As well as backup and data recovery services we are also able to offer computer repairs, instant support, premises wiring and installation and design services. A full price list can be found on our website, along with our contact details. If you have any questions then please contact us and one of our technicians will be happy to help. We look forward to hearing from you.

Simple Steps for a Faster PC

If you have a PC that runs on Windows and you have had it for any amount of time, you may have noticed it has slowed down, this can be because of numerous factors from a virus, to not enoughRAM. Whatever the reason some basic maintenance could be all it needs. Here are some simple remedies to your speed problem


The first thing you should do is run an anti-virus program to make sure there is nothing hiding on your computer, and interfering with its running. It is actually better to run a couple of antivirus programs,nosingle anti-virus program will find all the viruses, worms and Trojans that are out there. There is a big selection of programs to choose from, and many people opt for the free versions as they are so good. It is probably best to read some reviews and pick one that has an easily understandable interface.


Similar to the anti-virus, spyware detectors will find things on your computer that though not malicious, will certainly slow your computer down, and could feed information from your computer to outside parties.

Your registry

Your registry is vital to your computer as it controls its running and its settings. Most registry cleaners will be able to repair your registry and are also simple to use. They will scan your registry and look for errors such asnon-existent programs and broken links. After a quick scan they will recommend registry entries to remove or repair in the form of a list. The better programs will indicate ones that could be dangerous to delete, but they will usually come with a registry back up facility to use. Always use this as some registry values when deleted will destroy your computer.

Temporary files

These types of file can generally be removed with no problems at all, though if you use the internet you are constantly creating more. There are many programs to do the job, infact the program you use to fix your registry may well be able to sort out your temporary files as well. Again it is wise to create a backup before deleting anything off your computer, but this is normally a straight procedure.


Your windows operating system will have this facility built into it, and you should use it every so often to make file retrieval that little bit faster. Your computer will become like a library with books strewn all over the tables, finding the right book will take time and effort. A defrag will put the books back in an orderlyaccessible way that makes finding them faster for the computer.


A check for which programs are starting up when you boot your computer is often included in computer maintenance programs and you should pay attention to it. It is much better to have as few programs running in the background as possible. Simply stop programs that you do not need. They will always start when you click on their icon.

What Happens if There Are Still Problems?

These easy, and possibly free, fixes can considerably speed up your computer. If they don’t then maybe a look at the hardware is needed. Bad sectors within a hard drive are one of the most common hardware problems found in computers, often leading to data loss. Even if your hard drive is by a reputable manufacturer, such as Seagate or Western Digital, they can still catch bad sectors due to many physical occurences such as drops, and moisture, leading to data loss. To recover data from Seagate hard drive, or any other harddrive, you should get in touch with a professional data recovery company in order to be certain

Consumers Beware- Computer Exploit is Legal and Lucrative

Making headlines is Zerodium’s $1 million bounty for “jailbreaking” iOS9.1, Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

Zerodium is a computer exploit merchant, meaning it buys and sells knowledge of how to tamper with software. It describes itself as “a privately held and venture backed startup, founded by cybersecurity veterans with unparalleled experience in advanced vulnerability research and exploitation.


It offers a service called the “Zerodium Security Research Feed” (Z-SRF) through which Zerodium pays independent researchers for their zero-day discoveries and then “analyzes, documents, and reports all acquired security information, along with protective measures and security recommendations, to its clients”.

“Zero-day discoveries” refers to vulnerabilities that the software manufacturer both doesn’t know about and hasn’t fixed. These discoveries are worth a lot of money to professional hackers.

You may be asking yourself, how can this line of work possibly be legal? After all, Zerodium is publically paying people $1 million to figure out how to remove security protections built into Apple products with iOS9.1. From that point, hackers could potentially monitor the device, install malware, or otherwise use the device in ways it was never meant to be used. Furthermore, Zerodium is only accepting applicants who manage to do this from a separate web browser and in such a way that if their work remains effective regardless of whether the phone is connected to a computer or restarted completely.jailbrak

It turns out that in the United States, jailbreaking a new iPhone is completely legal and has been since 2010. Federal regulators believed that it fell within consumers’ rights to manipulate iPhones so that they could, for example, download apps from outside Apple’s very closed business model.

Unlocking, the process that enables an phone to be used with any wireless carrier despite whatever carrier with which it was sold, remained illegal until early August of last year.

What’s worrying is that the jailbreaking method is not meant for consumers to use on their own phones; it is clearly meant to be used by a third party, unbeknownst to the owner of the device.

According to Zerodium, one hacking team successfully created the jailbreak and that the information will be sold to “major corporations in defense, technology, and finance” seeking to protect themselves from a potential zero-day attack. Zerodium also admitted that it would be selling the hack to “government organizations in need of specific and tailored cybersecurity capabilities.”

Apple will not be listed in the variety of companies to which Zerodium plans to sell the jailbreak. It also obviously does not plan to release the information to the general public. That said, the entire process is pretty damaging to Apple’s reputation and disconcerting to most Apple users; companies are publically selling information about how to hack into their devices.

That said, Zerodium maintains that the ability to hack into Apple’s devices does not imply that the company is an unsafe option:

“Due to the increasing number of security improvements and the effectiveness of exploit mitigations in place, Apple’s iOS is currently the most secure mobile OS,” Zerodium states on its website. “But don’t be fooled secure does not mean unbreakable.”