Fastest Ever Broadband Passes Speed Test

Fastest Ever Broadband Passes Speed Test
The “fastest ever” broadband speeds have been achieved in a test in London, raising hopes of more efficient data transfer via existing infrastructure.

Alcatel-Lucent and BT said speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved during their joint test – enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second. The test was conducted on a 410km (255-mile) link between the BT Tower in central London and Ipswich.

However, it may be many years before consumers notice any effect.

But the breakthrough is being seen as highly important for internet service providers (ISPs), as it means a greater amount of information can be sent through existing broadband infrastructure, reducing the need for costly upgrades. “BT and Alcatel-Lucent are making more from what they’ve got,” explained Oliver Johnson, chief executive of broadband analyst firm Point Topic. “It allows them to increase their capacity without having to spend much more money.”

Alcatel-Lucent told the BBC that the demand for higher bandwidth grew by around 35% every year, making the need for more efficient ways to transfer data a massively pressing issue for ISPs, particularly with the growing popularity of data-heavy online services, such as film-streaming website Netflix.

There are faster methods of transmitting data – such as the use of complex laser technology – but this is the first test to achieve such high speeds in “real world” conditions, outside testing labs.

The high speeds were achieved using existing fibre cable technology that has already been installed in much of the UK and other parts of the world.

Kevin Drury, optical marketing leader at Alcatel-Lucent, likened the development to reducing space between lanes on a busy motorway, enabling more lanes of traffic to flow through the same area. He said flexibility meant some could be adapted to specific needs – like opening an extra lane during the morning rush hour.

In internet terms, this would mean, for example, streaming video would get a large, wide lane, while accessing standard web pages would need only a small part of the fibre’s capacity.

However, pushing more data through fibre cables presents a challenge. “The trade-off is, the more you squeeze into a fibre line, the more potential there is for interference and for error,” explained Mr Johnson. “What has got better is the fact they are able to pack these channels closer together and into the same space.”

Alcatel-Lucent and BT said their test demonstrated “stable, error-free operation”.

Fridge Sends Spam Emails!

Fridge Sends Spam Emails!
A fridge has been discovered sending out spam after a web attack managed to compromise smart gadgets. The fridge was one of more than 100,000 devices used to take part in the spam campaign.

Uncovered by security firm Proofpoint the attack compromised computers, home routers, media PCs and smart TV sets.

The attack is believed to be one of the first to exploit the lax security on devices that are part of the “internet of things”.

The spam attack took place between 23 December 2013 and 6 January this year, said Proofpoint in a statement. In total, it said, about 750,000 messages were sent as part of the junk mail campaign. The emails were routed through the compromised gadgets. About 25% of the messages seen by Proofpoint researchers did not pass through laptops, desktops or smartphones, it said.

Instead, the malware managed to get itself installed on other smart devices such as kitchen appliances, the home media systems on which people store copied DVDs and web-connected televisions.

Many of these gadgets have computer processors onboard and act as a self-contained web server to handle communication and other sophisticated functions.

Investigation by Proofpoint into the internet addresses involved in the attack revealed the presence of the smart gadgets, said David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint’s information security division.

“The results spoke for themselves when the addresses responded with explicit identification, including well-known, often graphically branded interfaces, file structures, and content,” he told the BBC.

Mr Knight speculated that the malware that allowed spam to be sent from these devices was able to install itself because many of the gadgets were poorly configured or used default passwords that left them exposed.

He said attacks such as this would become much more routine as homes and furnishings got smarter and were put online.

“Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur,” he added.

Deadline to Exchange old £50 UK Bank Note

Deadline to Exchange old £50 UK Bank Note
Shoppers with an old-style £50 note featuring the image of Sir John Houblon need to spend it or deposit it by the end of April. The banknote is being withdrawn from circulation by the Bank of England. The notes can be used until the end of 30 April.

Retailers and some banks can refuse to accept the note after that date.

Sir John was the Bank’s first governor. His image was replaced on the new note with Matthew Boulton and James Watt. The pair feature on the new note partly because they were instrumental in manufacturing coins that were difficult to counterfeit. The note went into circulation in November 2011.

Anyone who has an old £50 note – which was first issued in April 1994 – can exchange it at any bank, or spend it, by the end of April. Any institution can refuse it after that.

However, Barclays, NatWest, RBS, Ulster Bank and the Post Office have all agreed to exchange Houblon £50 notes, up to the value of £200, until 30 October.

Any old notes that no longer have legal tender status can be exchanged at the Bank of England itself at any time.

There are approximately 224 million £50 notes in circulation, of which an estimated 63 million are Houblon notes.

The Bank of England recently announced plans to introduce plastic banknotes into circulation. The £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill will be the first polymer banknote in 2016.

YouTube Streamlines Comment Management System

YouTube Streamlines Comment Management System
YouTube has unveiled a new feature that lets users see, respond to and moderate comments all in one place. The move comes after changes that were announced in November last year to alter the way users could comment on clips proved to be unpopular among users. The changes took away a feature that had previously allowed users to manage comments from their YouTube Inbox.

YouTube acknowledged that users of the site were unhappy with the change. “Many of you have told us that you use your YouTube Inbox to manage comments,” the video sharing site said in a blogpost.

The company said that as a result it had “fast-tracked” the development of the new comment management system to give users a better way to organise and manage comments.

YouTube had justified its changes last year by saying that the move would give users more tools to manage comments posted on their clips.

However, the move proved controversial and some users posted war-themed drawings on YouTube’s blog to protest against the change. A petition calling on Google to scrap the move was also launched on change.org. It has received more than 200,000 signatures since then.

YouTube’s latest change received a mixed reaction from users. Andrew Maxwell commented on the post saying the move was “going to make YouTube a better platform for commenting and interacting I think. Like your email inbox”. However, others called for further improvements to the feature.

A key issue raised by some was that the new comment management page does not allow users to respond to posts directly. They said they have to navigate to a new tab or window in order to do so.

Carlos Macias Jimenez said the ability to reply directly to messages would make the process “so much easier and streamlined”. “I would answer way more comments this way,” he said.

Virtual Building Tool Helps Cut Out Errors

Virtual Building Tool Helps Cut Out Errors
North East business _space is preparing to launch its 3D modelling software, BIMstore.co.uk

A North East business is at the forefront of UK technological innovation in the construction sector, as it prepares to launch its phase 2 online 3D modelling software, BIMstore.co.uk

_space Group, established in the region in 1957, has five offices across the UK and is reaping the benefits of identifying an early market opportunity for building information modelling (BIM), a process that enables building designers to create virtual buildings in 3D.

The business secured funding from Investment for Growth in order to develop the hi-tech, web-based platform required to host the software.

BIM brings together electronic construction information into a single database, encouraging a more integrated approach to design and construction processes.

Benefits include being able to test a building virtually, trouble-shooting and correcting errors before a brick is laid and increased levels of communication on the design team.

Rob Charlton, chief executive of _space Group, said: “It is rather like App Store or ITunes, but for construction.”

BIMstore.co.uk is now turning over around £750,000 a year for _space Group, with projections that it will exceed £1m in 2014.

NECC Survey Shows Best Results in a Decade

NECC Survey Shows Best Results in a Decade
The North East Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey highlights improvements across the board.

North East companies taking part in the region’s largest business survey have returned the most positive set of results in over a decade.

The North East Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), produced in partnership with Barclays, reveals scores for domestic sales and workforce across the private sector are at their highest levels since the NECC was formed in 1995.

Having charted slow but steady growth across most indicators throughout 2013, the Quarter 4 QES, in fact, has returned the best set of results generally since 2003.

It also shows confidence levels in future performance ranking alongside the highest scores seen in the survey’s history, with significant growth in staff recruitment.

Published today, the QES is designed to reflect the health and direction of the North East economy, measured across 11 separate indicators. In all areas, scores are well into positive territory and significantly better than a year ago.

Notable successes, however, have been recorded among firms affiliated to oil and gas supply chains and in business services. The leisure sector has also picked up significantly in the last quarter, and growth is continuing in the manufacturing and service sectors.

NECC director of policy, Ross Smith, said: “We have ended the year on a real high. Three years of stuttering growth and then the solid, steady progress we have monitored throughout the year has been eclipsed in the final quarter, which is a positive indicator for 2014.

“The North East is fighting back and our businesses are leading the recovery.”

He added that for the past two years, NECC had been calling on the Government to empower the North East to deliver more for UK Plc, and that these figures proved the region was capable of much more.

“The economic conditions have been far from ideal, yet we have seen the region close the gap on the rest of the UK in our output,” he said.

“Next year we must lobby the Government to match the ambitions of our businesses and continue to grow our economy.”

Smith acknowledged the survey represented the pace of improvement, not absolute performance, and could not be taken to reflect the regional economy as a whole.

However, it was “another significant shot in the arm for the region’s business community”.

Among the NECC members celebrating a strong year was County Durham’s Esh group, one of the leading construction companies in the North of England, with a turnover of £174m and a workforce of over 1,000.

Chief executive Brian Manning said: “Turnover and margin across our diverse construction activities has improved as the year moved on with the final quarter ending in a flourish. This has ensured a Christmas bonus for our staff and an improved dividend in the New Year for our shareholders many of whom are employees. As a regional business this money will no doubt find its way into the local economies of the North East, Cumbria and Yorkshire where we work.”

Brian Foreman, head of the Barclays North East Mid-Corporate Banking Team, said the results were “perhaps slightly surprising” but boded well for 2014.

He added that export markets may grow further as other economies recover.