Tech & Gaming

Computeractive 532

Computeractive is the UK’s best-selling computer magazine and your friendly guide to PCs, gadgets and the web! It includes regular news updates, project ideas, help and advice on popular reader queries, articles on anti-virus software, features on consumer rights, and a whole lot more to help you get the very best out of your computer. Get PC advice in plain English today – get Computeractive!

United Kingdom
Dennis Publishing UK
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26 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

I’m the founding (and so far only) member of the TJAPA (Technology Journalists Against Pointless Abbreviations), and therefore regard most capitalised initials with disdain. Our Jargon Buster is full of them, most created by elitist experts who have a vested interest in making computing appear confusing to the common man. Given this, you may ask why we’ve put three large letters on this issue’s cover. It’s because some abbreviations are too important to ignore (TITI). A VPN is a virtual private network. By disguising your location, it gives you access to websites that are typically blocked in the UK. It works beyond our borders too, unlocking sites that are restricted in other countries. Another abbreviation has made VPNs more necessary than ever: GDPR. When the EU introduced these tough (and some say…

2 min.
google’s ai robots ‘to replace human call centres’

Google is planning to test its automated voice software in companies’ call centres, according to a report citing sources close to the company. Technology website The Information said Google is in talks with a large unnamed insurance company to introduce Duplex, the artificial-intelligence (AI) system that can speak like a human. Replacing humans with automated systems might make financial sense for companies, though they may face a backlash from customers who’d rather talk to a real person. The rumour comes amid growing fears that the rise of AI will lead to thousands of customer-service staff losing their jobs. Google unveiled Duplex in May, showing how it could be used to book a table in a restaurant or an appointment at a hairdresser’s. Its realism astounded experts, who were particularly impressed by how it…

1 min.
heat from fingers leave hackable passwords

Security researchers have demonstrated how hackers could work out a password by analysing the heat left by fingers on a keyboard. Scientists at the University of California say a thermal camera can ‘see’ which keys have been pressed for up to a minute afterwards. They released images showing how the heat cools in that 60 seconds (pictured), suggesting that hackers would need to act quickly to get entire passwords. Clockwise from top left, the images show heat remaining after zero, 15, 30 and 45 seconds. The researchers said for this “thermanator” attack to work, criminals would have to place a heat-sensing camera so it has a clear view of the keys. People who type with a ‘hunt and peck’ technique of pressing one key at a time with two fingers are more likely…

2 min.
run bbc micro software in 1980s tv archive

You can run over 160 programs written for the influential BBC Micro computer in a new online emulator. It’s part of the BBC’s new archive for its Computer Literacy Project, which ran in the 1980s with the aim of educating the public about the principles of computing and programming. The archive also includes all 267 TV programmes broadcast as part of the project, letting you watch much-loved shows such as Micro Live and The Computer Programme. The project revolved around the BBC Micro, now seen as a vital link between the early home computers and the more powerful PCs that became commonplace in the 1990s. To try the Micro software visit the emulator’s home page (www.snipca.com/28290), click ‘Run 166 BBC Micro programs…’ then click a ‘Run software’ link. Highlights include ‘Bach’, which plays music…

1 min.
amazon & ebay remove unsafe items

Amazon and eBay have agreed a Product Safety Pledge to remove unsafe items from sale within two days of being notified. They’ll also introduce a system letting customers report dangerous products, and respond within five days. The retailers have signed up to the European Commission’s (EC) Rapid Alert System, which tells large retailers across the continent which non-food items have been classified unsafe. They will also take measures to prevent sellers re-listing banned goods, including training them about how to comply with the EU’s safety laws. Two other online stores also signed up to the Rapid Alert System: AliExpress and Rakuten-France. The pledge is a “voluntary commitment”, although the EC will “assess the progress made on the commitments every six months”. Under current European law there is no deadline for removing unsafe goods. EU…

2 min.
in brief

MICROSOFT FACE TECH NO LONGER ‘RACIST’ Microsoft has updated its facial-recognition technology so it better detects darker skin tones. Scientists criticised the technology in March for recognising more accurately the gender of people with lighter skins. Microsoft analysed how to overcome “bias” in the results, and claims error rates for darker skin have been reduced by up to 20 times. The company explains all at www.snipca.com/28271. TESCO REPLACES CHECKOUT WITH APP Tesco is testing a phone app that would let customers buy items at a supermarket without having to visit a till. It has given some staff the Scan Pay Go app to use in a store at its Welwyn Garden City headquarters. Payment is made automatically by scanning a barcode. Hundreds of cameras and electronic sensors identify customers and track the items…