europoint communications https://www.europoint.uk Europoint Communications provides quality assurance and IT management consultancy for software and hardware projects across the UK. Tue, 05 May 2020 14:52:57 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://www.europoint.uk/web/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/e-logo-site-icon-32x32.png europoint communications https://www.europoint.uk 32 32 The UK Government COVID App: Should We Use It? https://www.europoint.uk/the-uk-government-covid-app-should-we-use-it/ https://www.europoint.uk/the-uk-government-covid-app-should-we-use-it/#respond Sun, 03 May 2020 12:31:34 +0000 https://www.europoint.uk/?p=2788 The post The UK Government COVID App: Should We Use It? appeared first on europoint communications.

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Updated on 5th May 2020 to reflect further information on data security.

The UK government has been working on a COVID tracking app for the last month or so, designed to notify you if you have come into close proximity with someone who has has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus. A self-diagnosis would flag a yellow alert, with a subsequent positive medical test sending a red alert – which can only be enabled if you have been provided with a verification code.

This, in itself, is a useful tool, both to ensure your safety, but also of others, in the case that you or other close family members have been diagnosed. However, to be truly effective, the government has estimated that it needs at least a 60% take-up in the country.

One could argue that this is too little, too late – after all, the Prime Minister has himself declared that the worst of the pandemic is over in the UK. This, however, is not about the current pandemic, but also guarding yourself in the future, should another pandemic occur.

That Sounds Great – So What’s The Problem?

Both Google and Apple have created APIs within their smartphone operating systems, which allow apps to use Bluetooth to identify who you have been in contact with, and warn you if someone has tested positive for COVID-19, keeping all the information stored locally on your phone. However, the British version, designed by NHSX – the health service’s digital innovation team – is designed to capture this information in a centralised database, ostensibly to provide a better view of the state of the virus across the UK.

On top of that, the app will ask to upload all of your contacts so that it can identify who is most likely to be at risk and then contact them using the information you have provided.

This is where it gets murky and steps beyond the bounds of keeping you and your family safe, and into the area of government monitoring.

Certainly, it would be incredibly useful to the NHS to identify where hotspots are occurring, and potentially what kind of person is catching the virus (for example, based on age, ethnic lines, gender etc). Unfortunately, both the NHS and the UK government (and not just this current one) have a dubious history in using (and abusing) our data.

Technical Constraints

The technology used to identify people you have been in contact with, is Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), a lightweight protocol which can reach up to 100 metres outside, and certainly 10-15 metres inside, through thick brick walls.

Whilst there is also the ability of the app to implement proximity sensing (PXP) to identify how close you are to another user of the app, this isn’t overly reliable. In a heavily populated area such as London, it’s likely that you will pick up responses from neighbours in a block of flats (both adjacent, above and below), or just walking past your front door. Even in less populous suburbs this is likely to be an issue. Then consider, on going to a supermarket, you might get a response from everyone in the building.

Quite obviously, your phone is going to suffer from data overload, and the app will be come more of a burden than of any use.

Can You Trust The Government With Your Data?

Several years ago, the NHS attempted to centralise all of our health records, but were insufficiently clear as to whom would be able to access that data – which seemed to include private companies. Despite protestations of anonymity, it was shown that the data could easily be traced to specific individuals. There was also a provision that researchers could apply for the anonymity to be lifted in exceptional circumstances – for example, during a pandemic.

Meanwhile, Google purchased Deepmind, and worked with five NHS trusts to analyse patient data. Unfortunately for them, the Information Commission ruled that protection of 1.6 million patients data was lacking.

Then there are the numerous cases of data loss by public services: from unencrypted USB drives containing patient records or details of high-risk offenders; to CDS containing child benefit claimant details.

If their lack of care over the security of your personal data doesn’t worry you, then who will be able to see it (and who shouldn’t but still will) should. Over the last few years, more and more laws have been introduced, such as the “Snooper’s Charter”, giving the government the right to track your online activity should it so wish. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, passed in 2000 under a Labour government, was less about regulation and more about giving virtually all public services access to data.

For example, the following can access data under RIPA if they see fit – and they haven’t been shy in doing so:

  • Any county, district or borough council
  • HM Revenue and Customs
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • The Office of Fair Trading
  • The NHS
  • The military
  • The Gambling Commission
  • OfCom
  • And the list goes on…

The app, designed under NSHX purview, has also been a collaborative development with an AI company called Faculty, which was also involved in the Vote Leave campaign – which was notoriously lax in it’s application of data protection law – and Palantir, a data mining company founded by Peter Thiel, a strong support of Donald Trump.

Recently, it was also discovered that the Department of Education had an agreement from 2015 to share student data from schools with the Home Office in pursuit of their hostile environment for migrants. This was only stopped once it was made public. Bear in mind that, as with the NHS Care.data, none of this was communicated to the public.

What Is Being Said?

Matt Hancock, the Health Minister has said:

If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.

All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards, and would only be used for NHS care and research.

And we won’t hold it any longer than is needed.

Professor Ross Anderson from the University of Cambridge has this view:

Personally I feel conflicted. I recognise the overwhelming force of the public-health arguments for a centralised system, but I also have 25 years’ experience of the NHS being incompetent at developing systems and repeatedly breaking their privacy promises when they do manage to collect some data of value to somebody else.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of NHSX, Matthew Gould, told MPs on 4th May, that if users give the app permission to upload data to the NHS, they could then no longer request that data to be deleted and it could be used for ongoing research. That’s all well and good if the data is anonymised, but we already know that it isn’t, and will be linked to a particular person, and general location using a unique ID.

What Do We Say?

The idea of an app to warn you of potential contact with someone who may have been diagnosed with COVID-19 is a good one – after all, it helps you and all of us to stay safe, and to help beat this pernicious virus a lot more quickly. However, the UK government has overstepped the mark, which should come as no great surprise given their previous activities.

Mr Hancock’s statement that they won’t hold the data any longer than is needed means absolutely nothing – they could easily claim that it is needed right up until your great-grandchildren are paying their last respects.

And the British government has proven time and time again that their ethical and security standards fall well short of anything we would, or should expect.

The issue of identifying your proximity to someone else with the app, together with the likelihood of data overloading in populous areas, or false positives from quarantined neighbours, also makes it less useful.

This could have been a useful tool in helping to rid the world of Coronavirus: unfortunately, given their history, I don’t trust the government one iota with the ethical use or the security of my personal data.

TLDR;

The app isn’t likely to be reliable; it will suffer from too many false positives and data overload; and based on past evidence, you can’t trust the government with your data, particularly in light of recent statements about what data will be uploaded, who can access it, and whether it will be updated.

Don’t download the app unless it has the centralised data capture removed: even if that is removed, the app is not going to prove very useful in the long run.

 

Further Reading

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The Hive Mind: Helping To Solve COVID19 https://www.europoint.uk/solving-covid19/ https://www.europoint.uk/solving-covid19/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 16:13:37 +0000 https://www.europoint.uk/?p=2675 How to run Folding@Home in a Docker container to help fight the Coronavirus and other diseases.|

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Updated: 1st May 2020

COVID19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, has brought the world to a standstill, with many countries in lockdown, businesses shutdown, and employees furloughed.

As an IT specialist, I’m not on the frontline of the fight against this pernicious virus but, in common with millions of people across the globe, I want to be of use and help.

One of the ways I can help, is by contributing CPU/GPU time to identifying possible vaccines for COVID19. Many people have laptops or desktops at home; some of us also have servers, which generally sit there not stretching themselves.

If you remember the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) which, way back in the ’90s, used collaborative cloud processing to analyse signals from outer space, then you will know that this concept has been taken up to solve other problems, one of which is the hunt for cures to various illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, Huntingdon’s, Parkinson’s or cancer.

Folding@Home

Folding@Home is a system which allows you to do just that: contribute spare CPU or GPU cycles to processing simulations which help our understanding of these diseases. It has now also recently taken up the challenge of understanding COVID19.

There are various ways of installing Folding@Home and setting it to work, but one of the simplest is to run a Docker container. Since I have a Synology Rackstation with Docker installed, it wasn’t too much trouble to set it up, and thankfully, there are existing images available in the Docker Hub.

As with most servers, I don’t have a particularly powerful GPU, which is actually more effective in crunching the numbers involved in these simulations, but the advantage is that my server will run the simulation 24/7. With that in mind, I decided to use the Yurinnick/Folding-At-Home image. This has been recently updated to also include a GPU version (2020-05-01).

Installation

Whilst the installation instructions are fairly straightforward, I noticed that the standard installation downloads any simulations to the container itself. This means that if you update the container for any reason, the data is lost, and you could lose hours, if not days of processing.

To avoid this happening, I created a directory on the server itself which I could then bind to the Folding-At-Home container to store the simulation data. You can also use a Docker volume if you wish, but I like to store data where I can see it, rather than a virtual volume.

The other changes I made to the default setting were to add a username, join a team (In this case a group who are avid readers of The Register – an irreverent IT newssite), and add a passkey from Folding@Home to identify myself. You don’t have to include this, but it just means that no-one can impersonate you. Saying that, if anyone wants to contribute using my username, they are more than welcome!

docker run --name Folding-At-Home \
-p 7396:7396 -p 36330:36330 \
-e USER={username} \
-e TEAM={team} \
-e ENABLE_GPU=false \
-e ENABLE_SMP=true \
-e POWER=light \
-e PASSKEY={passkey} \
-v {server directory}:/opt/fahclient/work \
--restart unless-stopped \
yurinnick/folding-at-home:latest \
--allow 0/0 --web-allow 0/0

Providing you have Docker installed on your server, running the command above does the following:

–name Folding-At-Home the name of the container
-p 7396:7396 -p 36330:36330 The ports Folding@home needs to allow access
-e USER={username} Defines your username. The default is anonymous
-e TEAM={team} Defines the Team you want to contribute to. The default is no team.
-e ENABLE_GPU={false|true} Set to “false” if you are using the CPU version and “true” if you are using the NVidia GPU version.
-e ENABLE_SMP={true} Enables the auto-configuration of SMP slots if set to true
-e POWER={full|medium|light} Sets the default power Folding at Home will use. As my server is running 24/7 and runs a multitude of different services, I have set it to “light”.
-e PASSKEY={passkey} Defines your passkey for security. This is optional
-v {server directory}:/opt/fahclient/work Sets a volume on the server to which Folding@Home can download simulation data
–restart unless-stopped Makes sure the Container will always restart if it fails for any reason – unless you have stopped it.
yurinnick/folding-at-home:{latest|latest-nvidia} The name of the Docker image to download to create the container. Append “latest” to select the CPU version or “latest-nvidia” to choose the GPU version
–allow 0/0 –web-allow 0/0 Commands for Folding@Home to allow you to access the web interface.

Don’t forget to change the values inside curly braces ({}) with your own details!

Once it has downloaded, created the container, and started, you can access the web interface at http://{server-ip}:7396/. I have mine set with a reverse proxy and a URL so I don’t have to remember the port!

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Where Does Time Go? https://www.europoint.uk/where-does-time-go/ https://www.europoint.uk/where-does-time-go/#respond Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:51:15 +0000 https://www.europoint.uk/?p=2645 It has been four years since a small hiatus was announced for Europoint Communications. In the event, this only lasted around 18 months, until October 2018. In that time, Matthew Cunliffe has obtained PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner and RESILIA Practitioner qualifications, and worked for both HSBC and Resonate. So what now? The COVID19 virus, together with […]

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It has been four years since a small hiatus was announced for Europoint Communications.

In the event, this only lasted around 18 months, until October 2018. In that time, Matthew Cunliffe has obtained PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner and RESILIA Practitioner qualifications, and worked for both HSBC and Resonate.

So what now?

The COVID19 virus, together with the threat of IR35 has resulted in a downturn in business. Most businesses who need short-term expertise to fill a gap have naturally let go many contractor services as they send their employees to work from home; IR35 prompted large organisations to insist on contractors either joining them as employees or working under a PAYE arrangement, both of which resulted in a loss of revenue.

Europoint Communications has always paid a salary commensurate with that which would be paid in any business for the roles involved. It has also ensured that there was sufficient capital in the business to cover the additional costs (Corporation Tax, Employers’ National Insurance, Pensions etc) of any business and to ensure that when work is slack (as was the case in 2001 after 9/11), employees could continue to be paid.

Furlough and opportunities

The double onslaught of COVID19 and IR35, despite the fact it has been “delayed” for a year, have nevertheless already inflicted a toll on many businesses. Whilst we have never asked for handouts from the government in the 22 years this company has been in existence, employees are now being furloughed, and we will be taking up the British government’s offer to pay 80% of all salaries.

Meanwhile, we are encouraging everyone who has been furloughed to look at ways to help out during this crisis: Whether it is keeping in contact with elderly and vulnerable neighbours, friends and family, doing odd jobs or shopping trips, or volunteering for foodbanks, the NHS or helping to bring in the harvests, it’s time to give back to the nation, and show that we aren’t a country of “me me mes”.

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Identifying Docker Container IP Addresses https://www.europoint.uk/docker-container-ips/ https://www.europoint.uk/docker-container-ips/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2018 07:06:57 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1684 The post Identifying Docker Container IP Addresses appeared first on europoint communications.

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I have been starting to use Docker to implement a number of applications (Jira, Confluence, Jenkins, GitLab etc), but one issue I have encountered is, that unless you create specific networks for each container, on starting the container, it is given a random IP address (typically the next available one in the subnet).

Since I use reverse proxies to navigate to the containers, I need to be able to redirect from the external URL to the internal IP address of each container, but there is no simple way of identifying those IP addresses.

Enter a quick piece of code that can be used to retrieve the IP addresses for each container: dockerip.sh.

  1. Log into your Linux server that is running Docker as a user that can execute Docker commands.
  2. At the shell prompt, type ‘vi dockerip.sh’.
  3. In vi, press I and paste in the code on the dockerip.sh tab.
  4. In vi, press [ESC] and then type ‘wq dockerip.sh’ and press [ENTER].
  5. At the shell prompt, type ‘chmod 744 dockerip.sh’ to make the script executable.
  6. You can now run the script specifying each container you want the IP address for as follows:
    ./dockerip.sh [containername1 | containername2 | containernameN]
  7. If you want to display IP addresses for all Containers, simply type:
    ./dockerip.sh
  8. If you want to make life even more simple, you can create an alias for the script.
  9. At the shell prompt, type ‘vi ~/.bashrc’ and press [ENTER].
  10. In vi, type ‘dockerip=’~/dockerip.sh’.
  11. In vi, press [ESC] and then type ‘wq’ and press [ENTER].
  12. At the shell prompt, type ‘. ~/.bashrc’ to reload the file.

To run the script you can now use: dockerip in place of ./dockerip.sh.

bash$: dockerip Jira Confluence
Jira: 172.18.0.2
Confluence: 172.18.0.3

bash$: dockerip
Jira: 172.18.0.2
Confluence: 172.18.0.3
Jenkins: 172.17.0.2
GitLab: 172.17.0.3

# Displays the IP addresses for each Docker Container specified:
# ./dockerip.sh [containername1 | containername2 | containernameN]
# or all Docker Containers if no parameters are passed:
# ./dockerip.sh

if [ ! "$@" ]
then
	containers="$(docker ps -f '{{.Names}}')"
else
	containers="$@"
fi
for container in $containers
    do
	echo -n  "$container: "; docker inspect -f 
	'{{range .NetworkSettings.Networks}}{{.IPAddress}}{{end}}' $container
    done

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The (Not So) Impersonal Touch https://www.europoint.uk/the-impersonal-touch/ https://www.europoint.uk/the-impersonal-touch/#respond Mon, 29 Jan 2018 20:50:45 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1216 I received a telephone call this evening from a company that purported to be Lorien (on 0333 023 0006 if you are interested), a recruitment consultancy. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem, although at quarter to eight in the evening, is perhaps not the most appropriate time. There are several problems with this call: whilst […]

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I received a telephone call this evening from a company that purported to be Lorien (on 0333 023 0006 if you are interested), a recruitment consultancy. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem, although at quarter to eight in the evening, is perhaps not the most appropriate time.

There are several problems with this call: whilst it is common knowledge that agencies will trawl job sites for appropriate CVs, I have never had a business relationship with Lorien, and therefore have never given them explicit permission that they can call me.

More than this, the call was automated, with a female voice informing me that they had my details on file and to comply with GDPR, I either needed to hang up to allow them to keep my CV or press “1” to have my details removed from their database. Now, since I’ve never really had any direct communication with Lorien, it follows on from this that I have definitely never given them permission to call me using an automated system.

GDPR itself is also about explicit OPT-IN. In response, Lorien (purportedly) suggested I do nothing to keep my details on file – in other words, an implicit opt-in; and to press “1” to have them removed – an explicit opt-out.

When I did press “1”, I was then told I was being sent a text message with a link to where I could opt-out. Surely if I have pressed the option to remove my details, then they should do that immediately, rather than have me click the link?

The final joke in this litany of failure is that the link provided was to https://secure.telereso.com. Certainly, the text message said it was from Lorien, but how can I be sure? I’m certainly not clicking on the link to find out.

I have done a bit of digging, just to make sure. Telereso was set up in June 2017 to allow bulk calling, apparently to advertise jobs:

Telereso makes the calls. 1000s per second if you want - people pick up - your job broadcast is played.

Google Search results for Telereso

Clicking on the link, to telereso.com, I was warned that the SSL certificate was not exactly reliable. A further scan of the site reveals that the certificate had expired in 2016 and didn’t relate to telereso.com at all. Scanning secure.telereso.com did at least provide a modicum of comfort, in that it uses a Let’s Encrypt certificate which expires in April (since they renew every 90 days).

SSL Certificate is expired, does not match name telereso.com and is not trusted.

SSL Results for telereso.com

However, it doesn’t inspire confidence in Lorien or Telereso about their adherence to GDPR and the security of your data, given that they are asking for an implicit opt-in, use a third party for service calls, and that that third party has one expired SSL certificate, and uses another free certificate issuing authority to protect their main secure site (I have no qualms about Let’s Encrypt, but what I do question is the level of security they employ elsewhere if they are unwilling to pay for a corporate standard SSL certificate).

And I have still absolutely no proof that the message was sent on behalf of Lorien, because it was entirely automated. So, if you’re reading this Lorien, please remove my details from your system, because I’m not sure I can trust you or Telereso with it.

Update 1st February 2018

I have just had a very pleasant chat with David Gettins, the new CEO of Lorien, to discuss the call, which was a trial to a limited set of people to gauge its effectiveness. It’s encouraging to see that he is keen on learning lessons and improving processes and communication with clients and contractors.

The upshot of this is, that whilst I still think that the call was incredibly misguided and self-defeating, Lorien are listening and learning, and a simple personal call was all it took to reassure me that they are taking things seriously. From washing my hands of Lorien, I am now willing to consider them as an agency. #

All in all, a good start to David Gettins’ new role as CEO, although perhaps internal processes need to be improved to ensure such a catalogue of failures never sees the light of day again.

 

 

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Bringing Agile Practices to the Every Day https://www.europoint.uk/bringing-agile-to-the-every-day/ https://www.europoint.uk/bringing-agile-to-the-every-day/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:43:55 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1203 For the past four years, I have been working in a fairly agile environment, with intentions of bringing in the DevOps culture of automation for repetitive tasks to reduce the human level of interaction and potential for error. Naturally this is in an Information Technology environment, but I have also been chatting to a number […]

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For the past four years, I have been working in a fairly agile environment, with intentions of bringing in the DevOps culture of automation for repetitive tasks to reduce the human level of interaction and potential for error.

Naturally this is in an Information Technology environment, but I have also been chatting to a number of people who are not in IT, or even technology driven industries. In each case, they were telling me of the workload that they have, which meant them working late or at weekends. Unreasonable demands were also being placed on them by their superiors, who would ask them to do additional tasks, but not understand that this would affect the day-to-day work they were doing.

Having been in the same situation myself, I thought I could introduce them to Kanban as a simple method to control their work, and to be in control of their work rather than the other way round. Theory of course is fine, and whether it will work in practice is another thing entirely, but the concept is simple.

Kanban is a Japanese blended word meaning “Visual Cards”, and the premise is that you write all your jobs on cards (or stick-it notes, or use an application like Jira or Trello) and then move them across a swimlane (vertical columns) from “To Do” to “Doing” to “Done”. This allows you to manage your work load in a visual way. You can see how many tasks you have to carry out for a given period of time, order them in terms of importance, gain a rough idea of how much effort each one will take, and how much you can reasonably complete in that timeframe. With a rule that you should never have more than three tasks in your “Doing” column, so that you do not keep jumping between tasks, this maintains your efficiency and prevents you from feeling overloaded.

Another benefit of working with Kanban is that you can present your workload in a very obvious way: a noticeboard next to your desk with all your tasks in columns can also help your manager to understand how much planned (day-to-day tasks) and unplanned (tasks they have asked you to do on top) work you have. By engaging them in your workload, and asking them to prioritise work they have given you, they can immediately see as you add the task to the board what impact it will have.

So what should you do?

  1. Identify all of your day to day high level tasks.
  2. Break these down into individual work items.
  3. Order these in a column, in order of priority – what must get done this week?
  4. Identify any unplanned work – meetings that you typically get invited to, last minute requests, and add them as potential tasks at the bottom of the list.
  5. Then look at each task and size them – it could be using numbers in a Fibonacci sequence (0,1,2,3,5,8,13 etc), or T-Shirt sizes (small, medium, large, extra-large). Size them based on how complicated and fiddly they are.
  6. Work out how many small items you can do in one day. Then take a maximum of three work items from the top of your list and start to work on them. If that goes over your maximum limit for the day, swap something out so you can complete all those items in the day (for example, you might be able to do the equivalent of 8 small items – so taking 4 small and 4 large is too much).
  7. If your boss gives you a different priority or adds unplanned work into your day, swap them out for one of your existing tasks. Make your board of tasks visible to your boss so they can see what effect their request has on your workload!
  8. Never let your Work in Progress (Doing column) get larger than three items, or for the effort to be more than you can complete in a day.
  9. If a work item is too big to complete in a day, break it down into smaller tasks.

This can also be applied to your non-work life as well – who hasn’t had a huge list of tasks (wash up, vacuum, iron, cook dinner etc) and been unable to decide where to start? Breaking it down this way makes it more manageable, identifies which items are your priorities and what can be left for another day. If you’re feeling stressed over the day to day, give it a go.

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Sunrise Sets With a Fresh Outlook https://www.europoint.uk/sunrise-sets-fresh-outlook/ https://www.europoint.uk/sunrise-sets-fresh-outlook/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 09:20:04 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1121 One of the top calendar apps for iOS and Android, Sunrise has long been a favourite of mine for its simplicity but also its ability to connect to a number of different sites (Office 365, Outlook, Exhange, Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, Facebook, Wunderlist, Google Tasks, Evernote, Trello…The list goes on). However, last year, it was […]

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One of the top calendar apps for iOS and Android, Sunrise has long been a favourite of mine for its simplicity but also its ability to connect to a number of different sites (Office 365, Outlook, Exhange, Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, Facebook, Wunderlist, Google Tasks, Evernote, Trello…The list goes on).

However, last year, it was purchased by Microsoft, and it was only a matter of time before it was subsumed into the larger whole (or should that be hole), much as another favourite, Tweetdeck, is being slowly swallowed by Twitter.

The time has now come, where development has stopped on Sunrise and its functionality will be switched off completely on 31st August. The team behind it, according to their blog, are working closely with the Microsoft Outlook team to bring the same functionality to Outlook on Android and iOS. We can only hope that this move doesn’t result in the loss of some of the key functionality and design that Sunrise gave us, either in an interim period after August, or worse still, forever.

Having watched Twitter slowly remove functionality from Tweetdeck in the mistaken belief that Twitter does it better (or more likely with the intention of driving Tweetdeck users to the Twitter platform), I am waiting with trepidation to see the results of the merge of Sunrise into Outlook.

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Nasty Scam Spams https://www.europoint.uk/nasty-spam-scams/ https://www.europoint.uk/nasty-spam-scams/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 08:01:34 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1116 I’ve had a couple of these, rather pernicious, spam emails recently, which purport to be from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service and stating I need to attend court to hear the charges against me. Quite what the charges are, and when the court date is, I can’t tell from the email, unless I open the attached […]

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I’ve had a couple of these, rather pernicious, spam emails recently, which purport to be from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service and stating I need to attend court to hear the charges against me. Quite what the charges are, and when the court date is, I can’t tell from the email, unless I open the attached document.

Scam Subpoena

Having had experience of friends and family panicking at various spam emails and asking me if they are legitimate, it might be worth pointing out what stands out about these spam emails, identifying them as dubious.

  • The email title refers to a subpoena, but then suggests in the body that you would need to defend against charges. I subpoena is only used for to compel someone to provide evidence, and only in a criminal case. For civil proceedings, it would be a Witness Summons and if you were being charged with something criminal, you would have had a visit from the Constabulary first.
  • It’s missing the date of the court session or even the name of the court from the body of the email.
  • It’s threatening you with arrest if you don’t comply, but in order to work out where you need to go, you need to open the (virus-laden) attached Word document.
  • The image for the HM Courts and Tribunals Service is actually a link off to a site called “TheyWorkforYou”, unconnected to HM Government.
  • And finally, perhaps the most glaringly obvious clue that it is a scam: Any summons to court would be either hand delivered or delivered through the post, NEVER via email.

As with any email that you aren’t normally expecting (such as the one above), always follow the old Green Cross Code mantra:

  • STOP!
  • LOOK!
  • LISTEN (to your friendly local IT expert)!

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Taking a Break https://www.europoint.uk/taking-a-break/ https://www.europoint.uk/taking-a-break/#respond Sat, 30 Jan 2016 15:33:54 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=1062 Europoint Communications will be taking a break for a while, whilst Matthew Cunliffe explores new avenues of technology and career.

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Europoint Communications will be taking a break for a while, whilst Matthew Cunliffe explores new avenues of technology and career.

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Sharemouse a KVM for the modern age https://www.europoint.uk/sharemouse-a-kvm-for-the-modern-age/ https://www.europoint.uk/sharemouse-a-kvm-for-the-modern-age/#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2015 21:41:15 +0000 https://www.euro-point.co.uk/?p=964 The post Sharemouse a KVM for the modern age appeared first on europoint communications.

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I recently bought a Surface Pro 3, and since I already have a workstation of considerable proportions under my desk, I began looking for a KVM, or Keyboard/Video/Mouse unit so that I could switch between the two machines without having to constantly move between them.

I’m still on the search for one that will not only not clutter up my desk, but also neatly handle a mixture of DVI and HDMI signals, but along the way, I came across Sharemouse.

Sharemouse is a software KVM, and the strikethrough the Video is important, in that, whilst Sharemouse allows you to seamlessly share keyboard and mouse, it cannot support video (at least not yet). The objective of Sharemouse however is slightly different to that of a traditional KVM – if you need a large monitor and are going to be using each PC for long periods of time before switching over to the other, then a physical KVM is the obvious way to go.

However, if you are constantly switching between machines, and use one of the more predominantly, then Sharemouse allows you to work more efficiently, and with less hardware.

The application itself is extremely simple to use. Install it on the two machines that you want to share the keyboard and mouse with and, providing that both machines are on the same network, just moving the mouse off the edge of the screen will switch control from one to the other.

In my case, I had to do absolutely no configuration at all, but just in case you have a different set up, Sharemouse allows you to decide where each machine is sitting on your desk, so that you can swipe up, down, left or right to move to the other.

It also dulls the screen of the machine that is not being used, and clearly identifies what is happening as you switch across, making it immediately obvious which machine you are using.

Obviously, this is not a true KVM replacement, as you still need line of sight on both PCs since it doesn’t share the monitor, but the advantage over a traditional KVM is the instantaneous switch between the two machines.

There are three versions available: the free option for non-commercial use, which allows two machines to be connected; The standard version, which includes additional functionality such as the ability to drag and drop between the two machines and synchronise the clipboard for ease of transfer; and the Pro edition which increases the number of machines you can connect to from 2 to 9, with 16 monitors being configured to work with the software.

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