Windows 10 to offer update 'snoozes'

Microsoft will enable Windows 10 users to choose when security updates are installed once they arrive rather than enforcing them straightaway.

Users have complained that the reboots required for some updates, which cannot currently be deferred, are disruptive.

People using Windows 10 devices will now be able to schedule an update within three days of receiving notification, the firm said in a blog.

However, delaying security updates can be risky, experts say.

Apple customers can already delay Mac Operating System updates or opt for them to be automatically installed overnight – which includes carrying out any essential reboots.

The change to Windows, part of a project called Creative Update, came in response to complaints about enforced reboots, said John Cable, a director of program management at Microsoft.

“What we heard back most explicitly was that you want more control over when Windows 10 installs updates,” he wrote.

“We also heard that unexpected reboots are disruptive if they happen at the wrong time.”

The three-day window is designed to give people more control over when updates occur – and they can also change the time they have chosen while they are waiting.

As part of Creative Update, Microsoft is also exploring changes to privacy settings, Mr Cable said.

‘Enemy of security’

Cybersecurity expert Prof Alan Woodward, from Surrey University, said that delaying updates could help hackers.

“I’m not 100% sold on the idea precisely because quite often these updates have critical security fixes in them, and you really want them on people’s machines as quickly as possible,” he told the BBC.

“Once a critical flaw gets understood by hackers they will be out there trying to exploit it.

“Convenience and complexity are often the enemy of security.”

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What is Bitcoin? Guide to Bitcoin and how to mine Bitcoin

What is Bitcoin? Guide to Bitcoin and how to mine Bitcoin

You could earn money running an application on your Windows PC to earn coins in the virtual currency Bitcoin. Here we explain what is Bitcoin, how to get started with Bitcoin mining and how to generate bitcoins.

We explain how you can use your PC or laptop to generate bitcoins, and whether you’ll ever get rich in doing so


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How to mine bitcoins: What is Bitcoin? Guide to Bitcoin mining and how to generate bitcoins, plus whether you can make money from Bitcoin - how much is Bitcoin worth? How to mine bitcoins: What is Bitcoin? Guide to Bitcoin mining and how to generate bitcoins, plus whether you can make money from Bitcoin – how much is Bitcoin worth?

Bitcoin is wildly confusing. And here’s the bad news: the fact you’re reading this now means you’re late to the game, and it’s going to be tough to turn a profit in Bitcoin mining. Nevertheless, if you want to try your hand at mining bitcoins, here we present the beginner’s guide to generating bitcoins. Also see: How to make money from your hobby.

Update 3 March 2017: Bitcoin’s future was looking a bit dodgy in 2016, but its value has recovered and, for the first time ever, it has surpassed the value of gold. One bitcoin is (currently) worth more than one ounce of gold:  $1,268 versus $1,233 for an ounce of gold. The BBC says demand is surging in China, which is the main reason behind the increase. 

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates independently of a central bank. Encryption is used to regulate both the generation of Bitcoin units and the transfer of the currency.

Bitcoin and terrorism – EU to clamp down on terrorism funding via Bitcoin

According to Reuters, the European Union will move to clamp down on this digital currency which has reportedly been used to anonymously fund terrorism – the Paris ISIS attackers reportedly had a Bitcoin wallet worth more than $3m.

EU interior and justice ministers will gather in Brussels later this week to discuss ways in which they can “strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards”, according to draft conclusions of the meeting seen by Reuters.

What is Bitcoin worth?

In essence, the more bitcoins mined or ‘found’, the harder it is to ‘find’ more coins. While once it may have been possible to use a high-powered PC at home to mine Bitcoin on its own, the sheer popularity of mining Bitcoin means it’s viable only to join a pool. This is where your computer works alongside others to mine bitcoins. It’s much like [email protected], where clusters of computers work together to try and find extra-terrestrial life. See also: The rise of Bitcoin and why you can’t mine them on your own.

Without getting bogged down with the technicalities, the groups of computers in a Bitcoin pool are crunching numbers to mine a block. For every block mined, you get 25 coins.

Update March 2017: Currently each coin is worth £1507, which is almost 10 times the value it was when we originally wrote this in 2015.

What is a Bitcoin worth 2017

What is a Bitcoin worth 2017

Indeed, some analysts thought in 2015 that Bitcoin was doomed. Here’s what the graph looked like around two years ago:

Bitcoin value in Sterling

Bitcoin value in Sterling

Google’s currency converter lets you check very quickly how much a Bitcoin is worth.

How to mine Bitcoin: Can you get rich with Bitcoin?

As we mentioned in the introduction, these days it’s difficult to turn a profit mining Bitcoin. But it has been known, especially for early adopters of the virtual currency.

For example, the Guardian reports on how a Norwegian man’s $27 investment in Bitcoin turned into a $886,000 windfall four years later.

Kristoffer Koch invested 150 kroner ($26.60) in 5,000 bitcoins in 2009, after discovering them during the course of writing a thesis on encryption. He promptly forgot about them until widespread media coverage of the anonymous, decentralised, peer-to-peer digital currency in April 2013 jogged his memory,” reports the Guardian. At which point, they were worth a small fortune at $886,000.

How to mine bitcoins: Get started with Bitcoin mining and generate your own bitcoins

Let’s say you try and mine a block of bitcoins with just one home PC. This is a bad idea: the electricity costs will be higher than the money you make from any mined bitcoins and you may have to wait months – or longer – before you get any return. By joining a pool, you should get smaller payments more regularly.

However, you could still end up out of pocket even if you join a pool such as Slush’s Bitcoin pool – one of the most popular ones. When a block is completed, you get a share based on the number of other ‘workers’ who helped mine the block. A fee – around 2 percent – will be deducted from this, and you could well earn only half the amount you’ve spent in electricity costs.

Of course, if you’re able to run the mining software on a computer for which you don’t pay the electricity bill, you might be quids in (but we don’t recommend running it on your work PC!).

So, if you’re still interested, here’s a simple step-by step guide to getting started with Bitcoin mining:

Step 1. You’ll need a ‘wallet’ to start with. This is a bit like a PayPal account where your bitcoins can be stored. You can store this wallet online, or locally on your PC. You’ll need to download a large ‘blockchain file’ to use a wallet. For an online wallet, you might like to try coinbase.com. With a coinbase account, you can buy, use and accept Bitcoin currency.

How to mine bitcoins - Coinbase

How to mine bitcoins - Coinbase

Step 2. Join a pool, such as Slush’s Bitcoin pool. There’s always a danger that the pool owner might keep all 25 bitcoins when a block is mined, since the whole 25 coins are paid to one person: the pool owner.

Slush's pool - How to mine bitcoins

Slush's pool - How to mine bitcoins

You’ll need to choose a trustworthy pool owner. Slush’s pool was the first and has been operating since December 2010. By the site’s own words, it has a “a long history of stable and accurate payouts”.

Step 3. Install a Bitcoin ‘miner’ on your PC. There are two types: CPU and GPU. For beginners, Kiv’s GUI miner is recommended. You can find out more about how to use Kiv’s GUI miner here. 

Step 4. Log into your Bitcoin pool account, and enter your wallet address. You will be able to get this by checking your wallet account which you created in step 1.

Step 5. Register your workers. Each worker is a sub-account within your Bitcoin pool account. You can have more than one worker running on each computer.

Step 6. Enter your worker credentials into your Bitcoin mining software, and then enter the main pool URL so your workers can start mining.

 See also: How to mine altcoins

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Philips Hue and Sylvania Lightify motion sensor reviews: These add-ons make your smart lighting smarter

Motion-activated lighting isn’t a new idea. Whether you’re using it to illuminate a dark stairwell or ward off intruders, the technology has become a staple of even the simplest of home environments.

But smart motion-activated lighting is another idea. Traditional motion sensors offer only rudimentary configurability at best, perhaps featuring an analog knob controlling sensitivity or a switch that sets how long the attached light stays activated, if that. By linking the sensor to your smart phone and your smart lighting environment, smart motion sensors promise to greatly increase the utility of those pricey smart bulbs.

Operationally, smart motion sensors are built to work with a certain vendor’s bulbs. Configuration and control is integrated into the lighting app you already use, so you don’t need to switch between multiple apps to configure lights and sensors. We tested two new sensors, one from Philips and one from Ledvance, both designed as unobtrusive cubes that measure an inch or two on each side and which are ready to drop directly into your smart home.

Philips Hue Motion Sensor

This might sound like hyperbole since we’re talking about a lighting accessory, but Philips’ motion sensor for the Hue ecosystem is one of the most capable and well-designed smart home devices I’ve ever used.

From a design standpoint, the miniature bricklet has been built to blend in—but also to look good should anyone happen to see it. It’s a sleek brick broken only by the bulbous motion/light sensor, which juts out a bit from the center. An LED in front indicates whether the system has been tripped. Otherwise, there’s no other interface or indicators on the unit itself. It’s powered by two AAA batteries which come preinstalled; to replace them (Philips says they’ll last for two to three years, depending on use), you unscrew the rear panel and pop in fresh ones.

Philips Hue motion sensor Michael Brown

The Philips Hue motion sensor is chunkier, but much easier to mount. It easily wins this competition for that and several other reasons.

The system for mounting the Hue sensor on the wall is incredibly clever. A small disk is included, which you can screw into a wall or ceiling with the included hardware. The disc contains a powerful magnet that adheres to a dome on the back of the sensor. This makes mounting super simple, but it also makes it quite flexible. That dome means you can easily tweak the sensor’s aim by adjusting where you attach it to the mounting disc—there’s no need to punch multiple holes in the wall. You can also just drop the sensor on a shelf if you don’t want it permanently mounted. Promised detection range is about 5 meters (about 16 feet), with a 100-degree field of view, which was accurate based on my testing.

The sensor itself works like a dream. Configuration can be found in the Settings menu of the Hue app, under Accessory setup. Here you can get incredibly granular with the sensor control. Once you choose the bulb or bulbs it controls, by default when motion is detected it will activate a bright light during waking hours, and turn on a dim nightlight at nighttime, though these can of course be changed. You decide if the unit should keep checking for motion in the area (call this the budget hotel room setting), and how long the light should stay on if no movement is detected (from one minute to one hour).

Other settings let you control whether the unit should be disabled if the room is already bright enough, as well as setting the overall motion sensitivity level. If I have any complaint about the Hue sensor—and it’s a minor one—it’s that the three motion-sensitivity options just don’t vary that much.

Samsung bends the rules of curved gaming monitors with Quantum Dots

The CFG70 is Samsung’s latest Australian contender in the world of computer monitors, this time targeting the gaming industry with a range of products that marry an immersive curved display with contrast-rich Quantum Dot technology.

This line of monitors will be the first to boast Samsung’s coveted Quantum Dots – the same technology that it incorporated in its latest range of top-tier TVs – which provides accurate colour over an improved spectrum (125% of standard RGB) as well as an incredibly dynamic contrast ratio of 3000:1, for deep detail across lighter and darker scenes.

The Full HD monitors pack some reasonably high-performance features, making them ideal for today’s hefty gaming requirements. A response time of 1ms helps reduce motion blur and ghosting, while the FreeSync models (a G-Sync version is set to come at a later date) all but eliminate image tearing and stutter by synchronising your GPU with the monitors 144Hz refresh rate.

If you’re sporting an AMD graphics card, 24-inch and 27-inch models are currently available with FreeSync compatibility for $599.95 and $849.95 respectively, while a 27-inch G-Sync model has been announced for GeForce users but does not yet have a release date or price.

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Can technology solve Chicago's gun crime problem?

Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the US, with 51 homicides in January alone.

And President Donald Trump has threatened to “send in the Feds” if the “totally out of control” city cannot halt the “carnage”.

But, now, Chicago has spent $1m (£800,000) on ShotSpotter, installing hundreds of sensors in high-crime areas across two of its districts.

And whenever a gun is fired, police officers are immediately given the exact location via a smartphone app.

Nearly 100 US cities are now using ShotSpotter – but, despite its success, some remain unconvinced.

Dover, the second largest city in Delaware, for example, has said the $195,000 annual cost could be better spent elsewhere.

Quincy in Washington and Charlotte in North Carolina have also decided the technology is not for them.

Serious criminals

But ShotSpotter chief executive Ralph Clark said some of the cities that have signed up have seen a 35% year-on-year drop in gunfire.

“We are seeing thousands of incidents,” he told the BBC.

“These are not homicides or woundings, but they are still serious crimes.

“These gunshots are not coming from thousands of people messing about, we are finding that it is from a few serious criminals – the authorised shooters in gangs who are using it to intimidate people, protect their turf.”

“The biggest lever in reducing gun violence is to de-normalise it, and people are now seeing the police respond to these incidents, and they can see that the police are serving and protecting their communities.”

Heat list

Three years ago, Chicago made a $2m investment in a predictive policing algorithm, which calculated potential victims of gun crime based on two variables, including how many times they had been arrested with others who later became gun crime victims.

Developed by the Illinois Institute of Technology, the system generates a heat list of people most likely to kill or be killed.

But according to a recent report from non-profit organisation The Rand Corporation, the investment has had little effect and simply means those on the watch list are more likely to be arrested.

The Chicago Police Department countered that the report did not represent the prediction model as it currently worked and denied the system was deficient.

Threat level

Fresno Police Department, in California, recently tested software known as Beware – which sifts through address-specific public data and individuals’ public postings to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to alert first responders on the way to a 911 emergency call.

The platform, built by security company Intrado, colour codes people’s threat level as green, yellow or red.

But one member of the city council told the Washington Post that his threat level was yellow, due to a previous occupant of his address.

“Even though it’s not me that’s the yellow guy, your officers are going to treat whoever comes out of that house in his boxer shorts as the yellow guy,” he said.

The software proved too controversial, and in April the council decided not to renew its contract.

Wicked problems

Rob Kitchin, an expert on smart cities from Maynooth University, Ireland, said: “There is this idea that technology can solve the problems of a city.

“People are treating cities as if there are technical systems, and you can pull a data lever and it will steer a city.

“But cities are much more complex – full of politics, culture, community, and wicked problems.

“Cities have to look at the problem and decide what solution is best.

“If it is technology, then great, but it could be economic investment or a change in social policy.”

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ZSpace Joins OpenXR Working Group To Help Simplify XR Development

Just a few days after the Khronos Group announced the OpenXR working group, which is devoted to developing an open standard of the same name to help VR and AR developers make software for more platforms, zSpace announced its involvement and explained why it supports Khronos’ efforts.

ZSpace (technically “zSpace” but that’s what happens when your name starts with a lowercase letter) is devoted to using MR technologies in education. The company makes all-in-one computers with AR and VR capabilities; apps for those devices; and education-related content for those apps. Now it’s applying everything it’s learned while creating those various tools to the OpenXR project so other companies will have an easier time with MR content.

Here’s what the company said about its support for OpenXR in a press release:

“As a founding member of Khronos OpenXR, zSpace is honored to play a key role in defining how developers will integrate VR technology across various platforms,” said Doug Twilleager, zSpace CTO of Software. “We truly are on the forefront of something amazing, something game-changing, about how we interact and communicate with computers and the rest of the world.”

OpenXR was initially announced as the Khronos VR Initiative in December 2016 with support from Oculus, Valve, Google, and other VR-focused companies. Khronos announced at GDC 2017 that the effort would receive a new name, OpenXR, and that it’s now supported by more companies, including Qualcomm, Sony, and, of course, zSpace. All those companies will work together to stop VR development from looking like this:

So it can look something like this instead:

That’s going to require a lot of work from a lot of companies. Support from VR and AR developers like zSpace will help the OpenXR working group deliver on its promises–or, at least, that’s the hope. Either way, it’s probably going to be a while before that jumbled mess transforms into an orderly process. You can learn more about the OpenXR group from Khronos’ announcement and its website.

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