Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Fake reviews under scrutiny
Customer reviews play an important role in helping companies sell products or services online, driving an estimated spend of £23bn every year in the UK. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), however, is concerned over the increasing problem of fake reviews and is investigating a number of websites who could end up in court if they are not doing enough to protect customers.
As the law stands, it is illegal to post fake or misleading reviews and companies are banned from pretending to be their own customers. According to the CMA, they are currently paying particular attention to suspicious reviews, including where one person has reviewed an unlikely selection of items; where businesses seem to be manipulating reviews, such as by grouping together positive reviews for several products; and whether paid-for reviews are unbiased.
Micro-comb – it’s the future of broadband
Fed up of your slow broadband connection? Well, Australian researchers have given us a glimpse of what the near future may hold by using a micro-comb, a small device that replaces the multiple lasers used in current telecoms hardware with a single high-powered laser, a temperature-controlled chip and an optical resonator.
Able to send out signals using many different wavelengths of light, it has helped the Australian team achieve the fastest internet data speed ever recorded – a whopping 44.2 terabits per second. To put that in practical terms, if you had broadband at that speed, it would take less than a second to download 1,000 HD movies. While that might be great for cable connected devices like TVs, the current crop of wi-fi routers would have a lot of catching up to do to enable streaming to phones and laptops to achieve similar speeds.
Get down, Shep
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Lima 002, the dog-like robot that was being used to enforce social distancing in Singapore. Since then, the US-manufactured device has been trialled in several other locations carrying out a variety of different tasks.
If there is one task that dogs have a track record of being good at, however, it is herding sheep and this week, Boston Dynamics, the makers of Lima 002, together with the technology company, Rocos, headed to New Zealand to let their robodog off its leash to work with the other sheepdogs on the farm.
Designed to navigate challenging terrain, such as is found on New Zealand’s hilly farmland, the robot was easily able to get around and the sheep moved in exactly the same way as they would with a real dog. Interestingly, the real sheepdogs also managed to work well with the robot. Who knows, one day shepherds might be able to give up going out on the hills altogether, instead operating a team of Lima 002s from their laptop and keeping an eye on them from an overhead drone.
Computer graphics to be revolutionised
A technique called ‘ray-tracing’ which simulates 3D images with stunning lighting effects and realistic reflections and shadows is about to become available on computers. Currently used in Hollywood film production, it uses so much processing power that, until recently, it hasn’t been possible to create these effects in real-time. Indeed, it would have taken the average computer hours to create a single frame.
A new graphics chip, from Nvidia, however, is making it possible for computers to handle real-time ray-tracing. As a result, Microsoft has developed a ray-tracing update for Windows 10 and its also available on the PlayStation 5 and Sony’s Xbox Series X.
Now that the technology is there, game developers are already making use of it. A new ray-tracing version of Minecraft has already been created and will be released later this year. It is only a matter of time before ray-tracing becomes much more widely used. The new Nvidia graphics card is likely to set you back around £240 or increase the cost of a new computer with it already installed.
Easy does it
easyJet, which reported a data breach affecting 9 million of its users last week, is coming under increased criticism for the delayed approach it is taking to give out full details of the attack. Firstly, it took almost four months to inform customers that an attack had taken place. When it did finally reveal some details, it said that while the credit card and CVV numbers of 2000 customers had been stolen, for the majority, it was just their email address and travel details. It was only today, however, that a full explanation of ‘travel details’ were given. These included where customers were travelling to and from, the departure date, the booking reference number and the cost of the booking.
Bearing in mind that British Airways was fined £128 million for a breach which affected 500,000 customers, easyJet execs will be bracing themselves for a bumpy landing once the ICO’s investigation ends.
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