Overwatch: Bigger than the Premier League?

Its developer Activision Blizzard has just announced the first seven team owners for a forthcoming league. It believes, in time, the tournament could prove more lucrative than the UK’s Premier League – football’s highest-earning competition. Several of the successful bidders have made their mark with traditional sports teams, and the buy-in price has not been cheap. The BBC understands the rights cost $20m (£15.5m) per squad. For that, owners get the promise of a 50% revenue split with the Overwatch League itself for future earnings.The fast-paced cartoon-like shooter was designed to appeal to both players and spectators. It’s low on gore and features a racial mix of male and female heroes, including a gay character – a relative rarity in gaming.Unlike most e-sports competitions, each team will be based in a different major city to help owners attract home crowds.And they will pursue the world’s biggest consumer brands as sponsors, rather than the kind of games-related businesses usually associated with e-sports.

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“If you want to reach 18-to-35-year-olds, you really need to be where they are, and they are playing games,” Activision Blizzard’s chief executive Bobby Kotick told the BBC. “The other thing that we offer uniquely is that Overwatch is a very family-friendly game experience. It’s a teen-rated game; it’s super-colourful, super-friendly. “And if you look at the geographical diversity of the maps or the ethnic and racial diversity of the characters, those are all things that we took into consideration in the construction of what we thought would be a globally appealing experience.”To start with, teams are expected to make use of existing venues, but in time Activision Blizzard believes owners will build huge dedicated stadiums of their own.

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From privacy to AI, the new trends set to change the world

Every now and then, WIRED brings together a small group of people from multiple sectors and disciplines to talk. The aim is simple: to share ideas, discuss new trends and debate the value and impact of emerging technologies. On Monday 13 March 2017, one of these evenings was held at Condé Nast’s UK HQ with partner Accenture. This time, the topic brought to the table for discussion by WIRED editor Greg Williams was the biggest trends and technologies announced and unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC). “For me, it was the quieter things that were making the most noise,” said James Temperton, WIRED senior editor and reporter from MWC. “Things like the unanswered questions around 5G and also the fact that in the coming years we won’t be tapping our interfaces, we’ll be talking to them.” Asus Customer Service UK Attendees ranged from Caroline Drucker of Instagram’s strategic partnerships and Christina Nesheva from Hive Innovation Unit, to Paul Coby, CIO of John Lewis and Brooke Stevens, head of international research at Shazam.Topics touched upon included the shift in the ownership model of cars, with the mass introduction of driverless transportation, and the potential for data-driven product design and personalisation.

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“Using qualitative ways of customising experiences. So businesses making decision based on numbers – not old white men making decisions on gut feelings,” said one attendee. From here, a short debate took hold. Surely, said some, these customisations could only come from gathering people’s data – something many users are still queasy about with respect to their browsing, messaging and location information, even if it’s in their interest. Terence Eden, open standards lead at Government Digital Service, drew on the general stasis seen in mobile hardware to highlight a need for refinement. “We’ve reached an inflection point where things are good enough,” he said. “If we look at the big sellers at the moment, it’s stuff that’s plateau-level. People have reached a level where they are happy – apart from with their battery life, of course.”

For such big sellers to thrive, however, it’s key that they open up, said Accenture managing director and go-to-market lead George Marcotte: “Businesses have a choice between continuing with the internal, closed-shop practices of the past, or opening their innovation capabilities to an entire ecosystem of innovative partners.”

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Microsoft 365 puts Windows and Office in one package for businesses

Microsoft has bundled up its core products for businesses for a monthly fee, to encourage companies to upgrade to Windows 10.Its new offering, Microsoft 365, includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, for a monthly, per-user fee.By wrapping its products into one package, Microsoft is making it easier for businesses big and small to manage and pay for the software. It also pushes customers to the latest versions of Office and Windows and, as it’s subscription-based, ensures they’ll always have the latest version of software – something Microsoft is keen to encourage among its user base. Asus Support There are two main versions of the new package: Microsoft 365 Business, which is for small and medium-sized businesses, and Microsoft 365 Enterprise for larger businesses.The first caters for businesses with up to 300 users. Alongside Windows, Office and the security tools, the bundle will also include Microsoft’s mileage tracking app, called Mile IQ, and previews of three new SMB-focused apps: Listings, for email marketing; Connections, to help publish your business information online; and Invoicing. It will hit public preview on 2 August and be available in the autumn, at $20 per user each month.

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For larger companies, Microsoft 365 Enterprise comes in two versions, E3 and E5, with both available on 1 August. The former comes with Office, Outlook and Exchange, Teams, Skype for Business, SharePoint, Yammer and Microsoft’s threat protection system, as well as analytics and management software. E5 adds further analytics and compliance tools, and Microsoft’s advanced security tools, as well as PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX.There’s no pricing for Microsoft 365 Enterprise as it will be sold via partners, so costs will vary. Windows 10 Enterprise E3, which doesn’t come with Office, currently costs $7 a month.

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You’re about to get lots more control over your Facebook and Google data

Europeans are about to get a lot more control over their social media data. A major change to EU data protection law will require Facebook and others to significantly change how people access and using personal information. In the midst of a data gold rush, that’s a big deal. For Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner, it’s all about giving the power back to the people. I think there is that thorny issue of how much anyone understands when they sign-up and purport to give their consent to a very long list of terms and conditions Dixon says of the countless free-to-use services the make money from our data. As the European base Windows Helpline Number for many technology giants, her view holds major sway.The changes will be required under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May 2018. The regulation sets out a series of harmonised data protection principles, that will be implemented into local laws for the 28 member states. The focus of the GDPR is to give greater protections to individuals as well as tougher rules on those who handle data.

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One of the things we have high hopes for significant change under the GDPR is how transparency is really delivered to users, particularly by these internet companies, Dixon tells WIRED. We know from our engagement with them that a lot of them are looking very proactively at how they are going to do the transparency under the GDPR. This is likely to entail how people can access and view the information that is gathered about them by some of the internet’s biggest firms. They’re working with designers to look at how they can quickly engage a user quickly but also deliver them with what they need to ensure when they sign-up they’re fully informed, Dixon says.

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Top tips for expanding your startup internationally

International expansion is an inevitable ambition for ambitious tech companies, but the route abroad is fraught with dangers, from legal risks to cultural hazards. Even video-streaming juggernaut Netflix had a bumpy road overseas. The company launched its service into more than 130 new countries in January 2016, but its stock soon slipped as a result. A lack of local content, language barriers, Soup underdeveloped payment processing and broadband infrastructure and pricing that wasn’t significantly altered to match the local economy were named as major barriers by Wall Street analysts Jefferies. Netflix sailed into the largest quarter of net additions in its history within a year, but continues to lose money from its overseas expansion for now. For smaller companies these pitfalls could have already proven fatal. Blogster Different international markets all have their own potential potholes around investment, trade, accountancy, logistics, legal and marketing issues. GTM Global in association with techUK brought experts from each of these fields together to give their advice on international expansion in one-to-one sessions for mid-market technology startups.

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Techworld was on hand to pick the brains of the mentors at the inaugural three-hour workshops at techUK’s central London headquarters.

The workshop begins

There are ten tables arranged along the walls of a large meeting room, where around a dozen different mentors and tech company bosses stand in the middle.They already know each other on paper. Before the meeting, Leapzip the organisers drafted a briefing document for each company based on an analysis of the business makeup and key objectives of their overseas expansion plan. This is then shared with the mentors, whose details in turn are given to the companies. To ease the personal introductions, everybody present briefly introduces their company and their individual role and goal.

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Is it safer to use an app or a browser for banking?

Over the past five years or so, I feel the consensus has changed to using apps. However, it depends on the devices, banking software and browsers, what else is loaded on the device (either knowingly or not), and the communications network.Browsers are risky because there are trojans designed to collect banking information. Apps are risky because most banking apps probably have security flaws, and because fake/malware apps sometimes appear in app stores.Tumbler If you are a careful user with a secure PC, and if you only use it on your secure home network, you should not have any problems. However, if you want to perform banking transactions from wherever you happen to be, without taking too many precautions, then it should be safest to use an app over 3G/LTE (turn off wifi and Bluetooth). Systems that use two-factor Storify authentication, preferably with a separate device that generates new passwords on demand, are really the way to go.

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What is an app?

When personal computers first went on general sale in the 1970s, the VisiCalc spreadsheet was hailed as a “killer app”, which was short for “application program”. However, the past decade has seen a huge growth in app stores for smartphones and tablets. These apps are different from traditional PC programs in that they are vetted by and downloaded from secure online stores. Further, these apps run in sandboxes to prevent them from doing bad things. PCs, by contrast, can run unvetted software from any source, including malware-infected Leapzip websites, unless your anti-virus software blocks them.When Microsoft redesigned Windows  8 to run on tablets and smartphones, it introduced a similar subsystem for apps. This enabled Windows to run sandboxed apps installed by the Windows Store. These apps are much safer than the old programs, because there are limits to what they are allowed to do.Today there are quite a few Windows banking apps – Alliance, Citibank, FNB, RMB, HDFC, BNP Paribas, UBI, Westpac etc – but none that I can see from UK banks. Soup They are rather slow to catch on …

The Edge browser in Windows 10 is a new sandboxed app, so it’s much better for banking than Internet Explorer. Otherwise, Chrome is the most secure alternative, because it runs in Google’s own strong sandbox. Some security companies also provide add-ons, such as Kaspersky Safe Money and Bitdefender Safepay. The browsers on smartphones and tablets are also sandboxed, but like their desktop counterparts, they may be at risk from phishing and “man-in-the-middle” attacks. Asus Support

NHS doctors use Snapchat to send patients’ scans, report says

NHS doctors are using Snapchat to send patient scans to one another, according to a new report that warns it is an “insecure, risky” way of working. A panel of experts, chaired by former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Julian Huppert, said the NHS was letting the digital revolution pass it by, forcing medics to find their own “technical fixes”. The report also revealed that the NHS is the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines, described by the authors as a “dubious title” to hold. The report was commissioned to examine the dealings that DeepMind Health, which is owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has with the NHS. A project between DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust has recently come under fire.On Monday, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the NHS Trust “failed” to comply with data protection law when it provided data on 1.6 million patients to DeepMind. The files were shared as part of a test for an app that can alert doctors to patients who are at risk from kidney injuries. Last year DeepMind commissioned a panel of independent experts to look into its work with the NHS. In their first annual report, the experts highlighted a number of concerns but also commended DeepMind for many elements of its pioneering work.

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The panel commissioned a series of independent experts to examine elements of DeepMind’s work – including employing data security analysts. They identified 11 “relatively minor” technical vulnerabilities but overall the panel commended DeepMind Health for its “high level of data security”. They were not so favourable about the NHS, writing: “The digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS, which, in 2017, still retains the dubious title of being the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines. “Many records are insecure paper based systems which are unwieldy and difficult to use.

“Seeing the difference that technology makes in their own lives, clinicians are already manufacturing their own technical fixes. They may use SnapChat to send scans from one clinician to another or camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format. “It is difficult to criticise Blogster these individuals, given that this makes their job possible. However, this is clearly an insecure, risky, and non-auditable way of operating, and cannot continue.” The authors also add that the average NHS trust has 160 different computer systems in operation. At a press conference launching the report, panel chair Dr Julian Huppert said: “There are a lot of companies that supply technology systems within the NHS. I suspect if you were to examine any of them you would find quite a lot of things one could question.

“I think that there is a problem with the skill levels within the NHS and some cases within the companies that supply it. I think there are real questions about security of data throughout. “If you look at the Soup WannaCry attack, that encrypted data but if it had instead been aimed at exfiltrating and publishing all of that data I don’t believe there is much that could have stopped it. “I’m not a particularly expert programmer but there are real problems around the NHS and how it uses data and how securely that is kept and the relations it forms with others. “There is a huge amount of work in my view to improve the standards of data security to improve the standards of privacy across the entirety of the NHS.” On Monday the ICO said the Royal Free, in its role as “data controllers”, did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it provided the information as part of the test for the Streams app – which is for the use of healthcare professionals and can identify patients who are at risk from acute kidney injuries (AKI) and alert doctors. But DeepMind were not acting as “data controllers” but “data processors”. Asus Customer Service UK

Why players are returning to the classics

Computers had made it into our living rooms, and although fans had their favourites – the thrust of Street Fighter, the platforms of Super Mario or the simplicity of Pacman – children and adults alike were hooked.The market for consoles has continued to grow over the decades as technology companies across the globe try to get their bite out of the gaming pie. But almost 20 years into the new millennium, passionate players are still looking back in time to find their fix. Mario caps Nintendo’s triumphant comeback

Hopes of a games arcade revival

“While there’s definitely an element of nostalgia, it’s important to recognise how well designed many of those classic games are,” said technology journalist and retro game collector KG Orphanides. “The developers had so little space to work with – your average Sega Mega Drive or SNES cartridge had a maximum capacity of just 4MB – and limited graphics and sound capabilities.” The average game now weighs in at 40GB.

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Cheap but cheerful

But these limitations did not stop them from making some memorable games.

Gemma Wood, from Basingstoke, has never put her Nintendo GameCube in the loft – despite having it for more than 15 years. “I love it, in fact I was playing Mario Sunshine and Mario Kart Double Dash yesterday,” she said. “I really could not get on with the controls on the Wii [a more recent Nintendo console] and, with retro consoles, most of the games are cheap because they are second hand. “Newer consoles and their games are incredibly expensive. I understand that a lot of hard work has gone into the design etc, but how can anyone justify £50 to £60 for a game that you might not even enjoy?”For others, it is a chance to show their children the computer games they grew up with.

Howard Gardner, from south London, has revived his love of the Amstrad CPC and cannot wait to see the faces of his sons and daughter.

“Five years ago, when clearing out my uncle’s house, I found another CPC, restored it to working order and re-acquired some of my old favourite games from eBay – and a laughably outdated 3D modelling package,” he said.”I don’t get a whole lot of time to use it, but I plan to show the children the games I used to play and film a reaction video!” Gaming for all Whatever your reason for picking up an old joypad, you are not alone, and it is not just an activity to take part in on your own or with the family at home. There is now a huge community of retro gamers across the country who love to share their passion. The National Videogame Arcade, which opened in Nottingham in 2015, is a centre of all things gaming. It welcomes thousands of visitors every year and runs huge events to make the point that gaming is for everyone.

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How to format a hard drive

There are many reasons why you might want to format a hard drive, such as to install Windows fresh, to get rid of a virus or malware or simply because you’re giving your PC to someone else or throwing it away. Here, we’ll explain all you need to know to erase all the data from disk and get the job done properly. The process can be different depending on whether it’s your only hard drive and whether you have a spare PC or not. You can’t, for example, format the hard drive on which Windows is running. In order to do this you will need to boot your PC from a Windows installation disc, a USB flash drive or another bootable disc.

What does it mean to format a disk?

Formatting is the process of deleting all the data on the hard drive, but beware of ‘Quick Format’ which leaves all your data in place and makes the drive appear to be empty. A quick format is ok if you have a brand new hard drive, or you want to reinstall Windows, but not if you’re disposing of the disk or giving it to someone else.Separately we explain how to delete a selection of files permanently for free with Eraser 6. A word of warning: make sure you have successfully backed up any photos, videos, music and other documents from your drive before you format it. Although deleted files can be recovered in some situations, prevention is always better than cure.

How to format hard drive partitions

It’s important to understand about partitions before you start. A hard drive can be divided up into smaller sections, called partitions. It’s possible to format one partition while leaving the others untouched.That’s useful in certain situations, but if you want to format the entire hard drive and use the entire capacity in one block, you’ll also need to delete the partition information.

Can I format a hard drive from the BIOS?

Many people ask how to format a hard disk from BIOS. The short answer is no.

If you need to format a disk and you can’t do it from within Windows, you can create a bootable CD, DVD or USB flash drive and run a free third-party formatting tool. One option is Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN), which is free for personal use. This program will totally erase and format your hard disk, allowing for a clean install of a new OS, but the process cannot be undone.

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This is the lightest laptop money can buy

Fujitsu has unleashed a bunch of new laptops, tablets and workstations aimed at the business market – no less than 18 of them – with the highlight being an incredibly light LifeBook. The LifeBook U937/P is a 13.3-inch notebook which weighs in at a mind-boggling 799g, with a thickness of 15.5mm. The weight makes the likes of the highly portable LG gram 14 almost seem a tad hefty at 980g (although that model has a slightly bigger form factor, being a 14-inch Ultrabook). Still, Fujitsu’s new offering is the lightest notebook you can get at the size, given that Lenovo no longer makes the LaVie Z HZ550 (a 13.3-inch laptop which weighed a tad less at 780g – but the currently available LaVie Z models start at a weight of 850g). Fujitsu’s U937/P benefits from a Kaby Lake processor, but the company hasn’t revealed further spec details yet. Although it did note that the device will be available in two colours – either black or red – and it’s expected to be on shelves in Japan early next month (and hopefully elsewhere not long after).

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The almighty Windows 10 powers Fujitsu’s featherweight laptop

Get convertedThis notebook, and the various other business laptops Fujitsu is launching, all come equipped with Kaby Lake CPUs. In total, there are nine new laptops emerging, along with four tablets, four workstations and a desktop PC. Fujitsu is also rolling out a 12.5-inch convertible laptop, the LifeBook P727/P, which allows the keyboard to be folded back 360-degrees to be used in tablet mode (or it can be partially folded back to be in tent mode, or stand mode for presentations).