Monday, 12 November 2012

The rise of LMS technology

Is your IT department involved in the design or procurement of a Learning Management System (LMS)? A recent survey has shown that more companies are looking at developing in-house talent and so looking at systems that bring together a number of skills training and development packages for employees. An article in Computer Weekly discusses the issues and offers advice for IT departments involved in providing such systems. LMS systems can offer anything from ‘simple course booking systems’ to a range of e-learning courses. One of the reasons that such in-house courses are becoming more significant is the need in many industrial and commercial sectors to demonstrate to regulators that ‘staff are trained in the relevant legislation’. New sector specific suppliers of LMS systems are ‘emerging’ according to the article with indications that for IT departments it is ‘a buyer’s market’. For more information read the article at

Monday, 29 October 2012

Women in technology

Shadow business minister Chi Onwurah has recently put forward new ideas to increase the number of women working in engineering and technology. Amongst other suggestions, discussed in an article by Louise Peacock in The Daily Telegraph, she suggested that the awarding of government contracts should be dependent on the companies involved having a minimum number of female staff. Her other suggestions include more prizes and awards schemes for female scientists and technologists. Ms Onwurah was an electrical engineer for 23 years before joining parliament in 2010 and says that she has ‘definitely’ experienced sexism. Currently 94% of engineers are men, according to recent research. An additional report by the Institute of Engineering and Technology calls for women to be encouraged into the profession at an earlier age. It also calls for more flexible working arrangements to be available. For more on these proposals to encourage women into technology read more at

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Increased powers sought against data security breaches

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is looking to increase its authority to impose greater punishments against companies  who have had major data security breaches. Recent official figures show a marked increase in cyber security incidents in both the public and private sector.  In addition, according to the article on, Europe is also looking to ‘introduce tough new data protection regulations as early as 2014.’ The article has views from Deputy Information Commissioner, David Smith, who even argues for custodial sentences although the government has not wanted to take this step so far. Currently the maximum fine that can be issued for a data security breach is £500,000. The maximum issued so far was for £375,000 to Brighton and Sussex General Hospital when hard disks with patient data were found on eBay. For more on the debate on how cyber security breaches should be handled read the full article at

Monday, 1 October 2012

Consultation opens on .uk domain names

Does British business need new shorter domain names – particularly the option of These have been proposed by Nominet, the non-profit organisation that oversees all .uk net addresses. According to today’s article on the BBC technology page, the shorter domain names would have added security features. Eleanor Bradley, director of operations at Nominet explains that the new domain names would be “DNSSEC-signed [Domain Name System Security Extensions] …a security protocol that adds a digital signature to a domain to minimise the risk of domain-hijacking.” A three-month consultation period is now underway until 7th January to listen to business concerns. Some companies envisage additional expense as they may have to buy the additional domain names simply to protect their brands. To obtain the new names, businesses would have to prove they have a significant UK presence and pay additional fees. For more information on the new domain name proposals read the full BBC article at

Monday, 17 September 2012

Microsoft finds malware on ‘new’ products

PCs and laptops may already be infected with malware before you even get them home. That’s according to a recent announcement by Microsoft and discussed in a recent article in The Independent. As part of their investigations, Microsoft researchers bought products from various ‘PC malls’ in different Chinese cities and found that 20 per cent of them were infected with malware. Although it is not thought the products bought from ‘unsecure supply chains’ will affect Western supplies of physical products, the malware could still cause problems if the software is downloaded. Researchers found counterfeit copies of Microsoft Windows and malware that could allow cybercriminals to remotely control cameras, record keystrokes and gather personal data. The main malware involved is known as Nitol Botnet which the company has been investigating by many different means. Find out more about the technical reach of the malware by reading the full article at

Monday, 3 September 2012

Quantum chip from University of Bristol

An international research team based at the University of Bristol are to reveal details this week of their latest development – a new quantum chip. Quantum technology manipulates photons of light within circuits rather than traditional chips using electrical current. This step means the possibility of ultra-fast computing and much smaller devices although quantum chips could still be produced in exiting silicon manufacturing facilities. In the short term, its first applications may be in situations where online security is important. Jeremy O’Brien, physics professor at Bristol, quoted in the full article in the Financial Times, estimated that “quantum processors could be integrated with conventional microelectronic circuits within three to five years.” The Bristol based team included engineers and scientists from Toshiba, Nokia and Oclaro from the U.K. The team’s work is to be revealed at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen this week. For more details on this step change in chip design  read the full article here

Monday, 20 August 2012

The BBC, the Olympics and the digital future

What were the key issues facing the chief technology officer for the BBC during the huge digital output delivered during the Olympics? John Linwood who holds that particular role, speaking in an interview in Computer Weekly magazine, does admit to ‘a moment at the end of the closing ceremony where we breathed a sigh of relief’. At one point 12 million video requests were made on one day making it ‘the largest online mobile streaming ever’. Planning infrastructure was vital with equipment rental and use of third party networks meaning that the huge capacity could be there for the event without excess investment. Linwood goes on the discuss the future direction for digital operations at the BBC including using cloud-based services and virtualisation. For more on what it took to successfully deliver the BBC Olympic output and future plans, read the whole article at