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31 October 2014 by Jenn Granger

Happy Halloween everyone! Not only is it the one day of the year when people are laughing with instead of at my face, it’s also Friday – so that’s cause for spooktacular celebrations! First up though, we’ve had news of a broadband tax, smart highways, an app to help your friends, and some top tips from cyber security month! Now, time to have a rest (in peace), and enjoy the best of the rest!


FAD (Facebook after death)

What happens to social media (and its data) when someone passes away is something we’re having to start thinking about bigtime – especially with a) internet trolls using memorial pages as a place to be bad eggs, and b) as the Facebook overlords are, apparently, surprisingly hard to get hold of. When someone passes away, a fair chunk of their lives is documented on social media – especially Facebook where people tend to keep pictures and messages etc. It’s hard enough to decide who owns the data once you’re gone (would you want your family reading all your messages etc?) but getting the sites to turn pages into memorial areas is surprisingly hard.

Apparently you do need to provide evidence of the death though, so Facebook can confirm it’s not just a prank on a mate (you know, for the lolz). Then there are two options: one is to ask them to delete the account, the other is to memorialise it. If it becomes a memorial page, there are restrictions placed on it, and no one can log in (which would also stop attackers). If it’s stressing you out, you could leave digital account info in an encrypted file and give someone the password so they can access it all if something happens to you. Facebook will need to pick up the pace anyway, as research estimates about 60,000 of its users die a week, and if they don’t do anything about it the account stays active indefinitely. Many other social media sites don’t even have these processes in place, but as many of our lives are now on the ‘net, they need to find a way of looking after our after-lives on there too, pronto!

Saving lives with a smart pill

Seems like Google is getting involved in the health tech biz, as it’s reportedly developed a nanoparticle that could find cancers, heart attacks and other diseases before they actually become a problem. For someone as big of a hypochondriac as I am, this could be kinda amazing. The pill would be made up of particles 10,000 times smaller than the width of a strand of hair (whaaat!) and would have antibodies and proteins inside that would hunt out the biomarkers inside the body that show potential diseases.

Even cooler, because the cores of the particles would be magnetic, if you wore a smartwatch you could call the particles to the watch using the magnet, and the watch could then read the information it’s gathered. Considering more than £100bn a year is spent on the health care market in the UK, this could be a pretty big payout if Google gets there first; and would be a great step for proactive healthcare. It’s still in the very early stages though, and getting it through regulators could be interesting, but it could be a major breakthrough if it happens!

Terrifying wi-fi situations

Showing that some scary things are a step too far, a flight was delayed for hours after a passenger picked up a wi-fi signal called Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork“(sic) while waiting on a plane in LA. His phone detected the signal and the police investigated for some time, before deciding that no crime had been committed. Wi-fi titles are often puntastic, and/or cheeky – users on Reddit recently admitted they named theirs things like ‘ISIS HQ’, (‘get out of my wi-fi’ is a favourite of mine, especially if you have neighbours with sticky-fingered connections); but in this case – even if it was a joke – they could have picked their audience a little better!

If your device has wi-fi set to automatically search for available local networks, then you have to be careful, especially if you’re also auto connecting (people can flip it and reverse it, and hack into your info). There are things you can do to protect yourself when using open public hotspots though, like getting yourself a VPN (virtual private network) that encrypts your info, making sure you stay on https sites, being especially wary of links in emails, and getting up to speed with the hotspot’s terms and conditions before connecting.

The most amazing, terrifying thing you’ll see all day!

What’ve you seen this week that’s worth sharing?

Have a weekend SO GOOD it’s terrifying!