Category: Technology

Technology

Google has some news to present again that we don’t have to worry about (for the time being) in this country. However, since business and private travel is still going on in times of Corona, it could well be that you come into contact with the new hospitality functions of Google much sooner than you think. These are services that you can use as a guest in hotels and other accommodations in order not to have to contact the staff for every little thing or to simply make your stay a little more comfortable.

 

According to Google, the partner facilities will receive a Nest Hub Smart Display for each hotel room. This can then be used for all sorts of useful things via Google voice commands: querying the weather report, waking you up, but also sending service requests to the hotel. It should be possible to ask, “Hey Google, ask my hotel for additional towels” or “Hey Google, when does the pool close?” Some hotels should then even offer a quick checkout or surveys for guests via the Google Assistant have ready how you could make your stay even more beautiful. It should also be possible for hotels to query any promotions or special offers directly via the Google Assistant.

 

In addition, YouTube can be accessed and, via a Bluetooth connection, guests can also play their own music on the smart display. If the hotel is so “modern” that the rooms are equipped with smart lights, televisions and roller blinds, then guests can also control them via Google Assistant – here at the latest there will certainly be one or the other guest for whom that would be too much . In spite of all this, the protection of privacy should also be ensured:

 

There is no need to sign in to the device and no activity is associated with your personal account. There is no camera on the Nest Hub, and the physical microphone switch can be turned off for added privacy. No sound is ever saved, and all activity is immediately deleted from the device when it is reset for the next guest.

 

Currently, Google’s new hospitality service is working in hotels like Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort in Calistoga, Gale and Shelborne South Beach in Miami, Gansevoort Meatpacking and Synergy Chelsea in New York City, Hotel Zena and Viceroy DC and Village Hotels in the UK. According to Google, there are already plenty of other partnerships in the pipeline.

With Oracle, the next US tech company should be interested in TikTok. There is hardly any rational reason to buy. Except politics.

In addition to Microsoft and the short message service Twitter , the US technology group Oracle is now said to be interested in taking over the Chinese video app TikTok. Oracle is working with American investors who in turn are involved in the TikTok owner Bytedance , including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital ,  reported the “Financial Times”. That raised a lot of frowns in the tech world. Because actually there are hardly any conclusive arguments for such an entry. Oracle neither knows the business, nor are there any significant synergies. Anyone who is still looking for an argument for the takeover must leave the soil of hard economic facts. What speaks against the purchase – and what for it. 

1. Oracle has no experience in the retail business

The majority of people around the world may never have heard of Oracle. The reason for this is simple: the company founded by the charismatic Larry Ellison near San Francisco is a flawless provider of business-to-business software. Oracle is the main competitor of the German software group SAP in the business with business software – from finance to human resources to accounting. In addition, the Californian company is the world market leader for databases.

The Californian group has long since sold all business areas with any reference to the end customer business that Oracle had acquired in the course of earlier acquisitions – including the “Open Office” office package from the German company Star Division. A second or third glance does not reveal how a social network such as TikTok, which is particularly popular with teenagers and young adults, should fit into the portfolio.

2. Oracle plays no role in the global cloud infrastructure

From a technical point of view, social networks like Facebook , LinkedIn or even TikTok are basically gigantic databases in which sophisticated algorithms decide which users get to see which content. And such databases, one could argue, are part of Oracle’s business. 

But these are completely different from what is needed to operate a platform like TikTok. Because in order to be able to transfer images or video content to the smartphones for hundreds of millions of users worldwide in fractions of a second, you not only need a database, but also a worldwide network of cloud data centers that store and distribute the content.

This is exactly what Microsoft has , which with its software platform Azure and the global network of data centers is now the world’s second largest provider of cloud infrastructure. Microsoft has now secured almost a fifth of global business , behind Amazon , which has a third of the market share with its AWS cloud service.

Oracle, on the other hand, does not play a role in global business with just two percent of sales – and simply does not have the capacity to run TikTok on its own platform.

3. Oracle has no synergies in marketing TikTok content

The biggest source of income in social networks is the sale of advertising. Here Facebook and Google dominate the global online advertising market. Oracle lacks both the competence and the staff to run this business itself after a possible takeover of TikTok.

Here, too, Microsoft is much better off. With the search platform Bing and the news portals connected to it, the Windows Group has both the know-how and the channels to end customers that would allow TikTok content to be marketed via other channels. With the additional advertising revenues that Microsoft could generate, a billion-dollar acquisition in China could also pay off.

However, how Oracle should refinance an entry into the entertainment portal is completely unclear.

4. Oracle would be Beelzebub instead of the devil

US President Donald Trump justified the request to the Chinese TikTok parent ByteDance to sell the US business with concerns about the data security of American users. From a European perspective, however, the takeover of the service by Oracle would in a sense only replace the devil with the Beelzebub.

The reason: Oracle has a company with its subsidiary BlueKai that operates an extensive tracking network on the worldwide web. Largely unnoticed by the public, BlueKai follows traces of online users around the world when they are online.

Only at the end of June of this year did this fact become public through a data breach with billions of entries, in which the personal data of German Internet users were also openly online. American corporations are also relatively lax with personal data. Oracle’s entry would not bring more data security for end users (American as well as international).

5. Oracle may have an interest in helping Trump

The fact that Oracle is entering the bidding race could also have political rather than economic reasons and the company is only participating in TikTok for the sake of US President Donald Trump. Because Oracle founder Larry Ellison is a declared Trump supporter: “I support him and want him to be ahead,” Ellison said in April to the US magazine Forbes.

In February, Ellison invited his friends to a high profile fundraiser on his private estate and golf course in California. And Safra Catz, the CEO at Oracle, even worked in his transition team in 2016 after Trump’s election victory.

So if Oracle drove up the price for TikTok in a bidding contest with Microsoft, Trump could only be right – he had already suggested at the beginning of August that the American state should be entitled to a kind of brokerage bonus if a deal is made. 

He called it “key money” – an old-fashioned term from the real estate business when a tenant slips his future landlord a bribe in order to win the contract. Oracle could make sure that the cash register rings for the tax money. 

In return, Ellison and Catz were with the US activities of TikTok access to a completely new and potentially lucrative business

Thanks to the deal with Deutsche Bank, Google can hold its own against its main cloud rivals Amazon and Microsoft for the first time. Does the partnership also convince other data-sensitive companies from Germany?

This news makes one sit up and take notice: Deutsche Bank and Google want to enter into a multi-year strategic partnership in IT matters. The bankers want to use the cloud services of the US group, among other things In addition, both companies plan to jointly develop technology-based products for the financial sector .

The deal is remarkable for several reasons: So far, two companies in particular have dominated the still young cloud market. According to figures from the American market researcher Canalys from February 2020, every third company worldwide that uses cloud services relies on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the subsidiary of the group known primarily for its online trade. Almost every fifth company uses Microsoft. Google Cloud follows behind in third place with only six percent.

AWS generated $ 35 billion worldwide last year – and, like Microsoft, has been growing at double-digit rates for years. In comparison, Google’s cloud business has so far been relatively under the radar – also and especially in Germany.

In the past, the Google rivals in particular made a name for themselves in this country. Last year, for example, when Volkswagen announced major partnerships with both providers: The Wolfsburg-based company is building an auto cloud for digital value-added services with Microsoft ; with AWS, however, VW wants to network its 122 factories worldwide in an industrial cloud .

At eye level with the market leaders

The deal with Deutsche Bank therefore means two things for Google: On the one hand, the large order gives the Americans a visible foot in the door of the German market, which has so far been relatively closed to them. On the other hand, Google is proving that in cloud computing they can act on a par with their US rivals AWS and Microsoft. For some time, Google has been trying to attract customers in this industry, but so far it has only been able to win over HSBC , as reported by the Bloomberg news agency.

The ten-year partnership between Google and Deutsche Bank is also noteworthy for another reason: Many companies – especially in Germany – are worried about losing control of their own data when using an American cloud provider. Google operates seven data centers in Europe, one of them in Germany. It is not known on which the data for Deutsche Bank will be processed. But the so-called Cloud Act allows US authorities to even access data from Amazon, Microsoft or Google stored abroad in the event of suspicion.

Particularly strict rules

It is not yet known that this has already happened. In a long-standing dispute before the American Supreme Court, Microsoft tried to prevent the US government from accessing at least the data that is on servers outside the USA. Vain. This leaves many companies with a certain degree of uncertainty.

And now with Deutsche Bank, of all things, a German company from the specially regulated financial sector is using a US provider like Google. The regulations for data storage on German servers are among the strictest here. And the customers are probably more sensitive than in any other industry: Who wants their credit card or old-age pension information to fall into the wrong hands? Google has apparently convinced Deutsche Bank that this will not happen. The partnership could therefore have a signal effect for the cloud industry as a whole – according to the motto: If the Deutschbankers trust the Americans, industrial companies and retailers can too.

They offer enormous opportunities, but sometimes harbor great dangers: Drones. For example, the number of disruptions in air traffic is increasing. Defense techniques find it difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of technology development.

Significant disruption to air traffic from drones was a wake-up call for the UK authorities. Gatwick Airport in London was paralyzed for several days in December. Tens of thousands of passengers had to stay on the ground without the police finding the perpetrators. The government wants to prevent new drone incidents with expanded restricted zones and mandatory registration. London Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport, is protected with military equipment.

“The danger is great and growing,” says Jürgen Beyerer, who is involved in security and defense research at the Fraunhofer Institute. “You don’t have to equip a drone with explosives to cause huge economic damage. We have very vulnerable infrastructures, for example airports, which can be paralyzed just by sighting a drone. You have to make them more resilient. ”And:“ I think the airports have underestimated that so far. ”

In Germany, obstacles to air traffic with drones increased by 80 percent in the past year. The German air traffic control reports 158 cases, 125 of them in the metropolitan area of ​​airports. There were a total of 88 faults in 2017, the previous record year.

Remote-controlled aircraft that are used as toys or work equipment are becoming increasingly cheaper and at the same time more powerful. Whole “swarms of drones”, possibly with a programmed flight order, are the next technological leap. An enormous challenge for the military, for airports and ultimately also for major events.

Experts in the military and authorities are watching very closely how small drones are already being used as weapons. The Bundeswehr protects itself against such attacks when deployed abroad. The latest edition of the specialist journal “MarineForum” sheds light on the dangers posed by drones or entire swarms of drones that can carry explosives or even warfare agents.

In Syria, self-made weapons have already been used as weapons. Just one of several examples: on January 8, 2018, the Russian military reported that ten missiles prepared with explosives and heading for the Hamaimim air base had been located. Three more drones were aimed at the Tartus naval base. Some of the self-made plastic and wood constructions were shot down and some landed. A drone was on public display.

Israel is considered a pioneer in defense against drones. Companies there have developed various defense systems, such as the “Drone Dome” from the arms manufacturer Rafael and the “Drone Guard” from Elta, a subsidiary of the defense group IAI (Israeli Aerospace Industries). A Rafael spokesman, he calls himself Meir and does not want to give his full name, says: “The threat from drones has increased significantly in recent years. From a gimmick, it has become a weapon used by terrorist organizations like the Islamic State (IS). ”

The task of the “Drone Dome” is to detect drones and, if necessary, to switch them off. This is possible up to a distance of 3.5 to 5 kilometers. If a drone comes dangerously close to an airport, you can either disrupt its communication systems or take control of the aircraft and land it at a safe distance. Both methods are known as “soft kill”. A so-called “hard kill” is also technically possible – shooting down the drone with a precisely targeted laser cannon. “This is an option, but it’s not used in practice yet,” he says.

The “soft kill” does not endanger aircraft in the vicinity because drones have a significantly lower radio frequency than aircraft, says Meir. The “hard kill” could be necessary in the future if drones were equipped in such a way that their radio links could no longer be disturbed.

The system currently in use will be alerted if only the remote control of a drone is switched on in the vicinity of an airport, explains Meir. A flying drone can also be identified by optical monitoring and so-called sigint systems – “Signals Intelligence”, the examination of data streams for certain content.

The system can be operated by a person, for example in the control tower of an airport. Last year, according to media reports, Rafael sold six of these systems to Great Britain for the equivalent of 17.45 million euros. This is not the only foreign customer, says Meir, but does not want to name any other countries.

The defense system of the second Israeli provider, the “Drone Guard”, was used to protect the latest G20 summit in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. An Elta representative confirmed that the system was also used near the airport while the heads of state landed there.

In Germany, the airports are responsible for their own security of the site. However, this explicitly refers to the floor. Air traffic control is responsible for the airspace, but only for known and orderly flight movements. In the case of unauthorized threat flights, the police also come into play: only they are authorized to exercise “direct coercion”.

“Experience with game consoles is an advantage”

In addition to electronic means, a shotgun or the use of a water cannon are also conceivable. Even birds of prey have been trained, but with moderate success in practical use. Also under discussion are restricted zones that are technically enforced through so-called geofencing: drones would have to contain an electronic component that scans forbidden areas and blocks entry.

However, there are also racing drones, some of them self-built, which demonstrate spectacular mobility even in narrow buildings. Beyerer: “Race drones fly so fast that it takes your breath away. Defense systems simply have problems with the dynamics of these drones. If these fast drones are then also equipped with autonomy, I would say that you are not prepared for this today. “

Whether with electronics or chemicals – the fight against mosquitoes and their bites is a business that more and more companies are pushing into. The technical innovations with which they hunt down the pests.

Their buzzing robs you of sleep – and once you have tracked down your victim, for example based on the exhaled air or the body odor, there is hardly any escape. They saw through the skin to the nearest vein with their piercing bristles, and with their proboscis they pump saliva into the wound so that the victim’s blood does not clot. Then they suck it off. And a little later the sting begins to itch.

Mosquitoes are a nuisance, mosquitoes are disease carriers – and they are business for large corporations and small start-ups.

One start-up that makes money with the buzzing pests is Heat_it. The company based near Mannheim has developed a tiny device that can be used to relieve the itching and swelling after a mosquito bite. Connected to the smartphone and its battery, you simply hold the device on the itchy area. The heat given off ensures that fewer histamines are released, which cause itching. At the same time, the brief pain leads to the fact that the brain hardly notices the itching. And the heat is supposed to break down the protein poison from the mosquito’s saliva.

Similar devices, in which the user has to charge the battery regularly and which are therefore much more bulky, have been on the market for a while; they are available at the common drugstore chains.

In Germany , mosquitoes can be a nuisance and even cause business problems, as restaurateurs on the Bavarian Ammersee have to experience this year. There, residents and tourists had to flee the open air after 3 p.m. because the mosquitoes literally fell on them. But at least they rarely transmit serious diseases in this country. Unlike in the malaria areas of the world.

The World Health Organization WHO has recommended two years ago for the first time in decades a new anti-mosquito products, such as for use in Central Africa and Southeast Asia. A mosquito net from the Ludwigshafen-based BASF group soaked in the active ingredient chlorfenapyr .

Old ideas, improved application

The company developed this together with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, an organization to fight malaria. The active ingredient is not new; it has been used as an insecticide in agriculture for years. But now the scientists have changed it so that it can also be used on the networks.

The active ingredient disrupts the insects’ ability to generate energy. As a result, it dies when it sits on the net. It is also considered less likely that the insects will become resistant to the agent. Based on the active ingredient, BASF has now also developed a spray that can be applied to walls and ceilings.

A remedy that the Cologne-based chemical company Lanxess has in its range is a little less martial against mosquitoes . Lanxess is an exclusive worldwide manufacturer of the active ingredient Icaridin, which is found in most mosquito sprays today, for example in Autan, which is sold by the US manufacturer SC Johnson.

Icaridin makes people practically impossible to smell by mosquitoes by confusing their olfactory receptors. This makes it much more difficult for the animal to find its victim, and the risk of a mosquito bite is reduced. However, mosquitoes also orientate themselves with their eyes. The funds are of little help here.

Nevertheless, analysts at Zion Market Research expect the global market for drugs to keep mosquitos away from them to grow to around five billion dollars by 2022. Outbreaks like the Zika virus in South America would drive development, they expect.

And electronics should also chase the insects away, according to the plan of the Zurich start-up Nopixglobal. His Nopixgo bracelet emits electromagnetic impulses that are harmless to humans and simulate a storm with lightning and thunder. Mosquitoes don’t like that at all. Even in bodies of water, the bracelet, which costs around 90 euros, chases away stinging animals, reports a hobby angler on YouTube who has tested it extensively.

Elon Musk wants to connect the human brain to the smartphone – with Neuralink, a mini-computer in the head. The device should also have potential in the medical field. We see what else it can do.

It sounds like science fiction – and maybe you have to ask yourself several times whether a mini-computer really has to be in the human head. But Elon Musik wants to bring exactly one on the market to connect us to the smartphone.

The device is called Neuralink and is designed to convey information between neurons and computers. The American entrepreneur has already shown how this should work in a video presentation – using pigs.

A Neuralink prototype was implanted into the animals beforehand.

If a pig moved its trunk, for example, the nerve connections were transferred to a computer via Bluetooth connections. This enabled the researchers to predict the animal’s coming movements with a high degree of probability.

Neuralink: A mini-computer for the human brain

The chip is eight millimeters thick and 23 millimeters in diameter. It should of course not actually be used on pigs, but ultimately on people.

According to Musk, he also sees potential in the treatment of pain, visual disturbances, hearing loss, insomnia, brain damage and injuries to the spinal cord.

The current prototype is already equipped with sensors for temperature, pressure and movement measurement. Musk says that the device can “monitor health and warn, for example, of a risk of heart attack or stroke”.

When Neuralink is implanted in the human brain, the technology should communicate with an app on the smartphone via Bluetooth. Here, too, one should think about possible effects. After all, a technology chip in the body initially has nothing to do with human nature.

However, Musk is of the opinion that in the future people will have to connect their brains to computers in order to be able to keep up with the ever-evolving artificial intelligence.

When is Neuralink available?

Elon Musk has not yet tested his mini-computer on humans. There is also no specific schedule for a possible test phase or even the start of production. The Tesla founder has not yet given a price range.

The video presentation and the animal experiments are said to have primarily served to find new employees for Neuralink. Around 100 people are currently working on the technology. However, Musk doesn’t think it’s unlikely that the project will eventually employ 10,000 people.

 

3D printing makes life easier: Airplanes are lighter and save kerosene, the tooth crown fits straight away and transport and storage costs are eliminated. Experts expect a lot more in the next few years.

Airplane parts and custom-made spectacle frames, artificial hip joints and dental crowns are already coming from the 3D printer in many cases. According to a study by the management consultancy Ernst & Young, sales of around 11 billion euros will be generated this year. The market should continue to grow by 25 percent annually and by 2023 will already be a good 25 billion euros. And “in the future, people will also print their schnitzel,” said Professor Nikolaus Adams on Wednesday at the start of a 3D printing conference at the Technical University of Munich .

The steak has already been made in the laboratory as an experiment. But technology is already part of everyday life in industry, especially in aircraft construction: 78 percent of companies in this industry use it, the remaining 22 percent plan to follow suit, according to the EY study. Because 3D printing allows completely new, much lighter components – and “that saves weight and costs,” said Airbus manager Remedios Carmona in Munich. The door hinge for the A350 used to consist of ten parts; today it is printed in one piece in Donauwörth, Bavaria.

“With a weight saving of one kilogram on all Lufthansa aircraft, we save 26.5 tons of kerosene per year,” explained Steffen Milchsack from Lufthansa . Boeing manager Melissa Orme said in Munich that her company has already installed around 70,000 parts from the 3D printer in aircraft and satellites. The technology is used in 20 Boeing plants today. As an example, she cited an antenna component: formerly a massive block, now a filigree lattice structure.

In 3D printing, plastic, ceramic or metal powders are fused layer by layer with the help of lasers until the desired shape is created. The process enables completely new, weight-saving structures that would not be possible with conventional techniques.

According to EY, only 59 percent of companies in the automotive industry use 3D printing, for example for the construction of machine parts and tools. It can also be used to produce prototypes much faster and more cheaply – this speeds up research and development, as Anne Thenaise from the French aircraft supplier Safran emphasized.

And spare parts can be produced quickly without high storage and transport costs even in remote regions – for example on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. “The Navy wants to press a button, get a component and install it in the machine,” said Lockheed Martin manager JD McFarlan in Munich.

According to the EY study, this will be driven by demand in aircraft construction and in medicine, where custom-made products are needed, as well as new materials that are suitable for 3D printing. A printer can cost well over a million euros, and the material is not cheap either. But “medical technology already earns good money with it,” said Tobias Stittgen from RWTH Aachen University. The Irish company Stryker, for example, has around 70 systems running today on which implants for medicine are manufactured.

Of the 900 companies surveyed, two thirds of German companies use 3D printing. In South Korea and China it is even around 80 percent. “3D printing is currently very popular in Asia. In China in particular, additive manufacturing is set as one of the clear priorities in the economic strategy at the country level, ”said Stefana Karevska from EY. “There is still a lot of testing going on in Germany – the local companies have not yet made as much use of it as the Asian ones, for example.”

The technology is actually far enough for use, said TÜV Süd manager Holger Lindner. However, many companies do not see a business model at the moment. However, that should change soon, the management consultants at EY expect. Every second company expects to be able to reduce its storage and transport costs through 3D printing in three years. “Every aerospace, consumer goods and chemical company plans for the future with 3D printing,” says the study.

In parallel to computer and video games, the market for board games is booming. From Thursday, game publishers from all over the world will be showing their latest creations at the Spielmesse in Essen. Digitization is also finding its way here.

The land of Andor is in danger: The enemies, skrals and other evil creatures are moving closer and closer from the forests and the mountains. But Anja, Sabine, Peter and Michael – all around forty years old and employed in their normal lives – have teamed up to fend them off. Every Wednesday the four of them meet in an apartment in Cologne – and slip into roles that couldn’t be further from their everyday lives. As a dwarf, archer, sorceress and warrior. They let the dice roll on the A3-sized and detailed landscape game board and then move their hero figures and those of their enemies on the board.

It’s not just digital games on consoles, smartphones and computers that are booming: the demand for board and card games remains high. For example, the parlor games business in Germany grew by nine percent last year; In total, more than 50 million games went over the counter in this country alone – both of which show that more and more analogue games are being played in Germany.

The main reason for this development: board games connect all generations. They are not only used in this country as a communicative and cooperative, emotional and educational experience, for example during a game evening with friends or family. For some people, in these times when their own smartphone is practically omnipresent, analog gaming is also becoming an exercise in “digital detox”, ie a conscious decision not to constantly stare at flashing displays. For those who are enthusiastic about games, the annual “Spiel” trade fair, which opens its doors in Essen for the 37th time on Thursday, is a must. The event, which has meanwhile advanced to the world’s largest public fair for board games, expects 1200 exhibitors from over 53 nations and five continents this year.

Dominique Metzler, head of the trade fair organizer Friedhelm-Merz-Verlag, based in Bonn, is expecting significantly more this year than the 190,000 gaming enthusiasts from all over the world who came to Essen last year. This means that the analog trade fair is half the size of its digital sister event “Gamescom” in Cologne, which around 373,000 video game players attended at the end of August.
“The more people play and the more positive experiences they have, the more demand and interest in board games grows,” says Hermann Hutter, head of the industry association for games publishers. “The publishers provide the basis for a further boom with innovative ideas on current social issues.” Currently, games such as “Ocean Crisis” (publisher: Shepherd Kit) or “CO2: Second Chance” (author: Vital Lacerda) are taking up the topic Environmental protection and playfully develop visions for a clean future.

 

But the analog gaming world has long since expanded to include numerous digital channels such as social media, blogs and YouTube videos, in which players can discuss the latest game hypes in special forums or find out more about the multitude of board games – one of the most important trends in the analog game world.
For example, there are numerous board game channels and blogs on the video portal YouTube, similar to the digital game world. Here the scene can find out about new releases using Let’s Play or Unboxing videos. The largest YouTube channels in this segment include Tom Vasel’s “The Dice Tower” with 226,000 subscribers and 14,770 videos, Rodney Smith’s “Watch It Played” channel (160,000 subscribers) and Richard “Rahdo” Ham (89,200 subscribers) with his popular “ Rahdo Runs Through “Videos.

 

Boardgamegeek.com, on the other hand, as the world’s largest English-language game portal for those interested in board games, has a database with more than 100,000 registered games. If you believe the nerds and game freaks there, “Maracaibo” from the pen of the Austrian star designer Alexander Pfister from the German publisher DLP Games, “Cooper Island” from the German game developer Andreas Odendahl from the German publisher Frosted Games and “Alubari: A Nice Cup Of Tea ”by the British Tony Boydell (publishers: Studio H, Board Game Box) on the strategic newcomers currently most discussed on the portal.
In all three board games, gamers immerse themselves in the respective epoch – the Caribbean in the 17th century (Maracaibo), the era of seafarers’ discovery (Cooper Island), tea plantation management in Darjeeling around 1840 (Alubari) – and compete against each other in completing their strategic tasks on. The games are aimed at experienced connoisseur players from 10 years of age who are not afraid of particular complexity and a playing time of 60 to 120 minutes.

So-called legacy games continue to conquer the board game market. This genre is about games in which – depending on the respective decisions of the players – the rules and components change and develop from round to round: For example, by discovering new game material, painting and sticking the game board or creating new characters. A currently popular example of this is “Machi Koro Legacy”, the new game by American player inventors Rob Daviau and JR Honeycutt (Pandasaurus publisher).

In addition, so-called cooperative games such as “Cities Skylines” by the Swedish game designer Rustan Hakansson (publisher: Kosmos), a board game implementation of the six million sold PC mega-seller of the same name, are currently booming. Here the players follow a common strategy to build their respective dream city. Other board game implementations of PC classics are “World of Warcraft: Das Brettspiel” (publisher: Heidelberger), “Age of Empires III: The Age of Discoveries” and “Civilization – Das Brettspiel” (both publisher: ADC Blackfire) or “Doom” (Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games).

“Zombicide Evolution-Las Vegas” (publisher: CMON) even merges board games and consoles into a hybrid gaming unit. In the game, players can track their characters using an app that runs on their smartphones. This, in turn, is networked with the manufacturer’s so-called Gamemaster app and is therefore able to surprise gamers with malicious intelligence. The game will be shown as a prototype at the fair and will be financed in the coming year via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, which is also interesting for the board game industry.

Meanwhile, the four geeks from the Cologne board game have been playing their fantasy adventure for a good two hours before they know whether they will emerge as winners or losers from the adventure. This time the four heroes successfully defended the land of Andor – all heroes survived, only the dwarf lost a few life points. In the world of Andor, the board game group can now devote themselves to one of the numerous other scenarios, slip into the role of other heroes and master new challenges.

 

Smartphones, tablets or laptops are permanent travel companions for many who are now going on vacation – and are often easy targets for hackers at the holiday destination. With these tips you can protect yourself.

When I went to the Netherlands for a short vacation a few days ago, I made a surprising discovery on my cell phone. Although the Dutch company’s Corona warning app is only just being tested and is still being offered for public download, I found dozens of apps in the app store that promised advice and protection against the Covid pandemic. I didn’t install any, especially not after looking at the partly indefinable functions, but especially in view of the mostly unknown to dubious publishers.

In fact, IT security service providers keep coming across fake corona warning programs these days. Behind this are hackers who use the holiday season that is just starting and want to infect travelers’ mobile phones with malware via an app. 

Just a few days ago , for example, Eset experts discovered a blackmail program disguised as a Canadian Covid app. The encryption software named “CryCryptor” appeared shortly after the Canadian government announced that it would publish an app for contact tracking. 

The malware has now been deleted from the app store. But anyone who, as a corona-conscious traveler, had installed the supposed warning app without checking would have fallen into the trap of the blackmailers. Security experts therefore urgently advise you to check who is the publisher of the mobile phone program before downloading warning apps – abroad, such as in Germany. If you have the slightest doubt, hands off!

False corona programs are the latest, but by no means the only cyber risk that travelers should protect themselves from on vacation. The greatest danger lurks on the way to the network. It is true that the motto “roam-like-home” now applies to trips within the EU, meaning that telephone and data flat rates of the domestic tariff also apply to trips to other EU countries. But even flat rates are running out if you are too eager to send holiday pictures and videos. That is why many travelers switch to free WLAN access in hotels, cafes, airports or pedestrian zones in order to access the network.

This is exactly what online criminals take advantage of in many vacation regions with prepared hotspots. These unencrypted and free internet access are used to access personal login data. They can later resell them or use them to attempt fraud. So if you have to enter sensitive information such as credit card details or the passwords for your Google, Facebook or e-mail account when accessing a public WLAN, you should avoid these offers.

And even if you don’t have to log in with personal data or even use an encrypted WLAN in a hotel, you should be careful. Spies can also lurk in these networks and read the communication between your devices and the network. To avoid this, secure the connection using VPN technology, for example. Mobile phone, tablet or PC establish a tap-proof connection, for example to the router at home.

Setting up a VPN is usually less complicated than it sounds. Owners of a Fritzbox, for example, can at least pair their Android devices with the box via app without any programming knowledge and then activate the VPN with a swipe of a finger on the mobile phone. Devices with Apple’s iOS or Windows can also be docked to the box via VPN . The decisive factor, however, is that the devices must be paired before departure, as long as the owner is still logged into the home WiFi.

The threat to cell phones and the data on them is not only digital, but also traditionally from pickpockets. In the meantime, they often no longer just access the smartphones, but also silver the user information stored on them. This applies, for example, to contact data from the phone book, but also to the access data stored there by many users for bank accounts, credit cards, online access and more. 

To prevent thieves from reading this information and selling it on criminal platforms online, you must activate a password request, unlock the cell phone via the fingerprint sensor or face recognition as a minimum level of security for the device. The unlock code should be at least six digits, so the average pickpockets can no longer crack the phones. 

Even better is the protection provided by security apps that allow the cell phone to be located remotely, all data to be deleted if necessary, or the device to be completely blocked for any further use. If desired, apps can even take photos of the thieves when they try to unlock the phone. Then they send the picture to the rightful owner. You can then use the portrait to report the theft to the police. For an overview of relevant programs in the IT portal Chip.de .

And then there is a very similar tip to protect data and devices while on vacation: Simply switch off the technology, lock the devices in the hotel safe during the day and only look at them in the evening. That leaves pickpockets and cyber gangsters alike in the void – and also makes it easier to switch off personally

Because that’s actually the most important thing on vacation.

The Chinese manufacturer TCL had already quietly buried the Blackberry brand in smartphones. Now there should be a new model.

They simply cannot be killed: Actually, the end of the Blackberry smartphones with their distinctive keyboard had already been sealed – but there should be a new model in the coming year. The Texan company OnwardMobility wants to develop the devices, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn is to build them. OnwardMobility announced on Wednesday that the new model, which is also equipped for super-fast 5G data transmission, should hit the market in the USA and Europe in the first half of 2021 .

Blackberry was once a pioneer in the smartphone market, but with the advance of touchscreens it lost its connection to Apple’s iPhone and phones with the Google Android operating system. Smartphones under the brand were still around until recently – but they were no longer built by Blackberry itself, but by the manufacturer TCL, who had acquired a license for the brand name.

In February TCL announced that it would stop production. The telephones only had a tiny share of the market – but some of them were still used in companies and authorities.

 

Blackberry had already crushed its own operating system years ago – the current smartphones under the brand run with Google’s Android software. The OnwardMobility device will also be an Android smartphone. Blackberry itself focuses on software for businesses as well as for cars.