Best Lego sets 2020: the finest new builds, from Stranger Things to Batmobiles

Quarantine life is hard: you need a new project, but one that feels fun, achievable and satisfyingly nerdy. Enter the best Lego sets, which we've handily collected in one brick-tastic place.

What's great about the best new Lego sets is the sheer variety on offer, for all ages and ability levels. From pop culture tie-ins like The Upside Down from Strange Things to a new version of the International Space Station, we've rounded up builds for every price bracket.

There's even an app-controlled rally car for Top Gear fans with a sizable living room, or for the Manchester United fan with Premier League withdrawal symptoms, the superb new Old Trafford replica.

We've concentrated on Lego's newer sets, but there are also some fine sets from last year too in the form of the Lego AT-AP Walker and Tree House, which is one of Lego's most eco-friendly sets so far thanks to the use of a sustainable polyethylene pieces. Time to clear the kitchen table and get cracking...

 

Best Lego sets

Stranger Things has been a global phenomenon, and this set from Lego allows you to have a little bit of Hawkins and The Upside Down in one set. All your favorite characters are included here too, with a special demogorgon minifigure as well.

This is one of the more creatives Lego sets we’ve seen in recent years, and it’s a must-have for any Stranger Things fan. Maybe setting this up can keep your nostalgia buzz going until Stranger Things season 4 lands.

Buy the Lego The Upside Down set

Best Lego sets

James Bond’s most iconic car was the Aston Martin DB5, although it only appeared in eight films (including No Time To Die). You can make a Lego version of the car as it appears in Goldfinger, complete with all the tricks and gadgets.

Sadly, there’s no James Bond minifigure here (as none officially exist, yet), but if you’re a fan of the books, films, or even video games, this is a nice exhibit for your home.

Best Lego sets

If you've been steadily building a NASA collection or just want to get a bit more galactic in your Lego aspirations, then this fine recreation of the International Space Station could be for you.

A good-value set, the ISS has eight adjustable solar panels and a mini NASA space shuttle with two astronaut minifigures. It also comes with a display stand, so it can sit on your shelf as a fine background piece for your YouTube channel.

Best Lego sets

Well, crikey. Sometimes looking at a Lego set just does something to you inside, and this expensive set offers that experience. Based on Michael Keaton's Batmobile in the 1989 Tim Burton movie, clearly this is a more of a collector's piece than something you'd let your kids get toffee stains on. 

It's a serious investment for a Lego set, but you can see the appeal. The stand enhances the collectors' appeal, and inside the cockpit, you'll find details accurate to the movie's depiction of Batman's iconic vehicle. You get three lovely minifigures, too: a very Nicholson-esque Joker, Bats and Vicki Vale.

Best Lego sets

Tired of watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer painstakingly rebuild the Manchester United football team? It's time to do some building yourself with this spectacular 1:600 replica model of the English Premier League team's stadium.

As you'd hope a set this expensive, there's some serious attention to detail in this Lego Creator set. The Stretford End has been faithfully reproduced, while you also get statues of Sir Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby and the United Trinity (former players Best, Law and Charlton). With the old players' tunnel included too, even non-Manchester United fans might be tempted to build it.

Best Lego sets

The Lego Technic Catamaran is a brilliant set that shows off exactly what the Technic line is intended to do: teach builders how complex machines work and let them explore how they function first-hand. 

Even though the resulting model is dominated by twin pontoons and the large sail, the Catamaran set is deceptively intricate, with a linked rudder to steer and two retractable ‘daggerboards’ that keep the craft stable in the wind. But best of all, the completed model even floats, allowing builders to see their catamaran set sail.

Best Lego sets

Lego's Star Wars helmets are so new that they're currently only available for pre-order, but they'll be shipping very soon. Alongside the Stormtrooper model, you'll also be able to buy Boba Fett and TIE Fighter Pilot helmets too.

Part collectible, part display piece, the Stormtrooper Helmet has the signature menacing black eyes and white armor. It's designed to be a challenging build for Star Wars fans who are 18 years old or over, but there's no doubt it's likely to be a hugely satisfying dark side project.

Pre-order the Lego Stormtrooper Helmet

Best Lego sets

Now here's a proper challenge for those who really miss the days of doing real rally track days – a fully-working model of the Stig's rally car from the BBC's Top Gear show.

The build itself looks fun and challenging, but what's particularly cool is the attention to detail in the accompanying app. There are pedals, gear changes and gyroscope-based steering, along with sound effects. Once you've mastered the controls, there are also racing challenges and real-time feedback on your driving.   

Best Lego sets

Iron Man has become one of the true icons of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you can now own a variety of his suits and his lab in Lego form. The Hall of Armor – which looks similar to how it appears in the Iron Man movies – is a great cheaper set if you’re looking for an Avengers themed choice.

You’ll get a variety of different armors from the film alongside the lab where he stores them itself as well. The best part is you can design the lab yourself with the ability to stack the suit displays high or in a semi-circle.

Best Lego sets

Lego's been making high-quality Star Wars merchandise for over two decades now, and it was so popular it kicked off both the trend of making themed Lego videogames and producing tie-in products based on popular franchises. There are dozens of sets you could pick up, but if you want something that's only moderately challenging and not eye-wateringly expensive, consider this Clone Wars-era set. 

The two Kashyyyk-themed Clone minifigures have a swampy, worn color palette, which is a nice detail. You also get Chewbacca, too, and two battle droids for the wookiee to throw around. Sadly none of Chewbacca's Kashyyyk-dwelling family members from the Star Wars Holiday Special, like Lumpy, make the cut. 

Best Lego sets

The Tree House set from Lego ideas is the kind of set you can play with but also leave lying around your house on a shelf, looking good. It’s a fairly big set, with different openable areas and levels, and comes with different sets of leaves that you can mix and match to fit the season.

A highlight of the set is that the leaves are actually made from leaves – well, plant-based plastics – showing an admirable move on Lego’s part towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials.

Buy the Lego Tree House

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Virgin’s cheapest broadband and TV deal just got even cheaper after a big price cut

While Virgin has both some of the fastest broadband deals and most detailed TV packages out there, it is rarely the cheapest option, usually rivalling both BT and Sky for price. However right now its cheapest plan is looking like a very strong option.

That's because Virgin's Bigger Bundle has recently taken a drop in price, making Virigin's cheapest broadband and TV deal even cheaper. Virgin claims it has brought the price down from £38 a month to £29.99...but if we're honest, we don't ever recall it being as high as that!

Either way, this is an excellent price to be paying right now and is arguably the best of the bunch when it comes to broadband and TV deals. As well as the price drop, Virgin has also doubled the speeds, bringing it up to 108Mb.

There is also 110 channels on offer, free weekend calls and the ability to pause and rewind TV. Sounds great right?! Well here's the kicker. The UK's strict lockdown means many broadband providers have stopped performing installations.

While Virgin is the last one holding out when it comes to internet and TV, it is barely holding in. If you already have a Virgin line, you can simply install it yourself. If not...they will still come and install, it just may require some reorganising and detailed planning around social distancing.

Is Virgin fibre broadband available in my area?

Approximately 60% of UK households can get superfast Virgin broadband. It's quite simply to find out of you're part of this percentage - head over to our dedicated Virgin broadband deals page, enter your postcode where indicated (at the top of the page) and if deals show as available then .

If no results are returned, then head to our best broadband deals page instead and do exactly the same thing to see whether you can get superfast fibre broadband with another provider, such as BT Superfast.

Existing Virgin Media broadband customers

Sorry, the Virgin website states that these limited time offers are for new customers only. However, there's no harm in trying to get a slice of the pie, so if you're already a Virgin broadband customer we suggest you get in touch with customer services before trying to place an order. 

Today's best Virgin broadband deals

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Virtual Grand National 2020: runners, betting, odds and how to watch live today

The Grand National is the most prestigious event on the UK horse racing calendar, and while Aintree won't be buzzing as usual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there's still plenty of action to look forward to today. Here's how to live stream the Virtual Grand National 2020 online or on TV and watch the digital steeplechase no matter where you are in the world.

As has been the case since 2017, a simulated virtual race was scheduled to run alongside the real-life contest this year - and not even Covid-19 can cancel a digital steeplechase!

In last year's Virtual Grand National, Rathvinden triumphed, while eventual 2019 winner Tiger Roll came in second. The CGI-powered race was right on the money in 2018, though, when the Michael O'Leary-owned horse won both races in nearly identical circumstances.

And while Tiger Roll won't get a chance to seal a historic third consecutive Grand National this year - a feat not even Red Rum managed - he is the bookies favourite in the virtual race at 5/1. Any Second Now is also highly fancied with odds of 10/1, as are Burrows Saint (12/1) and Definitely Red (14/1). Still, with a 40-strong field of runners as usual, it's safe to say that the Virtual Grand National stands to be every bit as unpredictable as the real thing.

Those looking to put their annual fiver on the line and bet on the Virtual Grand National 2020 should know that all profits from this year's event are being donated to NHS Charities Together - and as a result bookmakers are limiting bets to £10, either to win or each-way. 

In addition to the main race, ITV's coverage - which is led by Nick Luck and features Alice Plunkett and Richard Pitman - will also include a special race of champions pitting some of the greatest National winners of all-time against each other. Now, let's look at how to watch the Virtual Grand National this weekend.

How to watch the Virtual Grand National: free UK stream

Watch the Virtual Grand National online from outside your country in 2020

This scenario is less likely than it used to be, for sure, but if you do happen to be away from the UK for whatever reason, don’t worry. You can still tune in to ITV's coverage of the 2020 Virtual Grand National live from anywhere in the world.  

The secret is to download and install a VPN , which will let you change your IP address to one in the UK and head over to ITV’s website or a streaming site like TVPlayer.com. Here's how to watch a Virtual Grand National live stream using a VPN in three simple steps.

Virtual Grand National odds 2020 - runners and latest betting tips

As we've said, Tiger Roll is the current favourite to win the Virtual Grand National at 5/1.  Victory on a computer screen would be scant consolation for such a legendary horse, though - one who has been denied his chance at a record third consecutive Grand National victory. Times are more than complicated at the moment, but you have to feel for the 10-year-old Irish Thoroughbred and his trainer, Gordon Elliott. 

Any Second Now is also heavily fancied and looks decent value for an each-way bet at 10/1.

There's a full list of Virtual Grand National odds below to help you spend your £10 wisely in 2020, with each of the below bookies taking bets online:

Please gamble responsibly. For help, support and advice about problem gambling contact the National Gambling Helpline free on 0808 8020 133 or via the Live Chat.


1 Tiger Roll, 5-1

2 Bristol De Mai, 20-1

3 Aso, 66-1

4 Elegant Escape, 20-1

5 Anibale Fly, 20-1

6 Top Ville Ben, 45-1

7 Beware The Bear, 33-1

8 Peregrine Run, 66-1

9 Jett, 50-1

10 Alpha Des Obeaux, 25-1

11 Total Recall, 40-1

12 The Storyteller, 40-1

13 Magic Of Light, 18-1

14 Talkischeap, 25-1

15 Yala Enki, 28-1

16 Ballyoptic, 25-1

17 Burrows Saint, 12-1

18 Definitly Red, 14-1

19 Sub Lieutenant, 33-1

20 Ok Corral, 25-1

21 Tout Est Permis, 80-1

22 Vintage Clouds, 33/1

23 Crievehill, 66-1

24 Lake View Lad, 50-1

25 Jury Duty, 40-1

26 Pleasant Company, 28-1

27 Acapella Bourgeois, 33-1

28 Shattered Love, 66-1

29 Any Second Now, 10-1

30 Potters Corner, 18-1

31 Dounikos, 50-1

32 Kildisart, 50-1

33 Death Duty, 50-1

34 Ramses De Teillee, 66-1

35 Valtor, 66-1

36 Saint Xavier, 66-1

37 Warriors Tale, 80-1

38 Double Shuffle, 100-1

39 Kimberlite Candy, 16-1

40 Walk In The Mill, 16-1

Posted in Uncategorised

Which supermarkets have food delivery slots available this weekend?

The number of available food delivery slots in the UK has increased in the last week. On Wednesday, Tesco announced it had made an extra 120,000 food delivery and click-and-collect slots available, taking its total food delivery capacity to around 780,000. The supermarket has promised it will add another 100,000 in the coming weeks. 

Yesterday, Sainsbury's also released a statement announcing that by Easter it will have almost doubled its grocery delivery and click-and-collect slots in three weeks, taking its number of available food delivery and click-and-collect slots from 370,000 to 600,000 by Easter. "[We] will continue to add more capacity over the coming weeks," said Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe. 

Online supermarket Ocado, Co-Op and Iceland claim to be making new food delivery slots available throughout the day as well. And if you can get through the online queue, Morrisons has increased its limit of three items per customers to four, so that customers can continue to donate to food banks. 

Despite this, demand for ordering food online remains extremely high. And with increased calls from the government to stay at home this weekend, booking a food delivery slot still won't be easy. So which supermarkets have slots? And which other services are still running? 

Read on for our round-up of which food delivery services are delivering this weekend - plus our best tips for how to get a food delivery slot if you need one.

Food delivery: quick links

Grocery delivery

Recipe box and meal delivery

Pizza delivery

Takeaway delivery

Alcohol delivery

How to get a food delivery slot

Most supermarkets are requesting that you visit stores in person, if you can, so they can prioritise food delivery slots for elderly or vulnerable customers. Some, such as Waitrose, have closed their websites to new customers to help them do this. Others, including Sainsbury's, have been in touch with loyalty card holders who are aged over 70.

If you're a vulnerable person - or you know someone who is - you can register for support on the government's website. Tesco is prioritising orders for people on the government's vulnerable list, and will be in touch with anyone who is by email.

Our best advice, if you need to order food online, is to keep checking the website of your local supermarket throughout the day. If you can sign up for an account, do: this will make it easier for you to find a delivery slot in future. And book your delivery slot first - once you have one, most supermarkets give you around an hour to place your order.

Finally, if you can't get hold of a grocery delivery slot, don't forget that some meal delivery services are still operating too. Recipe box services like Mindful Chef deliver fresh ingredients to your door for you to cook, while meal delivery companies such as Allplants will drop off meals that have been cooked by their chefs. 

Morrisons' £35 food box delivery

Two weeks ago Morrisons launched a food box delivery service that aimed to supply customers who can't get to the shops with essential items. "A Morrisons Food Box could be a real help if you can’t currently get to a store to stock up on essentials," says the site. "We will deliver a box of selected food and household items straight to your door.

Unfortunately, Morrisons' food box delivery service doesn't currently have any available delivery slots. The company says it is "doing everything we can to increase capacity" - and we'll let you know as soon as we find any new delivery slots.

When will more online grocery delivery slots become permanently available? No one knows for sure. However, the major supermarkets are working around the clock to speed up the supply chain, and while it currently looks like it'll be mid-April before many new food delivery slots are opened up, we are seeing slots appear at supermarkets across the country throughout the day. 

We're assessing the situation daily, and we'll tell you which supermarkets are offering food delivery slots, as soon as we see them. 

Please remember to use all food delivery services responsibly. Only order what you need to preserve stocks for others who might be in need. 

Grocery delivery: our process

We signed up to all the major supermarkets below, and created a shopping basket full of popular goods. Every day, we compare five different locations - London, Leeds, Portsmouth, Manchester and Bath - to provide a sense of what stock is available in each area and whether delivery slots are currently offered. Here's the latest on which supermarkets are offering online grocery delivery today...

Tesco

Next delivery slot: none currently available - but new slots are added throughout the day (last updated 04/04/20)

Update (04/04/20): Tesco has expanded its food delivery and click-and-collect capacity to around 780,000 delivery slots. Our research has found a few Tesco home delivery slots popping up occasionally, but we're not currently seeing any in the areas we're testing. 

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis reached out to customers in a message two weeks ago: "We know that it's difficult right now to get a delivery slot for online shopping. We are at full capacity for the next few weeks and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable."

Tesco has a decent selection of food items online, but getting hold of them at the moment can be tricky. Most brands are in stock, but eggs, hand soap and pasta are the exception, with some items sold out. 

According to Tesco, new food delivery slots are offered up as and when they're available each day.

How to sign up for an account 

Enter a valid email address and password, and confirm whether you have a Clubcard or not. You’ll receive one automatically upon registering if you don't. Fill in your personal details, including your phone number and UK Postcode. You can then select if you’d like to receive offers and vouchers from Tesco or not. 

Benefits and perks

Online shoppers can collect Clubcard points and Tesco has begun price matching Aldi on both its own-brand and branded products. A Delivery Saver pass is also available for regular customers, and comes with the added benefit of priority delivery slots during the busy Christmas and Easter periods. 

Coronavirus measures and policies

Customers who shop online are encouraged to shop in-store where possible to help free up delivery slots for the elderly customers and those who are self-isolating. 

Due to increased demand, Tesco isn’t accepting any new Delivery Saver customers right now either. A restriction of only three items per customer on every product line is in place, and multi-buy promotions have also been removed.

An 80 items limit is now in place for all online orders. 

Sainsbury's

Next delivery slot: none currently available - but new slots are added throughout the day (last updated 04/04/20)

Unless you’re already registered as a Sainsbury’s online customer, Sainsbury’s has paused all new online registrations. 

Update (04/04/20): Sainsbury's will have almost doubled the amount of food delivery and click-and-collect slots on offer by Easter next week. The elderly and vulnerable are being prioritised, and we have seen an occasional free food delivery slots during our research, although currently there are none available in the areas we're testing. 

In a message to customers, Sainsbury's Chief Executive Mike Coupe has provided more insight into how the company is delivering to the elderly or vulnerable: "Many of you have written to me to tell me you are elderly or vulnerable and are struggling to book online delivery slots. We are doing our absolute best to offer online delivery slots to elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers. These customers have priority over all slots."

Sainsbury's revealed that their customer Careline has had "one year's worth of contacts in two weeks". Mike Coupe went on to add, "I apologise to our regular online customers, who I know are feeling very frustrated at not being able to book slots. Please bear with us and I hope you can understand why we feel the need to prioritise elderly and vulnerable customers at the moment."

How to sign up for an account

Due to the huge increase in online orders, new registrations have been paused for the time being. To sign up for a Sainsbury’s online account, enter your email address and fill in your details on the following page. Once you’ve finished, you can start shopping. 

Benefits and perks

You can collect and spend Nectar Points with each online food shop. A Delivery Pass is also available, which can help you save up to £156 per year.

Coronavirus measures and policies

Elderly customers and those deemed as vulnerable will be offered priority delivery slots.

Asda

Next delivery slot: none currently available (last updated 04/04/20)

Update (04/04/20): Asda will still let you register as new online customer, but online delivery slots are not available up until April 19. Click & Collect slots are also unavailable. 

Similar to Ocado, Asda has now implemented a queue system to deal with the high volumes of traffic its website is receiving. There's no estimate as to where you are in the queue, though, or how long you'll have to wait. Items such as pasta, hand soap and toilet roll are also in high demand. 

In an email to customers, Asda CEO Roger Burnley has shared some information regarding how the company is working to deliver online shopping: "We're providing our drivers with hand sanitiser and gloves, and making as many online shopping slots available as we can. We're encouraging those that are able to safely shop in person to do so - this allows us to deliver to the highly vunerable."

Roger Burnely went on to add "If you are self-isolating or have additional needs, please advise us in the 'other information' section when placing your order."

How to sign up for an account

Registering is quick and easy with Asda (it says as much on its website), simply enter your email, a password and then enter your delivery postcode and you’re good to go. You can choose whether to receive exclusive offers and the latest info from Asda too if you’d like. 

Benefits and perks

Competitively priced and with a Delivery Pass available, Asda online shoppers can save up to £80 and £100 by choosing a 6-month or 12-month pass. Offers are clearly highlighted on the Asda website, so you’re never likely to miss a cracking deal. 

Coronavirus measures and policies

Customers are limited to a three item maximum on all food, toiletries and cleaning products when ordering online.

When placing an online delivery order, anyone who is self-isolating is advised to fill in the ‘Other information’ section to advise where their order should be left, i.e. on the doorstep.

Ocado

Ocado

Next delivery slot: none currently available - but new slots are added throughout the day (last updated 04/04/20)

Update (04/04/20): Ocado is prioritising certain deliveries, including for customers identified as vulnerable, and says it has a "few slots for general release for the next 24 hours". The online supermarket has seemingly ditched its queuing system in favour of a daily update that states whether or not delivery slots are available. 

Ocado has also brought order cut-off times forward, so customers are encouraged to complete their order in one session to avoid disappointment later. In an email to existing customers on 25 March, Ocado Retail CEO Melanie Smith has said that "no matter how hard we work, we will not have enough capacity to serve the unprecedented levels of demand".

She went on to say that "new delivery slots will be released every day for the coming week, as and when we have capacity". 

It's currently unclear whether Ocado is allowing new customers. If you do not have a delivery booked already, Ocado's website notes that there is "limited availability over the next few days".

How to sign up for an account

You can sign up to Ocado using a Facebook and PayPal account, or simply fill in your details such as your email address and postcode to register.Tick the box if you’d like to opt out of Ocado’s offers, vouchers and gifts before you hit ‘Register’.

Benefits and perks 

New customers can enjoy three months free delivery with Smart Pass, and Ocado also offers one-hour delivery windows. 

Coronavirus measures and policies

Ocado had to temporarily suspend its service due to high demand, but is now its back online. Customers can only book one delivery slot every seven days to free up more slots for other customers.

Some products are limited to one or two per order, and a small number of bulky items have been removed from sale to make more room in each delivery van. The company has shared how stockpiling has affected its service during the coronavirus outbreak.

Anytime Smart Pass members who joined before 2020 will be placed in a temporary priority queue so they can book a delivery slot each week. Ocado will send an email and text message between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00 to give members access to the queue. 

Morrisons

Morrisons

Next delivery slot: none currently available (last updated 04/04/20)


The Morrisons website has recovered after being down for a few days, but there are still no delivery slots available at this time. 

How to sign up for an account

To sign up for a Morrisons online account, firstly enter your postcode to check if Morrisons deliver in your area. Once you’re given the all clear, enter your details and a password to register. You can also receive tailored offers, coupons and communications from Morrisons.

Benefits and perks

You can use a Facebook account to sign in, and Morrisons Quick Shop fills your trolley with the top things you might be wanting to buy with a single click. A Delivery Pass is also available with regular choices for those looking to do their weekly shop online. 

Coronavirus measures and policies 

Orders must be finalised 48 hours before delivery. Morrisons are working on introducing a number of measures to help reduce the amount of substitutes and missing items that some customers are encountering with their online food shops:

Waitrose

Waitrose

Next delivery slot: none currently available (last updated 04/04/20)


Waitrose is still accepting new customer registrations - however, all delivery and click & collect slots are unfortunately unavailable right now. You can still amend or cancel existing orders, though. 

Update 04/04/20: Waitrose has updated its website to inform customers its supporting the vulnerable and elderly by giving them priority access to its home delivery and Click & Collect slots.

It doesn't look like many will open up in the near future either, as the brand isn't confirming any new food delivery slots at the moment.

How to sign up for an account

Signing up to Waitrose is simple - just fill in your details, such as your address and contact number, then click ‘next’ and you can start shopping straight away.

Benefits and perks

Waitrose has a number of attractive introductory offers, including a £30 saving on your first three online grocery shops. The website also includes hundreds of recipes and lists the ingredients so you can quickly add them to your basket. 

Coronavirus measures and policies

The company has paused its online voucher codes along with any offer incentives until further notice. Some products have are restricted for a limited time, with customers only allowed to buy a maximum of two packets of toilet roll and three of any specific grocery item. 

Entertainment products are also no longer available to order online for the foreseeable future. Substitutions for online orders cannot be returned to your driver if they have been handled, and drivers will not enter homes. 

All online deliveries will be bagged as well to make them easier to collect quickly.

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Skype introduces video meetings with no sign-up needed for those wanting a Zoom alternative

Skype has brought in a new type of video call whereby no one has to sign up for an account to join the chat, in a similar convenient vein to Zoom – except in the case of Skype, not even the host needs to sign up for the service, or install anything.

Skype describes the new Meet Now feature as a “hassle-free way to connect” with other folks that doesn’t require signing up to any account, or downloading any software. You can simply head over to a web page and start a meeting in a few clicks directly from there, inviting anyone you wish, who can then subsequently join just as easily.

For those who do have the Skype client already installed, you can start the meeting from within the software if you prefer, and obviously easily invite your existing Skype contacts, or equally those who don’t have the program installed.

The meeting link doesn’t expire, and the video call isn’t limited in terms of the functionality available. You get in-line chat and reactions, and the ability to blur the background (if you haven’t had time to tidy up your study at home before a meeting, for example). You can also share your screen for work or instructional purposes, and even record the call if you wish (recordings are stored for a period of 30 days).

If you want to fire up a Meet Now session in your browser, head here, or in your Skype client, click the Meet Now button (next to New Chat) in the left-hand sidebar.

Zoom and gloom

As you’ve doubtless seen, Zoom has experienced a massive surge in user numbers due to the coronavirus lockdown, and folks staying – or working – from home taking advantage of how easy it is to set up meetings with the video conferencing service.

However, this spike in usage has cast a harsh spotlight on Zoom’s security, with a lot of worries and question marks over how tight it may be, with various flaws in Mac and Windows security having recently been highlighted.

For its part, Zoom has said it’s freezing any product development to focus on tightening up security, with a comprehensive review planned – and its entire engineering team will be working on this.

To compound Zoom’s misery, however, it seems like the service’s infrastructure is groaning under the weight of all these new users too, as we have recently seen outages in Europe and the US.

So Zoom is struggling to juggle a lot of balls in terms of maintaining service right now, perhaps while applying updates as per the engineering team’s instructions, and it seems that Skype wants to capitalize on this by trying to tempt users away from its rival with a similarly easy-to-use and convenient video call offering.

Via Engadget

Posted in Uncategorised

Tesco home delivery: how to get a food delivery or click-and-collect slot this weekend

Booking a Tesco home delivery slot isn't easy at the moment, but it is possible for some customers. If you've been unsuccessfully trying for a while now, you're not alone. Tesco has been inundated with demand for its food delivery service over the past few weeks as more shoppers stay home. 

With such a high volume of orders, Tesco is urging those who are able to shop in its physical stores, which have been overhauled with protective measures against the spread of COVID-19. That means if you're not high risk, elderly, or self-isolating, you should still be heading down to your local store to pick up your groceries. 

However, if you do need a Tesco delivery, there are a number of ways to improve your chances of getting one. Here, we'll be running through the best ways to try and get a grocery delivery from Tesco, as well as just how Tesco's Click & Collect service works. 


How to get a Tesco home delivery slot

Tesco recently announced a vast expansion of its fleet of food delivery vans and drivers, following a hiring surge over the past week. That means there are now more Tesco food delivery slots available than ever before: 780,000, to be precise, up from 660,000 to weeks ago. 

That doesn't mean it's a free for all out there, though. Tesco is prioritising the elderly and vulnerable in its booking system, so if you have been deemed high risk, head over to Gov.uk to register yourself as a clinically vulnerable person. You’ll be asked for your NHS number - which you can find on any letter the NHS has sent you, or on a prescription - but you can still register if you don't have it.

Tesco is using the Government's register to make sure its most vulnerable customers are prioritised, so if you fall into this category, the best way to increase your chances of booking a Tesco home delivery slot is to make sure you're on the list. 

And if you're self-isolating, your best bet is to keep trying. New Tesco home delivery slots are added throughout the day, so keep checking back regularly.

How does Tesco click & collect work?

If you don't qualify for prioritisation in Tesco's home delivery service, you can still order your food through its click & collect service. Simply select your groceries with Tesco Online and select click & collect before you checkout. 

There are far more slots available for this service than home delivery, and it's potentially safer than shopping in store right now, plus you won't need to queue. 

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Is there any link between 5G and outbreak of coronavirus?

We have been hearing about conspiracy theories that the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) is linked to the roll-out of 5G networks.

Even celebrities such as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent Amanda Holden, singer Anne Marie and American actor and playwright Woody Harrelson had warned public about the dangers of the broadband networks on social media while Facebook has removed an anti-5G group in which users were being encouraged to post footage of them destroying network equipment.

Some dailies have circulated video footage of a 20-metre base station in Birmingham on fire, targeted by anti-5G protesters.

Almost every “G” of the cellular technology had attracted theories about health risks and 5G is no different in raising concerns about the possible health effects of radio-frequency (RF) energy transmitted by 5G base stations and devices.

Many groups have previously claimed that 4G and 5G mobile signals can cause cancer.

Are 5G a culprit and what the lobbyists have to say about Iran, India and many other countries where 5G is not on the horizon and, at the same time, has been reporting a rise in new pandemic cases?

The overall electromagnetic spectrum consists of static electricity and magnetic fields, RF, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray and Gamma Rays.

RF is in the middle part of the spectrum and is used for radio communications, mobile phone networks, mobile base stations and mobile phones and to deliver 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies.

Non-ionising radiation (static field to infrared) does not carry enough energy to break molecular bonds. Ionising radiation (ultraviolet to Gamma rays) carries enough energy to break bonds between molecules and ionise atoms.

5G systems operate in several frequency bands, low, mid and in millimetre waves (24.25GHz to 86GHz).

Millimetre-wave is one area which has raised concerns apart from the multitude of small cells mounted on utility poles along public streets and close to subscribers but this spectrum has been used in many other applications such as airport security scanners and anti-collision radars for automobiles but now the millimetre wave is used for cellular communications by many countries.

Experts said that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level (under the current international exposure guidelines developed by ICNIRP and IEEE-ICES) electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

They emphasised, based on many experiments and studies, that there is no negative impact of modern technology on health.

Who sets EMF exposure standards?

ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) and International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (IEEE-ICES) set guidelines for protecting people from non-ionising radiation, including that due to exposure of 5G technologies.

Countries typically adopt one of these and either recommended or legally require adherence to the guidelines. Safety standards already have large safety margins.

Dr. Chung Kwang Chou, Chairman of International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (IEEE), said that common understanding is that radiation can cause cancer and other diseases but the biological effects of RF exposure have been studied for about 70 years and the research shows that the only established adverse health effect of RF energy (above 100KHz) is the thermal effect.

Dr. Jafar Keshwari, Adj Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Aalto University, Helsinki, and Corporate Product Regulations and Standards Management at Intel Corporation and Chairman of International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (IEEE-ICES), said that EMF exposure of a mobile device is much lower than other devices.

“During RF exposure, biological effects always exist but adverse health effect depends on the exposure level. Thermal effects continue to be the appropriate basis for protection against RF exposure health effects at frequencies above 100KHz,” he said.

As long as the product complies with the exposure limit, he said that it is safe. 

Safety factor

For mobile phones, 2Watt per kilogram is the limit and the adverse effects are observed when it reaches 100Watt per kilogram.

“So there is a large safety factor in the exposure limits. It is the regulator’s responsibility to check that every product put into the market, device or a base station, complies with the limits. The manufacturer has to assess the exposure based on the limits,” he said.

Moreover, he said the main safety concerns of 5G mmWaves is heating of the skin and eyes.

“Skin constitutes 95% of the human body surface while eye cornea constitutes 75% of freshwater and a thickness of 0.5mm. Millimetre waves are absorbed within about 0.5 mm of the skin surface, unlike RF energy at lower frequencies that can penetrate deeper into the tissue,” he said.

Whatever frequency you are at, Professor Rodney Croft, Commissioner at ICNIRP, said that the safety depends on how intensity the field is or how much energy is absorbed into the body per second.

“If we have a lot of energy per second, then you heat up and your body cannot remove that heat. The body can remove a small amount of energy as the blood supply takes the heat and distributes it and the blood flow exchanges the heat with the environment. This happens with all the frequencies and only if you at get much higher frequency, then it gets to ionising radiation and at that point, we have a very different story,” he said.

Community fears hinder 5G implementation

Below the optical radiation (non-ionising) levels, Croft said the frequency is not important for health, expect it tells you how deep the penetration is going to be.

So, when listening or not-listening to FM radio or music, he said that radio signals are going around and they are in low frequency (100MHz) all the time.

“That goes deep into your body. As the frequency gets higher, because the wavelength is much shorter, it gets absorbed in the superphysical part of the body. When it comes to 5G, almost all of the energy is absorbed in the skin. So, instead of a rise in temperature deep inside the body, it is now at the surface of the skin,” he said.

Even the worst-case effect of exposure will not cause cancer or any other diseases; he said and added that the local temperature increases to less than 0.5 degrees but no detectable increase to core body temperature.

“Even if you keep a block of wood or a toy close to the ears for some time, the skin temperature near the ears rise and it is not due to RF exposure but due to lack of air circulation.

However, if you are close to the base station, he said the body absorbs more heat but the guidelines take that into account and you have a boundary limit, a safe distance from the base station.

“It all depends on the power of the base station. In reality, you can go above the limits but you still won’t be hurt but it is better for us to have a very conservative limit than to get too close to a level where someone could be harmed,” he said.

Furthermore, he said that community fears hinder 5G implementation but guidelines are needed to ensure unambiguous safety to the community.

 “5G exposures will be far lower than the guidelines allow and there is no detectable increase to core body temperature or local temperature increase from towers or handsets.” 

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Pocketnow Daily: iPhone 9: Apple please make up your mind! (video)

On today's Pocketnow Daily, we talk about leaks of the iPhone 9, Samsung's plans for foldable devices, Amazon's new Project Tempo, and more

The post Pocketnow Daily: iPhone 9: Apple please make up your mind! (video) appeared first on Pocketnow.

Remote working could put an end to the office as we know it

The ongoing pandemic has brought about the world’s largest remote working experiment, with tens of millions forced to participate worldwide – and its outcome will likely have repercussions that will reverberate long after the last quarantine restrictions are lifted.

Companies of all sizes – and with varying degrees of preparedness – have ordered employees to work from home in a bid to delay the spread of Covid-19, classified a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The duration of this mandated period of remote working varies business by business, but the rate at which the virus is spreading – especially in Europe and the US – and the severity of lockdown measures suggest current isolation periods could be extended for much longer than originally thought.

The remote working experience will be entirely new for some, while others will be well versed in the art of working from home on occasion. However, the extended period of social isolation many of us have embarked upon is bound to place significant strain on established ways of working - and some employees might be unwilling to go back to the status quo ante.

Are we equipped to go virtual?

The foremost concern for many businesses – especially smaller companies without extensive resources – is whether employees are properly equipped to go virtual-only. The lack of either hardware or software may be a significant stumbling block for workers asked suddenly to abandon their office workstations.

Recognizing this issue (or opportunity), many software and SaaS vendors have granted businesses limited-time access to premium offerings free of charge, hoping that a fraction of those clients will morph into long-term – and, most importantly, paying – customers.

LogMeIn was the first to offer free ‘Emergency Remote Work Kits’ to government, education, healthcare and non-profit organizations, followed swiftly by Cisco and Microsoft, who have opened up their collaboration products to all businesses.

VPN and cybersecurity vendors have followed suit with time-limited arrangements of their own, designed to safeguard businesses whose security perimeters have grown by magnitudes overnight.

“Regrettably, the spread of Covid-19 has made organizations reevaluate remote working policies and the technology in place to support them,” Mark Strassman, SVP & GM of Unified Communications & Collaboration at LogMeIn, told TechRadar Pro.

“This is accelerating the pace at which many organizations are being pushed to embrace remote work, despite the fact many of these organizations are not yet equipped to get the most productivity out of their remote workforce.”

Maintaining productivity, however, is perhaps too lofty an ambition in the circumstances, when even basic functioning is by no means guaranteed. Businesses are more precariously positioned than ever, wholly reliant on the performance of cloud-based tools and services.

Is infrastructure up to the task?

While there will be no shortage of tools to facilitate communication between remote workers, it remains to be seen whether infrastructure can cope with sustained periods of high traffic in the long term.

It is feared networks could falter under an extended surge in content streaming, online gaming and video conferencing. With many schools closed and millions working remotely under quarantine, peak periods now account for the majority of the waking day, leaving less time than usual for network upkeep and maintenance.

According to Scott Petty, CTO at UK telecoms firm Vodafone, peak traffic is no longer confined to the evenings, but now extends from midday to 9pm. The implications of this sudden change could be significant, with service providers forced to shoulder a far greater burden than is normal.

Microsoft Teams was the first video conferencing solution to take a nosedive, with major outages reported across the US and Europe on consecutive Mondays (March 23 and 30), just as millions of workers logged on. While the cause of the outages is unconfirmed, the timing appears more than coincidental.

Meanwhile, Netflix and YouTube have agreed to cap their services for 30 days to ease the burden on broadband networks. Netflix will cap its bitrate, which it says will reduce data consumption by 25%, and YouTube will only be available in standard definition - as opposed to high definition or 4K. Disney, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram have also pledged to cut video streaming quality.

According to Verizon, online gaming also increased by 75% between March 9 and 16, during which period both Xbox Live and Nintendo’s online services were taken down by traffic surges. 

Although rumours that online gaming represents the most severe threat to internet services are overblown (online games use a third of the data consumed by streaming Netflix in standard definition), increased activity will certainly contribute to choking networks.

For now, providers are insisting networks can cope, but early incidences of downtime suggest not all communications infrastructure boasts the resilience necessary to support a world population reliant on connection for work, communication, entertainment, and socialization.

Are we jeopardising security?

While the generosity of technology vendors might go a long way to equipping small businesses to work from home, the immediacy with which social distancing policies were introduced gave many firms little time to consider another crucial factor: security.

According to a number of cybersecurity experts, the sudden surge in remote working will open up all manner of attack vectors for opportunist cybercriminals. 

“We’re seeing unprecedented numbers of people connecting remotely to corporate networks, putting additional pressure on already strained IT and security infrastructure,” says David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky.

“Many organizations are also not geared up for people to work from home and are thus trying to understand the challenges in real time, under exceptional circumstances...Once a device is taken outside of an organization’s network infrastructure and is connected to new networks, the risks broaden and increase.”

Cybercriminals are also capitalising on panic surrounding the novel disease to sow all manner of malware. Recent weeks have seen ransomware and DDoS attacks on healthcare institutions, already under strain as a result of the virus - and even an attack on the WHO itself

Numerous coronavirus-related phishing scams have also entered circulation, using false claims about the disease to lure unwitting victims and infect their machines. One scam even claimed it could prevent users falling physically ill with the virus.

“It is crucial that organizations implement a multi-layered approach to security in order to safeguard against phishing attacks, such as implementing multi-factor authentication methods,” Will LaSala, Senior Director of Global Solutions at security firm OneSpan, told TechRadar Pro.

“Attackers regularly take advantage of spikes in communication or activity to launch attacks. While it shouldn’t take a global pandemic to trigger businesses into action, it’s more important than ever to make sure the right security infrastructure is in place across all channels to keep your business and customers safe,” he added.

The advice from security experts is to exercise particular caution under quarantine, ensuring devices are protected with effective security software and multi-factor authentication, and VPN services are used to preserve online privacy.

Users of free video conferencing solutions should also remain alert, because privacy and security pledges are not always upheld. For example, it was discovered Zoom calls are not end-to-end encrypted, despite claims from the firm, whose app has been downloaded more than 50 million times on Google Play Store alone.

Could the pandemic spell the end for the mega-conference?

The events sector is another that will likely emerge from the coronavirus crisis utterly transformed, with the outbreak causing the cancellation or deferral of many eminent technology conferences.

Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile technology show, became the first domino to fall. The organiser (the GSMA) was forced to cancel the event, set to take place in Barcelona at the end of February, after a series of high-profile attendees (such as Nokia, Sony, BT and Ericsson) pulled out over coronavirus concerns.

Since then, a raft of technology events have been postponed or cancelled over fears crowded environments create the perfect conditions for the rapid transmission of coronavirus.

Others - including Apple’s WWDC and Microsoft MVP - have gone ‘digital-only’ instead, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest the success or failure of these virtual events could define the event industry’s future.

Andrew Johnson, an executive at online meeting provider PowWowNow, says the coronavirus pandemic could herald the demise of traditional, in-person conferences.

“This could absolutely be the start of a trend that sees the world’s largest conferences take a different shape going forward. We are now lucky enough to have workplace apps and online services that allow people to connect regardless of location, so large scale conferences are more feasible than ever before,” he said over email.

The impact of large-scale events on the environment has also been called into question in recent years. For example, accusations of hypocrisy were leveled at attendees of this year’s World Economic Forum summit in Davos, many of whom travelled to the climate-centric conference via private jet.

Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) have waited patiently in the wings for an opportunity to seize the enterprise stage. Attending conferences via VR headsets could solve a host of challenges associated with public health, but also with travel costs, the environment and engagement.

However, while technically and logistically feasible, virtual events at scale are yet to have passed the litmus test only practice can administer. Questions over the ability to effectively engage an online audience en masse, to ensure key messages aren’t lost over poor connection and to replicate the networking opportunity afforded by physical events remain.

The benefits of virtual only events must also be balanced with the collateral damage inflicted on orbiting businesses, which include marketing and PR, hospitality, transport and more - a group that doubtless comprises millions worldwide.

Were we already headed in that direction?

The coronavirus outbreak has forced far greater numbers into remote working than otherwise would have been the case. However, it's possible the pandemic has only served to accelerate a transition that was already underway on a global scale.

The rise of flexible and remote working in recent years has been meteoric, with businesses turning to these policies in a bid to attract and retain talent, and cut down on real estate square footage.

According to figures from Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics, the number of US employees working remotely is up 44% in the past five years, and up 91% in the past ten. Globally, meanwhile, 52% of staff work from home at least once per week.

Julien Codorniou, VP at enterprise connectivity platform Workplace by Facebook, sees the ability to sustain a remote workforce as crucial to the longevity of any business, irrespective of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Outside of Covid-19, dispersed workforces are becoming more of a reality for businesses around the world, whether they want to offer more flexibility to workers or hire the next generation of talent regardless of location,” he said in an email to TechRadar Pro.

“Tools that can extend remote working capabilities beyond your workforce, to all the partners and customers you work with, will be critical to maintaining communication in the long term.”

The current circumstances, millennial sensibilities and drastic improvements to cloud-based services combine to create the perfect storm. Companies must take measures to insulate themselves from the potential rise of the office-less business, which will see employees work together each day without ever meeting in the flesh. 

The multitude of variables at play - from the technological capability of the businesses themselves, to the savviness of individual users, the capacity of infrastructure and the progress of the disease - means no one can predict how this unfortunate remote working experiment will pan out.

It is certain, however, that businesses will emerge from the brighter end of this global crisis far better able to support employees that would prefer to work from home, which figures indicate could be the majority. And, preference aside, others might find themselves unwilling to go back.

Posted in Uncategorised

This is the cheapest Core i7 PC but it comes with one big compromise

This is not your average computer; Partaker’s fanless mini PC is far smaller than most rivals on the market with a volume of just 1.5L.

It's on sale for $413.99 at Gearbest with this exclusive coupon code: F472573500A27001. Depending on exchange rates, you should pay around £339 or AU$689.

A quick check with Dell shows its cheapest Core i7 device cost almost twice as much, albeit with a slightly faster i7 CPU, twice the storage and 12GB RAM.

At 22.5 x 18.5 x 4.8cm, the Partaker is about the size of a thick hardcover book and yet has some great expansion capabilities. 

The model on offer comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U (four cores, 8-threads), 8GB DDR4 and a 128GB SSD, and other options are available up to 32GB memory and 1TB SSD. Sadly, you cannot buy the Partaker PC without the RAM or SSD.

Its thick aluminum body acts as the perfect heatsink to cool the internal components. There’s plenty of connectors as well, with one LAN port, one Displayport, one HDMI port, eight USB ports (half of them USB 3.0), two audio connectors and two external antennas.

You can use two memory slots and it supports one mSATA SSD, one 2.5-inch HDD and one M.2 NVMe SSD.

In terms of caveats, there's no operating system (which could prove an issue for novice users), memory card reader, SPDIF connector, 802.11ac and the PC doesn’t support Windows 7. There’s also no VESA mount, which you can add for an extra $5.

We’ve ordered one for review, so stay tuned for more!

Note, Gearbest offers an expedited shipping option from China for free with an estimated delivery time between three and seven business days to the US.

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Zoom is buckling under the strain of remote working and distance learning

Zoom Video Communications recently experienced an outage as more people are now using the video conferencing service to work from home or for distance learning.

Zoom users on the East Coast of the US and in parts of Europe reported seeing error messages while attempting to log in to the company's web client on Friday morning. The outage also affected parts of California, Florida and the Midwest as well as Malaysia.

At the time of the outage, Zoom's status page said that its web client was “under maintenance”. On its developer forum page though, the company tried to reassure users, saying:

"During these tough times, we are seeing a massive increase in demand for our services. To continue serving our incredible services to our customers and developers, we may be making changes rapidly."

When Zoom's web client briefly went down, the company advised users to download and install its desktop application instead until the issues were resolved.

Surge in video conferencing

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, businesses as well as consumers have turned to video conferencing software to work remotely as well as to stay in touch with friends and family. In fact, video conferencing apps saw record downloads on both Apple's App Store and on the Google Play Store in mid-march.

Although there are loads of video conferencing apps and services to choose from, Zoom Video Communications quickly became a favorite during the outbreak due to its ease of use and compatibility across devices and browsers.

However, a number of privacy issues were recently discovered in the company's software including how the service was sending data to Facebook (which was later fixed) and the fact that its video calls don't actually use end-to-end encryption. Zoom's CEO Eric S. Yuan has since apologized for major security vulnerabilities and promised to do better going forward.

As lockdown measures around the world are still in place and employees and students are now working from home, Zoom and other video conferencing services could likely see more outages in the future due to increased demand during this trying time.

Via CRN

Posted in Uncategorised

Bot traffic fueling rise of fake news and cybercrime

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily life around the world and the WHO recently warned that an overabundance of information about the virus makes it difficult for people to differentiate between legitimate news and misleading information.

At the same time, EU security services have warned that Russia is aggressively exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to push disinformation and weaken Western society through its bot army.

The cybersecurity firm Radware has been using its bot manager to monitor internet traffic in an attempt to track the “infodemic” that both the WHO and EU security services have issued warnings on. According to its data, bots have upped their game and organizations in the social media, ecommerce and digital publishing industries have experienced a surge in bad bot traffic following the coronavirus outbreak.

The bots have been found to be executing various insidious activities including spreading disinformation, spam commenting and more. Radware also discovered that in February, 58.1 percent of bots had the capability to mimic human behavior. This means that they can disguise their identities, create fake accounts on social media sites and post their masters' propaganda while appearing as a genuine user.

Scraping content

Radware's research suggests that cybercriminals are targeting media and digital publishing sites in order to scrape their unique content. This content is then published on malware-ridden websites to try and scam visitors looking for the latest news on the coronavirus.

In fact, 27.7 percent of traffic on media sites in February was from bad bots carrying out automated activity, including scraping content. Ecommerce websites have also seen an increase in bot activity and during the same time period, 31.3 percent of their traffic was made up of bad bots.

In a blog post revealing its findings, senior content marketer for Radware's product marketing team, Manwendra Mishra explained how bots will continue to contribute to misinformation about the coronavirus, saying:

“As the coronavirus threat intensifies, bots will drive the infodemic much further, continuing to be an efficient tool for cybercriminals, nation-state actors, and conspiracy theorists alike. The impact of information — true or false — especially in times of fear, uncertainty and confusion is greater. Because communication channels are diverse, authorities have very little control of bot activity. In the coming months, we expect the use of bots to accelerate due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the US presidential election.”

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