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Technology | The Guardian

Latest Technology news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Mon, 29 May 2017 09:44:25 GMT2017-05-29T09:44:25Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

Stephen Fry: Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers

Sun, 28 May 2017 18:38:05 GMT2017-05-28T18:38:05Z

Speaking at Hay festival, writer accuses ‘aggregating news agencies’ of not taking responsibility for their content

Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.

Outlining his “reformation” for the internet, as part of the Hay literary festival’s programme to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1517, Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”.

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'A white mask worked better': why algorithms are not colour blind

Sun, 28 May 2017 12:27:34 GMT2017-05-28T12:27:34Z

When Joy Buolamwini found that a robot recognised her face better when she wore a white mask, she knew a problem needed fixing

Joy Buolamwini is a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League – an organisation that aims to challenge the biases in decision-making software. She grew up in Mississippi, gained a Rhodes scholarship, and she is also a Fulbright fellow, an Astronaut scholar and a Google Anita Borg scholar. Earlier this year she won a $50,000 scholarship funded by the makers of the film Hidden Figures for her work fighting coded discrimination.

A lot of your work concerns facial recognition technology. How did you become interested in that area?
When I was a computer science undergraduate I was working on social robotics – the robots use computer vision to detect the humans they socialise with. I discovered I had a hard time being detected by the robot compared to lighter-skinned people. At the time I thought this was a one-off thing and that people would fix this.

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Uber boss Travis Kalanick's mother dies in boating accident

Sun, 28 May 2017 01:32:00 GMT2017-05-28T01:32:00Z

Bonnie Kalanick, 71, was out on lake with husband Donald, 78, in Fresno, California, when boat reportedly hit a rock and sank

The mother of Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, has died in a boating accident. Bonnie Kalanick, 71, died after the boat she and her husband, Donald, 78, were riding hit a rock in Pine Flat Lake in Fresno county, California, authorities said.

The couple from the Los Angeles neighborhood of Northridge have been longtime boaters. In a memo to Uber staff, Liane Hornsey, the chief human resources officer, called the incident an “unthinkable tragedy”. She wrote that “everyone in the Uber family knows how incredibly close Travis is to his parents”.

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Spotify hopes going public will cement streaming as music's future

Sat, 27 May 2017 10:00:25 GMT2017-05-27T10:00:25Z

As music industry celebrates second straight year of growth, service hopes to buck trend of tech industry disappointments on Wall Street

The world may love the services they provide, but the new generation of tech companies haven’t found much love on Wall Street recently. Spotify, the leading music streaming service, is hoping to change that with a share sale that could lead another round of “unicorns” to try their luck on the US stock markets.

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Trek Emonda S5 road bike review: will Lance Armstrong sign my friend’s jersey?

Sat, 27 May 2017 10:00:24 GMT2017-05-27T10:00:24Z

This carbon-framed cycle hired from Armstrong’s shop is more than a match for the hills around Austin, Texas. But can our writer find the man himself?

My friend Adam sent me to Austin, Texas, with a task: “Can you get Lance Armstrong to sign my US Postal Service jersey?” It’s like asking someone going to Newcastle if they can persuade Gazza to autograph an old Magpies shirt. Austin is a big place. Almost a million people live there. It’s true the seven-time Tour de France winner (since disqualified) is one of them, but would I be able to track him down?

Armstrong’s bike shop seemed a good place to start. I’d heard he spends a lot of time hanging around Mellow Johnny’s (imagine “maillot jaune” said in a Texan drawl), a paradise for those cyclists who don’t mind their dollars going towards Armstrong’s legal fund.

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Accused of underpaying women, Google says it's too expensive to get wage data

Fri, 26 May 2017 21:49:22 GMT2017-05-26T21:49:22Z

Officials said it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to hand over salary records that the government requested in discrimination case

Google argued that it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to compile and hand over salary records that the government has requested, sparking a strong rebuke from the US Department of Labor (DoL), which has accused the Silicon Valley firm of underpaying women.

Related: Google accused of 'extreme' gender pay discrimination by US labor department

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Uber's London licence renewed for only four months

Fri, 26 May 2017 17:21:36 GMT2017-05-26T17:21:36Z

Transport for London continues to consider five-year licence as unions express concerns over working practices

Uber’s licence to operate in London has been renewed but only for a period of four months, as transport authorities continue to deliberate whether to grant it a five-year licence.

The decision over renewal has become the latest focus of controversy around the app-based taxi firm, with black-cab drivers and unions demanding that Transport for London reject the application without assurances over Uber’s operation and working practices.

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The story behind the fake Manchester attack victims

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:21:02 GMT2017-05-26T14:21:02Z

After the bombing, several posts of fake victims went viral. We look at the disturbing trend that keeps fooling social media

The tweets usually go something like this.

“My son was in the Manchester Arena today he’s not picking up my call”

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Amazon's first New York bookstore blends tradition with technology

Fri, 26 May 2017 10:00:09 GMT2017-05-26T10:00:09Z

Visitors embrace the online retailer’s move into the physical world – even if the brick-and-mortar store serves in large part as an ad for Amazon Prime

Drop in for a book. Walk out with a smart watch.

Shopping in one of Amazon’s brand-new, three-dimensional bookstores affords visitors the opportunity to buy many things that aren’t books. A hands-free sous vide, for example. Or a tablet computer. Or a smart speaker equipped with Amazon’s “Alexa” virtual butler app.

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'Pretty ridiculous': thousands of names stolen to attack net neutrality rules

Fri, 26 May 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-05-26T07:00:05Z

  • Letter says 450,000 comments may have been spam from net neutrality enemies
  • New FCC head wants to roll back Obama-era rules that govern open internet

Last Tuesday, Joel Mullaney, a software engineer from Watertown, Massachusetts, was browsing Reddit when he spotted a thread about people whose names and postal addresses had been falsely used to post comments on a government website attacking Obama-era open internet regulation.

Mullaney, 43, popped his address into the search bar on the Federal Communications Commission’s website and found his name attached to a comment that started: “The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation.”

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Games reviews roundup: Injustice 2; Hanazuki; LocoRoco Remastered

Mon, 29 May 2017 06:00:18 GMT2017-05-29T06:00:18Z

The latest DC Comics fighting game knocks the competition flat, while a children’s mobile game and a PSP classic offer winningly simple charms

PS4, Warner Bros, cert: 16

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Running on empty: on the road with Shell Eco-marathon | Martin Love

Sun, 28 May 2017 05:00:01 GMT2017-05-28T05:00:01Z

Could you do 10,000 miles to a gallon? A spoonful of petrol goes a very long way in these fuel-sipping wacky racers

Price: build your own
Top speed: 50mph
Weight: 70kg
Engine: Honda GX160
MPG: 3,000 plus

“I hope you don’t suffer from claustrophobia,” smiles Fred. He’s an engineer working with Shell and is over from France as part of the preparations for its annual fuel eco-marathon. I’m lying two inches off the Tarmac on what looks like a modified surfboard with three spindly wheels. Fred and another mechanic have strapped me on to it and are now lowering the carapace of the car’s body over me. Imagine a flimsy plastic coffin with portholes, or maybe a 6ft cigar tube. Once it’s bolted into position, Fred grins through the tiny window at me and gives me the thumbs up. I can’t move my head, feet, arms or shoulders. All I can do is swivel my eyeballs and hook my index fingers around the fiddly handlebar controls which rest on my chest. Actually, I think I do suffer from claustrophobia…

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North Korea top suspect for WannaCry attack, says ex US security chief

Sun, 28 May 2017 18:44:38 GMT2017-05-28T18:44:38Z

Methods used in ransomware attack on NHS and in up to 100 countries similar to those used by Pyongyang in the past, says Michael Chertoff

North Korea may have been behind the ransomware cyber-attack on the NHS and up to 100 countries including the UK, a former head of the US Department of Homeland Security has claimed.

Michael Chertoff, who served under George W Bush from 2005 to 2009, said that agents or allies of the Pyongyang regime were the most likely suspects for the hacking of the health service’s administration system in the UK and state infrastructures across the globe this month.

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Hackers steal Melbourne high school's data and impersonate principal in credit card scam

Wed, 24 May 2017 04:00:38 GMT2017-05-24T04:00:38Z

Department and parents say data stolen from Blackburn high school, posted to file-sharing site and fake emails sent to parents

Hackers have stolen student information from a Melbourne high school, posting it online and sending emails to parents pretending to be from the principal.

The Victorian education department is working with police to identify hackers who illegally downloaded information from Blackburn high school’s computer system.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner fooled by German hackers

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:21:13 GMT2017-05-23T14:21:13Z

New phone’s feature has been bypassed less than a month after it was shipped to public, adding fuel to debate about biometric security

The iris-recognition feature in Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 smartphone has been defeated by German hackers, less than a month after it hit shelves around the world.

A video posted by the Chaos Computer Club, a long-running hacker collective formed in Berlin in 1981, shows the security feature being fooled by a dummy eye into thinking that it is being unlocked by a legitimate owner.

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WannaCry hackers still trying to revive attack says accidental hero

Mon, 22 May 2017 09:41:18 GMT2017-05-22T09:41:18Z

Marcus Hutchins says hackers are attempting to overwhelm ‘kill switch’ that halted ransomware attack on NHS and global companies

The “accidental hero” who registered a web address that became the so-called kill switch for WannaCry has said hackers are trying to overwhelm the site to resurrect the ransomware that plagued the NHS and companies around the world.

The web address acts as a beacon for the malware, which if contactable tells WannaCry to cease and desist. In registering the domain name, a self-trained 22-year-old security expert from south-west England called Marcus Hutchins halted the spread of WannaCry by activating its kill switch.

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Why do we need 'accidental heroes' to deal with global cyber-attacks? | Evgeny Morozov

Sat, 20 May 2017 20:39:00 GMT2017-05-20T20:39:00Z

Big tech firms say they are the only providers of large cybersecurity services – even as their products are compromised. The conflict of interest is huge

To appreciate the perversity of our reliance on US technology giants, you just need to grapple with the fact that one of the likely winners in the global “cyber-outage” – caused by the series of crippling cyber-attacks that hit public and private institutions worldwide a week ago – might be the very company whose software was compromised – Microsoft.

The WannaCry ransomware used in the attack wreaked havoc on organisations including FedEx and Telefónica, as well as the NHS, where operations were cancelled, x-rays, test results and patient records became unavailable and phones did not work. In the end the global spread of the attack was halted by an “accidental hero”, a 22-year-old IT security blogger from Ilfracombe, Devon. Marcus Hutchins found and inadvertently activated a “kill switch” in the malware by registering a specific domain name hidden within the program.

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NHS cyber-attack causing disruption one week after breach

Fri, 19 May 2017 15:12:52 GMT2017-05-19T15:12:52Z

Hospitals slowly returning to normal after ransomware attack led to cancelled operations and diverted ambulances

NHS trusts are experiencing disruption one week after a cyber-attack caused havoc in more than 150 countries.

The unprecedented ransomware breach froze computers across the health service last Friday, with hackers threatening to delete files unless a ransom was paid.

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Message to Pirates of the Caribbean hackers – piracy no longer pays

Wed, 17 May 2017 16:46:42 GMT2017-05-17T16:46:42Z

Hackers hoped Disney would pay up when they threatened to leak Dead Men Tell No Tales online – but have they scuppered the wrong vessel?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, due out on 26 May, was only 10 days from release when hackers stole a copy from a post-production company in LA.

They demanded a ransom, believed to be $80,000 (£61,700) – peanuts for a franchise that has pulled in $3bn globally. They threatened that, if the ransom wasn’t paid, they would release the film to torrent sites in chunks, carved up like shark bait.

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Shadow Brokers threaten to unleash more hacking tools

Wed, 17 May 2017 11:56:02 GMT2017-05-17T11:56:02Z

Group linked to NSA cyberwarfare tools used in ransomware attack threatens to set up ‘wine of the month’-style service

The hacking group that says data they released facilitated the WannaCry ransomware attack has threatened to leak a new wave of hacking tools they claim to have stolen from the US National Security Agency.

The so-called Shadow Brokers, who claimed responsibility for releasing NSA tools that were used to spread the WannaCry ransomware through the NHS and across the world, said they have a new suite of tools and vulnerabilities in newer software. The possible targets include Microsoft’s Windows 10, which was unaffected by the initial attack and is on at least 500m devices around the world.

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Cybersecurity stocks boom after ransomware attack

Tue, 16 May 2017 15:35:14 GMT2017-05-16T15:35:14Z

Companies see share prices rise sharply amid expected increase in spending on IT security after WannaCry hack

The ransomware attack that disrupted the NHS and businesses around the world has led to a boom in share prices of cybersecurity companies – including the firm used by the health service to protect it against hackers.

With governments and companies expected to increase spending on IT security after being caught out by the attack, cybersecurity firms have seen their stock market values climb sharply over the past two days.

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Don't pay WannaCry demands, cybersecurity experts say

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:41:43 GMT2017-05-15T10:41:43Z

In wake of last week’s ransomware attack, technology specialists warn that ‘paying money to a criminal is never a good idea’

Cybersecurity experts have warned businesses against meeting hackers’ demands for money in the wake of the “unprecedented” attack on hundreds of thousands of computer systems around the world.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer or its data and demands money to release it. The worm used in Friday’s attack, dubbed WannaCry or WanaCrypt0r, encrypted more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries for ransoms of $300 to $600 to restore access.

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Who is to blame for exposing the NHS to cyber-attacks?

Mon, 15 May 2017 13:43:01 GMT2017-05-15T13:43:01Z

Could the government or intelligence agencies have done more to protect the health service from cybercriminals?

Three days after the WannaCry ransomware outbreak, a string of questions have emerged. Could the US and UK intelligence agencies – the NSA and GCHQ – have done more to prevent the attack? And, in the UK, must the NHS share some of the blame for allowing itself to be so vulnerable?

The chain of events starts with the NSA. It discovered the weakness that made the ransomware so prolific , which was then stolen by a hacking group known as Shadow Brokers, thought to be linked to the Russian government.

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Improbable that UK startup is worth $1bn price tag? Don't bet against it

Fri, 12 May 2017 13:35:28 GMT2017-05-12T13:35:28Z

Shocked that UK developer Improbable has been subject to a $502m investment? In the long-game of tech predictions, it could turn out to be a smart move

The idea that the next British unicorn (the term for a startup valued over $1bn) could be the developer of a cloud-computing platform for video games seems, well, improbable.

But that’s what’s happened, following an enormous $502m investment in London-based Improbable from Japan’s SoftBank corporation. In a single transaction, the sum – which is for a minority stake in the company, with its three founders, Herman Narula (29) Rob Whitehead (26) and Peter Lipka (28) still holding the majority of shares – took the firm into the big league.

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Net neutrality: why the next 10 days are so important in the fight for fair internet

Tue, 09 May 2017 10:00:14 GMT2017-05-09T10:00:14Z

US campaigners rejoiced in 2015 when ‘net neutrality’ enshrined the internet as a free and level playing field. A vote on 18 May could take it all back

Thursday 26 February 2015 was a good day for internet freedom campaigners. On that day the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate internet service providers (ISPs) and to enshrine the principles of “net neutrality” as law.

Related: John Oliver on net neutrality: 'Every internet group needs to come together'

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'This oversteps a boundary': teenagers perturbed by Facebook surveillance

Tue, 02 May 2017 15:20:58 GMT2017-05-02T15:20:58Z

News that Facebook shared teens’ details with advertisers throws focus on firm’s ability to mine the data of its 2 billion users – and raises serious ethical questions

We know that Facebook keeps track of every like, click and post we make to its platform. If we often check in at airports, it’s not surprising when we are shown airline ads. If we like a load of electronic music artists, we don’t balk when we see a promo for a festival where some of them are playing. We have grown accustomed to it, and there’s some visibility about what’s going on in the black box.

Related: 'I'm an ex-Facebook exec: don't believe what they tell you about ads'

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Live and death: Facebook sorely needs a reality check about video

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 05:00:28 GMT2017-04-26T05:00:28Z

Facebook Live was meant to be part of the social network’s optimistic vision. But in the wake of two violent crimes, its response has left much wanting

It’s barely a week since Facebook streamed the murder of 74-year-old grandfather Robert Godwin and the social network is reeling from another tragedy: a father in Phuket, Thailand, used Facebook Live to broadcast him killing his 11-month-old daughter before killing himself. Two harrowing clips of the incident were accessible to users on his Facebook profile for about 24 hours and were together viewed almost 400,000 times.

The two cases provided grisly bookends to Facebook’s annual developer conference F8, held in San Jose last week, just a day after Godwin’s murder. Throughout the two-day event, there was little mention of fake news, polarized politics, or the company’s newfound role as a forum for live-streamed crime (although Zuckerberg did namecheck Godwin in passing). Instead the company outlined its rose-tinted vision of a LOL-tastic future where we enhance our lives with digital trinkets in augmented and virtual reality and, in doing so, Facebook becomes the glue that binds friends, families and communities.

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Netflix's biggest competitor? Sleep

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:27:46 GMT2017-04-18T14:27:46Z

Uber v self-driving cars, Facebook v video games. Some of the tech industry’s biggest rivalries are not what you would expect

When you’re a globe-spanning technology firm, you need to keep a paranoid eye on the competition. But sometimes it can be hard to work out what the competition is: disruption can come from the most unlikely corners.

But even given that, Netflix has an odd definition of what it has to compete with. Not Amazon Video, not YouTube, not even old-fashioned broadcasters. No, according to the company’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, Netflix’s biggest competitor is the pesky human need to close your eyes and sleep for a third of the day.

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Beware the unintended consequences of a robot revolution

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 08:00:20 GMT2017-04-15T08:00:20Z

Investment in education and retraining is needed to equip people to adapt as automation shakes up their workplaces

Ask an economist or a technology expert and they will happily tell you that decades of data reliably show automation has created more jobs than it has destroyed.

Far fewer of us now work on farms, for example, thanks to super-efficient machines that do the bulk of the work. Such technology has boosted productivity and, with it, living standards. As a result, more people work in leisure industries such as hospitality or hairdressing, serving all those people with higher disposable incomes and more free time.

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Hell of a ride: even a PR powerhouse couldn't get Uber on track

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 07:00:27 GMT2017-04-14T07:00:27Z

Despite her formidable reputation, Rachel Whetstone – who departed Uber this week – wasn’t able to shift the company’s fundamental problems

When Rachel Whetstone left Google two years ago to replace David Plouffe, a former Barack Obama official, as policy and communications vice-president at Uber, it seemed like a promising Silicon Valley role.

The taxi-hailing app had a reputation for aggressive and even underhand tactics, and a CEO, in Travis Kalanick, with a reputation as a gaffe-prone “tech bro”, but it was one of the fastest growing startups in the world, achieving a $50bn valuation (now almost $70bn) within just six years.

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Amber Rudd's 'showdown' talks with tech firms on extremism are pure PR

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 08:24:26 GMT2017-03-31T08:24:26Z

Meetings between UK government and Facebook et al are more ritual than battle as they avoid subjects both parties disagree on, such as tax and user privacy

As the government and technology companies butt heads yet again over extremist material on social media, both sides may be giving a silent prayer of thanks that the battleground is one on which they are both quite comfortable.

Related: Top tech firms avoid encryption issue in government talks

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Backdoor access to WhatsApp? Rudd's call suggests a hazy grasp of encryption

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:35:22 GMT2017-03-27T10:35:22Z

UK home secretary wants police to be able to access WhatsApp, but any backdoor also makes services vulnerable to criminals

Tech companies are facing demands from the home secretary, Amber Rudd, to build backdoors into their “completely unacceptable” end-to-end encryption messaging apps. Speaking on Sunday, just five days after a terror attack in Westminster killed five and injured more than 50, she said “there should be no place for terrorists to hide”.

This may sound familiar. Two years ago, after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the then British prime minister David Cameron said Britain’s intelligence agencies should have the legal power to break into the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists. He promised to legislate for it in 2016.

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The 10 most influential driving games – in pictures

Fri, 26 May 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-05-26T07:00:05Z

From retro racers Night Driver, Pole Position and Out Run to 3D titles Daytona USA, Ridge Racer and Gran Turismo, these games share top spot on the podium

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Rime review: a beautifully realised island of wonder

Thu, 25 May 2017 15:00:32 GMT2017-05-25T15:00:32Z

With timeless animated graphics and a brilliant orchestral score, the indie puzzle adventure encapsulates the sensation of being lost in a dream

The story begins, as so many do, with a stormy sea, a flash of lightning, and a shipwreck. A child washes up on a deserted island and, with nary a word of exposition, embarks upon an epic journey.

Tequila Works’ third-person puzzle adventure has been touted as an homage to Fumito Ueda’s Ico and The Last Guardian. But while they share some striking similarities, telling the story of a young kid tentatively finding their place in a big, confusing world, Rime takes the material down a melancholic path that’s very much its own.

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How Breath of the Wild propelled Nintendo Switch to success against the odds

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:36:09 GMT2017-05-24T13:36:09Z

The Japanese company’s console was quirky, expensive, and short on games – but with the Legend of Zelda sequel it had a title worth buying it for

The Switch was Nintendo’s last roll of the dice. By the beginning of this year, the company was in dire straits: a decade on from the breakout success of the motion-controlled Wii, its follow-up, called the Wii U, had failed to take the world by storm.

A quirky machine, the Wii U replaced the controller with a hybrid tablet, seeking to replicate the success of Nintendo’s handheld DS console, which has two screens. Instead, weak launch sales and a poor initial lineup of games, combined with confusing branding that left many unclear whether it was even a new device at all, served to hand the console generation to Sony and Microsoft, who focused their fire on traditional gamers.

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Nintendo's share price hits seven-year high as Switch sales soar

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:29:39 GMT2017-05-24T13:29:39Z

Hybrid between a home console and a handheld machine looks set to be games company’s first big hit since the Wii

Nintendo’s share price has hit its highest point in seven years, thanks to booming sales of the new Switch, its hybrid between a traditional home console and a handheld gaming machine.

The company’s share price is up 102% year on year as the Switch looks set to be the company’s first bona fide hit since the Wii hit the shelves more than a decade ago.

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Destiny 2: how a fresh start let Bungie make its biggest game yet

Mon, 22 May 2017 06:00:16 GMT2017-05-22T06:00:16Z

When it came to Destiny’s sequel, the Halo developer wiped the slate clean to win over new players and give veterans a fresh experience

Destiny 2, the first true sequel to Bungie’s 2014 massively multiplayer online first person shooter, begins with the required bang. The game drops players in the midst of an all-out assault on the Tower, the core social location from the first two years of the series’ history and the last bastion of mankind as it fights a war against four separate alien races collectively referred to as “the Darkness”.

A new villain, a leader of one of those four races named Dominus Ghaul, has decided to take the fight to humanity’s homeworld in an attempt to prove to the Traveller – Destiny’s mysterious space-god who elevated humanity to a race of superhero “Guardians” before falling silent aeons earlier – that his people, the Cabal, should have been the rightful recipients of its power.

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Games reviews roundup: Akiba’s Beat; Dawn of War III; Syberia 3

Mon, 22 May 2017 06:00:16 GMT2017-05-22T06:00:16Z

Poor gameplay mechanics are a recurring theme in the return of these role-playing, war strategy and adventure franchises

PS4, PSVita, Pqube, cert: 12

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Cambridge: 'We don't talk politics. The cruel thing is it doesn't affect us'

Sun, 21 May 2017 13:00:06 GMT2017-05-21T13:00:06Z

In the run-up to the general election, six Guardian reporters are writing from constituencies across the country to find out what matters to you and your area. In the second dispatch from Cambridge, Amelia Gentleman and photographer Antonio Olmos meet people in the city’s video games industry who feel disengaged from the election but seriously concerned about Brexit

The longer you spend with the entrepreneurs behind the video game industry cluster in Cambridge, the more the forthcoming general election begins to seem a trifling, parochial concern.

Compared with the momentous significance of the vote to leave the EU, next month’s election barely registers for people such as Mark Gerhard, CEO of Playfusion, a video game company (pictured above) employing 58 people, of whom about 60% are from the EU. “We don’t talk politics here. Almost all of us are disengaged from it. The cruel thing is that it doesn’t affect us; if it goes really bad we can change our situation, we can solve it,” he says.

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From Aztec to Toshinden: in praise of forgotten video games

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:42:19 GMT2017-05-19T10:42:19Z

Not every game can be a classic. Keith Stuart remembers the not-very-well-remembered titles of his youth

When I was ten years old, most of the computer games I played on my Commodore 64 were not very good. They weren’t the classics we all remember; they mostly weren’t Impossible Mission or Way of the Exploding Fist (though I did play those too, I wasn’t a barbarian).

Every week my mum would take me to Wythenshawe library in South Manchester where you could rent games for 10p each. The best ones were constantly unavailable, so I’d grab what I could – weird titles no one else wanted.

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Nokia 3310 review: blast from the past, sore thumbs and all

Fri, 19 May 2017 06:00:48 GMT2017-05-19T06:00:48Z

The hype for Snake, T9 texts and sleek design has turned the 3310’s relaunch into an event. But 2G connectivity and a rubbish camera bring you back to earth

The darling of Mobile World Congress and retro tech fans is finally here, but does the new Nokia 3310 live up the hype? Is it everything your rose-tinted view of the year 2000 is crying out for?

Not many things can genuinely be described as “iconic”, let alone pieces of technology that are here today and gone tomorrow. The original Nokia 3310, loved the world over for Snake, its apparent indestructibility and simplicity, is probably about as close as gadgets get.

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Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: 'Everything feels like the future but us'

Thu, 18 May 2017 07:00:19 GMT2017-05-18T07:00:19Z

Exclusive: CEO Elon Musk defends workplace, saying ‘[we are not] just greedy capitalists who skimp on safety’ – and declares his $50bn company overvalued

When Tesla bought a decommissioned car factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk transformed the old-fashioned, unionized plant into a much-vaunted “factory of the future”, where giant robots named after X-Men shape and fold sheets of metal inside a gleaming white mecca of advanced manufacturing.

The appetite for Musk’s electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla’s value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of grueling pressure – which they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals – and sometimes life-changing injuries.

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America has become so anti-innovation – it's economic suicide

Thu, 11 May 2017 10:00:46 GMT2017-05-11T10:00:46Z

The fall of Juicero isn’t just entertaining tech industry stupidity – it’s the sign of a country refusing to break new ground

If you’ve used the internet at any point in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard of Juicero. Juicero is a San Francisco-based company that sells a $400 juicer. Here’s how it works: you plug in a pre-sold packet of diced fruits and vegetables, and the machine transforms it into juice. But it turns out you don’t actually need the machine to make the juice. On 19 April, Bloomberg News reported that you can squeeze the packets by hand and get the same result. It’s even faster.

The internet erupted in laughter. Juicero made the perfect punchline: a celebrated startup that had received a fawning profile from the New York Times and $120m in funding from blue-chip VCs such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures was selling an expensive way to automate something you could do faster for free. It was, in any meaningful sense of the word, a scam. And it tickled social media’s insatiable schadenfreude for rich people getting swindled – not unlike the spectacle of wealthy millennials fleeing the cheese sandwiches and feral dogs of the Fyre festival.

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Outclassed: how your neighbor’s income might affect your happiness

Thu, 11 May 2017 09:00:45 GMT2017-05-11T09:00:45Z

Don’t scoff: psychological and social science research supports that living amid the wealthy even when you are upper-middle class is bad for your mental health

  • Outclassed, our new column about inequality, will run twice a month

Shaun Tanner, a web developer and meteorologist, lives in San Jose, California, and works in Alameda, over an hour’s commute each way. His profession and location might indicate that Tanner is affluent, part of the storied Silicon Valley tech boom. But Tanner’s experience is quite different. He has a $3,000 monthly mortgage, less than half of his monthly income. Yet “week to week”, he says, he “still feels a crunch” on Fridays. “There’s nothing left here,” he says.

Until last September, Tanner had to work three jobs to pay for his health insurance and family’s expenses – as a meteorologist at Weather Underground, a rain-and-shine site, as an independent contractor, and as an instructor at San Jose State University. Now, he is down to working only two jobs, including laboring for what is called a “weather drone start-up”. (Cool! Scary!) Nonetheless, Tanner is still economically pressured, still commuting, and still heavily exerting himself to pay for three kids in after-school programs and daycare, all aged 10 and under.

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Designers on acid: the tripping Californians who paved the way to our touchscreen world

Thu, 11 May 2017 07:00:43 GMT2017-05-11T07:00:43Z

Ever wondered why email, trash cans, Google Docs and desktops look the way they do? The answer lies in 1960s hippie culture and LSD-taking creatives

Next time you drag a document across your desktop and put it in a folder, spare a thought for acid. Organising your files might not seem like a psychedelic experience now, but in 1968, when Douglas Engelbart first demonstrated a futuristic world of windows, hypertext links and video conferencing to a rapt audience in San Francisco, they must have thought they were tripping. Especially because he was summoning this dark magic onto a big screen using a strange rounded controller on the end of a wire, which he called his “mouse”.

Like many California tech visionaries of the time, Engelbart was an enthusiastic advocate for the mind-expanding benefits of LSD. As head of the Augmented Human Intellect Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute, he and his team would drop acid under test conditions in the hope of inspiring new breakthroughs.

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50 years after summer of love, yuppies have replaced San Francisco's hippies

Sat, 06 May 2017 11:00:02 GMT2017-05-06T11:00:02Z

Nostalgia runs high as the city approached 50th anniversary, but residents say free love has given way to wealth and individualism

Isaiah Wolfe, who goes by the name Orange, spends his nights under a bush outside Golden Gate park and his days on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, soaking up the love. Love from his wife, his dogs, his buddies and everyone else who calls this part of San Francisco home.

“We’ve come here to experience the love this place has,” said Orange, 20, sporting a beard, piercings and multi-coloured sweater. “I heard the summer of love was the best thing to ever happen.”

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Nextdoor broke the social network mold. Could political ads make it just like Facebook?

Fri, 05 May 2017 15:00:37 GMT2017-05-05T15:00:37Z

Through verifying identities and enforcing a culture of civility, the neighborhood social network built trust. That could change if it enters the political ad game

Nextdoor, the social network that helps neighbors talk to each other, has a billion-dollar valuation and a presence in streets from San Jose to Liverpool. But according to its CEO, none of the tech giants are interested in acquiring it.

“Facebook, Google, those guys haven’t actually come and talked to us,” said Nirav Tolia.

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Sexism, racism and bullying are driving people out of tech, US study finds

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:02:27 GMT2017-04-27T20:02:27Z

A first-of-its-kind report analyzed the reasons why tech workers leave their jobs, and found a common thread of sexual harassment, bullying and stereotyping

Sexual harassment, bullying and racist stereotyping are common in the technology industry, creating a culture that drives underrepresented employees out of their jobs, new research has found.

One in 10 women in tech experience unwanted sexual attention, and nearly one in four people of color face stereotyping, according to the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 people who left tech jobs in the last three years.

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Palantir to pay $1.7m over accusation it discriminates against Asian applicants

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:17:39 GMT2017-04-26T19:17:39Z

Government lawsuit against the huge Silicon Valley data-analytics firm comes at a time of heightened debate about discrimination in the tech industry

Palantir, a Silicon Valley company with ties to Donald Trump, has agreed to pay $1.7m to settle a government lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against Asian applicants.

The $20bn data analytics company, co-founded by Peter Thiel, one of the president’s advisers, has not admitted wrongdoing in the settlement, which comes at a time of increasing debate about discrimination in the tech industry.

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The Guardian view on Apple-Uber affair: reasons to tame Silicon Valley | Editorial

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:23:34 GMT2017-04-26T18:23:34Z

The dealings of two of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies shows that there remains an urgent political task to bring a rogue culture to heel

The taxi-hailing company Uber brings into very sharp focus the question of whether corporations can be said to have a moral character. If any human being were to behave with the single-minded and ruthless greed of the company, we would consider them sociopathic. Uber wanted to know as much as possible about the people who use its service, and those who don’t. It has an arrangement with, a company which offered a free service for unsubscribing from junk mail, to buy the contacts customers had had with rival taxi companies. Even if their email was notionally anonymised, this use of it was not something the users had bargained for. Beyond that, it keeps track of the phones that have been used to summon its services even after the original owner has sold them, attempting this with Apple’s phones even thought it is forbidden by the company.

Uber has also tweaked its software so that regulatory agencies that the company regarded as hostile would, when they tried to hire a driver, be given false reports about the location of its cars. Uber management booked and then cancelled rides with a rival taxi-hailing company which took their vehicles out of circulation. Uber deny this was the intention. The punishment for this behaviour was negligible. Uber promised not to use this “greyball” software against law enforcement – one wonders what would happen to someone carrying a knife who promised never to stab a policeman with it. Travis Kalanick of Uber got a personal dressing down from Tim Cook, who runs Apple, but the company did not prohibit the use of the app. Too much money was at stake for that.

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Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic review – up-to-the-minute debut

Fri, 26 May 2017 06:30:04 GMT2017-05-26T06:30:04Z

A smart story of obsession and technology investigates what smartphones are doing to our souls

This debut has been acclaimed as the “First Great Instagram Novel”, and what it does is both new and strange – and deeply familiar. From the infancy of the industrial revolution, novels have thrived on technological change, dramatising the aesthetics of machines as well as the changes (usually deformations) they make to the human soul. The pantheon of post-industrial writing is Humphrey Jennings’s Pandaemonium: The Coming of the Machine 1660-1886, and if there were to be a sequel for our digital age, Sympathy would earn a place in it for its exquisite, sustained observation of our use of smartphones. When the narrator, Alice Hare, takes possession of her loved one’s device, she says: “It felt kind of like holding her brain, and I held it like that, my palm flat, my right index finger light and quick, as if the phone were jellied or slimy.”

Full of these casually creepy, very 21st-century observations, Sympathy is an astute, quirky, slow-burning satire on emerging codes of behaviour, intergenerational differences, globalisation, the tech industry and the vortex of the dark web. Alice tumbles through an online rabbit hole of absurdities and dream-like connections that ultimately leads into a nightmarish mise en abyme and an illegal, orgiastic rave – rather a long way from Lewis Carroll.

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How Trump Thinks review – why Trump and Twitter are a perfect couple

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:00:31 GMT2017-05-24T08:00:31Z

Peter Oborne and Tom Roberts’s catalogue of the tycoon’s Tweets suggests it was satisfying for many voters to see a rich celebrity complain and accuse

In the midst of the recent maelstrom surrounding the firing of FBI director James Comey, Donald Trump found time to get on Twitter and troll one of his long-time foes, comedian Rosie O’Donnell. Retweeting a 2016 post of hers that called for Comey to be fired, Trump declared: “We finally agree on something Rosie.” One had to imagine that little Trump did during that week gave him such a sense of mastery and control.

Peter Oborne and Tom Roberts have anthologised and annotated Trump’s tweets, starting with his very first, in May 2009, and extending to March of this year, when the book went to press. Trump now occupies what arguably is – or was – the most important political position in the west. And yet his public contradictions and inchoate statements have made it hard to know what is really going on in his head. All his books have been ghostwritten. Twitter is one of the few places we can look for evidence of Trump’s own voice.

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Carne y Arena review - dazzling virtual reality exhibit offers a fresh look at the refugee crisis

Mon, 22 May 2017 20:22:22 GMT2017-05-22T20:22:22Z

Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest project is an innovative and immersive account of the horrors faced at the Mexico-US border

Related: The Day After review - Hong Sang-soo's boozy comedy is diverting but slight

So – the envelope is pushed a little further, the limits of cinema questioned a little harder, the rectangular perimeter fence of the movie screen challenged a little bit more confidently.

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Google Home review: the smart speaker that answers almost any question

Wed, 10 May 2017 06:00:12 GMT2017-05-10T06:00:12Z

Sleek, intelligent and attractive, new Google voice-controlled device can play music, control other connected objects and give you a personalised briefing on your day

The Google Home smart speaker has finally made it to the UK, bringing the company’s always-listening voice assistant into direct competition with the incumbent Amazon Echo and its own assistant, Alexa. But is Google’s best worth buying?

Artificially intelligent voice assistants are the new battleground between the big US tech companies and while Google is no stranger with voice search and Google Now being available on Android smartphones for years, it was beaten into US and then UK households by Amazon and its hit Echo speaker.

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The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains review – look, a flying pig!

Tue, 09 May 2017 17:50:30 GMT2017-05-09T17:50:30Z

V&A, London
The refracting prism, the businessman ablaze, the giant inflatable pig: they may be pop’s most anonymous band, but Pink Floyd’s artwork is instantly recognisable – as this stunning V&A show proves

Virtually the first thing the visitor to Their Mortal Remains sees is a quote from the late John Peel regarding Pink Floyd’s legendary anonymity: “They could have joined the audience at one of their own gigs without being recognised.” On the face of it, that should preclude Pink Floyd as a band on which to base a V&A exhibition in the blockbusting vein of 2013’s David Bowie Is, 250m albums sold or not. Then again, as the exhibition makes clear, few bands in rock history have ever been as creative in their attempts to distract attention from themselves.

In truth, a certain anonymity seems to have clung to Pink Floyd from the start, even when they were fronted by Syd Barrett, a man as photogenic and pop-star pretty as he was talented: an early cover feature on the band in Town magazine doesn’t feature them on the cover at all, opting instead for a female model with the band’s psychedelic light show projected over her face. Nevertheless, they endured a brief moment of old-fashioned pop stardom in the summer of 1967, replete with appearances on Top of the Pops and in the teen magazines (“Syd is 5 foot 11 inches tall, with black hair and green eyes – the mystery man of the group and a gypsy at heart”). By all accounts – including the testimonies from bandmates and friends featured in a heartbreaking exhibition video – it was an experience that seemed to wreak almost as much havoc on Barrett’s fragile psyche as the vast quantities of LSD he consumed, hastening his decline.

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What Facebook Knows About You review – start panicking now!

Tue, 09 May 2017 06:10:53 GMT2017-05-09T06:10:53Z

The BBC’s latest Panorama asks whether it’s time to regulate Mark Zuckerberg’s cultish dotcom. Plus, laddish app comedy Loaded soars when the women join in

Thirty-two million people in the UK have a Facebook account and globally that figure is closer to 2 billion. Likes, political affiliations, favourite bands: all of that data sloshes around in a big, unregulated tank for the advertising sharks to guzzle. No wonder Panorama: What Facebook Knows About You (And What it Does With Your Information (BBC1) is asking the question: is it time to regulate Facebook?

As is often the case with the half-hour documentary format, we barely scratch the surface of the who and how here. Reporter Darragh MacIntyre could have done with more time to sum up his research and extensive US interviews. But I get the feeling even a six-part series wouldn’t be enough.

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Garmin Edge 820 review: the cycling aid you'll want to hurl off a mountain

Fri, 05 May 2017 06:00:31 GMT2017-05-05T06:00:31Z

Good battery life and fancy group-tracking features can’t save the Garmin Edge 820 from its irritating touchscreen and terrible navigation

Many cyclists have a love-hate relationship with their Garmin GPS navigation devices. Love, because they allow them to ride complex routes in unknown territory while collecting data about distance and speed, plus geekier pro metrics such as cadence and power with accessories. The hate sets in when they don’t behave as they’re supposed to.

I think I’ve sworn at my Garmin far more than any other device, which considering the relatively small amount of time I spend using it compared to a smartphone or laptop makes it an impressive obscenity magnet.

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Samsung Galaxy S8+ review: the best plus-sized screen you can buy

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-04-28T06:00:04Z

A massive, beautiful 6.2in QHD+ ‘infinity’ screen, long battery life, powerful performance and future-proofed technology all make for a formidable package

Having hit a home run with the smaller Galaxy S8, is Samsung’s Galaxy S8+ the bigger-screen phone to beat?

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are practically identical metal and glass sandwiches, but the S8+ is 10.6mm taller, 5.3mm wider, 0.1mm thicker and 18g heavier than the S8, with a screen-to-body ratio of over 83%.

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The Circle review – Emma Watson and Tom Hanks face off in empty techno-thriller

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:59:16 GMT2017-04-27T15:59:16Z

The Harry Potter alumna missteps after the $1bn success of Beauty and the Beast with a Dave Eggers adaptation that swaps initial intrigue with vapidity

There’s something quite perfectly pitched about the release of The Circle. First, in a landscape overflowing with headlines proclaiming that “this is the BLANK we need right now”, an adaptation of Dave Eggers’ cautionary tale about the dangers of a life consumed by an over-reliance on one’s digital footprint remains ever prescient. Second, it’s anchored by Emma Watson, coming off the back of the phenomenal success of Beauty and the Beast, and she’s joined by John Boyega, his first role since his charming breakout turn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Finally, it’s arriving on the edge of the summer season, aiming to engage our brains before they get pummeled into submission by a parade of shiny effects-driven epics with little interest in raising questions other than: wasn’t that explosion, like, totally sick?

Related: Emma Watson: feminist to the core or carefully polished brand? | the Observer profile

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Irresistible by Adam Alter review – an entertaining look at technology addiction

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:00:17 GMT2017-04-21T14:00:17Z

This examination of today’s tech-zombie epidemic is worth putting your phone down for – at least for a while

Are you addicted to technology? I’m certainly not. In my first sitting reading Adam Alter’s Irresistible, an investigation into why we can’t stop scrolling and clicking and surfing online, I only paused to check my phone four times. Because someone might have emailed me. Or texted me. One time I stopped to download an app Alter mentioned (research) and the final time I had to check the shares on my play brokerage app, Best Brokers (let’s call this one “business”).

Half the developed world is addicted to something, and Alter, a professor at New York University, informs us that, increasingly, that something isn’t drugs or alcohol, but behaviour. Recent studies suggest the most compulsive behaviour we engage in has to do with cyber connectivity; 40% of us have some sort of internet-based addiction – whether it’s checking your email (on average workers check it 36 times an hour), mindlessly scrolling through other people’s breakfasts on Instagram or gambling online.

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Fitness trackers out of step when measuring calories, research shows

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:00:24 GMT2017-05-24T15:00:24Z

Compared with gold-standard laboratory measurements, scientists found devices poor at tracking calories burned, but good at monitoring heart rate

Fitness devices can help monitor heart rate but are unreliable at keeping tabs on calories burned, research has revealed.

Scientists put seven consumer devices through their paces, comparing their data with gold-standard laboratory measurements.

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Food packaging gets smart – and poses a recycling nightmare

Wed, 10 May 2017 12:21:40 GMT2017-05-10T12:21:40Z

Use of electronics in packaging is on the rise, raising questions about the recyclability of everyday products

In the run up to this year’s Super Bowl, US snack company Frito-Lay launched a limited run of microchipped bags of tortilla chips, supposedly capable of sensing alcohol on a user’s breath and, if instructed, calling them an Uber home.

It was a stunt to grab attention but the use of interactive, intelligent packaging is not a futuristic fantasy. Already, you can find olive oil and craft beers connected to the cloud and ready to report on their origins to any passing punter with a smartphone.

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Joe Lycett: I’m a millennial… Get me out of here!

Sat, 27 May 2017 07:59:22 GMT2017-05-27T07:59:22Z

I don’t know how to work my house, and without my phone I am nothing

There are many terms that have been used to describe me: man, comedian, disappointment, hammock enthusiast. In the last few years, a new one has been added to the mix: millennial. It sounded quite cool at first, as if I were part of some exclusive club with a neon logo, until I did a bit of digging and discovered that it actually means that the year I was born and the liberal parenting style of my mother and father have resulted in an adult who can’t build meaningful relationships, will never have true job satisfaction and is addicted to his phone.

There was a video doing the rounds titled Millennials In The Workplace that made some clarifications: a clip from a conference being held in what looked like an Amazon warehouse. The main speaker is the renowned author and motivational guru, Simon Sinek, a glossy advice-robot who tells you that social media is ruining your life (albeit through the medium of a video on Facebook). He comes across, as we millennials might say, as a bit of a bell-end. He says we send text messages all the time because, when we get a reply it releases dopamine. “No, Simon,” I thought, “if I want a release of dopamine, I will drink a bottle of merlot.” Sinek says we struggle to have face-to-face conversations. To which the answer is: “No, Simon, I am fantastic at face-to-face conversations after drinking a bottle of merlot.”

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Which smartphone has the best camera?

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:34:40 GMT2017-05-25T09:34:40Z

Alison needs to replace her smartphone and she wants one that will take good photographs in a wide range of lighting conditions

Continuing the theme from last week, I need advice on replacing my Huawei smartphone, following an unfortunate incident involving a car door. My phone is also my camera, so my main criterion is that it will take good shots in most lights. The Huawei, while fine in other ways, fell short in the photography department. I’d be interested in recommendations at different price points. Alison

Smartphone cameras are now amazingly good, and if you buy a top-end smartphone, it’s increasingly hard to take a bad photograph with it. We’ve therefore started to see some Darwinian-style speciation as manufacturers look for profitable niches. Over the past five years, we’ve seen more dual-lens cameras appear with extra wide angle or telephoto features. Some manufacturers have improved the front-facing camera to target people who mainly take selfies. Some phones are waterproof, like the Apple iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7.

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Hiding in plain sight: how the 'alt-right' is weaponizing irony to spread fascism

Tue, 23 May 2017 10:00:00 GMT2017-05-23T10:00:00Z

Experts say the ‘alt-right’ have stormed mainstream consciousness by using ‘humor’ and ambiguity as tactics to wrong-foot their opponents

Earlier this month, hundreds of “alt-right” protesters occupied the rotunda at Boston Common in the name of free speech. The protest included far-right grouplets old and new – from the Oath Keepers to the Proud Boys. But there were no swastikas or shaved heads in sight.

Instead, the protest imagery was dominated by ostensibly comedic images, mostly cribbed from forums and social media. It looked a little like an animated version of a favorite “alt-right” message board, 4chan.

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How to be a vlogger: a guide for wannabe YouTubers

Mon, 22 May 2017 11:44:45 GMT2017-05-22T11:44:45Z

Can you create a bubbly, cheeky two-dimensional persona that hides the emptiness of your life? Enjoy this careers service-style primer

A survey of 1,000 children has revealed that three-quarters would consider a career in vlogging. But is there a viable market for YouTubers, and how do you even get started? Here’s a career guide.

1. Entry requirements

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The great digital-age swindle… and the man fighting back

Sun, 21 May 2017 09:00:01 GMT2017-05-21T09:00:01Z

He was tour manager for the Band, producer of Mean Streets… so why, at nearly 70, is Jonathan Taplin taking on Facebook and co?

We are all – or nearly all – slaves to technology. Think about how many times you consult Google every day. Consider the role that social media like Facebook and Twitter play in your lives. And when you buy a book, or countless other items, it’s increasingly likely that you purchased it from Amazon.

These brand names have come to define our lives in ways that have crept up on us so that now we can’t imagine being without them. But has their influence grown too large? For all the futuristic idealism that marked their beginning, have they turned into rampant capitalist monopolies that are indifferent to the damage they wreak, and contemptuous of the governments whose taxes they avoid?

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Alfa Romeo Giulietta car review – ‘It talks a good game’

Sat, 20 May 2017 10:00:22 GMT2017-05-20T10:00:22Z

The truth is, it’s only fun when you’re driving like a bit of a git

I have a generalised prejudice against the family sport car. It sounds ingenious, but the reality is usually a load of squashed people unable to see properly out of tinted windows in the back, with a jerk in the front to whom the cachet bestowed by his engine noise is more important than the deep-vein thrombosis brewing behind him.

This isn’t necessarily untrue of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta – only this time, I was the jerk in the front, which made those dynamics look rather different.

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In Europe political attitudes to Facebook are changing

Thu, 18 May 2017 16:12:05 GMT2017-05-18T16:12:05Z

Latest fine shows tech giants increasingly seen as destructive and obstructive, whether on tax, privacy or competition law

Facebook’s €110m fine by the European commission for providing misleading information about data-sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp is just one of a growing number of regulatory battles the US social media giant is fighting.

Related: Facebook fined £94m for 'misleading' EU over WhatsApp takeover

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Is it still worth buying a Windows phone?

Thu, 18 May 2017 11:31:09 GMT2017-05-18T11:31:09Z

Mike is a happy Windows smartphone user and wants to upgrade to the latest operating system. Is this wise, or is the phone going the way of the BlackBerry?

I’ve been using a Microsoft Lumia 640 for the past couple of years and like it a lot. It works well with OneDrive and other Microsoft stuff, and was excellent value too! Looking to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile, I see there is no longer much choice of phones. I fancy the Lumia 650 and could splash out on a 950, but is this wise?

I had an Android phone before that, which gradually ground to a halt, and my daughter uses iPhones, but they aren’t for me. I’m happy with Windows phones, but what’s happening with them? Will they go the way of BlackBerry? Mike

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