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Technology | The Guardian

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

Published: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:46:48 GMT2016-10-28T14:46:48Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016

Brexit hits Apple Mac customers hard as prices rise by up to £500

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:05:38 GMT2016-10-28T09:05:38Z

New laptops significantly more expensive and already-existing machines have prices raised by hundreds of pounds as Apple adjusts for new US dollar-pound sterling rate

If you’re a Mac user, everything just got a lot more expensive. Apple used the cover of introducing three new MacBook Pros at its latest event to quietly raise the prices of every single computer in its line.

It’s the latest example of the Brexit effect, with prices updated to account for the new low exchange rate between the US dollar and pound sterling. While the new laptops introduced on 27 October are significantly more expensive than the ones they are replacing, even machines that have seen no change at all have had their prices raised, in some cases by many hundreds of pounds.

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Uber loses right to classify UK drivers as self-employed

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:03:54 GMT2016-10-28T14:03:54Z

Landmark employment tribunal ruling states firm must also pay drivers national living wage and holiday pay with huge implications for gig economy

Drivers for Uber have won a landmark case after employment tribunal judges ruled that they were not self-employed and should be paid the “national living wage”.

The case, taken by two workers, could open up the tech firm to claims from all of its 40,000 drivers in the UK, and force other companies with tens of thousands of workers in the so-called gig economy to review the way they employ staff. Uber said it will appeal against the finding.

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Vine stars mourn the app that brought them their six seconds of fame

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 11:00:09 GMT2016-10-28T11:00:09Z

The constraint of the format fostered a new type of creativity for comedians, actors and artists, who have to move on to new platforms now that Vine is dead

The closure of the video-sharing app Vine was met with sadness but some amount of inevitability by an elite group of social media stars who found their six seconds of fame on the app.

Vine, at one time, had 100 million people watching videos every month and 1.5 billion daily video loops. The constraint of the six-second video format fostered a new type of creativity for comedians, actors and artists, which gave rise to Vine stars – internet celebrities who could make a decent living from the platform.

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WhatsApp asked by European regulators to pause sharing user data with Facebook

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 11:13:53 GMT2016-10-28T11:13:53Z

Article 29 Working Party pan-EU privacy regulator has serious concerns over WhatsApp data and warns Yahoo over data breach and US authority email scanning

WhatsApp has been warned by the pan-European privacy watchdogs over its sharing of information with Facebook and asked to pause the transfer of personal data.

The gathered European Union data protection authorities, collectively known as the Article 29 Working Party, said they had serious concerns over WhatsApp’s recent privacy policy change and the sharing of user phone numbers with its parent company Facebook.

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Hacker who stole nude photos of celebrities gets 18 months in prison

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 23:15:50 GMT2016-10-27T23:15:50Z

Ryan Collins ran a two-year phishing scam to gain the passwords of more than 100 people, including Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Avril Lavigne

The hacker who stole nude photos of female celebrities in 2014 has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, officials announced on Thursday.

In a court in May, Ryan Collins, a 36-year-old from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to federal hacking charges and admitted to a two-year phishing scam to gain passwords of more than 100 people, including actors Jennifer Lawrence and Aubrey Plaza and singers Rihanna and Avril Lavigne.

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GameCity festival: solitude, subversion and Immanuel Kant in video games

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 12:24:03 GMT2016-10-28T12:24:03Z

The Guardian is hosting a daily chat show at GameCity festival in Nottingham National Videogame Arcade. Here are the first two episodes

Every year, the GameCity festival in Nottingham provides a showcase for new and innovative game developers and thinkers. Now based at the National Videogame Arcade (NVA) and in shops and cafes around the city centre, the event is a celebration of independent development and a focal point for thinking about what games are and can be.

Each morning of the festival, the Guardian has been running a chat show in the NVA toast bar, meeting some of the developers showing their new projects, as well as academics analysing the place of games in modern culture. Luckily we’ve been recording the audio, so more people can get to hear them.

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Share your underwhelming Vines

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 12:02:45 GMT2016-10-28T12:02:45Z

To mark the video-sharing app’s demise, we’d like to see your most disappointing Vines from down the years

Vine is joining MySpace, Friendster and Geocities in the great internet graveyard. Twitter have announced it is discontinuing the video-sharing app as part of its restructuring efforts.

Related: Vine video-sharing app to be shut down by Twitter

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Apple launches new MacBook Pro laptop with Touch Bar for instant emoji

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 10:24:39 GMT2016-10-28T10:24:39Z

New thinner, lighter Apple laptops have Touch ID fingerprint scanners, but drop standard USB-A ports and SD card slot for four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

Apple has launched the first new version of its MacBook Pro laptop in 18 months, with a new OLED touchscreen on the keyboard capable of inserting emoji into text, as well as updates to the rest of its laptop line.

The new MacBook Pro is thinner, lighter and comes complete with fingerprint scanner. It also continues Apple’s rollout of USB-C, which began with the MacBook last year.

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'Here's your personal data': how an anonymous tipoff revealed Red Cross breach

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 07:11:53 GMT2016-10-28T07:11:53Z

A security expert sounded the alarm after he was sent the personal details of more than half a million Australian blood donors

A Microsoft regional director and security developer, Troy Hunt, was contacted early on Tuesday morning by an anonymous person on Twitter who told him he had obtained personal information about him and his wife.

“This guy reached out to me and said, ‘Here’s your personal data,’” Hunt said.

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Apple launch event: new MacBook Pro, US TV app and more - as it happened

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 06:33:26 GMT2016-10-28T06:33:26Z

Apple announced first new MacBook Pros in more than a year, with a ‘Touch Bar’ above the keyboard that can be used for typing emoji

MacBook Pros

The new MacBook Pro comes in two flavours, 13in and 15in, and the headline new feature is the Touch Bar, a touch-sensitive display along the top of the laptop, where the function keys used to be. Also added is a Touch ID sensor. It will retail for $1799/£1749 and $2399/£2349 up.

Related: Apple launches new MacBook Pro laptop with Touch Bar for instant emoji

UK pricing: £1449, for the 13in without Touch Bar, £1749 for the 13in, and £2349 for the 15in respectively. Basically, straight conversion from dollars, minus £50.

This isn’t Apple inflatingits international prices, either: a straight conversion from dollars to pounds, plus 20% VAT, results in much the same prices.

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Google's Alphabet defies expectations with 20% revenue rise

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 21:56:39 GMT2016-10-27T21:56:39Z

Alphabet, alongside Facebook, is dominating the fast-growing mobile ad market and has benefited from robust sales on mobile devices and YouTube

Google’s parent Alphabet defied expectations to report a 20.2% rise in quarterly revenue on Thursday, while retail giant Amazon slightly missed predicted predicted forecasts due to spending on preparations for the holiday season.

Indicating an end to its record-breaking profits streak, Amazon reported profit of $252m or 52 cents per share, though analysts had predicted 85 cents per share. Revenues reached $32.71bn but are predicted to reach between $42bn and $45.5bn for the busy fourth quarter.

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Uber won't build flying cars but they sure as hell want someone else to

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 21:21:35 GMT2016-10-27T21:21:35Z

Company report describes network of aircraft that can take off and land vertically and lays out plan in support of companies attempting to build them

Uber’s eyes are on a new prize: flying cars.

Outlined in a white paper published this week, the company’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden, describes a network of small, electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (VTOL, or vertical take-off and landing, aircraft) to enable speedy and reliable commuting that it claims will ease congestion in cities.

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Apple unveils new MacBook Pro with new Touch Bar feature – video

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:17:27 GMT2016-10-27T20:17:27Z

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook reveals the latest MacBook Pro on Thursday from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The new MacBook Pro will add a fingerprint security reader - similar to the one found on iPhones now - along with other system updates. Most noteworthy is the addition of a touchscreen bar of keys named ‘Touch Bar’, which can contain emojis as. Cook described the new product as incredible

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US internet providers must ask customers before using data, FCC says

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:38:50 GMT2016-10-27T18:38:50Z

AT&T, Verizon and other companies claim new measure, which includes browsing history, apps and location data, will hamper advertising revenue

US regulators have approved new broadband privacy rules that make internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon ask their customers’ permission before using or sharing much of their data.

The move is designed to give citizens more control of their own data, but internet companies claim it will make it more difficult for them to grow their advertising businesses.

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Vine video-sharing app to be shut down by Twitter

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:50:30 GMT2016-10-27T16:50:30Z

Social network to discontinue Vine mobile app ‘in the coming months’ as it reduces head count and costs

Twitter is killing off its social media video-sharing app and platform Vine as it trims its headcount and costs. The social network said the Vine mobile app would be discontinued “in the coming months”.

Twitter said in a blog post: “Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made.”

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DDoS attack that disrupted internet was largest of its kind in history, experts say

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:42:32 GMT2016-10-26T20:42:32Z

Dyn, the victim of last week’s denial of service attack, said it was orchestrated using a weapon called the Mirai botnet as the ‘primary source of malicious attack’

The cyber-attack that brought down much of America’s internet last week was caused by a new weapon called the Mirai botnet and was likely the largest of its kind in history, experts said.

The victim was the servers of Dyn, a company that controls much of the internet’s domain name system (DNS) infrastructure. It was hit on 21 October and remained under sustained assault for most of the day, bringing down sites including Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, CNN and many others in Europe and the US.

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Kremlin puppet master's leaked emails are price of return to political frontline

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:42:13 GMT2016-10-26T16:42:13Z

Russia’s Vladislav Surkov fell out of favour with Putin but new role in Ukraine talks has made him target for unknown hackers

Vladislav Surkov was the mysterious Kremlin puppet master who wrote rock lyrics and loved Tupac Shakur yet was simultaneously the chief architect of Vladimir Putin’s system of “managed democracy”.

Now, after some time on the sidelines, Surkov is well and truly back in the thick of Kremlin intrigue after a cache of emails purporting to show his office coordinating affairs in separatist east Ukraine was leaked online.

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Can we secure the internet of things in time to prevent another cyber-attack?

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:26:43 GMT2016-10-25T14:26:43Z

Easy-to-hijack ‘smart’ devices just crashed some of the world’s biggest online platforms. Experts say it’s a wake-up call to improve security – and quickly

Can the world wide web survive the internet of things? It’s a question many are asking after a vast attack on US and European internet structure last week, likely led by “smart” DVR players and webcams, that has left the tech industry reeling.

And according to experts, unless hardware and software manufacturers band together to improve the security of the open internet – and quickly – more attacks are imminent.

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Chinese webcam maker recalls devices after cyberattack link

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 14:19:51 GMT2016-10-24T14:19:51Z

An enormous DDoS attack was a network of hacked Internet of Things devices, many of which were made by Xiongmai

Chinese electronics firm Xiongmai is initiating a product recall after the enormous hacking attack that took down much of the internet on the eastcoast of the US and also affected Europe on Friday.

The root of the attack, which took the form of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), was a network of hacked “Internet of Things” devices, such as webcams and digital recorders, many of which were made by Xiongmai.

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Do you want your shower to help Russian hackers? | John Naughton

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 06:00:38 GMT2016-10-23T06:00:38Z

The internet of things has created a global network of devices vulnerable to cyber criminals – and no one wants to fix it

M y eye was caught by a Kickstarter campaign for a gizmo called a SWON, described as “a connected conservation device for your shower”. You unscrew the shower head, screw on the SWON and then screw the head back on to it. From then on, water goes through the SWON before it reaches you. The Kickstarter campaign needs $50,000 to be pledged before the product can be made. Last time I checked, it had 75 backers and had raised pledges of $4,798.

Before consigning it to the “leading-edge uselessness” bin, I clicked on the link. This triggered a video spiel in which four twentysomething hipsters straight out of central casting (male, baseball caps, black T-shirts – you know the rigmarole) explain why the gizmo is such a good idea. Apparently, every minute a hipster spends in the shower uses 2.5 gallons of water. “This is why,” says the lead geek, “I created SWON, an IoT device that installs in under one minute.” It will save its users “hundreds of dollars” in utility costs, and between 4,000 and 10,000 gallons of water a year, which in drought-stricken Silicon Valley is obviously quite a big deal.

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'Smart' devices 'too dumb' to fend off cyber-attacks, say experts

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 15:47:02 GMT2016-10-22T15:47:02Z

Internet-connected gadgets vulnerable because they don’t have enough memory for safety software, use generic code and access web by default

“Smart” internet-connected devices such as webcams, kettles and baby monitors are “too dumb” to resist the kind of cyber-attack that brought down some of the world’s most popular websites on Friday, experts have warned.

Richard Sims, a product development consultant at the Technology Partnership, said such devices – commonly referred to as the “internet of things” – often connect to the internet by default and use stock code from open-source software, which makes them easier to hack.

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Russian man charged with hacking LinkedIn and other tech firms

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 00:18:24 GMT2016-10-22T00:18:24Z

LinkedIn has suggested the 29-year-old’s arrest is tied to a 2012 breach that resulted in more than 100m of its users’ passwords being compromised

A Russian man has been charged with hacking and stealing information from computers at LinkedIn and other San Francisco Bay Area companies.

The US attorney’s office in San Francisco announced Friday that a grand jury indicted 29-year-old Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, of Moscow, Russia, a day earlier on charges including computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft.

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Major cyber attack disrupts internet service across Europe and US

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:06:42 GMT2016-10-21T16:06:42Z

Denial of service attack from unknown culprits on domain name system company Dyn caused access to be severely restricted for users on Friday

US officials are investigating multiple attacks that caused widespread online disruption on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday.

The Department of Homeland Security has begun an investigation into the DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack, the Guardian confirmed.

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Czech Republic claims propaganda war by Russia and sets up counter-effort

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 02:06:47 GMT2016-10-21T02:06:47Z

Interior minister says pro-Moscow disinformation network has sprung up on Czech soil and ‘we want to get into every smartphone’ to defeat it

The Czech government has accused Russia of conducting a propaganda war on its soil and is setting up a unit to counter what it says are networks of pro-Moscow puppet groups.

“We want to get into every smartphone” to counter Russian disinformation, said Milan Chovanec, the Czech interior minister.

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Microsoft gives away Borderlands for free, maybe by accident

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:04:50 GMT2016-10-27T14:04:50Z

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, featuring Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is free for Xbox One now

Microsoft is giving away two of the best games of the last console generation for free, possibly by mistake.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which contains Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is free for the Xbox One right now, and users can add the games to their library on Microsoft’s website.

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Skylanders Academy: Activision prepares for Netflix assault with game-TV crossover

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 05:00:13 GMT2016-10-27T05:00:13Z

Skylanders, the first release from Activision Blizzard Studios, is a CGI animation based on a £2.5bn game and toy franchise

Inside a converted flower warehouse off a scruffy street in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, the world’s largest computer games company is preparing its latest assault on the world’s screens.

On Friday, Skylanders Academy, a CGI animation based on a $3bn (£2.5bn) combined video game/toy franchise aimed at pre-teens, will hit Netflix.

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Sexual harassment in virtual reality feels all too real – 'it's creepy beyond creepy'

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 19:25:48 GMT2016-10-26T19:25:48Z

As the gaming world advances, women are facing the same physical threats online as offline. Players and developers want to do something about it

Striding through the snow-covered fortress, shooting zombies with her bow and arrow, Jordan Belamire felt like a god – right up until the moment someone named BigBro442 decided to “virtually rub [her] chest” and make her feel like just another “powerless woman”.

“Even when I turned away from him, he chased me around, making grabbing and pinching motions near my chest,” she wrote in a Medium post of her experience playing QuiVR, a virtual reality game. “Emboldened, he even shoved his hand toward my virtual crotch and began rubbing.”

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Has a Black Mirror episode predicted the future of video games?

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:22:10 GMT2016-10-26T13:22:10Z

In Playtest, a developer creates an augmented reality horror adventure that uses the player’s own memories to scare them. This is closer to reality than you may think

The latest Black Mirror series from Charlie Brooker presents, despite its transition to Netflix, another unsettling collection of future shock nightmares drawn from consumer technology and social media trends. The second episode, Playtest, has an American tourist lured to a British game development studio to test a new augmented-reality horror game that engages directly with each player’s brain via a biorobotic implant. The AI program mines the character’s darkest fears and manifests them into the real-world as photorealistic graphics. Inevitably, terror and mental breakdown follow.

The idea of a video game that can analyse a player’s personality and change accordingly may seem like the stuff of outlandish sci-fi to some Black Mirror viewers.

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The month in games: PlayStation Virtual Reality is here!

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 08:00:07 GMT2016-10-26T08:00:07Z

Playstation goes fully immersive, offering up sharks, superheroes – and some queasiness, plus a VR Batman, Loading Human and the Lego A-Team

Related: PlayStation VR: nine of the best launch games

Last week saw the arrival of the world’s least bank-breaking virtual reality headset, PlayStation VR (£349). To use it you’ll need a PlayStation 4 (£299) and a PS Eye Camera (£44.99), which – while not exactly cheap – is less exorbitant than buying a PC-based set-up. The technology itself uses a camera at the front of the room to track head movements, presenting its alternative view of the world via a very small screen mounted in front of each eye. Despite PSVR’s slightly fuzzier visuals, the feeling of being somewhere you’re not is extraordinarily convincing, if sometimes disorientating.

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Pokémon Go Halloween: can a spooky 'event' tempt people back to catch 'em all?

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:48:43 GMT2016-10-25T11:48:43Z

These are far from disastrous times for Pokémon Go, which still boasts 30m players. But can a Halloween tie-in win back the tens of millions who have put down the game?

It was the blockbuster hit of the summer, but as temperatures drop and the nights begin to draw in, wandering around with your phone on display may not be the best way to spend your evenings.

But Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, is trying to tempt you out with the game’s first “event”, a Halloween special which runs from 26 October until 1 November.

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Battlefield 1 review – savage and exciting, a landmark shooter

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:14:22 GMT2016-10-25T09:14:22Z

EA Dice’s decision to travel back in time has paid dividends with a thrilling and visually impressive military experience

Battlefield 1 is a tectonic shift for the military shooter genre. By jumping back to world war one, developer EA Dice has not only discovered fresh game design ideas through the antiquated weaponry, it has also ensured that its game stands apart from other shooters, which have dominated disc-trays for the past 10 years.

There are other unexpected benefits too. Battlefield 1 discovers compelling and poignant stories, effective ways to tell them, and a campaign structure that should inspire any shooter after it. The newly invigorated multiplayer warfare adds the final flourish.

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League of Legends: Mechs vs Minions review – a challenging triumph

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:44:23 GMT2016-10-24T09:44:23Z

League of Legends has conquered the Moba scene. Now developer Riot Games has invaded the tabletop gaming arena

Since its release in 2009, the online battle game League of Legends (LoL) has amassed a community of more than 100 million players and established itself as one of the top titles in competitive eSports. But the game’s most recent development takes a decidedly low-tech turn: an official board game called Mechs vs Minions developed by the design team at publisher Riot Games.

The first thing that strikes you about the game is its sheer size. It weighs 5kg, and it arrived at my door in a box about as big as my 26in TV. Open it up, and the reason for its bulk becomes clear. Mechs vs Minions comes packed with components – modular map tiles, decks of cards, gorgeously crafted metal tokens and a collection of more than 100 plastic miniatures, all beautifully sculpted in LoL’s distinctive cartoon style.

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Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World review – Herzog's sombre look at the digital revolution

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 21:15:32 GMT2016-10-27T21:15:32Z

Werner Herzog’s documentary about how the internet has changed civilisation is thorough and thoughtful, if not conclusive

This week, the prolific film-maker Werner Herzog has also released a Netflix documentary called Into the Inferno, about the terrible might of active volcanoes. Here is his second new film this year (there’s a third to come, called Salt and Fire). It’s another catastrophist study of a colossal force that is indifferent to humans’ puny and irrelevant moral judgement. His subject is the internet and our new world of digital interconnectivity, and he takes a sombre, quite censorious line.

Related: Savage kingdoms: Werner Herzog takes us from the Earth’s core into cyberspace

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Google Pixel XL review: very good phablet but with price tag to match

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 06:00:14 GMT2016-10-27T06:00:14Z

Supersized smartphone doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but it ticks most boxes, with great screen, camera and latest Android 7.1 Nougat

The 5.5in Google Pixel XL is the company’s first own-brand phablet, the bigger brother of the 5in Pixel. It’s Google inside and out, but is it better than Samsung or Apple’s efforts?

The 5in Pixel is a good smartphone, but it’s not the most inspired design. The 5.5in Pixel XL is essentially the Pixel put in the photocopier and magnified.

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: cutting the right corners for a decent £90 tablet

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 07:00:16 GMT2016-10-25T07:00:16Z

With 8in screen, stereo speakers, 16GB of storage and enough performance to handle games, Fire HD 8 is a good budget tablet that won’t infuriate

Amazon’s latest tablet is an 8in media consumption machine that aims to replicate the success of the £50 Fire, but with a larger, better screen. How good can a £90 tablet be?

The company’s tablets have been a bit hit and miss. Last year’s Fire HD 10 cut the wrong corners while costing £170. The £50 Fire, however, was a revelation in how not rubbish a tablet so low cost could be. Everything about the new Fire HD 8 follows similar lines to the Fire.

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Google Pixel review: an iPhone beater but not quite an Android king

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 06:00:29 GMT2016-10-20T06:00:29Z

First smartphone designed by Google from scratch ticks many boxes, but isn’t quite the stellar world beater some might expect

Google has finally launched an own-brand smartphone, the Pixel, to challenge Apple head on and provide a premium Android experience with the hardware tailored to the software by the people who actually make it..

The new smartphone succeeds Google’s Nexus line of devices and the company claims that the Pixel is now 100% Google, unlike the Nexus devices where Google provided the software and had some input into the devices but not total control. The Pixel phone joins the Pixel C Android tablet and Chromebook Pixel as Google’s first in-house devices.

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The week in radio: Digital Human; Planet Money; Recode Decode; Codebreaker; Today

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 06:00:26 GMT2016-10-16T06:00:26Z

Laura Bates’s takedown of Justin Webb was the highlight of a day celebrating women in science, technology and contemporary life

Digital Human (Radio 4) | iPlayer
Planet Money: When Women Stopped Coding | NPR
Recode Decode |
Codebreaker |

Tuesday was Ada Lovelace Day. This is a relatively new official day to celebrate the achievements of women in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and especially computer science: Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage to create and program the first ever general-purpose computer. Inspired by this, I thought I’d have a quick look around for women-friendly tech audio. Women-friendly, of course, means men-friendly, in most cases. I don’t believe that every man out there is panicked by the idea that some tech types are penis-free. Still, this week, I’m looking for the women.

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Trolls review – a candy-coloured return for the famed ugly-lovable creatures

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:41:02 GMT2016-10-11T08:41:02Z

Anna Kendrick voices princess Poppy, the heroine of the resilient frizzy-haired toys, in this funny, kidult animation that will rival Shrek

Here is an eye-popping, candy-coloured, MSG-fuelled and cyclamate-powered new animation from Dreamworks – it does not, as may one day happen, laud those cute little critters that lurk angrily in online political chatrooms, tweeting Pepe the Frog memes. Instead, Dreamworks is attempting to take a leaf out of its own Shrek manual and build a monster hit out of an ugly-lovable creature: the frizzy-haired toys that never seem to have disappeared since the first fad erupted in the 1960s. It seems that Dreamworks has bought the entire Trolls brand, so stands to make more money than usual if it all takes off.

Related: Trolls: does DreamWorks have a Shrek-sized hit?

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iPhone 7 Plus review: 2014 called – it wants its phablet back

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 06:00:09 GMT2016-10-03T06:00:09Z

Apple’s newest smartphone is its biggest and most expensive ever. But with this many compromises, is it worth buying over its sleeker, cheaper rivals?

The second of Apple’s newest smartphones, the iPhone 7 Plus, is bigger, more expensive, has a few more features and actually lasts a day per charge. But is it worth buying over its rivals?

The largest in Apple’s smartphone range has always felt like it played second fiddle to the darling of the Apple’s eye, the regular iPhone. Two years since the launch of the iPhone 6 Plus, however, the iPhone 7 Plus has a new dual camera, longer battery life and more power, which make it feel like Apple’s paying it a bit more attention.

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iPhone 7 review: how good can a phone be if the battery doesn't last even a day?

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 07:00:02 GMT2016-09-23T07:00:02Z

Two years after the iPhone 6, should buyers upgrade to the waterproof, headphone socket-free – and most expensive - iPhone yet?

The most eagerly awaited iPhone since the last one, the Apple’s iPhone 7 has arrived. Much has been said about its design, the absent headphone socket, and the fact that it’s now waterproof, but is it actually any good?

Following on from the iPhone 6 was a tall order, which the iPhone 6S struggled to live up to, with fewer sales and less consumer enthusiasm. Two years on, the question is whether those iPhone 6 buyers will bite and upgrade to the most expensive iPhone yet, its price in the UK inflated thanks to the Brexit referendum result.

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A Prehistory of the Cloud by Tung-Hui Hu review – the reality behind virtual storage

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:00:22 GMT2016-09-16T15:00:22Z

From old railway tracks repurposed as routes for fibre-optic cables to cold war bunkers retrofitted to store data, Hu shows that the intangible cloud has a solid infrastructure

The cloud is “a system of networks that pools computing power”. You may think of it as a mute and ethereal concept but for Tung-Hui Hu it is “both an idea and a physical and material object”. His slim yet wide-ranging study attempts to reify and historicise a concept that has “become a potent metaphor for the way contemporary society organizes and understands itself”. The idea dates back to a 1922 design for predicting weather using a network of human “computers”, or mathematicians, connected via telegraph. From the 19th-century train tracks repurposed as routes for fibre-optic cables and the cold war bunkers retrofitted to store data, Hu shows that the intangible cloud has a solid and polluting infrastructure. He also reveals the human costs, such as the poorly paid foreign workers screening content for Silicon Valley companies, and explores the monetisation of the user: “the cloud is a subtle weapon that translates the body into usable information.” Witty, sharp and theoretically aware, Hu deconstructs this much-discussed but poorly understood “cultural fantasy”.

A Prehistory of the Cloud is published by MIT

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Honor 8 review: Huawei’s cheaper smartphone is just short of brilliant

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 07:00:36 GMT2016-09-15T07:00:36Z

With dual cameras, dual Sim, microSD card slot, premium build and two-day battery life, the only thing holding back the Honor 8 is Huawei’s software

The Honor 8 is the latest smartphone from Huawei’s cheaper sub-brand. It’s no longer as cut price as the range used to be, but Huawei has squeezed most of what was good about its flagship P9 smartphone into something that costs almost 20% less. So do you really need to spend more than £400 for a great phone any more?

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Fitness trackers do not increase activity enough to noticeably improve health

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 21:30:45 GMT2016-10-04T21:30:45Z

Study finds group using wearable fitness tracker did show improved levels of physical activity over a year – but not enough to improve health, say researchers

Wearable trackers may not increase activity levels enough to significantly benefit health, researchers have said.

Pedometers are “unlikely to be a panacea for rising rates of chronic disease”, experts said after a new study concluded that the devices did not appear to improve the health outcomes of wearers after one year.

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Microsoft unveils Surface Studio in bid for creative professionals

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:34:05 GMT2016-10-26T20:34:05Z

The $3,000 computer is marketed to professionals as Microsoft shifts focus to ‘technology that enables profound creation’

Microsoft is getting artsy. The tech giant unveiled tools for artists and designers on Tuesday in Manhattan, including a smartphone app that allows users to scan 3D images of everyday objects and move them around in virtual or “mixed” reality.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said he anticipated a greater market for creative tools as the market for video display devices matures. “Much of technology has been slanted toward consumption,” Nadella said. “I believe that the next 25 years will be defined by technology that enables profound creation.”

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How can I extend Wi-Fi to the other side of my house?

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 08:50:40 GMT2016-10-27T08:50:40Z

Stephen has finally got fast broadband installed, but the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach his home office. What’s the solution?

I’ve just switched from slow ADSL broadband, where the router was outside my office, to fast Virgin broadband, where the router is on the other side of the house. Unfortunately, my computer is struggling to pick-up the Wi-Fi signal. In the past, I’ve tried Wi-Fi extenders from Netgear and Belkin but not had much luck with them. I found that if I placed them where they got a strong enough signal, they didn’t actually extend the signal much further. Will Google’s Wi-Fi mesh routers be the solution, and if so, do you know of any routers like that that can be bought in the UK? Stephen

Wi-Fi is never as fast, and never as reliable, as a wired internet connection. In the old days, before DECT and mobile phones, many people had wires running to landline phones, and it’s still not that hard to do with bulkier Cat5E (E for “enhanced”) or Cat6 cable. Cat6A can deliver 10 gigabits per second over 100 metres of Ethernet cable, which would solve the speed problem for the foreseeable future.

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Knock knock. Who's there? The new generation of doorbells

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 14:53:41 GMT2016-10-26T14:53:41Z

From facial-recognition to dog power, smart technology has come knocking on your door. No, don’t get up …

The doorbell, like the landline, is increasingly on its way out. Being in a specific place at a certain time is just not how digital nomads roll. In the past few years, US companies such as SkyBell and DoorBird have offered solutions to the problem of having to be home occasionally by developing doorbells that connect to your smartphone, so you can converse with the deliveryman, passing pal or burglar, whether in or out. The UK’s newly launched Ding, though, is one of the first to do it with a design finish that doesn’t scream “home security paranoiac with own laser trip wires”.

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Turn it down! Why has TV got louder?

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:59:39 GMT2016-10-25T12:59:39Z

A combination of how broadcasts handle quiet noises and the way audio is compressed for mobile devices is causing a stink among viewers, programme-makers and – most importantly – Gareth Malone

The Head of Sound at the BBC must be increasingly tempted to stick a finger in both ears. With one lug already ringing from the rumbling complaints that TV actors (in shows such as Jamaica Inn and Happy Valley) speak too quietly or indistinctly to be heard by older viewers, now comes an earful in the other from those moaning that the soundtracks on TV shows these days are too loud.

Top TV choirmaster Gareth Malone has said this week that The X Factor leads the shows that offend his musical sensibilities. It is not just that they pump some notes to 11 on the amp, but that 7 and 8 become noisier, too. Malone blames a process called “audio signal compression”, in which the sonic range is reduced to raise the volume of the quieter sounds in a track closer to the loudest.

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Happy 15th birthday iPod! Readers share their memories of the classic MP3 player

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 12:13:23 GMT2016-10-24T12:13:23Z

The iPod turned 15-years-old on Sunday and to celebrate we asked readers to share their memories. Here’s what some of them said

I was at university and I wanted a MiniDisc player but my dad insisted that the iPod was the future. So I queued up by the Apple Store on Tottenham Court Road to get one of the first generation models.

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Peter Thiel, Trump campaign donor, sorry for date rape comments

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:22:19 GMT2016-10-25T09:22:19Z

Paypal co-founder and Facebook board member apologises for ‘crudely argued statements’ made in 1995 book

Facebook board member and Trump donor Peter Thiel has apologised for a book he co-wrote in 1995 that argued the definition of rape had been expanded to include “seductions that are later regretted”.

Thiel’s co-author, David Sacks, a Stanford and Paypal alumnus along with Thiel, also apologised after the Guardian reported on the book’s contents on Friday.

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Peter Thiel, who gave $1.25m to Trump, has called date rape 'belated regret'

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:00:03 GMT2016-10-21T10:00:03Z

Facebook board member who donated to Donald Trump after sexual misconduct allegations wrote a 1995 book that attempted to discredit date rape

When Mark Zuckerberg defended board member Peter Thiel’s $1.25m donation to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this week, the Facebook CEO emphasized that support of the candidate did not necessarily constitute “accepting sexual assault”.

But part of Thiel’s 1995 book The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus suggests that he may sympathize more with Trump – who has recently been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by several women – than with his victims.

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Peter Thiel donated big to Trump. Why does the tech world still embrace him? | Katie Zhu

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:42:06 GMT2016-10-20T19:42:06Z

For all its lip service about embracing difference, Silicon Valley is still mostly white and male. Calling support for Donald Trump diversity won’t change that

Earlier this week, while we were still reeling from cavalier boasts about sexual assault and from watching woman after woman come forward to recount alleged sexual mistreatment at the hands of Donald Trump, Silicon Valley bigwig Peter Thiel donated $1.25m to the candidate.

Far from being blacklisted for supporting Trump, Thiel remains a “part-time partner” at influential tech startup incubator Y Combinator, and he still sits on the boards of Facebook, Palantir, Asana and Zenefits.

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Jeff Bezos says Donald Trump's behavior 'erodes democracy'

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:36:32 GMT2016-10-20T19:36:32Z

The Amazon founder spoke out against the Republican nominee, but said he supports Facebook’s decision to keep Trump backer Peter Thiel on its board

Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel should not be ousted from Facebook’s board for his political views, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said, even though he believes Donald Trump’s actions “erode democracy”.

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, the entrepreneur described how the Republican presidential candidate had attacked him on Twitter, making allegations that he bought the Washington Post to exert political power and avoid paying taxes.

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Where is the world's most hi-tech city? (And it's not San Francisco …)

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:30:00 GMT2016-10-19T06:30:00Z

Twitter and Uber may be based in San Francisco, but Santiago’s ‘Chilecon Valley’ and the South Korean capital Seoul could both make claims

Before long, Santiago could be a city full of electric vehicles charged by “smart” power grids, many of them driving on highways equipped with traffic-reducing automated variable toll pricing. Perhaps a new arrival to the Chilean capital would go for the chance to found a technology company, incentivised by programmes like the state-backed, foreigner-friendly Start-Up Chile, in “Chilecon Valley”. And perhaps they’ll stay for the capital’s reputation boasting the most advanced public transit system in Latin America.

Or they might opt for Africa instead of South America, to take advantage of the assistance offered by organisations like SmartXchange in Durban. Not only does South Africa’s third largest city now have an increasingly tech-savvy middle class population, it has schools like the Durban University of Technology, whose Urban Futures Centre is even developing technological solutions to the common challenges of drug use, security and policing strategy. If these succeed, Durban, like Santiago, may count itself among the highest-tech cities sooner than the rest of the world could imagine.

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The hypocrisy of Facebook's silence on Peter Thiel's support for Donald Trump

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:00:00 GMT2016-10-18T11:00:00Z

Tolerance of the Facebook board member supporting Trump’s divisive campaign reveals an industry where actions don’t match the mission

It’s not often that Mark Zuckerberg invokes the values of Facebook to rebuke the people he works with, but this year, he reached a tipping point with the “deeply upsetting” views of one of the members of his board of directors, which he disavowed as “not represent[ing] the way Facebook or I think at all”.

“Facebook stands for helping to connect people and giving them voice to shape their own future,” he wrote. “But to shape the future we need to understand the past.”

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Billionaire claims he has been harassed after blocking access to public beach

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 20:38:02 GMT2016-10-17T20:38:02Z

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla sues two California agencies as part of protracted legal battle over public access to beach on his property

Silicon Valley venture capitalist and billionaire Vinod Khosla, who has been engaged in a legal battle over public access to a beloved surfing beach that sits on his land, is suing two state agencies accusing them of using “coercion and harassment” to take away his private property rights – an allegation one campaign group describes as “absurd”.

Khosla, who has a net worth of $1.55bn, co-founded the technology company Sun Microsystems and now runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. In 2008, he bought a 53-acre section of Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco.

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Goodbye, Vine: the most memorable six-second videos of all time

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:26:11 GMT2016-10-27T18:26:11Z

Twitter is discontinuing the most creative video platform on the internet. Here we pay tribute to the weirdest, wackiest and most wonderful Vines

Twitter announced on Thursday that it will soon kill off one of the weirdest and funniest parts of the internet.

Vine, the six-second looping video app launched in 2012, will be “discontinued”, its owner Twitter announced in a post on Medium.

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Chatterbox: Friday

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 07:49:55 GMT2016-10-28T07:49:55Z

The place to talk about games and other things that matter

It’s Friday.

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The inventor of emoji on his famous creations – and his all-time favorite

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:30:11 GMT2016-10-27T17:30:11Z

MoMA in New York has just added the first emoji to their collection – Shigetaka Kurita explains how he designed them, and how it all started with the heart

I was part of a team that spent about two years designing the first emoji for the launch of i-mode [NTT DoCoMo’s mobile internet system] in 1999. It limited users to up to 250 characters in an email, so we thought emoji would be a quick and easy way for them to communicate. Plus using only words in such a short message could lead to misunderstandings … It’s difficult to express yourself properly in so few characters.

In the mid-1990s, before mobile phones, we used to have pagers in Japan called Pocket Bells. They were cheap and really popular among young people, partly because they had a heart symbol. Then a new version of the Pocket Bell came out that was intended more for business use, and the heart symbol was dropped. It caused an outcry, to the extent that young users left DoCoMo and signed up with another Pocket Bell company that had retained the symbol. That’s when I knew that symbols absolutely had to be part of any texting service. That was my main inspiration.

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Monica Lewinsky: ‘The shame sticks to you like tar’

Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:59:25 GMT2016-04-22T13:59:25Z

Nearly 20 years ago, Monica Lewinsky found herself at the heart of a political storm. Now she’s turned that dark time into a force for good

One night in London in 2005, a woman said a surprisingly eerie thing to Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky had moved from New York a few days earlier to take a master’s in social psychology at the London School of Economics. On her first weekend, she went drinking with a woman she thought might become a friend. “But she suddenly said she knew really high-powered people,” Lewinsky says, “and I shouldn’t have come to London because I wasn’t wanted there.”

Lewinsky is telling me this story at a table in a quiet corner of a West Hollywood hotel. We had to pay extra for the table to be curtained off. It was my idea. If we hadn’t done it, passersby would probably have stared. Lewinsky would have noticed the stares and would have clammed up a little. “I’m hyper-aware of how other people may be perceiving me,” she says.

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