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Technology | The Guardian



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



Published: Thu, 29 Sep 2016 00:16:11 GMT2016-09-29T00:16:11Z

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



Destiny: Rise of Iron review – impressive expansion gives fans what they want

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:21:46 GMT2016-09-28T09:21:46Z

Short on single-player campaign but long on loot collection and exploration, new expansion of first-person shooter ticks most boxes – but might not win new players

By now, you know what Destiny is: a hybrid first-person shooter and massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, it throws players into a vast space opera as they fight four alien races to defend an embattled future Earth on the verge of collapse.

Or more reductively, you play as a space wizard and shoot aliens in the head to get cool new guns and make numbers go up.

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Through the letterbox: the secret life of an Amazon reviewer

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:00:00 GMT2016-09-28T08:00:00Z

Who are the people writing the thousands of ‘fair and unbiased’ reviews? Do they get paid? Not quite

Fake reviews on Amazon can’t be trusted as they’re biased, or at least that’s what recent reports claim. But who are the people behind these thousands of reviews, how did they get into it all and are the so-called incentivised reviews really fake?

There are two types of solicited reviews on Amazon. The retailer has its own Vine programme, recruiting writers of highly ranked reviews marked as helpful by others on Amazon, and then pitches them products that vendors have sought reviews of, acting as the middle man. Vine reviews are clearly marked up on Amazon’s site with Vine branding.

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Xbox execs surprised by Sony's decision to abandon 4K Blu-ray support with PS4

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:35:56 GMT2016-09-28T11:35:56Z

Microsoft’s head of Xbox planning says 4K is a key part of gaming’s future, and insists customers will understand appeal of Project Scorpio when they see it

Microsoft was surprised and fascinated by Sony’s decision not to support 4K UHD Blu-ray discs with its PlayStation 4 Pro console, an executive has revealed.

Albert Penello, who leads planning for the Xbox division, said that he expected Sony to feature a 4K disc player in its updated PS4 machine, which is launching on 10 November. Microsoft is supporting the format – which allows gamers to player UHD movies on their machine – in both its Xbox One S and Project Scorpio platforms.

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'VR isn't a thing you do it's a place you visit': readers review Oculus Rift

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:08:46 GMT2016-09-28T11:08:46Z

A week after its release in the UK, readers tell us what they think about the virtual reality system Oculus Rift

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Pepe the Frog added to online hate symbol database

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:26:49 GMT2016-09-28T09:26:49Z

The Anti-Defamation League has included the cartoon to its Hate on Display list after it was adopted by white supremacists this year

Pepe the Frog, a green frog with red lips created by cartoonist Matt Furie in 2005, has been labelled an “online hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League after his adoption as an icon of the white supremacist movement.

“Images of the frog, variously portrayed with a Hitler-like moustache, wearing a yarmulke or a Klan hood, have proliferated in recent weeks in hateful messages aimed at Jewish and other users on Twitter,” the ADL said, explaining its decision to add the meme to its online Hate on Display database.

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to get humans to Mars in six years

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 06:42:09 GMT2016-09-28T06:42:09Z

SpaceX founder tells meeting of astronautical experts that his only purpose is to ‘make life interplanetary’, revealing plans for reusable ship to Mars

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has outlined his highly ambitious vision for manned missions to Mars, which he said could begin as soon as 2022 – three years sooner than his previous estimates.

However, the question of how such extravagantly expensive missions would be funded remains largely in the dark.

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Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we've ever known

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:00:58 GMT2016-09-28T07:00:58Z

We need better language to describe the technology companies that control the digital worlds in which we speak, play and live

Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today. Yet we don’t know how to talk about these companies, nor digest their sheer power.

We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit. The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant. They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.

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'Ashley Madison? We thought about her as a Hollywood star gone wrong'

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 18:59:37 GMT2016-09-27T18:59:37Z

After details of the infidelity website’s 33m members were leaked online, Rob Segal and James Millership had a job on their hands to salvage the damaged brand

Can Ashley Madison shake off her bad reputation? “We talk about her as Lindsay Lohan,” says Rob Segal, chief executive of Ruby, the company behind the infidelity website hacked last year. “People are interested in her good and bad.”

People are definitely interested in her. Despite last year’s calamitous security breach which saw the confidential account details of 33 million members of the site – which used the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair” – leaked online, it attracted close to 5 million new subscribers in the months that followed.

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The month in games: PlayStation Virtual Reality is almost here

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:00:00 GMT2016-09-28T08:00:00Z

Sony are hoping to buck the trend of flagging VR sales with its new console , while Deus Ex proves there’s life yet in the dystopian gaming genre

If you did your growing up in the 20th century, the chances are your youthful predictions for 2016 would have involved colonies on the Moon, flying cars and friendly, subservient robots. Although these visions of ultra-modernity are sadly yet to be, we can always console ourselves with the fact that at least we’ll all soon be using virtual reality, gaming’s holy grail, which has been tantalisingly out of reach since its initial appearance in the early 90s. But this month even that small piece of future-certainty looked questionable with news that, in the US, sales of Oculus Rift (£549), the Facebook-owned technology that re-sparked interest in VR, and HTC Vive (£799), its technically superior rival, had both ground to a halt. PC gaming platform Steam showed a 0% growth for Vive and a 0.01% increase in Oculus Rift ownership last month, a possible indication that early adopters have got theirs, and everybody else is waiting for some decent games and a price reduction.

Related: PlayStation boss: virtual reality throws out the game-design rule book

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Why data is the new coal

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:26:54 GMT2016-09-27T10:26:54Z

Deep learning needs to become more efficient if it is going to move from using data to categorise images of cats to diagnosing rare illnesses

“Is data the new oil?” asked proponents of big data back in 2012 in Forbes magazine. By 2016, and the rise of big data’s turbo-powered cousin deep learning, we had become more certain: “Data is the new oil,” stated Fortune.

Amazon’s Neil Lawrence has a slightly different analogy: Data, he says, is coal. Not coal today, though, but coal in the early days of the 18th century, when Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine. A Devonian ironmonger, Newcomen built his device to pump water out of the south west’s prolific tin mines.

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EGX 2016: our 13 favourite video games from the festival

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:55:52 GMT2016-09-27T13:55:52Z

From the must-have big names to the quirky indie games, here are some of the treasures we found at the UK’s biggest games event

Thousands of people filled the halls of the NEC in Birmingham for this year’s EGX to play hundreds of new and unreleased games. While a few big names had an appropriately big presence, the indie-themed Rezzed zone was bigger than ever, and the quirky Leftfield Collection – as always – boasted some of the most interesting games on show. Here are our favourites of all shapes and sizes.

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Google-funded loan startup to pay $6.3m for 'deceptive' practices

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:06:56 GMT2016-09-28T22:06:56Z

Experts say the LendUp case is significant for firms in the emerging online ‘fintech’ sector that claim to offer a better alternative to payday loans

A Google-funded lending startup will have to pay $6.3m in fines and refunds for a number of “deceptive” practices, signaling the US government’s interest in regulating the growing industry of online alternatives to traditional payday loans.

LendUp – a San Francisco firm that claims to offer a “secure, convenient way to get the money you need, fast” – misled customers, hid its true credit costs, and reversed pricing without disclosing it to consumers, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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Spotify in advanced talks to buy SoundCloud, reports say

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:04:08 GMT2016-09-28T22:04:08Z

Swedish music-streaming service provider could acquire German rival, the Financial Times reports, amid competition with Apple and others to turn profit

Swedish music-streaming service provider Spotify is in advanced talks to acquire German rival SoundCloud, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

SoundCloud’s founders and investors were exploring strategic options for the company, including a sale that could value it at $1bn, Bloomberg reported in July, citing people familiar with the matter.

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'Partnership on AI' formed by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:00:24 GMT2016-09-28T21:00:24Z

Two big Silicon Valley names are missing from the alliance, which aims to set societal and ethical best practice for artificial intelligence research

Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft are joining forces to create a new AI partnership dedicated to advancing public understanding of the sector, as well as coming up with standards for future researchers to abide by.

Going by the unwieldy name of the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, the alliance isn’t a lobbying organisation (at least, it says it “does not intend” to lobby government bodies). Instead, it says it will “conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license in areas such as ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology”.

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BlackBerry to stop making phones

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:05:53 GMT2016-09-28T15:05:53Z

Canadian company shifts focus to software having struggled to compete as mobile users opt for touchscreens

BlackBerry is shutting down its phone business after 14 years of making handsets.

The company’s devices were once the phone of choice for professionals, providing access to emails on the move, but BlackBerry has struggled to keep up with competition from rivals Apple and Samsung as mobile users increasingly opt for touchscreens.

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Video claiming drilling into iPhone 7 will reveal hidden headphone port goes viral

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:22:16 GMT2016-09-26T12:22:16Z

Prank video destroying new Apple smartphone receives 10m views, with some seemingly tricked into making 3.5mm hole in the bottom of their devices

A video claiming that users can add a headphone socket to the iPhone 7, which only has a Lightning port, by drilling into the bottom of their phone has been watched almost 10m times.

The prank video shows a man drilling a 3.5mm hole into the bottom left edge of the iPhone 7 held in a vice. It points to the row of small holes on the left side that replaced the headphone socket present on the iPhone 6S and claims that drilling into the second hole on the left reveals a hidden socket.

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Senators call Yahoo's delay in revealing breach of 500m accounts 'unacceptable'

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:34:52 GMT2016-09-27T17:34:52Z

Six lawmakers question why it took Yahoo two years to discover breach as experts warn of the implications of the record-breaking haul of password data

Six Democratic US senators on Tuesday said it was “unacceptable” that Yahoo only last week announced a 2014 hack into 500m user accounts and asked embattled CEO Marissa Mayer for more information about the company’s investigation into the data breach.

The lawmakers said they were “disturbed” the two-year-old intrusion was detected so long after the hack occurred. “Millions of Americans’ data may have been compromised for two years,” the senators wrote in a joint letter addressed to Mayer. “This is unacceptable.”

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How would Salesforce, Google and Disney benefit from buying Twitter?

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:13:15 GMT2016-09-26T21:13:15Z

Each rumored sale would have advantages except ABC News-owner Disney, which poses the risk of causing competitors to refrain from using the platform

Twitter is being sold to Disney. No, Microsoft. No, Salesforce. No, Alphabet. The troubled, often controversial microblogging service is suddenly the prettiest tech company at the dance, with suitors clandestinely announced through media outlets including Bloomberg and CNBC throughout the weekend and into Monday morning. None have yet confessed they are serious.

Twitter closed at $18.63 per share on Thursday, the day before the rumors started; by the time the bell rang on Monday afternoon, the stock had reached heights of $23.37, up further than the stock has been since January.

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Rinstagram or Finstagram? The curious duality of the modern Instagram user

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 08:00:25 GMT2016-09-26T08:00:25Z

Behind many Instagram accounts featuring filtered selfies and sunkissed beaches is a second account reserved for close friends and full of wilfully unattractive shots

Social media has given us many things: selfies, shelfies, belfies; this week Miranda July liveblogged her dentist visit. It has also given us online status anxiety, a pervasive fear of missingout and may be affecting our mental health. Recently, it has produced the curious conceit of the dual Instagram account; in which users have two Instagram accounts, one reserved for their close friends, and another for anyone who wishes to follow them.

“Rinstagram” and “Finstagram”, then. Account users have their real-Instagram (their rinsta) which has high follower numbers and offers a more polished and performative visual narrative. Think classic Instagram. Filtered selfies. Pleasing photos of food. Drink poised in air, quixotic rural or seaside landscape in the background. Their fake-Instagram (their finsta) is a second Instagram account reserved for their close friends. With low follower numbers (followers are usually kept in the low double figures), they use this account to share more candid pictures of their lives – often wilfully unattractive ones, pulling faces and the like.

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Apple moves UK HQ to Battersea power station boiler room in London

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:37:47 GMT2016-09-28T13:37:47Z

Technology giant’s commitment to £8bn regeneration project is major boost, says chancellor Philip Hammond

Apple is to move its UK headquarters to Battersea power station in a major boost for the £8bn regeneration of the Grade II-listed building – and a fillip for London following June’s Brexit vote.

The technology company has agreed to take 500,000 sq ft of office space across six floors in the power station’s central boiler house. It will move 1,400 Apple employees into the building in 2021 from its eight other London offices.

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Google swallows 11,000 novels to improve AI's conversation

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:00:01 GMT2016-09-28T09:00:01Z

As writers learn that tech giant has processed their work without permission, the Authors Guild condemns ‘blatantly commercial use of expressive authorship’

When the writer Rebecca Forster first heard how Google was using her work, it felt like she was trapped in a science fiction novel.

“Is this any different than someone using one of my books to start a fire? I have no idea,” she says. “I have no idea what their objective is. Certainly it is not to bring me readers.”

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How they definitely didn't make Fifa 17 – video

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:57:43 GMT2016-09-28T08:57:43Z

With EA Sports gearing up to release the latest edition of the big-money football computer game franchise, Fifa 17, we figured we’d try out our own motion-capture animations, celebrations and cut-scenes. Unfortunately none of our submissions were used in the final version

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Elon Musk outlines Mars colonisation plan – video

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 06:34:43 GMT2016-09-28T06:34:43Z

SpaceX founder Elon Musk describes his highly ambitious vision for manned missions to Mars at a conference in Mexico. ‘The key is making this affordable to almost anyone who wants to go,’ he says. The first flights would be ‘fairly expensive’ but ticket prices could later drop to as little as $100,000. One day he hopes the transport system will give ‘full access to he entire greater solar system’ once refuelling stops are established

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Pippa Middleton takes high court action against ‘person or persons unknown’

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:04:27 GMT2016-09-27T17:04:27Z

Court hearing follows arrest of man in Northamptonshire over alleged hacking and theft of 3,000 images

The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister has taken high court action against a “person or persons unknown”.

Pippa Middleton is listed as the claimant in a case to be heard in London on Wednesday. The case is listed as “Middleton & anr v The Person or Persons Unknown”. Court officials identified the claimant as Pippa Middleton but gave no indication of what the case was about.

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Wiggins faces battle for reputation after Fancy Bears leak – video report

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 13:39:19 GMT2016-09-26T13:39:19Z

Sir Bradley Wiggins’s reputation is at stake after the Fancy Bears group of hackers alleged he had taken prohibited substances. Wiggins claims the substances were taken with a therapeutic use exemption, which allows athletes with pre-existing conditions to compete

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Hackers steal 3,000 images from Pippa Middleton's iCloud

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 12:59:55 GMT2016-09-24T12:59:55Z

Photos of Duchess of Cambridge and her children, George and Charlotte, reportedly among those stolen

Police are investigating the theft of 3,000 photographs including images of the Duchess of Cambridge and her children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, after hackers broke into Pippa Middleton’s iCloud account.

The pictures belonging to Kate Middleton’s sister were offered on WhatsApp to reporters at both the Daily Mail and the Sun by an anonymous seller.

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Fancy Bears leak: medical data on four more Australian athletes emerges

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:01:47 GMT2016-09-24T06:01:47Z

  • Those affected include Olympic swim star Cate Campbell
  • Information released includes details of therapeutic use exemptions

Four more Australian athletes including Olympic swim star Cate Campbell and world champion slalom canoeist Jessica Fox have had their confidential medical information leaked by cyber espionage group Fancy Bears.

The information released includes details of therapeutic use exemptions or TUEs, which allow athletes to use certain prohibited substances under strict rules to treat legitimate medical conditions.

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Hacker who gave Isis 'hitlist' of US targets jailed for 20 years

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 00:54:05 GMT2016-09-24T00:54:05Z

Ardit Ferizi struggles to explain why he sent extremist group the details of hundreds of US government and military officials

A hacker who helped Islamic State by providing the names of more than 1,000 US government and military workers as potential targets was sentenced on Friday to 20 years in prison.

The sentence was much higher than the six-year term sought by defense lawyers, who argued their client, Ardit Ferizi, meant no real harm and was not a true Isis supporter.

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Yahoo's future in doubt as BT and Sky users are hauled into biggest ever hack

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:44:34 GMT2016-09-23T18:44:34Z

Biggest data breach in history complicates Verizon’s $4.8bn takeover of Yahoo, with executives refusing to give reassurances that they would press ahead

The future of Yahoo, once the darling of the internet, was plunged into crisis on Thursday following the revelation that it has suffered the biggest data hack in history – and took two years to notice.

Yahoo, which was worth $125bn at the height of the dotcom bubble in 1999, was forced to reveal “state sponsored” hackers had stolen data from more than half a billion people across the world.

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500million Yahoo accounts were stolen in 2014 – video

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:47:40 GMT2016-09-23T17:47:40Z

Yahoo confirmed on Thursday that the personal data of 500million Yahoo accounts was stolen in 2014. The hack is one of the largest on record. Passwords and identity details were taken, but allegedly no financial information was stolen. Yahoo was sold for $4.8bn to telecommunications giant Verizon in July, who said they only heard about the breach after the merger deal between the two companies.

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Millions of BT and Sky Broadband customers could be affected by Yahoo hack

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:57:44 GMT2016-09-23T12:57:44Z

The ISPs, which outsourced their webmail to Yahoo, have yet to directly notify users whether their accounts are affected

Millions of BT and Sky customers are affected by the hack of half a billion Yahoo accounts, thanks to the internet service providers’ decisions to outsource their webmail hosting to the Californian technology firm, which revealed on Thursday that it was hacked in 2014.

Related: Yahoo hack: what to do to protect your account

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Yahoo hack: what to do to protect your account

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:40:35 GMT2016-09-23T12:40:35Z

Users should log in to their account, change their password, as well as check for any signs of misuse

If you have a Yahoo account, it’s imperative you act quickly to ensure it, and your other internet services, are secured.

Information including names, addresses, secret answers and passwords was stolen from Yahoo at some point in late 2014 and showed up for sale on the dark web in August this year. Yahoo says the “vast majority” of passwords were secured using an algorithm called bcrypt, which renders it impractically expensive for an attacker to try to break, but the company has not given any way of checking which passwords were in the minority not protected that way. Until they do, you should assume your password is unprotected, and act accordingly.

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VR developers turn against Oculus Rift over founder’s pro-Trump support

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:49:41 GMT2016-09-27T10:49:41Z

Financial backing of pro-Trump trolls causes rift with VR games developers as Palmer Luckey attempts to backtrack

Developers of virtual reality games are pulling their support for Oculus after the involvement of its co-founder Palmer Luckey in a pro-Trump and anti-Clinton group was revealed.

Related: 'VR isn't a thing you do it's a place you visit': readers review Oculus Rift

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'The perfect dorm game': how the Fifa series helped sell soccer to the US

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 09:00:23 GMT2016-09-27T09:00:23Z

TV and MLS have played a part in popularizing the beautiful game Stateside, but video games’ influence on the American soccer fan cannot be underestimated

For Kelvin Garcia, growing up in a Dominican family from New York City meant two sports took priority. “As a Latino kid in the Bronx, all I ever played was basketball and baseball,” says Garcia, who now lives in Texas. As a boy, soccer was barely on Garcia’s radar. He remembers working at a sports camp with European counselors during the 2010 World Cup and wondering what the excitement was about. As a basketball fan, he was more interested in whether LeBron was going to the Knicks.

Nowadays, Garcia cannot go a day without talking about his love for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and their title chances.

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On my radar: Jane Goldman’s cultural highlights

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 09:00:30 GMT2016-09-25T09:00:30Z

The screenwriter on a great festival, shock horror Train to Busan, hacking TV drama Mr Robot and immersive theatre to die for

Born in London in 1970, screenwriter, producer and author Goldman began her writing career aged 16 when she left school and became a journalist, initially working as a showbiz reporter for the Daily Star. That same year she met Jonathan Ross in a nightclub, married him in Las Vegas aged 18 and went on to have three children with him. While the children were young, Goldman published several nonfiction guides for teenagers and, in 2000, her first novel, Dreamworld, before making the switch to films as co-writer on 2007’s Stardust. The movie was the first of several successful screenwriting collaborations with Matthew Vaughn, namely Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). Her latest project is an adaptation for director Tim Burton of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in cinemas this week.

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The rise and rise of tabletop gaming

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 07:00:27 GMT2016-09-25T07:00:27Z

Gentler designs with an emphasis on teamwork are fuelling a boom in board game sales. Why, in the golden age of video games, are we choosing to play with counters round a table? Below, the best of the new wave

It’s a bright Thursday morning in Oxford, and the Thirsty Meeples cafe on Gloucester Green market is thrumming with activity. As we sit at a sun-warmed window table, the maitre d’, Gareth, introduces himself and presents a list of recommendations.

First, he suggests Forbidden Desert. It is not a cocktail. “You have all crash-landed in a desert where you are searching for a lost civilisation,” explains Gareth, who sports a purple Thirsty Meeples “Game Guru” T-shirt. “A sandstorm hits, and you have to find all the pieces of a mythical flying ship to escape.” Next he offers up Escape: The Curse of the Temple, in which we’ll become “Indiana Jones-type people” who have to flee a crumbling ancient tomb. “Or,” Gareth says, “how about fighting fires?”. Last, he recommends Flash Point, in which I, my wife and two sons would rescue people from a burning building. Pull enough of them from the flames and we all win. But if a certain number are lost to the inferno, we lose. We choose Flash Point.

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Cube Reaction GTC mountain bike: preview | Martin Love

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 05:00:25 GMT2016-09-25T05:00:25Z

This lightweight MTB is agile and strong, perfect for muddy trails or longer rides

After the hottest and driest September in a century, it’s hard to believe we’ll ever have fun in the mud again… So when the rain arrives you want to be ready, and the Reaction range of mountain bikes is a great place to begin. Made by Cube, the much-lauded German manufacturer, the all-carbon range starts at £1,249 and tops out at almost £2,000. But unless you are a pro trail racer, the entry-level GTC is all you’ll ever need in a lightweight hardtail MTB. It’s balanced, responsive and very agile. At its core is its super-stiff frame, which uses the firm’s ‘Grand Tour’ composite. The tapering top tube combines with the race-light wheels to give you a wonderful sense that you could skip across gloopy bogs all day. It has decent front shox and reliable disc brakes, too. An easy rider for the hard stuff (cube.eu).

Price: £1,249
Frame: carbon
Gears: Shimano XT 22-speed
Weight: 11.7kg

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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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Laura Trott RD3 Road bike: preview | Martin Love

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 05:00:09 GMT2016-09-18T05:00:09Z

Laura Trott has just launched a range of four bikes through Halfords. Good spec and a great price make them worth a look, even if you aren’t an Olympian

Laura Trott has had quite a summer. She became the first woman in British history to win four Olympic gold medals. As if that were not enough, she’s now also overseen the launch of a range of bicycles for Halfords – aimed purely at women. There are four in the collection, ranging from an entry-level £499 hybrid up to this RD3 road bike. Trott has been closely involved in the design of each, casting her eye over everything from crank arms to the length of the top tube and even the selection of the saddle (Selle Italia) and wheels (RS11 race rims). Most importantly, she says, is that the geometry of each bike has been specifically geared to fit the female form. I don’t have a female form, but can tell you the RD3 is fast, strong and lightweight. Just like the Olympian herself… (halfords.com)

Price: £899
Frame: lightweight alloy
Forks: carbon
Weight: 9.1kg
Gears: 22-speed Shimano 105

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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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iPhone 7 review roundup: how big a problem is the absent headphone jack?

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:21:49 GMT2016-09-13T15:21:49Z

Barely anyone had anything good to say about the headphone jack, but how irritating it is depends on whether you listen to music on anything else

The first reviews of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are out from publications given early access to Apple’s new smartphones and wireless headphones. The first question on everyone’s lips is: what is it like not having a headphones socket?

In all the in-depth reviews, barely anyone has found anything positive to say about the lack of the jack, aside from Apple’s company line that removing the headphone socket provided more space forother things. There have been quite a lot of negative comments.

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Cath Kidston ladies bike: preview | Martin Love

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 10:53:00 GMT2016-09-11T10:53:00Z

This usable and well-made city bike from Cath Kidston will knock the spots off its competitors

Sometimes it seems that if an object stops moving for long enough, it will only be a matter of time before Cath Kidston covers it in her trademark rose blooms and polka dots. Just look what’s happened to this bicycle – spots everywhere. The bike is being sold by online boutique Cyclechic, which launched in 2008 with the aim of taking the testosterone out of riding and encouraging more women on to two wheels. It stocks everything from helmets to gilets, but this is the first actual, whole bike to get its seal of approval.

Solid and well-made, the Cath Kidston has been designed to be practical rather than speedy. The saddle is nicely sprung; there’s a chain guard so you don’t shred your skirt and the wheels are puncture resistant. Next stop? How about that coffee shop? (cyclechic.co.uk)

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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari review – chilling

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 07:00:54 GMT2016-09-11T07:00:54Z

The epic, widely celebrated Sapiens gets the sequel it demanded: a breathless, compulsive inquiry into humanity’s apocalyptic, tech-driven future

Yuval Noah Harari began his academic career as a researcher of medieval warfare. His early publications had titles like “Inter-frontal Cooperation in the Fourteenth Century and Edward III’s 1346 Campaign” or “The Military Role of the Frankish Turcopoles”. Then, the story goes, having won tenure at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he embarked on a crusade of his own. He was invited to teach a course that no one else in the faculty fancied – a broad-brush introduction to the whole of human activity on the planet. That course became a widely celebrated book, Sapiens, championed by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Barack Obama, and translated into 40 languages. It satisfied perfectly an urgent desire for grand narrative in our fragmenting Buzz-fed world. The rest is macro-history.

Related: Yuval Noah Harari: The age of the cyborg has begun – and the consequences cannot be known

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One More Time With Feeling review – undeniably moving contemplation of loss

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 15:24:40 GMT2016-09-05T15:24:40Z

The singer opens up over the tragic death of his 15-year-old son, airing his raw grief in this unconventionally directed documentary

“I think I’m losing my voice,” says Nick Cave, early on in this documentary, directed by Andrew Dominik of The Assassination of Jesse James renown. Cave certainly sounds a little croaky at the time, but the metaphorical ramifications are not in the slightest bit lost on the spindly, silk-shirted poet of ruination and loss.

And so begins the transformation of this film from a hagiographic, but essentially standard-issue, promotional film for Cave’s upcoming album, into an undeniably moving contemplation of shattering loss and – as Cave repeatedly terms it – “trauma”. For hovering in the background of this film – and the album it documents – is the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur, midway through recording, in July 2015.

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Jesus VR: The Story of Christ review – virtual reality cinema gains disciples

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 09:05:55 GMT2016-09-02T09:05:55Z

Bad acting, clunky camerawork and overheating headsets … VR’s first feature-length 360-degree movie is no miracle – but the medium might be a blessing

The acting? Dire. The direction? Awful. The adaptation? Conservative and pedestrian. In conventional terms, everything about this new retelling of the Jesus story – showing here in Venice in an abbreviated 40-minute cut – is ropey. It is all too clearly influenced by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ: the film has the same executive producer, Enzo Sisti and the same religious adviser, Fr William Fulco. But technologically it’s a different story. It’s the first feature film to be presented in complete wraparound 360-degree virtual reality. And it’s a startling, bizarre, often weirdly hilarious experience. With your bulky headset on – it began to overheat during the crucifixion scene, alarmingly – you have the urge to giggle. Not necessarily mocking. You just feel skittish.

The camera position is fixed and so are you. You can’t walk up to people or back away. There is little or no intercutting within scenes. But you can revolve around completely on the spot and look up at the roof/sky or down and even back through your legs to look at people upside down, should you so wish. I was filled with the weird, paranoid urge to turn my back on the main action and check that reality really was carrying on as normal and that the actors weren’t having a cheeky cigarette.

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Snapchat launches video-capture sunglasses

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 12:12:34 GMT2016-09-24T12:12:34Z

Spectacles, which record 10-second clips that can be sent to smartphones, expected to be available in US in time for Christmas

Undeterred by the failure of Google Glass, Snapchat has decided to launch its own pair of glasses that can record video.

The picture and video messaging app is expected to release its Spectacles sunglasses in the US in time for Christmas, priced at about $130 (£100).

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How to fix a broken iOS 10 update that's bricked your iPhone or iPad

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:30:11 GMT2016-09-14T08:30:11Z

If your iPhone or iPad has been ‘bricked’ or stuck with the Apple logo showing, you’ll need a computer, iTunes and a cable to fix it. Here’s how

Some users attempting to update to Apple’s latest iOS 10 on their iPhones and iPads have been left with inoperable devices. There is a fix, but it requires a real computer to do it. Here’s how.

The update might have sent the iPhone or iPad into a boot loop, left it stuck showing the Apple logo or in a similar so called “bricked” state. Depending on how far through the update process it got, you’ll be able to fix it fast using iTunes. Should it need a full restore, if you made a backup using iTunes it should be fairly fast; if not, you should do it in a place that has a solid Wi-Fi to restore your apps from iCloud, which might take some time if you have lots of them installed.

1.
Find a computer – Windows PC or Mac – with the latest version of iTunes that supports iOS 10
2. Connect your iPhone or iPad to the computer
3. Open iTunes
4. Press and hold the Sleep and Home buttons on the iPhone or iPad until recovery mode starts and the screen shows a prompt to plug it into iTunes
5. Check iTunes for a prompt to either update or restore the iPhone or iPad
6. Select update to continue with the iOS 10 upgrade (restore will put you back on iOS 9)
7. Wait for the phone or tablet to update and continue setup on the device

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In offices of the future, sensors may track your every move – even in the bathroom

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 06:00:35 GMT2016-09-15T06:00:35Z

Objects will soon be able to ‘talk’ to each other, locate staff and monitor workplace temperature, but what will this mean for privacy?

At a digital innovation consultancy in central Helsinki, the men’s toilets were causing something of an inconvenience. The Finnish company, Futurice, employs many male employees and the bathrooms were often occupied.

However, now they can find out if one is free without leaving their desk. An app with a live map of the office tells them. “The bathrooms on the map turn red when they’re occupied and green when they’re unoccupied. Then you know where to go,” says Paul Houghton, who has the grand title of director of wizardry and development at Futurice.

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Snap Inc: it’s Snapchat, but now with video-recording 'Spectacles'

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:15:42 GMT2016-09-26T12:15:42Z

The $22bn messaging app has changed its name to reflect the fact that it is ‘a camera company’ now. But will it succeed where Google Glass failed?

Name: Snap Inc.

Age: Two days old.

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New to Snapchat? Here’s how to join the conversation

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 09:30:30 GMT2016-09-25T09:30:30Z

It began life as an app for sharing self-deleting photos with friends. These days, however, it’s a hugely popular social network. Here’s our crash course

Snapchat is used by more than 150 million people every day, according to latest estimates. Yet 2016’s big story with this social app is that those users are no longer just teenagers.Snapchat has expanded to older smartphone owners, and evolved well beyond its roots as an app for private sharing of self-deleting photos.

In 2016, it is as much a public social network, not to mention a new form of television, with its own daily menu of news and entertainment.

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Do Google's 'unprofessional hair' results show it is racist?

Fri, 08 Apr 2016 07:50:33 GMT2016-04-08T07:50:33Z

Search term brings back mainly results of black women, which some say is evidence of bias. But algorithms may just be reflecting the wider social landscape

Recently, an MBA student named Rosalia discovered something alarming: Googling “unprofessional hairstyles for work” yielded image results mainly of black women with natural hair, while searching for the “professional” ones offered pictures of coiffed, white women. Often the hair styles themselves were not vastly different -- only the hair type and the wearer’s skin.

Rosalia’s tweet has since been retweeted thousands of times - more than 6,200 in the first 24 hours, she says - as her discovery sparked discussion on implicit racial biases against black people in the workplace. Can an algorithm itself be racist? Or is it only reflecting the wider social landscape?

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BlackBerry: is this RIP for BBM?

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 16:56:37 GMT2013-10-29T16:56:37Z

The Canadian phone remains a popular budget option. But the shiny, happy people holding handsets have all moved on

Back in 2005, when BlackBerry brought instant messaging to the mobile phone, the company was just entering its boom times. While the iPhone was still a gleam in Steve Jobs' eye, BlackBerry's innovations ensured its smartphone joined maple syrup on the list of Canada's biggest exports.

Six years later, in the summer of 2011, as violence engulfed London and spread to Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester, so effective was BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) at mobilising the rioters that politicians called for the service to be temporarily shut down.

Continue reading...Paris Hilton shows off her BlackBerry – in 2006. Photograph: Mr JCY/Rex FeaturesParis Hilton shows off her BlackBerry – in 2006. Photograph: Mr JCY/Rex Features


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Elon Musk has ambitious plans for Mars. Are they as crazy as they sound?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:00:27 GMT2016-09-27T11:00:27Z

The SpaceX founder has become the face of entrepreneurial space exploration – and ambition. What does the established space science community think of him?

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has set himself an ambitious timeline for the colonization of Mars. The South Africa-born magnate estimates that his private space company, SpaceX, will launch its first manned mission in 2024 – one decade sooner than Nasa’s ambitions.

Musk will grace the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday, unveiling his plans to send humans to Mars in a keynote talk titled Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species. He will outline what SpaceX deems to be a “good approach” for establishing a city on the red planet.

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