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Preview: Technology news, comment and analysis | guardian.co.uk

Technology | The Guardian



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



Published: Sun, 26 Mar 2017 04:24:55 GMT2017-03-26T04:24:55Z

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



Fiat Tipo car review: ‘Did I want to sit in it, or did I want to race?’

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-03-25T11:00:00Z

It harks back to that 80s principle that being a bit uncomfortable might do some family members a bit of good

Ah, the Fiat Tipo: they call it a multijet lounge, which gave me distinctly mixed messages. Did it want to jet, or did it want to lounge? Did I want to sit in it, or did I want to race? The cabin is spacious but beset with tiny inconveniences. The gear housing was a bit lax, so when you put it in neutral, it would transpire you’d left it in second. You could never catch it in the act, so you never knew whether it was your fault, and had to fall back on “But this has never happened to me in any other car”, like a bad relationship.

The frame design is strange, with big wedges of plastic at the back; if you parked on a curve, the road was effectively all blind spot. There was a lot of red styling going on in the binnacles, which made me feel a little alarmed, as if I was being told something important in a dream. The cabin did not make me feel special: the screen was diddy and hard to read; the bits where you keep things were not where my hand wanted them to be.

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Google's bad week: YouTube loses millions as advertising row reaches US

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 10:00:06 GMT2017-03-25T10:00:06Z

Major brands including Verizon and Walmart pulled their ads after they were found to be appearing next to videos promoting extremist views or hate speech

It’s been a bad week for Google, with major brands pulling millions of dollars in advertising amid rows over extremist content on YouTube.

Related: Starbucks and Walmart join growing list of advertisers boycotting YouTube

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Starbucks and Walmart join growing list of advertisers boycotting YouTube

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 05:27:58 GMT2017-03-25T05:27:58Z

Major companies pulling advertisements a sign that many doubt Google’s ability to prevent marketing campaigns from appearing alongside repugnant videos

PepsiCo, Walmart and Starbucks on Friday confirmed that they have suspended their advertising on YouTube, joining a growing boycott in a sign that big companies doubt Google’s ability to prevent marketing campaigns from appearing alongside repugnant videos.

Related: Google ad controversy: what the row is all about

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Grindr’s ‘gaymoji’ play to stereotypes of promiscuity | Letters

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:21:09 GMT2017-03-24T18:21:09Z

Grindr’s “gaymoji” (Pass notes, G2, 22 March) serve as an unfortunate reminder of the widespread conflation of being gay and being promiscuous – one that causes thousands of gay people, particularly men, across the world to believe that their homosexuality forces them to constantly have sex with strangers. Grindr is free to create all the sexual emojis it wishes, but it is colluding in a societal deception that prevents gay people from forming real relationships; that makes thousands of teenage boys weep with fear and sadness because they believe they have no choice but to follow this form of living that masquerades as “gay culture”. As a 17-year-old gay boy, I hope to join those demonstrating that this is emphatically not the case, and I hope that others of whatever orientation can realise the same.
Adam Lawson
London

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Instagram introduces two-factor authentication

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:01:34 GMT2017-03-24T10:01:34Z

Security feature enabled for all users to help protect accounts from being compromised by password reuse and phishing

Instagram has become the latest social network to enable two-factor authentication, a valuable security feature that protects accounts from being compromised due to password reuse or phishing.

Users can, and should, opt in by clicking on the settings icon in the top right of their profile, hitting two-factor authentication in the following menu, and enabling the setting to “require security code”.

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Uber manager told female engineer that 'sexism is systemic in tech'

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:00:28 GMT2017-03-24T09:00:28Z

Ride-hailing startup faces yet another discrimination scandal after a manager who was recruiting Kamilah Taylor made the comment in a LinkedIn message

Uber is facing yet another discrimination scandal after a manager who was recruiting a female engineer defended the company by saying “sexism is systemic in tech”.

On 14 March, an engineering manager at Uber tried to recruit Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer at another Silicon Valley company, for a developer position at the San Francisco ride-hailing startup, which is struggling to recover from a major sexual harassment controversy.

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What's behind the Russian hacking allegations? – tech podcast

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:57:40 GMT2017-03-24T08:57:40Z

Are we facing a new cyber cold war, or is there more behind allegations of Russian hacking in the US?

The troubling allegation that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election raises important questions. Are we facing some kind of new cyber cold war? Or is there more to the story?

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The 10 most influential smartphone apps

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:00:27 GMT2017-03-24T08:00:27Z

From Maps to Instagram, Uber to Snapchat – the top 10 app developments which have been copied, adopted or simply absorbed into everything else

Once upon a time, there was no “Google Maps” and “Apple Maps”. There was just Maps, the mapping app that shipped with the first iPhone. Where many of the Apple-developed apps in the first iPhone have had little long-term influence, Maps more-or-less created the user experience that is still standard across OSes to this day: pinch to zoom, a small blue dot to mark your location, and an in-built compass for orienting yourself. And with Google as the source of data – until the rocky divorce ended that.

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Millions of UK workers at risk of being replaced by robots, study says

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 07:30:26 GMT2017-03-24T07:30:26Z

Workers in wholesale and retail sectors at highest risk from breakthroughs in robotics and artificial intelligence, PwC report finds

More than 10 million UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years as the automation of routine tasks gathers pace in a new machine age.

A report by the consultancy firm PwC found that 30% of jobs in Britain were potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). In some sectors half the jobs could go.

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Is it wrong to unfriend or unfollow people I disagree with?

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 07:00:26 GMT2017-03-24T07:00:26Z

After Donald Trump was elected, I removed people on Facebook and Twitter to avoid upsetting myself. Am I part of the problem?

Q: On Facebook and Twitter I unfriend or unfollow people I don’t agree with to avoid upsetting myself. Is this wrong and am I part of the problem that ended with Trump?

A: After the disaster of the US election, the answer to this question is supposed to be yes – yes, you must follow people you don’t agree with; yes, you are part of the problem unless you toughen up and engage with the Other Side. If opposing views upset you, you are either weak-minded and vulnerable to manipulation by bigots or locked in your liberal echo chamber, where the only possible explanation for why Trump won the election is that people in general are idiots.

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Everything review: a joyfully expansive acid trip of a game

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:29:46 GMT2017-03-24T13:29:46Z

You are a sea of caterpillars in an alien river. You are a cluster of stars. What do you do in a game about everything? Anything at all, it turns out

A daisy creeps across a rocky landscape. It becomes a blade of grass, which, in turn, becomes a caterpillar, which then turns itself into a very miniature zebra. Nearby, a patch of clover says to the zebra, “Repetition is the only form of permanence I am capable of.”

This is a kind of everything.

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A letter blowing the whistle on alleged police hacking shows we’re all at risk | Jenny Jones

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:23:30 GMT2017-03-22T15:23:30Z

The whistleblower lists damning claims of spying on innocent individuals by a secretive Scotland Yard unit. It’s now vital that we hold the police to account

As the only Green party peer I receive a lot of post to my office in the House of Lords. Rarely, though, do I open letters like the one that has been revealed. The anonymous writer alleged that there was a secretive unit within Scotland Yard that has used hackers to illegally access the emails of campaigners and journalists. It included a list of 10 people and the passwords to their email accounts.

Related: Met police accused of using hackers to access protesters' emails

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Met police accused of using hackers to access protesters' emails

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:35:05 GMT2017-03-21T16:35:05Z

Exclusive: Watchdog investigates claim that secretive unit worked with Indian police to obtain campaigners’ passwords

The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists.

The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers.

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The Guardian view of Trump’s Russia links: a lot to go at | Editorial

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:17:26 GMT2017-03-20T20:17:26Z

Why days before the presidential election did the FBI announce it was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton – when it was silent about its probe into Mr Trump’s Russia ties?

When the president’s own staff turn up in Washington to publicly rebut his accusations that he had been wiretapped by his predecessor, it’s not good news for the White House. Yet the longer the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, and Mike Rogers of the National Security Agency appeared in front of a committee of Congress, the worse it got. Since last July, Mr Comey said, the president’s campaign has been investigated for colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s election machine is coating his White House with sewage.

Yet Donald Trump, with the insouciance of a Bourbon monarch, shows no sign of taking any notice of the facts. Nor, it seems, will he retract false claims, nor will he be held accountable for his dissembling. Mr Trump is prepared to carry on in disgrace. He spent the minutes after his own intelligence officers called him out for peddling falsehoods by trying to create a bizarre counter narrative with the @POTUS twitter account that stretched his credibility so far it snapped.

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US charges two Russian spies and two hackers in Yahoo data breach

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 15:56:08 GMT2017-03-15T15:56:08Z

Four indicted in conjunction with the hack of a billion Yahoo accounts, amid intense political controversy over Russian interference in the US election

The US has announced charges against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers over a massive Yahoo data breach that affected at least 1 billion user accounts.

The indictment, unveiled by the justice department on Wednesday, said that the hack targeted the email accounts of Russian journalists and opposition politicians; former government officials in neighboring countries; and several US government figures, including “cyber security, diplomatic, military and White House personnel”.

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Twitter accounts tweet swastikas and pro-Erdoğan support in massive hack

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 09:29:00 GMT2017-03-15T09:29:00Z

Accounts that use third-party analytics service Twitter Counter compromised to tweet in support of Turkey’s prime minister

Thousands of Twitter accounts, including high profile ones belonging to users such as Forbes, Amnesty International, the BBC’s North American service, and tennis star Boris Becker were compromised on Wednesday morning, resulting in them tweeting propaganda related to Turkey’s escalating diplomatic conflict with Germany and the Netherlands.

All the compromised accounts were attacked through their use of a popular third-party analytics service, Twitter Counter.

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Vibrator maker ordered to pay out C$4m for tracking users' sexual activity

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 10:08:06 GMT2017-03-14T10:08:06Z

Canadian manufacturer We-Vibe collected data about temperature and vibration intensity, revealing intimate information without customers’ knowledge

Sex toy maker We-Vibe has agreed to pay customers up to C$10,000 (£6,120) each after shipping a “smart vibrator” which tracked owners’ use without their knowledge.

Following a class-action lawsuit in an Illinois federal court, We-Vibe’s parent company Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of C$4m to owners, with those who used the vibrators associated app entitled to the full amount each. Those who simply bought the vibrator can claim up to $199.

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Boris Johnson: Russia has ability to disrupt UK politics with hacking

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 12:00:43 GMT2017-03-12T12:00:43Z

Foreign secretary accuses Russia of ‘dirty tricks’ as GCHQ is reported to have written to parties with advice on cyber-attacks

The foreign secretary has said there is “plenty of evidence” that Russia has the ability to disrupt British politics with cyber-attacks following reports that intelligence officials are to brief political parties on how to defend against hacking from Moscow.

Boris Johnson, due to meet his Russian counterpart in the coming weeks, said there was no doubt Moscow had been up to “all sorts of dirty tricks” in relation to political interference.

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To security establishment, WikiLeaks' CIA dump is part of US-Russia battle

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 23:37:26 GMT2017-03-07T23:37:26Z

WikiLeaks says documents about CIA’s computer hacking tools came from US, but many perceive group as pro-Russia following role in 2016 election

The latest WikiLeaks document dump about the CIA’s computer hacking tools highlights the intelligence agency’s penetration of everyday consumer electronics, heightening profound fears about privacy aroused in 2013 by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In the Washington security establishment, however, the leaks are being viewed more as the latest battle in a struggle between US and Russian intelligence services being played out in the US political arena – a fight in which WikiLeaks is widely seen as sitting firmly in Moscow’s corner.

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Smartphones, PCs and TVs: the everyday devices targeted by the CIA

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:56:23 GMT2017-03-07T17:56:23Z

Documents published by WikiLeaks reveal extent of intelligence agency’s capability for targeting the public

The trove of information on alleged CIA hacking tools released by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organisation, which reveals that the agency maintains the capability to hack consumer devices, will raise many questions for users and technology companies alike.

Everyday consumer devices including smartphones running iOS and Android operating systems, Windows and Mac computers, and even smart TVs made by manufacturers such as Samsung have all been targeted by the CIA.

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'Am I at risk of being hacked?' What you need to know about the 'Vault 7' documents

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:08:23 GMT2017-03-08T13:08:23Z

Should you be worried about agency snooping? Is this WikiLeaks release just the tip of the iceberg? And is someone at the CIA watching too much Doctor Who?

WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website run by Julian Assange, has released a cache of documents it calls “Vault 7”, which contains details of hacking tools used by the CIA.

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How did an Amazon glitch leave people literally in the dark?

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:19:40 GMT2017-03-01T16:19:40Z

An outage at cloud provider Amazon Web Services resulted in websites and smart homes failing. Is this the future of our internet-connected lives?

Here’s a cautionary tale about the future of the internet: an over three-hour outage in an obscure, if tremendously profitable, wing of online retailer Amazon resulted not only in websites such as Medium and Business Insider failing, but also in people unable to turn on their lights.

This outage affected Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon subsidiary that provides cloud computing services to other businesses. If you’ve ever been told something is stored or run “in the cloud”, the likelihood is that it was in servers owned by Amazon – or by similar services provided by its two main competitors, Microsoft and Google.

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The sad truth about the excitement over the Nokia 3310

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:35:24 GMT2017-03-01T11:35:24Z

The industry hype around the classic ‘dumbphone’ betrays a pointed fact – there is only so much you can improve a smartphone that already does it all

Mobile World Congress – the showcase of the most cutting-edge technology on the planet – is in full swing in Barcelona this week. Phones, wearables and everything else with a microchip is showing off fantastic new features. But all anyone really seems interested in is a remake of a phone from 17 years ago, the Nokia 3310.

There are a few ways to look at the Nokia 3310. It could just be a marketing ploy, or a Hollywood-esque remake because the industry has run out of ideas. Or maybe it’s trying to tap into the feeling that modern life is too connected, harking back to a simpler time. But whatever you think the Nokia 3310 is, it tells us something interesting about the state of the smartphone industry in 2017.

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Google lawsuit could be a fatal setback for Uber's self-driving dreams

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:15:55 GMT2017-02-25T17:15:55Z

Accusations that an ex-Google engineer stole trade secrets and took them to Uber may pose an existential threat in the race to get self-driving cars on the road

When Anthony Levandowski loped on to the stage to accept the Hot New Startup award at an industry awards show this month, the trucker hat perched on his head served as a cringeworthy nod to the millions of drivers his self-driving truck company is poised to leave jobless.

Three weeks later, it is the pioneering engineer of self-driving car technology whose job could be in jeopardy, and the lawsuit he is named in could pose an existential threat to an increasingly vulnerable Uber.

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If Zuckerberg wants to rule the world, does he even need to be president?

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:39:13 GMT2017-02-17T16:39:13Z

The Facebook CEO’s 5,700 word post advocated a strong civil society and ended quoting Lincoln. Is he pitching for office, or already an unofficial Potus?

It is not normal for a technology chief executive to announce a new product roadmap in the form of a 5,700 word blogpost that begins with a unified theory of history and ends by quoting Abraham Lincoln. But that’s exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has done in his letter to the “Facebook community”, published on Thursday.

The unusual aspects of the letter don’t stop at its length. Zuckerberg rapidly alternates between lofty statements of social principle and minor product updates. One minute, he is discussing the necessity for a strong civil society existing between the government and the people, implicitly rebutting Margaret Thatcher; the next, he is discussing the need for the administrators of Facebook groups to be able to support “sub-communities”, so that, for example, a Facebook group for a university can contain within it a sub-group for a particular accommodation block.

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Mark Zuckerberg's letter annotated: what he said and what he didn't

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:28:38 GMT2017-02-17T14:28:38Z

Alex Hern analyses the Facebook founder’s 5,700-word mission statement on the goals of Facebook and highlights what he really meant and what he left out

On our journey to connect the world, we often discuss products we’re building and updates on our business. Today I want to focus on the most important question of all: are we building the world we all want?

Mark Zuckerberg opens his missive with a grammatical ambiguity: who are “we”? Is this a letter to Facebook, or to the world? It can be read both ways. But regardless of the intended audience, there’s a subtext to the opening paragraph which informs the whole 5,700-word letter: for an increasing number of people, the answer to Zuckerberg’s question is “no”. Zuckerberg wants for more than Facebook to be an insanely profitable mega-corporation. He wants the company to be seen as a force for good in the world, and right now, he’s concerned that it isn’t.

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Twitter: not even Donald Trump can help it make a profit | Charles Arthur

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 14:19:50 GMT2017-02-09T14:19:50Z

Social media giant is failing to capitalise on US president’s use and is reluctant to make deep cuts needed to turn a profit

Not even the best efforts of Donald Trump can pull Twitter out of its dive, it would seem. The company’s fourth-quarter results showed a loss of $167m (compared with $90m a year before) on flat revenues of $638m, with no clear path to profit, even though the US President’s frequent outbursts helped increase the number of users by a modest 2 million to 319 million.

Twitter should be capitalising on the fact that the most powerful man in the world is using it as his channel to present the alternative facts of his presidency. Imagine if Trump’s key announcements were made on YouTube: each clip would be festooned with ads.

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Despite Snapchat's IPO, it's not just another Silicon Valley tech titan

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 12:05:06 GMT2017-02-03T12:05:06Z

Social media start-up is following a familiar path, but attitude to tax and reluctance to be ‘creepy’ set it apart from its peers

Snap, the company formerly known as Snapchat, has finally confirmed it is planning to go public, with an IPO expected sometime in March. If all goes to plan, the company should net somewhere in the realm of $25bn (£20bn) from the public offering, shooting it past Twitter in market cap terms and cementing its position as one of the largest social media companies in the world.

But while it sounds like the typical final evolution of a Silicon Valley titan, Snap has deliberately charted a very different route from its most obvious competitors for much of its history.

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Five things you need to know about Apple's quarterly results | Alex Hern

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 13:32:16 GMT2017-02-01T13:32:16Z

The iPhone and Mac are booming, the iPad not so much, and the Apple Watch could still be a contender

Apple’s quarterly results, released on Tuesday, showed the company back on its game. It recorded its highest revenue ever, raking in $78.4bn (£62bn), and also achieved record iPhone sales.

But, as ever, the most interesting points lie below the top line. Apple doesn’t break out much, but what it does can be telling.

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As WhatsApp becomes latest victim, are any messaging apps truly secure?

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:12:00 GMT2017-01-14T18:12:00Z

While some are more secure than others, there always seems to be another flaw waiting to be discovered – so should security be prioritized over convenience?

Is there a truly secure messaging app? One could spend hours examining all the encrypted communications tools available, from popular services such as WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger to newcomers such as Signal and Wire. But while experts agree that some of these options are more secure than others, there always seems to be another flaw waiting to be discovered. This makes the search for a perfect app resemble the hunt for the goose that laid the golden egg.

Related: WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages

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Mass Effect: Andromeda review - this galaxy has promise

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-03-23T07:00:05Z

Problems are inevitable in a game of such epic proportions but there is a lot here that will make you want to keep playing

Much like the colonists in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the developers at BioWare have thrown everything they have at this new galaxy, and have been rewarded with a promising new world – once they clear up the mess.

With the successful original trilogy, the Mass Effect series gained a reputation as a clunky space epic, with poor combat that the player suffered through to reach the next bit of story. The first Mass Effect, released a decade ago, is a relic, all but unplayable now but at the time fresh and exciting, and ultimately revered for kicking off what became a beloved franchise. Mass Effect: Andromeda has a lot to live up to, a fresh start in a new galaxy but without the benefit of coming out of nowhere as that first game did.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda – what's changed in the universe?

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 11:58:59 GMT2017-03-17T11:58:59Z

Andromeda is the first in the galaxy-chasing series for five years, and brings fans new stories and characters. But will it live up to expectations?

Mass Effect: Andromeda is the first new Mass Effect game in five years and the first on the current generation of consoles. Set in the same universe as the original trilogy but in a different galaxy and 600 years later, Andromeda tells a new story with new characters in a new setting. This was BioWare’s opportunity to change the formula, no doubt with substantial anxiety over how fans would react. Here are some of the key ways Andromeda has changed the Mass Effect universe, based on the first few hours of the game.

Mild spoilers for the opening two missions lie ahead.

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'Created by elves riding unicorns': readers on the Nintendo Switch

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-03-16T07:00:02Z

We asked readers how they’ve been getting on with Nintendo’s hybrid console – and the answer, mainly, is playing Zelda

It’s been a week or so since the Nintendo Switch came out, so we thought we’d ask our readers how they were getting on with the venerable Japanese game company’s hybrid console.

Related: Nintendo Switch review: a brave and fascinating new console

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The video game industry has a diversity problem – but it can be fixed

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 11:30:29 GMT2017-03-15T11:30:29Z

Despite corrective initiatives, there are too few gaming industry opportunities for women and people of colour. This needs to change if it is to have a healthy future

Glance at last year’s big releases and you might think video games have cracked the issue of diversity. Two of 2016’s most acclaimed action adventures Mafia III and Watchdogs 2 both had black male leads, while Mirror’s Edge 2, Uncharted 4 and indie game, Virginia, all featured women of colour. This year, we have flagship PlayStation4 title Horizon Zero Dawn as well as Gravity Rush 2, Nier Automata and Tacoma, all showcasing female protagonists. But look beyond the games and into the companies that make them, and you get a very different picture. Representation is still very much a problem.

In an age where a whole generation is taking its cultural cues and influences from games, this has vital importance even outside of the industry. Video games now make $90bn (£74bn) a year worldwide, dwarfing the cinema and movie businesses. According to figures from industry trade body UKIE, 50% of the UK population plays games, a figure rising to 99% among 8-15-year-olds. The growing popularity of games – on PC, console, smartphone and tablets – has also led to a surge in young people seeking to work in the industry: over 60 UK universities provide undergraduate and masters degrees in games development. But who are the people guiding this inspirational and pervasive cultural sector?

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Snipperclips review: addictive shapecutting fun for Nintendo Switch

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-03-15T07:00:23Z

The joy of this family friendly puzzle game is not just in the strategy, but the social experience

Snipperclips is one of those games with a concept so clear that even if you forget what it’s called (and who could blame you – the original prototype Friendshapes had a much more memorable name) people will know what you’re talking about. Sure, there have been other video games influenced by papercraft – most notably Media Molecule’s Tearaway – but none has reached the mainstream with the particular notion expressed in Snipperclips’ tagline: cut it out, together.

Snipperclips is a game in which (ideally) two or more players control colourful papery beings – called Snip and Clip – who use the form of their arched bodies to snip each other into the shapes needed to solve a variety of puzzles. It’s no surprise that developers Tom and Adam Vian were successful when they pitched the prototype to Nintendo; artful, simple, and designed to be social, Snipperclips feels right at home on the Switch.

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How technology gets us hooked – podcast

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:34:27 GMT2017-03-14T13:34:27Z

From a young age, humans love to press buttons that light up and make a noise. The thrill of positive feedback lies at the heart of addiction to gambling, games and social media

Read the text version

Subscribe via Audioboom, iTunes, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Acast & Sticher and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

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Lego Worlds review – filled with potential, but also confusion

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 11:29:01 GMT2017-03-14T11:29:01Z

The latest Lego adventure seeks to rival the creative possibilities of Minecraft. But players are forced to slog for their creative freedom

Glance down the intricate family tree that connects the myriad successful Lego video games, and something striking is missing throughout the lineage. Most of those releases have only made cursory attempts at including that defining ability of the real-world toy: uninhibited construction. Aside from curio releases like the 1998 PC title Lego Creator, games based on the iconic bricks tend to allude to creativity, rather than offering freeform building in an unbridled form.

And yet Minecraft – with 120m sales and counting – has proved that there is huge potential in the idea of open-ended construction-focused games. Indeed, as Mojang’s creation evolved from a darling of the indie community to an international merchandising empire, it was comparisons with Lego that made the game easy to understand for players and, importantly, their parents.

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Night in the Woods review: 90s-inspired platformer is an anarchic triumph

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 07:00:15 GMT2017-03-14T07:00:15Z

This brilliant patchwork of storytelling, vandalism and melancholic reminiscences at the local mall is set to go down as a millennial classic

Mae Borowski is 20-years old, a college dropout with anger problems, and staring at herself in the full-length mirror in the attic bedroom of her childhood home. She pats down her shirt, tentatively reassures herself that her build is sturdy rather than round, and tells her reflection, “You’re a smooth talker. You’re a smoothie.”

She narrows her eyes, and her shoulders relax.

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands review: a prog rock opera of a game

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:02:46 GMT2017-03-13T10:02:46Z

WIth this extraordinarily large game about an elite soldier taking on Bolivian drug runners, is Ubisoft’s obsession with open worlds bordering on an addiction?

Fittingly for a game centred around cocaine production and the drug trade’s transformative effects on society, Ghost Recon Wildlands bears an uncanny resemblance to the deluge of double albums fuelled by the stuff in the 1970s: self-indulgent and overlong but with enough moments of quality buried within to just about excuse the whole endeavour.

In truth, overlong is perhaps selling Wildlands short. This is an extraordinarily large game that will take months to complete. Ubisoft’s obsession with open worlds borders on an addiction itself – it’s surely only a mater of time before their rhythm action franchise Just Dance is relocated to a sandbox night club the size of the city of Sheffield - but they’ve really gone the extra mile here.

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Get outta town: startup offers workers $10,000 if they 'delocate' from Silicon Valley

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:00:33 GMT2017-03-22T11:00:33Z

Offer from Zapier comes as high-paid tech workers in Bay Area have complained about the cost of living in a region that suffers from a major housing shortage

A Silicon Valley startup is paying employees $10,000 to leave Silicon Valley.

Zapier, an automation company founded in 2011, has announced that it is offering new recruits a hefty “de-location package” if they’re willing to move away from the Bay Area, an unusual perk that offers yet another sign of the worsening housing crisis in northern California.

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Crazy at the wheel: psychopathic CEOs are rife in Silicon Valley, experts say

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 09:00:26 GMT2017-03-15T09:00:26Z

Attributes of a psychopath can be good for running a business, says SXSW panel, but weak HR departments and investors can enable bad behavior

There is a high proportion of psychopathic CEOs in Silicon Valley, enabled by protective investors and weak human resources departments, according to a panel of experts at SXSW festival.

Although the term “psychopath” typically has negative connotations, some of the attributes associated with the disorder can be advantageous in a business setting.

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Silicon Valley shrugs off Julian Assange's help – and questions his motives

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:00:02 GMT2017-03-10T10:00:02Z

WikiLeaks founder pledged to help patch bugs outlined in CIA leaks, but many in the tech world say leaks aren’t that troubling and worry instead about Russia ties

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s pledge to help Silicon Valley technology companies patch the bugs outlined in leaked CIA files has been met with skepticism from the security community.

Assange said he would contact technology companies to privately supply technical details of the hacking techniques and security vulnerabilities that were redacted from the cache of classified documents released to the public.

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WikiLeaks says it will help Silicon Valley defend against CIA hacking

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 18:44:47 GMT2017-03-09T18:44:47Z

Julian Assange makes an offering to the tech community as the CIA and the press question his motivations

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he would contact technology companies and privately supply technical details of the CIA’s collection of bugs in some of the world’s most commonly used smartphone software. Assange made the announcement in a live-streamed press conference on Thursday, two days after WikiLeaks published the cache of classified documents containing the bugs.

Assange cast WikiLeaks as a rare trustworthy actor in a world of shadowy interests, describing his operation as “a neutral, digital Switzerland” on the heels of harsh criticism from the CIA and renewed accusations of involvement by Russian intelligence with the organization’s information-gathering apparatus.

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Uber's 'hustle-oriented' culture becomes a black mark on employees' résumés

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:00:39 GMT2017-03-07T10:00:39Z

The brazen attitude that helped Uber soar is backfiring, and now employees looking for their next jobs are having to defend themselves to recruiters

David was attending “Uberversity”, the ride-hail company’s three-day orientation for new employees, when he was introduced to “the Uber way”.

The trainers gave David, who asked not to be identified by his real name, and his cohort a scenario: Uber has learned that a rival company is launching an equivalent to UberPool (the company’s carpooling service) in four weeks. It’s impossible for Uber to beat them to market with a functional and reliable carpool service. Then the group was asked: what should the company do?

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US suspension of fast track for H-1B visas leaves foreign workers in limbo

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 23:34:30 GMT2017-03-06T23:34:30Z

The visas, which allow skilled workers to come to the US temporarily, are in especially high demand in Silicon Valley and the medical sector

The US has temporarily suspended the fast-track processing of H-1B visas, leaving many foreign workers in limbo.

Related: Trump travel ban: new order targeting six Muslim-majority countries signed

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The Guardian view of Snap IPO: a shareholding monarchy | Editorial

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 19:35:19 GMT2017-03-02T19:35:19Z

The flotation of this tech company is an absurdity, where desperate investors pay to own a piece of a company that they will have no say in running

It is a paradox that a country that sought freedom from a king, the United States, is today happy to crown monarchs in commerce. Snap, which calls itself a camera company but is in fact a Silicon Valley firm behind a mobile messaging app, floated on the US stock exchange making billionaires of its two under-30 founders. True, 158 million people open the Snapchat app an average 18 times a day. But money and influence are not the only issues here. It’s also about unaccountable power. Snap’s initial public offering marks a turning point in US capitalism: it is the first time that the only shares on offer are those with no voting rights.

This form of techno-aristocratic capitalism means that the founders, 26-year-old Evan Spiegel and 28-year-old Bobby Murphy, will alone make the big decisions about Snap and maintain control over the social media phenomenon even if their employment is terminated. They could retire to an ashram in India or spend the rest of their lives writing haikus. No matter, they will still make every major decision for Snap, from appointing board members to a possible future sale. Only death will release the company from their control. Or if both sell more than 70% of their stock.

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Startup workers see sexual harassment on 'breathtaking' scale in Silicon Valley

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-03-01T10:00:05Z

Sexual misconduct, discrimination and retaliation are rampant and often ignored in tech startups that reject HR practices, women and people of color say

Haana was so repulsed by what happened to her, she covered up her mirror so she wouldn’t have to look at herself. The Silicon Valley tech worker said that after drinks with startup colleagues last year, a male executive at her company put his hand up her shirt and groped her while they walked down the street.

“I felt disgusted for months after that,” said Haana, who requested that the Guardian not include her full name or identify the small tech startup where she used to do marketing. “It affects me on a level that I wish it didn’t.”

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Female engineer sues Tesla, describing a culture of 'pervasive harassment'

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:00:25 GMT2017-02-28T10:00:25Z

Exclusive: AJ Vandermeyden paints picture of a hostile work environment that promoted less-qualified men and retaliated against her for raising concerns

A female engineer at Tesla has accused Elon Musk’s car company of ignoring her complaints of “pervasive harassment”, paying her a lower salary than men doing the same work, promoting less qualified men over her and retaliating against her for raising concerns.

The allegations of AJ Vandermeyden, who still works at the celebrated electric car manufacturer, paint a picture of a hostile work environment dominated by men where inappropriate sexual behavior is tolerated and women face numerous barriers to advance their careers.

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Uber executive resigns after failing to disclose prior sexual harassment claim

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 01:42:19 GMT2017-02-28T01:42:19Z

Setback is the latest sign of turmoil at Uber, which recently found itself in a separate sexual harassment firestorm and faces a major lawsuit from Google

The top engineering executive at Uber has resigned, adding to the company’s turmoil a week after the company found itself in an unrelated sexual harassment firestorm.

Amit Singhal, whose hire was announced just five weeks ago, failed to disclose that he had left his previous job at Google because of a sexual harassment allegation, according to the tech blog Recode.

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To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell review – solving the problem of death

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:30:05 GMT2017-03-23T07:30:05Z

A captivating exploration of transhumanism features cryonics, cyborgs, immortality and the hubris of Silicon Valley

Max More runs Alcor, an American company which, in exchange for $200,000, will store your corpse in liquid nitrogen until the science exists to revive you. Tim Cannon is a computer programmer who implanted a device the size of a pack of cards into his arm, without the aid of anaesthetics. Zoltan Istvan recently ran for US president and publicised his campaign by driving across the country in a huge vehicle modified to look like a coffin.

These are among the unusual individuals Mark O’Connell interviews in his travelogue-style exploration of transhumanism, the movement that campaigns for the direct incorporation of technology into our bodies and minds, and strives to remove ageing as a cause of death. “What are my chances, would you say, of living to a thousand?” the author asks Aubrey de Grey, an established figure in this strange world: “I would say perhaps a little better than fifty-fifty,” is the serious reply. “It’s very much dependent on the level of funding.”

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Vitus Mach 3 bicycle review – ‘Maybe the thieves just couldn’t resist it’

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 11:00:13 GMT2017-03-04T11:00:13Z

I had been enjoying the Vitus Mach 3 very much before it was stolen

I am not a violent person. I’ve never punched anyone in the face, or kicked them in the knackers. Even in my netballing days on the pitiless Lancastrian high school circuit I was not one for scratching a rival when the referee wasn’t looking. Yet I wish nothing but pain and prolonged misery for the subhuman scum who stole this lovely bicycle from outside Fred Aldous in Manchester’s Northern Quarter while I went to the dentist.

Perhaps it was a compliment to this neatly utilitarian machine from the cult French brand, whose pioneering aluminium frames changed the game in the Tour de France in the late 70s. Maybe the thief just couldn’t resist a go on Shimano’s new Metrea groupset, which has a single chainring on the front and just one shifter on the handlebars to change between the 11 gears. Probably, though, they were just a thoughtless goon with a pair of bolt cutters and a mate in a van around the corner. May they suffer eternal punctures and an unending headwind.

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Ugly Lies the Bone review – war veteran faces her demons in virtual reality rehab

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 16:03:41 GMT2017-03-02T16:03:41Z

Lyttelton, London
Kate Fleetwood plays an American soldier returning home from a tour of duty in a striking, hi-tech production directed by Indhu Rubasingham

We know virtual reality is changing entertainment: it features prominently, for example, in this UK premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino’s play, which is accompanied by an immersive VR installation in the foyer after the show. But it was news to me that VR is used to treat soldiers experiencing PTSD. In Ferrentino’s play, Jess has returned home to Florida’s Space Coast after a third tour of duty in Afghanistan: her face and body are badly burned and she is in chronic pain, struggling to walk or turn her head. Ugly Lies the Bone charts her efforts to heal physically, and – harder still – to face the emotional challenges of homecoming: a reality that doggedly resists virtual solutions.

Having premiered in New York in 2015, the play is now given a hi-tech production by Indhu Rubasingham, the entire curving, craterous stage of which becomes a giant screen each time Jess dons her VR goggles. Over 90 minutes, scenes of her reintegration into hometown life are intercut with therapy sessions, immersing Jess in a paradisiacal virtual world that relieves her pain. She dreams of a mountainous snowscape; her unseen therapist brings it to digital life around her – and before our eyes, too, courtesy of video designer Luke Halls.

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Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson review – the future is fun

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 09:00:12 GMT2017-03-02T09:00:12Z

This technophile’s optimism for the future appears well founded if the past is any guide

Geoff Dyer has complained that much current non-fiction is reducible to a snappy thesis that can be summed up “without the tedious obligation of reading the whole book”. Such books, he writes, seem like expanded versions of “skilfully managed proposals … which then get boiled back down again with the sale of serial rights”.

Steven Johnson’s Wonderland is one of those books. Its claims can be condensed into a sentence. “When human beings create and share experiences designed to delight or amaze,” he writes, “they often end up transforming society in more dramatic ways than people focused on more utilitarian concerns.” Don’t look to the struggles for survival, land and wealth for the forces that drive social change, he says. Look to wherever you see “people mucking around with magic, toys, games and other seemingly idle pastimes”.

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Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching – review

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 06:00:22 GMT2017-02-26T06:00:22Z

A fascinating study by Adam Alter explains why many of us find our smartphones and computers so addictive

The school near the GP practice where I work held an internet safety evening recently, subtitled “How to Keep Your Child Safe Online”. It was in the school hall, hosted by police officers, and explained the role of something called the “Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre”. The blurb on the leaflet promised parents of children between five and 11 would learn more about the dangers of the internet, and in particular, social media. I’m not sure when it became normal for kids to have to cope with malicious online messages, and be savvy about paedophiles masquerading as peers. In Irresistible, Adam Alter makes the frightening case that even without these hazards, modern connectivity threatens the health of not just our children, but everyone.

A child I knew of killed herself after a humiliating post was shared widely around her school. An adolescent patient told me that he wakes three or four times each night to check his phone for messages, and struggles to concentrate in class. Last week a social worker told me that children in an “at-risk” family were being neglected – the mum lying on the sofa playing with her phone while the kids put themselves to bed. I know a six-year-old who walks with his hands held to his chest, thumbs blurred by movement, adopting his dad’s habitual posture, though he doesn’t yet have a phone.

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The week in radio: The Rise of the Robots; I, Robot; In Our Time: John Clare

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 08:00:01 GMT2017-02-12T08:00:01Z

Isaac Asimov’s prophetic play and Adam Rutherford’s The Rise of the Robots revealed that our fear of machines is nothing new

The Rise of the Robots (R4) | iPlayer
Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot (R4) | iPlayer
In Our Time (R4) | iPlayer

It’s said that there was a time when a well-educated individual could be an authority on all the most important areas of science, art and culture. Although that period, if it ever existed, is long passed, you can sometimes believe it’s possible to re-enter it by listening, almost indiscriminately, to Radio 4. Did you know, for example, that the word “robot” comes from an old Slavonic word for slave or actually, more accurately, “forced labour”?

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Marshall Mid Bluetooth headphones review: sound that will rock you

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 07:50:08 GMT2017-02-06T07:50:08Z

Simple rock-styling, good controls, excellent battery life and great sound, make these relatively compact on-ear wireless headphones worth a listen

Marshall knocked it out of the park with its last set of Bluetooth headphones, the Major II Bluetooth, which means the new Mid Bluetooth have big shoes to fill.

From the outside they look simple. Small black on-ear speakers with textured black plastic covering, white Marshall logo and a textured pleather headband.

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The week in radio: Meet the Cyborgs; The Split Second Decision; Aftermath: Shipman

Sun, 05 Feb 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-02-05T07:00:07Z

When the wider world goes to pot, tales of plucky humans using mind-boggling tech can save the day

Meet the Cyborgs (R4) | iPlayer
The Split Second Decision (R4) | iPlayer
Aftermath: Shipman (R4) | iPlayer

BBC documentaries have seen me through several difficult times in my life, and right now is as tricky a time as any. These days, when a petulant tantrum leads to world-changing decisions, when malevolence and incompetence are sweeping through our political systems… I find that tales from a smaller world, with moderate, little lives, have a strong appeal.

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Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2: Bose-level wireless noise cancelling on a budget

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 08:30:11 GMT2017-02-01T08:30:11Z

24 hours of battery life, good controls and lots of bass will sound great to many, but if you’re a fan of classical music, look elsewhere

Plantronics promises top-end noise cancelling wireless headphones for a third-less than market leaders, but do the new BackBeat Pro 2s really deliver?

The new BackBeat Pro 2s only have a passing resemblance to their forbears. Gone is the round shape in favour of a more ergonomic oval that fits around the ears rather than touching on them in some parts.

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Honor 6X review: a lot of phone for the money, shame about the old software

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:00:48 GMT2017-01-30T09:00:48Z

A big 5.5in screen, solid build and feel, a great fingerprint scanner and dual-Sim support means latest Huawei Honor is a solid, good value smartphone

Huawei’s Honor line has been making a name for itself by selling good yet reasonably priced smartphones. The Honor 6X is no exception, even if it isn’t perfect.

Last year’s Honor 5X offered a lot of smartphone for the money at a time when the stalwart of the good-but-cheap smartphone market, the Moto G series, was faltering. Now the Honor 6X has a lot to live up to.

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10 most influential wearable devices

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 08:00:40 GMT2017-03-03T08:00:40Z

Since the 17th century we’ve been strapping bits and pieces to our bodies in pursuit of technological nirvana

Wearable technology is arguably the most exciting area of consumer technology at the moment, but its beginnings go a lot further back than you might expect.

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Acting Federal Trade Commission head: internet of things should self-regulate

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 10:00:19 GMT2017-03-14T10:00:19Z

Maureen Ohlhausen, the commission’s sole Republican and its acting chair under Trump, defended using big data to alter pricing from consumer to consumer

The acting head of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under Donald Trump said that the agency is “not primarily a regulator” in a conversation with the Guardian on Monday.

Maureen Ohlhausen, the commission’s sole Republican and its acting chair under Trump, said the FTC was primarily a law enforcement agency and called for wait-and-see approach to enforcement during a discussion at a conference of cybersecurity professionals on Monday at the Nasdaq. She also defended the use of big data to offer consumers different prices for the same good and said she wanted manufacturers of internet-connected household devices to decide best practices among themselves. The event was held by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and Nasdaq.

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Apple is tired of making Coca-Cola and now wants to sell champagne | Alex Hern

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:02:19 GMT2017-03-22T12:02:19Z

The company’s philosophy once followed Warhol’s line about Coke. But with a premium iPhone Pro rumoured, this sense of egalitarianism no longer applies

For the past decade, Apple’s philosophy has been summed up by an Andy Warhol line about Coca-Cola.

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest,” Warhol wrote in his 1975 autobiography. “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the president drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”

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Apple updates iPad line and launches red iPhone 7

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:23:17 GMT2017-03-21T13:23:17Z

Company drops ‘Air’ branding from iPads while launching a new colour in collaboration with Product Red and a new video app, Clips

Apple has updated its iPad line, dropping the “Air” branding as it boosts the specs on its mid-tier product. The new hardware launches alongside another colour for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and an unusually timed announcement of a new video app, Clips.

Starting at £339 for a 32GB model with wifi only, and rising to £559 for a 128GB model with 4G, the new iPad, an update to the iPad Air 2, solidifies Apple’s intentions to split the line into three: an expensive iPad Pro, available in two sizes, for those needing a laptop replacement; a cheap iPad mini for those needing a small portable tablet; and the iPad sitting in between the two.

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Freeserve, Wanadoo and Orange email addresses are no more. Where next?

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:57:17 GMT2017-03-23T09:57:17Z

EE has told Duncan and other readers it’s closing email addresses that some have been using for almost 20 years. Where should they go now?

Many of us have been using Orange/Freeserve/Wanadoo email accounts since they were introduced about 20 years ago. Now BT/EE plans to shut them down at the end of May 2017.

Many businesses were built on the back of these addresses, and large investments made using their contact information in brochures, product literature, business cards, letterheads etc. Having started to work out a migration plan, I realise I shall have to invest a substantial amount of time and money to move to a new email address. I also need a new account that allows me to download, archive and work offline with a suitable email client.

Dixons launched Freeserve in 1998, and it was subsumed into France Télécom’s Wanadoo in 2000. Then France Télécom bought Orange UK, and changed its branding to Orange SA. In 2010, Orange UK merged with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile UK to become EE (Everything Everywhere). Finally, BT bought EE for £12.5bn, completing the deal in January 2016.

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Grindr's gaymoji: pierced aubergines, a peach on a plate – and a banned ‘T’

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:15:39 GMT2017-03-21T13:15:39Z

The gay dating app has introduced its own, quite graphic, graphics to help their users communicate. But one symbol went a little too close to the bone

Name: Gaymoji.

Appearance: Bright, cute, lewd.

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Dietary supplements – are they fit for purpose?

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-03-19T07:00:01Z

Can all those drinks, capsules and powders really improve your sporting performance? We asked the experts

There are hundreds of powders, gels and bars that promise to improve an athlete’s performance. But judging which ones are based on good scientific evidence and which might be useful for a particular activity or individual is a bewildering business.

Even the fact that professional sports teams use particular products might not be an indicator of their effectiveness – they may merely be fulfilling their sponsorship obligations.

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Mercedes GLC 250 d 4Matic AMG car review – ‘The cabin is like a spacecraft’

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 11:00:37 GMT2017-03-18T11:00:37Z

It wasn’t unusual to emerge from the vehicle to find a small crowd waiting, hoping for Lewis Hamilton’s autograph

When I was a kid, someone told me you should never give a cat an egg, because afterwards egg was all it wanted, and other food all fell into the same grey, “not-egg” category. It’s not exactly that, to drive a Mercedes, but you never come away unscathed: there’s always a new dimension to your character, whether it’s status anxiety, spoiltness or a hitherto undreamed of yen for luxury.

The one with the ridiculous name (GLC 250 d 4Matic AMG line, as if made up by a password generator) certainly has flights of fancy from which you will never want to return. They have nailed the parking camera, with a bird’s-eye and a side view. This, for people who hate having to turn their neck, is a huge deal. And it does make for awesomely elegant, single-swoop manoeuvres, so that it wasn’t unusual to emerge from the vehicle to find a small crowd waiting, hoping for Lewis Hamilton’s autograph. The cabin is like a spacecraft: solid, slightly futuristic, full of dinky trims of light in doors and footwells, and with more USBs and cupholders than even the most device-intense, thirstiest family could hope for. The instrument cluster is classy and legible, the pedals have sports styling, brushed aluminium with rubber studs, and there’s a leisurely spaciousness about both front and back rows.

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Lungworm and bike helmets: why does Google show certain ads?

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 18:35:48 GMT2017-03-17T18:35:48Z

Anyone looking at the adverts companies think I may be interested in will conclude I lead a pretty dull life

Show me a person’s targeted adverts, goes no proverb (yet), and I’ll show you what they put in their online shopping basket but decided against buying at the last minute. Most internet users will be very familiar with the feeling that your computer is spying on you, with adverts trying to get your attention and reminding you what you’re missing out on.

Related: How Google's search algorithm spreads false information with a rightwing bias

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The road ahead: self-driving cars on the brink of a revolution in California

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:30:04 GMT2017-03-17T08:30:04Z

Proposal to let fully autonomous vehicles on the roads is a game-changer with global implications, but comes with a complex set of questions

Autonomous vehicles are already a common sight on the streets of Silicon Valley, an international hub for self-driving technology. But this month, California set the stage for the next phase of innovation that could dramatically alter transportation and mobility across the globe. The state has proposed regulations to allow fully autonomous vehicles to drive on public roads – meaning empty cars with no steering wheels and no backup driver inside.

Related: Empty cars with no steering wheel could soon be driving in California

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Noise-cancelling headphones: the secret survival tool for modern life

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 11:05:04 GMT2017-03-16T11:05:04Z

Headphones that block out sound were first invented for airplane pilots on long flights and have for some become a vital part of daily life

There’s one thing other than my wallet and my travel card I wouldn’t be without in a big city, and it’s my headphones. But I don’t actually listen to music that much: I just activate the noise-cancelling feature, and leave it at that.

No sound plays into my ears – instead a quiet fills my head, as if the sounds of the world have been turned down. Until I got noise-cancelling headphones, I had no idea how loud the city always was, and just how hungry I’d been for silence.

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