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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 Jun 2017 09:13:44 GMT2017-06-29T09:13:44Z

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



How can I invest in bitcoin?

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 09:03:12 GMT2017-06-29T09:03:12Z

Andy wants to know how to invest a few hundred pounds in bitcoin. It’s not hard to buy bitcoins, but whether they are an investment or a gamble is another matter ...

How can I invest in bitcoin? I’d like to invest a few hundred pounds. Andy

There are at least three ways, though only one of them looks rational today. First, you could mine your own bitcoins. Second, you could buy some from an exchange. Third, you could buy shares in a fund that has invested in bitcoins.

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Counter-terrorism was never meant to be Silicon Valley's job. Is that why it's failing?

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 09:00:19 GMT2017-06-29T09:00:19Z

Extremist content is spreading online and law enforcement can’t keep up. The result is a private workforce that’s secretive, inaccurate and unaccountable

Counter-terrorism is being slowly privatized and carried out by low-paid workers at technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Although these companies hire expert advisers and former government agents to tackle extremist propaganda and recruitment enabled by their platforms, much of the grunt work is carried out by contractors earning $15 an hour or, in YouTube’s case, volunteers.

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'My electronic Swiss army knife': readers on 10 years of the iPhone

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:50:15 GMT2017-06-29T08:50:15Z

Revolutionary, life-changing... a bit annoying? Guardian readers around the world on a decade of iPhones and the wider smartphone revolution

Lots of people seemed to think it was hopelessly complicated, or hopelessly simple — and definitely hopelessly expensive. I think a few of us geeks realised that it was a breakthrough for useable mobile computing, but I don’t think anyone really saw that devices like the iPhone would become the main computing device for almost everyone, and would work their way into so many areas of people’s lives so quickly.

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Google can be forced to pull results globally, Canada supreme court rules

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 06:46:16 GMT2017-06-29T06:46:16Z

Decision says country’s courts are able to operate ‘the way Google operates – globally’, but civil liberties advocates warn of censorship online

Canadian courts can force Google to remove results worldwide, the country’s top court has ruled, in decision criticised by civil liberties groups that argue such a move sets a precedent for censorship on the internet.

In its 7-2 decision, Canada’s supreme court found that a court in the country can grant an injunction preventing conduct anywhere in the world when it is necessary to ensure the injunction’s effectiveness.

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iPhone at 10: how it changed everything

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 05:00:14 GMT2017-06-29T05:00:14Z

Alex Hern bought the first iPhone a decade ago. As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, he looks back on how it changed the world – and his life

Ten years ago today, the first iPhone hit stores in the US. On paper, the device was nothing special: it lacked the 3G connectivity which was becoming standard across much of the world, its battery struggled to last a day, and its camera resolution was just two megapixels. It also came with an eye-watering price tag of $499, and a mandatory two-year contract with AT&T. That was for the smallest version, with 4GB of storage.

But in person, it wasn’t the iPhone that looked behind the times. It was everything else. Looking back now, and the sea change is obvious: the first iPhone, a 10-year-old device, looks like something that could reasonably be found in people’s pockets today, while its competition look like historical curiosities.

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Is it OK to use Uber now that Travis Kalanick has resigned?

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:54:34 GMT2017-06-28T19:54:34Z

Personally, I wouldn’t. But the question is a much bigger one: how do we take responsibility for our role in the exploitive gig economy?

Q: Given all the terrible stories that have come out about Uber, should I erase the app from my phone, even though the CEO has resigned?

Let’s list the bad things. Uber, which rightly or wrongly feels like patient zero in the plague of horrible tech startups, had a bad rep even before the events that brought down CEO Travis Kalanick last week. It set the gig economy standard of classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, to avoid giving them benefits.

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Uber drivers deserve to be treated far better | Letters

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:18:51 GMT2017-06-28T18:18:51Z

A letter from Labour’s Frank Field urges ministers to step in to improve the lot of Uber drivers and others working in the gig economy

The charge sheet against Travis Kalanick, and the Uber board as a whole, is a lengthy one (End of the road – Uber’s investors decide chief is liability after avalanche of claims, 22 June). There is, however, one major omission.

The rampant exploitation of Uber’s tens of thousands of drivers under Kalanick’s watch should be at the very top of that charge sheet. The fact that it hardly features is hugely concerning.

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Ransomware attack 'not designed to make money', researchers claim

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:08:41 GMT2017-06-28T14:08:41Z

Digital security researchers say malware attack that spread from Ukraine appeared to be focused on damaging IT systems

A ransomware attack that affected at least 2,000 individuals and organisations worldwide on Tuesday appears to have been deliberately engineered to damage IT systems rather than extort funds, according to security researchers.

The attack began in Ukraine, and spread through a hacked Ukrainian accountancy software developer to companies in Russia, western Europe and the US. The software demanded payment of $300 (£230) to restore the user’s files and settings.

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The iPhone at 10: share your stories and memories

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 10:57:11 GMT2017-06-28T10:57:11Z

Apple’s iPhone is turning 10, and we want to know if the smartphone has changed your life – and if so, whether it’s been for the better

“A widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.”

That’s how Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, which was released 10 years ago this Thursday. A revolutionary concept on release, smartphones are now so ubiquitous you’re probably reading this article on one.

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'Petya' ransomware attack: what is it and how can it be stopped?

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 06:17:06 GMT2017-06-28T06:17:06Z

Companies have been crippled by global cyberattack, the second major ransomware crime in two months. We answer the key questions

Many organizations in Europe and the US have been crippled by a ransomware attack known as “Petya”. The malicious software has spread through large firms including the advertiser WPP, food company Mondelez, legal firm DLA Piper and Danish shipping and transport firm Maersk, leading to PCs and data being locked up and held for ransom.

It’s the second major global ransomware attack in the past two months. In early May, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) was among the organizations infected by WannaCry, which used a vulnerability first revealed to the public as part of a leaked stash of NSA-related documents released online in April by a hacker group calling itself the Shadow Brokers.

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Call of Duty: WWII – how an indie classic inspired the latest instalment

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 11:00:18 GMT2017-06-28T11:00:18Z

While the latest CoD takes the action back to its roots, its developers drew inspiration from Journey and some other unlikely sources

There are certain places you’d expect the developers of a well-known military shooter to look for inspiration. Previous titles in the series, war movies, other shooters … that’s more-or-less it. What you perhaps don’t expect is for the team behind the latest Call of Duty title to count among their influences an elegiac cooperative indie game about the meaning of life. You don’t expect them to play Journey.

But according to Michael Condrey, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, the San Francisco studio behind Call of Duty: WWII, that’s exactly what they did.

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Parliament cyber-attack hits fewer than 90 email accounts

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 16:02:30 GMT2017-06-25T16:02:30Z

Spokesman says number affected is less than many feared but that investigation is under way into potential data loss

Fewer than 90 email accounts belonging to peers and MPs are believed to have been hacked by an orchestrated cyber-attack, a parliamentary spokesman said on Sunday.

The Houses of Parliament were targeted by hackers on Friday in an attack that sought to gain access to accounts protected by weak passwords.

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Russian hackers 'traded stolen passwords of British MPs and public servants'

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:17:51 GMT2017-06-23T00:17:51Z

Credentials of officials – including MPs, diplomats and senior police officers – reportedly sold on Russian websites after 2012 attack on LinkedIn

Passwords belonging to British politicians, diplomats and senior police officers have been traded by Russian hackers, it has been reported.

Security credentials said to have belonged to tens of thousands of government officials, including 1,000 British MPs and parliamentary staff, 7,000 police employees and more than 1,000 Foreign Office staff, were in the troves sold or swapped on Russian-speaking hacking sites.

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WannaCry ransomware attack 'linked to North Korea'

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:24:45 GMT2017-06-16T13:24:45Z

UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has linked recent attacks to the North Korean-affiliated hacking team Lazarus Group, according to reports

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reportedly attributed the WannaCry malware, which affected the NHS and other organisations worldwide in May, to the North Korean-affiliated hacking team Lazarus Group.

The NCSC, which is the public face of the British defence against cyber-attacks and works closely with the UK surveillance agency GCHQ, said it would neither confirm or deny the reports. But a separate source confirmed the NCSC had led the international investigation into the WannaCry bug and completed its assessment within the last few weeks.

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University College London hit by ransomware attack

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:44:29 GMT2017-06-15T13:44:29Z

Hospitals with relationship to university suspend email servers in precautionary measure against phishing scam

University College London has been hit by a “major” ransomware attack which brought down its shared drives and student management system.

The attack has also led to a number of hospital trusts suspending their email servers as a precautionary measure, in an attempt to prevent the repetition of last month’s damaging WannaCry epidemic.

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WannaCry attacks prompt Microsoft to release Windows updates for older versions

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:26:43 GMT2017-06-14T11:26:43Z

The company typically releases security updates for operating systems it still supports – but in wake of serious cyber-attack it has reassessed the policy

Microsoft has released new security updates for older versions of Windows as it warns of potential cyber-attacks by government organisations.

The patches include updates to Windows XP, the operating system that was targeted by the WannaCry ransomware attack in May that attacked parts of the NHS and other companies worldwide.

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Pay to sway: report reveals how easy it is to manipulate elections with fake news

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 19:58:51 GMT2017-06-13T19:58:51Z

Fake News Machine research comes amid increasing concern about hacking elections and the ways that fake news on social media has manipulated voters

Political campaigns can manipulate elections by spending as little as $400,000 on fake news and propaganda, according to a new report that analyzes the costs of swaying public opinion through the spread of misinformation online.

The report from Trend Micro, a cybersecurity firm, said it also costs just $55,000 to discredit a journalist and $200,000 to instigate a street protest based on false news, shining a light on how easy it has become for cyber propaganda to produce real-world outcomes.

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'Industroyer' virus could bring down power networks, researchers warn

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:35:06 GMT2017-06-13T15:35:06Z

Discovery of new malware shows vulnerability of critical infrastructure, just months after the WannaCry ransomware took out NHS computers

Six months on from a hacking attack that caused a blackout in Kiev, Ukraine, security researchers have warned that the malware that was used in the attack would be “easy” to convert to cripple infrastructure in other nations.

The discovery of the malware, dubbed “Industroyer” and “Crash Override”, highlights the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, just months after the WannaCry ransomware took out NHS computers across the UK.

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Mounir Mahjoub​i​, the 'geek' who saved Macron's campaign: 'We knew we were going to be attacked'

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:00:01 GMT2017-06-13T15:00:01Z

The youngest member of France’s new government is a self-taught digital guru from a poor immigrant family. He talks about how his Arab name harmed his CV, working in a call centre and how he foiled the cyber attack that threatened En Marche’s election hopes

At a crowded market in the shadow of towerblocks in north-eastern Paris, shoppers gather to take selfies with a smiling, slightly shy, young man in a business suit. “Mounir! A photo with my granny!” shouts one young woman, pushing forward an old lady in north African dress for a hug. “My daughter needs work experience, what do you suggest?” asked a father from the 10th floor of a high-rise, proud of the first child in the family to go to university.

Mounir Mahjoubi, 33, is the youngest member of France’s new government and part of Emmanuel Macron’s inner circle. He is the computer brains and digital campaigner whose online strategy helped the independent centrist Macron secure a decisive presidential election win in May, and who worked to stem a vast hacking attack that hit the final days of the campaign. He is now being held up as one of the faces of the “Macron landslide” – a newcomer to parliamentary politics well-placed to win a seat in the final round of National Assembly elections on Sunday, when the president’s new centrist movement, La République En Marche, is on course to win one of the biggest majorities in the modern French state.

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Hackers target al-Jazeera as Qatar crisis deepens

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 17:50:28 GMT2017-06-08T17:50:28Z

Move targeting kingdom’s major broadcaster comes amid diplomatic standoff with fellow Arab states

Pan-Arab satellite network al-Jazeera is fighting a large-scale cyber-attack but remained fully operational, a company source said on Thursday.

“There were attempts made on the cybersecurity of al-Jazeera but we are combatting them,” said a senior employee who declined to be named.

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Qatar: UAE and Saudi Arabia step up pressure in diplomatic crisis

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 10:36:24 GMT2017-06-07T10:36:24Z

Countries say ties will not be restored until Gulf state breaks links with extremists while UAE threatens jail for sympathisers

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have increased the pressure on Qatar, insisting diplomatic and economic relations would not be restored until the tiny Gulf state breaks all links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran.

The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who is due in Berlin for talks with his German counterpart on Wednesday, said it was up to Qatar, which denies funding extremist groups, to take action to relieve a block on air, sea and land links with its neighbours.

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Uber's scandals, blunders and PR disasters: the full list

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:14:33 GMT2017-06-27T23:14:33Z

The company has had a seemingly never-ending string of missteps, from its controversial CEO to questionable tactics and sexual harassment claims

Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct.

The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick resigning and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing company’s strained relationship with drivers.

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Theresa May wants tech companies to censor terrorists, but will they play ball?

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:30:53 GMT2017-06-13T11:30:53Z

The embattled prime minister is meeting French president Emmanuel Macron to renew her campaign against Facebook et al – but will it be worth the trip?

The British prime minster Theresa May is expected to renew her long-running campaign against technology companies by announcing international sanctions for those that fail to take sufficient action against terrorist propaganda, in a joint statement with French president Emmanuel Macron.

The two leaders, meeting in Paris on Tuesday, will discuss creating a legal requirement for technology companies to aid in the fight against terrorism online and reportedly face fines for failing to comply, in the wake of a series of attacks in the UK and France over the past year.

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George Brandis's salvo in cryptowars could blow a hole in architecture of the internet

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 04:31:00 GMT2017-06-12T04:31:00Z

Attorney general isn’t just proposing a backdoor into encrypted communications – it’s a giant sinkhole your backdoor fell into

In 1993 the US president Bill Clinton’s administration introduced the “Clipper chip” into America’s digital and consumer electronics. It was one of the earliest attempts to enforce a backdoor into digital products, and the first in what is known as the cryptowars, when the US government fought to control and regulate strong encryption.

The Clipper chip was a catastrophic failure. It’s a failure the attorney general, George Brandis, may find instructive, as he places Australia on the frontline of a new cryptowar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Netflix's biggest competitor? Sleep

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

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

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

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

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Beware the unintended consequences of a robot revolution

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

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

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

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

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Nex Machina review – a pure, brilliant shoot-'em-up

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:07:31 GMT2017-06-27T13:07:31Z

The developer behind retro-tinged shooters Super Stardust and ResoGun returns with an astonishing twin-stick masterpiece

There is a famous story behind the making of Robotron 2084, the seminal 1982 arcade game which provides the clear inspiration for Nex Machina. Designer Eugene Jarvis, the genius behind hit coin-op Defender, broke his wrist in a car accident and found himself unable to use a fire button. Determined to keep working on a new game project, he and colleague Larry DeMar hacked together their own controller using two joysticks; one to move the onscreen character, one to fire a weapon. The twin-stick shooter was born.

Thirty-five years later, we have the latest title from Housemarque Games, the Finish studio that’s spent two decades rediscovering and perfecting classic arcade game dynamics. Its Super Stardust and Resogun titles are exemplary old school scrolling shooters, catching the speed and style of arcade blasters but enriching them with modern era visual exuberance. Nex Machina continues that legacy – and then some.

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Nintendo announces the Mini SNES

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:25:38 GMT2017-06-27T07:25:38Z

Classic 1990s console returns with 21 games including Super Mario Kart, Secret of Mana and an unreleased sequel to Star Fox

For some it was the greatest video game console of all time, a 1990s treasure trove of legendary titles such as Super Mario Kart, Super Metroid and Yoshi’s Island – and now, not altogether unpredictably, it’s back.

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The best video games of 2017 so far

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 05:00:21 GMT2017-06-27T05:00:21Z

With trippy PS4 explorers, hilariously enjoyable Nintendo Switch releases and perhaps the greatest game of the decade – here are the best games we’ve played this year

  • More on the best of 2017 so far: TV


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Games reviews roundup: Star Ocean; Star Trek: Bridge Crew; The Fidelio Incident

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-06-25T07:00:23Z

A classic RPG returns in digital glory while Star Trek and Beethoven inspire exciting quests

PS4, Square Enis, cert 12
★★★★

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17 top bargains in the Steam summer sale

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:40:08 GMT2017-06-23T10:40:08Z

From the Bioshock collection for less than a tenner to Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor at 80% off, we’ve been searching for the best Steam deals

Forget Glastonbury, forget Wimbledon – the big event many of us look forward to at this time of year is the Steam Summer Sale. Every June, the online PC games store slashes prices on dozens of titles, sometimes down to a couple of pounds, prompting a digital feeding frenzy.

The 2017 sale began on Wednesday night, and here are some of the must-have bargains we’ve spotted so far. Add your own findings in the comments section!

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Sega Forever: Sonic and other retro games coming to mobiles for free

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:26:13 GMT2017-06-21T16:26:13Z

Sega Forever collection, which includes the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, will be free to download on iOS and Android from Thursday

Video game players, like music lovers and film buffs, are incurable nostalgics. And so are the games companies. Last year we had the cruelly hard-to-come-by Nintendo Classic Mini console, which took us back to the heady days of the mid-1980s, and earlier this week, Atari announced its decision to get back into the hardware business with a new machine. Now, Sega has announced its Sega Forever collection, a range of classic titles, which will be downloadable for free on mobile phones from Thursday.

According to Sega, the growing collection will be carefully curated to include hugely recognisable cult gems as well as obvious hits. In the first batch are the original Sonic the Hedgehog from 1991, the legendary 1989 role-playing adventure Phantasy Star II, Sega Mega Drive launch title Altered Beast and two offbeat console titles from the famed Sega Technical Institute, Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon. These are all 16bit titles, but Sega says future additions will be plucked from throughout the company’s long history, from the Master System to the Dreamcast. This raises the scintillating possibility of playing everything from Wonder Boy in Monster Land to Crazy Taxi on your iPhone or Android. When asked about arcade titles, a spokesperson told us they are, “an opportunity that Sega hopes to explore down the road”.

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Call of Duty: WWII hands-on – is latest shooter a return to past glories?

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:41:46 GMT2017-06-21T12:41:46Z

Some have tired of the CoD franchise, but Activision are hoping a return to the second world war and a new multi-objective mode can revive it

You’re in France, 1944, six weeks on from the Normandy beach landings, and things are about to go badly wrong for the US 1st Infantry division. Allied troops converging on the sleepy French town of Merigny expected minimal resistance from the Germany forces stationed there, but the numbers are greater than reported and they have an armoured machine gun car. Your platoon needs to take the church at the centre of the village, but there’s a hell-storm of bullets and explosions to get through first. As soldiers run past, shouts ring out and explosions make your ears ring, you realise something pretty fast: Call of Duty is back where it began, and where it now seems to belong – amid the chaos of the second world war.

The Merigny encounter forms the basis of the Call of Duty: WWII campaign demo, shown off behind closed doors at E3. In this scene, lead protagonist private Ronald “Red” Daniels and other members of the 1st Infantry Division must edge closer to the town under heavy machine gun fire, creeping from wall to wall for cover and switching between familiar weapons of the era: the M1 Garand, the Karabiner 98K, the MP-40. Your first objective is to overrun the machine gun car then use it to direct suppression fire at soldiers in a nearby house, which eventually collapses under the onslaught causing a cascade of dust and rubble. It’s familiar action movie stuff, harking right back to the first three titles in the series, but there’s one key change: health no longer regenerates automatically – players now have to call for health packs from nearby medics – a feature designed to replicate both the camaraderie and the vulnerability of soldiers.

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Spider-Man is coming back to PlayStation – but will it feel as free as the original?

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:00:21 GMT2017-06-21T05:00:21Z

Developer Insomniac previewed its forthcoming Marvel superhero spin-off at E3, but can it live up to brilliance of the first PlayStation classic?

Spider-Man is Marvel’s most performative superhero. He uses the city like a stage, his movement is balletic and self-conscious, and there is a clear separation between the costumed hero and the child actor behind the mask. In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect dynamic for a video game – and in August 2000, Californian developer Neversoft realised this with absolute precision.

Its Spider-Man title, released on the original PlayStation, was built around the same engine used in the groundbreaking skateboard sim Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. This gave the Marvel hero incredible freedom and manoeuvrability as he swooped over the streets of New York City, but it also accentuated the sheer fun and creativity of Spider-Man’s movement. Some 17-years later the Web Slinger is back with a similar concept, but in a very different era. This is the Marvel tie-in a heck of a lot of people have been waiting for.

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Summer 2017's best video games: from Uncharted to Splatoon 2 and Tacoma

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:25:01 GMT2017-06-20T17:25:01Z

Warmongering football managers, a rampaging Cambridge professor, a ravenous space city, and a deep and meaningful round of golf … here are 10 great games to liven up your holidays

For aficionados, 2006’s Final Fantasy XII was a high point in the three-decades-old series. Part-directed by Yasumi Matsuno, whose intricate stories remain some of Japan’s best, it involves directing your squadron of fighters like a football manager, specifying tactics and parameters of behaviour from the sidelines. This HD remaster of the original includes not only higher resolution artwork, but also a rerecorded soundtrack and, most enticingly of all, an overhauled management system, via which you grow your team according to strategy or whim.
• Released 11 July on PlayStation 4.

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'Moms are persona non grata': are tech startups hostile to working mothers?

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:00:04 GMT2017-06-26T11:00:04Z

From all-nighters at the office to insensitive male coworkers, working mothers and mothers-to-be often describe the tech world as hostile to their needs

Sara Mauskopf was nine months pregnant and about to go on maternity leave, when her boss, the Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann, mentioned her by name at an all-hands meeting: staff would no longer be able to use one of the company’s conference rooms, Lehmann said, because Mauskopf would need it pump breast milk when she returned to work.

“I felt very called out and embarrassed,” recalled Mauskopf, who was the delivery startup’s director of product at the time. “It singled me out as the reason for the conversion and made me feel like I was taking something away from everyone.”

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Tech investor admits sexually harassing female entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:40:36 GMT2017-06-23T22:40:36Z

Justin Caldbeck took a leave of absence from his firm after six women accused him of making unwanted advances, often in context of potential business deals

A prominent venture capitalist admitted to sexually harassing women in the tech industry, saying he leveraged his “position of power in exchange for sexual gain” in the latest discrimination and misconduct scandal to rock Silicon Valley.

Justin Caldbeck announced on Friday that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital, the firm he co-founded, following the claims of six women who accused the 40-year-old of making unwanted advances, often in the context of potential business deals.

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Snapchat's new map feature raises fears of stalking and bullying

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:48:36 GMT2017-06-23T21:48:36Z

Snap Maps lets users track each other’s movements in real time, but child safety groups are cautioning young people against sharing their location

Snapchat has introduced a map feature that lets users track other people’s location in real time, raising concerns among safety and privacy advocates.

Snap Maps, launched this week, plots users and their snaps onto a map so friends and other Snapchatters can see where they are and what they are doing.

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Good riddance Travis Kalanick: one woman's victory against sexist tech | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:40:58 GMT2017-06-22T13:40:58Z

The Uber CEO has finally stepped down in the wake of endless corporate sexism allegations and scandal – and the end all started with a blogpost

So then, zero stars for Travis Kalanick. The Uber co-founder and CEO has stepped down after a tumultuous period culminating in a spotlight being shone on the company’s corporate environment of sexism, as revealed in a powerful blogpost by former employee Susan Fowler. Make no mistake; this is largely Fowler’s victory and proof that speaking out can reap dividends, despite the risks involved and the bravery it takes.

It has taken just four months since Fowler wrote her exposé – which has been retweeted more than 22,000 times – for Kalanick to fall on his priapic sword. In the blogpost, Fowler detailed how on her very first day in the job a colleague sent her chat messages propositioning sex. Even though the HR department conceded that this was sexual harassment, and that it later emerged other women had suffered the same treatment, the colleague was not punished. Fowler was essentially told to forget about it. She also noted that Uber’s female staff – 25% of employees – had dropped to 6% during her time there. An exodus of women due to both the chaotic nature of the organisation but more specifically, the insidious sexism.

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Uber criticized for standing by executive accused of ignoring discrimination claim

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:31 GMT2017-06-22T07:00:31Z

As Uber CEO departs, questions have been raised as to why its CTO – who was included in a viral post about discrimination and harassment – still has a job

The resignation of Uber’s embattled CEO Travis Kalanick has led some to question why the company’s chief technology officer (CTO), who was included in an engineer’s viral account of sexual harassment and discrimination, has kept his job.

Kalanick announced his departure this week after months of scandals, most notably the allegations of former employee Susan Fowler, who published a detailed blogpost in February about rampant sexism at Uber and management’s repeated refusal to respond to her complaints.

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With Uber's Travis Kalanick out, will Silicon Valley clean up its bro culture?

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:06:54 GMT2017-06-21T20:06:54Z

His departure may give pause to other tech bro-dominated startups pursuing growth at all costs, but some say Silicon Valley’s issues are too deep rooted

The ousting of the Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick is wake-up call for Silicon Valley and a tech industry that has long celebrated founders who break the rules and pursue growth at all costs.

On Tuesday, Uber’s investors finally pressured the ride-sharing company’s leader to resign following an avalanche of allegations of sexual harassment, intellectual property theft and driver manipulation.

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Trump tells tech CEOs that Washington needs to 'catch up with the revolution'

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:22:55 GMT2017-06-20T20:22:55Z

At a meeting with top tech leaders Trump promised a transformation of outdated federal technology, which, astonishingly, still includes floppy disks

Donald Trump called for “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology” during the first meeting of the American Technology Council, established by executive order last month.

Eighteen of America’s leading technology executives – including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet – convened at the White House Monday for the summit.

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The One Device by Brian Merchant review – the secret history and moral cost of the iPhone

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 06:30:16 GMT2017-06-29T06:30:16Z

Full of surprising details, this study delves into what society-transforming technology really signifies. Steve Jobs comes out badly

In most areas of my life I behave well enough, but put a smartphone in my hand and I become your typical glazed-eyed imbecile, poking, swiping and typing in a sweaty frenzy. For better or worse, smartphones tap into something base in us. Most adults use their phones in the way that babies treat their pacifiers. Break one, and we turn into those australopithecines at the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey, smashing our fists into the dirt in frustrated rage; take them away, and we become Gollum without his ring.

Related: The iPhone only exists because Steve Jobs 'hated this guy at Microsoft'

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8 Minutes review – dancers and scientists make a stunning cosmic voyage

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:41:57 GMT2017-06-28T13:41:57Z

Sadler’s Wells, London
Alexander Whitley’s poetic and playful creation captures the alien unknowableness of the universe, as well as its visual magic

Eight minutes is the time it takes for the sun’s light to reach the Earth: it’s also the title of Alexander Whitley’s new work, which is inspired by solar physics and aspires to conjure, through dance, the immensity of the forces that shape our universe.

Everything about the background to this piece, including Whitley’s close collaboration with a team of space scientists, might lead you to fear a project encumbered by facts and a duty to explicate. But the unsettling beauty of the work’s opening few minutes, with seven dancers moving in darkly flickering formation against a cosmic backdrop, makes it clear that Whitley has been liberated by the vastness of his subject, and has discovered a new level of poetic freedom and playfulness.

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Microsoft Surface Pro review: very nearly almost the future of Windows PCs

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 06:00:12 GMT2017-06-28T06:00:12Z

Though held back by the lack of USB-C and barely acceptable battery life, the expensive Surface Pro is the finest example of the tablet-laptop hybrid

Microsoft’s vision of the future of a Windows 10 PC comes in the form of the new Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro – Microsoft dropped its numbering scheme – follows on from last year’s Surface Pro 4, which was an excellent computer plagued by heat and battery life issues. So with longer battery life and laptop-level power is the new version ready for prime time?

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Amazon Fire HD 8 review: easily the best tablet you can buy for £80

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 06:00:23 GMT2017-06-27T06:00:23Z

The Fire HD 8 has always played second fiddle to its smaller sibling, but with twice the storage, better screen and speakers, that’s no longer the case

Amazon’s bigger, 8in HD version of its rock-bottom tablet, the Fire HD 8, has always played second fiddle to the £50 Fire 7, but not any more.

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Amazon Fire 7 tablet review: still a lot of tablet for just £50

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 06:00:17 GMT2017-06-23T06:00:17Z

Improved budget tablet has better screen, is slimmer and lighter and lasts a little longer between charges, also comes with Amazon’s smart voice assistant Alexa

At just £50, it was remarkable how not-rubbish the 2015 Amazon Fire 7 tablet was. Two years on, the Fire 7 (the 7 comes from the screen size - 7”) has slimmed down a little and has an improved screen, but is still just £50.

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Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press review – Hulk v Gawker in portrait of wealthy arrogance

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:08:38 GMT2017-06-22T11:08:38Z

This new Netflix docu-feature examines Hogan’s case against the gossip site, highlighting other wealthy figures aggressively seeking to silence the press

The extraordinary case of Hulk Hogan’s 2015 legal action against the gossip website Gawker is far shadier, far creepier than many appreciate. Certainly, I didn’t realise that, until I saw this punchy documentary which sites it in a new context. The Hogan attack was a vanguard operation in the aggressive new reactionary philistinism and hatred of press freedom being nurtured by some of America’s super-rich which is encouraged as a political diversionary tactic by the US president.

The wrestler sued Gawker for posting a sex tape of him with his best friend’s wife – the video was allegedly made and distributed without his knowledge. Much later, it was revealed that the suit was secretly bankrolled by the Silicon Valley billionaire, Ayn Rand-ist libertarian and Trump supporter Peter Thiel – apparently in revenge for Gawker outing him as gay. So far, so debatable. There are many who feel that both Hulk and Thiel were entitled to privacy and had no great sympathy for Gawker and its trashy, bitchy stories. But this film shows that there is ample evidence that Hogan knew that the tape was being made and was ready to let it accidentally-on-purpose emerge to promote his reality-TV career, panicking only when he thought that a longer version would become public, revealing his racist language. As for Thiel he was already furious at Gawker’s ValleyWag column and its continual, irreverent criticism of him and his financial performance, and had, in any case, a highly authoritarian contempt for the democratic impulses of the press. Thiel and Hogan won a staggering $140m in damages, enough to knock over first amendment issues and put Gawker out of business.

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Spectacles review: a great addition for a Snapchat fanatic

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:10:22 GMT2017-06-22T08:10:22Z

The retro sunglasses with a built-in video camera could be a must for serial posters on Snapchat, even if they’re not much good for anything else

Snap Inc’s Spectacles are one of the oddest pieces of hardware I’ve ever used.

Typically, when a new technology is introduced it lives or dies based on how well it is executed. Think the fingerprint sensor on a smartphone: whether it was fast enough and accurate enough to be trusted was key.

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OnePlus 5 review: as fast and smooth as Google Pixel, without the price tag

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:45:06 GMT2017-06-20T16:45:06Z

New smartphone continues phone’s USP of refined metal design and fluid user experience, but it’s not quite the bargain its predecessors were

The new OnePlus 5 has big shoes to fill following, as it does, the excellent OnePlus 3 and 3T, which managed to undercut the competition on price and beat them on design. So, more expensive than ever, can OnePlus’s latest smartphone pull off the same trick in 2017?

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Microsoft Surface Laptop review: a USB-C short of the best Windows 10 laptop

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 05:00:27 GMT2017-06-19T05:00:27Z

With great battery life, smooth performance and a beautiful screen, this would the best notebook PC around if it wasn’t for the lack of ports

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first true Surface-brand notebook - following the company’s Surface Pro tablet and the Surface Book laptop-tablet hybrid – but there’s something very unMicrosoft about it: great design.

Functionally, it’s about as standard as a notebook gets in 2017. There’s a full keyboard and precision trackpad and a small array of ports. The screen doesn’t detach but it is 10-point multi-touch and it works with the Surface Pen stylus. But aesthetically the Surface Laptop offers something new.

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OtherLife review – virtual reality goes bad in ambitious Australian sci-fi thriller

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 04:08:12 GMT2017-06-19T04:08:12Z

Ben C Lucas’s innovative rumination on the pitfalls of technology has Hollywood appeal and features a darkly charismatic performance from Jessica De Gouw

It is not uncommon for films about drug users to contain closeup shots of pupils dilating. This is hardly surprising given closeups of eyes have long been fashionable in cinema; the famous opening of Luis Buñuel’s 1929 classic Un Chien Andalou comes to mind. And after a hit of the good stuff, eyeballs look fabulous on screen, as films like Requiem for a Dream remind us.

Australian writer/director Ben C Lucas’s sophomore feature, OtherLife, joins the crazy-eyed canon in its opening moments, peppered with near full-screen vision of a narcotic-infused peeper.

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Fitness trackers out of step when measuring calories, research shows

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

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

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

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

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Inspector gadget: how smart devices are outsmarting criminals

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:00:20 GMT2017-06-23T09:00:20Z

Fitbits, pacemakers, Amazon Echoes – all are tools of the modern detective’s trade in a world where our devices are always watching

Richard Dabate told police a masked intruder assaulted him and killed his wife in their Connecticut home. His wife’s Fitbit told another story and Dabate was charged with the murder.

James Bates said an acquaintance accidentally drowned in his hot tub in Arkansas. Detectives suspected foul play and obtained data from Bates’s Amazon Echo device. Bates was charged with murder.

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Nice! Thanks! Love it! Gmail’s auto-reply is perfect for the lazy emailer

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:32:51 GMT2017-06-27T17:32:51Z

Google’s mail app now offers a range of AI-generated responses. Is modern life about to devolve into one long Turing test? No thanks!

Confusing times at Google. The company has announced it will stop automatically scanning users’ emails in order to provide targeted adverts. At almost the same moment, though, it has decided to launch an auto-reply system that scans one’s emails and generates possible responses from which you can choose.

The new functionality, added to the app store versions of Gmail, works by analysing a large, anonymised body of emails to generate possible responses. Machine-learning systems then rank these to pick the “best responses to the email at hand”.

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If it quacks like a duck … will a car horn be less annoying?

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:48:54 GMT2017-06-26T12:48:54Z

Experts in South Korea think they have found a less irritating way to express your frustration with fellow motorists. Well, it beats flipping them the bird

At the risk of sounding like Michael Gove, I think the problem with experts is that they don’t agree. Researchers in Seoul, having tested various car noises on 100 volunteers, have found that horns would suit us all much better if they sounded like ducks – still managing to alert people while being less irritating. However, Mike Stigwood, a consultant with noise-pollution specialist MAS Environmental, couldn’t disagree more. “No, absolutely not. You need a noise that triggers the sense in an alarming way and immediately draws your attention – which is what sirens and car horns currently do.” A quack is not that noise, except possibly to ducks.

The thing we hear is the intention beneath the noise, and intentionality governs response. It is also the difference between what you are acclimatised to and what you become hypersensitive to. “Someone moving from the countryside to live next to a motorway will have acclimatised to the traffic noise within a month,” Stigwood says. “Whereas if your neighbour has a rock-band rehearsal twice a week, you will get to the point where even the cars pulling up on the driveway will trigger adverse emotion.”

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From braille to Be My Eyes – there's a revolution happening in tech for the blind

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:06:32 GMT2017-06-26T11:06:32Z

Apps are linking visually impaired people to sighted volunteers as assistive technology enters a new era of connectivity

“Connected to other part,” my iPhone says to me as I stand somewhere in London’s Soho, trying to decipher the letter on the top of a bus stop.

“Hello?” says an American woman, reminding me of Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied artificially intelligent character from the sci-fi film Her.

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