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Technology | The Guardian



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



Published: Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:03:30 GMT2017-04-26T14:03:30Z

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



Twitter revenues decline for first time as advertising falls away

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:48:14 GMT2017-04-26T13:48:14Z

Company reports 8% fall in revenue in first quarter to $548m, but shares rebound as analysts had expected worse drop

Twitter has reported its first decline in revenue as advertisers pulled back from the social media service favoured by Donald Trump, celebrities and journalists.

The Silicon Valley company, which has never turned a profit, reported that revenues fell by 8% in the first quarter to $548m (427m).

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Pope tells leaders in first TED talk: act humbly or power will ruin you

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:46:31 GMT2017-04-26T08:46:31Z

Pontiff makes surprise appearance at Vancouver conference via video-link from the Vatican

He sits behind a desk rather than pacing around a stage, but the power of his message is not diluted. Pope Francis has made a surprise TED talk, beamed from the Vatican to Vancouver, calling for leaders to act with humility and tenderness.

The first pontifical TED talk, which lasted 18 minutes, featured Francis dispensing advice to politicians and leaders of big business, as well as talking about his own background as the son of migrants.

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Facebook urged to step up fake news fight before UK election

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 06:00:29 GMT2017-04-26T06:00:29Z

Select committee chairman Damian Collins says site does not act quickly enough and fake news could pose threat to ‘the integrity of democracy’

Facebook must improve its response to fake news before the UK general election and start blocking or issuing warnings about material that contains falsehoods, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee has said.

Damian Collins said fake news could pose a threat to “the integrity of democracy” because large numbers of voters who relied on Facebook for their news could be misled.

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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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Man suspected in wife's murder after her Fitbit data doesn't match his alibi

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:17:13 GMT2017-04-25T19:17:13Z

Officials say the timeline given by Richard Dabate, accused of killing his wife in their Connecticut home, is at odds with data collected by her wearable device

Wearable technology is revolutionizing the way people keep active, and if prosecutors in Connecticut have their way, it may help put a suspected murderer behind bars.

Officials say that the timeline given by Richard Dabate, accused of killing his wife in the couple’s Ellington, Connecticut, home in 2015, is at odds with data collected from her Fitbit, a wearable device that tracks physical activity.

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When cars fly? Uber wants to test on-demand air transport by 2020

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:48:01 GMT2017-04-25T17:48:01Z

Embattled ride-sharing company is partnering with aircraft manufacturers to develop an ‘on-demand’ network of ‘vertical takeoff and landing vehicles’

Uber said it plans to test flying cars by 2020, with the goal of eventually enabling customers to “push a button and get a high-speed flight in and around cities”.

The embattled ride-sharing company, which is facing a high-stakes intellectual property lawsuit over its self-driving car technology, said it is partnering with aircraft manufacturers to develop an “on-demand” network of “vertical take-off and landing vehicles”.

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From Wikitribune to StopFake: the battle against fake news

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:27:51 GMT2017-04-25T17:27:51Z

Jimmy Wales has launched a new site and Google is changing its algorithm – but they’re not the only ones offering innovative solutions to combat fake news online

It was Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s assertion that there were “alternative facts” that did it for Jimmy Wales. The Wikipedia founder has set up a site that will attempt to tackle the growing proliferation of fake news. Like the established online encyclopedia, Wikitribune will rely on a volunteer fact-checking community – peer-reviewed news if you like – but they will be collaborating with professional journalists, paid for by crowdfunding. The site, which launches today, is described as “news by the people for the people”. At the same time, Google has announced it is to combat fake news by identifying misleading or offensive content (thanks to reports from users) and changing its algorithm to stop fake news being so prominent in search results. It will promote more authoritative and authentic content – much like these existing fake-news fighters:

Related: Google acts against fake news on search engine

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Outgoing Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer will likely get $186m payout

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:01:56 GMT2017-04-25T16:01:56Z

Shareholders will be asked to approve a huge payout for Mayer, as Yahoo is currently being sold to Verizon, the US’s largest telecom company, for $4.49bn

The price of failure? About $186m if you are Marissa Mayer, outgoing chief executive of troubled internet giant Yahoo.

Related: Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer loses millions in bonuses over security lapses

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Facebook under pressure after man livestreams killing of his daughter

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:38:54 GMT2017-04-25T15:38:54Z

Distressing footage of murder of 11-month old in Thailand was accessible to Facebook users for approximately 24 hours before being taken down

Facebook is coming under fresh pressure over its Facebook Live service after a Thai man broadcast a video of himself killing his 11-month-old daughter.

Wuttisan Wongtalay, 20, filmed the murder of his daughter on the rooftop of a deserted hotel in two video clips streamed on Facebook, before killing himself, police in the Thai town of Phuket said on Tuesday. Relatives reportedly saw the distressing footage on Monday evening and alerted the police, who arrived too late to save either Wuttisan or his daughter.

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Google acts against fake news on search engine

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:00:16 GMT2017-04-25T14:00:16Z

Firm introduces user tools for reporting misleading content, and pledges to improve results generated by algorithm

Google announced its first attempt to combat the circulation of “fake news” on its search engine with new tools allowing users to report misleading or offensive content, and a pledge to improve results generated by its algorithm.

The technology company said it would allow people to complain about misleading, inaccurate or hateful content in its autocomplete function, which pops up to suggest searches based on the first few characters typed.

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What Remains of Edith Finch review: magical ode to the joy of storytelling

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 09:13:07 GMT2017-04-26T09:13:07Z

Indie studio Giant Sparrow conjures an adventure that blends exploration, reading, reality and fantasy into one innovative and beautiful experience

What Remains of Edith Finch is a game about storytelling and a masterclass in characterisation. Although it bears all the hallmarks of games like Gone Home or Dear Esther with its spooky waterside property, its readable letters and journey entries, and its lack of a “run” button, the game soon strays from the familiar paths trodden by those seminal “walking simulators”. Instead, What Remains delivers a collection of whimsical tales that leap deftly from one genre to another without ever losing the thread at the heart story.

The eponymous Edith is the last remaining member of the cursed Finch family, who have all died in strange circumstances, some of them at a young age. She is returning to the family home to find out what happened to them all. After each Finch death, the person’s bedroom was sealed up, never to be used again, resulting in a rambling, crooked tower of a house, with rooms tacked on here and there over time. In this way, the house acts as a grounding hub for the game, a visual metaphor for the messiness and chaos of life and a physical manifestation of the Finch family tree.

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Chatterbox: Wednesday

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 06:00:29 GMT2017-04-26T06:00:29Z

The place to talk about games and other things that matter

Chatterbox is the Guardian’s daily venue for video game-themed discussion. It has been running as a comments-based forum for over a decade.

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Hackers have targeted election campaign of Macron, says cyber firm

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:56:07 GMT2017-04-25T17:56:07Z

Trend Mirco says it detected fake web domains for French presidential candidate on digital infrastructure used by group named Pawn Storm

The campaign of the French presidential frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, has been targeted by hackers linked to Russia, according to researchers with a Japanese anti-virus firm.

The researchers added to previous suggestions that the centrist politician was being singled out for electronic eavesdropping by the Kremlin.

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Teenage hacker jailed for masterminding attacks on Sony and Microsoft

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:00:17 GMT2017-04-25T14:00:17Z

Adam Mudd jailed for two years for creating attack-for-hire business responsible for more than 1.7m breaches worldwide

A man has been jailed for two years for setting up a computer hacking business that caused chaos worldwide.

Adam Mudd was 16 when he created the Titanium Stresser program, which carried out more than 1.7m attacks on websites including Minecraft, Xbox Live and Microsoft and TeamSpeak, a chat tool for gamers.

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Teenage hackers motivated by morality not money, study finds

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:28:50 GMT2017-04-21T08:28:50Z

Young people attack computer networks to impress friends and challenge political system, crime research shows

Teenage hackers are motivated by idealism and impressing their mates rather than money, according to a study by the National Crime Agency.

The law enforcement organisation interviewed teenagers and children as young as 12 who had been arrested or cautioned for computer-based crimes.

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Should we worry the general election will be hacked?

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 06:00:19 GMT2017-04-20T06:00:19Z

From DDoS attacks to bots to fake news, there are many ways to influence an election. But is the UK really at risk?

Brexit vote site may have been hacked” warned the headlines last week after a Commons select committee published its report into lessons learned from the EU referendum.

The public administration and constitutional affairs committee (Pacac) said that the failure of the voter registration website, which suffered an outage as many people tried to sign to vote up at the last minute in 2016, “had indications of being a DDoS ‘attack’”. It said it “does not rule out the possibility that the crash may have been caused … using botnets”. In the same paragraph it mentioned Russia and China. It said it “is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference”.

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Unicode trick lets hackers hide phishing URLs

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:02:25 GMT2017-04-19T16:02:25Z

Some perfectly authentic looking web addresses are not what they seem and not all browsers are taking the problem seriously

Here’s a challenge for you: you click on a link in your email, and find yourself at the website https://аррӏе.com. Your browser shows the green padlock icon, confirming it’s a secure connection; and it says “Secure” next to it, for added reassurance. And yet, you’ve been phished. Do you know how?

The answer is in that URL. It may look like it reads “apple”, but that’s actually a bunch of Cyrillic characters: A, Er, Er, Palochka, Ie. The security certificate is real enough, but all it confirms is that you have a secure connection to аррӏе.com – which tells you nothing about whether you’re connected to a legitimate site or not.

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Hackers attacked one in five UK firms last year, survey finds

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 06:01:21 GMT2017-04-18T06:01:21Z

British Chamber of Commerce reveals large firms most at risk from cybercrime, with many companies lacking even the most basic protection

Cybercriminals have attacked one in five British businesses in the past year, many of which lack even the most basic security measures to protect confidential information. A report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that only 24% of businesses said they had security in place to guard against hacking, despite the rising danger of attacks and increasing publicity about the threat.

Larger companies, defined as those with at least 100 staff, were more susceptible to cyber-attacks, with 42% of big businesses falling victim to cybercrime, compared with 18% of small companies.

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Gordon Ramsay's father-in-law admits hacking chef's computers

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:44:25 GMT2017-04-11T12:44:25Z

Guilty pleas by Chris Hutcheson and his sons Adam and Chris at Old Bailey, with sentencing set for June

Gordon Ramsay’s father-in-law and two of his brothers-in-law have admitted hacking computers at the celebrity chef’s restaurant and business empire during a time of bitter dispute in the family.

Chris Hutcheson and two of his sons – Adam and Chris Jr – pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Tuesday to charges of conspiring to cause a computer to access programmes and data without authority.

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Tilted device could pinpoint pin number for hackers, study claims

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 05:01:19 GMT2017-04-11T05:01:19Z

Researchers were able to guess four-digit code with 70% accuracy at first attempt and 100% at fifth from how device held

Hackers could steal mobile phone users’ pin numbers from the way their devices tilt as they type on them, researchers have claimed.

Computer scientists at Newcastle University managed to guess a four-digit pin with 70% accuracy at the first attempt by using the gyroscopes built into all modern smartphones. With five attempts, the team was able to correctly guess the pin 100% of the time.

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False alarms: hackers take over Dallas's 156 sirens before system deactivated

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 16:43:40 GMT2017-04-09T16:43:40Z

Unknown hackers triggered about 15 alarm cycles before city officials took down emergency notification system used during inclement weather events

Hackers took control over the 156 sirens in Dallas this weekend, triggering false alarms on the system used to alert residents to take shelter from inclement weather, until officials deactivated the system early Saturday morning.

The person or people responsible were able to hack into a part of the system that was communicating with all 156 of the city’s sirens, said Rocky Vaz, who heads the city’s office of emergency management, at a news conference.

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Wonga data breach could affect nearly 250,000 UK customers

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 16:40:14 GMT2017-04-09T16:40:14Z

Personal details from hundreds of thousands of accounts may have been illegally accessed, admits payday lender

More than a quarter of a million customers of payday loan firm Wonga are being warned that their personal data may have been stolen in a data breach at the firm.

The online lender said it was “urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access” to the personal data of some of its customers in the UK and Poland. It is understood that the breach could affect up to 270,000 current and former customers, including 245,000 in the UK. The company would not disclose where it had taken place.

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Netflix's biggest competitor? Sleep

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

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

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

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

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Beware the unintended consequences of a robot revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Top tech firms avoid encryption issue in government talks

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

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

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

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

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

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Call for encryption ban pits Rudd against industry and colleagues

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 15:45:20 GMT2017-03-26T15:45:20Z

A previous plan to ban end-to-end encryption was dropped after widespread opposition, including from David Davis

Amber Rudd’s call for “no hiding place for terrorists” on the web echoes and revives David Cameron’s 2015 proposal to ban end-to-end encryption on services such as WhatsApp.

That proposal was dropped from the “snooper’s charter” legislation because of widespread opposition in the tech industry and from Conservative libertarians, including David Davis, now Brexit secretary and one of the home secretary’s cabinet colleagues.

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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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'As addictive as gardening': how dangerous is video gaming?

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:57:45 GMT2017-04-25T10:57:45Z

Snooker player Neil Robertson blamed a recent drop in form on video game addiction. But was he right to? We speak to the researchers trying to find out

Snooker player Neil Robertson claims a ruinous addiction has harmed his professional career. It’s not alcohol, it’s not drugs – it is video games. In a recent interview with Eurosport, the Australian said his compulsive need to play the online fantasy game World of Warcraft interfered with his training and preparation for a tournament in China. “I’m two months sober from playing them,” he told the site. “My friend said to me: ‘you don’t get to choose the crack you are addicted to’. And the multiplayer online ones I can’t touch because I just get too hooked on them.”

It is only the latest article to put forward the possibility that video games have addictive qualities similar to drugs or gambling. Over the last 20 years, as the medium exploded in popularity, there have been regular scare stories about zombie-like teenagers slumped in front of their PCs, eschewing school work and social interaction. In South Korea, where online gaming is effectively a national sport and its pro players are treated like rock stars, the government has funded treatment centres for games addiction and passed laws to limit access to games for children.

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Call of Duty: WWII could be the most important game of all time for historians

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 06:00:40 GMT2017-04-25T06:00:40Z

How Activision’s shooter presents the conflict should be watched closely by those interested in public history to bring about a dialogue between academia and games

Finally, it seems fans of the military shooter series Call of Duty are going to get what they’ve been wanting for almost a decade: the past. On Friday evening, Activision announced Call of Duty: WWII as the next instalment in the multi-million selling video game franchise, taking it back to the original setting.

For several years, the games have been moving forward in time, advancing beyond the near-future setting of the Modern Warfare titles into the space battles of Infinite Warfare, introducing drones, robots and, most controversially, rocket packs, along the way. But as the diminishing returns from the game’s annual instalments have shown, hardcore fans have become alienated by the endless new technological additions, preferring the ‘boots on the ground’ authenticity of the first Call of Duty titles, with their cinematic renderings of Operation Overlord, the second battle of El Alamein and the advance on Berlin. It was similar feedback, aimed at the rival shooter series Battlefield, that encouraged Electronic Arts to set the latest title during the first world war – to critical and commercial success.

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Games reviews roundup: Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom; Yo-kai Watch 2; Disney Afternoon Collection

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-04-24T06:00:04Z

An indie fantasy is endearing but confusing, while Nintendo’s Pokémon-style battling spirits return in force and Capcom serves up a feast of nostalgia

PS4, Xbox One, PC, Focus Home Interactive, cert: 12
★★★★

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After 20 years Full Throttle remains a narrative video game masterpiece

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:00:13 GMT2017-04-21T08:00:13Z

In examining how gallant, restrained masculinity could function as an action-adventure ideal, the LucasArts game was way ahead of its time

The fact that developer Double Fine Productions has chosen to remaster the classic 1995 point-and-click adventure Full Throttle isn’t in itself remarkable. The LucasArts titles of the mid-1990s are widely loved and celebrated, and we have already seen updates of stablemates Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle.

What is remarkable is that the strength of the narrative design, silly gags and beautiful vistas hasn’t diminished at all. Holding a PS4 controller in front of the new version, it’s obvious that the 20-year-old game is 10 times more ambitious than most commercially-made video games today. Not in the action of the game, in which your biker man Ben merely solves increasingly obscure puzzles involving the collection and application of objects to scenery (most memorably illustrated in the classic command “Slam face on bar”). No. What makes its legacy is something much more interesting than how many puzzles the game has, or how difficult they are to solve.

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Neil Robertson says video game addiction damaged snooker career

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:23:38 GMT2017-04-21T00:23:38Z

  • 2010 World Champion was obsessed with Fifa and World of Warcraft
  • ‘The years I had the 100 centuries, I should probably had around 120’

Australia’s former world snooker champion Neil Robertson says an addiction to video games across his career has harmed both his professional and personal life.

The 35-year-old Melburnian says longstanding obsessions with the Fifa football games, World of Warcraft and League of Legends deprived him of sleep and adversely affected his performances.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: the best, most versatile game in the series

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 13:00:28 GMT2017-04-20T13:00:28Z

Nintendo’s karting franchise is designed to get everyone racing together no matter what their individual ability. This Switch remaster achieves that and more

Bringing Mario Kart to the Switch feels like an easy win for Nintendo’s fledgling machine. It isn’t exactly a new game – it’s Mario Kart 8, with a few extras – but that doesn’t really matter, for three main reasons: the ability to play in portable mode opens up whole new contexts, not that many people owned a Wii U anyway, and Mario Kart 8 is still an absolutely fantastic racing game.

For those who skipped the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 introduced bigger tracks to accommodate 12 racers and vehicles that defy gravity to drive up walls and along ceilings, and sprout gliders to soar through the air. Those tracks all still look great on this new console, especially in portable mode. And Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also includes what was DLC for the Wii U version, like the wonderful Animal Crossing track that comes in four seasonal flavours, so there are 48 tracks in total.

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Dawn of a new era: why the best video games are not about saving the world

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:00:13 GMT2017-04-19T06:00:13Z

Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful and exciting adventure, but its most interesting element is that it focuses on the intellectual curiosity of its hero

Something has only just occurred to me about Horizon Zero Dawn. The PlayStation 4 action adventure game, set in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by robotic dinosaurs, is thrilling and beautiful – that much is obvious right from the start. Also obvious is the fact that it borrows a lot of mechanics from the Far Cry series, and that it lacks the sheer depth and scope of role-playing adventures like Witcher 3 and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But what dawned on me much more slowly was the fact that its wonderful lead protagonist, Aloy, is not so much motivated by some grand mission to save humanity (though that sort of comes into it), she is motivated by intellectual curiosity. She is fascinated by the mechanised monsters roaming the landscape and the ruins of an ancient technological culture that she first discovers as a child, and she wants to learn more. Her interactions with the world, the characters and the wider narrative within it, are all personal rather than heroic. In short, she acts like a human being.

For a very long time, a huge percentage of action-adventure games were about saving the planet – sometimes even the entire universe – from some monstrous invading evil. The stakes were almost always that high. There were many intermingled reasons for this. Partly, there’s the huge influence that fantasy and science-fiction masterworks have had on game developers – the overbearing presence of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in the collective imaginative canon. But also, a lot of early video games drew their story-telling approach directly from mythic sources – the great legends, folk and fairy tales – because with limited visual and narrative story-telling tools available, these primal tales were the easiest to communicate. Hence, a lot of games about lone heroes triumphing against the odds – rendering Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces into interactive life.

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eSports to be a medal event at 2022 Asian Games

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:53:02 GMT2017-04-18T15:53:02Z

  • OCA says eSports will be added to official programme at Hangzhou 2022
  • eSports to first be added as demonstration sport at next year’s Asian Games

eSports will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China, in the boldest step yet toward mainstream recognition of competitive gaming.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced a partnership on Monday with Alisports, the sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, to introduce eSports as a demonstration sport at next year’s games in Indonesia, with full-fledged inclusion in the official sporting programme at the Hangzhou Games in 2022.

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Langlands & Bell: the artists storming Silicon Valley's fortresses

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:10:15 GMT2017-04-26T13:10:15Z

With their eerily pristine models of Apple and Facebook’s offices, Turner-nominated artist duo Langlands & Bell expose the ‘fantasy of total control’ that is Silicon Valley architecture

Eerie white forms appear to float off the walls of a gallery on Pall Mall, hovering in front of lurid blocks of colour like the preserved cadavers of some alien race displayed in a future museum of natural history. There are amoebic creatures with bulbous appendages, others with angular faceted shells; some seem to stare out with cyclopean eyes or gaping circular mouths.

Westminster’s gilded avenue of gentlemen’s clubs, where kings and earls once strode, is an appropriate place for what turns out to be a display of our modern-day vessels of power. These bleached bodies are the headquarters buildings of the world’s biggest technology companies, as seen through the detached, deadpan eyes of artist duo Langlands & Bell.

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Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin review – the damage done by Silicon Valley

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:31 GMT2017-04-26T08:00:31Z

Taplin’s starting point is the music of Levon Helm and the Band, but the fight against the spoiled brats of Google, Amazon and Facebook is much bigger

In 2012, Jonathan Taplin took part in a public debate with Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, about what the digital economy was doing to the creative arts. Taplin, who had once been manager of the Band, and was the producer of Martin Scorsese’s magnificent film of their farewell concert The Last Waltz, had a particular grievance about the fate of his friend Levon Helm, the Band’s drummer. Helm was suffering from cancer, but had been forced back on the road at the age of 70 to help pay his medical bills because the new culture of “free music and movies” had destroyed his income as a recording artist. Ohanian, clearly a little chastened by this tale, wrote to Taplin offering to help “make right what the music industry did to members of the Band”. He suggested a reunion concert or album, funded by kickstarter, and launched on Reddit.

Taplin’s reply, which he reprints here in all its eviscerating glory, points out that this plan won’t work because in the meantime Helm has died. Moreover, he tells Ohanian, “It wasn’t the music industry that created Levon’s plight; it was people like you.” He concludes: “You are so clueless as to offer to get the Band back together for a charity concert, unaware that three of the five members are dead. Take your charity and shove it. Just let us get paid for our work and stop deciding that you can unilaterally make it free.” Ohanian, unsurprisingly, did not respond.

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Google's Waymo invites members of public to trial self-driving vehicles

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:24:15 GMT2017-04-25T09:24:15Z

Spin-off company opens up cars to hundreds of Phoenix residents, following aggressive pitching from state of Arizona

Google’s self-driving car spin-off, Waymo, is opening up its vehicles to members of the public for the first time.

Residents of Phoenix, Arizona, are being invited to apply to join the trial, which will see “hundreds” of participants being given full-time access to the fleet of600 self-driving minivans that Waymo intends to operate in the city.

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Building affordable housing is all but impossible in California’s Bay Area | Letter

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:18:10 GMT2017-04-24T15:18:10Z

Micah Weinberg of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute says homelessness is not helped by outdated laws and regulations that block new housing

Your story (‘It’s a perfect storm’: homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley, April 13) on a spike in homelessness in California’s Central Valley highlights an important problem, but some additional context is needed. The skyrocketing housing costs that are pushing workers east and bidding up prices in the Central Valley are not just a Silicon Valley phenomenon. The entire Bay Area region is suffering the same, the result of constrained housing supply from decades of underproduction. Local and state leaders have refused to address the problem at its core: reforming rigid and outdated laws and regulations that make building affordable housing all but impossible and help arm anti-growth zealots with the tools they need to block new housing.

The Bay Area Council does not, as your story wrongly suggests, view the Central Valley as a “bedroom community” for the purpose of enabling these policy failures. Although, without meaningful statewide housing reforms, we must build strong transportation links to respond to the continuing migration of lower- and middle-income workers from Silicon Valley to the Central Valley. A report by our Bay Area Council Economic Institute (The Northern California Megaregion, June 2016) examines this issue, and also makes recommendations for enhancing educational, workforce and economic development capacity in the Central Valley to support the expansion of the tech industry and jobs there.
Micah Weinberg
President, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

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The five most pointless tech solutions to non-problems

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:00:07 GMT2017-04-24T09:00:07Z

After the widely mocked $400 wifi-enabled Juicero machine, here are five over-engineered fixes to issues that arise when you have too much money

The Juicero was a joke even before this week. It’s the apotheosis of everything people mock about Silicon Valley: a $400 (£313) wifi-connected juice machine, which can only be refilled with single-purpose pods full of crushed fruit and veg that cost $5-8 per 230ml cup.

Oh, the pods can also only be shipped to 17 western states because they only have a shelf life of around a week.

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Big money, big ego, big bills: how to get divorced Silicon Valley style

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:00:18 GMT2017-04-19T10:00:18Z

Divorce is always hard, but it can be particularly messy in a land of huge wealth, alpha personalities and hard-nosed lawyers who don’t come cheap

The billionaire founder of Zynga, the San Francisco-based company that makes FarmVille, has found himself in (very messy) DivorceVille.

Mark Pincus, an early investor in Facebook and Twitter who is worth $1.28bn, separated from his wife, Alison Gelb Pincus, the co-founder of home decor business One Kings Lane. The couple married in 2008, a year after Mark founded Zynga, which grew into a $1bn company within four years. There was a prenup, but in filing for divorce Alison has asked the court to nullify the agreement since Mark’s net worth soared during their marriage.

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Steve Hilton: 'I’m rich, but I understand the frustrations people have'

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 06:00:18 GMT2017-04-15T06:00:18Z

David Cameron’s former blue-sky thinker says the rise of populism is due to the super-rich’s inability to put themselves in the shoes of those less well off – before accepting a free cab ride and becoming lost for words about his own wealth

Steve Hilton’s office looks so typically San-Fran tech-startup that it could be the work of a set designer. Surfaces are matt white, the centrepiece is the kitchen, and there are various bins for different types of recycling. The only thing missing is Hilton.

He can’t call to say he’s running 45 minutes late, because he doesn’t own a smartphone. The CEO of Crowdpac ditched his five years ago. This presents another problem when he arrives, because he has to leave again in 15 minutes, having promised to attend an exhibition at his sons’ school. Would I mind coming too? We could do the interview in the back of an Uber?

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Meet the iCar? Apple to test self-driving vehicles in California

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 19:31:05 GMT2017-04-14T19:31:05Z

The iPhone maker has been awarded a permit to test autonomous cars, moving into a highly competitive space that includes Google, Tesla and Ford

Apple is joining the fiercely competitive race to design self-driving cars, raising the possibility that a company that has already reshaped culture with its iPhone may try to transform transportation, too.

Ending years of speculation, Apple’s late entry into a crowded field was made official Friday with the disclosure that the California department of motor vehicles had awarded a permit for the company to start testing its self-driving car technology on public roads in the state.

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'It's a perfect storm': homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-04-13T10:00:01Z

The heartland best known for supplying nearly 25% of America’s food is experiencing a rise in homelessness that can be traced in part to the tech boom

At first glance, the rusted metal pens in the central California town of Patterson look like an open-air prison block. But for Devani Riggs, “the cages”, abandoned since the days they were used to store the bounty of the self-proclaimed apricot capital of the world, play a very different role.

“This one was mine. That one was Patty and Pete,” said Riggs, a 3o-year-old homeless woman, adding that dozens of people had slept in the cramped enclosures.

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

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

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

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

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

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Samsung Galaxy S8 review: the future of smartphones

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:00:11 GMT2017-04-21T06:00:11Z

Korean firm’s infinity display pushes smartphone design forward, and its new device is packed with the latest technology encased in a metal and glass shell

Following the Note 7 debacle, Samsung really needs a home run to keep its lead in the smartphone market. Is the almost all-screen Galaxy S8 it?

It seems so. The Galaxy S8 is arguably the best improvement in smartphone design in years and the biggest step forward to the holy grail of an all-screen phone.

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Huawei P10 review: a good but not groundbreaking phone

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:22 GMT2017-04-20T08:00:22Z

It might be a little off the pace but with great performance, excellent camera and good fingerprint sensor, the P10 is the Chinese firm’s best phone to date

Huawei hopes that its latest flagship smartphone, the P10, will help secure it as the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer. But has this Leica dual camera-equipped device got what it takes to compete?

The P10 is Huawei’s most attractive and best made smartphone yet, with a very solid and smooth feel in the hand in an interesting variety of colours.

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Move Fast and Break Things review – Google, Facebook and Amazon exposed

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 06:30:15 GMT2017-04-17T06:30:15Z

Jonathan Taplin reveals how just three companies subverted the internet’s utopian ideals

The internet, defined as the network switched on in January 1983, is now 34 years old. When it began, it was a gloriously decentralised, creative, non-commercial system that evoked in many of its early users utopian hopes about liberation, empowerment, creativity and sticking it to The Man. In those heady days, only a few sceptics wondered how long it would take for capitalism to get a grip on it. Now we know: it took only 21 years.

Opinions vary about the timing, of course. For my money, the critical year was 2004, the year Google had its IPO, Facebook was launched and the business model that became known as “surveillance capitalism” really got a grip on the network. This is the model that provides supposedly free services to users in return for “consent” to mine and exploit their personal data and digital trails in order to target adverts at them.

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Amazon Fire TV Stick review: cheap, great TV streaming device with new interface and Alexa

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:31:17 GMT2017-04-10T10:31:17Z

Voice assistant transforms budget smart TV stick into smarthome powerhouse, but keeps simple controls, wide UK catchup TV and third-party app support

Amazon’s second generation Fire TV stick – which lets you stream video and apps on your TV – continues the same winning formula but adds new voice search, Alexa assistant and a snappier, more polished experience making it one of the best instant smart TV devices available.

It looks like a USB flash drive, just with an HDMI connector on one end and a microUSB socket in the side. Set up is incredibly easy. Plug it directly into the back of your TV or receiver, or use the included HDMI extension cable if it doesn’t quite fit next to other devices, connect the included microUSB cable to the power adapter and plug it into the stick.

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Girl in the Machine review – the dilemmas of digital dependency

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:02:38 GMT2017-04-06T14:02:38Z

Traverse, Edinburgh
Stef Smith’s dystopian sci-fi two-hander, staged during the Edinburgh international science festival, anatomises our relationships with technology

The lines of Neil Warmington’s set are straight and enclosing. The shipping-container walls roll back to reveal an oblong room where four cushioned cubes sit between the right angles of the Escher-like flooring and the squares of the grating above. It’s a chic space where married couple Owen and Polly can look cool and sophisticated. Naturally, when he surprises her with a present, it comes wrapped in a neat black box.

But we all know about square pegs and round holes. In Stef Smith’s gripping two-hander, a piece of dystopian sci-fi in the manner of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, flesh-and-blood humanity is not easily contained. Where Polly would like to take refuge in the rectangular screen of her tablet computer, with its constant email pings from her work in corporate law, she is pulled equally by the erotic force of her husband’s real-life presence.

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Six of the best gadgets for cats: goodbye analogue mog, hello cyber hepcat

Sun, 02 Apr 2017 07:15:47 GMT2017-04-02T07:15:47Z

Forget clockwork mice. There’s a new range of gadgets for your cat to get its paws on, including ones to track it, feed it and even scoop up after it

Cats are relatively low-maintenance animals, though that won’t stop us from finding innovative ways to spend money on them. First they overran the internet; now they’ve come for the internet of things: the market is littered with toys, cameras, and camera-toys. Even some of the more basic items – food bowls, litter trays – apparently need a power supply now. But is this stuff really useful? Or are companies merely playing on the vulnerabilities of doting pet owners, such as myself? We tested a few gadgets with the reluctant help of my ageing cat, Toby.

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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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'Have faith in what you're doing' – Confessions of a Startup

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:00:48 GMT2017-03-31T06:00:48Z

Isabella Lane started Smarter Applications with husband Christian two and a half years ago. Their first product was a wifi kettle, which they built for £100

Subscribe and review on iTunes, Soundcloud & Mixcloud and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

From its humble beginnings with just a £100 wifi kettle prototype, Smarter Applications has come a long way. The kettles are now stocked in the likes of Harrods and John Lewis and the company has also launched a wifi coffee machine and fridge cam in Europe, with plans to export to the US in 2017.

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How a digital NHS saves time and money – and transforms care | Afzal Chaudhry

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:14:32 GMT2017-04-25T11:14:32Z

Our hospital trust has introduced systems that released appointments and allow staff to spend more quality time with patients

Imagine this scenario: a patient arrives at hospital for an appointment or an emergency, or is admitted for treatment and the clinical team can see their medical record in its entirety, wherever and whenever they need to.

At Cambridge University hospitals NHS foundation trust, that is what we set out to achieve when, seven years ago, we decided to invest in a sustainable digital future for our hospitals. Rather than relying on paper-based processes and simply replacing outdated technology as it became obsolete, we wanted to transform the way we care for our patients.

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Driverless pods plot new course to overtake humans

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 07:01:47 GMT2017-04-25T07:01:47Z

Autonomous cars used at Heathrow and being trialled in south-east London now beg the question - should humans be banned from driving?

In a little over two years, a fleet of driverless cars will make its way from Oxford to London, completing the entire journey from start to finish without human intervention, including on urban streets and motorways.

Organisers of the government-backed project, announced on Monday, still expect to have a human in the driving seat. But as the cars communicate, update on hazards, and automatically react, is the time coming when a human driver is not just redundant but an active danger?

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FaceApp: a selfie filter in tune with our narcissistic times

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:48:01 GMT2017-04-24T16:48:01Z

The phone app uses ‘neural networks’ to turn your frown upside down – but the results are nothing to smile about

Sometimes it’s hard to work up a smile for the camera. I don’t want people to think I enjoy having my picture taken. Even when I slavishly follow an instruction to smile, I try to make sure my eyes betray a little resentment. I may be saying cheese, but my face is saying: I hate cheese.

Luckily, I’ll never have to smile for a picture again, because now there’s an app for that. FaceApp uses “deep generative convolutional neural networks” to turn your frown upside down. It is meant to be more realistic than previous selfie filters, making subtle adjustments to the eyes and the rest of the face to produce a look of genuine merriment, instead of a cheese-hating grimace.

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The new status symbol: it’s not what you spend – it’s how hard you work

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-04-24T06:00:04Z

The rich used to show how much they could spend on things they didn’t need. Today, a public display of productivity is the new symbol of class power

Almost 120 years ago, during the first Gilded Age, sociologist Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption”. He used it to refer to rich people flaunting their wealth through wasteful spending. Why buy a thousand-dollar suit when a hundred-dollar one serves the same function? The answer, Veblen said, was power. The rich asserted their dominance by showing how much money they could burn on things they didn’t need.

While radical at the time, Veblen’s observation seems obvious now. In the intervening decades, conspicuous consumption has become deeply embedded in the texture of American capitalism. Our new Gilded Age is even more Veblenian than the last. Today’s captains of industry publicize their social position with private islands and superyachts while the president of the United States covers nearly everything he owns in gold.

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Five of the best sports watches

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:30:08 GMT2017-04-23T08:30:08Z

Inspired by the London Marathon? A running watch – with GPS, distance tracking and health and fitness stats – is a great way to monitor your progress

TomTom’s Runner 3 is waterproof to 40m and comes in four versions with different features. I opted for the top-of-the-line Runner 3 Cardio + Music with GPS, heart rate and built-in music playback.

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Citroën C3 car review – ‘How many times do you intend to crash this car?’

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 10:00:11 GMT2017-04-22T10:00:11Z

Let’s talk about the point of those signature air bumps, since they are unignorable

It was orange, the Citroën C3, zingy orange with its signature air bumps – bobbly side-panels, presumably in some part made of air – carved in black, so obviously I jumped straight in, and before I knew it I was on the M25 in the dark, rain driving towards my windscreen like pellets. It was the wrong time to find out that the wipers were a little lackadaisical, like twin teenagers who said they wanted to clean your car but really just wanted a fiver.

Let’s talk about the point of those air bumps, since they are unignorable, even more so on this than on the larger Cactus. They exist so that you can have a little ding and it won’t show. Then you can have another, and another, and when it starts to show, you can replace your panels at far less expense than bashing back the bodywork. So the obvious question is: how many times do you intend to crash this car? Because in my experience – and this is anecdata worthless to anyone but Michael Gove – it’s quite rare to go into the side of someone. And I can tell you from the one time I did it – in a Vauxhall Mokka, into a hairdresser who needs her car for work – that people don’t like it. Really, the only way to get the most out of a C3 and its USP is if everybody has one. If you’re going to design a car on the basis that everyone will have one, why not do something much cooler, like make it horizontally stackable or solar powered on a wireless multishare grid? Huh?

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What if we’re living in a computer simulation?

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 09:00:10 GMT2017-04-22T09:00:10Z

Virtual reality technology is making great advances, but it has also helped popularise a theory long debated by philosophers and now gaining supporters in Silicon Valley – that the outside world is itself a simulation

Have you ever wondered if life is not exactly what it’s cracked up to be? OK, let’s take that thought a little further. Have you ever suffered from an identity crisis? Yes? One in which you suspected that you’re not a real person, but instead an extremely sophisticated computer simulation of a real person produced by an immensely more developed civilisation than that which we take to be our own?

It’s just possible that I lost you on that last point, but stay with me, because the reality we take for granted is coming under increasing technological and theoretical threat.

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How can I fix my PC when Windows 10 won’t boot?

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:12:14 GMT2017-04-20T09:12:14Z

John ran a tune-up utility and now his Windows 10 laptop won’t start. What can he do?

I recently ran a free trial of a PC tune-up utility, including a disk clean-up routine, on my Windows 10 laptop. When it restarted, it reported a missing component. Said machine then bricked: boot begins, then the screen blanks.

Are there any steps that I can take to recover access to the machine? Failing that, can I recover my files from the hard drive, installed in a USB cradle? John

Microsoft has spent a lot of time (and money) trying to make Windows self-repairing, partly because it generally gets the blame when other programs – or users – try to “improve” it. Given that tens of thousands of expert programmers have worked on the code over the past 30 years, the number of safe, simple, significant and forwards-/backwards-compatible improvements may be quite small.

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