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Technology | The Guardian

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

Published: Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:56:01 GMT2016-12-07T14:56:01Z

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

Tech talk: your tech for Christmas questions answered

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:50:59 GMT2016-12-07T10:50:59Z

Editors and writers from the Guardian’s tech team joined readers for a live Q&A in the comments between 11am-1pm (GMT) on 7 Dec – catch up below!

Want to ask us about whether the Pixel is better than the iPhone? If VR is really the future? Or how good that new Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro is?

Experts from the Guardian’s technology desk, including Jonathan Haynes, Samuel Gibbs and Alex Hern, will be online and in the comments from 11am-1pm (GMT) answering your tech questions and discussing the latest issues – join them now. We’ll round up some of the best discussion, advice and expert opinion in a blog post after.

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Twitter founder feels 'complicated' about Donald Trump's tweeting

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:39:30 GMT2016-12-07T09:39:30Z

Jack Dorsey says he has mixed feelings about the president-elect’s use of the social media service

For the first time, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has described his “complicated” feelings about the US president-elect Donald Trump’s use of the social media service.

Speaking at the Code Commerce conference in California, Dorsey demurred when asked if he felt responsible for Trump’s election. “America is responsible for Donald Trump being president,” he said, before conceding that, more than any other candidate, Trump excelled in his use of Twitter.

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Net earnings: top YouTubers' income rises 23% in past year

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:29:01 GMT2016-12-06T20:29:01Z

Ranking of 12 highest-earning YouTube stars by Forbes shows they are increasingly monetising their popularity on platform

Their talents range from comedy to gaming and from singing to playing pranks, often captured with nothing more than a handheld camera. But YouTubers are at the vanguard of an industry worth tens of millions of pounds.

Forbes’ ranking of the 12 highest-earning YouTube stars shows they collectively earned £55m in the past 12 months, an increase of 23% on last year.

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US supreme court rules for Samsung in $399m patent dispute with Apple

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:40:38 GMT2016-12-06T16:40:38Z

Unanimous decision holds that patent violators do not have to surrender profits from sales of products that use stolen designs for components

The US supreme court on Tuesday sided with Samsung in its big-money smartphone patent fight with Apple, throwing out an appeals court ruling that said the South Korean company had to pay a $399m penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs.

The justices in their 8-0 ruling sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

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Calling Gordon Gekko: how old mobile phones became £1,000 collector items

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:18:00 GMT2016-12-06T16:18:00Z

With the market for retro cell phones booming, here’s a selection of desirable designs, from a 10kg monster to a clamshell classic

When it debuted in 1989, the MicroTAC was hailed as a “game-changer”, one that Motorola argued would bring mobile phones out of the hands of top execs and into the hands of senior mid-level execs. Competively price at $2,995, the size of a Dutch brick rather than the preceding concrete breezeblock, it had an amazing half-hour’s talk time with only 10 hours of charging.

The price has dropped a bit, but at £100 on eBay, the likes of the MicroTAC still hold value for collectors. New research by Talkmobile highlights how the market for vintage phones has become increasingly lively as collectors aim to snap up a brick of tech history.

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Why does Bill Gates want you to read The Myth of the Strong Leader?

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:31:00 GMT2016-12-06T15:31:00Z

The Microsoft billionaire’s annual reading list includes a 2014 study by British political scholar Archie Brown – a choice, he says, that was inspired by the US election

If there’s one thing more valuable to an author than a Richard and Judy endorsement circa 2006, it’s a Bill Gates plug circa this week. The man has reach, and the luxury of reading time that comes with being a semi-retired billionaire. And he has weight. So, while four of the books on his annual list cover predictable if fascinating ground (genetics, tennis, electricity infrastructure and a business memoir), the fifth is quite interesting, not to say timely.

In The Myth of the Strong Leader, the renowned British political scholar Archie Brown throws a dozen world leaders of the past century into a bag, shakes them up, and watches the nice guys rise to the top. Brown debunks the idea that the most successful leaders are those who dominate and mould their nations around themselves, as far as their political systems allow. “A more collegial style of leadership is too often characterised as a weakness,” he writes.

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How to publish an Android library: a mysterious conversation

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:10:24 GMT2016-12-06T12:10:24Z

I recently met a rather mysterious Android developer called Nick and helped him to publish his first library on Bintray.

I recently met a rather mysterious chap called Nick. Nick was a hobbyist Android developer and he wanted to know how he could publish some of his code as a library for other developers to use. Having done the same thing earlier this year, I did my best to help.

Nick: Ho ho ho, hullo Max!

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Facebook reportedly testing new tool to combat fake news

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:35:29 GMT2016-12-06T09:35:29Z

Facebook users asked to rank whether a story ‘uses misleading language’, in an apparent attempt the solve the site’s problem with false stories

Facebook appears to be testing a tool designed to help it identify and hide so called “fake news” on the social network, in an attempt to quell increasingly vocal criticism of its role in spreading untruths and propaganda.

The tool, reported by at least three separate Facebook users on Twitter, asks readers to rank on a scale of one to five the extent to which they think a link’s title “uses misleading language”. The articles in question were from reliable sources: Rolling Stone magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Chortle, a news site which reports on comedy.

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Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft team up to tackle extremist content

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 01:47:44 GMT2016-12-06T01:47:44Z

The tech companies plan to create a shared database of ‘unique digital fingerprints’ that can identify images and videos promoting terrorism

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.

The companies are to create a shared database of unique digital fingerprints – known as “hashes” – for images and videos that promote terrorism. This could include recruitment videos or violent terrorist imagery or memes. When one company identifies and removes such a piece of content, the others will be able to use the hash to identify and remove the same piece of content from their own network.

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Google 'must review its search rankings because of rightwing manipulation'

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 19:48:21 GMT2016-12-05T19:48:21Z

Hate sites are dominating and controlling searches on Muslims, Jews, Hitler and women and search engine is failing to tackle problem, say academics

Google must urgently review its search ranking system because of “compelling” evidence that it is being “manipulated and controlled” by rightwing propagandists, leading academics have said, after the Observer reported that hate sites are now dominating searches on Muslims, Jews, Hitler and women.

Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and the author of Weapons on Math Destruction, said that unless Google acknowledged responsibility for the problem, it would be a “co-conspirator” with the propagandists. “This is the end for Google pretending to be a neutral platform,” she said. “It clearly has a terrible problem here and it has to own and acknowledge that.

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Street Fighter V: victory and diversity in the eSports world final

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:20:56 GMT2016-12-07T12:20:56Z

The winner of the 2016 Capcom Cup receives $230,000, but the pressures on competitors are more than monetary – particularly if they’re transgender

The atmosphere in the competitor pen at the 2016 Capcom Cup in Anaheim, California, is weirdly tranquil – despite the stakes. There’s a $230,000 cheque waiting for the winner, $60,000 for the runner-up. The room, snugly closed off from a shanty town of flight cases, stage lights and wires behind the sweeping stage is lined with sofas, on which the eight finalists sit. In 10 minutes they will emerge to a full house of hollers and applause, ready to make their bids in the annual competition to crown the best Street Fighter player in the world.

In the middle of the room, two trestle tables sag under the weight of monitors, on which the finalists are free to warm up their fingers with practice games. There are, however, no preparatory or prayerful rituals going on back here; only the idle swiping of phones. I sink into the couch beside 32-year-old Ricki Ortiz, one of two Americans to reach the finals (the other six competitors all come from Street Fighter’s home of Japan). What does she do to prepare for a major fixture like this, I ask. “Me?” she says. “I had a quick nap.”

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Chatterbox: Wednesday

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:00:24 GMT2016-12-07T07:00:24Z

The place to talk about games and other things that matter

It’s Wednesday.

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German spy chief says Russian hackers could disrupt elections

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:34:31 GMT2016-11-29T15:34:31Z

Cyber-attacks aim to delegitimise democratic process and elicit political uncertainty, says Bruno Kahl

The head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service has warned that next year’s general election could be targeted by Russian hackers intent on spreading misinformation and undermining the democratic process.

Bruno Kahl, president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, said Russia may have been behind attempts during the US presidential campaign to interfere with the vote.

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Ransomware attack on San Francisco public transit gives everyone a free ride

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 10:19:30 GMT2016-11-28T10:19:30Z

San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency attacked by hackers who locked up computers and data with 100 bitcoin demand

Hackers have managed to infect and take over more than 2,000 computers used to operate San Francisco’s public transport system, forcing the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to open the gates and allow passengers to ride for nothing.

The attackers used a variant of the HDDCryptor malware to infect 2,112 computers on Friday, encrypting their data and preventing them from operating normally – holding them to ransom for 100 bitcoin (£58,514, $73,086), according to the Register,.

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Has the internet become a failed state?

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 07:59:55 GMT2016-11-27T07:59:55Z

The internet was once a land of promise, with few fears about crime or privacy. Thirty years on, scammers, thieves and spies have created a place of chaos

Here are some stories about the world we now inhabit…

• In February this year, Bangladesh Bank was hit by the biggest bank robbery in history when thieves got away with $101m. The heist was accomplished not by tunnels or explosives, but by acquiring the access codes for the Swift global messaging system, which is what banks use to securely pass payment orders to one another. The criminals used Swift to instruct the US Federal Reserve to transfer money to their accounts. Then they cunningly erased their digital fingerprints by modifying the bank’s software.

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School for teenage codebreakers to open in Bletchley Park

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:01:18 GMT2016-11-24T00:01:18Z

Sixth-form College of National Security will teach cyber skills to some of Britain’s most gifted youngsters to fight growing threat

Its first operatives famously cracked coded messages encrypted by the Nazis, hastening the end of the second world war.

Now Bletchley Park is planning a new school for the next generation of codebreakers in order to plug a huge skills gap in what is fast emerging as the biggest security threat to 21st-century Britain.

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Loans boss paid hackers to attack consumer website, court told

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:48:44 GMT2016-11-21T15:48:44Z

James Frazer-Mann was tracked down by FBI after paying Americans to target forum following complaints about his business

The boss of a payday loans company hired computer hackers to try to sabotage a consumer rights website after it had carried customers’ complaints about his business.

James Frazer-Mann, 35, was tracked down by the FBI after he paid American hackers to launch an attack on the Consumer Action Group (CAG) website.

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Data on over 130,000 Three mobile customers compromised in breach

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 19:50:19 GMT2016-11-18T19:50:19Z

Three men arrested for alleged fraudulent use of company’s phone upgrade system in attempt to steal handsets

Customer information from more than 130,000 users of the Three mobile network has been compromised in a cyber security breach, the mobile operator has said.

Three boss, Dave Dyson, said in a statement that all affected customers were being contacted individually and that while personal information had been accessed, no financial information had been compromised.

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Canada military recruitment website suffers hack

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 22:21:14 GMT2016-11-17T22:21:14Z

  • Users redirected to Chinese government’s main page
  • Defence ministry investigating but identity of hackers is unknown

The Canadian armed forces recruitment website was hacked on Thursday, redirecting would-be recruits to the Chinese government’s main page instead, a military spokeswoman said.

Related: China launches quantum satellite for 'hack-proof' communications

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A new era: our elections now will be decided by hackers and leaked data

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 12:00:18 GMT2016-11-16T12:00:18Z

WikiLeaks and a network of anonymous hackers have become a major influence – but are they enhancing our democracy or undermining it?

A new and disturbing factor emerged during this presidential election, and one that may change elections forever: democracies are now at the mercy of hacking and surveillance technology – and those who control it.

WikiLeaks and a network of anonymous hackers have become a major influence, turning the rituals of democracy into sleaze-fests for the tabloids and the sensationalist press. And foreign governments have a hand, too – allegedly Russia, in the case of the US election.

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Theresa May saved my life – now she’s the only hope for the Human Rights Act | Gary McKinnon

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 08:00:11 GMT2016-11-15T08:00:11Z

It would be tragic if the ladder used to rescue me from extradition was kicked away from the next person who needs it

In the early part of this century I gained unauthorised access to government computer systems in the US, in a successful attempt to find evidence of official knowledge of the UFO phenomenon. What followed was a decade-long nightmare. I slipped further and further into depression as the years wore on, having to take Prozac and regularly see a therapist. The emotional wear and tear on my family was one of the worst parts, watching them fight and mostly lose for 10 years.

Related: The Tories are using the army to take a shot at human rights | Conor Gearty

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Amber Rudd orders Lauri Love extradition to US on hacking charges

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:40:45 GMT2016-11-14T18:40:45Z

Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is accused of stealing data from agencies including Federal Reserve, Nasa and FBI

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has signed an order for the extradition of a British man to the US, where his lawyers believe he could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted of hacking charges. Lauri Love is accused of stealing large amounts of data from US government agencies such as the Federal Reserve, the army, the Department of Defense, Nasa and the FBI in a spate of online attacks in 2012 and 2013.

The 31-year-old activist, who has Asperger syndrome, lost his legal challenge to avoid extradition in September, and on Monday the Home Office said the necessary order allowing his removal had been signed after Rudd “carefully considered all relevant matters”.

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What does the future of Android look like in a world with the Pixel?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:54:55 GMT2016-12-01T12:54:55Z

Google’s decision to make its own smartphone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Android, the world’s most used mobile operating system, is going through a step change. For years, its creator, Google, only made a small number of own-brand devices running it for developers and enthusiasts. That changed with the release of the Pixel.

The Pixel is Google’s first real attempt to challenge Apple and Samsung’s smartphone dominance, but it wasn’t made by the same team that makes Android.

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Why Facebook's China adventure will need more than censorship to succeed

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 04:14:05 GMT2016-11-30T04:14:05Z

As social network reportedly develops tools to restrict users so the Communist party will let it in, some experts say it is ‘light years’ behind rivals already in place

Facebook needs to invest in more than just censorship tools if it hopes to lift a seven-year ban in China, experts say, amid a tightening space for foreign technology companies in the world’s most populous nation.

Last week it emerged Facebook is working on software designed to suppress content – widely seen as a prerequisite to ending the ban, put in place in the wake of deadly ethnic riots in 2009 in attempt to quell the sharing of information about the violence.

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Fake news and a 400-year-old problem: we need to resolve the ‘post-truth’ crisis

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:42:50 GMT2016-11-29T17:42:50Z

The internet echo chamber satiates our appetite for pleasant lies and reassuring falsehoods and has become the defining challenge of the 21st century

The internet age made big promises to us: a new period of hope and opportunity, connection and empathy, expression and democracy. Yet the digital medium has aged badly because we allowed it to grow chaotically and carelessly, lowering our guard against the deterioration and pollution of our infosphere.

Related: How technology disrupted the truth | Katharine Viner

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Why the US government wants to bring cryptocurrency out of the shadows

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 15:00:03 GMT2016-11-27T15:00:03Z

The IRS has issued a summons for data on millions of users of the bitcoin exchange Coinbase, but some are dismayed by sweeping nature of the request

A US government request to trawl through the personal data of millions of users of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase signals the start of an effort to pull digital currencies like bitcoin into the mainstream, experts have said.

The “John Doe” summons, a broad order for data on all Coinbase users in 2013, 2014 and 2015, was filed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a federal court in California on 17 November.

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Facebook doesn't need to ban fake news to fight it

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 13:56:04 GMT2016-11-25T13:56:04Z

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site doesn’t have to become a censor to help tackle false stories. It can do a lot by helping its own users with context

In the wake of the US presidential election, almost everyone agrees that misinformation is a problem. Even Mark Zuckerberg has finally said that Facebook will take it seriously. “Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information,” he wrote this week.

Zuckerberg’s message was slightly undercut for some users by the fact that it was accompanied by adverts for fake news. Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, Blogger and Medium, posted his own example a few days later: links, claiming to be from ESPN and CNN, to stories that implying that Tiger Woods had died and Donald Trump had been “disqualified”, right next to the Facebook chief executive’s post.

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Could Donald Trump really get Apple to 'build a big plant' in the US?

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 20:18:57 GMT2016-11-23T20:18:57Z

Convincing Apple to make its products in the US will be a ‘real achievement’ says Trump, but skepticism remains about whether it could ever happen

Donald Trump told Apple CEO Tim Cook that he is going to “get” the company to start manufacturing its products in the United States, the president-elect told the New York Times on Tuesday.

Trump revealed that he had received a post-election phone call from Cook during which he said, “Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States.”

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Strong-arm Apple and tax China bigly: a guide to Trump's possible tech policies

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 00:16:57 GMT2016-11-18T00:16:57Z

Silicon Valley has enjoyed its relationship with Obama, but how will companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook fare under a Trump administration?

America’s technology industry has enjoyed a close relationship with President Obama’s administration since he was elected in 2008 – a fact that will not be lost on president-elect Donald Trump, who pitched his own ideas about technology policy while campaigning.

The technology sector is responsible for 6% of the nation’s economy and nearly $1tn in GDP for 2014 alone, according to the trade body the Internet Association. Trump needs to engage – but what policies is he likely to formulate?

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Facebook’s failure: did fake news and polarized politics get Trump elected?

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 22:59:40 GMT2016-11-10T22:59:40Z

The company is being accused of abdicating its responsibility to clamp down on fake news stories and counter the echo chamber that defined this election

“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They are the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

Many Guardian readers will have seen this quote, attributed to a 1998 interview with Donald Trump in People magazine, in their Facebook news feed.

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Consumers question worth of top-end tablets as sales fall dramatically

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:04:24 GMT2016-11-01T15:04:24Z

Along with similar declines in the PC industry, tablet sales fall for five quarters with only budget models showing growth

Sales of tablet computers fell by more than 6m over the past year as the market contracted 14.7%, according to a report.

At a time when consumers are questioning whether they really need both a computer and a tablet or either along with a smartphone, the only part of the market to grow was the sub-$200 offerings.

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Facebook tries to clone Snapchat for 8th, 9th and 10th times

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:02:11 GMT2016-10-31T10:02:11Z

Facebook has repeatedly tried to take on Snapchat by replicating its features or by buying them in

Facebook has been trying to steal Snapchat’s thunder for a while, but this weekend the social network beat even its own covetous record.

On Friday came the news that Facebook is testing a new camera in its main app that offers Snapchat Lens-style photo and video filters to users. The camera, available to users in Ireland for now, is accessed by swiping right on the homescreen of the Facebook app.

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Russian MPs are not the first to try to write LGBT people out of video games | Keza MacDonald

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:45:26 GMT2016-12-07T10:45:26Z

Fifa 17 is the latest target. But increasingly games reflect the world as it is – not as reactionaries would like it to be

In 2013, Russia’s parliament unanimously passed a law forbidding “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, essentially making it illegal to distribute any material on gay relationships or gay rights via the internet or any other kind of media, or to hold gay pride marches or rallies.

The move led to an immediate rise in homophobic hate crime. So far, targets have included Ikea (for the crime of including gay couples in its catalogue), sports events run by LGBT-friendly organisations, and perhaps most famously, the Sochi Olympics.

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From Overwatch to Firewatch: the best video games of 2016 - chosen by developers

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 07:45:39 GMT2016-12-06T07:45:39Z

We asked 50 game makers what they thought was the best game of 2016. Here are their often surprising responses

It may have been a difficult year for the wider world, but 2016 did at least see a lot of excellent video games, from the glossy action movie thrills of Uncharted 4 to the agenda-setting multiplayer fun of Overwatch and the solemn dystopian vision of Inside.

But we wanted to know what the industry itself thinks were the best games to come out in the past 12 months. To find out, we asked 50 of our favourite developers, including 30-year veterans, Bafta award winners and rising indie stars. Here’s what they decided.

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The Last Guardian review – a joyous meditation on companionship

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:31:10 GMT2016-12-05T16:31:10Z

Fumito Ueda’s PlayStation 4 title has been a decade in the making. From the game’s exquisite animation to its emotional intelligence, it has been worth the wait

“I awoke to find myself in a strange cave.”

This is the fairy tale opening of Fumito Ueda’s heavily anticipated game, 10 years in the making and only the forty-six year old Japanese director’s third major work. But then, of course, the first two – Ico and Shadow of Colossus – are legendary. Film director Guillermo del Toro once described them as the medium’s sole masterpieces; anticipation is accordingly high.

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Russian MPs accuse Fifa 17 video game of 'gay propaganda'

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:04:46 GMT2016-12-05T14:04:46Z

Developer EA Sports backed a campaign in the UK to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football

Russian MPs have asked the state communications oversight agency to take action against the Fifa 17 video game for violating the country’s law against gay propaganda.

Communist MPs sent a letter to the communications oversight and state consumer protection agencies complaining that the popular EA Sports football game, which is rated all ages, “invites users to support the English football premier league’s Rainbow Laces action, a massive campaign in support of LGBT”, Izvestia newspaper reported.

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What PSX tells us about the modern games industry

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:02:26 GMT2016-12-05T13:02:26Z

The Last of Us Part II might have caught the headlines at PlayStation Experience, but at Sony’s cultish event, the future looked filled with big brands and nostalgia

By now, you’ve probably heard the big news: The Last of Us Part II is coming. Developer Naughty Dog took to the stage at the PlayStation Experience (PSX) event in Anaheim, California on Saturday, confirming a sequel for its critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic adventure. We will return to the harrowing lives of Ellie and Joel as they seek to survive a nightmarish pandemic – and to take some sort of revenge.

Little else is known about the game, but it’s the manner of that announcement, and what else happened that night, that tells us a lot about where PlayStation – and the industry at large – is going.

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The Last of Us Part II and six other exciting announcements at PSX

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:20:06 GMT2016-12-05T12:20:06Z

The seven announcements everyone is talking about after the PS4 convention in Los Angeles this weekeend

Thousands of fans flocked to the Anaheim Convention Centre in Los Angeles to go hands on with the latest and greatest PS4 titles this weekend, but it was these announcements that really grabbed the headlines. Here are the seven things everyone is talking about:

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Simon Parkin: best video games of 2016

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 08:00:08 GMT2016-12-04T08:00:08Z

From the lush medieval world of The Witcher 3 to the touching narrative of The Last Guardian, let’s give thanks for rich escapes from a tough year

Death, disorder, confusion and upheaval: 2016 has surpassed even the most outlandish video game in its disquieting depictions. Fiction may be unable to compete with reality when it comes to whiplash-inflicting narrative twists, but it can provide a sanctuary into which the embattled and anxious may retreat. Video games in particular provide a comforting framework for the human mind. Even on the virtual battlefield, or post-apocalyptic city, few games ever betray their fundamental rules, something that can no longer, it seems, be said for politics and all the rest.

These days most video games take years to build. Such is the cost and scale of the technological and artistic undertaking of interactive blockbusters that it’s unlikely we’ll see 2016’s major themes surfacing in games for another year or so. Some developers, however, successfully anticipated the events of the moment. The recently released Watch Dogs 2 casts you as a member of a San Francisco-based hacktivist group vying to take down a privacy-violating corporation. The hackers co-opt the power of millions of web-connected household devices – CCTV cameras, printers, kettles and so on – to overwhelm their target’s servers. It’s a storyline that pre-empted the recent botnet attack, when great swaths of the internet, including Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and even the UK government’s website, were successfully brought down for a few hours by as yet unidentified hackers, using the combined power of millions of online devices.

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No Man's Sky: Foundation update – a solid base to build on

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:49:44 GMT2016-12-02T11:49:44Z

Jordan Erica Webber plays the new modes in No Man’s Sky and finds something for everyone

The first big update for No Man’s Sky gives almost everyone a reason to come back. “Foundation” includes features carefully selected to deal with each of the main resolvable complaints from those who were disappointed with the original release. And for those of us who were already happy with the game, the new modes provide a way to start a new, and entirely different, journey through the procedurally generated galaxy without having to give up on your first.

My original journey, which must have occupied me for at least 100 hours, is now under “Normal” mode, but two new modes lie empty, beckoning me to start afresh.

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Rocket men: why tech’s biggest billionaires want their place in space

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 08:00:18 GMT2016-12-05T08:00:18Z

Forget gilded mansions and super yachts. Among the tech elite, space exploration is now the ultimate status symbol

The explosion could be felt 30 miles away. At 9.07am on 1 September, a SpaceX rocket containing 75,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene ignited into a fireball that could be seen from orbit, billowing black smoke into the gray sky around its Cape Canaveral launch pad.

On board was a $200m, 12,000lb communications satellite – part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s project to deliver broadband access to sub-Saharan Africa.

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Facebook plans to invest $20m in affordable housing projects

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 20:49:50 GMT2016-12-02T20:49:50Z

The tech company, long criticized displacing low-income residents in Silicon Valley, will partner with advocacy groups to amid massive campus expansion

Facebook has agreed to invest $20m in affordable housing initiatives after facing intense criticism for failing to help low-income residents in Silicon Valley where the technology boom has exacerbated displacement and gentrification.

The corporation, which is pushing forward with a massive campus expansion in northern California, announced on Friday a partnership with community organizations aimed at funding affordable housing construction and assisting tenants facing eviction.

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Visas for tech workers could be limited under Trump administration

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 19:21:27 GMT2016-11-21T19:21:27Z

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions has sought to curtail H-1B visa program that allows thousands of workers and students into US annually

The main US visa program for technology workers could face renewed scrutiny under President-elect Donald Trump and his proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, a longtime critic of the skilled-worker program.

Under the H-1B visa scheme, 65,000 workers and another 20,000 graduate student workers are admitted to the US each year. The tech industry, which has lobbied to expand the program, may now have to fight a rear-guard action to protect it, immigration attorneys and lobbyists said.

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Snapchat prepares for IPO that could value app at $25bn, reports say

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 22:53:51 GMT2016-11-15T22:53:51Z

Initial public offering could come as soon as March and value Snapchat at $20bn to $25bn, making it one of the biggest technology offerings in recent years

Messaging app Snapchat has filed confidentially with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering (IPO), sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The filing puts the Venice, California-based company one step further towards its IPO, which sources say could come as soon as March and value it at $20bn to $25bn, making it one of the biggest technology offerings in recent years.

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Richard Branson reveals prototype for supersonic passenger aircraft

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 13:00:17 GMT2016-11-15T13:00:17Z

Virgin Group founder has teamed with startup Boom to offer ‘affordable’ $5,000 flights between New York and London in 3.5 hours

Sir Richard Branson on Tuesday heralded the rebirth of supersonic passenger flights with the unveiling of a prototype aircraft promising 3.5-hour flights from London to New York for an “affordable” $5,000 return.

The billionaire Virgin Group founder said his Spaceship company would help Denver-based startup Boom build a new generation of supersonic jets and reintroduce transatlantic flight times unseen since Concorde was scrapped.

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Peter Thiel goes 'big league', joining Trump's presidential transition team

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 21:11:43 GMT2016-11-11T21:11:43Z

The PayPal founder’s support for Donald Trump made him an outlier in liberal Silicon Valley. What do we know about this controversial billionaire?

Controversial Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel will be a member of Donald Trump’s transition team, the campaign has confirmed.

Thiel’s involvement in a Trump administration has been the subject of frenzied speculation in Silicon Valley, where the businessman was the sole prominent advocate for the divisive Republican candidate.

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Ctrl+Z: Silicon Valley leaders U-turn on Donald Trump

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 18:45:21 GMT2016-11-11T18:45:21Z

Most tech industry leaders railed against the Republican, but some are now changing their tune as they consider what his presidency will mean

In the end, it took less than 24 hours for Silicon Valley to start making nice with President-elect Donald Trump.

For a full year, the tech industry had collectively railed against the xenophobic, bigoted, and anti-science tenor of candidate Trump, displaying a political consensus so strong that the only public outlier – PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel – became the target of a shunning campaign from industry insiders. Even the generally apolitical Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rebuked Trump and his supporters’ “fearful voices talking about building walls”.

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Silicon Valley investors call for California to secede from the US after Trump win

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 19:52:16 GMT2016-11-09T19:52:16Z

Hyperloop co-founder said he would fund ‘Calexit’ campaign for Democratic state to become its own nation as tech industry has been at odds with Trump

As Donald Trump’s shock election victory reverberated around Silicon Valley late on Tuesday night, some high-profile technologists were already calling for California to secede from the United States.

Related: What now for progressives after Hillary Clinton's loss?

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'Employ women and don't be afraid to make money': tech's future in Africa

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 14:52:54 GMT2016-11-05T14:52:54Z

Entrepreneurs from around the world gather for a three-day conference looking at how the continent can get creative with the internet

What is the future of the internet in Africa? How can tech save lives, educate and light homes, in communities where schools and energy suppliers are failing?

For the past three days young innovators, entrepreneurs and blockchain experts convened at the inaugural Africa 4 Tech summit to discuss these questions. Here’s what we learned.

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OnePlus 3T review: the top-end smartphone that won't break the bank

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:00:17 GMT2016-12-05T07:00:17Z

The new, improved Android device might not be quite the bargain the OnePlus 3 was, but it’s still right up there with the best

The OnePlus 3T is a minor update to a very good smartphone which improves on some key areas, but it isn’t quite the bargain the original was.

The Chinese smartphone firm only released the OnePlus 3 in June, but already it has been replaced. The 3T is practically identical to its predecessor, a slight colour difference on the outside the only sign that things have changed.

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Amazon Echo Dot review: as good as the Echo for one-third of the price

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 07:00:23 GMT2016-11-28T07:00:23Z

Small gadget brings voice control to almost any smart device in the home, while playing music, answering questions and telling you the weather

The Amazon Echo Dot is essentially all the bits of an Amazon Echo that make it interesting, but without the speaker beneath it – and so it costs just one-third of the price.

The Dot is one of three Alexa-enabled products from Amazon that puts the company’s voice assistant front and centre. Only two, the Echo Dot and the Echo are available in the UK: the third, the portable Bluetooth speaker called Amazon Tap, is only available in the US.

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Huawei Mate 9 review: big screen, long battery life and dual cameras

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 05:00:53 GMT2016-11-25T05:00:53Z

Not many phablets have bigger screens than 5.9in but Chinese smartphone makes big work with excellent battery life, camera and improved software

Huawei’s Mate 9 is a phablet that tries to squeeze a monster screen into a not-quite-so monster body and mostly succeeds.

Given the demise of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owing to exploding batteries the top-end of the phablet market is open for the first time in years.

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Four Futures: Life After Capitalism review – will robots bring utopia or terror?

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 07:00:27 GMT2016-11-24T07:00:27Z

Peter Frase’s roaming, thoughtful work of ‘social science fiction’ sketches out a frightening future of rich v poor

The idea that computers will soon steal our jobs is an article of faith among many of the world’s most powerful people. The argument goes like this: breakthroughs in robotics and artificial intelligence will make it possible to automate various kinds of labour. Self-driving cars will replace taxi and truck drivers; software will replace lawyers and accountants. We’ll end up with a world where machines do almost all of the work.

Over the last few years, a growing chorus of pundits, academics and executives have made this scenario seem inevitable – and imminent. There are many reasons to be sceptical of their claims. But even if you accept the argument that mass automation is around the corner, you might find yourself wondering what a post-work future would look like. Would it be a heaven or a hell, or somewhere in between?

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Amazon Echo review: combined speaker, voice assistant and smart-home controller

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 07:00:02 GMT2016-11-21T07:00:02Z

Hit US voice-controlled speaker brings Alexa assistant to British homes with third-party app support, good sound and fantastic voice recognition

Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled smart speaker is finally available in the UK, but was the wait worth it?

The Echo is one of the first devices with Amazon’s voice assistant – a rival to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana – which allows you to control music playback just by speaking to it and a whole lot more.

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The Sewing Group review – stitches in time

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 08:00:32 GMT2016-11-20T08:00:32Z

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, London
EV Crowe explores the disorienting effects of technology in her cryptic new play

EV Crowe’s new play, The Sewing Group, is a sly thing. It begins in Shaker-like simplicity. Three women in long black dresses stitch in a plain wooden room. Two of them squinny with suspicion at the third. There are extended silences as they dip their needles into what look like squares of tapestry, though they say – imagine how scratchy – they are working on undergarments. In one of the brief scenes the only noise is a fart.

The audience is sharing space with people who know what it is to live without electronic noise, electric light, the blare of screens. But with farts. So we think. But there is a twist in this cryptic, arresting, Caryl Churchill-influenced play. It is important not to reveal the nature of this twist. Still, it spoils nothing to say that Crowe is looking at subjects that have long interested her: group coercion and the effect that modern technology has on affections, time and concentration. By the end of the evening, a quilt and a sampler look like examples of algorithms.

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The Sewing Group review – power struggles of the quilt makers

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 15:01:48 GMT2016-11-17T15:01:48Z

Royal Court, London
In EV Crowe’s teasing tale, the suspicion and rebellion among rural women in 1700s England lead to troubling questions about the modern world

EV Crowe tends to write about enclosed worlds. In Kin (2010) she examined life in a girls’ boarding school, while in Hero (2012) she exposed the homophobic bullying of a supposedly gay teacher. Set in rural England in the 1700s, her latest play looks like an extension of her fascination with closed communities but, without giving too much away, turns out to be a puzzling if intriguing piece about the influence of technology on the human mind.

It begins with a rapid succession of short scenes showing black-gowned women embroidering a piece of stretched lace by candlelight. Initially there are two of them known simply as A and B. They are joined by a newcomer, C, who starts as an innocent novice but who gradually asserts her authority. She introduces striking colours and radical designs into the sewing circle and when a grieving widow, D, joins them, she assumes complete control. She gets the women to make character-revealing quilts and stirs up mutual suspicions with accusations of theft.

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Reach for the sky: five of the best drones

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 07:30:02 GMT2016-10-30T07:30:02Z

Discover your inner aviator, from the entry level Parrot Mambo to the high-spec DJI Phantom

We all have our own way of transcending the banality of everyday life. A good book, going to the gym, watching our football teams struggle to reach the heights or avoid the lows. Taking to the sky with a drone is peak escapism, an adrenaline blast that, for a few short minutes, raises the pulse, puts a stupid grin on your face and revives childhood dreams.

With so many jostling for your attention, though, which drone do you choose? Some drones are small and cheap, can be used to terrorise pets and are controlled only with your smartphone. Others have fancy cameras, the range of a light aircraft and can get you in trouble with the law… but how on earth do you choose which one to buy?

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Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World review – dispatch from a technology tourist

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 07:00:02 GMT2016-10-30T07:00:02Z

Internet luddite Werner Herzog offers a sporadically fascinating glimpse of a vast and complex subject

The entire scope of the digital age – from the birth of the internet, to artificial intelligence, to catastrophist predictions of the end of days – is crammed into 96 idiosyncratic minutes in this latest documentary by Werner Herzog. And while Herzog’s defiantly esoteric line of commentary works with some subjects – suicidal penguins, for example, in Encounters at the End of the World – he does seem out of his depth at times while navigating this vast and complex subject. Herzog’s USP here is that, as a luddite who doesn’t even carry a mobile phone, he is essentially a technological tourist, an outsider looking into the digital world. It’s a sporadically fascinating film that dips its toe into many different themes where perhaps it should have chosen to immerse itself in just one or two.

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

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

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

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

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

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The UK craft sector isn’t a ‘hipster’ economy. It’s sparking innovation | Rosy Greenlees

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:54:03 GMT2016-11-18T17:54:03Z

The future of manufacturing in the UK will look very different by creating bespoke goods through disruptive collaboration

There is nothing new in the adage that we are no longer a making economy. It’s a theme that has been picked up and echoed in most post-industrial economies over the past decade – just look at the last US presidential campaign. In the UK barely 10% of workers are employed within orthodox manufacturing; a generation ago that figure was well over four times as high. It is folly to believe mass manufacturing in its previous form, and at anything close to its previous scale, can return. But this does not have to be the existential problem it is being framed as.

Last weekend in Manchester, the world’s first industrialised city, several hundred makers met at the city’s Museum of Science and Industry. They were there to take part in Europe’s first craft and innovation conference, a forum for craft professionals, scientists, roboticists, designers and tech professionals to discuss collective innovation and making. This is the real future of manufacturing: an atomised but highly networked society of makers servicing an evolving market where consumers no longer want mass-manufactured goods but products that are bespoke and have that golden element all marketeers now crave – provenance. We are becoming a society of curators where consumers want a relationship with a product and its makers, not simply a transaction. Policymakers still see this trend as relatively peripheral – a micro “hipster” economy. This is a mistake.

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Netflix lets users download videos for offline viewing

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:58:57 GMT2016-11-30T14:58:57Z

Video-streaming service takes on existing subscription-based and catchup services with offline downloads now available globally

Netflix has begun rolling out the ability to download videos from its streaming service to smartphones and tablets for offline viewing.

Offline viewing is arguably the most demanded feature by users, and one of the things that differentiated other services including Amazon’s Video streaming service and pay TV services such as Sky and Virgin.

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Drone racing takes off at Birmingham show – but only with men

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 19:58:31 GMT2016-12-04T19:58:31Z

Racing unmanned flying vehicles is catching on, with an event at the NEC and big prize competitions, but so far women are steering clear

Top Gun pitted Maverick and Goose against the Iceman and Viper. At the UK Drones Show Championships at Birmingham NEC on Sunday, it was Saggy Nun and Collision who competed to be crowned the nation’s fastest pilot of an unmanned flying vehicle.

It was Collision, aka 22-year-old graduate trainee Brett Collis, who took the £1,000 prize in this new event in which pale young men sporting special goggles synched with flying cameras navigated an illuminated 3D obstacle course in the dark.

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​Has voice control finally started speaking our language​?

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 16:30:18 GMT2016-12-04T16:30:18Z

The success of Amazon’s Echo proves that we are slowly coming to terms with talking to machines. How long before digital assistants can do more than just control our music, and start having meaningful conversations?

The problem with using the human voice to control computers is well known and well documented: it doesn’t always work. You can find yourself adopting the aggressive tone of a belligerent tourist in a foreign land while digital assistants employ a range of apologetic responses (“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that”, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the question”). We throw our arms up and complain about their shortcomings. Plenty of us have tried them, plenty of us have dismissed them as a waste of time.

Related: Introducing the Guardian skill for Alexa

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Connected toys for Christmas on test

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 10:30:11 GMT2016-12-04T10:30:11Z

Youngsters put five hi-tech gizmos, from robots to racing trucks, through their paces

Toys are getting smarter. Whether they are racing cars that “read” the track, robots that teach coding or ground-drones controlled with the swipe of an iPad, these “connected” playthings have been proclaimed as the future of the toy industry.

For parents concerned about the amount of time their kids spend in front of a screen, connected toys offer a welcome and reassuring physicality: the toy is the focus, the app merely the control panel. For their children, it means (effectively) getting a pet robot. Which is why brands such as Sphero and Anki are set to dominate 2016 Christmas lists. But the question remains: how much fun are these digitally driven playthings? We asked Louis (10), Phoebe (10), Eliza (eight) and Max (seven) to help us find out.

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Google, democracy and the truth about internet search

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 10:00:11 GMT2016-12-04T10:00:11Z

Tech-savvy rightwingers have been able to ‘game’ the algorithms of internet giants and create a new reality where Hitler is a good guy, Jews are evil and… Donald Trump becomes president

Here’s what you don’t want to do late on a Sunday night. You do not want to type seven letters into Google. That’s all I did. I typed: “a-r-e”. And then “j-e-w-s”. Since 2008, Google has attempted to predict what question you might be asking and offers you a choice. And this is what it did. It offered me a choice of potential questions it thought I might want to ask: “are jews a race?”, “are jews white?”, “are jews christians?”, and finally, “are jews evil?”

Are Jews evil? It’s not a question I’ve ever thought of asking. I hadn’t gone looking for it. But there it was. I press enter. A page of results appears. This was Google’s question. And this was Google’s answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which “confirm” this. The top result, from a site called Listovative, has the headline: “Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews.” I click on it: “Jews today have taken over marketing, militia, medicinal, technological, media, industrial, cinema challenges etc and continue to face the worlds [sic] envy through unexplained success stories given their inglorious past and vermin like repression all over Europe.”

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The trolling of Elon Musk: how US conservatives are attacking green tech

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 00:05:02 GMT2016-12-04T00:05:02Z

Electric-car evangelist is the target of concerted negative online campaign linked to influential rightwing network

He is the charismatic Silicon Valley entrepreneur who believes his many companies - including the electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors, solar power firm Solar City, and SpaceX, which makes reusable space rockets – can help resist man-made climate change.

South African-born Elon Musk is a billionaire green evangelist, a bete noire of the fossil fuels industry who talks about colonising Mars and believes it may be possible that we’re living in a computer simulation.

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502 Bad Gateway error: what to do when you can't get through to a website

Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:03:00 GMT2013-08-01T15:03:00Z

Viv is trying to reach Freecycle but is getting a 502 Bad Gateway error. If you can't get through to a website, here are five things you can try....

I keep getting an error message, 502 Bad Gateway nginx/0.7.67, when I try to access the Freecycle site. I have rebooted my PC and used 'system restore' several times, but haven't been able to clear it. Do you know how to sort this out?


Continue reading...This type of error comes from the server, and usually has nothing to do with your PCThis type of error comes from the server, and usually has nothing to do with your PC

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Google alters search autocomplete to remove 'are Jews evil' suggestion

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:00:25 GMT2016-12-05T15:00:25Z

Search company removes antisemitic and sexist autocomplete phrases after Observer article highlights offensive results

Google has altered autocomplete suggestions in its search engine after it was alerted to antisemitic, sexist and racists entries.

Google’s autocomplete feature aims to suggest common searches after a user enters one or more words into the site’s search box or address bar of its Chrome browser.

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What Gamergate should have taught us about the 'alt-right'

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 07:12:18 GMT2016-12-01T07:12:18Z

The 2014 online hate-storm presaged the tactics of the Trump-loving far right movement. Prominent critics of the president elect should take note

It’s understandable that the world didn’t much care about Gamergate. The 2014 hashtag campaign, ostensibly founded to protest about perceived ethical failures in games journalism, clearly thrived on hate – even though many of those who aligned themselves with the movement either denied there was a problem with harassment, or wrote it off as an unfortunate side effect. Sure, women, minorities and progressive voices within the industry were suddenly living in fear. Sure, those who spoke out in their defence were quickly silenced through exhausting bursts of online abuse. But that wasn’t why people supported it, right? They were disenfranchised, felt ignored, and wanted to see a systematic change.

Is this all sounding rather familiar now? Does it remind you of something? If you’re just discovering the world of angry, anonymous online dudes masquerading as victims – hi, come in. Some of us have been here for a while.

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10 of the best virtual reality apps for your smartphone

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 06:00:02 GMT2016-06-13T06:00:02Z

Get started with VR on your iPhone or Android phone with these 100 apps, spanning films, games, news and 360-degree photo-sharing

You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset to give virtual reality a try.

The Android or iPhone handset in your pocket is a VR device in its own right too, especially when paired with a sub-£20 Google Cardboard headset that uses your phone as its screen and works with both Android and iOS.

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How can I protect myself from government snoopers?

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:14:57 GMT2016-11-24T10:14:57Z

Now that the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 - or snooper’s charter – has become law, Charles wants to protect his privacy

Now that the snooper’s charter has been passed, how can I protect myself? Should I use a VPN? Charles

The UK has just passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, at the third attempt, and it will become law by the end of the year. The bill was instigated by the then home secretary, Theresa May, in 2012. It is better known as the snooper’s charter.

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