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Technology | The Guardian



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



Published: Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:46:33 GMT2017-02-19T16:46:33Z

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



Hands-on with the 01: the ‘dimensioning instrument’ that can measure any object

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:00:12 GMT2017-02-19T16:00:12Z

A pen-like device linked to a smartphone app, this gadget claims to be more accurate than a ruler – but will it go the distance?

Billed as “the world’s first dimensioning tool”, the InstruMMent 01 looks like a pen, writes like a pen and doubles up as a handheld measuring device. Late last year, its creators raised $464,000 (£374,000) on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo, and last week InstruMMent 01 went on sale at Selfridges in London, advertised on the shop’s website as “the future of design”. It has been described by tech magazine Wired as a gadget “on a mission to finally kill the tape measure”, much to the annoyance of the man behind it.

“We hear this over and over,” says Mladen Barbaric, CEO of Instrumments, at the product launch. “But we’ve never said that we’re trying to replace the measuring tape.” The firm’s repeated reference to “dimensioning” emphasises the distinction from mere measuring – but is it even a real word? “It is. You can look it up,” says Barbaric. “The real scientific definition is ‘quantifying in space’.”

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Carry a tune: seven of the best portable Bluetooth speakers

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-02-19T11:00:06Z

Armed with a solid playlist, we test the quality of a selection of speakers with claims to superior sound fidelity

Every reputable audio brand now offers portable Bluetooth speakers, alongside swaths of Amazon-fodder with names such as iClutch and The Broozr. The latter are very cheap and are certainly a good option for people who simply want a slightly louder phone. The seven speakers tested below represent a range of those with pretensions to superior fidelity.

Some of these have flashy extra features such as USB power output or aptX compression. The former is useful, but in most cases seemed like an afterthought, while the latter is almost worthless unless your device is equally well equipped and you only listen to swanky lossless audio. We’ve judged them, then, primarily on the quality of the sound they produce, plying them repeatedly with the same six tracks, in the hope of separating the room-fillers from the landfillers.

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Twelve ways to make yourself a Gmail genius

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:30:02 GMT2017-02-19T07:30:02Z

Transfer money, search more accurately, or engage with your appliances: tips and tricks to enhance and customise the world’s most popular webmail service

Want to see more of your inbox at a glance? Click the cog-wheel at the upper right of the Gmail web interface, then select “compact” to reduce the spacing between items (you can also choose “comfortable” for a more relaxed view). You can also view more conversations per page: click the cog, then select “settings” to open Gmail’s configuration page. Under “general”, you’ll see a setting for “maximum page size”: increase to 100 and you won’t need to keep flipping through pages to browse recent messages. If you don’t like the way email exchanges are bundled into threads, you can also disable conversation view, to make Gmail list each email individually. Click “save changes” at the bottom to apply your preferences.

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3D-printed prosthetic limbs: the next revolution in medicine

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 06:59:01 GMT2017-02-19T06:59:01Z

As 3D printing continues to transform manufacturing, doctors are hoping it could also help the 30 million people worldwide in need of artificial limbs and braces

John Nhial was barely a teenager when he was grabbed by a Sudanese guerrilla army and forced to become a child soldier. He spent four years fighting, blasting away on guns almost too heavy to hold, until one day the inevitable happened: he was seriously injured, treading on a landmine while he was on morning patrol.

“I stepped on it and it exploded,” he recalled. “It threw me up and down again – and then I tried to look for my leg and found that there was no foot.”

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Bio-terrorism could kill 30 million people in a year, says Bill Gates – video

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:27:11 GMT2017-02-18T17:27:11Z

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who has spent billions on philanthropic efforts over the past several decades, speaks at the Munich security conference on Sunday and says that the world must be on guard for bio-terrorism attacks. Telling the audience that “a synthetic version of the smallpox virus ... or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu” could kill more than 30 million people in a year, Gates says there is a “reasonable probability” that such an event could occur in the next 10 to 15 years

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Bill Gates warns tens of millions could be killed by bio-terrorism

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 14:00:03 GMT2017-02-18T14:00:03Z

Microsoft founder and philanthropist tells Munich security conference genetic engineering could be terrorist weapon

A chilling warning that tens of millions of people could be killed by bio-terrorism was delivered at the Munich security conference by the world’s richest man, Bill Gates

Gates, who has spent much of the last 20 years funding a global health campaign, said: “We ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril.”

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Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport car review – ‘It’s outstandingly handsome’

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:00:37 GMT2017-02-18T11:00:37Z

The ride is outrageously smooth: you could go over an elk and only notice in the rearview

Everywhere I went in my Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport, I met a man who said his wife wanted one of those. It was uncanny. On forecourts, outside school, in the street, there was a Jag fancier with a demanding wife. As any fool knows, the Jaguar is the ultimate anniversary vehicle, the car you buy as a couple at a certain point that says you’ve Done OK. It’s like renewing your vows, only the vow was to maintain a steady, decent income. When I was at university, my friend’s parents bought a Jag with a personalised number plate, and she said, “Dad, but that means sexually transmitted disease”, and he said, “It may mean that to you, young lady, but it means Sean and Tracey Dixon to your mother and me.” So there’s a chance that when men say, “The missus wants it,” they mean, “I want it and she still loves me enough to pretend to.” But I don’t think that’s what’s going on: there’s something about the F-Pace R-Sport that is particularly metrosexual, built for the distaff sensibility which the real man, of course, is only too happy to access.

It is outstandingly handsome: clean, beefy lines and an attractive but not undue heft (it has aluminium casing; it will never be dainty but it doesn’t feel wasteful). It’s an automatic that purrs through all eight gears as if gliding to a meeting with another fabulous, exotic cat. It’s a turbocharged diesel, but Jaguar rules at those, accepting none of the sluggishness or reluctance you often accept as the pay-off for economy. The all-wheel drive gives it an ersatz-country feel, as if you could be whizzing up a dirt track to the stables, and it’s just happenstance that puts you on the way to Waitrose. Life is too short to explain torque vectoring in full, but it puts the brake emphasis on the inside rear wheel and makes you feel sporty and nimble at awkward angles. The ride is outrageously smooth, you could go over an elk and only notice in the rear-view. The cabin is classy, harking back to an era when to perforate a leather good was the endpoint of chic. The controls look sharp, the screen quality is almost sumptuous, but it has none of the needless complication that can hamper a cluster with a lot of features, docks, compatibilities and alerts, and it has none of the fussiness that comes with nooks and crannies.

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Robot monitors in homes of elderly people can predict falls, says study

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:30:49 GMT2017-02-17T18:30:49Z

In future, sensor networks could interpret movement data and contact relatives or support staff when a person is at risk

Robotic movement sensing systems in the homes of elderly people can predict with a high level of accuracy when a person is at high risk of having a fall and send warnings to support workers or relatives, say researchers

The US study, carried out in a senior housing centre in Missouri, found that telltale signs, including a sudden decline in walking speed, were linked to an 86% chance of having a fall within the next three weeks. Elderly residents who were monitored by the system, which allowed clinicians to intervene before injuries occurred, were able to live independently for 1.8 years longer than those without the technology.

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Uber exploiting loophole to 'spread tentacles' across UK, union says

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:55:20 GMT2017-02-17T17:55:20Z

GMB says changes to law have ‘opened up a hornet’s nest’, allowing Uber drivers to work outside areas where they are licensed

Uber has been accused of exploiting a legal loophole that allows its drivers to operate in UK towns and cities where they don’t have a licence, leaving local authorities powerless to regulate them.

Mick Rix, the GMB union’s national officer for the hackney and private-hire taxi trade, said the company behind the cab-hailing app was “acting with impunity” across the UK, where it was increasingly “spreading its tentacles” into smaller towns and cities.

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

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

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

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

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

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Games reviews roundup: Nioh; Sniper Elite 4; Siegecraft Commander

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-02-19T07:00:02Z

Demonic swordplay satisfies in feudal Japan, a second world war sniper raises his game, and a new title for armchair generals keeps it simple

PS4, Sony, cert: 18
★★★★

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Mazda 6: car review | Martin Love

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-02-19T06:00:00Z

Calm, purposeful and with plenty of pizzazz, Mazda’s redesigned family saloon knows how to carry a tune

Price: £19, 302
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
MPG: 51.4
CO2: 129g/km

I can’t sing. I mean I really can’t sing. A bagpipe with a strangulated hernia sounds more musical. It’s so bad I don’t even sing on my own, in the bathroom, with the taps running. Which might explain why I have a full-blown man-crush on Gareth Malone, the nation’s favourite choirmaster. Could he be the man to cure me?

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Plague game up for health trust prize

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 00:05:15 GMT2017-02-19T00:05:15Z

Winter Hall in the running as Wellcome Trust announces six finalists for its Developing Beyond prize

As an entertainment, Winter Hall should be an unusual diversion for video game fans more used to glamorised violence and action drama. Players will live as characters connected by one unpleasant feature – the black death. They will explore the suffering caused by the bubonic plague and watch as medieval society struggles to cope with the devastation triggered by one of the world’s worst disease epidemics.

Mass graves, religious fanaticism, and the dead carted off at night: it is the stuff of a zombie apocalypse. Yet this is no cheap piece of horror exploitation. Winter Hall is one of six games under development that have been shortlisted for a $500,000 competition backed by the Wellcome Trust.

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If Trump hates leaks, he needs to give up his phone | John Naughton

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-02-19T07:00:02Z

The leader of the free world’s ‘invincible ignorance’ about cybersecurity is worrying in the extreme

My favourite image of the week was a picture of the Queen opening the National Cyber Security Centre in London. Her Majesty is looking bemusedly at a large display while a member of staff explains how hackers could target the nation’s electricity supply. The job of the centre’s director, Ciaran Martin, is to protect the nation from such dangers. It’s a heavy responsibility, but at least he doesn’t have to worry that his head of state is a cybersecurity liability.

His counterpart in the United States does not have that luxury. To the astonishment of everyone in the tech community, King Donald is still tweeting and nattering away on his Samsung Galaxy phone, an Android device that in security terms is the equivalent of emmental cheese. When Trump was elected, most people assumed that he would give up his favourite phone, just as Obama had to give up using his beloved BlackBerry, in favour of something that had been “hardened” by the NSA. It hasn’t happened.

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Yahoo issues new warning of potentially malicious activity on accounts

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:17:57 GMT2017-02-15T20:17:57Z

Hackers potentially accessed accounts between 2015 and 2016, and the warning comes two months after saying data from 1bn users was compromised in 2013

Yahoo is warning users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016, the latest in a string of cybersecurity problems faced by the technology company.

The measure comes two months after the company revealed that data from more than 1bn user accounts had been compromised in August 2013, the largest such breach in history. The number of affected accounts was double the number implicated in a 2014 breach the internet company disclosed in September and blamed on state-sponsored hackers.

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Former Trump adviser Roger Stone calls for investigation of alleged Russia links

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:12:07 GMT2017-02-15T17:12:07Z

Stone, who’s named as one of four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, urges Department of Justice inquiry

Related: Damning reports emerge of Trump campaign's frequent talks with Russian intelligence

Roger Stone, a longtime adviser and confidant to Donald Trump who has been named in news reports as one of at least four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, has called for an official inquiry into the swirling crisis.

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British political parties ask GCHQ for advice on preventing cyber-attacks

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:57:35 GMT2017-02-14T18:57:35Z

Ciaran Martin, head of UK National Cyber Security Centre, says he expects formal requests for help with digital security

British political parties have approached the surveillance agency GCHQ for advice on beefing up their internet security after a cyber-attack during the 2015 UK general election and the hacking in the US last year of the Democratic party.

Ciaran Martin, head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ and was officially opened on Tuesday, confirmed informal contact had been made by the parties and that he expected to be asked formally to provide advice on how to increase their digital security.

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Private sector must join battle against cyber-attacks, says Hammond

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:01:27 GMT2017-02-14T00:01:27Z

National Cyber Security Centre to be formally opened as chancellor warns of sophisticated and severe attacks

Hacking attacks on the government and businesses are increasing in their frequency, severity and sophistication, Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has said.

Related: UK hit by 188 high-level cyber-attacks in three months

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Russia suspected over hacking attack on Italian foreign ministry

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 12:56:55 GMT2017-02-10T12:56:55Z

Exclusive: Italian government official says no classified emails were compromised in attack believed to have lasted more than four months last year

Russia is suspected by Italian officials of being behind a sustained hacking attack against the Italian foreign ministry last year that compromised email communications and lasted for many months before it was detected, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Italian government official confirmed that the attack took place last spring and lasted for more than four months but did not infiltrate an encrypted system used for classified communications.

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Russian hacking group's 'last member at liberty' comes out of the shadows

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:00:14 GMT2017-02-09T06:00:14Z

‘Alexander’ tells how Shaltai-Boltai, or Humpty Dumpty, terrorised Russian officials for three years, combining hacking, leaking and extortion

Wearing a Christmas jumper emblazoned with reindeer, Alexander sits in a bar in Riga. He has a remarkable story to tell. After several years hiding in the shadows, he is, or at least claims to be, the last member still at large of Russia’s most notorious band of hackers and leakers.

Shaltai-Boltai, or Humpty Dumpty, terrorised Russian officials for nearly three years, combining hacking, leaking and extortion, while retaining an impenetrable cloak of anonymity. The group would post online samples of emails from officials they had hacked, and put the rest of the cache up for sale: the incriminating information could then either be bought back by the original sender, or snapped up by enemies.

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I ran Clinton's campaign, and I fear Russia is meddling with more than elections | Robby Mook

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 19:51:39 GMT2017-02-07T19:51:39Z

Vladimir Putin wants to extend his influence beyond the ballot box and into the very fabric of our public life. We must take action before it’s too late

The Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign is being treated too much like a novelty and not enough as a serious and persistent security threat. The problem becomes more urgent as we see it spread to other countries.

WikiLeaks, which disseminated stolen DNC documents, announced last week that it would turn its attention to France, and has released material relating to presidential candidates François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron, opponents of Marine Le Pen.

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Hypocrisy of the west over fake news claim | Letters

Sun, 05 Feb 2017 18:01:46 GMT2017-02-05T18:01:46Z

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, appears ignorant of well-established UK and US military programmes designed to modify public perceptions in conflict zones (Nato must counter Russia’s ‘weaponising’ of lies – Fallon, 3 February). A prototype system was first reported in detail by Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain in the Guardian nearly six years ago – just as Nato began air attacks on Libya (Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media, 18 March 2011).

I quote: “… it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives … each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details … up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”. Each operator would be able to masquerade as “10 separate identities”.

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Nato must defend western democracy against Russian hacking, say Fallon

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 08:12:26 GMT2017-02-03T08:12:26Z

UK defence secretary accuses Moscow of ‘weaponising misinformation’ to disable democratic machinery

Nato must begin to compete on the cyber-battlefield to counter Russian hacking, which is “weaponising misinformation” to create a post-truth age, the defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, has said.

In his hardest-hitting comments yet about Russia, Fallon said that in the past two years it had targeted the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Montenegro, which becomes a full Nato member this year. He blamed Russia for helping create the fake information age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages

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Facebook Live is changing the world - but not in the way it hoped

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 17:08:41 GMT2017-01-05T17:08:41Z

Facebook’s betting big on everyone streaming their lives in real time, but has it unleashed a monster it can’t control?

In August 2015, Facebook rolled out a new feature: the ability to broadcast live video streams from the company’s app for power users, Facebook Mentions. Six months later, the feature, now branded Facebook Live, began a slow rollout for normal users, initially in the United States.

In classic Facebook style, the feature was late arriving, slow to roll out, and steadily demolished the competition. Meerkat, the company which ignited the live streaming craze, launched its mobile app in February 2015 and went meteoric at the South by Southwest Festival in March that year. But its time in the sun was limited: shortly after SXSW ended, Twitter subsidiary Periscope launched its own, technically superior, live-streaming service, eclipsing Meerkat almost instantly.

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Telling Facebook you've changed your phone number – the weird T&Cs you've unwittingly signed up to

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:23:27 GMT2017-01-05T16:23:27Z

Nobody reads the small print when they sign up to social media – so no one knows what they’re giving away. Martin Belam has found out for you

The Children’s commissioner has warned that children as young as eight are signing up to social media terms and conditions without reading or understanding the agreements they are entering.

Let’s be honest, that probably goes for a lot of adults too – and most of these lengthy legal documents that we never bother to read include some rather unexpected clauses. Here are some of the more wide-reaching and most bizarre.

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Can Donald Trump save Twitter?

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 12:17:09 GMT2017-01-05T12:17:09Z

The president-elect’s musings are reported as news almost every day, but will the attention help make Twitter great again?

“It’s like owning your own newspaper – without the losses.” That’s how Donald Trump described the San Francisco-headquartered social media tool in November 2012.

In a little over four years, the celebrity businessman turned president-elect has grown his Twitter audience from about 2 million followers to almost 19 million, using it as his personal Pravda to post propaganda and stream-of-consciousness musings .

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Donald Trump is technology's befuddled (but dangerous) grandfather

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 08:30:28 GMT2016-12-30T08:30:28Z

The president-elect has repeatedly proven that an understanding of the complex problems presented by technology eludes him, but that hasn’t stopped him tweeting about it. The consequences could be dire

Technology? Bah humbug: “I think we ought to get on with our lives,” said Donald Trump on Wednesday, summing up his take on the complex problem of apparently Russian phishing attacks on multiple Democratic party groups during the 2016 election.

As the White House’s current resident prepared to impose sanctions on Russia for hacking, Trump said: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

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Nioh review – samurai adventure much more than a Dark Souls clone

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:43:01 GMT2017-02-17T10:43:01Z

Team Ninja’s unforgiving role-playing action adventure set in feudal Japan owes a debt to the Dark Souls series, but with a tone and narrative of its own

When a demo for Nioh first appeared back in April 2016, the gaming population was somewhat confused. After all, this was a project that was supposed to have perished in development hell over a decade before.

Through its tumultuous development period, Nioh underwent countless iterations, beginning as a tie-in with an unmade Akira Kurosawa movie, and eventually landing on a model that resembled the famed Dark Souls series – mechanically and aesthetically. Both Nioh and Dark Souls are set amid ruin and gothic despair, and both feature a stranger in a strange land, struggling onwards through a quest for salvation, facing monstrous creatures and demons alike.

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Halo Wars 2 review – exciting revival of the real-time strategy game

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:07:53 GMT2017-02-16T10:07:53Z

Halo returns to the world of RTS with a challenging yet instinctively playable take on the once-mighty genre, and one that is full of new ideas

Few genres have fallen from grace quite as fast as the real-time strategy (RTS). It’s now nearly a decade since Starcraft, Command & Conquer and Age of Empires regularly duked it out at the top of the charts. Today, two of those mighty names are no more and even 2009’s Halo Wars, which tried to re-think the whole experience from the ground up, proved to be developer Ensemble Studios’ final game. So all credit to Microsoft for having another go at taking its most treasured IP in this most difficult of directions.

Luckily, Halo Wars 2 arrives with plenty of shock and awe in its arsenal – not just a rollicking 13-level campaign but a flurry of multiplayer modes and a whole new game type called Blitz. Development duties have switched to strategy specialist Creative Assembly (the Total War series) and Halo specialist 343 Industries, but otherwise this is instantly familiar stuff to fans of the original.

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What one controversy is teaching us about sex and consent in video games

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:00:37 GMT2017-02-14T08:00:37Z

Ladykiller in a Bind is the latest work from Christine Love, but it has invoked controversy about sex, representation and consent

Much like sex itself, it’s hard to get a sex game right at the first attempt. While the genre known as interactive fiction often explores themes of sex and sexuality, players of mainstream video games are used to little more than the occasional, awkward and intensely unerotic cut scene. Creators, consumers and critics of this relatively young artform are still figuring out what the culture deems acceptable. That can lead to difficult conversations – as it did this month with one highly divisive scene in a game released late last year.

Christine Love is a writer and programmer known for making visual novels: interactive narrative games with static 2D art, in which the player’s choices often involve selecting which response to give in conversation scenes. Her latest project, Ladykiller in a Bind, is a piece of erotica, which turns out to be complicated in a medium built on interactivity.

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Nintendo Switch: new console may be weird, but it is for everyone

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:28:11 GMT2017-02-13T17:28:11Z

As Nintendo launches its most striking console yet, R&D leads Shinya Takahashi and Yoshiaki Koizumi explain who this machine is aimed at

The Nintendo Switch is the weirdest games console to hit the market since … well, the last games console Nintendo released.

When docked to the TV, the slim black device could be mistaken for one of the company’s previous consoles. The “Joy-Con” controllers give away that something’s up, though: even in their most traditional configuration, clicked in to a mounting device to be used as a classic dual-analogue-stick handset, they’re still fairly oddly shaped.

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Steven Johnson webchat – your questions answered on Trump, climate change and VR

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:35:18 GMT2017-02-13T14:35:18Z

The pop-science writer behind Everything Bad is Good for You and Wonderland came in to answer your questions, on everything from innovation in science and technology, to his thoughts on the Trump administration

Thanks everyone for the great questions - I hope you'll get a chance to check out Wonderland, my new book. We didn't get to talk about it all that much, but I would like to just mention that the Observer yesterday called it "seductively erudite", a phrase that I am now going to put on my tombstone. Signing off!

schtengraby2 says:

You talked about making a board game with your kid on Start the Week this morning. Sounded fun! How did you go about doing that?

That was really an incredibly rewarding experience as a parent. (And I think it was rewarding for my son too.) It was a summer-long project. We spent some time sketching out some ideas about what the theme of the game should be, which turned out to be a game about growing vegetables. And then spent much more time sketching out the actual board, just using paper and magic markers, and devising the rules. And then we would, in the language of product design, iterate: we'd play a couple of games, discuss what was working and wasn't working, and then tweak the game in a way we thought would make it more fun. And then we'd start the whole process again. I wrote a longer description of the whole process, with some reflections on game design as an educational tool and a great family experience, in this article at our site How We Get to Next.

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Valve kills Steam Greenlight – here's why it matters

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:31:55 GMT2017-02-13T13:31:55Z

System was intended to prevent stream of low quality software flooding the store but failed to halt explosion in content last year

Market-dominating PC game store Steam is ending the X Factor-style voting system it has used for the past five years to decide which independent developers can sell on the storefront. Valve, the company behind Steam, will replace the programme with a simpler system which guarantees access to any developer who can pay an application fee.

Previously, developers below a certain size could use the programme, called “Greenlight”, to put their games up for a public vote. Those with enough votes would be allowed space on the web store, while those that failed to excite potential customers were kept behind the velvet rope.

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Sniper Elite 4 review – bloody and good-looking but generic

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:00:14 GMT2017-02-13T13:00:14Z

Rebellion’s long-distance shooter brings the action to second world war Italy, but refuses to depart from well-known conventions

The act of shooting a gun – occasionally dull, frequently unsatisfying, universally overused – has become gaming’s primary interaction. Rather than using firearms as an emotional release or a tense show of force, games often feature the firing of a weapon as a formulaic means of earning progress; to fight your way from A to B to earn a new cutscene, a better weapon or a climactic boss.

Few games nowadays succeed in making the actual act of shooting the main reason to play. But Sniper Elite 4 does a superb job of that. By putting you behind a scope, tracking your target from 300m away, the game creates a sniping experience that’s so good the rest of Sniper Elite 4 – a serviceable, visually impressive open-world shooter akin to Far Cry – feels generic in comparison.

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Games reviews roundup: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard; PJ Masks Super City Run; Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-02-13T07:00:07Z

A terrifying return to form for the survival horror series, a well-crafted crossover title for young and old and a tightly knit textile platformer

PS4, Xbox One, PC, Capcom, cert: 18
★★★★★

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Mark Zuckerberg rules his empire but politics is another country | Anne McElvoy

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:22:42 GMT2017-02-17T19:22:42Z

The Facebook founder could yet lead other tech titans into the arena of public life. But they would need a whole new set of skills

Abraham Lincoln took under 300 words to deliver the Gettysburg address. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg deployed just under 6,000 to explain his mission as a defender of globalisation, and mark an official shift in his career plan from tech titan to political aspirant.

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

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Vanishing point: the rise of the invisible computer – podcast

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:00:12 GMT2017-02-13T11:00:12Z

For decades, computers have got smaller and more powerful, enabling huge scientific progress. But this can’t go on for ever. What happens when they stop shrinking?

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

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Meet the rightwing power players lurking beneath Silicon Valley's liberal facade

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:00:49 GMT2017-02-10T10:00:49Z

Despite promoting an image of innovative iconoclasm, outside the spotlight a cadre of powerful tech figures are planting themselves in Trump’s corner

When a group of 97 technology companies filed a legal submission against Donald Trump’s travel ban for citizens of seven Muslim-majority companies, the immediate question for many was not who had signed, but who had not. Absence from the brief became a source of embarrassment, and many new tech firms – including Adobe, Tesla, Zenefits, Postmates and Fitbit – quickly jumped on board.

As much as Silicon Valley likes to promote an image of innovative iconoclasm, companies have a herd mentality when it comes to political or social issues. Once one company goes out on a limb, the rest rush to follow. With near-unanimous opposition to Trump’s executive order, tech burnished its image as a bastion of progressive values – a reputation that had taken a major hit when top executives travelled to Trump Tower in December to make nice with the then president-elect.

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Facebook, Apple and Google pen letter opposing Trump's travel ban

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 20:12:22 GMT2017-02-02T20:12:22Z

A draft letter co-authored by Silicon Valley heavyweights highlights how immigration supports entrepreneurship and corporate America

Some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent technology companies, including Alphabet (Google), Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber and Stripe, have co-authored a draft letter formally opposing Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, arguing that “a blanket suspension is not the right approach”.

Related: Support for Trump travel ban in line with anti-Muslim attitudes in America

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The Guardian view on America’s Pacific refugees: take them in | Editorial

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:17:15 GMT2017-02-02T19:17:15Z

Donald Trump and his billionaire friend highlight how the rich and poor make their home in the antipodes. The US president wrote The Art of the Deal. He should honour the one his predecessor made for Pacific refugeesThese are the times we are living in: the super rich are able to prepare a bolthole in New Zealand to escape to should the world implode, while the poor and desperate who have sought asylum in neighbouring Australia are rejected first by the Australian government and now, it seems, by the US as well. We have Donald Trump to thank in part for revealing this paradox. The US president apparently slammed down the phone on the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and took to Twitter to decry his predecessor’s “dumb deal!”. The “deal” would have seen 1,250 refugees resettled on US soil after years languishing in detention on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus. The US president made it shamefully clear – if his actions this week had not already done so – that in the Trump era the door will be closed to the poor, the stateless and the unprivileged.Mr Trump is, of course, not the first leader to implement hostile policies toward refugees and Mr Turnbull, a smart rightwing politician, must sense the hypocrisy in imploring the US to take in the refugees he has refused to accept into his own country – refugees who have been living in Australian-run detention centres which have been repeatedly criticised by the UN as illegal and cruel. But there are no such difficulties for those with money who wish to come to the antipodes, as we have seen this week with revelations that Peter Thiel, Trump adviser and co-founder of PayPal, has been given New Zealand citizenship, despite not meeting usual residency requirements. The prospect of Trump’s America is not the reason for Mr Thiel’s application for citizenship, which he received in 2011, but having an out-of-the-way refuge must be looking attractive at the moment. The New York Times called New Zealand Mr Thiel’s “backup country” and wondered whether his citizenship was a way to hedge his bets in case of a global catastrophe. Others suggest the Silicon Valley billionaire might be shoring up an exit strategy should Mr Trump’s plans go off the rails. Continue reading...[...]


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#DeleteUber: how tech companies are taking sides in the battle over Trump

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 11:00:20 GMT2017-01-31T11:00:20Z

With ride-hailing services a focal point amid divisions over Trump’s migration ban, some tech workers hope their bosses will take a stronger stand

For the average ride-hail user in a major city, there are few differences between Uber and Lyft. Lyft is pink and fuzzy; Uber is sleek and shiny. Both get you where you need to go at a lower price than a taxi, and both rely on independent contractors – a business model that has been lambasted by taxi drivers and labor advocates for years.

But over the weekend, as #DeleteUber began to trend on Twitter and Facebook amid widespread outrage over the company’s openness to working with Donald Trump and apparent strike-breaking during a taxi work stoppage to protest Trump’s anti-Muslim executive order, Lyft was presented with a golden opportunity to brand itself as the good ride-hail company.

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Google and Apple join Silicon Valley voices condemning Trump's travel ban

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 21:26:39 GMT2017-01-29T21:26:39Z

Leaders of top tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft challenge order as Y Combinator boss says it’s time for sector to speak out

Leaders from some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, condemned Donald Trump’s executive order blocking travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Related: Trump White House defends travel ban as John McCain warns of benefits to Isis

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Silicon Valley super-rich head south to escape from a global apocalypse

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 00:05:09 GMT2017-01-29T00:05:09Z

Anxious Americans are buying into New Zealand as the perfect bolt-hole

At the Republican party convention in Cleveland last July, Trump donor Peter Thiel declared himself ‘“most of all, proud to be an American”. So it came as something of a surprise for New Zealanders to discover that the PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member had become an honorary Kiwi – joining a growing band of wealthy Americans seeking a haven from a possible global apocalypse.

Thiel was recently revealed to have bought a £4.5m lakeside property near the New Zealand town of Wanaka in 2015. When New Zealand Herald reporter Matt Nippert asked why Thiel had been allowed to buy land that appears to fit the classification of “sensitive” without permission from the country’s Overseas Investment Office, he was told it wasn’t necessary – Thiel was already a citizen.

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Vanishing point: the rise of the invisible computer

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 05:59:01 GMT2017-01-26T05:59:01Z

For decades, computers have got smaller and more powerful, enabling huge scientific progress. But this can’t go on for ever. What happens when they stop shrinking?

In 1971, Intel, then an obscure firm in what would only later come to be known as Silicon Valley, released a chip called the 4004. It was the world’s first commercially available microprocessor, which meant it sported all the electronic circuits necessary for advanced number-crunching in a single, tiny package. It was a marvel of its time, built from 2,300 tiny transistors, each around 10,000 nanometres (or billionths of a metre) across – about the size of a red blood cell. A transistor is an electronic switch that, by flipping between “on” and “off”, provides a physical representation of the 1s and 0s that are the fundamental particles of information.

In 2015 Intel, by then the world’s leading chipmaker, with revenues of more than $55bn that year, released its Skylake chips. The firm no longer publishes exact numbers, but the best guess is that they have about 1.5bn–2 bn transistors apiece. Spaced 14 nanometres apart, each is so tiny as to be literally invisible, for they are more than an order of magnitude smaller than the wavelengths of light that humans use to see.

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

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

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

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

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

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Marshall Mid Bluetooth headphones review: sound that will rock you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AirPods review: the best non-isolating wireless earbuds, but only for Apple

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 08:25:47 GMT2017-01-25T08:25:47Z

Apple has cut the cable from its EarPods, improving sound, fit and connectivity – but the AirPods lack noise-cancelling and easy controls

When Apple removed the traditional headphone socket from its latest iPhone, part of the rationale was that wireless headphones were now coming into the mainstream. And Apple had its own player in this field, its AirPods.

But then there was an unexpected delay in their launch, raising fears over technical issues. Now they’re finally here, are they worth the £159 price tag?

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Black Ops Advertising by Mara Einstein review – stealth marketing is everywhere

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 15:00:05 GMT2017-01-19T15:00:05Z

Your smartphone is an ad-delivery device. The line between content and advertising is blurred. But is the answer to go offline?

On the internet, advertising is the industry that dare not speak its name. A Facebook post is “suggested”; a tweet is “promoted” – they are ads. An article or video is “presented by” or “sponsored” – it’s an ad. Even something as impressive as Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the edge of space in 2012 – that was an ad, paid for by Red Bull. The term “content” serves to blur lines – helpfully, from an advertiser’s point of view – between what is advertising and what isn’t.

Google’s founders once wrote that any search engine that sold ads would be compromised; now it’s the biggest advertising company on the planet. Your smartphone, media studies professor Mara Einstein says, is fundamentally an ad-delivery device. Advertising is everywhere. And yet, increasingly, we don’t want to see it. We install ad-blockers because webpages are increasingly slowed down by waiting for intrusive adverts to be loaded from some distant server, and because we don’t want to be tracked around the internet by shadowy companies that trade our personal data. But who does ad-blocking really hurt? Clue: not the advertisers.

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Beyond smartphones: next-step cameras

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 09:45:14 GMT2017-01-08T09:45:14Z

If you’re taking your photography more seriously, and would like to upgrade from camera or phone, here are six top models with connectivity

with a M.Zuiko Digital 14‑42mm 1:3.5‑5.6 II R lens; 16MP; 503g; £549

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Zero Days review – Alex Gibney's chilling cyberwar doc

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:00:01 GMT2017-01-05T21:00:01Z

Cyber attacks, warns Gibney, are not just ‘hacking’ but a complete offensive capability – and a new form of geopolitical dysfunction

The title of Alex Gibney’s new documentary about cyberwar has something apocalyptic about it: a digital version of the Book of Revelations, perhaps. It’s actually a technical term relating to malware developed in the last decade by the US and Israeli security services. Analysts nicknamed it “Stuxnet”, though the intelligence officers themselves gave their baby the creepy codename “Olympic Games”.

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The Attention Merchants review – how the web is being debased for profit

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 07:30:36 GMT2016-12-26T07:30:36Z

Tim Wu on a decades-long campaign to monetise attention which has reached new intensity in the Facebook age

Tim Wu is an expert on concentrations of power. An author, activist and lawyer, he is most famous for coining the phrase “net neutrality” – the idea that the oligopoly that owns our internet infrastructure shouldn’t charge differently for different kinds of data. In his new book, he targets another kind of corporate domination: the industry that monopolises our attention.

According to Wu, this industry emerged from the first world war. In 1914 Germany could mobilise 4.5 million men; the best Britain could do was 700,000. To build a bigger army, the British government embarked on the first systematic propaganda campaign in history. It printed 50 million big, colourful recruitment posters and plastered them on shops, houses, buses and trams throughout the country. It staged rallies and parades. It filled vans with film projectors and screened patriotic films in towns across Britain. And it worked: stirred by this unprecedented experiment in state-sponsored persuasion, millions of young men marched off to gruesome, pointless deaths in a gruesome, pointless war.

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Barks and bytes: the rise of wearable tech for pets

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:00:02 GMT2017-02-03T15:00:02Z

Fitness trackers are not just for humans anymore – a growing range of electronic collars and cameras can help you monitor your pet’s location, activity and even emotional state

We are becoming a species obsessed with data. Not content with monitoring our own sleeping, eating and exercising habits, many of us could soon be tracking the lives of our pets, too. Where did your cat go last night? How many calories did your dog eat today? What is your snake thinking? Knowing the answers to such questions – well, the first two, anyway – is becoming ever easier, and the advantages of doing so are increasing.

Related: Puppies' response to speech could shed light on baby-talk, suggests study

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Kapow! Amazon’s Alexa has learned new words – and she’s more nerdy than ever

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:53:18 GMT2017-02-14T17:53:18Z

An update has added more geeky in-jokes and references to the e-commerce giant’s AI assistant, from ‘Cowabunga’ to ‘Great Scott!’

Alexa, the talking lady who sits inside the Amazon Echo waiting for you to say her name, is having a personality makeover. The talking AI’s latest update comes with a range of “speechcons” – little expressions or verbal tics.

Alexa will say 100 new words, including “bazinga” and “woohoo”. In a nod to nerd culture, she will range from “Kapow!” (Batman) to “Great Scott!” (Superman). She will even quote the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“Cowabunga”) and The Godfather (“Bada bing!”) if she needs to give deeper vent to her feelings.

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Microsoft raises prices of some PCs by up to £400 due to Brexit

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:26:41 GMT2017-02-16T09:26:41Z

Move follows Apple and Sonos rises, with cost of Surface and Surface Book computers increasing by 15%

Microsoft has increased the price of its Surface and Surface Book computers in the UK by more than 15%, or £400 for some models, due to sterling’s drop in the value post-EU referendum.

The price increase comes in the wake of similar moves by Sonos and twice by Apple, which saw the cost of computers, speakers and apps rise by as much as 25%, adjusting for the falling value of sterling against the dollar, the currency in which Microsoft and other US technology firms do their accounting.

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The Facebook manifesto: Mark Zuckerberg's letter to the world looks a lot like politics

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:44:35 GMT2017-02-17T15:44:35Z

The social media tycoon’s 5,700-word post about the ‘global community’ stokes rumours that another billionaire businessman is planning to run for president

Name: The Facebook manifesto.

Age: One day old.

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Shark slippers and rollerblades: inside Alphabet’s secretive internet balloon lab

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 23:01:31 GMT2017-02-16T23:01:31Z

With clusters of balloons through the stratosphere, Project Loon aims to bring internet to the two-thirds of the world’s population who still don’t have access

It’s a gloomy day in Silicon Valley, and there’s a hive of activity inside Alphabet’s X laboratory, where the technology company incubates ambitious “moonshot” ideas.

A handful of staff wearing sunglasses and shark slippers are standing on top of a 15-meter illuminated surface, marking an enormous piece of plastic with pens. It looks like the world’s nerdiest fashion runway, but it’s actually a giant flatbed scanner – nicknamed Billie Jean – used to analyze structural damage to the high-altitude Project Loon balloons Google’s parent company wants to use to deliver internet service to remote parts of the world.

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Driverless trucks: economic tsunami may swallow one of most common US jobs

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:00:02 GMT2017-02-16T12:00:02Z

America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers. Once trucks become automated, where will these jobs go?

In April 2016, Uber announced the acquisition of Otto, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a kit that can turn any big rig into a self-driving truck.

The Otto technology enables complete autonomy on highways: trucks can navigate, stay in their lane, and slow or stop in response to traffic conditions completely without human intervention. Otto’s equipment currently costs about $30,000, but that is certain to fall significantly in the coming years.

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Is there a replacement for email?

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:14:24 GMT2017-02-16T10:14:24Z

David is fed up with spam, phishing and viruses, and thinks email is no longer fit for purpose. What could he use to replace it?

Like countless others, I use email daily, but it’s a love/hate relationship because of the dangers of viruses, trojans, phishing, spam etc. I think it is unreasonable to expect the average person to be able to tell a valid email from one that is dangerous.

The latest problem is the incorrect identification of emails as spam. I check my spam folder two or three times a week for emails that my ISP (BT Yahoo) has decided are spam. These could be emails between friends with whom I have been exchanging emails for years. It has caused some real problems, and I am now adopting the bizarre solution of texting the person to alert them I have sent an email.

I don’t think anything is going to replace email in the near future, and probably not in the far future. It’s virtually impossible to use internet technologies without an email address, because they are used as identifiers by most websites, cloud services, and even operating systems such as Google Android and Microsoft Windows. Many companies, schools and colleges also give all their members a unique email address.

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Prince is on Spotify but Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke and Beyoncé are holding out

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:25:19 GMT2017-02-15T16:25:19Z

Despite Prince’s refusal to deal with the much-maligned streaming platform while he was alive, his music is now available on the site. But there are still a few superstars who won’t play

The music industry and its audience was up in arms this week – some flailing with joy, others expressing their disquiet – as the music of Prince became available on Spotify. Now, you may have missed it, but Prince unfortunately popped his clogs last year. In life, he was thoroughly against his work being on the platform, so the argument of “It’s what he would have wanted, his music lives on for all” probably won’t cut much ice with the fans deriding it as a betrayal.

Alas, Mr Nelson has become yet another monument to topple in the temple of Spotify-refusal, with only a stoic few holding out and refusing to offer up music for near-enough nowt. Here are some of the others refusing to “do a recently deceased Prince”.

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