Tech Drama

  • ‘Jeff Bezos values profits above safety’: Amazon workers voice pandemic concern
    by Michael Sainato on April 7, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Workers at facilities where there had been at least one coronavirus case said they were not being closed for deep cleaning Coronavirus – live US updatesLive global updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageWorkers at Amazon’s warehouse and shipping facilities say they fear going to work amid the coronavirus outbreak, and called on the company to do more to improve safety.“We have no more wipes and hand sanitizer. We aren’t provided masks, don’t have the proper gloves, and not everything is being sanitized and cleaned before it comes to use,” said one Amazon warehouse associate in Phoenix, Arizona. Continue reading…

  • Google’s UK staff earned average of £234,000 in 2019
    by Mark Sweney on April 7, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Company paid more than £1bn in wages but only £44m in UK corporation taxGoogle’s UK staff earned an average of £234,000 each last year as the tech firm paid more than £1bn in wages and a share scheme – but only £44m in UK corporation tax.Google, which increased UK staff numbers by almost 800 to 4,439 last year, footed its first £1bn-plus wage and salary bill for the year to the end of June. The £1.04bn total was a 25% increase on the £829m paid to staff in 2018, according to the company’s latest financial filings in Britain. Continue reading…

  • WhatsApp to impose new limit on forwarding to fight fake news
    by Alex Hern UK technology editor on April 7, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Restrictions on frequently forwarded messages intended to disrupt false Covid-19 claimsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageWhatsApp is to impose a strict new limit on message forwarding as the Facebook-owned chat app seeks to slow the dissemination of fake news, the company has announced.If a user receives a frequently forwarded message – one which has been forwarded more than five times – under the new curbs, they will only be able to send it on to a single chat at a time. That is one fifth the previous limit of five chats, imposed in 2019. Continue reading…

  • Apple MacBook Air review: 2020’s near-perfect consumer laptop
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on April 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Updated processors, a price drop and an excellent new keyboard only add to this fantastic traditional laptopApple’s latest MacBook Air has a new, fixed and more satisfying keyboard, improved processors and gets a price drop.From the outside essentially nothing has changed. The new 2020 MacBook Air looks just like the revamped machine launched in 2018, except it costs £200 less than its predecessor, with the base model starting at £999. Continue reading…

  • Abolish Silicon Valley by Wendy Liu review – rebooting our reality
    by Peter Conrad on April 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

    A software developer’s epiphany inspires this admirable critique of capitalism, starting with the west coast tech tyrantsA month ago, when I began reading Wendy Liu’s polemic, I felt inclined to dismiss her as a millennial flibbertigibbet, motivated by a grudge against an industry that seemingly had no use for her. Liu grew up as a computing whiz-kid in Montreal and moved to San Francisco to develop software that aspired, a little tackily, to be “Tinder for advertisers”. When her entrepreneurial scheme fizzled out she transferred to the London School of Economics to study inequality, which turned her into an evangelising radical. In her book, she attacks the depressing doctrine of “capitalist realism” and its assumption that our current social and economic arrangements are unchangeable; with born-again zeal, she chastises her own “petty and narcissistic” nature and even laments “the tragedy of the human condition”. A bit excessive, surely, as a response to the failure of a startup?But as I read on, everything changed. We now have good reason to question the pursuits of the vaunted innovators with whom Liu consorted in California – the blissed-out cultists at Google, whose only worry is over “the wrong kind of sparkling water in the microkitchens”, or the manic experts who specialise in “envisioning hyperplanes in n-dimensional space”. As Liu came to see, techies like these were already living extraterrestrially, having opted out of the earthly, bodily necessities that currently weigh us down. A colleague of hers said he would happily volunteer to join Elon Musk’s projected colony on Mars, the “backup” planet for menaced humanity. “You know you can never come back,” warned another of Liu’s friends. “I’d work remotely,” grinned the would-be Martian. Continue reading…

  • How false claims about 5G health risks spread into the mainstream
    by Jim Waterson and Alex Hern on April 7, 2020 at 5:00 am

    Perfect storm of conditions helped nonsense theories about 5G and coronavirus to take holdA year ago, hoax theories about the dangers of 5G had barely pierced the public’s consciousness, largely remaining confined to serious conspiracy theorists such as David Icke.In recent weeks, baseless claims about risks associated with the next-generation mobile technology have gone mainstream. Claims linking 5G to the coronavirus pandemic have led to petrol bomb attacks on phone masts and rebuttals from the government. Continue reading…

  • Minister condemns Airbnb hosts offering ‘Covid-19 retreats’
    by Haroon Siddique and Alex Hern on April 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Behaviour of some property owners labelled ‘incredibly irresponsible and dangerous’ Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageAirbnb hosts have been accused of irresponsible and dangerous behaviour for advertising properties in Britain as “Covid-19 retreats”.Laws brought in to combat the spread of coronavirus state that holiday accommodation should only be provided to key workers needing to self-isolate. Continue reading…

  • At least 20 UK phone masts vandalised over false 5G coronavirus claims
    by Jim Waterson and Alex Hern on April 6, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Industry body assures people in open letter there is no link between 5G and pandemicCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageAt least 20 mobile phone masts across the UK are believed to have been torched or otherwise vandalised since Thursday, according to government and industry sources who are increasingly concerned about the impact of baseless theories linking coronavirus to 5G networks.There have been noticeable clusters of attacks on masts around Liverpool and the West Midlands. Owing to the slow rollout of 5G in the UK, many of the masts that have been vandalised did not contain the technology and the attacks merely damaged 3G and 4G equipment. Continue reading…

  • Lawsuit raises questions about source of Jeff Bezos’s affair revelation
    by Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington on April 6, 2020 at 10:00 am

    In lawsuit, Michael Sanchez has accused AMI of plot to ‘scapegoat’ him, and has cast doubt on claim that he was the ‘sole source’ A top executive at the tabloid publisher behind the National Enquirer said in a private email that he was “saving for my tombstone” the untold story of how the tabloid uncovered a 2019 exclusive about Jeff Bezos’s extramarital relationship, according to a lawsuit against the publisher.The claim raises new questions about how American Media Inc (AMI) discovered the Amazon CEO’s relationship, and how it obtained knowledge of explicit sexual photographs that Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, has alleged were used against him by the publisher for “extortion and blackmail”. Continue reading…

  • Disrupting the disruptors: how Covid-19 will shake up Airbnb
    by Meg Watson on April 5, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Airbnb created an industry and changed the face of many neighbourhoods. Now it’s facing the challenge of the coronavirusAirbnb was built on the premise of bringing the world closer together. Tourists could travel like locals, while locals could cash in on their desirable neighbourhood properties by letting those visitors in. Last year the company was estimated to be worth more than US$30bn. It is scheduled to go public in 2020. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic.Travel is suspended. Australians are almost entirely confined to their homes. Now the once heralded disruptor is seeing a collapse in bookings. The hosts who have become reliant on income-generating properties to pay their bills are being bled dry by a lack of business, and already-suspicious neighbours are up in arms over the potential that short-term renters may spread the virus. Continue reading…

  • In lockdown, parents are mastering the art of the meme. What could go wrong? | Eleanor Margolis
    by Eleanor Margolis on April 5, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Who thought the family WhatsApp group would alleviate our existential dread? Make no mistake: we’re in strange times• Coronavirus latest updates• See all our coronavirus coverageMy dad’s latest contribution to the family WhatsApp group was a meme. One that he’d forwarded, possibly from another dad. It’s an illustration of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, walking side by side, with the caption: “Back the fuck up Piglet.”It’s not that the global pandemic has caused my 64-year-old father to discover memes; it’s more that he’s now come to truly appreciate them. He tells me he has “20 coming in a day, from various sources”. Like a meme sommelier, he’s become very selective about which ones he forwards to the family thread. And his taste isn’t bad. A little schlocky at times, but surprisingly acceptable for someone of a generation whose online presence is largely defined by jpegs of inspirational quotes and below-the-line bigotry. The overflow he sends to my uncle. I imagine the two of them pinging each other the latest corona content, in a sort of quarantined baby-boomer version of tennis. Continue reading…

  • Call for social media platforms to act on 5G mast conspiracy theory
    by Harriet Sherwood on April 5, 2020 at 7:11 am

    After a spate of fires, the government is stepping in to halt the spread of linking coronavirus to the mobile networkCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe government is to hold talks with social media platforms after mobile phone masts in Birmingham, Merseyside and Belfast were set on fire amid a widely shared conspiracy theory linking 5G networks to the coronavirus pandemic.Broadband engineers have also faced physical and verbal threats by people who believe that radiation from 5G masts causes health risks and lowers people’s immune systems. Continue reading…

  • The Last of Us Part II delayed by coronavirus – is this the start of a trend?
    by Keith Stuart on April 3, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Sony has put its PlayStation title of the year on hold indefinitely. Are we likely to see the crisis disrupting other games – and even console launches?On Thursday night, Sony announced via its PlayStation Twitter feed that the long-awaited post-apocalyptic adventure sequel The Last of Us Part II will be delayed indefinitely. “Logistically,” the message read, “the global crisis is preventing us from providing the launch experience our players deserve.”The game’s developer, Naughty Dog, posted a longer statement, again putting the blame with the worldwide disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. Continue reading…

  • Bafta games awards 2020: Outer Wilds and Disco Elysium dominate
    by Keith Stuart on April 3, 2020 at 7:58 am

    A good year for independent titles in the live-streamed ceremony hosted by Dara Ó BriainIndependent video games were the big winners at this year’s Bafta Games awards, which took place as a live-streamed event on Thursday evening after the planned ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19.Sci-fi action puzzler Outer Wilds took the best game award, as well as game design and original property. Offbeat detective adventure Disco Elysium also won in three categories: debut game, narrative and music. Continue reading…

  • Zoom says engineers will focus on security and safety issues
    by Alex Hern UK technology editor on April 2, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Video app has seen a surge in popularity for both work and private use during lockdownCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageZoom, the hit video conferencing platform, will freeze new feature development and shift all engineering resources on to security and safety issues, its founder has said.The move comes as the company battles the damage caused by a string of minor scandals ultimately related to the same scrappy approach that enabled it to capitalise on the wave of global lockdowns in the first place. Continue reading…

  • Experts warn of privacy risk as US uses GPS to fight coronavirus spread
    by Alex Hern Technology editor on April 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Mobile advertising companies can collect detailed data about Americans’ movementsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageA transatlantic divide on how to use location data to fight coronavirus risks highlights the lack of safeguards for Americans’ personal data, academics and data scientists have warned.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has turned to data provided by the mobile advertising industry to analyse population movements in the midst of the pandemic. Continue reading…

  • Resident Evil 3 review – uniquely apposite reboot
    by Steve Boxer on April 2, 2020 at 8:03 am

    PS4, Xbox One, PC; CapcomDealing with a deadly virus seems highly relevant in this remake, which adds a multiplayer mode, though it’s not as meaty as Res Evil 2 Among the adjectives applied to the Resident Evil games over the franchise’s 20-year history of frenzied zombie-slaying, we perhaps never expected to find the words “relevant” or “instructive”. However, this modern-technology reimagining of 1999’s Resident Evil 3 charts the immediate aftermath of a devastating viral outbreak – in this case the T-Virus, created by the evil Umbrella Corporation – in a small city, so it is perhaps uniquely apposite. In the current circumstances, it is also faintly reassuring: at least our streets aren’t ablaze and teeming with undead monsters. Continue reading…

  • So long and thanks for all the fish
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on April 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Ask Jack comes to a close following the news that its long-running author has diedI am sorry to have to inform readers of the Guardian’s long-running Ask Jack column that its much-loved author, Jack Schofield, died on Tuesday.Jack was taken to hospital on Friday night following a heart attack and died on Tuesday afternoon. Continue reading…

  • Zoom booms as demand for video-conferencing tech grows
    by Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent on March 31, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Estimated net worth of founder has increased by more than $4bn since coronavirus crisis startedFrom nursery school sing-alongs to FTSE 100 boardrooms and even UK cabinet meetings hosted by the poorly prime minister, a socially distanced world is reconvening in cyberspace with the help of Silicon Valley video conferencing app Zoom.As governments across the world have placed their citizens on lockdown, downloads of video conferencing apps have soared to record highs and the companies behind them have seen their share prices rise while the rest of the global stock market tanks. Continue reading…

  • Now’s the time – 15 epic video games for the socially isolated
    by Keith Stuart on March 30, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    From dark dungeons and the streets of Tokyo to enchanted forests and distant planets, here are the 100-hour games that you may finally have time to masterIt’s a popular refrain among video game players of a certain age. In our early 20s, we could spend whole days immersed in epic role-playing video games, sacrificing months to the demands of the latest Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest adventure. But, in our 30s and 40s, we’re lucky to catch 10 minutes of Fortnite here and there.However, now that many of us are finding we have time on our hands, it could be the opportunity we need to attempt some of the more chronologically demanding narrative video game masterpieces of the last decade. Here are 15 that should see you through the next six months – and beyond. Continue reading…

  • 20 learning apps for stir-crazy kids
    by Stuart Dredge on March 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

    These fun-filled educational apps provide perfect brain food for children while schools are closedThe closure of schools across the UK has left many parents and carers in the sudden, unexpected position of being home-school teachers. Schools are providing support where they can, but there are also still plenty of smartphone and tablet apps that can be used as part of learning.It may be tricky to get some children to see these devices as good for more than TikTok, Fortnite and (adult) YouTube, but the positive side is that the best learning apps are interesting enough to – perhaps with an initial nudge – engage children. Here are 20 apps that may get parents off to a good start. The “younger children” apps are most suitable for preschool and early primary kids, while the “older children” apps are more for later primary and early secondary age. Continue reading…

  • Confined in rental apartments, millennials decorate virtual homes
    by Katie Bishop on March 27, 2020 at 5:00 am

    Interior design apps are on the rise as homeownership rates among people under 35 have fallen by 20% in the last decadeOut of a desperate desire to avoid the doom-and-gloom news reel for at least a few hours a day and with Covid-19 keeping me confined at home, I have become interiors-obsessed. There’s no more pleasant distraction than searching for the perfect rug to really pull a room together, debating variations of patterned wallpaper, or agonizing over exactly how many scatter cushions are too many scatter cushions.An hour or two a day can easily be wiled away planning a whole-house refurbishment. The only problem is, like most young people, I don’t actually own a home that I can decorate. Instead, I’ve been sucked into the world of decorating apps, and their creators have been expecting people like me – permanently renting millennials, AKA “Generation Rent”. Continue reading…

  • From vacuum cleaners to ventilators – can Dyson make the leap?
    by Rob Davies on March 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    The firm has no medical expertise but it does have some relevant experienceCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageSince the engineering firm Dyson unveiled a prototype ventilator that it said could help arm the NHS for a surge in Covid-19 patients, there has been scepticism about its role.The billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson is better known for his bagless vacuum cleaners, his backing for Brexit and more recently an attempt to build an electric car that he ultimately abandoned. Continue reading…

  • Hack the vote: terrifying film shows how vulnerable US elections are
    by Adrian Horton on March 26, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    In the documentary Kill Chain, the weaknesses of America’s basic election infrastructure are laid bareEven as much of America grinds to a halt, coronavirus has yet to derail the date of the 2020 election. Which introduces a perhaps underestimated terror, as explained in one of the more deceptively scary documentaries to drop in recent weeks: the vulnerable voting machine. That seemingly benign piece of equipment – the hardware of American democracy – is, as several experts explain in HBO’s Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections, nothing more than an obsolete computer. And these machines’ vulnerabilities to hacking are “terrifying”, Sarah Teale, co-director along with Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels, told the Guardian. America’s current election infrastructure is, as Kill Chain explains, a prescription for disaster – an outdated, willfully naive system no more prepared for attack than four years ago. Related: After Truth: how ordinary people are ‘radicalized’ by fake news Continue reading…

  • What’s the best tablet for video calling grandma?
    by Jack Schofield on March 26, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Chris needs a tablet or video-calling device for his grandma’s Covid-19 isolation. What are the options?I want to get my grandma a tablet for easy video calling. She is elderly and needs to self-isolate, and she is already quite isolated after the recent death of her husband. I am not sure which tablet or which program to use. She isn’t very computer literate.This new Facebook thing looks good but I am sceptical of the brand. ChrisVideo calling used to be a futuristic topic. Today, it is readily available on most devices except, oddly enough, smart TVs. If anything, there’s a plethora of services, and I haven’t tried most of them. The options include Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype and many more. Zoom is a business service but it works well and is clearly flavour of the month, with downloads up by 1,270%. Fake backgrounds are one of its winning features. Continue reading…

  • 10 Covid-busting designs: spray drones, fever helmets, anti-virus snoods
    by Oliver Wainwright on March 25, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Companies the world over are directing their ingenuity at the fight against the coronavirus. Here are the front-runners, from sanitising robots to a 3D-printed hospital wardDesigners, engineers and programmers have heard the klaxon call. The last few weeks have seen a wave of ingenuity unleashed, with both garden-shed tinkerers and high-tech manufacturers scrambling to develop things that will combat the spread of Covid-19.Many of their innovations raise as many questions as they answer, though. Could 3D printing now finally come into its own, with access to open-source, downloadable designs for medical parts? If so, will intellectual property infringements be waived, or will altruistic hacktivists still face costly lawsuits? Could mobile phone tracking map the spread of infection like never before, keeping people away from virus hotspots? If so, might governments use the pandemic as an excuse to ramp up surveillance measures post-crisis? Continue reading…

  • Half-Life: Alyx review – a spectacular immersive experience
    by Rick Lane on March 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    PC (Oculus Rift, Valve Index, HTC Vive); Valve CorporationThe classic shooter series gains a thrilling new perspective, thanks to VR tech that works symbiotically with the narrative Virtual reality and the Half-Life series have both struggled with the weight of expectations put upon them. Half-Life and its sequel are treasured games that each redefined the first-person shooter in their own ways. Yet developer Valve Software has left Half-Life’s story unfinished for 13 years, recently admitting that previous attempts to continue it were, in its own view, not good enough.VR, meanwhile, offers the promise of unparalleled immersion, the ability to let players perceive virtual environments and touch objects as if they were present in the real world. But factors such as high price points, complex setups and the physical demands of playing have seen the tech struggle to bring that magic to the mainstream. Continue reading…

  • Zoom: the $29bn video-call app you’d never heard of until coronavirus
    by Guardian Staff on March 25, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    The digital conferencing tool has taken off thanks to physical distancing across the globe. Just watch out for the 40-minute limit and pornography trollsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageName: Zoom.Age: Nine. Continue reading…

  • Uber drivers are being forced to choose between risking Covid-19 or starvation | Veena Dubal and Meredith Whittaker
    by Veena Dubal and Meredith Whittaker on March 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    By defying the law to refuse their workers’ basic benefits, the giants of the gig economy are creating a heartbreaking crisisCoronavirus – latest US updatesCoronavirus – latest global updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageFor the last week, Ahmed, a driver for Uber and Lyft, has faced a heartbreaking choice: starvation or sickness.Ahmed has four kids, ages 11, eight, five and three. He lives with them, his wife and his elderly parents in San Francisco. He provides his family’s sole source of income, but even though he works 60 or more hours a week, he has only 56 cents in his bank account. Continue reading…

  • Amazon is using coronavirus to expand its power – and not for the greater good | Julia Carrie Wong
    by Julia Carrie Wong on March 24, 2020 at 10:00 am

    If we let Amazon’s strength dominate our entire economy, we may just find out how weak we areIt is calling up 100,000 troops, extending grants to small businesses, prioritizing essential goods, and cracking down on profiteers.No, that’s not the United States federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic: it’s Amazon’s. The e-commerce behemoth is poised to become one of the major winners of the coronavirus crisis. As smaller businesses (even those that are not in any sense of the word small) falter and fail, Amazon is expanding its dominance over American commerce and society. Continue reading…

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review: the best Windows 10 tablet PC you can buy
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on March 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

    USB-C completes top Windows 10 tablet with great screen, design and kickstand, plus latest Intel chipsThe Surface Pro 7 is an update of the excellent Surface Pro 6 with new processors and, finally, a USB-C port.That means the design of the new Surface Pro 7 hasn’t changed since the 2017 Surface Pro 5, with Microsoft taking an “if it ain’t broke” approach. It’s competitively priced at £699 and up – but you have to pay at least £125 for the keyboard if you want one – which annoyingly is not included in the standard price. Continue reading…

  • Old tech’s new wave, the gadgets of yesteryear making a comeback
    by Richard Godwin on March 22, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Once seen as cutting edge, many of yesterday’s gadgets are – surprisingly – still in use or are making a comeback. Richard Godwin goes back to the futureImagine a start-up entrepreneur pitching the traditional milk round to a venture capitalist. “So we’re offering a local, sustainable, subscription-based protein delivery system. And get this: it’s all going to be powered by electric vehicles…” Back in the 1970s, 94% of British households bought their milk this way, but by the 2000s, for the vast majority, it was part of the weekly supermarket shop. It wasn’t technology that killed the centuries-old tradition so much as economic forces: deregulation of the dairy industry and supermarkets pushing plastic bottles. However, milk rounds still account for 3% of milk sales and they are growing in popularity. The revival is mostly down to the “Blue Planet effect” – glass is much more environmentally friendly than plastic. A typical glass milk bottle is reused 25 times. Come to think of it, why aren’t we reusing Coke bottles, too? Continue reading…

  • How will children keep learning and stay in touch? Easy: with video games
    by Keith Stuart on March 20, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    Don’t fret about your kids overdoing it in front of the TV. Games will offer comfort and variety during the coronavirus crisisAs with millions of other parents around the world, when our two sons get home from school this afternoon, we have no idea when they’ll be going back. Their schools have been hastily scrabbling together remote learning plans, but things are going to be chaotic and unstructured and that’s something we’ll all have to learn to deal with. What I know for certain is that my boys will have one thing on their mind: video games.What they’re picturing (and I can almost see the thought bubbles above their heads when we talk to them about the school closure) is three months in front of the TV playing Apex Legends. You may be in a similar situation in your household, and you may already be feeling guilty about the amount of time your children will end up spending in front of screens simply because you have work to do and their options are limited. Continue reading…

  • US authorities battle surge in coronavirus scams, from phishing to fake treatments
    by Kari Paul on March 19, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Report finds online fraudsters posing as health officials as Alex Jones and others face crackdownCoronavirus – live updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general across the US are increasing efforts to crack down on an explosion of scams related to the coronavirus outbreak.The agencies have reported a rise in fraudulent activity exploiting confusion around Covid-19, which has infected more than 190,000 people worldwide and has prompted numerous cities to be placed on lockdown indefinitely. The rise in scams has come in the form of email phishing campaigns, fraudulent goods, and disinformation campaigns, according to a report released this week from Digital Shadows, a San Francisco cybersecurity company. Continue reading…

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: the superphone that’s a little too massive
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on March 19, 2020 at 7:00 am

    New flagship smartphone is supersized in all dimensions with a giant 6.9in screen, massive zoom camera and ginormous priceSamsung’s new Galaxy S20 Ultra superphone is packed to the brim with chart-topping features, including 100x zooming, 108MP cameras, a ginormous screen and 5G.The £1,199 S20 Ultra leads an important new lineup of 5G-as-standard smartphones from Samsung, which looks to make the technology a normal part of mobile life rather than an expensive add-on for early adopters. Continue reading…

  • The tech execs who don’t agree with ‘soul-stealing’ coronavirus safety measures
    by Julia Carrie Wong in Oakland and Daniel Strauss in Washington on March 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    ‘If we wish to maintain our productivity, we need to continue working in [our] offices,’ one CEO told his staff in an emailCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMichael Saylor does not often send all-staff emails to the more than 2,000 employees at Microstrategy, a business intelligence firm headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia. So the chief executive’s 3,000-word missive on Monday afternoon with the subject line My Thoughts on Covid-19 got his employees’ attention.“It is soul-stealing and debilliating [sic] to embrace the notion of social distancing & economic hibernation,” Saylor wrote in an impassioned argument against adopting the aggressive responses to the coronavirus pandemic that public health authorities are advising. “If we wish to maintain our productivity, we need to continue working in [our] offices.” Continue reading…

  • UK ministers will no longer claim ‘no successful examples’ of Russian interference
    by Dan Sabbagh on March 15, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Change of official line is first admission that Kremlin may have distorted UK electionsMinisters have been told they can no longer say there have been “no successful examples” of Russian disinformation affecting UK elections, after the apparent hacking of an NHS dossier seized on by Labour during the last campaign.The dropping of the old line is the first official admission of the impact of Kremlin efforts to distort Britain’s political processes, and comes after three years of the government’s refusal to engage publicly with the threat. Continue reading…

  • Which streaming stick should I buy for Disney+?
    by Jack Schofield on March 12, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Adnan has an old smart TV and Now TV box, so needs something new to stream Disney+ My smart TV is old (Samsung, 2014) so I watch BBC iPlayer on my Now TV box (also old and discontinued). What is the best device for all the popular streaming services including the upcoming Disney+? To my knowledge, it is not yet confirmed if it will be available on my Roku-powered Now TV box. AdnanYou may be in luck, because Disney has just signed a deal with Sky. As a result, Disney+ will be available via Sky from its UK launch on 24 March, to be followed by Now TV in the coming months, says Sky. It’s not clear how many months that means. Perhaps Sky does not know. However, I’d assume it means some time this year, not next. Continue reading…

  • Microsoft Surface Pro X review: not yet ready for prime time
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on March 12, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Long battery life, 4G and beautiful design can’t stop it being held back by a lack of apps for its ARM chipThe Surface Pro X is a glimpse of an ARM-powered Windows future, combining the best bits of phones and computers, but while that future is closer than ever, it isn’t quite ready yet.The new £999 Surface Pro X might look like the rest of Microsoft’s Surface tablets on the outside, but it is fundamentally a different beast on the inside. Continue reading…

  • Swapping streams: ‘Subscription services are supposed to be a shared commodity’
    by Meg Watson on March 11, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Sharing the passwords to streaming services is commonplace, but while the etiquette of doing so is undefined, the terms of service are clearThe cheapest subscriptions to Netflix, Stan and Spotify are about $10 a month. But people are paying much, much less than that. Many share the services with partners or friends. Some share with friends of friends. And others share with their housemate’s ex-partner’s family – who they have never actually met.“We just never logged out,” says Kate. Her housemate’s ex signed in once with his family account on the sharehouse TV and that was it: free Netflix for the foreseeable future, all for the price of some dud movie recommendations. “He was really into action and really blokey content – not my cuppa at all. Luckily, no Adam Sandler recommendations ever came up,” she says. Continue reading…

  • Cunningham review – powerful 3D documentary about a dance pioneer
    by Cath Clarke on March 11, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    This highbrow study is fascinating less for its fancy 3D footsteps than for its insight into choreographer Merce Cunningham’s life and workThe 3D format, all the rage for about five minutes after Avatar, makes a comeback. Not deployed for a Hollywood blockbuster, but to capture dance in a documentary about the pioneering choreographer Merce Cunningham, who died in 2009 aged 90. The headachey effect of the technology (and faff for the glasses-wearers of having to put 3D goggles over our specs) justifies itself with some gorgeous closeups that take the viewer right inside the sequences. Yet the most exhilarating footage is the black-and-white archive of the young Cunningham dancing with uncanny animal alertness. He had the most beautiful feet: exquisite long articulate toes, each one a dancer in its own right, a personal troupe of 10. Related: Now in 3D! Merce Cunningham’s mind-blowing dance Continue reading…

  • Questions over Israel’s role in WhatsApp case against spyware firm
    by Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington and Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem on March 10, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    WhatsApp alleges NSO Group hacked 1,400 users, including diplomats and activistsWhatsApp has said its lawsuit against the Israeli spyware maker NSO Group encountered an unusual delay because of a legal holdup involving the government, raising questions about whether Israel will play a role in the company’s case.WhatsApp filed its lawsuit in October, alleging that NSO Group had hacked 1,400 of its users, including journalists, senior diplomats, government officials and human rights activists. Continue reading…

  • Telling stories: how LinkedIn took on office banter
    by Elle Hunt on March 10, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    The professional platform is the latest social media site to offer a service where posts expire after 24 hours. But do we really need this kind of fleeting work-based chat?There will soon be yet another way to connect on LinkedIn, as the professionals’ platform trials a version of “Stories” – posts that expire after 24 hours – pioneered by Snapchat and popularised by Instagram.Pete Davies of LinkedIn says that the feature is intended to replicate the “similarly ephemeral and light … cubicle and coffee-shop banter” that characterises interactions in the business world. “Sometimes, we want a way to just make a connection, have a laugh with our colleagues and move on.” Continue reading…

  • ‘I lost £95,000 in a bank scam after my solicitor’s email was hacked’
    by Rupert Jones on February 29, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Sally Flood managed to claw two-thirds back, but says lenders should do more to protect customersA Manchester woman lost £95,000 she inherited from her father in a sophisticated bank transfer scam. After a year-long battle she has managed to retrieve two-thirds of the cash.Sally Flood enlisted the help of a law firm specialising in cybercrime and data breaches, and while she is pleased to have recovered a good chunk of what she had lost after “the year from hell”, she is furious about being left £35,000 out of pocket. Continue reading…

  • UK to launch specialist cyber force able to target terror groups
    by Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor on February 27, 2020 at 8:00 am

    GCHQ and Ministry of Defence to roll out national task force of hackers after months of delayA specialist cyber force of hackers who can target hostile states and terror groups is due to be launched later in the spring, after many months of delays and turf wars between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ.The National Cyber Force – containing an estimated 500 specialists – has been in the works for two years but sources said that after months of wrangling over the details, the specialist unit was close to being formally announced. Continue reading…

  • Oliver Letwin, the unlikely merchant of technological doom
    by Rachel Cooke on February 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    After battling to stop a no-deal Brexit, the ex-MP has written a modern fable, Apocalypse How?, warning of the catastrophe our tech dependence could causeOliver Letwin’s strange and somewhat alarming new book begins at midnight on Thursday 31 December 2037. In Swindon – stay with me! – a man called Aameen Patel is working the graveyard shift at Highways England’s traffic HQ when his computer screen goes blank, and the room is plunged into darkness. He tries to report these things to his superiors, but can get no signal on his mobile. What’s going on? Looking at the motorway from the viewing window by his desk, he observes, not an orderly stream of traffic, but a dramatic pile-up of crashed cars and lorries – at which point he realises something is seriously amiss. In the Britain of 2037, everything, or almost everything, is controlled by 7G wireless technology, from the national grid to the traffic (not only are cars driverless; a vehicle cannot even join a motorway without logging into an “on-route guidance system”). There is, then, only one possible explanation: the entire 7G network must have gone down.It sounds like I’m describing a novel – and it’s true that Aameen Patel will soon be joined by another fictional creation in the form of Bill Donoghue, who works at the Bank of England, and whose job it will be to tell the prime minister that the country is about to pay a heavy price for its cashless economy, given that even essential purchases will not be possible until the network is back up (Bill’s mother-in-law is also one of thousands of vulnerable people whose carers will soon be unable to get to them, the batteries in their electric cars having gone flat). But Apocalypse How? is not a novel. It’s a peculiar hybrid: part fable, part fact. Aameen, Bill and all Letwin’s other characters exist only to illustrate aspects of his wider thesis, which is that our increasing reliance on integrated digital technology may be leading us, and ultimately every country in the world, in the direction of a catastrophe. I exaggerate a little, but think TV’s Survivors minus the mystery virus (though at the moment, we handily have one of those on our hands, too). Continue reading…

  • This tax season, don’t let your business provide a payday for hackers | Gene Marks
    by Gene Marks on February 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Small accounting firms are particularly at risk from bogus emails designed to steal lucrative personal informationIt’s not just accountants who are busy this tax season, it’s online hackers too – and they’re preying on both individuals and small businesses.This is “not from the ‘mob’ or street criminals,” writes Jess Coburn, a data protection expert, in CPA Practice Advisor. “These criminals are likely sitting behind a desk, glued to computer monitors, chugging energy drinks and developing the most effective ways to steal today’s version of gold.” Continue reading…

  • Personal details of 10.6m MGM hotel guests revealed by hackers, report says
    by Mario Koran in San Francisco on February 20, 2020 at 1:24 am

    Justin Bieber and Jack Dorsey among those targeted by hackMGM confident no financial or password data breachedPersonal details of more than 10.6 million former guests of MGM Resorts hotels, including Justin Bieber and Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, were posted on an online hacking forum this week, according to a new report. Related: Julian Assange: Australian MPs call on UK to block US extradition Continue reading…

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