Tech Drama

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – can this game save the series?
    by Keith Stuart on September 23, 2019 at 11:00 am

    The return of the Modern Warfare series ends its beta test on a high, with the chaotic Ground War mode and other fresh tweaks giving the reboot a different feelA couple of hours and several dozen respawns into the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta test and you gradually start to appreciate the changes. The latest title in the multimillion-selling shooter series is being sold as a return to the principles of its near-namesake, 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Developer Infinity Ward is promising gritty, contemporary combat on claustrophobic maps with authentic weapons and skills – and absolutely none of the laser guns or wall-running super powers that have blighted later episodes. The beta tests, held over the last two weekends, have been the first chance to experience this premise on public servers. And it has not been disappointing.In many ways, the new title does feel very similar to the original Modern Warfare trilogy. We get familiar weapons with familiar effects, such as the super versatile M4A1 assault rifle and the strange-looking AUG with its blisteringly rapid fire rate. There is also a return for killstreaks, where players are specifically rewarded for shooting enemies rather than meeting mission objectives, recalling Modern Warfare’s ultra-aggressive roots. Map locations also have a nostalgically grungy and bomb-blasted look. Azhir Cave is a mass of snaking desert tunnels and crumbling villages, while Hackney Yard is all rusted shipping containers, abandoned offices and burned-out police cars. Continue reading…

  • Swiping left or right – politically: Chips with Everything podcast
    by Presented by Jordan Erica Webber and produced Danielle Stephens on September 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Jordan Erica Webber looks into the rise of identity politics in online dating. In this episode we hear from the journalist Rainesford Stauffer, dating expert Dr Jess Carbino and Tinder’s election bot creator, Yara Rodrigues Fowler Continue reading…

  • Google upended Pittsburgh – can the city’s working class roots transform the tech industry?
    by Julia Carrie Wong in Pittsburgh on September 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

    An attempt by contract workers to unionize has brought the city’s industrial past crashing into the 21st centuryThe first time Nabisco tried to close its Pittsburgh factory in 1982, a coalition of labor unions and politicians successfully fought back, preserving hundreds of jobs and the smell of baking cookies in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood. Sixteen years, three free-market presidents and numerous international trade deals later, Nabisco successfully shuttered the plant for good, laying off about 350 workers and leaving behind a hulking brick monument to the Pennsylvania city’s storied industrial past.Today, the old factory building has been transformed into a shiny testament to Pittsburgh’s future: the luxuriously renovated Bakery Square is home to hundreds of Google employees, assembly lines and industrial ovens replaced with cubicles, meeting rooms and an indoor bamboo garden, the only hint of the manufacturing past in a few tasteful design flourishes. Continue reading…

  • Campaign group in Finland crowdsource for ‘forgiveness’ emoji
    by Mattha Busby on September 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Ideas for emoji include vine of leaves on heart and people clasping handsTo err is human, it is said, to forgive divine. And soon that noblest of human qualities will be available in emoji form, following a global effort to find the most appropriate icon.A coalition of charitable and peace-building organisations in Finland are leading the quest to crowdsource an emoji to be added to the thousands available to smartphone users. Continue reading…

  • The Guardian view on machine learning: a computer cleverer than you? | Editorial
    by Editorial on September 22, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    There are dangers of teaching computers to learn the things humans do best – not least because makers of such machines cannot explain the knowledge their creations have acquiredBrad Smith, Microsoft’s president, last week told the Guardian that tech companies should stop behaving as though everything that is not illegal is acceptable. Mr Smith made a good argument that technology may be considered morally neutral but technologists can’t be. He is correct that software engineers ought to take much more seriously the moral consequences of their work.This argument operates on two levels: conscious and unconscious. It is easy to see the ethical issue in Microsoft’s sale of facial recognition technology to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement while the Trump administration was separating children from parents at the US’s southern border. The moral stance of more than 3,000 Google employees who protested about its Maven contract – where machine learning was to be used for military purposes, starting with drone imaging – with the US Department of Defense should be applauded. Google let the contract lapse. But people with different ethical viewpoints can take different views. In the case of the Maven contract, a rival with fewer qualms picked up the work. Much is contingent on public attitudes. Opinion polls show that Americans are not in favour of developing artificial intelligence technology for warfare, but this changes as soon as the country’s adversaries start to develop them. There is an economic aspect to be considered too. Shoshana Zuboff’s insight, that the exploitation of behavioural predictions covertly derived from the surveillance of users is capitalism’s latest stage, is key. What is our moral state when AI researchers are paid $1m a year but the people who label and classify the input data are paid $1.47 an hour. Continue reading…

  • How to survive a Twitter storm
    by Tanya Gold on September 22, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Tanya Gold published a piece about a plus-size mannequin one Sunday. By Monday morning the internet had gone mad and was out for her bloodIt was my fault. Sometimes I write glibly. I make an argument for myself and forget that people read it. It still surprises me, after 20 years of writing, to think that I have readers: that my internal monologue is out and about in the world. I do not think about them. If I did, I couldn’t write anything.In June, I wrote a piece about Nike’s obese mannequin, which was displayed at the London flagship shop to publicise Nike’s new willingness to sell clothes to overweight women. It makes me laugh now to think I insulted a mannequin – how, on that day in 2019, we came to discuss human rights for mannequins. I said it was a cynical doll from a cynical company that is no friend to women. I said that the normalisation of obesity frightens me, because I can see the outcome of addiction to sugar in myself. I said that the “fat acceptance” movement is an abyss of denial. I said the mannequin was “gargantuan” and “heaving with fat”. I said it might get diabetes – if it had flesh. I said that if it ran, it would ruin its inhuman knees. Continue reading…

  • Fraudsters hijack eBay parcels in a postcode lottery
    by Anna Tims on September 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Refunds to buyers rely on Royal Mail tracking using postcodes rather than signatures, and it’s helping thievesAnastasios Siampos was suspicious after selling an iPhone for £275 on eBay. The buyer claimed it was defective and, though Siampos contested this, eBay instructed the buyer to return it using Royal Mail’s 48-hour tracked delivery service. Two days later eBay refunded the buyer, insisting that Royal Mail’s tracker showed the parcel had been successfully returned. Siampos, however, had received nothing. When he contacted Royal Mail he found the parcel had indeed been delivered, but not to his address. Extraordinarily, the tracking update only confirms an item has been delivered to the postcode without specifying the property. There are 53 properties in Siampos’s postcode.Online selling platforms, such as eBay, rely on tracker information as proof an item has been returned and the sender can be refunded. Nowhere on Royal Mail’s website does it clarify that items are only tracked to the postcode – a loophole that has been exploited by fraudsters to steal goods. Continue reading…

  • Seat Tarraco: ‘blessed with style and practicality’ | Martin Love
    by Martin Love on September 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Seat’s new flagship SUV is big in all respects: comfort, seats and everyday luxuries. Just be careful who you let share the driving…Seat TarracoPrice £28,230Top speed 131mph0-62mph 8 secondsMPG 38.7CO2 166g/kmEco score ★★★☆☆It’s a cliché to say that being a parent is all about letting go. But there are some watersheds that are tougher to negotiate than others and, for me, I’ve found it very difficult to relinquish the role of “family driver”. Who drives in our gang has never been an issue: it’s me. My wife has never particularly enjoyed it, while I love the throb of the engine, the weightless bulk of the car and the wordless bond that exists between driver and machine. But this summer, that all changed. My eldest daughter finally passed her test and enthusiastically volunteered to share the load on a long drive through France. The car we took turns at the wheel in was the new Tarraco from Seat. Her first impressions were a pick’n’mix of: “Wow; OMG; this is easy; it’s an automatic; why did I bother learning gears; it’s sooooo posh; and what side of the road is it again?” She doesn’t have much to compare it to except the Ford Focus she passed her test in but, in essence, she was right on all counts. Continue reading…

  • For too long Lyft and Uber have abused drivers like me. Not any more | Edan Alva
    by Edan Alva on September 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

    A new California law will finally give thousands of misclassified workers the rights and protections that everyone deservesHave you ever taken a ride using the Lyft app? There’s a chance I drove you.I’ve worked in the gig economy for over four years, mostly as a Lyft driver. I started driving to make money during my hour-long commute to work. When I lost my full-time job, Lyft became my primary source of income. Continue reading…

  • The five: airborne pollutants in our bodies
    by Chloe Randall on September 22, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Fine particulate matter in polluted air enters the body via the lungs and affects our health in a variety of waysThis week, scientists announced that they’d found, for the first time, air pollution particles on the foetal side of placental tissue. The discovery may explain the link between increased miscarriages and premature births and exposure to dirty air. Continue reading…

  • Facebook suspends thousands of apps over privacy issues
    by Kari Paul in San Francisco on September 20, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Removals are part of inquiry into how developers use data, which the company started after the Cambridge Analytica scandal Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps from the platform for privacy reasons, it announced in a blogpost on Friday.The removals come as part of an ongoing investigation into how developers use data, which the company started after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March 2018. The news also reveals that the platform is home to more problematic apps than previously thought. Continue reading…

  • Google signs up to $2bn wind and solar investment
    by Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent on September 20, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Tech giant’s push for greener energy prompts biggest renewable energy deal in corporate historyGoogle’s chief executive has revealed plans for the biggest renewable energy deal in corporate history.Sundar Pichai said the clean energy deal will include 18 separate agreements to supply Google with electricity from wind and solar projects across the world. Continue reading…

  • Microsoft boss: tech firms must stop ‘if it’s legal, it’s acceptable’ approach
    by Alex Hern on September 20, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Exclusive: Brad Smith says firms must help define and live by standards before they are forced on themTech companies should stop behaving as though everything that is not illegal is acceptable, says Microsoft’s second-in-command. Instead, they should focus on defining – and living by – the standards that they would like to see in regulation, before it gets forced on them anyway.For some of the most potentially dangerous new technologies, such as facial recognition, that could mean voluntarily refusing to sell them to certain countries, for certain uses, or even agreeing to a moratorium altogether, said Brad Smith, the president and chief legal officer of the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company. Continue reading…

  • Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review – dreamy revival of 1993 classic
    by Alex Hern on September 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Nintendo SwitchFans of the GameBoy curio will enjoy endless nostalgia with this 3D remake – but is it too faithful to the original?Link’s Awakening has always been a curio in the grand history of the Zelda franchise. The first Zelda game for a portable console, it was missing a number of series mainstays – no triforce, no ganon … heck, no Zelda – and took glee in replacing them with bizarre twists, like the plethora of cameos from other Nintendo games or the ability to steal items from a shopkeeper (incurring the penalty of having your saved game renamed THIEF).So it’s delightful to see the game getting a remake after being repeatedly overlooked for re-releases in favour of its more conventional cousins such as Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. And it is the sort of remake that sets the standard for what we should expect: every single thing fans love about the original game is here, except rather than a four-colour GameBoy screen, it’s beautifully rendered in 3D with another 25 years of Easter eggs added for those dedicated enough to find them. Continue reading…

  • Libratone Track Air+ review: the noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give you
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on September 20, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Great fit and sound, long battery, attractive design and pocketable case make for an excellent set of budsLibratone has given us the better fitting AirPods that Apple wouldn’t, with great sound and noise cancelling.The Danish audio firm’s Track Air+ are a set of true wireless earbuds, priced at £179, that follow the familiar design of earbud with stalk but no cable. Continue reading…

  • I tried the Light Phone for a week – could I survive on just texts and calls?
    by Dominic Rushe on September 20, 2019 at 5:01 am

    If you spend hours a day staring at your phone screen for social media, games and reading, a new no-frills device could help nudge you back to the real worldFor years, I have had a screensaver on my iPhone that says READ A BOOK INSTEAD. It hasn’t worked.I used my phone for an average of 4 hours and 2 minutes a day last week, picking it up 103 times a day. That’s about once every 10 minutes while I am awake. And for what? Pokémon Go (yes, I am addicted), social networking and reading – in that order. And when I’m not on my phone, I am on my laptop. Continue reading…

  • The wearable LEX chair lets you sit where you want – but will it catch on?
    by Stuart Heritage on September 19, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    A pair of aluminium legs that you strap to your bum could be the solution for people who find there are not enough chairs in the world. As long as they don’t mind looking ridiculousOn Wednesday night, the Tech Insider Twitter account made a simple statement: “This wearable chair could change how we work and travel.” The text was accompanied by a short video advertising the LEX bionic chair, a pair of £200 foldable aluminium legs that you strap to your bum and lean against whenever your legs get a bit tired. In the video, a man uses the LEX while sitting at a desk, waiting for a bus, and taking photos. It really does it all.This wearable chair could change how we work and travel pic.twitter.com/KO8QoUcrut Continue reading…

  • Sega Mega Drive Mini review – a legacy truly honoured
    by Keith Stuart on September 19, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Perfectly modelled and smoothly animated, the 42 built-in games are lovingly reproduced, with modern gaming benefits. It’s a delightful surpriseIt’s been almost three years since Nintendo launched its diminutive NES Mini console and discovered a vast audience for stylish retro hardware. Since then, it has re-released the NES Classic Mini and launched an SNES sequel, while Sony has clambered artlessly on to the bandwagon with an uncharacteristically mediocre offering, the PlayStation Classic. Now Sega has joined the fray, its official Mega Drive Mini set to banish memories of the fairly awful Mega Drive retro consoles produced by third-party manufacturer At Games.The result is a wonderfully cute and detailed reproduction of the original Mega Drive model, sensibly priced at £70. Although it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it packs in accurate cosmetic features such as a volume switch, side grille and extension port, closely mimicking the ghetto blaster form of the 1988 machine. It is kind of a shame that the volume control is non-functional – a headphone port would have been a lovely extra, but doubtless prohibitively expensive to include. Continue reading…

  • Let’s follow California’s lead and regulate companies like Uber | Veena Dubal
    by Veena Dubal on September 19, 2019 at 10:00 am

    The ‘gig economy’ is terrible for workers. We must tackle the problem head-onThis week, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom – a darling of tech capitalists – signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) into law. The bill codifies the “ABC test” to determine the applicability of California employment laws and makes it harder for companies to get away with misclassifying workers as independent contractors. If properly enforced, AB5 will have enormous impacts for vulnerable workers in the trucking, janitorial and construction industries.But across the world, the law has been most hailed as a regulatory check on the so-called “gig economy”. Indeed, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (a federation of 665 trade unions representing 18 million workers in 147 countries) has called on this California bill to be the inspiration for regulations governing gig work internationally. Continue reading…

  • What do I need to make YouTube videos?
    by Jack Schofield on September 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Ed wonders if you need a computer to make YouTube videos, as he doesn’t own oneI’m a newbie. When people shoot YouTube videos, do they need a computer or laptop to do so? I don’t have either. EdPeople shoot videos with all kinds of equipment, from simple smartphones to professional movie cameras. Prices range from £50 to more than £40,000. As always, it depends on the job. Some people are taking selfies for Facebook while others are shooting blockbusters for cinemas. Continue reading…

  • The 50 best video games of the 21st century
    by Keith Stuart and Keza MacDonald on September 19, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Want to build worlds, become a crime kingpin, get lost in space, or enter the afterlife? Then our countdown of the 50 best games of the era has something for youMore of the best TV | Film | Albums | Art | ComedyContinue reading…

  • Fairphone 3 review: the most ethical and repairable phone you can buy
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on September 18, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Dutch firm asks £200 above the norm for a smartphone that might help change the industryWhat if you could buy a phone that will last five years, can be easily repaired and is made as ethically as possible? That’s the aim of the latest Fairphone 3 – and on many counts it succeeds.Ethically creating a phone is a lot harder than it may sound, but you have to start somewhere. Amsterdam-based Fairphone turned from an awareness campaign about conflict minerals into a phone company in 2013, and aims to source as many materials as possible in both human and environmentally kind ways. Continue reading…

  • To decarbonize we must decomputerize: why we need a Luddite revolution
    by Ben Tarnoff on September 18, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Big tech claims AI and digitization will bring a better future. But putting computers everywhere is bad for people and the planetOur built environment is becoming one big computer. “Smartness” is coming to saturate our stores, workplaces, homes, cities. As we go about our daily lives, data is made, stored, analyzed and used to make algorithmic inferences about us that in turn structure our experience of the world. Computation encircles us as a layer, dense and interconnected. If our parents and our grandparents lived with computers, we live inside them.A growing chorus of activists, journalists and scholars are calling attention to the dangers of digital enclosure. Employers are using algorithmic tools to surveil and control workers. Cops are using algorithmic tools to surveil and control communities of color. And there is no shortage of dystopian possibilities on the horizon: landlords evicting tenants with “smart locks”, health insurers charging higher premiums because your Fitbit says you don’t exercise enough. Continue reading…

  • The viral selfie app ImageNet Roulette seemed fun – until it called me a racist slur
    by Julia Carrie Wong on September 18, 2019 at 5:00 am

    During a strange week for Asian Americans, the app – which is part of an art project – achieved its aim by underscoring exactly what’s wrong with artificial intelligence How are you supposed to react when a robot calls you a “gook”?At first glance, ImageNet Roulette seems like just another viral selfie app – those irresistible 21st-century magic mirrors that offer a simulacrum of insight in exchange for a photograph of your face. Want to know what you will look like in 30 years? There’s an app for that. If you were a dog what breed would you be? That one went viral in 2016. What great work of art features your doppelganger? Google’s Arts & Culture app dominated social media feeds in 2018 when it gave us a chance to bemoan being more Picasso than Botticelli, or vice versa. Continue reading…

  • Turned off by the switch to BBC Sounds | Letters
    by Letters on September 17, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    The withdrawal of the BBC’s iPlayer Radio app angers Rod MacraeI am saddened to discover that the closure of the BBC’s iPlayer Radio app service leaves me, and thousands of other loyal listeners, unable to access its services on anything but the latest handheld devices. From this week, if you have an iPad that runs on a platform older than Apple’s iOS11, you will not only see the iPlayer service stop, but will find you are denied access to its replacement, BBC Sounds, because it will only work on the newest iOS software.As a former reporter on Radio 4’s You & Yours, I am aware of the resentment many people have to any industry’s pressure on consumers to constantly upgrade and replace costly devices despite them functioning perfectly well. The BBC’s decision on the iPlayer Radio and Sounds apps will leave hundreds of thousands without access to its services. Sadly, the BBC has sided with the technology industry and ignored its own audience.Rod MacraeWatlington, Oxfordshire Continue reading…

  • iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro review roundup: buy the cheapest one
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on September 17, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Early reviews of Apple’s latest suggest colour, battery and lower price make the iPhone 11 a winner The early reviews of Apple’s iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are in from publications with early access to the three models.While the iPhone 11 Pro is the most impressive technically, with a new triple camera system catching up to the competition, it is the iPhone 11, the cheapest of the bunch, that is winning the majority of people over. Questions remain as to whether it’s worth upgrading at all, however, if your iPhone is less than five years old. Continue reading…

  • ‘This industry has a problem with abuse’: dealing with gaming’s #MeToo moment
    by Lucy Orr on September 17, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Workplace harassment was high on the agenda at the Women in Games European Conference, following a spate of allegationsSome say it is long overdue, some doubted victims would be ready to speak out, but now #MeToo has very much arrived in the video games industry. Last month, game developer Nathalie Lawhead posted to their website, accusing video game soundtrack composer Jeremy Soule of raping them while the two worked together at an unnamed Vancouver-based development studio. Soule has denied the accusation. Within days, another developer, Zoë Quinn, alleged on Twitter to have suffered abuse and harassment from Alec Holowka, co-creator of award-winning game, Night in the Woods. Holowka was found dead days after the allegations were made. Related: The video games industry isn’t yet ready for its #MeToo moment | Keza MacDonald Continue reading…

  • Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review: less business, more modern design
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on September 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Same Bose magic now sleeker, with better controls, calling and adaptable noise cancellingBose’s new top-of-the range 700 noise-cancelling headphones attempt to be the new gold standard, with a new design, new technology and a shift in focus.Launched to sit atop the long-standing kings of noise-cancelling cans, the £300 QuietComfort 35 II, the new £350 Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 look to shift Bose’s rather staid image toward something more modern and fashionable. Continue reading…

  • Netflix co-founder: ‘Blockbuster laughed at us … Now there’s one left’
    by Sam Levin on September 14, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Marc Randolph launched the streaming service that would revolutionize TV and film, upend Hollywood and draw more than 150 million subscribersIt was a fluke that the Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph changed the history of television. It almost didn’t happen.In 1997, the Santa Cruz businessman was spending his carpool rides to work brainstorming internet startup ideas with a colleague. They discussed personalised surfboards, customised dog food, shampoo by mail. One commute, the chat turned to “videotapes”. Continue reading…

  • YouTube ‘vanlifer’ Jennelle Eliana blazes trail for solo female travellers
    by Lanre Bakare on September 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Lo-fi videos about life on the road also fill blindspot travel industry has in catering for women of colourThe YouTube channel of a 21-year-old woman who lives in a van with her pet snake Alfredo is at the centre of a debate about race, travel and gender in the online world.Jennelle Eliana’s channel, which documents her day-to-day existence as a “vanlifer”, has become an internet phenomenon after gaining 1.9 million subscribers since June. Continue reading…

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review: bigger and now with a magic wand
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

    New S-Pen Air gestures, enormous screen, triple camera, longer battery hope to convince Samsung super fans to upgradeThe king of Samsung smartphones has finally arrived, but is the Galaxy Note 10+ and its S-Pen stylus really still the super phone for super fans of the South Korean brand?For a long time the Galaxy Note line was used to push the boundaries of what could be done with a smartphone, siring the big-screen “phablet” category in the process. I’m sad to report that’s no longer the case. The £999 Note 10+ might technically be the biggest screen on a Samsung flagship phone, but it’s really only by a smidgen. Continue reading…

  • Apple TV+: a canny plan to compete with Netflix
    by Alex Hern on September 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Apple is building a new base while selling expensive hardware to users, and taking a 30% cut from developersApple had few treats for those avid followers who tuned in to the company’s press event this week. Three new phones, all thoroughly leaked in advance; a new basic iPad with a slightly larger screen; and a new Apple Watch with a face that never turns off.Not everything was predictable. It’s just we had to take the surprises where we found them. Continue reading…

  • It’s not ‘X’, it’s ‘Cross’ – the PlayStation joypad revelation that’s caused an outrage
    by Keith Stuart on September 10, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Sony has confirmed ‘X’ button on Dualshock controller should be called ‘Cross’ and players are freaking outIn a week filled with furore and controversy in British politics, do not make the mistake of thinking you can escape to video games for respite. There is outrage brewing here, too, and it concerns the X button on the PlayStation controller.A fortnight ago, Twitter user @drip133 asked a seemingly innocent question above a photo of the joypad: “Do you say ‘x’ or ‘cross’ button?” There were hundreds of contradictory responses, which became increasingly furious as the week wore on. Some insisted that because the other buttons are named after shapes – Triangle, Square and Circle – logically, the “X” button must be called “Cross”; others pointed out that as ‘X’ was the common usage, this was the only acceptable pronunciation. Continue reading…

  • Think your iPhone is safe from hackers? That’s what they want you to think…
    by John Naughton on September 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Forget Apple’s much-vaunted iOS safeguards – attackers have been quietly breaking and entering for yearsWhenever there’s something that some people value, there will be a marketplace for it. A few years ago, I spent a fascinating hour with a detective exploring the online marketplaces that exist in the so-called “dark web” (shorthand for the parts of the web you can only get to with a Tor browser and some useful addresses). The marketplaces we were interested in were ones in which stolen credit card details and other confidential data are traded.What struck me most was the apparent normality of it all. It’s basically eBay for crooks. There are sellers offering goods (ranges of stolen card details, Facebook, Gmail and other logins etc) and punters interested in purchasing same. Different categories of these stolen goods are more or less expensive. (The most expensive logins, as I remember it, were for PayPal). But the funniest thing of all was that some of the marketplaces operated a “reputation” system, just like eBay’s. Some vendors had 90%-plus ratings for reliability etc. Some purchasers likewise. Others were less highly regarded. So, one reflected, there really is honour among thieves. Continue reading…

  • The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites
    by Evgeny Morozov on September 7, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    The MIT-Epstein debacle shows ‘the prostitution of intellectual activity’. Time for a radical agenda: close the Media Lab, disband Ted Talks and refuse tech billionaires moneyAs the world wakes up to the power of big tech, we get to hear – belatedly – of all the damage wrought by the digital giants. Most of these debates, alas, don’t veer too far from the policy-oriented realms of economics or law. Now that the big technocracy wants to quash big tech, expect more such wonkery.What, however, about the ideas that feed big tech? For one, we are no longer in 2009: Mark Zuckerberg’s sophomoric musings on transparency or the global village impress very few. Continue reading…

  • This week’s best home entertainment: from Top Boy to The Spy
    by The Guide on September 6, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Drake exec-produces the east London gang drama, while Sacha Baron Cohen gets serious for a real-life Syrian espionage sagaSad lad rapper Drake saved writer Ronan Bennett’s east London drama from cancellation with this Netflix revival. With the move from Channel 4 comes a host of new stars to add to Ashley Walters’s titular drug-dealing role, including MCs Dave and Little Simz. The acting is muted and the story is brutal, engaging and, just sometimes, hopeful.From Friday 13 September, Netflix Continue reading…

  • Facebook has launched its new dating service in the US. Sounds safe, right?
    by Kari Paul on September 6, 2019 at 2:23 am

    The company has touted its new privacy and security features but critics are skeptical given Facebook’s track record on user data Facebook announced on Thursday it is rolling out its newest service across the US, a platform for dating. What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out.The new service, Facebook Dating, can be accessed in the Facebook app but requires users to create a separate dating-specific profile. It then links users with potential matches based on location, indicated preferences, events attended, groups and other factors. Facebook Dating will integrate with Instagram and offer a feature called Secret Crush, which allows users to compile a list of friends they have an interest in, to be matched with if the crush lists them as well. Continue reading…

  • 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 in the US every day – can Silicon Valley help with ‘happier ageing’?
    by Tom McNichol on September 3, 2019 at 5:00 am

    Companies are creating new devices and apps to mine seniors’ golden years and address the challenges of growing olderSilicon Valley has long sought to disrupt virtually every aspect of modern life. Now comes technology’s final frontier: old age. Tech that’s specifically designed for seniors is a growing market, fueled by inexorable demographic trends – about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.Senior tech is increasingly showing up in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. A company called It’s Never Too Late proffers a massive 70in high-definition touchscreen computer that provides older people with little prior tech experience easy access to everything from travel videos and music playlists to a library of college lectures. Paro, a robotic seal stuffed with sensors and actuators that react to voice, light and touch, is being used to help those experiencing memory loss and social withdrawal. A movie system called 3Scape provides immersive 3D filmed content for the elderly and mobility-challenged in order to stimulate cognitive function and relieve depression and anxiety. Continue reading…

  • Jack Dorsey: Twitter CEO’s account briefly hacked
    by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco on August 31, 2019 at 1:21 am

    Tweets sent from account included racial slurs, profanity and a reference to ‘a bomb at Twitter HQ’ and were quickly deletedThe Twitter account of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, was hacked and briefly hijacked on Friday.At 12.44pm Pacific time, the account @jack began publishing a series of tweets from the hackers. The rapid stream of tweets included racial slurs, profanity, praise for Adolf Hitler and a reference to “a bomb at Twitter HQ”. The hackers appear to refer to themselves as the “Chuckling Squad”. Continue reading…

  • Google says hackers have put ‘monitoring implants’ in iPhones for years
    by Alex Hern on August 30, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Visiting hacked sites was enough for server to gather users’ images and contactsAn unprecedented iPhone hacking operation, which attacked “thousands of users a week” until it was disrupted in January, has been revealed by researchers at Google’s external security team.The operation, which lasted two and a half years, used a small collection of hacked websites to deliver malware on to the iPhones of visitors. Users were compromised simply by visiting the sites: no interaction was necessary, and some of the methods used by the hackers affected even fully up-to-date phones. Continue reading…

  • Bitcoin worth £900,000 seized from hacker to compensate victims
    by Mattha Busby on August 23, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Judge told Grant West he would face four more years in jail if he refused to complyA judge has ordered the confiscation of bitcoin worth more than £900,000 from a jailed hacker in the first case of its kind for the Metropolitan police.Grant West, 27 – previously described as a “one-man cybercrime wave” – had about £1m-worth of the cryptocurrency seized from a number of accounts after his arrest in September 2017, but the value of bitcoin has since fluctuated radically, complicating attempts to compensate victims. Continue reading…

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G review: bigger, faster and lasts longer
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on August 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Company’s S-line king joins the handful of good 5G phones in the UK, but is only for big-phone loversThe Galaxy S10 5G is the largest, most advanced and most expensive smartphone in Samsung’s current lineup, aimed not just at being “the 5G one” but also the best one.Unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, which comes in either 4G or 5G versions that are identical in size, weight and features, the S10 5G is its own phone. It’s bigger, heavier, thicker and has more cameras and sensors on the back and front than the S10+. Continue reading…

  • Beats PowerBeats Pro review: Apple’s fitness AirPods rock
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on August 19, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Bluetooth earbuds have long battery life, rock-solid connectivity and stay firmly planted on your earThe PowerBeats Pro are Apple-owned Beats’ first true wireless Bluetooth earbuds that cut the cable and seek to be the ultimate running and gym earphones.As with Apple’s original AirPods, which looked like a set of the firm’s standard EarPods with the cables cut off, the £220 PowerBeats Pro are basically the firm’s popular PowerBeats 3 neckband Bluetooth earbuds without the cables joining the pair. Continue reading…

  • Behind the Screen review – inside the social media sweatshops
    by John Naughton on August 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Sarah T Roberts’s vital new study demonstrates how online content moderation is a global industry that operates on the back of human exploitation“All human life is there” used to be the proudest boast of the (mercifully) defunct News of the World. Like everything else in that organ, it wasn’t true: the NoW specialised in randy vicars, chorus girls, Tory spankers, pools winners, C-list celebrities and other minority sports. But there is a medium to which the slogan definitely applies – it’s called the internet.The best metaphor for the net is to think of it as a mirror held up to human nature. All human life really is there. There’s no ideology, fetish, behaviour, obsession, perversion, eccentricity or fad that doesn’t find expression somewhere online. And while much of what we see reflected back to us is uplifting, banal, intriguing, harmless or fascinating, some of it is truly awful, for the simple reason that human nature is not only infinitely diverse but also sometimes unspeakably cruel. Continue reading…

  • Honor 20 Pro review: it’s all about the camera
    by Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor on August 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

    The best camera in the mid-range market, backed by good performance and long battery lifeThe Honor 20 Pro is the new flagship phone for Huawei’s cheaper offshoot, offering some of what made the Chinese firm the camera master but at £550 it is a little overpriced.The Honor 20 Pro is essentially the same phone as the £400 Honor 20 with a better camera on the back, a slightly larger battery and more storage. It was meant to be released alongside its cheaper sibling, but Donald Trump’s Huawei blockade caused it to be delayed. Continue reading…

  • Teen claims to tweet from her smart fridge – but did she really?
    by Kari Paul in San Francisco on August 13, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    A Twitter user’s claim to have tweeted from a kitchen appliance went viral but experts have cast doubtA resourceful teenager appeared to have taken the rise of increasingly powerful smart home devices to its logical conclusion – tweeting from her family’s smart fridge after her mother confiscated her phone. An Ariana Grande fan known only as “Dorothy” tweeted last week to say she was barred by her mother from using her phone but said she managed to find a number of innovative ways to reach her thousands of followers – a handheld Nintendo device, a Wii U gaming console and, finally, her family’s LG Smart Refrigerator. Continue reading…

  • ‘Bug bounty’: Apple to pay hackers more than $1m to find security flaws
    by Alex Hern in Las Vegas on August 12, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Expanded program, announced at Black Hat conference, comes as governments and tech firms compete for informationApple will pay ethical hackers more than $1m if they responsibly disclose dangerous security vulnerabilities to the firm, the company announced at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.The new “bug bounty”, up from a previous maximum of $200,000, could even out-bid what a security researcher could earn if they decided to skip disclosure altogether and sell the bug to a nation state or an “offensive security company”, according to data shared by Maor Shwartz, a vulnerability broker at the same conference. Continue reading…

  • Chinese cyberhackers ‘blurring line between state power and crime’
    by Josh Taylor on August 8, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Cybersecurity firm FireEye says ‘aggressive’ APT41 group working for Beijing is also hacking video games to make money A group of state-sponsored hackers in China ran activities for personal gain at the same time as undertaking spying operations for the Chinese government in 14 different countries, the cybersecurity firm FireEye has said.In a report released on Thursday, the company said the hacking group APT41 was different to other China-based groups tracked by security firms in that it used non-public malware typically reserved for espionage to make money through attacks on video game companies. Continue reading…

  • It’s time for tighter regulation of how Facebook and Google use our data | Peter Lewis
    by Peter Lewis on August 7, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Big tech’s power has reached a tipping point. Governments must set some ground rulesIn his trademark disingenuous response to the latest wave of massacres, Donald Trump has identified the internet as both the cause and, more insidiously, the solution to the spread of rightwing domestic terrorism.Ignoring his own hate-filled social media feeds and fervent embrace of gun denial-ism, the US president has set his sites on the “dark recesses” of the internet, where hatred foments through “gruesome and grisly” video games that celebrate violence. Continue reading…

  • Quantum supremacy is coming. It won’t change the world
    by Sabine Hossenfelder on August 2, 2019 at 6:00 am

    If quantum computers are to help solve humanity’s problems, they will have to improve drasticallyThe unveiling of the marvel had the media gushing. It was Valentine’s Day 1946, and the New York Times broke the story. The front page spoke of “an amazing machine” and “one of the war’s top secrets”. By crunching numbers at unprecedented speed, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, with its 18,000 vacuum tubes, was poised to “revolutionise modern engineering”. Eniac would usher in a new epoch of industrial design, some said.More than 70 years on, another overblown announcement is near. Several companies, notably Google, IBM and the California-based Rigetti, are racing to build a machine that achieves what is grandly termed “quantum supremacy”. The feat will mark the moment when a quantum computer, for the first time, outperforms the best conventional computers. Google, the frontrunner, could claim the record this year. Continue reading…

  • Los Angeles police: personal data of thousands of officers stolen in breach
    by Kari Paul in San Francisco on July 30, 2019 at 1:08 am

    More than 17,000 applicants also affected in breach of city’s personnel departmentThe personal information of 2,500 Los Angeles police department officers and 17,500 people who had applied to join the force were exposed in a data breach, the department announced on Monday.The department was informed of a potential breach of records held by the city’s personnel department on 25 July, and it notified affected officers over the weekend. Continue reading…

  • Capital One: hacker stole data of over 100m Americans
    by Associated Press on July 30, 2019 at 12:17 am

    FBI has arrested individual who obtained names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates of people in US and CanadaA hacker gained access to personal information from more than 100 million Capitol One credit applications, the bank said on Monday as federal authorities arrested a suspect.The data breach has affected around 100 million people in the US and 6 million in Canada. Continue reading…

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