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Tech News

Facebook ads are spreading lies about anti-HIV drug PrEP. The company won't act
Posted on Saturday December 14, 2019

Advocates fear such ads could roll back decades of hard-won progress against HIV/Aids and are calling on Facebook to change its policies

Since late summer, many LGBTQ+ Facebook users’ newsfeeds have begun to display medically incorrect targeted advertising. These ads pertain to Truvada, a one-pill-a-day pharmaceutical that has been demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmissions by as much as 99%, making it a key mechanism in the decades-long fight against HIV/Aids.

“Side Effects from taking an HIV Drug…” reads one badly punctuated message, full of random capitalizations. “The manufacturers had a safer drug & kept it secret … They kept selling the dangerous one.”

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Ring hackers are reportedly watching and talking to strangers via in-home cameras
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Hackers are using two-way talk function to wake people up in the middle of the night and watch unsuspecting children

Hackers are tapping in to cameras intended for home security, talking to children through the devices and even dropping racist remarks, according to multiple news reports. The intended purpose of a two-way talk function on the devices is to allow parents to check in on their children. But hackers are using them to wake people up in the middle of the night, and watch unsuspecting children.

Each time I've watched this video it's given me chills.

A Desoto County mother shared this Ring video with me. Four days after the camera was installed in her daughters' room she says someone hacked the camera & began talking to her 8-year-old daughter.

More at 6 on #WMC5

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Microsoft names its new games console Xbox Series X
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

The machine previously known as Project Scarlett will be four times as powerful as Xbox One X with a range of next-gen features

Microsoft has revealed the name for its new games console – Xbox Series X. The machine, previously known by the codename Project Scarlett will launch in “Holiday 2020”, and will ship with a redesigned version of the Xbox wireless controller.

The new name was announced during the annual Game awards in Los Angeles. At the event, a promotional trailer was shown for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, a sequel to the critically acclaimed adventure title from UK developer Ninja Theory, which is being designed to leverage the capabilities of the new technology.

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Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

The alternative search engine markets itself on protecting users’ privacy, but is it worth using?

So is DuckDuckGo no good? Surprised you did not mention it. Murray

Following last week’s article about privacy and surveillance capitalism, several readers wrote in about the absence of DuckDuckGo, and it was mentioned a dozen times in the comments. I have suggested this privacy-oriented search engine a few times since 2012, and I think it’s worth a go. However, I’m answering Murray’s earlier query along the same lines because I can use his email verbatim rather than cobbling together a joint question from multiple sources.

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Google's self-driving car project buys British AI firm Latent Logic
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Purchase of Oxford University spinoff gives Waymo its first presence in the UK

Waymo, Google’s self-driving car sibling company, has acquired the Oxford artificial intelligence company Latent Logic for an undisclosed amount, giving Waymo its first presence in the UK.

Latent Logic, a spinout company from Oxford University, specialises in “imitation learning”, teaching machines how to act by showing them examples of humans doing the same actions. It was founded in 2017 by the academics Shimon Whiteson and João Messias.

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AI expert calls for end to UK use of ‘racially biased’ algorithms
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Prof Noel Sharkey says systems so infected with biases they cannot be trusted

An expert on artificial intelligence has called for all algorithms that make life-changing decisions – in areas from job applications to immigration into the UK – to be halted immediately.

Prof Noel Sharkey, who is also a leading figure in a global campaign against “killer robots”, said algorithms were so “infected with biases” that their decision-making processes could not be fair or trusted.

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The 20 best gadgets of 2019
Posted on Sunday December 08, 2019

From a brilliant e-bike to a robot unicorn and a table lamp that doubles as a wireless speaker… the year’s top devices

There’s more than meets the eye to these generic-seeming glasses. The Bose Frames contain a small pair of hidden speakers and sensors on their arms. In addition to music listening, you can use them to receive calls and interact with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

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NHS data is a goldmine. It must be saved from big tech | James Meadway
Posted on Monday December 09, 2019

Health datasets play a vital role in medical research. If the US has its way, the UK could lose a valuable public resource

As a society, we are finally acquiring a healthy scepticism about the use and abuse of our personal information. New polling conducted by YouGov for the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that 80% of the public want to see tighter rules applied to how the likes of Facebook and Amazon use their data. Over the weekend, it was revealed that US pharmaceutical companies have already been sold data relating to millions of NHS patients and that Amazon, incredibly, has been given free access to NHS data Hidden away in the secret US-UK trade papers, leaked and revealed by Labour in November, is perhaps the biggest single threat to public data yet seen.

Instead of the encroaching privatisation of publicly held data, we should be looking to create a “digital commons”

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'This is small talk purgatory': what Tinder taught me about love
Posted on Saturday December 07, 2019

When I ended up single in a small town, I turned to a dating app. But finding someone fully and messily human was harder than I thought

I did not intend to be single in the rural village where I live. I’d moved there with my fiance after taking a good job at the local university. We’d bought a house with room enough for children. Then the wedding was off and I found myself single in a town where the non-student population is 1,236 people. I briefly considered flirting with the cute local bartender, the cute local mailman – then realised the foolishness of limiting my ability to do things such as get mail or get drunk in a town with only 1,235 other adults. For the first time in my life, I decided to date online.

The thing about talking to people on Tinder is that it is boring. I am an obnoxious kind of conversation snob and have a pathologically low threshold for small talk. I love people who fall into the category of Smart Sad People Flaunting Their Intelligence With Panache. I love Shakespeare’s fools and Elizabeth Bennet and Cyrano de Bergerac. I love Gilmore Girls and the West Wing and Rick And Morty. I want a conversation partner who travels through an abundance of interesting material at breakneck speed, shouting over their shoulder at me: Keep up. I want a conversation partner who assumes I am up for the challenge, who assumes the best of me.

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As a Facebook moderator I saw the worst of humanity. We need to be valued | Chris Gray
Posted on Monday December 09, 2019

Murder, torture, child abuse: each day we see things that keep us awake at night. Yet Mark Zuckerberg calls us ‘overdramatic’

You may have shrugged when you heard that some Facebook staff are suing the company over working conditions. But welcome to my world – content moderation – where we deal with the worst of humanity so you don’t have to. Naked migrants are being tortured with molten metal in Libya; Facebook’s quality assurance (QA) department is challenging whether that baby in Myanmar is dead; Dave and Doreen are using its report function as a weapon again. All their tedious posts end up on a screen in front of us, punctuated by atrocities, porn and distasteful jokes.

Moderators make hundreds of decisions every day. It needs to be done by smart, well-adjusted people

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Best true wireless earbuds 2019: AirPods, Samsung, Jabra, Beats and Anker compared and ranked
Posted on Thursday September 26, 2019

Our updated list of great bluetooth truly wireless earbuds – at the best prices right now

It wasn’t long ago that true wireless earbuds, those that don’t need any wires even between the earphones, weren’t very good. Solid connectivity was a challenge, dropouts were infuriatingly common and battery life was woeful.

But they all offered that taste of freedom from wires that is like a ratchet – once you’ve experienced tangle-free listening, you’ll never go back.

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Google Pixel 4 review: a good phone ruined by poor battery life
Posted on Thursday October 31, 2019

Brilliant camera, slick features and small size mean nothing when the phone won’t even last a day

Google is one of only a handful of smartphone manufacturers still making flagship phones that aren’t ginormous beasts, with the new Pixel 4 the cheapest in a while that significantly undercuts the competition.

Priced at £669, the Pixel 4 is £70 cheaper than last year’s Pixel 3 and £60 cheaper than Apple’s iPhone 11. It’s also cheaper than its bigger sibling the £829 Pixel 4 XL. The concern is: which corners have been cut and do they matter?

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Google Pixel 4 XL review: not quite ready for primetime
Posted on Tuesday October 29, 2019

Face Unlock, radar and on-device voice skills show Google’s magic, but some bits need fixing

Google’s latest Pixel 4 XL smartphone is its bravest yet, throwing out the conventions of old, integrating cutting-edge technology and attempting to round it all out with a special mix of software direct from the Android-maker.

By now you probably know the drill. The Pixel 4 XL is a metal and glass sandwich like practically every other phone. Unlike most though the aluminium sides have a black textured coating, which aids grip, while the back feels almost like super-smooth skin or silk rather than glass. It also has bold, contrasting colours, if you choose the white or orange variant, that make it stand out well against the competition.

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OnePlus 7T Pro review: the best kind of deja vu
Posted on Tuesday October 22, 2019

Still an absolute beast in every way, even if it’s just a minor update to an already cracking smartphone

The OnePlus 7T Pro is an update to the best phone of the first half of 2019 and the good news is that they haven’t messed up, with tweaks that make it just as good, if not better, than the model it replaces.

The bad news is that the updated phone starts at £50 more than its predecessor, at £699, although as it also comes with more storage and RAM; in effect it matches the cost of the earlier mid-range 7 Pro version. It also gains a faster processor, an improved camera and a slightly tweaked paint job.

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OnePlus 7T review: the new cut-price flagship king
Posted on Wednesday October 16, 2019

Competition-beating performance, super-smooth experience and new 90Hz screen are a steal at £549

The OnePlus 7T takes the best bits of the brilliant OnePlus 7 Pro and condenses them into a smaller, cheaper package.

Released less than four months after the last version hit the shelves, the new £500 7T doesn’t mess much with the winning formula, simply adding a better camera and market-leading 90Hz screen technology.

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Ring Alarm review: Amazon's smart security upgrade
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

DIY wireless home security system is a great alarm that’s smart enough without trying to do too much

Amazon’s new Ring Alarm smartens up the traditional home security system without radically changing how it works, combining the best of both worlds into a DIY-friendly wireless alarm arrangement that just works.

It’s been a 16-month wait in the UK since the Ring Alarm line of products launched in the US in July 2018, but it has been worth it.

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Amazon Fire HD 10 review: still a top budget tablet
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

Faster processor, updated software and good screen make Amazon’s 10in hard to beat for £150

Amazon’s cheap-but-good-enough media tablet gets a much-needed speed boost and updated software for 2019, doing just enough to make the Fire HD 10 still the budget tablet to buy for bigger-screen video watching.

Now in their ninth-generation, Amazon’s Fire tablets follow a tried and trusted formula: undercut the competition on price with a good enough screen, good enough performance and Amazon’s version of Android, Fire OS, wrapped in a robust plastic body.

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AirPods Pro review: a touch of Apple magic
Posted on Monday December 09, 2019

Good sound, solid battery life and effective noise cancelling wrapped up in a tiny, potent package

Apple’s true wireless earbuds have gone “pro” and in doing so deliver on the promise of the 2017 originals. The new AirPods Pro are worth the wait.

Apple managed two pieces of magic in 2017 with the original £159 AirPods. They just worked without the skips, blips or audio delay, and came in a tiny battery case that kept them charged and safe – a combination that competitors still find hard to match.

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Five best phone grips to stop smashed screens
Posted on Monday October 28, 2019

If your phone is a bit too big, your hand hurts or you frequently drop it, these cheap accessories can help

Smartphones are getting bigger and heavier every year, but our hands aren’t. At some point something has to break. And when it does it’ll either be a sting in the wallet when your phone hits the ground or a pain in the hand as your constant finger stretching induces dreaded RSI.

There aren’t any really small smartphones on the market, just smaller phones that are often very expensive. And that doesn’t help you with the phone in your pocket right now, whether an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Pixel 3 XL or Galaxy Note 10+. So the solution is some kind of accessory to help you keep a grip. Here are five of the best:

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How do I protect my online privacy from 'surveillance capitalism'?
Posted on Thursday December 05, 2019

Chris wants to better protect his privacy. What can he easily do besides de-Googling his online life

Having read Edward Snowden’s revelations in the Guardian and in his book, I would like to protect myself from both the surveillance state and surveillance capitalism. I already use a VPN, and I am in the process of removing Google from my online life. What else should I be doing that’s reasonable for a home environment? Chris

Great timing! On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a 17,000-word report on this topic. Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance, by Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart, covers both online privacy problems and the growth of real-word surveillance.

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General Election 2019: How computers wrote BBC election result stories
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

The BBC carried out its biggest test of machine-generated journalism to cover the general election.

Switching broadband provider 'could save £120'
Posted on Saturday December 14, 2019

More than three-quarters of consumers who haggled were offered a better deal, according to Which?

The Game Awards 2019: All the winners and big reveals
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Sekiro takes home game of the year as Xbox confirm new console for 2020 and big titles get a new trailers.

Quadriga: Lawyers for users of bankrupt crypto firm seek exhumation of founder
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Lawyers for Quadriga users say there are "questionable circumstances" behind Gerald Cotten's death.

Emotion-detecting tech should be restricted by law - AI Now
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

A US-based AI institute says that the science behind the technology rests on "shaky foundations".

Man killed by Lexus car being remotely started
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Michael Kosanovich was standing between two cars when one was accidentally started with a remote.

YouTube bans 'malicious insults and veiled threats'
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Videos containing insults based on race and sexual orientation will be removed, YouTube says.

Minecraft diamond challenge leaves AI creators stumped
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Humans usually take minutes to learn how to find diamonds in the game, but AI agents struggled.

Santa hacker speaks to girl via smart camera
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Video shows a hacker talking to a young girl in her bedroom via her family's Ring camera.

BBC iPlayer stops working on some Samsung TVs
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Eleven models are not expected to get a fix until after the Christmas holiday season.


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