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Tech News

European lawmakers ask Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed merchandise
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

  • 27 MEPs write to Jeff Bezos about hammer-and-sickle gear
  • T-shirts and other goods said to offend victims of Soviet regime

Members of the European Parliament have called on the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, to stop selling Soviet-themed merchandise on the global online shopping platform insisting that it is offends victims of the regime, according to an open letter.

Related: The man who made Russian fashion cool

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Jeff Bezos tells employees 'one day Amazon will fail'
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Tech giant’s founder made surprise warning in staff meeting when addressing question about Sears, according to a recording

Amazon is going to fail, Jeff Bezos, the tech company’s founder, told staff recently.

Related: What cities offered Amazon: helipads, zoo tickets, and a street named Alexa

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Zuckerberg: I didn't know of Facebook ties to firm that attacked George Soros
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

CEO says he learned about relationship with PR company after it was reported in New York Times

Mark Zuckerberg defended his leadership of Facebook on Thursday, claiming ignorance of the company’s relationship with a political consultancy that used an antisemitic narrative to undermine critics.

“Look, I learned about this reading in the New York Times yesterday,” a defensive Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters that was ostensibly about Facebook’s content moderation practices. “As soon as I learned about this, I talked to our team and we’re no longer working with this firm.”

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Does Apple's sales slump mean the firm has finally peaked?
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

The company’s $1tn valuation has fallen 20% and fewer people are buying its iPhones

At the start of October Apple was on top of the world. The company had hit a record-breaking valuation of $1tn (£770bn), just released its fastest – and most expensive – iPhone and its chief executive, Tim Cook, was hammering rival Facebook over yet another privacy scandal.

Two months on and the shine appears to have worn off the largest company in the world. Its valuation has fallen by nearly 20%. This is partly because key suppliers have issued their own profit warnings, suggesting fewer people are buying the company’s phones than expected.

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Amazon and high street chains kick off Black Friday early
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Britons are expected to spend more than £10bn during November discount event

Black Friday 2018: all the best UK deals and offers

Amazon has fired the starting gun on Black Friday, the US tradition that has become a near-fortnight long £10bn shopping extravaganza in the UK.

The web giant has been joined by other high street street names, including Argos and Currys PC World, in making an early start to the bargain shopping event on Friday 23 November.

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Fake fingerprints can imitate real ones in biometric systems – research
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

DeepMasterPrints created by a machine learning technique have error rate of only one in five

Researchers have used a neural network to generate artificial fingerprints that work as a “master key” for biometric identification systems and prove fake fingerprints can be created.

According to a paper presented at a security conference in Los Angeles, the artificially generated fingerprints, dubbed “DeepMasterPrints” by the researchers from New York University, were able to imitate more than one in five fingerprints in a biometric system that should only have an error rate of one in a thousand.

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Facebook threatens democracy, says Soros-backed foundation
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Open Society Foundations hits out after reports firm tried to discredit critics as agents of philanthropist

Open Society Foundations has hit out at Facebook as “reprehensible” after a PR agency hired by the social networking site reportedly tried to discredit critics by claiming they were agents of George Soros.

Patrick Gaspard, the president of OSF, said Facebook’s methods “threaten the very values underpinning our democracy” in a letter addressed to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer and the executive responsible for the company’s political operations over last few years. OSF was founded by Soros in 1993 to fund civil rights groups around the world.

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Uber losses top $1bn in run-up to IPO
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Growth in bookings continues to slow as pressure builds to improve financial performance

Uber has posted a loss of more than $1bn (£780m) in its latest quarter as growth in bookings continued to slow in the run-up to its stock market flotation next year.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing firm, valued at $76bn, is under pressure to improve its financial performance before the IPO. It lost $1.07bn in the three months to September, a 20% increase from $891m in the previous quarter.

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Facebook reportedly discredited critics by linking them to George Soros
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Facing a string of crises, Facebook hired a PR firm to push conspiracy theories about the billionaire, the New York Times reports

Facebook hired a PR firm that attempted to discredit the company’s critics by claiming they were agents of the billionaire George Soros, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Soros is a Jewish philanthropist who is the frequent subject of antisemitic conspiracy theories. At the same time, the social media company urged the Anti-Defamation League to object to a cartoon used by anti-Facebook protesters over its resemblance to antisemitic tropes.

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New York City to Amazon: drop dead
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

In Queens, opponents of second HQ say building plans bypass elected officials, will rip off taxpayers and harm neighborhood

Politicians and advocates gathered in Queens on Wednesday to denounce a multibillion-dollar plan to bring a new Amazon headquarters to New York. One city councilman called the move “an assault on our democracy”.

Related: 'It's obscene and wrong': Amazon HQ2 gets typically warm New York welcome

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Which Apple MacBook laptop should I buy?
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Mary needs to replace her 2009 MacBook Pro but is overwhelmed by the options. Which is the best choice?

I have soldiered on with a 2009 MacBook Pro, which I use for internet access, social media, photos, and my research. But in order to access the university library remotely, I have to use an up-to-date operating system, and my Mac is so old I can no longer update it.

So, I need to buy a new MacBook, but I am overwhelmed by the options. Do I need a Touch Bar? How much memory and SSD do I need? Mary

Following the product refresh on 30 October, Apple has four MacBooks that do much the same job. The good news is that, if you can survive on a 2009 MacBook Pro, any of them would be fine for your purposes. The bad news is that they all have features that would put me off buying them, though, with luck, they won’t necessarily put you off.

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What is the point of mini PCs?
Posted on Thursday November 08, 2018

Steven wants to know why people buy mini PCs when they seem ridiculously underpowered

What on earth do people do with those mini PC things like the Beelink and ACEPC T8 Fanless? They seem ridiculously underpowered and often have just 2GB of RAM. But according to an article I saw in a business magazine in the dentist’s waiting room, it seems there are big sales and a lot of competition in that market. Steven

Mini PCs are a great illustration of a topic I wrote about in Computer Guardian 30 years or so ago: speciation. When the market for computers was very small, there were not many models. As the market expanded, it could support many different types designed to meet specific needs.

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Is a 128GB SSD big enough for Windows 10?
Posted on Thursday November 01, 2018

Hilary wants to upgrade to a 15.6in laptop with a 256GB SSD, but they are too expensive. Would a smaller drive be OK?

I need to replace an old 15.6in Acer Aspire laptop with a Core i3 processor. I want to go down the SSD route, but do I need 128GB or 256GB? I use a laptop for documents, photos, emails, Facebook etc, and some Excel stuff, hence the need for Microsoft Office. No gaming.

My local computer shop has an HP 250 G6 laptop with a Core i5-7200U, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, for £425, which they said they could upgrade to 256GB in the future if needed. I’ve also looked at a Lenovo IdeaPad 330S with a Core i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD for £579, which seems way too expensive for what I need.

The laptop industry is slowly changing from PCs with traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) to ones with chip-based solid-state drives (SSDs). The problem, as you have found, is the cost. SSDs are more responsive, but they are also much more expensive per gigabyte of storage space.

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What’s the best replacement for the Windows 10 Snipping Tool?
Posted on Thursday October 25, 2018

Jane has read that Microsoft is removing the screen-capture utility in Windows 10 and would like a free alternative

The next Windows 10 update will remove the Snipping Tool, and I wonder if there is an alternative free tool you would recommend. Apparently the workaround is to use OneNote, but not for me. Jane

Taking screen grabs is now such an important part of personal computer use that Microsoft is certain to provide a good alternative. In fact, you will get to keep Snipping Tool alongside its replacement while Microsoft analyses the telemetry data that it uses to track mass (not individual) behaviour.

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How Republican firm's plan to defend Facebook by attacking rivals backfired
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Revelation that Definers had used George Soros as a target to defend Facebook unleashed an immediate storm of protest

It was a beguilingly simple idea. Take the tricks learned by political campaign managers on how to boost your candidate’s standing while ruthlessly undermining that of rivals, and apply it lucratively to the corporate world.

That was the thinking that led two top Republican operatives – Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and Joe Pounder, former senior adviser to Marco Rubio in the 2016 White House race – to set up a Virginia-based partnership called Definers Public Affairs.

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Why is the internet so overwhelmingly male?
Posted on Friday October 19, 2018

Lack of education and unpaid care work among reasons women trail men online

The internet is overwhelmingly male. Men are on average 33.5% more likely to have internet access than women, according to the Inclusive Internet Index, a survey of 86 countries that are home to 91% of the global population. In some poor, urban areas, men outnumber women online by as much as two to one.

To understand why is to see inequalities collide. Globally, women have less access to education and less chance of entering the jobs market, where they will typically earn a quarter less than their male colleagues. It is no surprise that when asked about barriers to being online, not knowing how and not being able to afford it, come up time and again.

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Almost 50% of the world is online. What about the other 50%?
Posted on Thursday October 18, 2018

Connecting developed nations was relatively easy, but getting the rest of the world online will be far more difficult

There are two kinds of people in the world: those with internet access and those without. But the decades-long drive to convert the latter into the former is beginning to falter, the Guardian reveals today, prompting hard questions about whether connecting the world is even possible.

The reality, however, is far less black and white than the statistics make it sound. People access the internet in different ways, they use it for different things – and some of them even access different internets entirely. As William Gibson said, 25 years ago, the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.

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Big tech's double trouble: political heat from Trump and the left may signal reckoning ahead
Posted on Sunday September 02, 2018

Trump’s timing of attacks on Google, Facebook and Twitter could not have been better, as the three come under scrutiny in hearings

Trump and Russia may have dominated the political discourse all summer, but last week the attention turned again to America’s internet technology giants. They had enjoyed a few months out of the spotlight following grueling congressional hearings in Washington late last year, after evidence emerged of Russia’s use of social media fake accounts to try to influence voters in the 2016 US presidential election.

But that respite ended last week after a tweet from Donald Trump that electrified the news agenda from Silicon Valley to the capital when, seemingly out of the blue – he posted a bizarre tweet. “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD,” he tweeted. Trump went on to allege that Google was censoring right-wing voices and privileging voices from the left.

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What cities offered Amazon: helipads, zoo tickets, and a street named Alexa
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Now that the home for its next headquarters has been chosen, losing cities are revealing how they tried to sweeten the deal

“Philadelphia is in the Goldilocks zone for Amazon – it possesses all of the key ingredients we looked for to support our long-term growth,” said Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon and richest man in the history of the world.

At least, that’s what the city of Philadelphia was hoping Bezos would say when officials included a draft press release announcing the city’s hypothetical victory in their bid to become the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.

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Being bionic: how technology transformed my life
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Prosthetics have made amazing advances in recent years – and are slowly changing people’s attitudes to disability. By Patrick Kane

I was born with the usual set of limbs. When I was nine months old, I contracted meningococcal septicaemia, a dangerous infection of the blood, which very nearly killed me. I survived, but because I had sustained major tissue damage, it became necessary to amputate my right leg below the knee, all of the fingers on my left hand and the second and third digits on my right hand. I learned to walk on a prosthetic leg at the age of 14 months, and have gone through my life wearing a succession of artificial limbs.

As time has passed and technology has advanced, so too have my limbs. Like our mobile phones, prostheses have become lighter, faster and more efficient. When I was nine, I was fitted with a lifeless silicone hand, a useless thing that was purely cosmetic, and so clumsy that I refused to wear it after the first day. Now, at 21, and a student in my third year at Edinburgh University, I wear a bionic arm with nimble fingers that move independently, which I operate using controlled muscle movements in my forearm, as well as an app on my phone. As a child I wore a stiff artificial leg attached with straps that frequently fell off; earlier this summer, I took delivery of a new dynamic right leg with shock absorption and carbon fibre blades.

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'How Amazon helped me transition to a woman'
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Sophie Roberts is a software developer at the tech giant who came out at work in October.

Award for wartime flight trainer returned to service
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Tens of thousands of pilots trained in a tiny, mechanical flight simulator which has been restored.

EE and Virgin Media fined £13.3m for overcharging customers
Posted on Friday November 16, 2018

Digital minister Margot James says phone and broadband firms must "play by the rules".

Prince William criticises social media firms
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Prince William and Catherine were at the BBC to discuss its work on combating cyber-bullying.

Google's Alphabet gives up on rescue robots
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

The technology giant will close its Schaft robotics division after failing to find a buyer.

Facebook accused of dark PR tactics
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Facebook is embroiled in a new controversy over the tactics it used to discredit its critics.

MiSafes' child-tracking smartwatches are 'easy to hack'
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Researchers find a way to reveal the locations of children wearing MiSafes watches and call them.

Japan's cyber-security minister has 'never used a computer'
Posted on Thursday November 15, 2018

Yoshitaka Sakurada is responsible for ensuring the 2020 Olympic Games are not hacked.

Apple Stores to employ human trafficking victims
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

The technology company's retail chief reveals the initiative as she is given the Stop Slavery Award.

Call of Duty 'swatting' death prankster pleads guilty
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

The 25-year-old had fooled police into thinking a father-of-two had murdered a family member.


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