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Tech News

'Do you wind it up?': today’s teens tackle rotary phones, FM radio and map reading
Posted on Saturday October 19, 2019

Their smartphones do everything, but can teenagers master old tech and life skills – from reading a map to setting an alarm clock?

Three 15-year-old school children are on the phone, in class. No, it’s OK, they’re supposed to be; they’ve been told to, by me, with permission from their teacher. And they’re not actually on the phone, because they don’t know how to use it. It’s an old-fashioned rotary telephone, finger-in-the-dial variety. They’re tapping it, prodding at the holes. Hahahaha – they haven’t got a clue.

Loxford is an academy in Ilford, east London. I’ve come here with a suitcase stuffed full of the past, tech from my own childhood, mostly borrowed from nostalgic hoarder colleagues. Everything in the case is obsolete: it’s all been shrunk to fit into the smartphones today’s 15-year-olds almost all have. It’s a kind of social experiment, about different generations, lost skills, changing technology – what Loxford media studies teacher Mr Rushworth calls “convergence”. OK, and it’s also about having a laugh; and getting my generation’s own back for those times we’ve had to go crawling to a teenager for technical assistance, such as asking how to make the video on WhatsApp work.

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How the wheels came off Facebook's Libra project
Posted on Friday October 18, 2019

Support for Mark Zuckerberg’s mission to reshape global finance is slipping away slowly but surely

When Facebook announced plans to launch a digital currency earlier this summer, it added a full-blown revolution in global finance to its typically vaulting Silicon Valley mission statement: to create a digital currency alongside its efforts to bring the world closer together through networks.

Over the past month, that mission has gone badly awry. The Libra cryptocurrency project now faces existential threats from world leaders and central bankers worried about its harmful potential: as a vehicle for money laundering, a threat to global financial stability, open to data privacy abuse, dangerous for consumers and stripping nations of the control of their economies by privatising the money supply.

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Stuart Russell on why now is the time to start thinking about superintelligent AI - Science Weekly podcast
Posted on Friday October 18, 2019

Prof Stuart Russell wrote the book on artificial intelligence. Literally. But that was back in 1995, when the next few decades of AI were uncertain, and, according to him, distinctly less threatening. Sitting down with Ian Sample, Russell talks about his latest book, Human Compatible, which warns of a dystopian future in which humans are outsmarted by machines. But how did we get here? And what can we do to make sure these machines benefit humankind?

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How do I find a laptop that can be upgraded or repaired?
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Colin wants a laptop with easily replaceable parts such as memory and hard drives

I just read last week’s answer about upgrading or replacing a six-year-old ThinkPad laptop. I want a laptop where I can easily replace components such as memory and hard drives. How does one go about finding out which modern laptops are modifiable by users? Colin

The one-sentence answer is that consumer laptops often can’t be modified by users, while business laptops can. There are lots of exceptions, but it’s a reasonable rule-of-thumb.

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Zuckerberg defends Facebook as bastion of 'free expression' in speech
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

CEO faces quick backlash over highlighted policies, including on hate speech and voter suppression

Mark Zuckerberg touted Facebook as a champion of “free expression” in a wide-sweeping speech, offering a staunch defense of the social media giant following several rocky years characterized by allegations against the platform of censorship and bias.

Speaking at Georgetown University on Thursday, the Facebook CEO invoked Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr and Black Lives Matter as a means of positioning Facebook as a champion for freedom of speech.

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Who will be the new owner of Domain to go on sale
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Sale is a sealed-bid auction, in which each potential buyer is blind to what others offer, but is expected to get $300,000 or more

What is democracy worth? Later this month a broadly philosophical question will be put to a material test.

On 25 October at 5pm, the web domain goes up for auction. The site is currently administered by the veteran social activist Talmage Cooley. The advertised price, according to Heritage Auctions, is $300,000 or higher.

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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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Yawning Face: finally, an emoji that embodies life in 2019
Posted on Monday October 14, 2019

Tired? Bored? Supremely unconcerned? Thanks to the latest rollout of digital icons, soon we’ll all be able to express our lack of enthusiasm in tiny circular form

Name: Yawning Face emoji.

Age: Unveiled 224 days ago, as part of Emoji 12.0.

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Without encryption we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground | Edward Snowden
Posted on Tuesday October 15, 2019

The US, UK and Australia are taking on Facebook in a bid to undermine the only method that protects our personal information

• Edward Snowden is a US surveillance whistleblower

In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety.

And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption. Should they succeed in their quest to undermine encryption, our public infrastructure and private lives will be rendered permanently unsafe.

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Nir Eyal on how to beat tech addiction: ‘We need a new skill set’
Posted on Saturday October 12, 2019

The behavioural scientist has advised tech companies on how to get people hooked – now he’s telling us how to break the habit

Follow Eyal’s guide to avoiding digital distraction

I am 10 minutes late for my interview with behavioural scientist Nir Eyal, and run into the Manhattan cafe where we’re meeting, a dishevelled and apologetic mess. Being late is never ideal, but it’s particularly embarrassing because I’m meeting Eyal to discuss his new book, Indistractable: How To Control Your Attention And Choose Your Life, a guide to staying focused in an age of constant distraction. The hope is that he will teach me, a chronic procrastinator, how to stop wasting my life scrolling through my phone, and finally write that novel. Or, at the very least, be on time for appointments.

Dressed in Tech Dad chic – a crisp button-down shirt and jeans – Eyal already has coffee and looks busy when I burst in. He dropped his daughter off at science camp this morning, he explains, which is why he picked this spot; he hopes it wasn’t inconvenient. And I shouldn’t worry about being late: “Maybe you can use it in your article, as your introduction.” Obviously, I will have time to think of a better introduction, but I thank him anyway.

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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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iPhone 11 Pro Max review: salvaged by epic battery life
Posted on Wednesday October 09, 2019

A great camera, screen and performance can’t save horrendous ergonomics, but at least it’ll last two days on battery

The biggest, most expensive new smartphone from Apple is the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and you’ll need a small fortune to buy it.

The new 6.5in iPhone 11 Pro Max costs from £1,149 and is in effect its smaller 5.8in iPhone 11 Pro sibling put in a photocopier with a 12% magnification applied.

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iPhone 11 Pro review: the best small phone available
Posted on Monday October 07, 2019

A cracking camera, great screen and 32-hour battery life – but at an eye-watering price

Apple’s iPhone has gone “pro” for its 11th iteration, with dramatically improved cameras and longer battery life, which make the smaller iPhone 11 Pro the king of more manageable phones.

Costing from £1,049 the iPhone 11 Pro is one of a rare breed: a premium flagship smartphone that doesn’t have a ginormous screen and is therefore small by today’s standards.

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iPhone 11 review: an iPhone XR with a better camera
Posted on Tuesday October 01, 2019

Apple’s lower cost model has latest chips and longer battery life but is identical on outside to predecessor

The iPhone 11 is Apple’s latest lower cost smartphone for 2019 that’s clearly aimed at a broader market, offering most of what its top phones do but for £320 less.

Costing from £729, the iPhone 11 is also £20 cheaper than last year’s iPhone XR was on launch – the phone it has now replaced.

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Samsung Galaxy S10e review: the cheaper one
Posted on Tuesday June 18, 2019

Smallest, cheapest Samsung flagship has most of what makes the S10 line good, but with a flat screen and one camera fewer

The Galaxy S10e is Samsung’s attempt to offer a flagship smartphone experience in a smaller body and at a lower cost, which mostly works.

The formula is simple: take the same processor, reduce the memory a little and squeeze it into a smaller, less complicated body.

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Libratone Track Air+ review: the noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give you
Posted on Friday September 20, 2019

Great fit and sound, long battery, attractive design and pocketable case make for an excellent set of buds

Libratone 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.

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review: less business, more modern design
Posted on Monday September 16, 2019

Same Bose magic now sleeker, with better controls, calling and adaptable noise cancelling

Bose’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.

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Beats PowerBeats Pro review: Apple's fitness AirPods rock
Posted on Monday August 19, 2019

Bluetooth earbuds have long battery life, rock-solid connectivity and stay firmly planted on your ear

The 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.

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Sony WF-1000XM3 review: updated noise-cancelling earbuds sound great
Posted on Wednesday August 14, 2019

True wireless buds are Sony’s best yet, but where is the volume control?

Sony’s latest true wireless WF-1000XM3 earbuds offer both noise cancelling and top-end sound quality while undercutting premium rivals on price.

The replacement for the WF-1000X, which were some of the first noise cancelling true wireless earbuds available, the new “M3” portion of the model number denotes the company’s third generation of active noise cancelling technology and the QN1e chip, which is rivalled only by Bose.

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Should I fix my six-year-old laptop or replace it?
Posted on Thursday October 10, 2019

Pablo asks if it’s worth patching up an old ThinkPad T510 or best to buy a new Windows 10 laptop

I have a Lenovo ThinkPad T510 purchased about six years ago. I’m perfectly happy with it, except the keyboard needs replacing and batteries seem to lose their ability to charge within a couple of years. The keyboard and battery could be replaced for less than $100. Other than those factors, is there any reason to replace the machine? If I buy a Windows 10 machine, could I or should I continue to run Windows 7 on it? Pablo

There is no universal answer to your first question. The time to sell, repurpose or recycle an old PC depends on a large number of factors. Some are technical, such as the specification, the build quality, and whether it will actually run Windows 10. Some are personal, such as what you use it for, how much money you can spare, and whether your time has any value.

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Banning out-of-hours email 'could harm employee wellbeing'
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Stopping staff accessing email outside the office could leave some feeling stressed, research suggests.

'WhatsApp tax' plan dropped in Lebanon
Posted on Friday October 18, 2019

Protests continue in Lebanon despite the government backtracking on a new tax on WhatsApp calls.

Facebook chief rules out banning political adverts
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg says he does not think it is right for a company to censor politicians or the news.

Google Pixel 4 Face Unlock works if eyes are shut
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Google confirms its new security system may unlock a person's device even if their eyes are shut.

League of Legends boss: ‘It's not for casual players’
Posted on Friday October 18, 2019

Newsbeat sits down with the boss of Riot Games as they celebrate 10 years of League of Legends.

Google and BBC scrap VR projects
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Virtual reality may still be a few years from realising its potential, says one expert.

Samsung: Anyone's thumbprint can unlock Galaxy S10 phone
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Firm promises fix after couple discover any fingerprint can unlock the device when put in case.

Three phone services restored 'for majority'
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Three says it is experiencing "technical difficulties with voice, text and data".

O2 launches 5G network in five UK cities and Slough
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

The operator is going head to head with rivals EE, Vodafone, Three and BT Mobile.

Vatican launches new 'eRosary' bracelet
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

The gadget aims to help young Catholics pray for world peace and contemplate the gospel.


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