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Tech News

Google 'betrays patient trust' with DeepMind Health move
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Moving healthcare subsidiary into main company breaks pledge that ‘data will not be connected to Google accounts’

Google has been accused of breaking promises to patients, after the company announced it would be moving a healthcare-focused subsidiary, DeepMind Health, into the main arm of the organisation.

The restructure, critics argue, breaks a pledge DeepMind made when it started working with the NHS that “data will never be connected to Google accounts or services”. The change has also resulted in the dismantling of an independent review board, created to oversee the company’s work with the healthcare sector, with Google arguing that the board was too focused on Britain to provide effective oversight for a newly global body.

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Mexico's tequila council pumps the brakes on Elon Musk's 'Teslaquila'
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Tesla CEO tweeted in October that the spirit would be ‘coming soon’ but the regulatory council says tequila is a protected word

Tesla Inc co-founder Elon Musk and Mexico’s tequila producers could be headed for a collision after the agave-based drink’s industry group opposed the flamboyant billionaire’s efforts to trademark an alcoholic drink dubbed “Teslaquila”.

One of the world’s richest people and chief executive of Tesla, Musk is known for ambitious and cutting-edge projects ranging from auto electrification and rocket-building to high-speed transit tunnels.

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IMF says governments could set up their own cryptocurrencies
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Christine Lagarde praises rebel technology as ‘safe, cheap, and potentially semi-anonymous’

Governments should consider offering their own cryptocurrencies to prevent the systems becoming havens for fraudsters and money launderers, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund said referring to the fast-growing fintech industry.

Lagarde said central banks had to work quickly to establish digital cash for burgeoning networks of private financial transactions or risk their mushrooming into trading networks that were inherently unstable.

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'Worrying' lack of diversity in Britain's tech sector, report finds
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Almost two-thirds of boards in technology have no female representation at all

Britain’s technology sector has a “worrying” lack of diversity among its senior leadership, according to a report that shows the sector lags far behind the FTSE 100 and the wider economy on measures including gender, race and class representation.

Just 8.5% of senior leaders in technology are from a minority background, according to the report from agency Inclusive Boards, while women make up only 12.6% of board members in the sector – compared to the 30% female representation now achieved by FTSE 100 businesses.

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Can the tech sector thrive outside London?
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

An appetite for collaboration is helping clusters across the north of England to flourish - but there are also key issues holding them back

There’s no doubt that London has firmly established itself as a leading digital hub. Last year, the turnover by its digital tech businesses was £64.1bn, the highest of any cluster in the UK, and 40% of new technology startups were based in the capital. Startups and investors work in close proximity, and there’s plenty of advice for ambitious entrepreneurs. “You could go every single night of the week to an event on how to pitch for funding,” says Mike Jackson, entrepreneur success director at Tech Nation, speaking at a recent Guardian roundtable in Liverpool, supported by Cisco.

But London is only part of the UK’s tech story, and the discussion focused on the future of the burgeoning tech scenes in the north of England.

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'It's obscene and wrong': Amazon HQ2 gets typically warm New York welcome
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

Residents wonder if company will be ‘good corporate citizen’ as governor hails decision to put headquarters in Long Island City

More than 200 cities across North America spent a year competing for Amazon’s affections, lavishing tax breaks and other goodies for the chance to host the tech giant’s HQ2.

Now, New York has won at least part of the prize – with Amazon splitting its second headquarters in two, and putting one of the new offices in Long Island City, Queens.

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Lawsuit targets secrecy agreements surrounding Google's new campus
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Google’s plan to expand their campus into a new city has echoes of Amazon’s secretive year-long second headquarters process

Officials in San Jose, California, negotiating with Google over the tech company’s plan to build a massive new campus, are improperly withholding documents, a lawsuit alleged on Tuesday.

The suit argues that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo and as many as 18 city staffers at the request of Google were “illegal and invalid”. It seeks to force the city to turn over documents requested under California’s public records law.

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Amazon HQ2: tech giant splits new home across New York City and Virginia
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

Firm to add hub in Nashville but critics attack lack of transparency in process and tax breaks for world’s richest man

Amazon has announced it will open new offices in New York City and Arlington, Virginia, capping a year-long contest to host the tech giant’s new headquarters that drew bids from hundreds of US cities.

Related: 'It's good and bad': New York torn on rolling out welcome mat for Amazon

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WhatsApp struggling to control fake news in India, researchers say
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

Hindu nationalism and cheap mobile data driving spread of disinformation, BBC study says

Hindu nationalism and the plummeting cost of mobile phone data services are driving the explosive growth of fake news in India, according to a study that suggests WhatsApp is struggling to limit the spread of online disinformation on its service.

The research by the BBC World Service sheds light on the conundrum surrounding online disinformation and fake news in the world’s biggest democracy, where the explosive popularity of the group-messaging app has been linked to a string of murders and growing anti-Muslim sentiment. The research was conducted as part of the BBC’s Beyond Fake News series.

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Alarm over talks to implant UK employees with microchips
Posted on Sunday November 11, 2018

Trades Union Congress concerned over tech being used to control and micromanage

Britain’s biggest employer organisation and main trade union body have sounded the alarm over the prospect of British companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security.

UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in the UK.

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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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What is the best computer monitor for under £200?
Posted on Thursday October 18, 2018

Keith has just switched to a Windows desktop PC and needs a good monitor to go with it

I have just switched to a Windows desktop computer and need to get a good monitor – about 21 inches and under £200. Do you have any advice? Keith

There are two ways to pick a monitor, and it’s worth using both approaches. The first is to go into a shop and see which one looks best. It’s much easier to compare screens side by side. The second is to compile a table of specifications and pick the monitor that meets your needs.

Reading spec sheets doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find a monitor that looks good, but this generally isn’t a problem nowadays. The quality of flat screens has improved dramatically over the past 10-15 years, and it’s quite hard to find a bad one, unless it’s a faulty product.

The prices of standard PC monitors and flat screen TVs have also fallen dramatically. Monitors start at less than £100 and you can get a good one for less than £150. Of course, you can pay up to £1,000 for a bigger, faster, high-resolution screen, but you don’t need that sort of monitor unless you’re a keen gamer or a video editor.

There’s one specification to watch out for: some cheap monitors have TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD screens. They are not necessarily bad, but IPS (In Plane Switching) and LED backlit screens are brighter and have richer colours.

In general, a brightness of around 200 candela per square metre, “200 nits”, is enough for use in normal indoor lighting, and 120-200 cd/m2 used to be common. However, there’s a trend towards brighter screens, with 500cd/m2 being preferred for movies. HDTV sets go even higher.

If a screen is too bright, you can always turn it down. Only if it’s too dim do you have a problem.

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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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Does the banning of Alex Jones signal a new era of big tech responsibility?
Posted on Friday August 10, 2018

With the removal of the conspiracy theorist’s material from key platforms, firms have changed their tune on ‘free speech’ – but some see the move as more about money than morality

At this very moment, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is almost certainly sitting in front of a camera, shouting that he has been silenced. If you are so inclined, you can easily watch and listen along, either by going to his website, downloading his iPhone and Android apps, or following him on Twitter.

Related: Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify ban Infowars' Alex Jones

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‘Do people like me?’ Why we ask Google unanswerable questions
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

From the meaning of life to whether we are good in bed, we expect the search engine to be omnipotent

What question do you wish Google were able to answer? If the survey commissioned by the TV channel Dave is to be believed, chances are your burning questions are what tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers will be, do aliens exist and what will happen to you when you die.

The top 25 questions mostly fall into four categories: conspiracies (Who shot JFK? Did Donald Trump rig the election?); desires for worldly success (Will I ever be rich? What will tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers be?); anxieties (Do people like me? Am I good in bed?); and curiosity about the ultimate questions (What is the meaning of life? Is there a God?).

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You thought fake news was bad? Deep fakes are where truth goes to die
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018

Technology can make it look as if anyone has said or done anything. Is it the next wave of (mis)information warfare?

In May, a video appeared on the internet of Donald Trump offering advice to the people of Belgium on the issue of climate change. “As you know, I had the balls to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement,” he said, looking directly into the camera, “and so should you.”

The video was created by a Belgian political party, Socialistische Partij Anders, or sp.a, and posted on sp.a’s Twitter and Facebook. It provoked hundreds of comments, many expressing outrage that the American president would dare weigh in on Belgium’s climate policy.

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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.

Google accused of 'trust demolition' over health app
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

DeepMind now wants its health app to become an AI assistant for nurses and doctors around the world.

US asks London court to hand over two alleged hackers
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

The men are accused of helping cause $530m of losses to banks and other businesses.

IMF's Lagarde says central banks could issue digital money
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

IMF boss Christine Lagarde said state-backed digital currencies could make transactions safer and cheaper.

'Ugly' mistake sends Google data to China
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

A botched update to network hardware meant an African ISP wrongly took over Google net addresses.

BBC newsreader 'speaks' languages he can’t
Posted on Wednesday November 14, 2018

Artificial intelligence creates a computer generated video which manipulates the newsreader’s mouth.

Detective Pikachu: 'Gross' furry Pokemon divides fans
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

Many fans say the new look Pikachu is "grotesque" and "disgusting".

Hitman 2: Sean Bean on being killed in video game
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

The actor plays a so called "elusive" target which only appears for a short period of time.

First 5G cities in UK named by EE
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018

The UK's big cities will be the first to get the futuristic mobile technology, says mobile operator.

 


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