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Tech News

Square Enix pulls three games from Belgium after loot box ban
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

Titles including Mobius Final Fantasy dropped following crackdown on ‘mixing games and gambling’

The games publisher Square Enix is pulling three mobile games from Belgium following the introduction of a law in the European nation that bans “loot boxes” as a form of gambling.

The games – Mobius Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts Union X and Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia – are some of largest titles in the publisher’s mobile roster, although it is better known for its console games such as Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and Hitman.

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Our new column from inside Amazon: 'They treat us as disposable'
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

In The Amazon Diaries, our anonymous insider takes us behind the scenes at an Amazon fulfillment center where workers are ‘an extension of the machine’

Welcome Amazonians. It is always Day 1. Are you ready to make a difference?

It was my first day as a seasonal Amazon worker, hired just prior to peak season. Our site operations manager was like many Amazon managers: an ex-military white male, in his late 40s and wearing straight-fit jeans and a T-shirt with “Amazon Military” emblazoned on the front. He drew a line alongside an inverted pyramid, writing “least important” on the bottom and “most important” higher up, with the word “customer” scrawled along the very top.

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Bitcoin price plunges below $4,500 mark in new 2018 low
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

Cryptocurrency’s value has slumped by more than a quarter in less than a week

The price of bitcoin continued to plunge on Tuesday as it fell another 7% to $4,387, taking its losses to almost 30% in the past week.

A 14% tumble in the price of the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency on Monday had taken bitcoin below $5,000 for the first time in 13 months. It is now at its lowest level since October last year.

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Do you work for Facebook? What is the mood like?
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

We would like to hear from Facebook workers following allegations published last week in the New York Times

Mark Zuckerberg has defended his leadership of Facebook, claiming ignorance of the company’s relationship with a PR firm that linked its critics with George Soros.

Related: Facebook reportedly discredited critics by linking them to George Soros

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UK 'wholly' unprepared to stop devastating cyber-attack, MPs warn
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

Ministers not taking growing threat to national infrastructure seriously, says committee

Ministers are failing to act with “a meaningful sense of purpose or urgency” in the face of a growing cyber threat to the UK’s critical national infrastructure (CNI), a parliamentary committee has warned.

The joint committee on national security strategy said at a time when states such as Russia were expanding their capability to mount disruptive cyber-attacks, the UK’s level of ministerial oversight was “wholly inadequate”.

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The charge of the chatbots: how do you tell who’s human online?
Posted on Sunday November 18, 2018

Automated ‘voices’ that were supposed to do mundane tasks online also now spread hate speech and polarise opinion. Are they a boon or a threat?

Alan Turing’s famous test of whether machines could fool us into believing they were human – “the imitation game” – has become a mundane, daily question for all of us. We are surrounded by machine voices, and think nothing of conversing with them – though each time I hear my car tell me where to turn left I am reminded of my grandmother, who having installed a telephone late in life used to routinely say goodnight to the speaking clock.

We find ourselves locked into interminable text chats with breezy automated bank tellers and offer our mother’s maiden name to a variety of robotic speakers that sound plausibly alive. I’ve resisted the domestic spies of Apple and Amazon, but one or two friends jokingly describe the rapport they and their kids have built up with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home Hub – and they are right about that: the more you tell your virtual valet, the more you disclose of wants and desires, the more speedily it can learn and commit to memory those last few fragments of your inner life you had kept to yourself.

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Facebook to lodge appeal against ICO's £500,000 fine
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

Company says it disputes penalty for role in Cambridge Analytica scandal on principle

Facebook is lodging an appeal against the record fine of £500,000 levied against it by the Information Commissioner’s Office, arguing that the penalty “challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online”.

The company, which was fined the maximum amount allowable for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, had until Wednesday to launch an appeal or accept the fine.

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Russian firm linked to election meddling sues Facebook over ban
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

Federal Agency of News says it’s legitimate and is seeking an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account

A Russian company whose accountant was charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to meddle in US elections has sued Facebook, claiming it is a legitimate news outlet and its Facebook account should be restored.

The Federal Agency of News LLC, known as FAN, and its sole shareholder, Evgeniy Zubarev, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the northern district of California, seeking damages and an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account.

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Twitter CEO upsets Hindu nationalists during India visit
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

Jack Dorsey accused of hate speech after posing with sign criticising country’s caste system

Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has upset Hindu nationalists and some members of the Brahmin caste in India by posing for a picture with a placard reading: “Smash Brahminical patriarchy”.

Related: WhatsApp struggling to control fake news in India, researchers say

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Airbnb to take rentals in Israeli West Bank settlements off website
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

Announcement comes before publication of damning Human Rights Watch report

Airbnb has said it will remove from its website all properties in Israeli settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, after years of accusations that the company was benefitting from rentals in the illegal outposts.

The accommodation bookings website announced on Monday that around 200 listings would be taken down in what will be seen as a victory for the Palestinian-led anti-occupation movement.

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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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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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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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Computers have learned to make us jump through hoops | John Naughton
Posted on Sunday November 18, 2018

Machines are supposed to be tools that serve human ends, but the relationship is slowly shifting - and not in our favour

The other day I had to log in to a service I hadn’t used before. Since I was a new user, the website decided that it needed to check that I wasn’t a robot and so set me a Captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). This is a challenge-response test to enable a computer to determine whether the user is a person rather than a machine.

I was presented with an image of a roadside scene over which was overlaid a grid. My “challenge” was to click on each cell in the grid that contained a traffic sign, or part thereof. I did so, fuming a bit. Then I was presented with another image and another grid – also with a request to identify road signs. Like a lamb, I complied, after which the website deigned to accept my input.

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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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Facebook appeals against Cambridge Analytica fine
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

The social network says the UK's data watchdog £500,000 penalty was unjustified.

'Adult' furry erotica site hacked
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

The latest in a long line of hacks aimed at adult websites leaves millions of users exposed.

Facebook ads urge its staff to leak secrets
Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2018

The Freedom from Facebook campaign is using the company's own ad tools to encourage staff to share details.

Google helps boost High Street spending with search
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

Technology showing inventory for local shops will go live on Google search over next 12 months.

Tumblr removed from Apple app store over abuse images
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

The app was removed from Apple's store after images showing child sexual abuse were discovered.

Elon Musk renames his BFR spacecraft Starship
Posted on Tuesday November 20, 2018

The entrepreneur would not reveal why he had renamed the craft, which has still not yet been built.

Bitcoin falls below $5,000
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

The fall brings the total value of all Bitcoin in existence to below $87bn.

Blackout for thousands of dark web pages
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

Hackers have deleted more than 6,500 sites being held on a popular Dark Web server.

Instagram targets fake likes and comments
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

The photo-sharing service say it will warn those using popularity-boosting services before taking action.

Spyro's missing subtitles anger gamers
Posted on Monday November 19, 2018

Deaf gamers have urged developers to patch the magic dragon and add subtitles to the Spyro games.


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