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Tech News

Tesla to cut more than 3,000 jobs because cars 'still too expensive'
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

Elon Musk says he has no choice but to reduce electric car manufacturer’s headcount

Tesla is cutting more than 3,000 jobs, or 7% of its workforce, after experiencing a year its founder, Elon Musk, said was both its most challenging and most successful.

The chief executive of the electric car manufacturer told staff on Friday that “the road ahead is very difficult” because its products were not yet affordable for most people and it was up against a big incumbent industry.

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Oxford places ban on donations and research grants from Huawei
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

Decision on Chinese telecoms firm comes as national security concerns mount in the west

The University of Oxford has placed an indefinite ban on accepting research grants or donations from the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which is facing mounting concerns from several governments about whether it poses a risk to national security.

The decision emerged the day after the US prosecutors reportedly opened an investigation into Huawei for alleged theft of trade secrets from American firms. Berlin is also reportedly weighing up measures to exclude the company from working on the rollout of 5G mobile infrastructure in Germany.

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Largest collection ever of breached data found
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

Store of 770m email addresses and passwords discovered after being put on hacking site

The largest collection of breached data in history has been discovered, comprising more than 770m email addresses and passwords posted to a popular hacking forum in mid-December.

The 87GB data dump was discovered by the security researcher Troy Hunt, who runs the Have I Been Pwned breach-notification service. Hunt, who called the upload Collection #1, said it was probably “made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources”, rather than representing a single hack of a very large service.

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Facebook removes hundreds of pages 'linked to Russian site'
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

Social network says it has taken down 289 pages connected to Kremlin-backed news website

Facebook has removed hundreds of pages believed to be connected to the Kremlin-backed Sputnik news website for allegedly breaching its rules.

The Facebook pages, which were targeted at individuals in former Soviet satellite states, either pretended to be independent news services or had names designed to appeal to fans of particular individuals, regions, or foods.

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I got a phishing email that tried to blackmail me – what should I do?
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

Pauline received a spam message that looked like a sextortion or webcam scam

I got this email today. It says “I hacked your device, because I sent you this message from your account.” It goes on to claim that it has filmed me watching pornography, and demands $698 in bitcoin. Phishing? Pwned? What to do? Pauline

This is generally known either as “webcam blackmail” or “sextortion scam” and the email should have been diverted to your spam folder. Millions – perhaps billions – of similar emails have been sent over the years, but there seems to have been a flood of them over the past few months.

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China accuses US of suppressing its high-tech companies
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

US said to be in advanced stages of inquiry over alleged Huawei theft of trade secrets

China has accused the US of trying to suppress its tech companies, as US prosecutors reportedly investigate allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from US businesses.

Adding to pressure on the Chinese telecoms firm, US lawmakers have proposed a ban on selling US chips or components to the company.

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Oracle systematically underpaid thousands of women, lawsuit says
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

Class action alleges female workers were paid average of $13,000 less per year than men doing similar jobs

Thousands of women were systematically underpaid at Oracle, one of Silicon Valley’s largest corporations, according to a new motion in a class-action complaint that details claims of pervasive wage discrimination.

A motion filed in California on Friday said attorneys seek to represent more than 4,200 women and alleged that female employees were paid on average $13,000 less per year than men doing similar work. An analysis of payroll data found disparities with an “extraordinarily high degree of statistical significance”, the complaint said. Women made 3.8% less in base salaries on average than men in the same job categories, 13.2% less in bonuses, and 33.1% less in stock value, it alleges.

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Apple chief calls for laws to tackle 'shadow economy' of data firms
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

Tim Cook seeks competitive advantage over Google and Facebook with privacy push

Apple’s chief executive has called for regulation to tackle the “shadow economy” of data brokers – intermediaries who trade in the personal information of largely unsuspecting consumers – as the company continues its push to be seen as supportive of privacy.

Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Time Magazine published on Thursday, said: “One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer – something most of us have done.

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Tracking technology to reveal whether food produced legally and sustainably
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

OpenSC venture, which will track Patagonian toothfish, developed by WWF and BCG Digital

A new project that uses technology to track the movements of food through the supply chain will aim to inform consumers whether items such as fish they buy at a restaurant were produced legally and sustainably.

The new venture is called OpenSC and uses product QR codes that consumers can scan with a smartphone to automatically display information on where the product was caught, when and how it was produced, what its journey through the supply chain looked like, and even its carbon miles and what temperature it was stored at.

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YouTube bans dangerous pranks after Bird Box challenge
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2019

Platform acts after challenge leads to people walking through traffic and driving while blindfolded

YouTube has banned creators from depicting “dangerous challenges and pranks”, after a wave of incidents prompted by a viral challenge involving driving blindfolded pushed it to act.

The so-called Bird Box challenge, inspired by the Netflix film of the same name, saw YouTubers imitating scenes from the movie in which characters must perform common tasks while blindfolded. A culture of one-upmanship meant that rapidly progressed to online celebrities such as Jake Paul walking through traffic and driving their cars while unable to see, leading to a Utah teenager crashing her car into oncoming traffic repeating the stunt.

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The internet, but not as we know it: life online in China, Russia, Cuba and India
Posted on Friday January 11, 2019

More than half of the world’s population is now online, but that does not mean we all see the same thing. From being filtered by the government to being delivered by post, the internet can vary enormously depending on where you live. Here are four illustrated examples

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Which is the best laptop for music production?
Posted on Thursday January 10, 2019

Miles uses Visual Studio and wants to use coding program Sonic Pi on Windows, not a Mac

I am a musician and software developer who wants to get into live coding and electronica using software like Sonic Pi and maybe, in the future, Max/MSP from Cycling 74. Most people seem to use Apple’s MacBook Pros, but I have always been a Windows user, and develop software on Windows using Visual Studio, so I am reluctant to switch to a Mac. However, every time I have tried to get a good music-making setup on Windows, I have been beset by latency problems. From what I have read online, it seems the Windows audio drivers, though improved with Windows 10, are still way behind those on MacOS.

I have a Roland Duo-Capture EX and an older Novation X-Station, and I am happy to use one of these as part of my set-up, but I would like a system that is sufficiently portable to make performing with it straightforward.

Your best bet would be to find and cultivate some of the people who compose and/or perform using Windows laptops – there are some! – and ask for advice. Areas like this usually involve tacit knowledge that you only learn by doing stuff for some time, and I have not done it at all.

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How can you tell if a mobile phone has good reception before you buy it?
Posted on Thursday January 03, 2019

Paul lives in a signal black spot where his wife’s smartphone still works. Is there a way to find if phone has good reception?

I have a Moto 3 smartphone and my wife has a similar earlier model. We are right on the edge of reception from EE. I can just get a very weak signal if I attach my phone to a selfie stick and lean out of a window, or walk up the bank behind the house. This is not ideal.

Away from home, sometimes my wife’s phone can get a strong signal whereas mine can’t get a signal at all. This made me wonder if there was a measurement to assess how good a mobile phone is at receiving signals in areas of poor reception before you buy it … and if there is an easy way for an ordinary punter to understand it. Paul

Phone manufacturers and others can and do test their phones, usually for certification purposes. The performance test results you want, if you can get them, are the Total Isotropic Sensitivity (TIS) value for reception and the Total Radiated Power (TRP) for transmission.

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How can I remove Google from my life?
Posted on Thursday December 20, 2018

Geoffrey writes from his Gmail address to ask how he can stop Google from intruding into almost everything

How can I stop the intrusion of Google into almost everything? (After I’ve changed my email address.) Geoffrey

Google’s motto used to be “don’t be evil”, but in the eyes of some it has now taken on the mantle of the “evil empire” from Microsoft, which Bill Gates and crew inherited from the IBM mocked in the Mac’s launch advert in 1984.

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Can I get a gaming PC for £500, and which games console is best?
Posted on Thursday December 13, 2018

Jean is shopping for a £500 gaming PC and Patrick is looking for a console for his kids

I read your review of gaming PC specs where you recommended HP Omen 880-100na, and wonder if you still feel that ticks all boxes for my gaming son? Sylvia

What is the best gaming PC I can buy for around £500? Jean

It’s only three months since I answered the question Sylvia read – What’s the best gaming PC for under £1,000? – but some readers are looking for cheaper options in the run-up to Christmas.

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Bitcoin: after 10 wild years, what next for cryptocurrencies?
Posted on Friday January 04, 2019

From next to no value in 2009, it rose to $20,000 and crashed back to $3,000 within a decade

Two years after its inception, 10,000 bitcoin was just about enough to buy a couple of takeaway pizzas. Today those bitcoin would be worth nearly $38m (£30m). That is a huge increase, but just a fraction of their $180m value only 13 months ago, because since its creation a decade ago this week, the digital currency has been at the centre of one of the biggest economic bubbles in history.

Bitcoin has had a wild ride since its birth on 3 January 2009. Created as a digital currency to sidestep the traditional finance industry using encrypted code, it took until May 2010 for the first reported purchase using bitcoin to take place: those two large Papa John’s pizzas worth $30 for 10,000 bitcoins.

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Apple's woes go far beyond the slowdown in the Chinese economy
Posted on Thursday January 03, 2019

Higher price tags, competition, cultural differences and saturation in the west have led to longer replacement cycles

Apple’s cut in its sales forecast was blamed almost entirely on the economic slowdown in China, but the real picture is probably far more complex, with high prices, cultural differences, fierce competition and consumers keeping their phones for longer all causing problems.

Its chief executive, Tim Cook, said falling sales of iPhone, iPads and computers were primarily due to the “magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in greater China”.

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iPhone slump: the rivals taking a bite out of Apple
Posted on Thursday January 03, 2019

As firm’s stock falls over sales warnings, it has competition in bid to be the best smartphone

As Apple’s shares tumble after its cut in forecasts, the company is laying the blame squarely on the economic slowdown in China. But that is only part of the problem.

Never before has Apple faced such fierce competition from a multitude of rivals from around the globe, all vying for a slice of the lucrative premium smartphone market. Matching or exceeding Apple’s iPhone on hardware quality, these phones are arguably more capable, often cheaper and, perhaps crucially for China, made by local firms, not only those from the US and South Korea.

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Google and Facebook to push hard against proposal for regulatory body
Posted on Thursday December 13, 2018

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission considers market position of Google and Facebook justifies greater oversight

Google and Facebook are expected to push back hard against proposals to set up a new authority that would monitor how they use their market power and the operation of algorithms that drive the placement of news and advertising content on their sites.

Publicly, the two digital multinationals say they are studying the nearly 400-page report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday.

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From WhatsApp to Alexa : why the ad-free era is over
Posted on Saturday January 19, 2019

As we grow wiser to marketing, advertisers are finding new ways and places to plug products

We’ve weaned ourselves off banner advertisements, with a fifth of us using ad blockers in our internet browsers, according to research firm eMarketer. So-called “native advertising” online, where advertising is presented in a similar way to editorial, has failed to take off. A US study last year from Stanford University found native advertising is no better at getting us to buy than standard online ads.

“Consumers are very good at filtering out messages,” explains Lisa Du-Lieu, a senior lecturer in marketing at Huddersfield University. “If you don’t get their attention within the first couple of seconds, it just bounces off them.”

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Twitter warns that private tweets were public for years
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

A security flaw meant many private messages were readable for years said Twitter.

Fortnite predator 'groomed children on voice chat'
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

A man is accused of using the hit video game Fortnite to initiate sexual activity with children.

Timeline: What's going on with Huawei?
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

The Chinese telecoms giant was the focus of international scrutiny even before a senior executive's arrest.

Future of airport security on show in London
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

A shoe scanner that works on passengers queuing at airport security is on show in London.

Zimbabwe blocks Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter amid crackdown
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

A coalition of human rights groups says at least 12 people have been killed in a week of protests.

YouTube suspends ads on Tommy Robinson channel
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

The suspension has been imposed because the channel had broken rules governing adverts, YouTube says.

Facebook tackles Russians making fake news stories
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

The pages campaigned for months creating and sharing stories that were fake, said Facebook.

Netflix shows Bird Box and Elite drive subscriber growth
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

The streaming giant says the subscriber growth reflects the success of its original programmes.

Germany 'considers ban on Huawei' amid global backlash
Posted on Friday January 18, 2019

Other countries have barred the Chinese firm from their network infrastructure over security concerns.

Oxford University suspends Huawei donations and sponsorships
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2019

The institution suspends donations from the Chinese telecoms giant amid continuing spying controversy.


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