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Tech News

Visionary tunnel or over-hyped hole? Elon Musk's design unveiled in LA
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

As thousands gather for the first public viewing of Musk’s ‘loop track’, skeptics wonder whether it will live up to its promises

Elon Musk enthused that this was no ordinary tunnel opening, but something epic and “incredibly profound”. Skeptics wondered whether it was just a hyped-up coming-out party for a hole in the ground.

In the end, the first public viewing of Musk’s latest visionary project – an underground “loop” track that promises to revolutionize transport in the 21st-century city – turned out to be a grand mixture of imaginative futurism and showbiz razzmatazz, not to mention a showcase for a novel tunnel-boring technology that may be the most significant development of all.

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Instagram: from Facebook's 'best hope' to Russian propaganda campaign tool
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

The app was ‘perhaps the most effective platform’ for the Russian online propaganda campaign by the Internet Research Agency

This January, as Mark Zuckerberg was embarking on his quest to “fix” Facebook, one writer proposed a bold idea: make Facebook more like Instagram, “the Facebook-owned app that isn’t destabilizing society”. Instagram was no panacea, according to the New York Times tech columnist, but the downsides of the largely visual network – making “some of its users feel ugly and unpopular” – were insignificant compared with those of a highly politicized Facebook that could “undermine democracies and promote misinformation around the world”.

The idea that Instagram was a safe harbor for social media users in a sea of propaganda and political divisiveness caught on, both among users who didn’t realize the app was owned by scandal-ridden Facebook and with the tech press. An April Bloomberg Businessweek cover story framed Instagram as “Facebook’s best hope” and “Mark Zuckerberg’s way out of the latest data scandal”.

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Self-driving car drove me from California to New York, claims ex-Uber engineer
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Trip by Anthony Levandowski, controversial engineer involved in Uber-Waymo lawsuit, would be longest without human taking over

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial engineer at the heart of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, claims to have built an automated car that drove from San Francisco to New York without any human intervention.

The 3,099-mile journey started on 26 October on the Golden Gate Bridge, and finished nearly four days later on the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan.

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'It's time for significant changes': civil rights groups call for Facebook leaders to step down
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Company says it is ‘committed’ to strengthening and advancing civil rights on service after groups demand restructuring of board

Dozens of civil rights groups are calling for Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to step down from Facebook’s board of directors following what they described as years of the company’s role in “generating bigotry and hatred towards vulnerable communities”.

In a letter sent to Zuckerberg, the company’s CEO, on Monday night, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Muslim Advocates, Equality Labs and MoveOn.org were among more than 30 groups demanding a restructuring of the board to improve accountability of senior leadership in the wake of recent scandals.

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Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows
Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

A growing number of customers are fed up with the company, from its working conditions at warehouses to anti-tax lobbying

The holiday season is all about spending the time with your loved ones and, judging by most office mailrooms, shopping on Amazon. Last year, 76% of Americans who shopped online for Christmas presents said that they planned to do most of that shopping on Amazon.

Amazon now accounts for just shy of half of all online sales in the US and Santa’s not so little helper is expected to have another bumper Christmas this year. But there are a growing number of people whose front steps won’t be graced by Amazon packages this festive season – consumers boycotting the online retailer.

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Drones, DNA and data: please don't give the gift of privacy invasion
Posted on Friday December 14, 2018

What could be wrong with giving a shiny, new Facebook Portal or a fun DNA kit for the holidays? Plenty, writes Julia Carrie Wong

When it comes to gift giving, we often anticipate the moment of surprise and delight when a loved one will open their present – and forget to think about what comes next. But some presents are more trouble than they’re worth. Just ask anyone who has been on the receiving end of an unsolicited puppy, or a sourdough starter.

So in the spirit of not burdening your beloveds with unintended consequences, we present to you our first-ever Reverse Gift Guide. Give your friends and family the gift of not having these products. They may not thank you now, but they will be better off.

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Watch Elon Musk's underground 'loop' test track launch - video
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

The Tesla founder unveils his latest visionary project – a tunnel beneath LA that his Boring Company says will revolutionise urban transport.

Musk described the development as 'incredibly profound' as he showcased his tunnel-boring technology and driverless vehicle to assembled media

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'Not everybody wants to live in Silicon Valley': Google to expand in New York
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Company will spend more than $1bn to build a new complex in New York City, in the tech industry’s latest major expansion east

Silicon Valley is becoming Silicon Nation.

Google has announced will spend more than $1bn to build a new office complex in New York City that will allow it to double the number of people it employs there.

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Twitter shares tumble on concerns about hacking activity
Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

Company discovered suspicious traffic to a customer-support forum while investigating a security bug that exposed data

Twitter shares fell almost 7% after the company said it was investigating unusual traffic that might be from state-sponsored hackers and, in what appeared to be an unrelated issue, a security firm said hackers used the platform to try to steal user data.

Related: After a year from hell, Facebook parties like it's 2017

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After a year from hell, Facebook parties like it's 2017
Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

The network held its Christmas party at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco – but was there much to celebrate after a year of scandal?

Last weekend, Facebook hosted a lavish two-day Christmas party for employees. The event, held this year at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, had a winter village theme. It looked like a lovely time for all!

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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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Can I use predictive text on my PC to save typing?
Posted on Thursday December 06, 2018

Richard likes Swype’s predictive text on his tablet and wants a similar app for a Windows 10 PC

Is there an intelligent keyboard app for Windows 10? I use Swype on my tablet, and apart from being faster than keyboard typing, I love the power of its intelligent predictive text. My PC doesn’t have a touch screen, but I feel I would still benefit from the predictive text, as I’m not a touch typer. I looked at Grammarly, and a couple of others, but they’re not really what I’m after. Richard

Predictive text programs have been around for a long time, and many are still available. The first one I used was Brown Bag Software’s MindReader, which arrived on a 5.25in floppy disk in the early 1980s. I don’t know if Brown Bag came up with the idea, but its approach is typical.

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What are the best keyboard shortcuts for Windows?
Posted on Thursday November 29, 2018

Sue knows some Windows keyboard shortcuts but is sure there must be more. Here are the ones I’ve found most useful

Could you provide some information on Windows keyboard shortcuts? I find them so useful, and am sure there are many that I don’t know about. I’m always shocked by the number of people who don’t even seem to know they exist. Sue

I recommend the use of keyboard shortcuts because they save a lot of time, and sometimes a lot of unsaved work. They are also important to people who cannot use a mouse for physical reasons, which can include repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Thanks to the “sticky keys” feature in Microsoft Windows, Apple’s MacOS and other operating systems, you can use keyboard shortcuts even if you’re typing with, for example, a head-mounted pointing stick.

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What's the best sub-£200 laptop for a child?
Posted on Thursday November 22, 2018

Sue’s eight-year-old daughter wants a laptop for school projects. Will a new laptop costing £200 or an old MacBook do the job?

My eight-year-old daughter uses a computer at school, and she has asked for one for Christmas so she can do her projects at home. I am a single parent on a real tight budget so I’d prefer something for £150 or maybe £200 at a push. I was looking at a Lenovo but was told there was not a lot of space on it, and it would soon fill up, especially if she played a few games as well.

Is there something you could recommend?

The key question is: what software does your daughter need in order to do projects at home? Can you get a copy? Some educational software only runs on one platform, and there is not much point in buying a laptop that doesn’t run it.

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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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Huawei, sanctions and software: everything you need to know
Posted on Saturday December 08, 2018

The Chinese telecom giant is under renewed global scrutiny after the arrest of its founder’s daughter. Here’s why

Its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Canada on 1 December and faces extradition to the US over allegations of helping evade sanctions against Iran. The Obama-era sanctions banned the sales of certain telephone-system equipment.

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Huawei faces catastrophe in the technology cold war
Posted on Thursday December 06, 2018

If the US can prove the Chinese firm broke sanctions, Huawei could grind to a halt

The arrest in Canada of the chief financial officer of the Chinese mobile network and handset tech firm Huawei marks a new stage in a technological cold war between western spy agencies and Beijing. This development could be catastrophic for Huawei: according to reports, the US suspects it broke sanctions by selling telecoms equipment to Iran. If that is proven, the response could exclude Huawei from many of the world’s most valuable markets.

Related: Stock markets slump as Huawei arrest fuels trade war fears – business live

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'Good for the world'? Facebook emails reveal what really drives the site
Posted on Thursday December 06, 2018

Analysis: documents show internal discussions focused on exploiting developers’ hunger for user data to increase revenue

The central mythos of Facebook is that what’s good for Facebook is good for the world. More sharing, more friends and more connection will “make the world more open and connected” and “bring the world closer together”, Mark Zuckerberg has argued, even as his company has been engulfed by scandal.

But confidential emails, released on Wednesday by the British parliament, reveal the hardheaded business calculations that lurked beneath the feelgood image projected by Zuckerberg and Facebook.

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How to protect your digital privacy from new Christmas presents
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Just unwrapped a gift of an internet-connected device? Don’t just turn it on and plug it in – you might be giving the manufacturer all sorts of information you don’t need to

Jeff Bezos knows when you’ve been sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, because you didn’t change the default privacy settings on the Amazon smart speaker you set up in your bedroom, for goodness’ sake.

This Christmas, families will be unwrapping various internet-connected devices, and, knowingly or not, wiring up their homes for levels of surveillance rarely seen outside the Soviet bloc. But you still have a bit of control. Here are the best tips to protect your digital privacy, without resorting to Christmas gifts whittled from wood.

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Robot-fried chicken – a whole new meaning to battery hens
Posted on Sunday December 16, 2018

The Shinagawa district of Tokyo is host to an automated fried chicken service – but don’t try getting any late at night

Name: Robot-fried chicken.

Flavours: Original, red and hokkaido cheese.

Continue reading...


 


Facebook's data-sharing deals exposed
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

An investigation reveals other tech firms were not always aware how much access they had.

Elon Musk unveils prototype high-speed LA transport tunnel
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

The entrepreneur says his system will see modified electric cars travel at high speed underground.

European Union diplomatic communications 'targeted by hackers'
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018

It involves thousands of messages in which diplomats discussed Trump, trade and other issues.

YouTuber's glitter bomb tricks parcel thieves
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

A former Nasa engineer spent six months building a disguised glitter bomb to surprise thieves stealing parcels from his doorstep.

Google China: Has search firm put Project Dragonfly on hold?
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Report that Google has put its Project Dragonfly search engine for China on hold.

Remote areas stuck in data slow lanes
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Many rural homes receive mobile data from only one operator, an Ofcom study finds.

Meng Wanzhou: China park rewards Huawei phone owners
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

Chinese firms are showing their support for phone giant Huawei, whose CFO is facing extradition to the US.

UK tech firm Blippar collapses into administration
Posted on Tuesday December 18, 2018

One of the great hopes of the UK tech sector, Blippar, collapses following a funding dispute.

Twitter warns of 'unusual activity' from China and Saudi Arabia
Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

Twitter says "unusual" activity from China and Saudi Arabia followed a users' country code bug.

Russia 'meddled in all big social media' around US election
Posted on Monday December 17, 2018

YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter were targeted in the 2016 US election, a report says.

 


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